AMNA NAWAZ: A new “PBS NewsHour”/NPR/Marist
poll offers clues into where voters stand on President Trump, the 2020 Democratic candidates
and health care; plus, what to expect from Wednesday’s Mueller hearings. Analyzing all this and more, our Politics
Monday team. That’s Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report
and host of “Politics With Amy Walter on WNYC Radio, and Tamara Keith of NPR. She also co-hosts “The NPR Politics Podcast.” Amy and Tam, welcome to you both. Happy Monday. Shall we dig into this hole? TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Let’s. AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Please. AMNA NAWAZ: Let’s do it. Let’s take a look at the presidential approval
rating. This is its highest point ever, 44 percent. That has inched up recently. And take a look at what’s driving that increase
right here, among independents, a bit of a shift. It was 42 percent. Sorry. Rather, it was 35 percent in June. That’s now up to 42 percent. Amy, when you see those numbers, what do you
think? AMY WALTER: So the good news for the president
is this is the first time since Marist has been polling his presidency that he’s had
a 40 percent approval, or over 40 percent approval rating, for three consecutive polls
that they have taken. So that’s the good news. But here’s underneath it all some challenges
for the president. I think the number one number at least that
I looked at was, if you had said to me there’s a president running for reelection, 53 percent
of voters say they think he’s doing a good job on the economy, 65 percent of voters said
the economy is working well for them personally, including almost half of Democrats and 62
percent of independents, you would say, that president is going to get reelected, right? People feel good about the economy. They personally feel good, including Democrats. And then you see his overall approval rating
is 44 percent, right, which I guess there’s a disconnect there, people feeling good about
the economy. They’re not feeling particularly good about
the president himself. And underneath this too for Democrats, though,
there’s some warning signs. The number that really stood out for me when
they asked, do you think the ideas offered by Democrats move the country in the right
direction or wrong direction, 43 percent said wrong direction, 46 percent the right direction,
which is part of the reason I think you’re seeing that independent number move and the
overall number move, is that it’s not just Trump, the president, in a sort of a vacuum. It’s now the president up against the concept
of Democrats. There’s no Democratic nominee, but the concept
that people saw at the Democratic debates and the fight that they’re seeing right now
among Democratic candidates. AMNA NAWAZ: And I want to talk specifically
about one of those policies and some of the plans they have in just a second. But, Tam, over to you. That shift in independents, that might surprise
a lot of people, though. Is there something in the message the president’s
delivering or, as Amy is suggesting, is it really just, OK, we’re not sure what the Democrats
are putting forward, so we will go here? TAMARA KEITH: I think we can’t know for certain,
but I think Amy is right on in saying that approval for the economy is strong. People feel good about the economy. They feel good about how they’re doing. And an important part of presidential approval
traditionally is, how do you feel about how the country is doing? How do you feel about the economy? So the president has that going for him. What he has potentially weighing him down
is what’s always weighed him down, which is the tweets and the comments and the feuds
and the fights and the things that make people feel uncomfortable about him. AMNA NAWAZ: So take a look at how folks are
looking at the Democratic candidates. This is another graphic we’re pulling out
from this new poll today. Back in June, people were asked, what’s more
important to them, a nominee who shares their values or someone who can beat Trump? Slightly more people wanted someone who shares
their values back in June. Now that has shifted. More people want a nominee who can beat Donald
Trump in the next election. It’s an eight-point jump there. What do you make when you look at those numbers? TAMARA KEITH: Those numbers reflect everything
that I have been told by any voter I have talked to in any early state, early voting
state, in this country, which is you hear again and again and again: I want to beat
Donald Trump. I want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. Now, try to pull out of them, what does that
mean, and a lot of them have a lot of different ideas. But the fact that they are willing to sort
of put their own personal priorities behind the big one, which is preventing the president
from being reelected, is an indication of just how strongly Democrats feel heading into
this election. AMY WALTER: And what that means — that’s
a very good point, because the number that really didn’t much between June and July when
