The Rushmore Report – Where Americans Stand on Their #1 Issue

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of 900 registered voters (645 of whom self-identify as “likely voters”) brings surprising results. Of note are President Trump’s new approval ratings, Americans’ assessment of what matters most in the midterm elections, and especially their view on which party would best address the #1 issue of the day. And on that, they say it’s not even close. With the midterm election just around the corner, the new survey brings encouraging news to one political party – and it may not be the party you would think.

Let’s consider the poll’s findings in three areas.

1. President Trump’s approval numbers

Traditionally recognized as perhaps the most accurate of national polls, NBC News/Wall Street Journal has just found President Trump’s approval numbers hitting a record high. For the nearly two years of his presidency, his approval numbers have ranged from 39 percent to 46 percent. But the new survey, taken from October 14 to 17, sets Trump’s approval numbers at a record high of 47 percent.

2. Americans’ #1 issue

By a plurality, Americans rate the economy as the number one issue. Twenty-one percent say the economy stands atop all issues in terms of importance. And herein lies good news for Republicans, as those surveyed said they trust Republicans over Democrats to handle the economy by a 15-point margin, 43 percent to 28 percent. This bodes well for Republicans fighting to keep their electoral majorities in Congress.

3. The next two issues

But not all in this poll is good news for Republicans. On the two issues that matter most – after the economy – Americans favor Democrats. Voters prefer Democratic positions on immigration (+18 percent) and health care (+4 percent).

Conclusion

The new survey is a mixed bag for both parties. But one thing seems apparent. The massive “blue wave” that has been assumed by the mainstream press may turn out to be little more than a ripple.

The Rushmore Report – Why Faith’s Influence on Politics Isn’t Going Away

“Social issues to return to the forefront on GOP trail.” That’s the title of an article in the Washington Post. What is striking about the article is its title.  “Return to the forefront?”  First, from the earliest days of the last presidential campaign to the present, social issues – protecting the unborn and their mothers, religious liberty, the radical agenda of LGBT activists, etc. – have been in the top tier of issues politicians have been discussing.
The debate over the North Carolina legislation prohibiting men from using women’s bathrooms, as well as issues like dismemberment abortion and protecting the free exercise of religious conviction, are not sudden intrusions, as if unwelcome and unruly guests had burst into a sedate dinner party.  These concerns are at the heart of the kind of country we want to be.  Will we honor life at all its stages, uphold religious liberty as our most essential freedom, esteem marriage as the union of one man and one woman, for life, and strengthen families to better enable every child to be raised in a home with a mom and a dad?  Or will we exalt radical sexual autonomy, continuously redefine human sexuality, treat the unborn as mere collections of blood and tissue and dehumanize their mothers through abortion-on-demand, and encourage the fracturing of families through laws that foster divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, and pornography?
Second, secular journalists seem perpetually amazed that issues like abortion and religious liberty are actual concerns of real people.  It is natural that like-minded people talk mostly to others with the same perspectives and don’t engage as much with those whose outlook is fundamentally different than their own.
Yet over the past several decades, has it not become apparent that a massive, even preponderant number of Republican voters are socially conservative and that, as the country undergoes profound social turmoil, the convictions of these voters will inform what their party’s candidates discuss in their campaigns?
As Terry Mattingly has convincingly documented for many years, most reporters “don’t get religion.” Mike Cromartie, long-time director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum, has spoken of once being called by a journalist at a premier publication who “asked for the name of the author and publisher when Cromartie mentioned the book of Ephesians.”
Christians should not belittle journalists for their ignorance, but nor should journalists fail to recognize the significance of the traditional religious faith of tens of millions of their fellow citizens and its implications for American public life.  As the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life documented in a study last year, more than 70 percent of the American people identify as Christians and many Jews and Muslims carefully observe the tenets of their faiths.
Of course, not all of these self-identified believers share the same convictions about the doctrines and practices and political implications of their faiths.  But faith does have implications, real and compelling ones, for one’s beliefs about and conduct regarding the kind of government we should have and the kind of culture we should be.  To dismiss them or pretend they are inconsequential shows a certain contempt for one’s fellow citizens and a measure of intellectual dishonesty when reporting about law, politics, social life, and so forth.
Writing of that great 19th century French observer of our then-new republic, Alexis de Tocqueville, historian Alan Kahan argues that “Tocqueville rejected the militant secularism that saw religion as the enemy, and there is no reason to believe he would have changed his mind today. He rejected equally the claim of some religious people that freedom was the enemy of religion. For Tocqueville, the only way for either freedom or religion to prosper in the long run was by recognizing that they were mutually necessary, and mutually beneficial.”
When journalists, on television or in print or online or on the radio, miss this central insight – that religion and liberty are entwined not only in the fabric of our country but the hearts and hands of scores of millions of Americans – invariably they will be surprised by social issues that just keep “returning” to the fore of public concern.
And that should be no surprise to anyone.
About the Author
Rob Schwarzwalder writes for the Family Research Council.

