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Gov. Jerry Brown to launch satellite to track greenhouse gas emissions

California Gov. Jerry Brown started the week by signing a pair of actions to get his state to use nothing but electric power drawn from green sources like wind and solar by 2045. He ended the week Friday with a surprise: The state would launch its “own damn satellite” to track down greenhouse gas emitters who fuel global warming.

The twin actions were meant to demonstrate the power that California, and other cities, states, corporations and individuals have to take action against global warming — particularly in the face of perceived inattention or hostility from President Donald Trump and the federal government.

In the days in between the two announcements, Brown hosted a gathering of nearly 5,000 environmentalists, elected officials, corporate chieftains and activists from five continents at the Global Climate Action Summit here. They repeatedly promised to do more to rein in global warming while trying to spur on an equal level of commitment from 195 national governments.

The week was a melange of high aspirations, escalating pledges of greater action against greenhouse gases and jeremiads about the calamities that await the world if it continues to move slowly on what Brown and others deemed an “existential” threat to humanity.

“In California, with science under attack, in fact we’re under attack by a lot of people, including Donald Trump. But the climate threat still keeps growing,” Brown told delegates at Moscone Convention Center, near the city’s financial district. “With science still under attack, we’re going to launch our own satellite, our own damn satellite, to figure out where the pollution is.”

Brown’s office said the satellite — to be developed in conjunction with the San Francisco-based Earth-imaging company, Planet Labs, and launched by 2021 — will allow the state to track greenhouse gas emissions. It hasn’t yet been determined whether data from the satellite would be available to other governments or private organizations that want to track greenhouse gas emissions, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state Air Resources Control Board.

The government could then crack down on catastrophic releases of carbon dioxide, methane and other pollutants, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the state Air Resources Control Board. And it could use data to detect more chronic problems and develop policies to abate them, Young said.

The summit grew out of an alliance between Brown and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to push ahead with global warming solutions after Trump announced in June of 2017 that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, under which all nations set greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The organizers pushed hard for companies, governments and other organizations to increase their ambition for expanding and nurturing forests, buying more electric cars and buses and building more sustainable green buildings, among other innovations.

In the lead up to and during the conference, the organizers said, there were more than 500 commitments, including:

  • Governor’s from 17 states, and both U.S. political parties, pledging to spend $1.4 billion to drive down auto emissions. The money comes from a legal settlement paid by Volkswagen for falsifying the clean air performance of its cars.
  • Two giants of the electric vehicle charging business, ChargePoint and EV Box, pledged to build 3.5 million new charging points worldwide.
  • A total of 26 states, cities and businesses pledged to procure non-polluting vehicle fleets by 2030 and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promised that the city’s regional bus operation would be all electrical in time for it to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
  • New York announced it would double the investment by its city’s pension funds in companies offering climate change solutions — investing $4 billion over the next three years.

“I had the sense that there is a tipping point in climate change action,” said Mark Major, a senior adviser at the nonprofit Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport. “With the number and the scale of announcements, I felt like we were really accelerating the momentum, which is not where we were just three years ago.”

That’s when the world assembled in Paris and reached a historic compact on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, also agreeing to regular follow-up sessions to reassess. The goal of the international agreement is to keep global temperatures from increasing more than 2 degrees centigrade, and preferably no more than 1.5 degrees. Any more could put the planet’s ecosystems at unredeemable risk, scientists said.

The U.S. now stands alone as the only nation declaring its intention to walk away from the agreement.

That action and others by the Trump administration —including supporting a continuation of coal-burning electric power and favoring less stringent fuel-mileage standards for cars —made the president an object of derision here, a deep blue city where he is was already a political pariah.

Speakers issued multiple admonitions against complacency, regardless of how much participants felt as if they were making progress, and thereby thwarting Trump.

“I am going to tell the truth,” former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the Paris agreement, said on the final morning of the gathering, “and the truth is we are not anywhere near where we need to be with respect to the overall challenge of climate change.”

Indeed, a review by Data-Driven Yale and other scientists analyzed the plans of nearly 6,000 cities, states and regions, and more than 2,000 companies, worldwide and determined they would not be enough to fulfill the commitments made in Paris. Even those ambitious benchmarks were predicted to leave the Earth with 3 degrees of warming by 2100, a level that would trigger calamities, including famines and pandemics, scientists have said.

