POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 1/22

Senate Paralysis

Politics Daily notes that since Democrats lost the special election in Massachusetts, “progress on health care reform has become frozen in its tracks and Senate Democrats are so paralyzed over what to do next, they are doing absolutely nothing.”

The Senate held just two votes this week, a vote to confirm a judicial nominee and a failed attempt to end TARP.

Huckabee Edges Obama in 2012 Match Up

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that for the first time President Obama “trails one of his hypothetical opponents, albeit by the smallest of margins.”

Mike Huckabee edges Obama, 45% to 44%.

Mitt Romney does the next best, trailing Obama 44% to 42%, while Sarah Palin trails Obama 49% to 41%.

Quote of the Day

“I’m a history buff. I love the Museum of Natural History.”

— Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA), quoted by the Washington Post.

Bushies Take on Perry

The Texas Tribune notes how Bush family intimates have lined up solidly behind Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in her primary challenge to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

In fact, even former President H.W. Bush today made “a rare overtly political announcement” in which he endorsed Hutchison.

“What’s going on here? It’s a question without a definitive answer and a subject that those in-the-know do not want to go anywhere near. Nearly every one of the two dozen sources contacted for this story refused to be quoted by name; several of those who went on the record saved their best material for after they went back off. But everyone with knowledge of the Bushworld-Perryworld divide had a theory.”

McCain Attacks Hayworth in New Ad

Despite a wide lead in a new poll, The Hotline reports Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) launched a tough new radio ad against former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) who has not even entered the race yet.

The script: “John McCain’s running for re-election. Well, I’d hope so, why wouldn’t he? It’s not like our country is on the right track. It’s a mess, Congress spending us into oblivion. We need McCain, standing up to the big shots, slashing spending; saying what no one else has the nerve to say. But, J.D. Hayworth? That’s not what Arizona wants. He sounds conservative on the radio, but J.D. was one of the biggest spenders in Congress. In 2005, they passed a bill with six thousand five hundred pork barrel earmarks worth more than twenty four billion dollars. J.D. voted for every one. He’d be the wrong direction for Arizona. McCain’s the right direction. Character matters.”

More Gillibrand Challengers Coming?

“Harold Ford Jr.’s presence as an increasingly likely Senate primary rival against Kirsten Gillibrand is fueling speculation that other Democrats who’d been warned off running by the White House and Sen. Charles Schumer might reconsider,” the New York Post reports.

Schumer is not considered vulnerable in his own re-election race, “with a massive war chest and a strong political base. But Schumer, who is obsessed with his own poll numbers and who sources said was riled by the Massachusetts upset, is less likely to leave himself with without a firewall against the national tide.”

Lincoln Faces Tight Race

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Arkansas finds Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in tight races with six different Republicans seeking to challenge her in this year’s election.

Gilbert Baker (R) edges Lincoln, 43% to 39%, Jim Holt (R) tops Lincoln, 43% to 37%.

However, Lincoln edges Curtis Coleman (R), 40% to 39%, beats Conrad Reynolds (R), 41% to 38%, tops Kim Hendren (R), 43% to 38%, and is ahead of Tom Cox (R), 41% to 38%.

Said pollster Brad Coker: “The one constant number that runs through that whole group of questions is how Blanche Lincoln is stuck at about 40 percent.”

McCain Pulls Ahead of Hayworth

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in Arizona finds Sen. John McCain (R) handily beating former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R) in a potential GOP primary match up, 53% to 31%.

In November, the two candidates were virtually even.

Sodrel Leads Hill in Yet Another Potential Rematch

A new SurveyUSA poll in Indiana’s 9th congressional district finds Mike Sodrel (R) leading Rep. Baron Hill (D), 49% to 41%.

If Sodrel survives a GOP primary, it would be the fifth time Sodrel and Hill have faced off for the seat.

Whitman Way Ahead of Poizner

The latest Field Poll in California finds Meg Whitman (R) crushing Steve Poizner (R) in the Republican gubernatorial primary, 45% to 17%.