The Rushmore Report – The Six Senate Races that Really Matter

The 2018 midterm elections are just two weeks away. It seems likely that Democrats are poised to take control of the House of Representatives with a net pick-up of at least 23 seats. But the Senate is another question. While 35 races are on the ballot, only six really matter. The others will all likely be won by incumbents, meaning none of these 29 races will impact the Republicans’ current 51-49 lead. So how are these six key races stacking up with just 14 days to go?

First, a bit of history. PolitiFact notes that, dating back to 1862, the party that holds the White House has averaged a net loss of two Senate seats in midterm elections. If that holds this year, Democrats will flip the Senate by the most narrow of margins, 51-49.

The problem for Democrats, however, is that of these six races, they are defending four of them. So let’s take a look, state by state.

1. Missouri

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is trying to fend off the challenge of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R). The state voted for Trump, 57-38 percent. but McCaskill has already been elected to the Senate twice. And she led this race by as much as seven points just two months ago. But recent polls have shifted toward Hawley. The Real Clear Politics average of recent polling puts Hawley ahead, 46.3 to 45.8 percent. This narrow lead of .5 percent has given optimism to Republicans in a highly Republican state. However, energy remains on Democrats’ side. This may be the closest of the six competitive races. I’m going against recent polling and guessing that McCaskill will hold this seat by a whisker.

Winner: Claire McCaskill (hold for Democrats)

2. Nevada

Republican Senator Dean Heller is trying to hold a seat in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. In fact, this is the only state where a Republican won a senate seat along with a Clinton vote for President. Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen, who has represented Nevada’s third congressional district for two years, has the strong backing of former President Barack Obama. Heller is not particularly popular in his home state. Current average polls give him a narrow – but growing – lead of 1.7 points.

Winner: Dean Heller (hold for Republicans)

3. Florida

This one will go down as the most expensive Senate race in history. It is truly a battle of the heavyweights. In one corner is Senator Bill Nelson (D), who is running for a fourth term. In the other corner is popular Governor Rick Scott (R), who has the backing of President Trump. Trump beat Clinton in Florida by 1.2 points. A wild card is the governor’s race, which is currently leaning Democrat. For months, Scott maintained a narrow lead in the polls. Then things shifted to Nelson, who led in most polls by three to five points through early fall. But now, things are shifting back toward Scott. Real Clear Politics has this as a dead heat, 46.3 to 46.3 percent. So who will win? I give the edge to Rick Scott for three reasons. First, momentum is on his side. Second, when an incumbent can’t crack 50 percent in the polls, that incumbent usually loses. Third, people want change. Re-electing an aging three-term senator hardly represents that change.

Winner: Rick Scott (pick-up for Republicans)

4. North Dakota

One-term Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D) is being challenged by Kevin Cramer (R) in a heavily Republican state. Cramer is the state’s only member of the U.S. House, so he has high visibility, the president’s backing, and he is surging in recent polls. The latest polls out of North Dakota have the challenger up, 57-42 percent.