Kerry made his remarks at a panel on the health of the world’s oceans. A few minutes later, climate activist and former Vice President Al Gore took to the convention hall’s main stage to urge more action.

He began with a litany of the record temperatures, droughts, firestorms and severe weather that seem to be washing over the globe. “Every night on the television news it’s like a page has been ripped from the Book of Revelation,” Gore said, “and we have got to connect the dots between the cause and the effect.”

Gore described Trump’s desire to leave the Paris agreement as only “a speech,” since the accord sets timelines for withdrawal and the U.S. is not free to leave the pact until the day after the 2020 election. “And if there is a new president … excuse me for a moment,“ Gore said, before bowing his head and putting his hands together in apparent prayer, “then we are right back in.”

The crowd roared its approval. And many talked during the week about how the climate solutions were now known and so much momentum had been gained that it would be hard to stop them.

“Our world is in the early stages of a sustainability revolution that is built on the new digital tools of the internet,” said Gore. “This revolution is sweeping the globe. It has the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution revolution.”

It was Brown, 80 and just four months from retirement, who stole the headlines on the last day of his summit. His first two terms spanned from 1975 to 1983, when he earned the nickname of “Governor Moonbeam.” The moniker came, at least in part, because of Brown’s proposal for the state to join in a satellite project.

Well into his second stint in office, in late 2016, Brown told a group of scientists at an event for the American Geophysical Union that some people were denying the science that made it clear humanity’s activities were warming the planet. He described rumors that Trump would even “turn off the satellites that are monitoring the climate.”

While Trump has never said he intended to cut off data from America’s climate satellites, one of his advisers did say the administration intended to crack down on “politicized science” by refocusing the mission of NASA’s earth science division away from climate change.

So Brown told the gathering of scientists, also in San Francisco: “If Trump turns off the satellites, California is going to launch our own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data.”

It wasn’t clear then if Brown was serious about that pledge. On Friday, it abundantly clear he was not joking.

Hurricane Florence barrels toward US Southeast with ‘potential for unbelievable damage’

Hurricane Florence is rapidly intensifying and could strike a direct and dangerous blow anywhere from the Carolinas to the Mid-Atlantic region later this week.

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast, and that’s saying a lot given the impacts we’ve seen from hurricanes Diana, Hugo, Fran, Bonnie, Floyd, and Matthew,” the National Weather Service reported. “I can’t emphasize enough the potential for unbelievable damage from wind, storm surge, and inland flooding with this storm.”

Here’s what we know:

  • Florence is now a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph. On Wednesday, its peaks decreased slightly but the size of the wind field has increased.
  • As of 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center reports, Florence is around 385 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina and 420 miles east southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is traveling 315 degrees at 16 mph.
  • Hurricane Warnings have been issued from South Santee River, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, and the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds.
  • Florence is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 35 inches over portions of the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states from later this week into next week.
  • Forecasters said Florence is expected to gain strength through Wednesday, with some weakening expected Thursday.
  • Forecasters said the center of Florence will move over the southwestern Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda and the Bahamas Tuesday and Wednesday, and will approach the Carolinas on Thursday.
  • Governors of North and South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Virginia declared states of emergency far ahead of the approaching storm.
  • Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line re-routed its cruise ships.
  • Evacuation plans have been put into place for South Carolina, whose governor declared the entire coastline needed to evacuate starting at noon Tuesday. North Carolina issued a mandatory evacuation for Dare County residents that started Monday at 12 p.m. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a mandatory evacuation for the 245,000 people living along Virginia’s coast.


It’s too early to know the exact path of Florence, but forecasters said it could blow ashore by Thursday in the Carolinas and southern Virginia, a stretch of the U.S. East Coast that experts have identified as the most vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change.

The storm’s potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.

National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned that Florence was forecast to linger over the Carolinas once it reaches shore. People living well inland should prepare to lose power and endure flooding and other hazards, he warned.

“It’s not just the coast,” Graham said. “When you stall a system like this and it moves real slow, some of that rainfall can extend well away from the center.”

A warm ocean is the fuel that powers hurricanes, and Florence will be moving over waters where temperatures are peaking near 85 degrees, hurricane specialist Eric Blake wrote. And with little wind shear to pull the storm apart, Florence’s hurricane wind field was expected to expand over the coming days, increasing its storm surge and inland wind threats.

