Wednesday Edition

1. Big Tent VP Race

Donald Trump’s roster of potential running mates is surprisingly diverse. (Semafor)

The latest: Ohio Republican senator and vice presidential hopeful J.D. Vance was in Manhattan for Trump’s trial on Monday.

  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., another candidate for Trump’s running mate, might pay the former president a courtroom visit as well.

Semafor reporter Shelby Talcott: “While it’s unclear whether Scott will ultimately attend (he will be in New York on Tuesday night for a Trump fundraiser), the conversations, and Vance’s appearance, reflect the way the trial is emerging as yet another litmus test for would-be running mates.”

The contenders for Trump running mate span the spectrum from former Democratic Party senators (Tulsi Gabbard) to populist America First diehards (Vance) to dyed-in-the-wool moderates (Tim Scott and Doug Burgum).

The latest VP odds according to betting website Bet365:

  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.: 20%

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum: 15.4%

  • Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio: 14.3%

  • Former Democratic House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 11.8%

  • Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: 9.1%

  • Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.: 8.3%

  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson: 7.7%

Trump’s White House also ran the gamut of Republican/conservative movement factions.

  • You had guys like former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon representing the populist fringe.

  • You had staffers like Jim Mattis, John Kelly and H.R. McMaster, who clashed ideologically with Bannon on foreign policy.

  • You had the Mike Pence wing of more buttoned up, traditional Republicans.

  • You had Republican Party-first operators like Reince Priebus and Katie Walsh.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Trump’s takeover of the GOP has led to a shakeup of the party’s power centers. The "MAGA" tent is wobbly at times, but it's the only real option for pulling all the different Republican groups together. Trump may be a political wrecking ball in a lot of ways, but he’s not that dogmatic about ideology, and that’s a real benefit when it comes to working with different factions.

2. YouTube Is Having a Moment

The latest data on Americans’ TV watching habits confirms a shift away from traditional media. (WSJ)

Chart: The Wall Street Journal

Last month, YouTube accounted for 9.6% of U.S. TV-viewing time, second only to Disney's 11.5%, showcasing the video platform’s growth within the entertainment industry.

  • Over 150 million people in the U.S., more than 40% of the population, watch YouTube on connected-TV screens each month.

As we mentioned last week, there are political implications to the shift toward alternative media, with Democrats still tending to prefer more traditional news sources.

  • 55% of people who get their news from YouTube back Donald Trump, per a recent NBC News poll.

  • 70% of newspaper readers and 55% of major network news viewers support President Biden.

Bubba’s Two Cents: One consequence of our changing content consumption habits is that media messaging is more decentralized than ever. Instead of a few newspapers and TV networks, we now have thousands of creators, influencers and personalities. For people who’ve felt sidelined by traditional media, it's been a game-changer.

3. Checking In on Abortion

It seems like overturning Roe v. Wade may have made Americans more supportive of abortion. (Pew Research Center)

Chart: Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center poll: The share of Americans (63%) who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases has risen 4 percentage points since 2021, the year before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

  • 85% of Democrats now support abortion in most cases, a significant jump from 63% in 2007.

  • Even among Republicans, the number has ticked up slightly, from 39% in 2007 to 40% today.

The latest: Louisiana lawmakers are trying to make it a crime to possess abortion pills.

  • On Monday, Arizona’s highest court delayed the enforcement of a controversial 1864 abortion ban. Earlier this month, Arizona’s GOP-controlled legislature voted to repeal the law.

  • The Supreme Court is set to rule on a case that could restrict access to abortion pills like mifepristone and misoprostol.

Big picture: Post-Roe, the number of abortions in the U.S. increased from an average of 82,000 per month in 2022 to 86,000 per month in 2023.

4. College ROI Comes Down to Your Major

As more Americans question the value of college degrees, a new report breaks down the numbers on how they boost lifetime earnings. (FREOPP)

The median return on investment for a bachelor's degree is $160,000, according to an analysis from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity.

  • But high ROI fields like engineering, computer science, nursing and economics can push that up to $500,000.

Meanwhile, nearly half of master’s degrees result in negative ROI.

  • The exception? Professional degrees in law, medicine and dentistry offer high returns, often exceeding $1 million.

Tax dollars subsidize some bad college investments: About 29% of federal Pell Grant and student loan dollars support programs with negative ROI.

When it comes to earnings, what you study is often more important than where you go to college.

  • High ROI fields: Engineering ($949,000), computer science ($652,000), nursing ($619,000), and economics ($549,000).

  • Low ROI fields: Fine arts, education, English and psychology often have little to no ROI.

  • Overall, 31% of students are in programs with negative ROI.

Americans have been souring on higher ed: A Wall Street Journal poll last year found 56% of people say a four-year degree isn’t worth the cost.

Bubba’s Two Cents: There’s been a growing push, especially among conservatives, for students to skip college or only go if they’re pursuing “useful,” high-paying majors. In my mind, that’s an extreme view –– there’s value in an education beyond just trying to make money. But, skyrocketing college tuition means we need a better system to avoid massive debt for degrees with poor returns.

5. Why Test Scores Matter

A new study published in JAMA found doctors who perform better on medical board exams have patients who are less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital. (Harvard Medical School)

Doctors who scored in the top 25% had 8% lower patient mortality within seven days of admission compared to the bottom 25%.

Bruce Landon, the study’s senior author: “These results confirm that certification exams are measuring knowledge that directly translates into improved outcomes for patients.”

There’s been a big debate in recent years over whether standardized tests are discriminatory, with critics claiming they don’t predict achievement.

  • The Washington Supreme Court in March did away with the state’s bar exam, after a task force determined the exam was “a barrier to marginalized groups that wish to practice law.”

  • The American Bar Association voted in 2022 to make the LSAT optional, citing concerns over diversity in admissions.

  • A wave of colleges dropped standardized tests from their admissions requirements during the pandemic, although that trend’s been reversing in the wake of hard data linking test scores to academic achievement.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Let's look at this in scientific terms –– According to the theory, standardized tests are biased and don’t really measure performance. But they ran an experiment, and it seems to show these types of exams actually gauge ability and aren't just random filters meant to keep folks out. Hell of a concept.

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