|A Day of Firsts in Washington, D.C.
Thursday’s swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol solidified a long-list of “firsts” for the historic 116th Congress. For the first time in history, more than 100 members of Congress are women. Among them are Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) became the first Somali-American member of Congress, alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who is one of the first Muslim women. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will be the first women to represent their states in the Senate. Clare Foran and Phil Mattingly at CNN recapped the year of “firsts.” In their analysis, they observe that while many Democrats have said they’re planning to take on Trump, most Republicans have aligned themselves with the president. PRRI data gathered before the election highlighted the attitudes that may have led to Congress’s growing diversity. PRRI found that Democrats were more likely than Republicans to think electing more women, people of color, non-Christian, and members of the LGBT community to public office would make things in the country better.
|Romney and Utah are a Perfect Match for Trump Criticism
At CNN, Harry Enten writes that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)’s recent comments criticizing President Donald Trump are representative of Republican opinion throughout the state. Compared to GOPers in other states, Utah Republicans have shown the least support for Trump. During the 2016 presidential election, just 64 percent of Utah Republicans voted for Trump, his worst performance of the evening among Republicans in any state. Enten writes, “There is no sign that Trump has become significantly more popular in the state since his relatively poor 2016 showing. His approval rating among all voters in the state was 47 percent in the Associated Press/Fox News Voter Analysis. That’s nearly identical to a 2017 yearlong Gallup poll, which put Trump’s approval rating at 48 percent with Utah residents. More to the point, Trump’s approval rating among Romney’s 2018 voters was only about 65 percent, per the Associated Press/Fox News poll. Romney’s favorable rating among these voters was about 95 percent.” Romney was sworn in on Thursday as the junior senator from Utah, replacing the recently retired Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
|Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Americans’ Understanding of Socialism
In the months since newly-elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) became a prominent name within the Democratic Party, there have been debates about her use of the word “socialism” to describe her views. PRRI Digital Media Associate David Tigabu writes about differences in how Americans understand the word. Drawing on PRRI data, Tigabu finds that “There is a stark difference on this question between partisans, with 61 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents saying socialism is a system of government sponsored social safety-nets, versus only 43 percent of Republicans. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say that socialism is about government control of certain industries (54 percent vs. 36 percent).” Cortez, a former campaign volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, which bills itself as the country’s largest socialist organization.
|Falwell Jr.: Trump Can’t Do Anything to Lose White Evangelical Protestants
Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, made headlines this week after being asked by Joe Heim of The Washington Post if there was anything Trump could do that would cause white evangelicals to abandon him. Short answer—Falwell thinks there is not. “I know that he only wants what’s best for this country, and I know anything he does, it may not be ideologically ‘conservative,’ but it’s going to be what’s best for this country, and I can’t imagine him doing anything that’s not good for the country,” Falwell explains. In October, PRRI found that white evangelical Protestants are unique among major religious groups in their support for Trump. Sixty-eight percent of white evangelical Protestants have a favorable view of President Trump. By contrast, majorities of black Protestants (80 percent), religiously unaffiliated Americans (75 percent), Hispanic Catholics (74 percent), non-Christian religious Americans (73 percent), white mainline Protestants (52 percent), and white Catholics (52 percent) have a negative opinion of Trump.