Navy ships off Virginia’s coast were preparing to sail out of the path, a North Carolina university has already canceled classes and people have begun stocking up on plywood, bottled water and other supplies.

Red flags have already been flying on beaches, warning swimmers to stay out of the water as seas began kicking up. People rushed to get emergency kits ready, map out escape routes, fill sandbags and secure their homes.

Hurricane Maria kills 2,975; Puerto Rico updates official death toll

An estimated 2,975 people died in Puerto Rico in the five months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last September, a far higher number than the government’s official death toll count of 64.

The new findings are from an independent study conducted by George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health, which was commissioned by island officials for more than $300,000.

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced that his administration is updating its death toll count of 64 to match GWU’s 2, 975, “keeping in mind that it’s still an estimate.”

“The number of excess deaths is still very big and now, as a society, we need to come together and look forward to the future,” said Rosselló.

The Puerto Rican government said earlier this month that it was not updating its official death count until the findings were published.

According to the report, the number of excess deaths, which took place from September 2017 to February 2018, represent a 22 percent increase from what would have been expected during that time period.

This is not the first study that has tried to calculate the deaths following the storm; a Harvard University study out in May estimated that 4,645 more people died from Sept. 20 to Dec. 31, 2017, than in that same period in 2016.

However, GWU researchers said on Tuesday that their study is different in that it factored in the number of people who left the island right after the storm.

According to their calculations, they estimate that Puerto Rico saw an 8 percent drop in population after the hurricane, which triggered one of the longest power blackouts in history and pushed thousands of people to the mainland.

The study said that the risk of dying over this period was 60 percent higher among people living in the poorest municipalities and 35 percent higher among elderly men. During a call with reporters, researchers said that the elevated risk of death persisted beyond the five months that were studied for these two subgroups.

“We still don’t know when deaths came back to baseline,” Goldman said.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-NY, who has introduced legislation that would set federal standards for measuring death tolls following disasters, said the findings are evidence of the “enormity of the tragedy that befell Puerto Rico.”

“These numbers are only the latest to underscore that the federal response to the hurricanes was disastrously inadequate and, as a result, thousands of our fellow American citizens lost their lives,” Velázquez said in a statement.

Enrique Fernández-Toledo, director of Puerto Rico Relief and Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, also criticized island officials for taking so long to update their initial death toll of 64.

“According to this serious study, the actual death toll is more than 46 times that of the official count, placing it among the highest death counts caused by an Atlantic hurricane in the last 100 years,” said Fernández-Toledo in a statement.

GWU also makes a series of recommendations to help Puerto Rico effectively account for deaths during a disaster, such as providing doctors with the proper training and resources to issue death certificates based on the newest guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and improve interagency communication protocols.

Rosselló announced that the Puerto Rican government plans to create a committee, made up by local officials and “people from other sectors,” to find ways to implement the recommendations brought up in previous studies, including GWU’s.

He also plans to start a registry that keeps tabs of the most vulnerable populations in the island, such as people with disabilities, elders and those with severe medical conditions, so emergency responders are able to quickly and effectively locate people in need during a disaster.

The recent findings are just part of the first phase of what GWU expects to be a two-part investigation, in which they hope to interview families of victims who died during Maria’s aftermath, in an effort to identify how many of the 2,975 deaths can be attributed directly to the hurricane.

GWU researchers told reporters they don’t expect the 2,975 number to change during the next phase, “but it might get subdivided as to what situation caused certain deaths in the months after Maria.”

For the first part of the report published on Tuesday, GWU interviewed “key leaders,” including seven mayors and other officials from local agencies and FEMA.

Unlike previous studies on the matter, GWU’s has not yet been subjected to the rigorous process of being published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Researchers at GWU told reporters on Tuesday the study is still in the process of submission.

Some elementary schools are getting rid of homework — and experts say it’s OK

Second grade teacher Brandy Young gained national attention in 2016 when a note she wrote to her class parents was posted on social media.

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year… rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success,” she wrote. “Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

Two years later, Young is teaching second grade at a new school, A.G. Elder Elementary School in Joshua, Texas. She is still not assigning formal homework — though she has tweaked her policy a lot, she told TODAY Parents, since she wrote that note.

