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The Issues That Divide People Within Each Party

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Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll(s) of the week

There is no shortage of issues that divide Democrats and Republicans — the presidential election, the Supreme Court confirmation vote, etc. But let’s spend a little time today looking at issues that split voters within the two parties.

These issues are likely to come to the foreground after the election is over. If Republicans lose races for the presidency, U.S. Senate and some state legislaturesHouse, too.

“>1 — as seems likely right now — there will be a debate within the GOP about how to get back in power. Meanwhile, newly empowered Democrats would have to figure out which policies they want to advance first. On the other hand, if Democrats lose the presidential election (and it’s clear that the election was conducted fairly), we are likely to see a Super Bowl of recriminations, told-ya-so essays and infighting over how the party lost an election against such an unpopular president. President Trump and a victorious Republican Party would have to set a second-term agenda — a task complicated enough that the party opted against releasing an updated platform ahead of this year’s conventions.

So which issues divide Democrats, and which ones divide Republicans? Two polls released this week, one conducted by the New York Times and Siena College and the other by PRRI, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on the intersection of religion, culture and public policy, provide some fresh answers.

Issues that divide Democrats

  • A national mandate for a coronavirus vaccine: 47 percent of Democrats supported a national mandate to take a COVID-19 vaccine if one is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and 48 percent opposed it, per the New York Times/Siena poll of likely voters, which was conducted Oct. 15 to 18. This is an unpopular idea with the broader American public — only 18 percent of Republicans voters and 32 percent of likely voters overall supported such a mandate, according to the poll.
  • A more liberal presidential nominee: About 45 percent of adults who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents said that they had initially favored Sen. Bernie Sanders (31 percent) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (14 percent) during the Democratic primary, per the PRRI survey, which was conducted Sept. 9-22.2 Twenty-eight percent said they had preferred Joe Biden, 10 percent said former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 6 percent said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 4 percent said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 2 percent said Tom Steyer, and 4 percent said someone else. (The poll did not ask respondents about candidates who dropped out earlier in the primary process, such as Sen. Kamala Harris.)
    Democratic voters are firmly behind Biden in his race against Trump. But there is a sizeable bloc in the party who favored more liberal candidates, and divisions between this more liberal bloc and the party’s more centrist bloc are likely to emerge if Democrats have total control of Washington next year — or even if Democrats control the presidency and the House.
  • Reparations: Exactly half of Democrats (50 percent) said they supported economically compensating African Americans who are the descendants of enslaved people, and almost exactly half (49 percent) opposed this idea, according to PRRI. This is an unpopular idea, more broadly — only 27 percent of Americans, including 5 percent of Republicans, supported reparations.
  • Religion: 46 percent of Democrats said they felt that religion causes more problems in society than it solves, while 53 percent of Democrats disagreed with that sentiment. Only 38 percent of Americans overall said that religion creates more problems than it solves, compared to 61 percent who disagreed with that sentiment, including 79 percent of Republicans.

Issues that divide Republicans

  • Trump’s speech and behavior: 46 percent of Republicans said they wished that Trump’s speech and behavior was “consistent with previous presidents,” compared to 53 percent who disagreed, per PRRI. That was a popular sentiment with the broader public — 68 percent of American adults and 84 percent of Democrats wished Trump acted more like his predecessors.
  • A public health insurance option: 45 percent of Republicans supported a government-operated health insurance plan that all Americans could enroll in, while 47 percent opposed this idea, according to the New York Times/Siena poll. This was also a popular idea overall — 67 percent of Americans, including 87 percent of Democrats, supported a public option.
  • State and local government policies to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as requirements to wear masks: 56 percent of Republicans said state and local governments are taking “reasonable steps to protect people,” while 43 percent said those moves are “unreasonable attempts to control people,” per PRRI. These policies were broadly popular — 76 percent of Americans, including 94 percent of Democrats, said state and local governments were taking reasonable steps.
  • A mini-Green New Deal: 46 percent of Republicans opposed a “$2 trillion plan to increase the use of renewable energy and build energy-efficient infrastructure,” and 45 percent of Republicans supported it, according to the New York Times/Siena survey. The question referred neither to Biden nor to the “Green New Deal.” (The former vice president has a $2 trillion proposal that focuses on both improving America’s infrastructure and reducing the nation’s use of fossil fuels. It’s basically a shrunken-down version of the Green New Deal.) It’s quite possible that support for this proposal would be much lower among Republicans if the question cast it as, say, “Joe Biden’s version of the Green New Deal.” But it’s interesting that the concept of a more modest Green New Deal is not that unpopular with Republicans. Sixty-six percent of Americans, including 89 percent of Democrats, supported this idea.
  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine: 54 percent of Republicans said they would “probably” or “definitely” get a vaccine for COVID-19 if it were approved by the FDA, and 40 percent said they “probably” or “definitely” would not get it, per the New York Times/Siena survey. Sixty-one percent of Americans, including 69 percent of Democrats, said they would “probably” or “definitely” get the vaccine.
  • The levels of discrimination Black and Hispanic Americans face: About half of Republicans (52 percent) said that Black Americans face “a lot” of discrimation, and about half (47 percent) said that they don’t, per PRRI. Forty-five percent of Republicans agreed that Hispanic Americans face a lot of discrimation, compared to 53 percent who disagreed. Most Americans overall (75 percent) and Democrats (92 percent) said that Black Americans face a lot of discrimination. The numbers were similar but slightly lower for discrimination against Hispanic Americans: 69 percent of Americans and 86 percent of Democrats said that they face a lot of discrimination.
  • Immigration policy: Republicans are about equally split on allowing the separation of families at the border (45 percent supported, 53 percent opposed), protecting people who were brought to the U.S. as children but are not citizens from deportation (45 percent supported, 54 percent opposed) and creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (48 percent supported such a pathway, 38 percent said they should be deported, and 14 percent said they should be allowed to become legal residents but not become citizens). A clear majority of Americans overall opposed separating families at the border (76 percent) and supported a pathway to citizenship (64 percent), as well as granting legal resident status to immigrants who would benefit from either the DREAM Act or DACA, commonly referred to as “Dreamers” (66 percent).
  • A universal basic income: 52 percent of Republicans supported guaranteeing all Americans a minimum income, compared to 48 percent who opposed such an idea, per PRRI. Seventy percent of Americans overall, including 88 percent of Democrats, supported a UBI.

