By the numbers
September 24, 2018

Measuring the effect of a political endorsement is tricky: For some voters, it may be a determining factor. For others, it may simply match previously-held beliefs. But endorsements do offer a telling gauge of how a political party's base is thinking.

For the Republican Party in 2018, endorsements from President Trump and the Koch network correlate with victory by a large margin. Nearly 90 percent of the candidates who gained these coveted affirmations won their primary this year, a FiveThirtyEight analysis finds. No other endorser can boast above a two-thirds success rate.


"That's especially interesting given the Kochs' opposition to Trump's trade policies and Trump's public feud with the brothers," FiveThirtyEight notes. Charles Koch has said Trump's principles are "antithetical" to his own, calling the president's Muslim registry proposal "reminiscent of Nazi Germany," "monstrous," and "frightening."

Also interesting is what falls at the bottom of the list. For all the present furor over the possibility of a conservative-majority Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, pro-life groups Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List are in the bottom third of endorsers.

FiveThirtyEight conducted a similar analysis of Democrats earlier this year and found former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Democratic Party committees were the standout endorsers. Bonnie Kristian

July 31, 2018

A single decade has seen the U.S. media industry shrink by nearly a quarter, a Pew Research analysis published Monday reports.

Newsroom jobs in America declined by 23 percent between 2008 and 2017, from 114,000 employees at newspapers, radio, cable, broadcast news, and digital-native outlets to just 88,000.

Newsroom employees include reporters, editors, photographers, and videographers. In every outlet category, reporters make up about half the newsroom staff.

Newspapers were hit particularly hard, losing 45 percent of employees over this time. Digital-native outlets fared the best, posting a gain of about 6,000 jobs. Broadcast television was the only other sub-sector to see improvement, reporting a slight expansion from 28,000 to 29,000 newsroom employees.

Read The Week's Ryan Cooper on why local government might be the solution to local newspapers' woes. Bonnie Kristian

June 28, 2018

President Trump is ramping up his denials about Russia having any hand in the 2016 election as well as his claims that there is some sort of conspiracy, or "witch hunt," against him. Last June, Trump tweeted about how there was "no collusion" or collusion specifically between the Russians and the Democrats five different times. By this spring, such tweets were in the double-digits:

Tweets about 'no collusion'

June 2017: 5

January 2018: 3

February 2018 : 8

March 2018: 6

April 2018: 9

May 2018: 13

June 1-28, 2018: 11 times, including three times today alone

There is a similar pattern when you trace Trump's use of the word "witch hunt," CNN's David P. Gelles noticed:

The same is also true for mentions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, Politico's Kyle Cheney shared:

Ahead of the announcement that he would be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, Trump tweeted Thursday: "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election! Where is the DNC server, and why didn't Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn't Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!"

CBS News' Mark Knoller offered the shorter version: "Pres repeats Kremlin denial, but charges FBI with corruption." Jeva Lange

November 18, 2017

The Pentagon on Friday released data on sexual assault in the military from 2013 to 2016. Reports of sexual assault rose considerably during that time, from 3,604 cases in 2012 to 6,172 in 2016.

However, increased reports does not always mean increased incidents of sexual assault, as the Department of Defense estimates one-half to two-thirds of sexual assaults in the military go unreported. The DoD report argues the total number of sexual assaults actually declined from 2014 to 2016 — from about 20,300 to about 14,900 — even as reports multiplied.

This is not the first time similar data has been collected and published, but it is the first time it has been broken down by base, showing where each assault was reported. Among the bases with higher assault report counts were Norfolk, Virginia, with 270 reports in fiscal year 2016, 211 reports at a collection of bases in South Korea, and 199 at Fort Hood, Texas.

Read The Week's guide to the military's sexual assault epidemic here. Bonnie Kristian

October 30, 2017

White people in rural areas are the popular face of the opioid epidemic, but The Washington Post reports that a closer look at the numbers shows Native American communities have been hit the hardest.

Of course, there are far more white people than Native Americans in the United States, so there are also far more white people who suffer opioid addiction and overdose. However, the proportionate increase in overdose among Native American populations is much, much higher:

More than 52,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015 — a more than 200 percent increase from 16 years ago, according to a Centers for Disease Control report. The epidemic is especially centered outside cities and among Native Americans and whites. Deaths rose by 325 percent over the same period when you look only at rural areas, and by more than 500 percent among Native Americans and native Alaskans. [The Washington Post]

In fact, while white people overdose from heroin specifically at a slightly higher rate than Native Americans, overdose deaths from opioid use in general are more common among Native Americans than any other ethnic group:

(The Washington Post)

The Post's Monday report cites commentary on intergenerational trauma from Pew Charitable Trusts as a piece of the explanation for this disparity. Read the Pew analysis here. Bonnie Kristian

October 16, 2017

President Trump's campaign raised $11.6 million in the third quarter of 2017, Federal Election Commission filings published Sunday revealed. During the same period, the organization spent $1 million — one dollar of every four the campaign spent that quarter — on legal fees.

The legal expenditures primarily went to two firms, Politico reports. One is tasked with general defense of the campaign against legal challenges, like the lawsuit alleging Trump incited violence at a campaign rally in Kentucky. Another firm on the campaign payroll is representing Donald Trump Jr. in connection to the federal investigations into Russian election meddling.

To put the Trump outfit's spending in context, the Obama campaign spent $2.8 million on legal fees between the 2008 election and early 2011, which averages out to less than $300,000 per quarter. More broadly, presidential campaign legal spending has been on a steady upswing for years. In 2008, for example, then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain together spent more than double what John Kerry and George W. Bush paid in 2004. Obama's 2012 campaign was still paying off its legal debt in 2015. Bonnie Kristian

October 14, 2017

If it feels like 2017 has had more large-scale natural disasters than most years, that's because it has. This year has seen no less than 15 natural disasters that individually cost at least $1 billion in damage in the United States, the National Centers for Environmental Information reports.

The only year to date to clock more billion-dollar disasters was 2011, which totaled 16 such disasters. With two and a half months to go, 2017 could well match or break that record.

The $1-billion-or-more category is a broad one. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey are expected to cost $70 billion, $70.5 billion, and $81.5 billion, respectively, counting economic losses. The catastrophic wildfires currently tearing through California's wine country are also predicted to cost upwards of $70 billion including economic loss. Bonnie Kristian

August 21, 2017

How many voters could ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon take from President Trump? The question has become pertinent since Bannon's firing Friday, as it is still unclear how the once and future (err, current) Breitbart News chief will use his role in relation to the president.

Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight has done the math: By Enten's calculations, the "Bannon wing" of the Republican Party — which he defines as "Trump voters who are pro-police, against free trade, against the U.S. playing an active role (militarily and diplomatically) in the international community, strongly against illegal immigration, and in favor of more infrastructure spending" — accounts for about 15 percent of the GOP voter base. That's the proportion of Republicans who agree with Bannon on all five of those points, though there are certainly more who support only a plurality of these positions. Only 2 percent of Republicans disagree with all five.

While 15 percent is not a huge number, it's more than enough to swing an election. For comparison, Enten notes, Hispanic voters for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election accounted for just 12 percent of her vote. And in the GOP primaries, Trump won only 45 percent of Republican support, a figure that makes 15 percent look pretty crucial.

Of course, it's not as if Bannon could simply command these voters to drop Trump, but he is positioned to significantly influence their assessment of Trump's service come 2020. Bonnie Kristian

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