Winner: Kevin Cramer (pick-up for Republicans)

5. Arizona

With the retirement of Sen. Jeff Flake (R), this state is wide open, and is becoming more Democratic by the moment. Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema led for months over Republican Rep. Martha McSally. But recent polling is moving in McSally’s direction, with Real Clear Politics now giving McSally a very narrow lead of 45.3 to 45.0 percent. I have moved this state from Democrat to Republican based on two factors: polls are sliding toward McSally, and her experience in the military will sway the older population of Arizona.

Winner: Martha McSally (hold for Republicans)

6. Montana

Jon Tester (D) has held this seat since 2007, in a heavily Republican state. State auditor Matt Rosendale is mounting an uphill challenge against the popular Tester. But President Trump is going all in with his support for Rosendale, and it seems to be working. What makes this one hard to predict is the lack of polling in the sparsely populated state. Montana is reliably unpredictable. My thinking is that voters will place a high value on keeping their incumbent in place, as Tester has moved into leadership roles within the senate.

Winner: Jon Tester (hold for Democrats)

Summary

Remember, the other 29 senate races are pretty much set. Unless there is a major upset in West Virginia or Indiana (both held by incumbent Democrats), it will all come down to these six states: Missouri, Nevada, Florida, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana. Because only two of these are held by Republicans (Nevada and Arizona), in order for Democrats to retake the Senate, they will need to hold all four of their seats and pick up both Republican seats. Neither is likely. I see Democrats losing Florida and North Dakota, with no change in the other four states. This represents a net pick-up of two Senate seats for the Republican Party.

Final Score: Republicans 53, Democrats 47

The Rushmore Report – Can Anti-Trump Hatred Carry the House for Democrats?

“I have some thoughts on ‘enthusiasm’ and the election,” tweeted Amy Walter, the Cook Political Report’s ace analyst of House races. What I and, I suspect, others expected to follow was a discussion of how voters’ enthusiasm, positive or negative, tends to determine who wins elections, especially off-year elections, when turnout is more variable.

Democrats had greater enthusiasm in 2006 and won both houses of Congress; Republicans had even more enthusiasm in 2010 and gained the largest number of House seats either party had since 1948.

In this off-year election cycle, it’s been obvious for months that Democrats have greater enthusiasm, almost entirely of the negative variety. They’ve been itching to inflict damage on President Trump and on the political party he chose to associate himself with three or four years ago in order to get elected president.

We’ve seen the results in Democratic-tilted turnout in special elections and in Democratic breakthroughs in polls. Pundits and psephologists have been predicting that Democrats would gain vast numbers of House seats.

But Walter wasn’t making this now-familiar point in her tweet. She was saying that the degree of enthusiasm of the very large number of people who may or may not vote appears less decisive, at least this year, than the degree of enthusiasm of the much smaller number of people who may or may not run for elective office.

And that may be the case if, as many analysts have concluded, enthusiasm among Republican voters has risen sharply, up toward or even with the Democrats’ level, because of the hearings over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

Many of them really didn’t like the way Justice Kavanaugh was treated; they seem determined to inflict damage on the Democrats who violated the usual process, and the banshees television viewers could hear shrieking in the hearing room chamber and clawing at the doors of the Supreme Court across the street.

Walter’s tweet goes on: “regardless of what turnout looks like in Nov., Dems used their 2017-18 energy to recruit candidates, raise $$. Without that, there is no extended House map. And, House isn’t in play.”

Walter’s implicit thesis that candidates’ decisions to do the unnatural thing of running for Congress can, pretty much by itself, change partisan results and public policy is supported by history.

Democrats’ 48-seat gain in 1974 resulted from the candidacies of dozens of ambitious young liberals disgusted with the Vietnam War, Watergate and former President Richard Nixon. They cut off funding for South Vietnam, steadily increased Medicaid funding and imposed liberal discipline on what had been a disunited caucus. They cemented Democrats’ hold on the House for 20 years.

