POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/20

Burris Chief of Staff Quits

A Senate source tells Political Wire that the Chief of Staff to Sen. Roland Burris resigned today.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m not the administration. I will be speaking and learning more about this in order to figure out what the U.S. position should be and what the president’s position is.”

— Energy Secretary Steven Chu, quoted by NBC News, when asked a question on oil policy. The day before, Chu said the issue was “not in my domain.”

Obama Approval Rating Slips

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll mirrors yesterday’s Fox News poll that shows President Obama’s approval rating slipping nine points to a still very high 67%.

A breakdown by party shows nearly all of the decline came among Republicans.

Meanwhile, a National Journal Political Insiders Poll shows Democrats giving Obama a grade of “B” so far, while Republicans give him a “C+”.

Quinn Wants Burris to Resign

Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn (D) called on Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) “to resign amid the furor of questions over his contacts with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Said Quinn: “This should not be a matter that takes weeks.”

Quinn also “called on lawmakers to give him the power to appoint a temporary successor to the Senate until a special election could be held.”7 Comments | Share

Are Media Polls Bad?

Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary LeadersIn his new book, pollster Stan Greenberg makes the case that campaign polls are better indicators of public opinion than most media polls.

“The endgame in presidential campaigns brings out all sorts of irrationalities, starting with the media polls. Many are criminally bad. Some are done in one night with no time for callbacks and thus over-represent people who are easily reached by phone, often seniors. They are not carefully weighted and, as a result, show wide swings in voter preference that the media interpret wrongly as voter fickleness. And they usually ask the respondent only for whom they will vote without any prior questions that build trust. With people reluctant to tell a stranger for whom they will vote without being warmed up, many of the media polls report an inflated number of undecided voters. Worst of all, a poll that shows a result sharply different from all the others gets media attention because the difference is ‘news’ when it is likely the result of normal sampling fluctuations or careless polling practices.”

However, Charles Franklin rebuts many of Greenberg’s assertions pointing out that polling techniques and methodology are “open source” and that there is little “secret knowledge or methods” that make campaign pollsters any better than media pollsters.

Murray Holds Solid Leads for Re-Election

A new Research 200/DailyKos survey in Washington finds Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) far ahead of two potential rivals in her 2010 re-election race.

Murray beats Dave Reichert (R), 53% to 40%, and tops Rob McKenna (R), 55% to 39%.

Bloomberg Approval Falls

A new Marist Poll finds New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s approval rating has fallen 17 points since last October to its lowest point since June 2005. 

Bloomberg’s approval rate is now 52%.

The financial crisis has clearly hurt the mayor with 49% of the electorate saying the city is headed in the wrong direction. Only 37% think the city is on the right track.

Quote of the Day

“I taught him everything he knows. On the other hand, if he screws up…”

— CIA Director Leon Panetta, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, to current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Both men worked in the Clinton White House.

Secret Health Care Meetings Continue

The New York Times reports that since last fall, “many of the leading figures in the nation’s long-running health care debate have been meeting secretly in a Senate hearing room” and “appear to be inching toward a consensus that could reshape the debate.”

The talks are sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and now have most participants “embracing the idea that comprehensive health care legislation should include a requirement that every American carry insurance.”

The White House “has been kept informed and is encouraging the Senate effort as a way to get the ball rolling on health legislation.”

Obama Bans Budget Gimmicks

“For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller,” the New York Times reports. 

“The price of more honest bookkeeping: A budget that is $2.7 trillion deeper in the red over the next decade than it would otherwise appear.”

Republicans Way Behind in Using the Internet

Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, writing for the Daily Beast: “Until the Republican party joins the twenty-first century and learns how to use the Internet, its members will keep getting older and the youth of America will just keep logging on to the other side.”

Ethical Issues Threaten Democrats

“Democrats’ ethical issues are popping up at a dizzying pace, after less than two months of party control of both the White House and Congress,” the AP reports.

Mentioned in the article: Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson, Tim Geithner and, of course, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

“The only consolation is timing: It’s nearly two years until the next congressional election, giving Democrats a chance to stop the bleeding in time.”

Can the White House Keep Up with Twitter?

First Read: “The great challenge that this White House is dealing with is the 24/7 nature of the Twittering media that no other president has ever dealt with on the policy front. It’s the natural evolution, considering that campaigns have gotten this kind of coverage for years. Still, this environment of incremental up-down rulings by the punditocracy… on Obama’s first month of policy, is quite the message handling challenge for this White House. Right now, it’s chosen to deal with it by flooding the zone; instead of pushing one storyline a week, they go ahead and try and sell multiple messages. Can they keep up the pace?”

Top Administration Jobs Remain Empty

President Obama’s agenda “is being stalled by a largely self-inflicted inability to fill top positions in his administration,” Bloomberg reports.

Most glaring: Two cabinet positions, HHS and Commerce, still lack nominees.

However, the delays “go beyond Cabinet posts and have been most damaging at the Treasury Department, where Secretary Timothy Geithner is the only Senate-confirmed appointment. Among the missing: a deputy secretary, an administrator for the bank- bailout program, undersecretaries for domestic finance and international affairs, and a general counsel. ”

No CEO Administration

Politico: “There are no former CEOs in the Obama Cabinet. And among the people who make up his daily inner circle, there is only a dollop or two of top-level private sector experience.”

“Whether it is a significant absence, however, is far more debatable. As it happens, only a small number of the business leaders in recent administrations were stand-outs. And several were ostentatious flops. It would be hard to argue that there is a close correlation between success in business and success in Washington.”

Perhaps Obama read my book, You Won, Now What?, where we make the case that you cannot run government like a business — unlike so many campaigners promise.

Pataki Urged to Make Senate Bid

Republicans are pushing former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, according to NY1.

The AP reports Pataki met with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) earlier this week to talk about the race.

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