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The Politics of Finesse, 2018 Style - The Sunday Political Brunch - July 15

Sunday, July 15, 2018

 

Mark Curtis

Finesse is something we normally equate with athletics, but it can be in politics (or any other business), too! While President Trump continues to be a “bull in a China shop” it seems to be working for him, despite what his detractors say. It’s been a busy week for the White House, so let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“A Supreme Choice?” – On Monday night – with his flair for TV drama – President Trump introduced Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. With only a one-vote majority in the Senate, Trump rolled the dice and took a gamble on Kavanaugh, when he could have picked a safer, more moderate judge to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump’s finesse was basically saying to the Republican Senate caucus, “I dare you to oppose me!”

“Courting Democrats” – The president’s strategy may be of the “divide and conquer” variety. While he may lose a Republican or two on Kavanaugh – the leading candidates being Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – he may offset that threat by wooing more conservative Democrats to back Kavanaugh. Those targeted are Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota). All three are facing tough reelection fights in states where Trump is very popular. Backing his Supreme Court nominee could be crucial to winning another term. All three voted to conform Trump’s first pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“Creating Leverage” – As mentioned, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is locked in a tough fight against State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-West Virginia). Morrisey called a Tuesday news conference, to essentially call out Manchin’s undecided status on the Kavanaugh nomination. “At the end of the day, this is about his political survival,” Morrisey said outside the Capitol. “I think he believes he must support Brett Kavanaugh. Otherwise, he will be assuredly going down in defeat in November.” Manchin votes for Trump initiatives more than any other Democrat, and hails from a state Trump won by 42 percentage points over Hillary Clinton.

“The Pressure Point” – To know one’s surprise, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, (R-West Virginia) has already come out in support of Judge Kavanaugh. She said, “When I consider nominees for the Supreme Court, I don’t look for a person who promises a particular policy outcome or someone who is out to actually create laws. What I look for is a person whose record reflects experience, fairness, and respect for the Constitution as it is written.” Capito and Manchin work well as a team for West Virginia in Congress, despite being from different parties. Adding her name to the chorus of supporters for Judge Kavanaugh, puts more than subtle pressure on Manchin.

“Run for the Border” – Political finesse doesn’t just come in candidate races, it also comes from policy debates. Because of the border security and family separation controversies from the past few weeks, House
Democrats have called for an elimination of I.C.E., the Immigration and Customs Enforcement department. To the surprise of many, Republican leaders in Congress have basically said, “Okay, we’ll call a vote!” Since
the GOP has a strong House majority, it isn’t likely to lose. It’s a vote to shame Democrats in a brutal election year. Watch for it soon!

“Across the Pond” – The use of political finesse was not just at home this week. President Trump went to the NATO meetings in Belgium, and had harsh words for some of our closest allies who were also there. He singled out Germany, "If you look at NATO, where Germany pays 1 percent and we are paying 4.2
percent of a much bigger GDP – that's not fair," Trump said. Trump then held an awkward photo-op with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was not happy about being criticized. Trump later said all NATO countries agreed to up their contributions to 4 percent of their GDP, which those countries have since denied. But my guess is most will increase their contributions to some degree. He called them out, and publicly shamed some.

“On Being Presidential” – Oddly enough, this is the week President Trump has looked the most “presidential” since taking office, although in a sense much different than his predecessors. His style of being “presidential” is to be intimidating, and bullying if he has too. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who often disagrees with Trump, called the president a “street fighter.” We usually think of “presidential” as being diplomatic, not harsh and blunt. But, like him or not, if nothing else Trump is consistent in his tone.

“Russia” – Mr. Trump continued his world tour criticizing British Prime Minister Theresa May, and then stood by her at a joint press conference (sound familiar?). And then he goes on to his final stop, the summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here’s what Trump says of their current relationship. “I think we’ll get along well. But ultimately, he’s a competitor. He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. So, in a sense we’re competitors, not a question of friend or enemy. He’s not my enemy,” Trump said. “Hopefully someday, maybe he’ll be a friend. It could happen but I don’t know him very well” Trump added. But will Trump call out and criticize Putin, now that 12 Russian intelligence agents have been charged with hacking into Democratic presidential campaign computers in 2016. Stay tuned!

“Why All of this Matters” – In many respects President Trump ran on a platform that the United States was being pushed around, not only by its enemies but its allies as well. His tough talk at home and abroad is very concerning to many, who think his brusque style will offend our allies. But his supporters love Trump’s bravado, starting when he battered and bruised so many of his 16 opponents in the 2016 presidential primaries. No, he doesn’t play nice. But his tactics put him in the White House, and supporters hope that same demeanor causes his agenda to succeed at home and abroad. It’s very much the 2018 campaign strategy.