Republicans’ 54-seat gain in 1994, engineered in large part by citizens motivated to run by Newt Gingrich, resulted in similar reforms (election of committee chairmen), and they ended up promoting welfare reform, budget surpluses and a market-driven Medicare prescription drug program. Starting in 1994, Republicans have won House majorities in 11 of 13 elections, a formidable record even if they lose this year.

Republicans’ 63-seat gain in 2010 has not been as productive, in large part because of tea partiers’ distrust of Republican congressional leaders. Their record in the Trump years has been spotty: unity on tax cuts but division on Obamacare repeal and dithering on immigration.

The odds seem to be declining that 2018 will see such large gains in House seats for the party out of power. Nate Cohn of The New York Times Upshot blog, which has been conducting dozens of House race polls, has noted that he saw a trend of Democrats being “able to do well in red states/districts” that has “abruptly come to an end” in their data since the Kavanaugh nomination fight.

This suggests Democrats could gain most of the 23 Republican districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016, which would get them near the net gain of 23 seats they need for a majority, but would have a hard time gaining seats that voted for Donald Trump. That’s the pattern in the Virginia state legislative races in November 2017.

But all those enthusiastic candidates who stepped forth and volunteered to run, campaigned hard and raised piles of money, Amy Walter suggests, will probably win enough seats to give Democrats at least a small majority.

We’ll see – and we’ll see if the young, highly motivated Democrats make a difference on policy, as the 1974 Democrats and 1994 Republicans did, or if their enthusiasm fizzles out in a frenzy of harassment of Donald Trump.

About the Author

Michael Barone writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report – Herschel Walker Calls Out Don Lemon for Despicable Comments on Kanye West

CNN host Don Lemon said some incredibly hateful things about Kanye West last week. His racist rhetoric was ignored by most of the media, of course. Worse, Lemon said the famous rapper was mentally ill, as evidenced by his support for President Trump. Then he laughed when a liberal guest on his show, Bakari Sellers, said, “Kanye West is what happens when Negros can’t read.”

Lemon then referred to West as “the token Negro of the Trump administration.” Thankfully, not all African Americans share Lemon’s hate speech. In stepped legendary NFL great Herschel Walker. What he said should be read by every American.

Walker tweeted, “Went to bed appalled over Don Lemon’s despicable behavior laughing at Tara Setmayer and Bakari Sellers’ awful remarks about Kanye West’s visit with Trump! Woke up wondering why CNN doesn’t take all three off the air?” Walker concluded with one word – “Shameful.”

This did nothing to soften the tone of the Left, whose hollow cries for civility work only in one direction. Setmayer responded to Walker, “Bless your heart. You want to silence me because I expressed a different opinion than yours?”

Of course that is not what Herschel Walker was saying. Otherwise, he’d call for the firing of every host on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, etc. To his credit, Walker is only calling for the firing of one host – Don Lemon – who has made a mockery of both journalism and human decency.

In Walker’s own words: “No, Tara Setmayer, anyone that is African American with an opinion different than yours, you want to call them out by using the N-word and Don Lemon is laughing? To me that is bullying and shameful.”

Walker is not the only African American who was offended by Lemon’s immature remarks.

Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock said, “These reprehensible, racist comments on CNN are typical of the Trump-hating left. Black Americans who think for ourselves are mocked and degraded with words we last saw under Jim Crow. When one of America’s most prominent black entertainers praises and visits the president, he is trivialized as a ‘token’ who ‘doesn’t read.'”

When President Trump’s policies led to the lowest black unemployment rate in American history, Lemon said nothing. When Chicago’s inner city blacks killed each other by the hundreds during the Obama years, Lemon remained silent. But when one prominent African American – accompanied by NFL legend Jim Brown – had the courage to stand on his convictions, Lemon lost it.

Don Lemon is a blight on journalism and decency. He has found a safe home at CNN. And that is the silver lining. As long as he is at CNN, he can’t do too much damage – since no one is watching.

