The Pulse: What Orlando means

William JordanUS Elections Editor
June 14, 2016, 7:28 AM GMT+0

Hello, I'm Will Jordan and welcome to The Pulse.

Good morning. The primary is all but over, as the country reels from yet another shocking attack.

  1. How will Americans respond to the Orlando attacks?

    The weekend’s horrific shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida was unique both for its complex circumstances – a terror attack at a gay nightclub – and its scale – with 49 killed, it is the deadliest shooting in US history. But during the Obama era mass shootings have not led to increased support for gun control, which fell in popularity during the early-2000s now divides the country about evenly (though specific measures receive wider support). There is more evidence that prominent terror attacks move opinions, including making people suspicious of neighbors, more supportive of hawkish policies and even making them give lower evaluations to Hillary Clinton and Democrats in general, according to a 2005 study political scientists Jennifer Merolla and Elizabeth Zechmeister. Some of this rooted in Republicans’ historical reputation for taking a harder line in foreign affairs. Even so, YouGov’s own historical data suggests the fears associated with terror attacks can rise and fall again quickly.

  1. Do terror attacks help Donald Trump?

    Donald Trump has no traditional experience in national security. But he has loudly embraced radical policies like banning Muslims from entering the US – policies one can imagine growing more popular with some people at times of crisis. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver theorized that terror attacks in late 2015 helped Trump with Republicans. On the other hand, in YouGov’s own polling, in the weeks before and after the San Bernardino attacks last December, the share of all Americans confident in Trump’s ability to “deal wisely with an international crisis” fell from 34% to 30%. In the latter survey only 35% were confident in his ability to deal wisely with terrorism specifically. For Hillary Clinton: 42% were confident in her ability to deal with an international crisis, 39% in her ability to deal with terrorism.
  2. So, can Hillary Clinton win over foreign policy-minded Republicans?

    It depends. On the surface, Clinton’s speech in San Diego two weeks ago and yesterday appeared to be aimed at peeling some of these voters away from Trump. YouGov’s polling suggests that she may have a shot at winning over certain Republicans – but it’s not the hawkish ones, or the ones who care most about “foreign policy”. The group of Republicans least likely to pick Trump over Clinton is those who are simply the most uneasy about Trump himself, and see him as unfit to be Commander-in-Chief as well as dishonest and unqualified.

    This may really be Clinton’s goal, and why her speech was as much about reinforcing the idea Trump is “temperamentally unfit” for the presidency as it was about laying an alternative foreign policy vision.
  3. Does Obama have a role to play?

    As president, clearly he does. His decisions about how to talk about terrorism and gun control will shape how Clinton’s own positions are covered. Changing assessments of his foreign policy are also likely to reflect back on assessment’s of Clinton’s tenure as Secretary State. Last week the YouGov/Economist Poll had is approval rating at 42% for terrorism and 40% for foreign policy in general. Both figures have improved compared to last winter, but fall short of his numbers overall (46%) or on the economy (45%) suggesting national security issues remain a weak point for the president – and a potential liability for Clinton in November.

  1. Isn’t there still a Democratic primary going on?

    The Democratic Party’s most prominent and popular leaders – Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren – have effectively declared the Democratic primary over in endorsing presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. Last week she won big in California and now has a huge delegate lead, bigger than any other point during the race. Just don’t tell Bernie Sanders, who has been campaigning this past week in Washington, D.C., the location of the final primary of the season. In Sanders’s defense, he appears to be winding things down; while he has not admitted defeat, he will be meeting with Clinton on Tuesday to discuss “what kind of platform she will be supporting”.
  2. Something else: Happy Birthday Donald Trump

    Below is a slightly updated version of a graphic I made early in the primary season – so early, in fact, that Trump, who turns 70 today, was not initially included. At that point, in fact, it looked like the eventual Republican nominee could turn out to be someone much younger than the Democrat for the first time since the 1940s (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both 45; Hillary Clinton will be 69 on election day). Donald Trump, the oldest candidate to run, changed that.

    The graphic also points to a milestone not widely acknowledged: in addition to becoming the first woman major party nominee in history, Hillary Clinton will be the oldest Democratic nominee in the history of her party. In addition, the combined age of the Democratic and Republican party nominees, at 139, is the oldest ever for those two parties. Second place goes to the 130-year comination of Ronald Reagan (nearly 74) and Walter Mondale* (56) in 1984.

    *Correction (6/14): The email version of this article listed Michael Dukakis as Ronald Reagan's 1984 opponent, when it was of course Walter Mondale. It also listed Clinton and Trump's combined age as 135, instead of 139. Your author deeply regrets the errors.

Follow me for constant updates on the race, and other good stuff too.

The Pulse is a weekly newsletter YouGov has launched ahead of the 2016 primaries and general election to give readers a one-stop-shop for the latest polling-related news from the campaign. In addition to YouGov’s own extensive coverage of the election, The Pulse gives you the five things you need to know about the state of the campaign each week (and one you don't need to know but we think is worth knowing anyway!).

Explore more data & articles