August 19, 2019

A 64 percent majority of U.S. adults agreed that free trade is good for America in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Sunday, while only 27 percent said free trade is bad, harming manufacturing and other industries. Support for free trade is up 7 points from WSJ/NBC polling in 2017 and a 13-point jump from 2015, thanks largely to increased support from Democrats and independents. This is the highest number in favor of free trade in WSJ/NBC News polling on the question.

Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, blamed Trump's trade wars with China and other nations. "While Trump plays a game of chicken on tariffs, a record number of Americans believe that free trade is good," he noted. McInturff pointed to the growing support among Democrats: "If Donald Trump is for it and you're a Democrat, you move in a very different direction."

On Sunday's Meet the Press, Chuck Todd said "Democrats reflexively opposing anything this president does" is one factor in the opinion shift "from a 10-point spread to a 40-point spread," but "some of it also reflects voter anxiety about the president's trade policies."

The WSJ/NBC poll, conducted via phone Aug. 10-14 among 1,000 adults, has an overall margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points. Peter Weber

11:57 a.m.

President Trump apparently didn't watch much Looney Tunes as a kid. Otherwise, thanks to Yosemite Sam, he'd probably know how to pronounce the name of one the United States' more famous national parks.

While signing the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act — a conservation bill aimed at repairing national park infrastructure, permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and creating thousands of jobs — on Tuesday, the president waxed poetic about the "towering sequoias" in California's Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, he flubbed the pronunciation (twice), which wound up overshadowing the majestic image he was trying to conjure. Tim O'Donnell

11:49 a.m.

Kanye West's alleged presidential bid is abandoning the Garden State.

West, the rapper whose announcement that he'd be entering the 2020 presidential race last month was met with widespread skepticism, has scrapped his effort to appear on the ballot in New Jersey, the New Jersey Globe reports.

West had submitted the petition signatures required to get on the ballot, but the signatures were challenged by a lawyer, Scott Salmon, who called them "egregiously bad, almost to a degree insulting," Politico reports. Not only was some necessary information and paperwork reportedly not provided, but a complaint said that "a number of signatures appear nearly identical," The Associated Press writes.

"At this time, Kanye 2020 has no further option than to regrettably withdraw from New Jersey and cease further efforts to place Mr. West's name on the New Jersey ballot," the campaign said in an email as it withdrew the petition, per AP.

West did previously qualify for the Oklahoma ballot, but in addition to New Jersey, he's also facing challenges while trying to get on the ballot in Illinois, reports New York Magazine. By the time West announced his intent to run for president, the deadline to appear on the ballot had already passed in many states, and more deadlines are fast approaching, as The Washington Post's Dave Weigel helpfully illustrates.

In fact, as Weigel notes, West already isn't going to be on the ballot in states with more than 200 electoral votes. In other words, don't bet on an upset win by the Birthday Party. Brendan Morrow

11:46 a.m.

President Trump may end up throwing out what was supposed to be the biggest foreign policy achievement of his first term.

Trump has spent pretty much all of his presidency trying to work out a trade deal with China, sparking an all-out tariff war along the way. But all of that may have been for naught as Trump's advisers work to convince him to "nuke" the whole thing before November, saying it's his best chance to boost his re-election chances, four people with knowledge of the situation tell The Daily Beast.

National and swing state polls keep putting former Vice President Joe Biden safely ahead of Trump to win this fall's election, and advisers have been looking for ways to change his fate. Conservative economist Stephen Moore tells The Daily Beast it could benefit Trump to capitalize on anti-China sentiment both within the White House and around the country right now. And while Moore stopped short of calling to completely abandon the trade deal, Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro and other aides have reportedly gotten Trump at least considering it.

The U.S. and China reached a "phase one" trade deal in February, which didn't actually mark much concrete progress after two years of negotiations and tit-for-tat tariffs. Trump has only ramped up his criticism of China since then, and has repeatedly said he wants to hold it responsible for the coronavirus pandemic. It's unclear how blowing up the deal would punish China for COVID-19 or help the American farmers and businesses who the trade war has hurt along the way. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:11 a.m.

