Almost 90% of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the state of the country, and their unhappiness is affecting their political decisions four months before the presidential election, a new study from Pew Research Center shows.
Only 17% of Americans of any party say they are “proud” of the U.S. while 71% say they feel angry and 66% fearful. Just 12% of Americans say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, less than half of the 31% who said the same in a study in April; 87% now say they are dissatisfied.
The poll was conducted in mid-June as the number of coronavirus cases spiked in Sunbelt states and the recession deepened.
This unhappiness is affecting perceptions of President Donald Trump, who is 10 percentage points behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Some 54% of registered voters back Biden and 44% support Trump. The president’s approval rating dropped to 39%, while 59% of Americans disapproved. In the April survey, Trump’s approval was 44%.
The study was conducted June 16-22 and has a margin of error of 1.8 percentage points.
Still, a slim majority of Americans say Trump has a better handle on the economy than Biden. Amid a recession, Trump leads Biden by 3 points, 51% to 48%, among voters who said they are very or somewhat confident in the candidate’s ability to make good decisions about economic policy.
Biden, however, leads in every other category. Voters placed more confidence in his ability to handle law enforcement and criminal justice issues, foreign policy, the coronavirus outbreak, race relations and to bring the country closer together. Trump’s lowest mark is on bringing the country together — only 31% of voters express confidence in the president in that area.
The Pew survey’s results are similar to the findings of polls released in the past week that found Biden holding a double-digit lead over Trump. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday found Biden up 14 points over Trump nationally. A Fox News poll released days earlier found Biden leading by 12 points.
On personality traits, Biden is viewed by 60% of voters as even-tempered in the Pew survey; only a quarter of voters see Trump that way. Only 7% of voters believe Trump to be “very” even-tempered.
Biden is also viewed by more Americans as being a good role model, honest and as someone who cares about the needs of ordinary people. Trump is seen as more energetic and courageous, though the president only leads Biden by 1 percentage point when it comes to the perception of courage.
The Pew study finds men split in their support with 50% favoring Biden and 48% for Trump. Women favor Biden 57% to 41%. White Americans favor Trump 53% to 45% whereas nearly 90% of Black Americans back Biden. Two-thirds of Hispanics support Biden compared with 32% who back Trump. Voters living in battleground states favored Biden by 6 points, 52% to 46%.
Joe Biden is set to sharply criticize Donald Trump’s stewardship of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying the president is dismissing the threat of the virus as cases surge.
More than six months after the first reported Covid-19 case in the U.S., Biden on Tuesday will deliver a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, outlining what he will call a failed presidential response that has exacerbated a crisis other countries have managed to control.
Biden will assail Trump for holding crowded campaign events and playing golf. And the Democratic nominee will charge that the president called for slowing down testing for the virus because increased cases would hurt his political prospects, according to a preview of the speech released by the Biden campaign.
More than 125,000 Americans have died as a result of the pandemic and millions have lost their jobs as the economy shut down to stop the spread. In recent weeks, new hot spots have emerged as some states reopened their economies, particularly in the South and across the Sunbelt.
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Biden will outline steps the country should take to fight the virus and safely reopen the economy, his campaign added. The former vice president has previously called on all Americans to wear masks and said if he were president, he would make it compulsory.
Trump has refused to wear a mask and has not explicitly encouraged Americans to do so.
The U.S. and China are moving beyond bellicose trade threats to exchanging regulatory punches that threaten a wide range of industries including technology, energy and air travel.
The two countries have blacklisted each other’s companies, barred flights and expelled journalists. The unfolding skirmish is starting to make companies nervous the trading landscape could shift out from under them.
“There are many industries where U.S. companies have made long-term bets on China’s future because the market is so promising and so big,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s head of international affairs. Now, they’re “recognizing the risk.”
China will look to avoid measures that could backfire, said Shi Yinhong, an adviser to the nation’s cabinet and a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Any sanctions on U.S. companies would be a “last resort” because China “is in desperate need of foreign investment from rich countries for both economic and political reasons.”
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Pressure is only expected to intensify ahead of the U.S. elections in November, as President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden joust over who will take a tougher line on China.
Trump has blamed China for covering up the coronavirus pandemic he has mocked as “Kung Flu,” accused Beijing of “illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets” and threatened the U.S. could pursue a “complete decoupling” from the country.
Biden, likewise, has described President Xi Jinping as a thug, labeled mass detention of Uighur Muslims as unconscionable and accused China of predatory trade practices.