you ask Democrats, have you settled on a candidate yet? Nineteen percent say yes. Back in June, it was 14 percent. So it’s not exactly skyrocketing now. People say, well, I know who the most — normally,
you would look at that and you say, well, if those numbers are moving on I want a candidate
who can be elected, certainly, they must be agreeing on who that most electable candidate
is. That is not the case. TAMARA KEITH: There’s a really big argument
right now in the Democratic primary about what it means to be electable and how — what
is electable for Democrats this time around? And that is completely unsettled, which is
showing up in a lot of these numbers. AMNA NAWAZ: Very quickly, I want to get to
one last interesting thing from this poll. This is on one specific issue, right? This is how Democrats are looking at health
care and what voters say that they want. There’s a big divide among the Democratic
Party, right? But this is what people say that they want;
70 percent of Americans favor Medicare for all who want it, which basically means they
want choice between a national health insurance program or a private health insurance. Amy, there’s still a big divide among the
Democratic candidates about what kind of plan they’re actually going to get behind. AMY WALTER: There is. And the one thing that I noticed in this poll,
when they asked Democrats that question, the Medicare for all is popular, more popular
among people who identify as progressive, so liberal or very liberal, but it also has
a 55 percent approval rating among moderates as well. So this is one of those issues that, if you’re
Joe Biden or some of the other more moderate members of the 2020 Democratic class running
for president, you point to that number, you say, look, 41 percent — only 41 percent of
overall Americans like this idea of a Medicare for all that gets rid of private insurance. But you have to convince members of your own
party, most of whom, two-thirds of them, are supportive of the Bernie Sanders model, that
it’s better to look at, again, going to the electability question, can somebody with this
sort of position get elected, when only 40 percent approve of it? AMNA NAWAZ: Let’s take a look at another story
we have been following. And that is the ongoing tweetstorm from the
president; 10:48 this morning, he tweeted this, in his latest in a series about the
four young congresswomen of color. “The Squad,” as they’re known, he says, “is
a very racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, not very smart. They’re pulling the once great Democrat Party
far left.” He goes on specifically about other issues. Tam, as I mentioned, this was 10:48 this morning. Every time we think this has gone away, the
president tweets about it again. Is this just what we’re going to continue
to see? TAMARA KEITH: Oh, right through to the election. I mean, I think he — if he could continue
to talk about the squad forever, he would. And this, no, I’m not the racist, you’re the
racist, they’re the real racists — I mean, for months, I have been hearing on conservative
talk various hosts saying, oh, my gosh, this congresswoman, that congresswoman, Ocasio-Cortez,
or Ilhan Omar, so racist. They say it again and again in conservative
media. And this is the president sort of reflecting
that messaging. And it’s messaging that you hear when you
talk to his supporters. They volunteer it. They volunteer those names of those congresswomen
and say, wow, they’re racist. AMNA NAWAZ: Tam, I hate to do this to you. One minute left. But there’s a big day coming up this week. TAMARA KEITH: Yes. AMNA NAWAZ: Robert Mueller is going to be
on Capitol Hill testifying. It’s the first time we hear from him directly. What is the Democrats’ strategy here, and
how do Republicans counter it? TAMARA KEITH: Well, so what Democrats want
is for people who didn’t read the book or read the report to watch the movie, watch
the TV show, see some of the elements that were in that report and say, oh, wow, there
was more there than I realized. What the president and his allies want is
a dud. They want people either not to watch it, not
to pay attention, or for Mueller to give his testimony, for it to be bland, and for them
to be able to just say, well, there’s nothing more than you saw in the report, and the report
speaks for itself, the end. AMNA NAWAZ: Fifteen seconds. What do you think? (CROSSTALK) AMY WALTER: I think, depending on what kind
of Democrat you are, the outcome is very different. If you’re a moderate, you would hope that
maybe there’s nothing that’s really incredible that comes out of this that pushes the impeachment
debate into a reality. If you are someone on the progressive end
or have signed on already to saying you wanted to impeach the president, you’re hoping there
will be momentum behind that. AMNA NAWAZ: And the president says that he
might watch a little bit of it. AMY WALTER: Might. AMNA NAWAZ: Maybe. AMY WALTER: Maybe. AMNA NAWAZ: Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, Politics
Monday. Thanks for being here. AMY WALTER: You’re welcome. TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.

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