You may have noticed both that there are more dividing issues listed here among Republicans than Democrats, and that there are a lot of ideas that split the Republican Party but are fairly popular among Americans. Part of that may be the nature of these surveys — a different set of questions might have found more splits among Democrats. But there’s an important explanation that gets at the parties’ divergent strategies.

Pollsters usually ask about ideas that are part of the current political discourse, which usually means that major politicians or activists are talking about them, but that they aren’t yet law. Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in particular, tend to campaign on and try to pass ideas that they know are fairly popular with the public, so it’s not surprising that there are lots of potential Biden administration proposals — such as a public health insurance option — that basically all Democratic voters and even some Republican voters are on board with. This Democratic approach makes sense electorally — it helps explain why the party is likely to win the popular vote in 2020 and has done so in most recent presidential elections.

Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump are more willing than Biden and Pelosi to push controversial policies (such as separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border) and oppose popular ones (the protection from deportation for “Dreamers” that was enacted under President Obama). So that explains why a lot of fairly popular ideas aren’t already law. This approach is more electorally risky than the Democratic one but sometimes pays dividends in terms of policy: Trump has limited immigration much more than he would have if he had only advanced and executed ideas popular with the broader American public.

Other polling bites

  • 62 percent of likely voters believe that government-imposed limits on the number of people who can attend in-person gatherings — including at churches — amid the coronavirus outbreak are constitutional, according to a recent poll from the left-leaning Data for Progress; 29 percent said that subjecting churches to those limits impinges on religious liberties.
  • 57 percent of likely voters think the Affordable Care Act should be upheld by the Supreme Court even though the law’s mandate requiring people to purchase insurance has been effectively eliminated, according to that same survey.will hear a case in November in which conservatives are arguing that because a 2017 tax law eliminated the penalty for not buying insurance, effectively ending the mandate, the ACA is now unconstitutional, since that mandate was a core part of the law when it was adopted in 2010.

    “>3 About 1 in 3 likely voters (32 percent), including 53 percent of Republicans, think the ACA should be scrapped in light of the mandate change.

  • 77 percent of registered voters said that the outcome of this year’s presidential election matters to them more than it has previous presidential elections, according to a September Gallup poll. That 77 percent is higher than for any previous presidential election going back to 1996 in Gallup’s polling. (The next-highest result was 74 percent in 2008.) In this year’s survey, 85 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents said that this election matters more than previous ones.
  • 69 percent of likely voters, including 54 percent of Republicans, think that it will take more than a year for the U.S. economy to recover from the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a recent poll conducted by Global Strategy Group and North Star Opinion Research on behalf of the Financial Times and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Less than a third (31 percent) of Americans think the economy will recover within a year.
  • The same survey found that people are almost evenly split on whether Trump’s policies have helped the economy: 44 percent of people said his policies helped, compared to 46 who said they had hurt the economy.
  • 53 percent of adults ages 18-30 want Biden to win the election, 23 percent favor Trump, and a large bloc (17 percent) said they weren’t sure, according to a new Vice News/Ipsos poll. A majority (57 percent) of those surveyed said that they don’t feel represented by either party, compared to 28 percent who disagreed with that sentiment. These young voters are supportive of free COVID-19 testing for all Americans (85 percent), Medicare for All (68 percent) and the Black Lives Matter movement (64 percent). They are not as supportive of the Green New Deal (41 percent), limiting abortions after the first trimester (35 percent) and building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border (26 percent).
  • 61 percent of U.S. adults said they know someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an Axios/Ipsos poll conducted Oct. 16-19, while only 38 percent said they did not. This is a big jump from early March, when only 4 percent of Americans said they knew someone who had tested positive for the virus, and even mid-July, when 41 percent knew someone who’d tested positive. More than 1 in 5 Americans (22 percent) said they know someone who has died of the virus, while 78 percent said they do not.

Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker,4 42.5 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.8 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -11.2 points). At this time last week, 42.7 percent approved and 54.3 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -11.6 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.0 percent, for a net approval rating of -10.3 points.

Generic ballot

In our average of polls of the generic congressional ballot,5 Democrats currently lead by 7.4 percentage points (49.4 percent to 42.0 percent). A week ago, Democrats led Republicans by 7 points (48.9 percent to 41.9 percent). At this time last month, voters preferred Democrats by 6.3 points (48.7 percent to 42.3 percent).

Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

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– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
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Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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