And on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats have found rare unity in their opposition to China, with lawmakers eager to take action against Beijing for its handling of Covid-19, forced technology transfers, human rights abuses and its tightening grip on Hong Kong.
“China is going to be a punching bag in the campaign,” said Capital Alpha Partners’ Byron Callan. “But China is a punching bag that can punch back.”
China has repeatedly rejected U.S. accusations over its handling of the pandemic, Uighurs, Hong Kong and trade, and it has fired back at the Trump administration for undermining global cooperation and seeking to start a “new cold war.” Foreign Minister Wang Yi last month said China has no interest in replacing the U.S. as a hegemonic power, while adding that the U.S. should give up its “wishful thinking” of changing China.
Both countries have already taken a series of regulatory moves aimed at protecting market share.
The U.S. is citing security concerns in blocking China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest mobile operator, from entering the U.S. market. It’s culling Chinese-made drones from government fleets and discouraging the deployment of Chinese transformers on the power grid. The Trump administration has also tried to constrain the global reach of China’s Huawei Technologies Co., the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer.
Meanwhile, China prevented U.S. airline flights into the country for more than two months and, after the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Chinese journalists, it expelled American journalists. It has stepped up its scrutiny of U.S. companies, with China’s state news agency casting one probe as a warning to the White House. China also has long made it difficult for U.S. telecommunications companies to enter its market, requiring overseas operators to co-invest with local firms and requiring authorization by the central government.
One of the most combustible flashpoints has been the Trump administration’s campaign to contain Huawei by seeking to limit the company’s business in the U.S. and push allies to shun its gear in their networks.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission moved to block devices made by Huawei and ZTE Corp. from being used in U.S. networks. And the Commerce Department has placed Huawei on blacklists aimed at preventing the Chinese company from using U.S. technology for the chips that power its network gear, including tech from suppliers Qualcomm Inc. and Broadcom Inc.
After suppliers found work-arounds, Commerce in May tightened rules to bar any chipmaker using American equipment from selling to Huawei without U.S. approval. The step could constrain virtually the entire contract chipmaking industry, which uses equipment from U.S. vendors such as Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corp. and KLA Corp. in wafer fabrication plants. The curbs also threaten to cripple Huawei. Although the company can buy off-the-shelf or commodity mobile chips from a third party such as Samsung Electronics Co. or MediaTek Inc., going that route would force it to make costly compromises on performance in basic products.
Huawei was on a list the Pentagon unveiled last week of companies it says are owned or controlled by China’s military, opening them to increased scrutiny.
China has raised the specter of reprisal.
After the new restrictions were announced, the editor of the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper tweeted that China would retaliate using an “unreliable entities list” that it first threatened at the height of the trade war last year. Although China didn’t identify companies on the list, the Global Times has cited a source close to the Chinese government as saying U.S. bellwethers such as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm could be targeted.
The fallout could extend to companies heavily reliant on Chinese supply chains, as well consumer-facing brands eager to expand sales in Asia. Boeing Co., which recorded $5.7 billion of revenue from China in 2019, and Tesla Inc., the biggest U.S. carmaker operating independently in China, are among companies most exposed if relations sour further.
“We’re playing in a much wider field now,” said Jim Lucier, managing director of research firm Capital Alpha Partners. “We’re not simply talking about ‘you tariff me’ and ‘I tariff you.’ The playing field is virtually unlimited.”
Planes and Automobiles
U.S. automakers have also been singed. In June, China fined Ford Motor Co.’s main joint venture in the country for antitrust violations, saying Changan Ford Automobile Co. had restricted retailers’ sale prices since 2013.
Aviation has been another source of tension, as both countries squabble over access to their skies. China’s decision to limit U.S. airlines operations to those services scheduled as of March 12 hurt carriers such as United Airlines Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc, and American Airlines Group Inc. that had suspended passenger flights to and from China because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S. responded earlier this month by initially threatening to ban all flights from China, then relenting to allow two flights weekly once Chinese officials eased their restrictions. Now, in what appears to be a staged de-escalation, China gave U.S. passenger carriers permission to operate four weekly flights to the country and earlier this month, the Trump administration matched the move by also authorizing four flights from Chinese airlines.