Sure, it's a small sample size, but it appears professional athletes have at least one reason to enjoy playing in front of crowdless stadiums and arenas, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Since fans can't attend games because of the coronavirus pandemic, NBA and European soccer players have been performing in mostly empty venues, which has increased their shooting percentages. After a smattering of games, NBA players are shooting both free throws and corner threes more efficiently than they were before the pandemic paused the season back in March. At that point, the league average from the free throw line was 77.1 percent, a figure that's up to 80.6 percent in the Orlando bubble, per the Journal. Corner threes, meanwhile, are finding the bottom of the net 42.8 percent of the time now compared to the previous 38.9 percent.

The Brooklyn Nets' Joe Harris, a known sharpshooter, indicated the lack of fans probably has a greater effect on free throw shooting, since players are no longer facing a backdrop of fans when at the line. He added he doesn't usually notice fans around him when he fires threes from the corner, suggesting the statistical difference there could be more random.

European soccer leagues have a little bit more data to work with, as they've been back in action for a couple of months. In the English Premier League, free kicks were converted just 6 percent of the time before the pandemic, compared to 10 percent after the restart. The difference is more striking when looking at the raw totals. In 288 pre-lockdown matches, 16 goals were scored on free kicks. There have been 10 in the 92 played since teams returned to the pitch. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

10:26 a.m.

Bolivia couldn't find a balance between preventing coronavirus spread and keeping its children learning.

The South American country will simply cancel the rest of its school year, its president Jeanine Añez Chavez announced Sunday. While it originally planned to run digital classes through December, the fact that most children in the country don't have internet made that impossible, DW reports.

Bolivia shut down all of its schools in March, just a month after they opened for the year. It tried to operate virtual classes, but failed because high-speed internet doesn't extend beyond cities, leaving most of the country's rural population unconnected, minister of the presidency Yerko Núñez said. Public school teachers protested the virtualization efforts, saying it would only speed up the privatization of education. Private school teachers also feared they'd lose their incomes if their schools had to shut down, DW reports.

The decision comes as schools in the northern hemisphere struggle to figure out how they'll reopen in a month or less. Millions of Americans, particularly in rural areas, lack internet access, and even with it, it's hard to keep children engaged and learning remotely. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:13 a.m.

China's state media isn't happy with President Trump's — and possibly Microsoft's — plans for TikTok.

In an editorial published this week about the potential sale of TikTok in the United States, the Beijing-run China Daily newspaper slams the Trump administration while warning that China "will by no means accept the 'theft' of a Chinese technology company," per Bloomberg.

U.S. lawmakers have long raised security concerns about TikTok, the video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, and President Trump recently vowed to ban it in the United States. On Monday, he said he would not do so quite yet as Microsoft explores a potential purchase. Strangely, Trump also demanded that the U.S Treasury receives a "very substantial" cut of such a sale.

As those talks unfold, the editorial in the China Daily paper compares the United States' actions to an "officially sanctioned 'steal' of Chinese technology" while warning that China "has plenty of ways to respond if the administration carries out its planned smash and grab."

Meanwhile, another editorial from the state-run Global Times calls Washington "unreasonable" while asserting that "many of the U.S. practices, including banning TikTok, show the country's weakening competitiveness." CNN notes that these editorials are "are often looked upon as a barometer of sentiment among senior officials" in China.

After his threat to ban TikTok, Trump on Monday said an American company would have until Sept. 15 to purchase it before it would "close down," though with just 11 days to go until that deadline, the clock is ticking. Brendan Morrow

10:10 a.m.

President Trump's re-election chances are in trouble and at least one White House official is blaming the people around him, Politico reports.

Trump's decline in popularity began in March right around the time White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took on the role and began building a new White House team. That timing also coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which certainly has played a major, if not singular, role in turning the tide of public opinion, but some Trump aides believe Meadows' arrival isn't insignificant, per Politico.

"I don't think his newest team is serving him well," a White House official told Politico. "In fact, it's worse than ever. They came in thinking they know best, and they've not bothered to understand the president of the West Wing."

The official said Meadows' team consists of "Kool-Aid drinkers," who may not be giving the commander-in-chief "the whole picture," which is something the official said Trump has never wanted from his staff. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

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