What do you think of President Trump and all his tough talk? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Report for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and bordering states.

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal Statewide Poll - Conducted by Harvard’s Della Volpe - June, 2018

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Registered Voters

Q1: Are you registered to vote in Rhode Island?

Total 501 100%
Yes: 501 100%
No: 0 0%
Don't know: 0 0%

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Gender

Q2: Are you ...
Total
Total: 100%
Male: 44%
Female: 56%

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Age

Q3: In which age group are you?

18-24:  7%
25-34:  16%
35-44:  15%
45-54:  20%
55-64: 17%
65+      25%

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Political Party

Q4: When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Democrat: 38%
Republican:14%
Moderate: 6%
Unaffiliated: 39%
Don't know/Refused: 3%

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Likely Voters

Q5: Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices.  How likely is it that you will vote in this election?   Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

 

Definitely be voting.............................. 81%

Probably be voting............................... 19%

All others.............................................   0%

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Top Issue

Q6: What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
 

Taxes.................................................. .18%

Jobs and economy.............................. 16%

State budget.........................................11%

Roads...................................................10%

Education............................................  8%

Healthcare...........................................  5%

Corruption/Public integrity.................... 4%

Immigration..........................................  4%

Housing.............................................. ..2%

Governor............................................. ..2%

Homelessness.......................................1%

 

Other.. ............................................... 14%

Don’t know..........................................   6%

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Direction

Q7: In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?
 

Right track........................................... 19%

Wrong track......................................... 36%

Mixed.................................................. 45%

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Optimism

Q8: Thinking ahead several years, is your outlook about Rhode Island more optimistic or more pessimistic?   
 

Optimistic............................................ 52%

Pessimistic...........................................48%
 

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Finances

Q9: Over the last three years or so, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?
 

Changed for the better......................... 24%

Changed for the worse......................... 33%

Not changed at all................................ 43%

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Governor

Q10: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for her:  9%

There is a good chance I will vote for her:  19%

It is possible that I vote for her:  24%

It is unlikely that I will vote for her:  18%

I will never vote for her:  31%

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Governor

Q11: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Matt Brown, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for him:  4%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  8%

It is possible that I vote for him:  40%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  30%

I will never vote for him:  17%
 

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Governor

Q12: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Spencer Dickinson, a Democrat

I am sure to vote for him:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  7%

It is possible that I vote for him:  37%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  35%

I will never vote for him:  18%

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Governor

Q13: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Paul Roselli, a Democrat 

I am sure to vote for him:  2%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  7%

It is possible that I vote for him:  35%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  37%

I will never vote for him:  19%

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Governor

Q14: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Allan Fung, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for him:  7%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  18%

It is possible that I vote for him:  28%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  25%

I will never vote for him:  21%

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Governor

Q15: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Patricia Morgan, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for her:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for her.:   9%

It is possible that I vote for her:  32%

It is unlikely that I will vote for her:  35%

I will never vote for her:  21%

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Governor

Q16: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Giovanni Feroce, a Republican 

I am sure to vote for him:  2%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  5%

It is possible that I vote for him:  24%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  35%

I will never vote for him:  34%

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Governor

Q17: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Luis-Daniel Muñoz, an Independent

I am sure to vote for him:  3%

There is a good chance I will vote for him: 6%

It is possible that I vote for him: 33%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him: 38%

I will never vote for him: 21%

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Governor

Q18: Which of the following comes closest to your view regarding each of the following potential candidates for governor of Rhode Island?

Joe Trillo, an Independent

I am sure to vote for him:  1%

There is a good chance I will vote for him:  8%

It is possible that I vote for him:  37%

It is unlikely that I will vote for him:  34%

I will never vote for him:  19%

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Governor

Q20: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Gina Raimondo, Republican Allan Fung and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?        

Allan Fung, a Republican..................... 33%

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat................ 33%

Joe Trillo, and Independent.................. 16%

Don't know     18%

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Governor

Q20: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Gina Raimondo, Republican Patricia Morgan and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?         

Gina Raimondo, a Democrat................ 39%

Patricia Morgan, a Republican............. 20%

Joe Trillo, an Independent................... 19%

Don't know ......................................... 22%

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Governor

Q21: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Matt Brown, Republican Allan Fung and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote? 

Allan Fung, a Republican..................... 35%

Matt Brown, a Democrat...................... 25%

Joe Trillo, an Independent.................... 14%

Don't know .......................................... 27%
 

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Governor

Q22: If the election for Governor were held today and the candidates were: Democrat Matt Brown, Republican Patricia Morgan and Independent Joe Trillo - for whom would you vote?        