It’s happening outside of aviation too. Consider the U.S. government’s decision to seize a half-ton, Chinese-made electrical transformer when it arrived at an American port last year and divert the gear to a national lab instead of the Colorado substation where it was supposed to be deployed. That move -- and a May executive order from Trump authorizing the blockade of electric grid gear supplied by “foreign adversaries” of the U.S. in the name of national security -- have already sent shock waves through the power sector.
The effect has been to dissuade American utilities from buying Chinese equipment to replace aging components in the nation’s electrical grid, said Jim Cai, the U.S. representative for Jiangsu Huapeng Transformer Co., the company whose delivery was seized. Although Cai said the firm has supplied parts to private utilities and government-run grid operators in the U.S. for nearly 15 years without security complaints, at least one American utility has since canceled a transformer award to the company, Cai said.
Trump’s directive is tied to a broader effort to bring more manufacturing to the U.S. from China. “This is a part of the administration’s efforts to impair China’s supply chains into the United States,” said former White House adviser Mike McKenna.
Escalating tensions could jeopardize the U.S. economic recovery as well as China’s trade commitment to purchase $200 billion in American goods and services. Trump declared on Twitter last week that the pact “is fully intact,” adding: “Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!”Last week, Trump tweeted “The China Trade Deal is fully intact. Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!”
It may also affect the November presidential election. Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton alleges in a new book that Trump asked his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping to help him win re-election by buying more farm products -- a claim the White House has dismissed as untrue.
“I don’t expect one single blow to send this relationship in a tailspin,” the chamber’s Brilliant said. “Each side will calibrate their reactions in a way that will not tip the scales too far.”
Take the recent spat over media access. After the U.S. designated five Chinese media companies as “foreign missions,” China revoked press credentials for three Wall Street Journal staff members over an article with a headline describing China as the “real sick man of Asia.”
Then the Trump administration ordered Chinese state-owned news outlets to slash staff working in the U.S. Beijing responded in March by effectively expelling more than a dozen U.S. journalists working in China.
Both the U.S. and China have ample opportunities to ratchet up regulatory pressure. A bill passed by the Senate last month could prompt the delisting of Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges if American officials aren’t allowed to review their financial audits.
And last week, as the U.S. State Department imposed visa bans on Chinese Communist Party officials accused of infringing the freedom of Hong Kong citizens, a senior official made clear the move was just an opening salvo in a campaign to force Beijing to back off new restrictions on the city.
China, similarly, can slow licensing decisions and regulatory approvals, launch investigations under its anti-monopoly law and squeeze financial firms that want to do business in the country. For instance, the country could rescind pledges to let U.S. financial firms take controlling stakes in Chinese investment banking joint ventures, according to a Cowen analyst.
“China will not make any significant compromise and will retaliate whenever and wherever possible,” Shi, the Renmin University professor, said.
Companies are still lured to China and its massive local market -- and tensions with the U.S. don’t overcome the Asian superpower’s appeal. Just one-fifth of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in China late last year said they had moved or were considering moving some operations outside of the country, part of a three-year downward trend.
But the coronavirus pandemic has subsequently pushed more companies to reckon with the risks of relying too heavily on any single country for their supply chains, amid existing concerns about forced technology transfers, cost and rising tensions that could damp investment in China.
China is no longer the lowest-cost manufacturer, and companies are more reluctant to invest there, said James Lewis, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.“Everyone would like to be in the China market -- everyone wants it to be like 2010 -- but things are changing.”
— With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra, Angus Whitley, Shirley Zhao, Ian King, Colum Murphy, Dave McCombs, Zheping Huang, Debby Wu, and Yuan Gao
President Donald Trump has again bound himself and congressional Republicans to getting rid of Obamacare just months before the election and as voters are getting daily reminders about their own health care vulnerabilities.
A legal brief his administration filed Thursday in support of voiding the Affordable Care Act and its protections for patients with pre-existing conditions underscores how big a bet his campaign is making on energizing his most enthusiastic supporters rather than reaching out to the wavering voters who may decide the presidential election.
Democrats rode the health care issue in the 2018 midterm elections to retake control of the House and they’re planning to do it again in November, when the White House and both chambers of Congress will be on the line. They seized on the administration’s filing with the Supreme Court supporting a suit to invalidate the law and tied it to the coronavirus pandemic that’s led to more than 120,000 deaths in the U.S.
