In this file:


·         Democrats Viewed as Divided, but Satisfied With Candidates

·         Some Midwest farmers see hope in Democrats' climate platforms




Democrats Viewed as Divided, but Satisfied With Candidates


o   Two-thirds of Americans consider the Democrats divided rather than united

o   Majority of 56% consider Republican Party united

o   Supporters of both parties satisfied with choices for 2020 nomination


By Lydia Saad, GALLUP

Feb 7, 2020


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With 11 Democrats vying for their party's 2020 presidential nomination as the primary season kicks off, 65% of Americans describe the Democratic Party as divided while 34% see it as united. By contrast, the majority of Americans (56%) say the Republican Party is united versus 43% divided.


These results are based on a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 16-29, before the near party-line vote in the U.S. Senate to acquit President Donald Trump on impeachment charges -- as well as before the Iowa caucuses, which were marred by substantial vote-counting delays.


The same question about party cohesion was asked by CBS News in 2016 when both major parties had competitive races for their party's presidential nomination. Between May and October of that year, Americans were much more likely to consider the Republican Party as divided (83%, on average) than the Democratic Party (49%), likely reflecting the GOP's large field of primary candidates and political outsider Trump eventually winning the party's nomination.


Democrats Less Confident Than Republicans in Own Party's Unity


Republicans overwhelmingly see their party as united (76%); just 24% call it divided. By contrast, Democrats are evenly split between those seeing their own party as united (51%) or divided (49%).


Democrats are also more tentative about calling the Republican Party divided (56%) than Republicans are about labeling the Democratic Party this way (78%).


The views of political independents toward each party come closer to that of the opposing party. Two-thirds of independents consider the Democrats divided, while they are evenly split in perceptions of the Republican Party, with a bare majority of 51% calling it united.


Republicans and Democrats Express High Satisfaction With Party's Field


While having a large field of candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic nomination may create the perception of party division, the advantage is that the rank and file has plenty of choices. This is reflected in the large percentage of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (74%) who currently say they are pleased with the selection of candidates running for the party's nomination. Today's figure is nearly identical to the 75% recorded this past September when an even larger number of Democrats were in the field.


Democratic satisfaction with their party's choices this election cycle is similar to what Gallup found for the 2008 election that featured Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the chief contestants. It far exceeds the level of Democratic contentment found in 1992, 2004 and 2016.


Republicans match Democrats in satisfaction with their own party's candidates.


Seventy-eight percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they are generally pleased with their selection of candidates, up slightly from 72% last fall. This high level of satisfaction probably reflects Republicans' positive feelings toward Trump -- despite his impeachment, 90% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they approve of the job he is doing as president. Meanwhile, for those who don't like Trump, two Republican opponents are attempting to get on state ballots as Trump alternatives -- Joe Walsh, former congressman from Illinois, and William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts.


The last time Republicans approached this level of satisfaction was in 2007 as the 2008 Republican presidential field was forming, which included eventual nominee John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and others. It well exceeds their satisfaction when George W. Bush was running for re-election largely unopposed; 56% in October 2003 said they were generally pleased with the selection of GOP candidates. It also surpasses their level of satisfaction in the open races in 1996, 2012 and 2016.


Bottom Line


The Democratic Party looks much more divided to Americans at this moment than does the Republican Party. That's not surprising, since Democrats are waging a contentious battle for the 2020 presidential nomination while Republicans have rallied around President Trump amid his impeachment trial.


Being perceived as the more divided party didn't prevent the Republican candidate from winning the election in 2016 (albeit with a loss in the popular vote). Hence, the current results don't represent a clear problem for Democrats, so long as the Democratic electorate coalesces behind its party's nominee by this fall. With the new Gallup poll also showing an increase in the percentage of Democrats who prioritize having a candidate who agrees with them on the issues rather than being the candidate best able to beat Trump, that unity could be harder to come by -- but the election is also nine months away, and attitudes could change before then.


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Some Midwest farmers see hope in Democrats' climate platforms


Cody Nelson, MPR News (MN)

February 7, 2020


Lacona, Iowa | In many ways, Justin Jordan is the quintessential Iowa farmer. He grows soybeans and corn while raising beef cattle on his 410 rolling acres that sit about an hour southeast of Des Moines, Iowa.


He’s the fifth generation of farmers in his family. But Jordan tends his land differently from his father and those before him. He practices no-till farming, plants cover crops and uses as few chemical-based fertilizers as possible — all with the end goal of healthier soil and water.


“Basically, trying to farm as close to nature as possible,” Jordan said.


Those practices are also good for the climate because they store carbon in the ground. Jordan knows farmers like him are in the minority. But being in Iowa, these climate-conscious farmers have had the ear of presidential candidates for the past year. They’ve taken advantage of it, too.


Jordan discussed his climate-friendly farm practices with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this election cycle. Other like-minded farmers have done the same with other Democratic candidates.


This small group of farmers in Iowa believe they’ve influenced the field of Democratic presidential candidates to focus more on climate change and how agriculture can be part of the solution to global warming.


“Certainly they're talking about climate more than they even were a year ago when the campaign started,” said Laura Krouse, a farmer from near Mt. Vernon, Iowa. “They didn't really talk about climate at all and now they do all the time.”


All four Democratic front-runners — Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden — have climate plans that specifically address how farmers can be part of the climate change solution. Their plans would have implications for agriculture in Minnesota, Iowa and beyond.


Overall, the climate conversation has evolved from the 2016 presidential campaign, at least on the Democratic side. Rather than talking about whether climate change is worth addressing, candidates are getting into specifics on how to do so, said Jessica Hellman, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.


For example, she said, candidates differ on “how much they rely on policy and incentives to stimulate economic change, and how much they're willing to specifically allocate from the federal government to to steer that process.”


A popular strategy among farmers here is government-incentivized carbon sequestration. In other words, paying farmers for using techniques that keep carbon in the ground rather than in the air where it causes climate change.


Many Democratic candidates are calling for this exact plan. Sanders’ platform says it outright:


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