Good job, Herschel Walker! God bless you for standing up, speaking up, and doing what you can to inject sanity into a rather insane week.

The Rushmore Report – Democrats’ $38M Texas Folly

In their latest exciting moral victory, Democrats have now dropped $38.1 million on failing Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, bringing his grand total to $61.2 million in a race he now trails by seven points, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. He’s been steadily losing ground, too — he’s down 8 and 9 points in the two most recent polls.

This is only the latest iteration of the Democratic strategy of dropping insane amounts of money on races Democrats are fated to lose. Democrats dropped $24 million on Jon Ossoff in the the Georgia 6th District congressional race, as well as another $8 million from affiliated outside groups; Ossoff lost 52% to 48%. That race was closer than expected, but that’s a lot of money to spend on a district you lose by four.

It makes sense for Democrats to spend money in districts like Ohio’s 12th: districts in battleground states with heavy suburban populations. It doesn’t make too much sense in Texas Senate races, though that’s the pie-in-the-sky dream territory for Democrats, who also spent $36 million on State Senator Wendy Davis’ ill-fated gubernatorial run in 2014 (she lost 59% to 39%).

America continues to polarize, despite President Trump’s victories in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio — Republicans still dominate in states like Texas and Georgia. But Democrats will keep dumping money there in the hopes that perhaps, one day, they’ll break through.

Go for it, guys.

About the Author

Ben Shapiro is the editor in chief for Daily Wire.

The Rushmore Report – Guess Who Leads First Poll of Democratic Contenders for 2020?

A new poll was just conducted, with results being announced two days ago. The CNN poll asked two questions. Do you think President Trump will win a second term? If you are a Democrat, who would you vote for at this point? As for the first question, 46 percent believe Trump will win a second term, up from 36 percent since May. And as for the second question, 16 candidates were put on the poll – not including Hillary Clinton. The winner garnered more support than the next three candidates – combined.

First, there is good news for Republicans. The country’s slow migration to the belief that he will win a second term may deter some stronger, younger Democratic candidates from running until 2024. And this also feeds Republican support for Trump. A record low of just 20 percent of Republicans now want to see another candidate challenge the president from within his own party.

The leader among Democratic candidates is former Vice President Joe Biden. Here are the numbers . . .

  • Biden – 33%
  • Sanders – 13%
  • Harris – 9%
  • Warren – 8%
  • Booker – 5%
  • Kerry – 5%
  • Bloomberg – 4%
  • O’Rourke – 4%
  • Holder – 3%
  • Garcetti – 2%
  • Avenatti – 1%
  • Gillibrand – 1%
  • Klobuchar – 1%
  • Patrick – 1%
  • Bullock – <1%
  • Delaney – <1%

Biden has yet to announce any intention to run for president, but he has said he has “considered” the possibility. In recent weeks, Biden has emerged as a vocal critic of the Trump administration, after a two-year hiatus from public life.

None of the more progressive Democrats, Like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), who used Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings to court the far left, has benefited from this strategy. Even the darling of progressives, Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT), trails Biden by 20 points.

The first Democratic debate is probably about eight months away. But get ready. We are about to see the most contentious, crowded primary in American history since way back in . . . 2016.

The Rushmore Report – President Trump’s Hilarious Line from ’60 Minutes’ Interview

Sunday night, CBS aired Lesley Stahl’s interview with President Trump on 60 Minutes. As expected, they sparred on issues ranging from immigration to fake media. It was their discussion on the media that led to Trump’s funniest line. He stated, “The thing I’ve really learned is I never knew how dishonest the media was and I really mean it. I’m not saying that as a soundbite. I never knew how dishonest the media was.” When Stahl tried to change the subject, Trump landed his zinger.

Stahl jumped in: “I’m going to change the subject.”

Trump responded, “No. You asked me a question, I’m not finished yet.”

Stahl: “I’m going to run your answer, but I want to move on.”

Trump: “I’m just saying you treat me differently than Obama.”

Stahl: “I disagree, but I don’t want to have that fight with you.”