“If Donald Trump won’t end his senseless crusade against health coverage, I look forward to ending it for him,” Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a speech Thursday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The coronavirus pandemic and the wave of job losses it has produced has only focused more attention on the fragility of employer-provided insurance and the importance of health care access. Through May, nearly half a million people enrolled in Obamacare after the end of the annual sign-up period because they lost their prior insurance, a 46% jump from last year.
The Trump administration filed its brief with the Supreme Court — brought by a group of Republican state attorneys general — just as surging coronavirus cases in Sunbelt states raised new fears the pandemic is again getting out of control. The U.S. stock market’s benchmark S&P 500 slumped to a more than two-week low on Friday as the jump in new infections began halting progress on reopening the economy.
The court is set to hear arguments on the case around the time of the November election, meaning the gambit will be capturing the nation’s attention as voters prepare to cast ballots.
The health care brief was filed the same week Trump saw the worst polling of his re-election campaign, with Biden edging him in the usually reliable Republican states of Texas and Georgia and racking up sizable leads in the key battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. The president trails Biden by 9.5 percentage points in the average of national polls compiled by RealClear Politics.
The biggest wave of job losses since the Depression has swept away Trump’s main political asset going into the election, economic prosperity. And many Americans believe he has mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic, with 61% of swing voters saying so in a May poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Republican control of the Senate also is at risk. Democrats are likely to keep their House majority even with 30 seats they hold representing districts Trump won four years ago.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that because the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated Obamacare’s tax penalty for being uninsured, other provisions of the law — including protection for pre-existing conditions — “must also fall.”
The president has frequently claimed he is a champion of keeping those with pre-existing conditions from paying higher costs. At a political event in Phoenix earlier this week, Trump vowed to “always protect people with pre-existing conditions.”
Since beginning his campaign for office, Trump has promised to replace Obamacare with something better, but the White House has yet to offer a detailed plan for an alternative.
A White House spokesman said Trump was undeterred in his opposition to his predecessor’s signature health care program.
“A global pandemic does not change what Americans know: Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care,” Trump spokesman Judd Deere said in an email.
Polls consistently show health care at or near the top of issues important to voters, but Trump has gotten consistently low marks from the public for his handling of it. In a June 13-16 Fox News poll, 39% said they approved of the way the president handles health care, in line with answers to the question in the poll over the past three years and with other recent polls.
Yet, as with many issues, there is a clear partisan divide. Three-quarters of Republicans still oppose Obamacare even as swing voters–those who haven’t already decided their presidential vote–back the insurance plan 58% to 34%, according to the Kaiser poll.
The Affordable Care Act has become far more popular than it was when it first passed a decade ago, and Republicans have yet to propose an alternative that would both ensure the same protections for people with pre-existing conditions and replace the ACA’s marketplaces, subsidies and Medicaid expansion without kicking millions of people off of insurance.
Republicans have been playing defense now for years on the subject.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who has gone from one of the most popular senators to one of the most endangered, has come under fire from Democrats because she provided a key vote for the 2017 GOP tax law ending the individual mandate, without which there would be no case. She’s been vocal in her opposition to the lawsuit to invalidate the law.
She issued a sharply worded statement slamming the latest administration brief on both the law and the substance.
“The Administration’s decision to submit this new brief is the wrong policy at the worst possible time as our nation is in the midst of a pandemic. The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and it is the Department of Justice’s duty to defend it,” she said.
Congress, she said, had intentionally taken “a targeted” approach by repealing the mandate and not the rest of the law, including the protections for pre-existing conditions.
Senator Martha McSally in Arizona, who was appointed to her current seat and faces voters again in November, has a television ad promising to protect people with pre-existing conditions. She lost her race against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema two years ago after she voted for a House Republican bill that undermined those protections, including state waivers that would have let insurers charge sick people more.
Likewise Thom Tillis of North Carolina has proposed legislation intending to restore pre-existing conditions protections if the court overturns the ACA, but no GOP bill would fully restore the ACA’s benefits that aid people with pre-existing conditions, like guaranteed coverage for prescription drugs, hospital stays, maternity, an end to lifetime caps and so on.
All three Republicans are regarded as vulnerable to Democratic challenges in the November election.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has credited the lawsuit against Obamacare in large part with helping him win reelection in 2018 as a Democrat in state where Trump got 68% of the vote two years earlier. Manchin used a mend-it, don’t-end-it message and cut a campaign commercial blasting the suit against Obamacare — which his GOP opponent supported — with a shotgun. He also had personally warned Trump that repeal would be unpopular.
On Friday, he blistered the latest effort to overturn the law given the pandemic.