The no homework policy has worked great, she said, but it has been a learning process for her. Young found out that some of her students really do want homework, for one thing. She will also send work home with a child who needs more practice on a specific skill from time to time, but when she does, she communicates with the parent and sends an answer key to ensure the practice will be effective.

“Also, not assigning homework doesn’t change the fact that the kids who need extra practice the most usually don’t have the necessary support at home,” said Young, who has three young boys of her own with her husband Klint. “It’s a battle that educators are used to fighting, and it isn’t going away any time soon.”

Young said her experiences in the classroom for the past two years have only reinforced the idea that effective teaching is all about relationships.

“I want my students to know that I care about them at every second,” she said. “I want parents to trust me and let me into their family. I want open communication lines between us so that I can better understand their children and help them succeed.”

For that to be possible, Young said, “Student work, regardless of when and where it’s done, should be meaningful, engaging, and relevant. No packets ever. Period.” Her second grade students approach learning enthusiastically as a result — even at a Title 1 school where nearly 70 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.

“Kids can conquer mountains when given encouragement, choices, and support!” said Young. “They want and need to be nurtured as a whole child. I believe the no-packet theory supports that effort.”

Young was not the first nor the last teacher to implement a classroom policy eliminating homework. In 2017, Marion County, Florida, School Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier announced she was banning homework for the 31 elementary schools throughout her school district. At the time, Maier said her plan called for “no traditional homework, no work sheets, no endless pages of workbooks. Instead, our children are reading aloud with their parents at least 20 minutes a night.”

A year later, the Ocala Star Banner reported that under pressure from her teachers — 86 percent of whom did not support the ban — and school board members who called the policy “micromanaging” and blamed poor test results in part on it, Maier loosened the guidelines. She is asking that any homework be “meaningful” and not “busy work.”

However, Alfie Kohn, author of “The Homework Myth,” told TODAY Parents, “It is important to realize that no research has ever found any advantage to any kind of homework before kids are in high school — and newer studies are questioning whether it’s necessary even in high school.”

Kohn — who has written 14 books covering parenting and education and lectures on those topics at universities, parenting groups, and corporations — is a well-known critic of homework. He said that though some defend the concept of homework as having non-academic advantages like teaching kids responsibility, work habits, or independence, “To the best of my knowledge, not a shred of evidence supports those claims.”

What evidence does show, he said, is the disadvantages of homework, some of which parents are already familiar. “It causes frustration, unhappiness, and family conflict; it often makes children less excited about learning and leaves them with less time to pursue other interests and just enjoy their childhoods,” he observed.

“But we seem to assume it’s worth it to force them to work a ‘second shift’ after they get home from a full day in school,” he said. “We take on faith that the academic benefits must outweigh the substantial costs.”

Though many parents support homework, others say they would love for their children’s teachers to adopt no-homework policy. Omaha, Nebraska mom Ashley Austrew said she is relieved her first grade daughter has less homework this year than she did in kindergarten.

“Her only homework is whatever she doesn’t get done in class, which I believe is the teacher’s way of saying she doesn’t give homework,” she told TODAY Parents. “I am a fan of no homework policies because I think its mostly busy work at this age level and they work hard enough all day.”

Julie Burton from Overland Park, Kansas, said she gets annoyed with her fourth grade daughter’s math homework even though it is usually just one sheet a night. “If she ever has a question, sometimes we are stumped too,” she said. “I feel bad emailing a teacher in the evenings. I’m slightly annoyed at homework in general because I don’t know what the teacher taught.”

Kohn said that even small amounts of homework can still be frustrating and damaging to children’s attitudes about learning for reasons like Burton’s. “The bottom line is that research fails to support the practice of giving any amount or any kind of homework to a 12-year-old, let alone to a 6-year-old,” he said. “Making kids unhappy about learning is more likely to undermine than to promote academic excellence.”

He encouraged parents to speak up on behalf of their children. “If your child’s teacher never assigns homework, take a moment to thank them for doing what’s in your child’s best interest — and for acknowledging that families, not schools, ought to decide what happens during family time,” he added. “If your child is getting homework, organize a bunch of parents to meet with the teacher and administrators — not to ask, ‘Why so much?’ but, given that the research says it’s all pain and no gain, to ask, ‘Why is there any?’”

