Joe Biden holds a commanding lead among black voters, new poll shows

Joe Biden holds a commanding lead among black voters, new poll shows.

In one of the most extensive studies so far on the views of the 2020 presidential race among black voters conducted by The Washington Post and non-partisan research firm, Ipsos, former Vice President Joe Biden is holding on to a commanding lead over the rest of the Democratic field.

Biden picked up 48 percent of the vote in the survey, which amounts to a whopping 28 point lead over the next candidate in line, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Voters referenced Biden’s experience and ability to take on President Trump head to head as some of the reasons he’s garnered their support to date. In the South, which could be a key region for picking up delegates in the primaries, Biden’s doing even better at 53 percent.

NEW: WaPo/Ipsos poll of black Democratic voters

Biden 48%
Sanders 20%
Warren 9%
Bloomberg 4%
Booker 4%
Yang 3%
Buttigieg 2%
Steyer 2%

(769 Black Dem registered voters, MoE: +/- 4 points)

— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) January 11, 2020

The notable exception to Biden’s dominance is age. Black voters between 18 and 34 support Sanders at 42 percent, thanks to his policies on housing and student debt, for example, per the Post. Still, Biden remains in second place among the demographic with 30 percent.

This is part of @JoeBiden’s big weaknesses with younger voters: “Though Biden leads his rivals by more than 2 to 1 overall, he trails Sanders by 42 percent to 30 percent among black Democrats ages 18 to 34.”

— Ed O’Keefe (@edokeefe) January 11, 2020

The Post-Ipsos survey was conducted online between Jan. 2-8 from a sample of 769 Democratic-leaning black voters. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O’Donnell

ground attack
The ground game takes center stage in Ravens-Titans clash

2:23 p.m.

Jason Miller/Getty Images
For the past few years, the NFL has been defined by the passing game. But fans could be treated to a throwback, ground-heavy affair when the Baltimore Ravens host the Tennessee Titans in the AFC division round Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. E.T. on CBS.

The Ravens had, to put it mildly, an extraordinary rushing attack in 2019. A lot of that is thanks to prolific quarterback and likely MVP Lamar Jackson, whose play during his second NFL campaign turned the Ravens from a solid team into a 14-2 juggernaut. He picked up 1,206 rushing yards on the year, breaking the single-season rushing record for a quarterback with two weeks to play in the season. But he’s not the only weapon the Ravens have in the backfield — veteran running back Mark Ingram, who also had a 1,000-yard season ,is expected to play despite an injured ankle, and his backup Gus Edwards is a solid contributor, as well. It’s no surprise Baltimore led the NFL in rushing as a team. (It wasn’t particularly close, if you’re wondering.)

The Titans, meanwhile, have the league’s leading individual rusher in running back Derek Henry, who’s coming off a dominant performance against the New England Patriots in last week’s wild card game. Henry picked up 182 yards on 34 carries, willing Tennessee to an upset victory.

The passing game won’t be completely sidelined, either. Jackson is anything but a slouch when it comes to throwing the ball, and Tennessee’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill was one of the game’s best this season. He only threw 15 times against New England, but expect that to increase Saturday. In fact, The Ringer pegged Tannehill’s passing as the key to the game.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the other game Saturday between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings features the 2nd and 6th-ranked rushing offenses, respectively. Either way, it’s a big day for fans who’ve been clamoring to watch some running again. Tim O’Donnell

china trade war
The Trump administration has apparently changed its mind on one aspect of China talks

1:51 p.m.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Within the “Phase 1″ trade deal between the U.S. and China expected to be signed on Jan. 15 is a sub-agreement that would revive a format of semi-annual discussions between the two powers similar to those utilized by the Bush and Obama administrations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The discussions, which will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and likely Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are different from the next phase of the trade deal. They’ll be more general in scope and reportedly a way for officials at all levels in both countries to bridge the gap and strengthen their relationships.

President Trump shut down similar plans earlier in his Oval Office tenure. But despite some tough rhetoric throughout the trade war, it looks like another sign (along with the first phase) that his administration is getting back in the negotiating mindset for the long haul. Indeed, the Journal notes the framework of the new agreement is similar in concept to the Strategic Economic Dialogue started by the George W. Bush administration, which was then broadened under the Obama administration. The Trump administration used to show little interest in continuing the legacy, but the revival appears to be right around the corner now.

Trump’s former adviser Stephen Bannon wasn’t pleased a dialogue-heavy initiative is coming back, arguing it’s mere “window dressing,” but Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president, told the Journal a “structured process” is necessary for addressing “serious issues with China.” Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O’Donnell

The Iran crisis
U.S. could reportedly bar Iraq from accessing key bank account if troops forced to leave

12:49 p.m.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images
While a good chunk of Iraq’s parliament wants American troops to begin a safe withdrawal from the country in the wake of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Washington is in turn threatening to block Baghdad’s access to its central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in an effort to keep the forces in place, Iraqi officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Iraq, like many other countries, maintains government accounts at the New York Fed, which helps them manage national finances, including revenue from oil sales. If the government can’t access those accounts, it could reportedly do some significant damage to an already-struggling Iraqi economy. An official in Mahdi’s office said the prime minister received a warning about the bank account during a phone call Wednesday.

