HUFFPOLLSTER: The One Thing Americans Can Agree On Is That They’re Divided

85 percent think the country is more deeply divided on major issues than in recent years.

Americans find common ground in the notion that they’re hopelessly split, but most have higher hopes for Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress. President Obama is getting set to leave office on a political high note. And election predictions may need to look beyond polling for data. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

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AMERICANS AGREE THAT THEY’RE DIVIDED - There’s only one thing that Americans can agree on politically right now: 85 percent say that the country is more deeply divided on major issues than it has been in the last several years, according to a recent CNN/ORC national poll. That number remains the same regardless of party affiliation ― 84 percent of Democrats, 86 percent of independents and 85 percent of Republicans say divisiveness is higher now than in recent years. That number is backed up by answers to basically every other question on the survey that show a wide gulf between Democrats’ and Republicans’ views. For example, 66 percent of Democrats say things are going “fairly well” or “very well” in the country, while 68 percent of Republicans say things are going “pretty badly” or “very badly.” A recent national poll from Quinnipiac shows that the divide extends to economic concerns: 64 percent of Democrats say the state of the nation’s economy is excellent or very good, while 87 percent of Republicans say it’s not so good or poor. [CNN on state of the country, CNN on divisiveness, Quinnipiac]  

MOST EXPECT TRUMP TO WORK WITH DEMOCRATS - Frank Newport: “Although Republican President-elect Donald Trump will take office with his party in firm control of Congress, a majority of Americans (58%) are optimistic that he will make a sincere effort to work with Democrats to find solutions to the nation’s problems. The same majority also believe that Democrats in Congress will sincerely try to work with Trump. Americans are less sure (49%) that Republicans in Congress will reach across the aisle. These results, from Gallup’s Nov. 9-13 post-election survey, are updates to similar questions Gallup asked after the 2008 and 2012 elections. Americans were significantly more hopeful in 2008 about the possibilities of newly elected President Barack Obama than they are now about Trump. Eight in 10 Americans at the time expected Obama would cooperate with the opposing party in Congress….Although the political circumstances were different four years ago than they are now, just like today, Americans then gave more credit to the Democrats than to the Republicans in Congress for willingness to cooperate with the other party.” [Gallup]

OBAMA’S APPROVAL RATING REMAINS HIGH - Quinnipiac University: “American voters approve 50 - 43 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his highest score since a 53 - 40 percent approval rating December 6, 2012, right after he won reelection, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. President Obama has been a ‘great’ president, 22 percent of voters say, while 33 percent say he has been a ‘good’ president, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. Another 23 percent say ‘not so good’ and 22 percent say he has been a ‘bad’ president. Obama’s policies have helped the nation’s economy, 44 percent of voters say, as 38 percent say his policies have hurt the economy and 16 percent say his policies haven’t made a difference. But only 21 percent of voters say Obama’s policies have helped their personal financial situation, as 33 percent say these policies have hurt them personally and 44 percent say they’ve made no difference.” [Quinnipiac]

HuffPost Pollster gives Obama an average approval rating of nearly 54 percent, with 43 percent disapproving, his best numbers since his first year in office, 2009. Recent surveys, including Gallup’s, have shown his approval stretching as high as 57 percent. [Pollster chart]

WE MIGHT NEED TO LOOK BEYOND POLLS TO PREDICT ELECTION OUTCOMES - Kristen Soltis Anderson and Patrick Ruffini:Despite America’s surprise at Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, not all polls failed in 2016…. But polls were off in enough other states by large enough magnitudes to mislead forecasters about which states were in play and which way the electoral college would go…. Indeed, there were signs this year that the Democrats’ electoral map was more fragile than the polls made it appear to be. While the polls gave conflicting signals about the state of play in the upper Midwest... Demographic modeling by the likes of David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report provided a more accurate view, showing the Rust Belt poised to move solidly toward Trump…. We can learn from the digital world, too…. Throughout the election, we tracked conversations among thousands of partisans on Twitter to gauge which side seemed more interested and enthusiastic at any given moment. The data in the last few weeks was revealing: The volume of liberal attacks on Trump began to decline around the time of the final debate, while conservatives continued to ratchet up the pressure on Clinton heading into Election Day…. The growing availability of data, from digital and traditional sources, and the ability to analyze it mean we now have more than just polls to understand the electorate.” [WashPost]

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TUESDAY’S ‘OUTLIERS’ - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data: 

-Neither Republicans nor Democrats have a surefire winning coalition on their side. [HuffPost]

-Danielle Kurtzleben knocks down the Trump team’s claims of voter fraud. [NPR]

-Christie Aschwanden delves into the psyche of Internet commenters. [538]

-Aaron Blake notes that Donald Trump’s mandate to govern is small given his popular vote loss. [WashPost]  

-Americans think belief in Santa Claus is declining. [Ipsos]