“I’ve said again and again that the ACA is not perfect but we simply cannot throw the baby out with the bath water, especially during a global health crisis that has already killed 92 West Virginians and over 120,000 Americans,” Manchin said in a statement.
The legal fight stems from a provision known as the individual mandate, which originally required people to acquire health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
The Supreme Court upheld that provision in 2012, with Chief Justice John Roberts calling it a legitimate use of Congress’s taxing power. A Republican-controlled Congress later joined with Trump to zero-out the tax penalty, leaving the mandate without any practical consequences.
— With assistance by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Greg Stohr, and Justin Sink
A New York court dismissed a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump’s brother seeking to block the publication of a tell-all book by their niece Mary Trump.
Robert Trump filed the suit Tuesday in Queens probate court, arguing that the book’s publication would violate confidentiality agreements relating to the settlement of the will of Fred Trump, the president’s father. The probate court said it was not the proper forum for such a case.
Judge Peter Kelly said Thursday the case should have been brought in trial court in Manhattan rather than in the probate court where Fred Trump’s estate was settled. Kelly said that proceeding ended in 2001 and no longer exists.
Charles Harder, Robert Trump’s lawyer in the matter, said his client would file a new lawsuit in Manhattan.
Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” which is due to be published on July 28, will include purported psychological observations about her “toxic” family, according to the lawsuit. It’s also expected to reveal her role as a primary source for the New York Times’s investigation into the president’s taxes, and to detail her claim that the family’s mistreatment of her father, Fred Trump Jr., contributed to his early death.
“I am deeply disappointed in my niece Mary’s decision to write a book concerning our family,” Robert Trump said in a statement earlier in the week. “Her attempt to sensationalize and mischaracterize our family relationship after all of these years for her own financial gain is both a travesty and injustice to the memory of my late brother Fred and our beloved parents.
Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 50% to 36% in a new nationwide poll Wednesday, the latest alarm bell for the president’s campaign as the economy, coronavirus and Black Lives Matter protests continue to weigh on his re-election bid.
The 14-point difference in the New York Times/Siena College poll matches the largest margin Biden has seen this year, and it shows the presumptive Democratic nominee leading or making inroads among a broad cross-section of demographic groups.
Amid a campaign schedule curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, the former vice president is ahead by 22 points among women, but also 3 points among men. He’s ahead or effectively tied in every age and ethnic group, and he leads by 21 points among independent voters.
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Trump’s only dependable lead comes from registered Republicans and from the one demographic group that gave him an advantage in industrial battleground states in 2016: white, non-college educated voters. He leads Biden among that cohort by 19 points.
Biden’s national polling lead at this point in the campaign cycle is larger than any enjoyed by Hillary Clinton in the last six months of the 2016 campaign. And Biden is leading in every public poll in June in key battleground states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all states that Trump won in 2016, giving him an Electoral College victory despite losing the popular vote.
But national polls don’t always predict the outcome. Trump won some of those states by a fraction of a percentage point -- allowing him to pull off an upset victory despite trailing in national polls in the days before the election. If he outperforms Biden in those key states again, that could tilt the balance.
Trump’s 50% approval rating on economic issues continues to be a bright spot. Only 39% approve of his handling of criminal justice, 38% on the coronavirus, 33% on race relations and 29% on the nationwide protests after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
Trump has responded to the protests by ordering federal troops to guard the White House and celebrating the “Great American Heritage” of statues and military bases commemorating Confederate generals. His attempt to reboot his campaign with a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma was met with sparse crowds and controversy when he said he ordered officials to slow coronavirus testing because it was showing increased infection numbers.
Biden, meanwhile, has been largely confined to the immediate vicinity of his Delaware home, conducting fundraisers and campaign events online. He has held a few small campaign events in Delaware and nearby Philadelphia. A Tuesday fundraiser with former President Barack Obama raised $11 million.
Biden’s 14-point advantage is the same lead registered in a CNN poll earlier this month that caused an angry Trump campaign to demand the cable channel retract its findings. The Times sample contained 26% Republicans, which is consistent with the findings of similar telephone polls; the Trump campaign says pollsters should assume the same 33% representation found in 2016 exit polls.
The addition of the New York Times poll pushed Biden’s lead in the FiveThirtyEight average of polls to over 10 percentage points for the first time.
The telephone survey of 1,337 registered voters was conducted from June 17 to 22 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.