The warning appears to have some members of the Iraqi government on edge, with officials stressing the need to maintain friendly ties with the U.S. despite pressure from pro-Iran militias. Some have pointed out that international pressure on Iraq’s economy would hurt Baghdad’s efforts to answer to its citizens, who have launched massive anti-government protests in recent months. “The U.S. Fed basically has a stranglehold on the entire [Iraqi] economy,” said Shwan Taha, chairman of Iraqi investment bank Rabee Securities.

Others, like Mahdi adviser Abd al-Hassanein al-Hanein, think the U.S. is bluffing. “If the U.S. does that, it will lose Iraq forever,” he said. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O’Donnell

taiwan elections
Taiwan deals blow to China in crucial presidential election

11:18 a.m.

Carl Court/Getty Images
China was just dealt a significant blow in what one expert has described as potentially the year’s most consequential presidential election.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen won a second term after a landslide electoral victory Saturday, despite efforts from China to sway the outcome. Tsai secured a record eight million votes, which amounted to 57.3 percent of the electorate compared to just 38.5 percent from her opponent Han Kuo-yu, who conceded.

Tsai favors independence from China and has pointed to the anti-Beijing, pro-Democracy protests in Hong Kong as a warning for what could come in Taiwan if China doesn’t take its foot off the gas in its attempts to reel the self-ruled island more tightly into its orbit. Han’s party, meanwhile, is friendly with Beijing. Tsai was reportedly trailing badly in the polls just a year ago, but increasing aggression from Beijing toward Taiwan helped vault her back into office. “The results of this election carry an added significance,” she told reporters after her victory. “They have shown that when our sovereignty is threatened, the Taiwanese people will shout our determination even more loudly back.”

Natasha Kassam, a former Australian diplomat who now works with the Lowy Institute in Sydney, concurred with Tsai’s assessment of the election’s importance. “Not only is Taiwan a proxy for much of the world’s strategy to deal with the consequences of an increasingly authoritarian China, but also Taiwan has been on the front lines of the Chinese Communist Party’s aggression for decades,” she told The Washington Post. Tim O’Donnell

u.s.-north korea relations
Trump’s birthday letter to Kim might not be enough to save North Korea talks

10:50 a.m.

KIM WON JIN/AFP via Getty Images
Birthday wishes don’t solve everything, apparently.

In a statement published Saturday by North Korean state media, Kim Kye Gwan — a foreign ministry official and top adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — said Pyongyang has been “deceived” by the United States and will not engage in talks similar to the one between President Trump and Kim that took place last year in Vietnam. The statement said past denuclearization negotiations with Washington amounted to nothing but “lost time” for North Korea.

The news comes shortly after President Trump sent Kim a letter for his birthday. It appears the North Korean leader may have appreciated the letter since Kim Kye Gwan said Kim still does have “good personal feelings” for Trump. But he added those feelings were just that — personal; they don’t, he hinted, reflect the current state of the relationship between the two countries.

The adviser also had some harsh words for South Korea, whom he accused of meddling in U.S.-North Korea relations after Seoul announced Trump had asked South Korea to help deliver the birthday message. Read more at CNN and The Hill. Tim O’Donnell

The Iran crisis
Iran ‘deeply regrets’ shooting down Ukrainian plane, but partially blames ‘U.S. adventurism’

8:23 a.m.

AFP via Getty Images
Iran changed course Saturday, admitting to unintentionally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet with 176 people on board this week. But Tehran didn’t want to let the United States off the hook for the disaster in its apology.

Iran’s armed forces headquarters released a statement explaining that the Boeing 737 aircraft “came close to a sensitive [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] military center at an altitude and flight condition that resembled hostile targeting,” which prompted the fatal error. The IRGC took full responsibility for the incident, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his “deep sympathy” to the victims, who were from Iran, Canada, Ukraine, Sweden, Afghanistan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. But Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif did link the event to the U.S.’s decision to kill Iranian Major Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Iraq earlier this month. “Human error at [a] time of crisis caused by U.S. adventurism led to disaster,” Zarif tweeted.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv expects Tehran to launch a “full and open” investigation and “bring those responsible to justice.” Rouhani said investigations and prosecution would continue. Read more at CNN and NBC News. Tim O’Donnell

Rush’s Neil Peart dies at age 67

January 10, 2020

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Drummer Neil Peart of the band Rush died at age 67, a family spokesperson confirmed on Friday.

Peart was born in Canada, but was living in Santa Monica, California in recent years, where he died after fighting brain cancer for three years. He, along with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, formed the iconic rock band Rush and toured with the band until he retired in 2015 for health reasons.

While Peart wasn’t Rush’s original drummer, he joined the band just ahead of its first U.S. tour in 1974 and helped lead its eventual rise to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame status. “Along with penning impressive lyrics,” wrote CBC News, “Peart was renowned for his proficiency on drums and expertly weaving together techniques from different musical genres, blending jazz and big band with hard rock.”

Lee and Lifeson released a statement Friday afternoon remembering Peart as their “friend, soul brother and bandmate over 45 years.” He had been “incredibly brave” in his fight with glioblastoma, they said, and went on to “ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time.” Kathryn Krawczyk

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