Cindy McCain kisses husband’s casket at Arizona service, daughter Meghan weeps

The late Sen. John McCain’s wife, Cindy, walked up to the flag-draped casket holding her husband’s body Wednesday at the Arizona Capitol and patted it, then leaned over and kissed it.

The rest of his children then filed past the casket and touched it, including his sons in uniform and daughter Meghan McCain, who was weeping.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and his wife bowed and McCain’s former colleagues, Sen. Jeff Flake and former Sen. Jon Kyl, both touched the casket.

Earlier, a black hearse carrying the casket arrived at Arizona’s Capitol for the first of two services before he is taken for the last time from the state he has represented since the 1980s.

Uniformed Arizona National Guard members carried the casket into the Arizona State Capitol Museum rotunda, where McCain will lie in state after a private morning service on what would have been his 82nd birthday. McCain died Saturday of brain cancer.

Black curtains hung in the rotunda at the museum that hosts tourists and history buffs on a typical day as well state capitol workers bustling from one office to another. Arizona and U.S. flags encircled the room.

Before the ceremony started, veterans and active military members had staked out spots on the sidewalk to wait for the hearse that brought McCain’s body from a funeral home to the Capitol.

Other military members in uniform congregated on the Capitol plaza.

Veteran Judith Hatch handed out flags to those assembled, saying Arizona lost a champion for the military.

“We definitely have lost a strong advocate, so we’ll need someone who is going to step up to the plate,” Hatch said.

The ceremony will include remarks from Ducey and former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, plus a benediction from Sen. Jeff Flake. It will also mark the first appearance of McCain’s family members since the senator died.

Later in the afternoon, the Capitol will be open to members of the public who want to pay their respects. The viewing will go on as long as people are waiting in line, Rick Davis, said McCain’s former presidential campaign manager.

For some Arizona residents, McCain has been a political fixture in the state for their entire lives. He took office in the state in the early 1980s, first as a congressman and then as a senator in the seat once held by Sen. Barry Goldwater.

McCain is the third person to lie in state in the rotunda in the past 40 years; others were Arizona state Sen. Marilyn Jarrett in 2006 and Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, a Tucson resident, in 1980.

Thursday morning will feature a procession through Phoenix on the way to a memorial service at North Phoenix Baptist Church, with the public invited to line the route along Interstate 17.

The memorial service will include multiple tributes, readings and musical performances, including a tribute from former Vice President Joe Biden. Musical choices include a performance of “Amazing Grace” by the Brophy Student Ensemble and a recessional to “My Way” by Frank Sinatra.

From there, McCain will depart Arizona from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Another viewing will be at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, with a final memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.

A website laying out details for the services says to send any flowers to a local Veterans Administration hospital.

Trump approval ‘remarkably stable’ after a stormy week of bad news

After a week that saw President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman convicted on eight counts of fraud and his former lawyer plead guilty to felony campaign finance charges, the president’s job approval rating remains virtually unchanged, new polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal shows.

But the stability in Trump’s approval rating also comes as more than half of voters say he has not been honest and truthful regarding the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. And fewer than three-in-ten voters are convinced that Trump himself is not implicated in the wrongdoing of the six of his associates who have now either been convicted of crimes or have pleaded guilty.

Between Aug. 18 and Aug. 22 — the day after the news involving former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen — the president’s approval rating stood at 46 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove.

In a separate NBC/WSJ survey, conducted Aug. 22 through Aug. 25, Trump’s approval rating was 44 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. That’s within the poll’s margin of error.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his team at Hart Research Associates, called Trump’s approval rating “remarkably stable” despite the Manafort and Cohen developments, both of which became public on the same afternoon last Tuesday.

Hart added that, for Democrats hoping to craft a midterm election strategy, the week’s news thus far “represents a fool’s-gold opportunity rather than a silver-bullet solution.”

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal originally planned to survey respondents from Saturday, Aug. 18 thru Wednesday, Aug. 22. But after the Aug. 21 conviction of Manafort on tax and fraud charges — and the news that Cohen is cooperating with federal prosecutors after his guilty plea— the news organizations took the unusual step of commissioning an additional poll of 600 respondents from Wednesday, Aug. 22 to Saturday, Aug. 25. That second poll included questions about Manafort and Cohen as well as a look at the president’s approval rating after the new developments.


