Danielle Kurtzleben | KUOW News and Information

Danielle Kurtzleben

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. In her current role, she writes for npr.org's It's All Politics blog, focusing on data visualizations. In the run-up to the 2016 election, she used numbers to tell stories that went far beyond polling, putting policies into context and illustrating how they affected voters.

Before joining NPR in 2015, Kurtzleben spent a year as a correspondent for Vox.com. As part of the site's original reporting team, she covered economics and business news.

Prior to Vox.com, Kurtzleben was with U.S. News & World Report for nearly four years, where she covered the economy, campaign finance and demographic issues. As associate editor, she launched Data Mine, a data visualization blog on usnews.com.

A native of Titonka, Iowa, Kurtzleben has a bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College. She also holds a master's degree in Global Communication from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.

Donald Trump loves superlatives: words like "biggest," "best" and "greatest" pepper many of his statements, whether at a microphone or on Twitter. But a recent poll lends him another, less attractive superlative: the lowest favorability rating of any incoming president in at least 40 years.

Tuesday was the opposite of a slow news day. It was a mad scramble of a news day, featuring major developments on President-elect Donald Trump's ties to Russia, a contentious confirmation hearing, a death sentence in a high-profile hate-crime case, and President Obama's farewell speech, among other things.

In case you couldn't keep up — and we can't blame you — here's a rundown of some of the biggest news of the day.


1. The Trump-Russia bombshell

Donald Trump has named his son-in-law to a top White House job. Jared Kushner will serve as a senior adviser to the president, and the transition team says he will work with incoming Chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon "to execute President-elect Trump's agenda."

The announcement also says Kushner will not receive a salary while serving in the Trump administration, which could help alleviate legal problems stemming from federal anti-nepotism law.

The final chapter of the Obama economy drew that much closer to its end on Friday, with the final jobs report of the 44th president's time in office. That report showed the 75th straight month of job growth, with employers adding 156,000 jobs.

Solid, but nothing flashy.

Amid this week's firestorm over Republicans' attempt to weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics (and subsequently, backpedal on that attempt), you may have seen this chart floating around the Internet. It depicts data from Google Trends about Americans' search interest in learning who their congressional representatives are, with a pronounced spike around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

One in five Americans is religiously unaffiliated. Yet just one of 535 members of the new Congress is.

That's what the latest data from the Pew Research Center show on the opening day of the 115th Congress. The nation's top legislative body remains far more male and white than the rest of the U.S. population as well, but religion is one of the more invisible areas where legislators in Washington simply aren't representative of the people they represent.

Update: This post was updated on February 16, 2017, and will continue to be updated as other appointments are made.

To glance at some of the political news this week, you'd think it was October.

Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta did Meet the Press over the weekend to talk about Russia hacking the DNC's emails.

Hillary Clinton aide Brian Fallon took to Twitter on Tuesday to question the FBI's investigation into Clinton's emails.

Every so often, we answer questions from our politics podcast mailbag online. This week, we answer a question from a listener wondering about so-called "faithless electors."


I had a question about a Washington Post opinion article written recently by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig.

On July 27, Donald Trump created one of the most surreal moments of the presidential campaign, when he encouraged Russians to hack his opponent's email.

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you'll be able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said, speaking about Hillary Clinton's deleted emails from her private email account from her time as secretary of state. "I think you'll probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

So it was a bit of a surprise when on Monday morning, he implied in a tweet that hacking hadn't been a major topic during the election:

Everyone called this a "change election," and with the fiercely anti-establishment Donald Trump, Americans certainly got change. But they are still uncertain about what they think of their new Change President.

Forty-one percent of Americans say they approve of how well he has explained his "policies and plans for the future to the American people," according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.

Donald Trump kicked off his postelection "thank you tour" with a Thursday-night rally that sounded a lot like any of his campaign rallies. He said trade was dangerous, he warned about refugees, and his mention of his former opponent, Hillary Clinton, prompted supporters to chant "lock her up."

As was the case at many times on the campaign trail, Trump's presentation of facts requires some fact-checking and context. Here's a look at the president-elect's Thursday-night speech.

The announcement that President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence helped persuade Carrier to keep 1,000 factory jobs in the U.S. is a pretty big win. After all, they ran on a message of protecting The American Worker, and Trump isn't even in the White House yet.

Consider it another Trump flip-flop: back in October, Donald Trump told a crowd, "I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win."

What do Democrats in West Virginia and Republicans in California have in common? Many likely knew that their presidential election votes wouldn't "count."

Of course, these votes were counted, but anyone with a minimal knowledge of U.S. politics could have guessed that California would vote Democratic in the presidential election (Clinton won it by 29 points) and that West Virginia would go Republican (Trump won by nearly 42 points).

