Early Returns

Policy Problems, Polling and Hypocrisy

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

1. No, Donald Trump won't win over black voters. Why not? As Jonathan Collins reports at the Monkey Cage, a big reason is very simple: policy.

2. Dan Drezner on the foreign-policy process in the new administration, at least before the selection of a new national security adviser Monday (after Drezner's column came out). Call it the "before" look. We'll see if there's a better "after."

3. Political theorist Kathleen Arnold on the roots of immigration law, and why the president has unusual influence in this area. 

4. Natalie Jackson at the Huffington Post on Trump's approval polls so far.

5. Also: Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight on Trump's approval polls so far. Both excellent -- but I'm even more wary than Silver is of concluding much about live caller polls compared with others, especially with so little data. Remember, the nature of probability says that the more potential splits you examine, the more likely you are to find some that appear to be real but aren't. I've jumped too soon on this sort of thing before, and I've learned my lesson: I'm going to need overwhelming evidence before believing in real mode effects, and we're nowhere near that so far.

6. At least H.R. McMaster is getting solid reviews from pretty much everyone. Slate's Fred Kaplan is one of those -- with the big caveat that it all depends on whether he's really allowed to do his job. 

7. Very good Masha Gessen item from the New York Times on hypocrisy

8. Looking for clues about the 2018 midterm elections? Watch Virginia, where Democrats may have a surge of candidates running this year in state legislative elections. The Washington Post's Patricia Sullivan reports. I'm very interested to see if Democrats meet their goals -- and how strong the candidates turn out to be.  

9. Here at Bloomberg View, Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service argues that the U.S. has too many presidential appointees. I strongly agree with him on the importance of streamlining the confirmation process. But while I'm open to specific arguments, in general I think the U.S. system empowers the president and Congress at the expense of the bureaucracy, which as I see it makes for a stronger democracy. We do need to get the confirmation process under control, however; no one is helped by a system that leaves so many chairs empty for so long.

10. Stan Collender on what to expect from Trump's budget

11. And see also Jonathan Chait on Republicans' plans for tax cuts

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