Despite the durability of Trump’s approval even after one of the most dire weeks of his presidency, most voters are not convinced that Trump himself is completely insulated from the legal woes of his associates.

Asked if they believe that the six Trump associates who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of crimes signals only that those individuals committed crimes or that Trump himself may have participated in wrongdoing, 27 percent cite just the individuals (not Trump), 40 percent say Trump may be involved with potential wrongdoing and 30 percent don’t know.

A majority of voters also say that Trump has not been honest and truthful when it comes to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Twenty-one percent strongly agree that he has been honest and truthful, 17 percent agree somewhat, 10 percent disagree somewhat and a plurality — 46 percent — disagree strongly.

Inside those numbers, however, there’s some evidence that Republican defense of Trump’s truthfulness is relatively soft. Among Democrats, 81 percent strongly disagree that Trump has been honest. Among Republicans, just 46 percent strongly agree that he has been honest.

And just about half (53 percent) of Republicans say that the guilty pleas by Trump’s associates are limited only to those individuals and not the president, while a third — 35 percent — don’t know enough to say.

Among Democrats, 71 percent say that Trump may be implicated in wrongdoing.

The Manafort and the Cohen developments are also solidly on voters’ radar screens. Asked if they have heard about Paul Manafort being found guilty of multiple tax and bank fraud charges, 46 percent say they have heard a lot, 38 percent say they have heard some and 14 percent say they have not heard about it. Asked if they have heard about Michael Cohen pleading guilty to federal felony campaign finance charges, 46 percent say they have heard a lot, 34 percent say they have heard some, and 20 percent say they have not heard about it.

(That percentage makes Cohen and Manafort a big story, but not a huge one. For comparison, it’s about the same percentage overall (around 80 percent of Americans) who had heard about former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal when it was receiving prominent news coverage, but a smaller share than had heard about the Access Hollywood tape (95 percent).


The earlier NBC/WSJ poll — conducted Aug. 18 through Aug. 22 — showed Democrats with an 8-point lead in congressional preference, with 50 percent of voters preferring a Democratic-controlled Congress and with 42 percent wanting Republicans in charge.

Last month, Democrats were ahead by 6 points on this question, 49 percent to 43 percent.

Voters were split on what concerns them more — Republicans not providing a check and balance on Trump if they control Congress (46 percent who say this), or Democrats going too far in obstructing the president if they’re in charge (45 percent).

They also were divided on what bothers them more — a Democratic candidate who supports House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s policies (47 percent), or a Republican candidate who supports Trump’s policies (45 percent).

And asked their opinions of Democrats winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, 41 percent of voters said that would be a good thing, while 38 percent say it would be a bad thing.

Still, Democrats continue to enjoy an edge in enthusiasm: 63 percent of Democratic voters express a high level of interest in the upcoming elections — registering either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale — compared with 52 percent of GOP voters who do the same.

What’s more, 56 percent of Democratic voters believe November’s elections are more important to them than past congressional elections, versus just 38 percent of Republicans who think that.

“Democrats are going to win [House] seats in 2018,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates. “The question is: How many will that be?”

“The reason why the Democrats still have the upper hand is the enthusiasm issue,” Yang adds.


The NBC/WSJ survey conducted mostly before the Cohen-Manafort news also finds Republicans with a 14-point advantage in which party better deals with the economy — their biggest lead on this question in the poll’s history.

Forty-three percent of voters say the GOP better handles the economy, while 29 percent pick the Democrats.

Republicans also hold the edge on trade (R+8), taxes (R+5), guns (R+5) and changing how Washington works (R+4).

Democrats, meanwhile, have the advantages on the environment (D+38), health care (D+18), ethics in government (D+14), looking out for the middle class (D+12) and immigration (D+4).


Finally, the earlier NBC/WSJ poll shows 33 percent of voters supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, versus 29 who oppose his nomination; 37 percent say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

In July, it was 32 percent support, 26 percent oppose.

The earlier NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 900 registered voters between Aug. 18-22, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 3.27 percent.

The second NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll surveyed 600 registered voters between Aug. 22-25, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 4.00 percent.