The annual turkey pardon is a silly tradition, and President Obama knows it. On Wednesday, before pardoning turkeys named Tater and Tot, Obama summed up his feelings about this particular duty.

"It is my great privilege — well, it's my privilege — actually, let's just say it's my job to grant them clemency this afternoon," Obama said.

Protests raged after Americans elected Donald Trump president. Another massive protest is planned for inauguration weekend. Online, his opponents express their dread that he could be "normalized."

Before the election, more Americans believed Trump's opponent had the better temperament and ability to serve as president.

And, yet, half of Americans now believe Trump will do a good job as president.

Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton spoke publicly for the first time since her concession speech a week ago. At a Children's Defense Fund event in Washington, she spoke about the importance of fighting for America's kids, but she also wove in another message, telling her supporters to persist, even after the devastating loss of the presidential race.

"I know many of you are deeply disappointed about the results of the election," she said. "I am, too, more than I can ever express."

If you followed the presidential polls at all closely, chances are that you expected Hillary Clinton to win last week. So did all of the major prediction models that use polls to game out election outcome probabilities.

So perhaps everyone should have expected that in a year when all political norms were broken, the polls that the political world fixates upon would also prove to be flawed.

Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.

That's remarkable for all sorts of reasons: He has no governmental experience, for example. And many times during his campaign, Trump's words inflamed large swaths of Americans, whether it was his comments from years ago talking about grabbing women's genitals or calling Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally "rapists" and playing up crimes committed by immigrants, including drug crimes and murders.

Aside from the cliches that it all comes down to turnout and that the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day, one more truism that talking heads will repeat endlessly Tuesday is that demographics are destiny.

It may make you want to throw a shoe at the TV (or radio), but (as they say) cliches are cliches for a reason. Breaking the electorate into these smaller chunks tells a lot about what people like and dislike about a candidate, not to mention how a rapidly changing electorate is changing the fundamentals of U.S. presidential politics.

History could be made in next week's election — not only in the possibility of electing the first female president, but in the possibility of the largest gender voting gap in the modern era.

Women have voted far more heavily Democratic than men in presidential elections since 1996, and the biggest gap thus far has been in 2000, when women preferred Al Gore over George W. Bush by 10 points, while men chose Bush over Gore by 11 points — a 21-point total gap. This year's gender gap could be even wider, if recent polls are any guide.

It's that time again: time for Americans to figure out how, exactly, their presidential election works. "Electoral College" searches spike every four years, just before Election Day, according to Google ... and the search volume is picking up right now.

Long story short: To win the presidency, you don't have to win the majority of the popular vote. You have to win the majority of electoral votes — that is, 270 of them.* In most states, a candidate wins electoral votes by winning the most voters.

Speaking at a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton told the story of a leukemia patient named Steven who "ditched his oxygen tank," as Clinton told it, to vote early.

"If Steven can do that, nobody has any excuses," she chided the crowd.

The Clinton camp is putting a hard push on to turn out the vote before Nov. 8. The number of people taking advantage of early voting could hit record levels this year. Here's a primer on early voting:

1. How many people will vote early this year?

"There isn't a simple answer when it comes to Mormons and Trump," Stephanie Fowers said. "We are so torn right now that hardly anyone I know will even mention his name anymore because it's too depressing."

That makes her just another disenchanted voter in the endless slog that is Campaign 2016. Fowers, a writer from Cottonwood Heights, Utah — and a Mormon — said that among the Mormons she knows, she sees a lot of indecision.

Quick: do you think politicians can still do their jobs if they've screwed up in their personal lives?

Many Americans answer this question differently now than they would have five years ago. And for white evangelical Protestants, it's especially likely their opinion has changed.

Tens of millions of Americans gathered around TV sets to watch the debate last night. But how they thought it went may depend upon which networks they watched. That's because post-debate coverage can sway viewers' opinions, as a new study suggests.

Donald Trump is warning that the election will be rigged. He has precisely zero evidence to back up that claim. But he has a remarkably receptive audience.

Around 30 percent of Americans have "little or no confidence" that votes will be counted accurately — and Trump's voters are far less confident about that than Clinton's.

Updated Oct. 20 at 2:34 p.m. to include the Trump campaign's response to Karena Virginia's allegations.

The allegations against Donald Trump of inappropriate sexual behavior had quieted down, but on Thursday morning, another woman spoke up. The latest accuser, Karena Virginia, held a Thursday press conference with attorney Gloria Allred, in which Virginia alleged that Trump groped her in 1998.

Trump has thus far denied any of the incidents and has also threatened to sue the New York Times, which reported two of the most recent accusations.

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