Matt Brown, a Democrat...................... 30%

Patricia Morgan, a Republican............. 20%

Joe Trillo, an Independent.................... 18%

Don't know .......................................... 33%

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U.S. Senate

Q23: If the election for the U.S. Senate were held today and the candidates were: [ROTATE] Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse and Republican Robert Nardolillo - for whom would you vote?

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat........... 53%

Robert 'Bobby' Nardolillo, a Republican.. 31%

Don't know............................................... 16%

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U.S. Senate

Q24: If the election for the U.S. Senate were held today and the candidates were: [ROTATE] Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse and Republican Robert Flanders - for whom would you vote?           

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat........ 54%

Robert Flanders, a Republican............. 32%

Don't know.......................................... 14%

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Schools

Q25: If there was an election today, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $250 million in financing supported general obligation bonds to repair Rhode Island's deteriorating school buildings and bring them up to minimum standards called "warm, safe and dry"?

Net: Approve...................................... 74%

Definitely approve............................... 36%

Probably approve................................ 38%
 

Net: Reject......................................... 17%

Probably reject....................................   9%

Definitely reject....................................   7%


Don't know..........................................   9%

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PawSox

Q26: The Rhode Island General Assembly is in the process of negotiating a $40 million public financing deal with the Pawtucket Red Sox for a new stadium, hoping to bring a vote before the House and Senate this summer.  

In general, do you favor or oppose the use of public funds to help finance a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox?
 

Net: Favor.......................................... 33%

Strongly favor...................................... 13%

Somewhat favor.................................. 21%
 

Net: Oppose....................................... 59%

Somewhat oppose.............................. 21%

Strongly oppose.................................. 38%
 

Don't know..........................................   8%

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Fane Tower

Q27: The City of Providence and the state of Rhode Island are considering a proposal by New York developer Jason Fane to build a 46-story luxury residence tower in Providence, next to a public riverfront park.  The developer will invest $250 to $300 million of his own funds.  The project is called the Hope Point Tower, it would be 170-feet taller than the Superman building and would require waiving height restrictions and the use of state tax credits.

In general, do you favor or oppose development of the Hope Point Tower?

 

Net: Favor.......................................... 39%

Strongly favor...................................... 13%

Somewhat favor.................................. 27%


Net: Oppose....................................... 50%

Somewhat oppose.............................. 23%

Strongly oppose.................................. 27%


Don't know.......................................... 11%

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Elorza/Traffic Cameras

Q28: How would you rate the job that Mayor Jorge Elorza has done managing issues related to speed cameras in Providence?

Net: Excellent/Good.......................... 26%

Excellent.............................................   6%

Good................................................... 20%

Net: Fair/Poor.................................... 74%

Fair...................................................... 29%

Poor.................................................... 45%

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Q29: Since it was launched in 2016, UHIP -- the Rhode Island program designed to improve customer service for those who receive federal benefits -- has run into significant problems, including long lines, cost overruns, lost applications, over- and under-charging of patients and families.   

Based on what you know at this time, what percent of 
blame for this do you assign to:
 

Deloitte, the consulting company who
produced the system........................... 53.3%

Governor Gina Raimondo, who has
been governor since the system
launch in September 2016................... 47.1%

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NIMBYism

Q30: Presently, there are local groups opposing the development of a natural gas facility in Burrillville, solar projects in Exeter, a LNG facility in Providence and wind projects in North Kingstown. 
Some people say that it is important for local groups to play a role in opposition 
of projects like these that could be dangerous or harmful to citizens; 

Others say that local groups have gone too far to the detriment of the state’s long-term energy needs. 

Which statement comes closer to your own view?

 

Local groups play an important role...... 46%

Local groups have gone too far............. 31%

Not sure................................................. 24%

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Corruption

Q31: Compared to other states, do you think there is:

More political corruption in RI................. 63%

Less political corruption in RI................   7%

About the same level as other states..... 30%
 

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Income

Q32: The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS.  Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).  

$50,000 or less.................................... 33%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000..... 18%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000... 16%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000. 13%

$150,000 or more................................ 10%

Don't know/refused.............................. 10%

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Ethnicity

Q33: What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?  

Net: White, Non-Hispanic..................... 82%

Black or African American....................   6%

Latino/Hispanic....................................   5%

Other....................................................   7%

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Geography

Q34: City/Town Into Region.

West Bay............................................ 28%

Metro-Providence................................ 28%

Blackstone Valley................................ 21%

South County...................................... 10%

East Bay............................................. 13%

 
 

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