And then it came . . .

Trump: “Hey, it’s okay, Leslie. It’s okay. In the meantime, I’m president, and you’re not.”

Certainly, one can argue that Trump’s response was not “presidential,” whatever that means these days. But for those who believe that the media has mistreated conservatives for years, Trump’s quip put a smile on their collective faces. For those who believe the media has treated Trump the same as they treated President Obama – it’s unclear what planet they are living on.

Trump deserves credit for going on 60 Minutes. Rarely did President Obama venture far beyond media outlets that praised his administration 24/7. And for those who wish Trump would be less boastful and more presidential (there’s that word again), they will be waiting for awhile.

You might argue that Trump was elected despite the way he treats the press. I disagree. Trump was elected because of the way he treats the press. And that is not likely to change any time soon.

The Rushmore Report – Democrats: ‘We Aren’t Done with Kavanaugh Yet’

Democrats aren’t done with now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. According to at least one prominent Democrat, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the plan is to keep investigating Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations if Democrats regain control of Congress. Nadler claims he’s not “eager” to undertake the task of “advising” the president on whether Kavanaugh continues to be fit for his position on the bench, but if he has to, he’ll lead the House Judiciary Committee in an inquiry into Kavanaugh’s past.

“It is not something we are eager to do,” Nadler said. “But the Senate having failed to do its proper constitutionally mandated job of advise and consent, we are going to have to do something to provide a check and balance, to protect the rule of law and to protect the legitimacy of one of our most important institutions.”

Nadler says that, if he ends up in charge (he’ll lead the Judiciary Committee if the Dems retake the House in November), that he’ll subpoena records sent from the FBI to the White House detailing the accusations leveled against Kavanaugh by at least two accusers, Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez. He’ll also lead an investigation into whether the White House communicated with the FBI and tried to place parameters on their probe into Kavanaugh’s past.

Additionally, “the committee would also seek to interview Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers and the dozens of potential witnesses they identified in recent days, most of whom were not contacted by the F.B.I. He said he would also call the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, to testify,” the Washington Examiner reports.

There’s danger in this plan: Kavanaugh seems to have become a flash point for Republicans, who united behind his nomination and seem poised to express their disgust with Democrats at the ballot box in November. Democrats want to maintain a cloud of suspicion over the now-Supreme Court justice in order to color any decisions he may render, but in doing so, they may continue to inspire Republicans to take action.

About the Author

Emilk Zanotti writes for The Daily Wire.

The Rushmore Report – 2018 Crystal Ball

Larry Sabato is the foremost political scientist in America today. He is the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, where he is also the founder and director of the Center for Politics, which works to promote civic engagement and participation. Sabato is recognized as the most reliable predictor of elections. As publisher of Sabato’s Crystall Ball, he provides updates on the state of imminent elections. This is his latest analysis on the coming 2018 Senate elections.

Current Senate Breakdown

Going into the midterm elections, Republicans hold a slim advantage over Democrats, 51-49.

States Solid or Leaning Democrat

The following state senate races are likely to be won by Democratic candidates:

  • California
  • Washington
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • Hawaii

States Solid or Leaning Republican

The following senate races are likely to be won by Republicans:

  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Nebraska
  • Mississippi
  • Texas
  • Tennessee

Toss-up States

The following states could go either way. By each state, we will note which party is currently in power.

  • Nevada (R)
  • Arizona (R)
  • North Dakota (D)
  • Missouri (D)
  • Indiana (D)
  • Florida (D)

Conclusion

Sabato does not show any current states which are strong or leaning in one direction or the other as changing parties. So it all comes down to the six toss-ups: Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, and Florida. Because four of these six states are currently in Democratic hands, they are at the greatest risk of losing seats.

Bottom Line

Below, we give the final senate count following the midterm elections.

  • Best case for Republicans: expand majority to 55-45
  • Best case for Democrats: reclaim majority by 51-49
  • Most likely outcome: Republican expand majority from 51-49 by one seat, to 52-48