However, Jerry Brown (D) beats Whitman in a general election match up, 46% to 36%. Brown beats Poizner, 48% to 31%.

Campaigns Without Spending Limits

In a guest post, Ray LaRaja, an expert in campaign finance at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, examines the impact of yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that rolled back spending limits. He’s the author of Small Change: Money, Political Parties, and Campaign Finance Reform.

Who benefits from this ruling? Going into the midterms, it likely helps Republicans who now have momentum and a game plan — thanks to the GOP victory in Massachusetts. Party loyalists will set up operations to raise corporate funds and run ads in targeted districts. These groups will have names like, “American Patriots for Jobs” paid for by a bevy of like-minded corporate firms. Not all corporate groups will play this game — it could backfire on them with the public. Don’t forget that unions can do the same thing. In the next midterm, ads will be sharper, negative and more prolific since interest groups don’t have to obfuscate the message by avoiding electioneering words. They can simply say, “A vote for her is a vote to raise taxes!” Broadcasts will be jam-packed with campaign ads up through Election Day. (Hint: a good ground game might be more effective in this saturated environment.)

And what about the presidential election? President Obama is surely not pleased about this outcome for strategic, if not moral concerns. This ruling eviscerates his financial edge in raising money. The Obama campaign broke all records raising over $700 million from large and small donors, many of them over the Internet. Now he can expect corporate-backed advertising to be used against him. It is doubtful he will dissuade liberal groups (as he did is 2008) from joining the fray. He will need them this time!

Wake Up Call for Democrats

Charlie Cook argues that “any Democrat with a pulse ought to be extremely alarmed by now” at the state of their party. While their candidates who lost in November and in Massachusetts “all had their share of flaws,” their opponents “were able to take advantage of the vise grip in which Obama and his party are caught” — stuck between voters frustrated by inaction on the economy, and others angry about the growth in government spending.

Importantly, many of these voters are independents, who “have little patience left for Democrats.”

Most Want Health Care Bill Changed

A new Gallup poll finds that by a 55% to 39% margin, Americans say President Obama and Congress should now suspend work on the health care bill and consider alternatives rather than trying to pass the current version.

For Now, Democrats Likely to Retain Senate Control

Nate Silver‘s latest Senate rankings show that Democrats “will retain an average of 54.7 seats in the 112th Congress. The distribution, however, is slightly asymmetrical, so the median number is 54, and the modal number is 53.”

“And things could, potentially, get a whole lot worse than that; the program recognizes that the outcome of the different races are correlated based on changes in the national environment. Between the surprise in Massachusetts, and races like California and Indiana which are potentially coming into play, there’s about a 6-7 percent chance that Republicans could actually take control of the Senate, and another 6 percent chance or so that they could wind up with a 50-50 split. On the other hand, there’s still a 7-8 percent chance that the Democrats could regain their 60th seat if the national environment shifts back in their direction.”

Republican Brand Still Badly Damaged

A new Public Policy Polling poll found that only 19% of voters nationally are happy with the direction of the Republican Party, compared to 56% who are unhappy with it. Even GOP voters are displeased with where the party’s going: Just 38% say they are unhappy with the current direction to 35% who support it.

Analysis: “This much seems clear: if the Republicans keep winning even with a heavily damaged national brand it’s an indication voters are choosing much more by what they’re against right now than what they’re for. I think a GOP controlled Congress for next year is still unlikely but it could be the best thing that ever happened to Barack Obama’s reelection hopes.”

In a related piece, Politico notes that “it is indisputable that the GOP has surged, especially in the past several months” but that it is “also indisputable that the rise has little to do with the voters’ view of Republicans writ large — and that the very concerns that got them booted from power persist today.”

Sarah Palin’s Avatar

Sarah Palin apparently will not be one of the thousands attending today’s National March for Life in Washington, DC — which takes place annually on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision — but David Brody notes her “avatar” will be there.

The groups has an online campaign that allows people to create an avatar of themselves and “march” online.

Unions Backed Brown Over Coakley

Scott Brown’s (R) victory in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race “was lifted by strong support from union households,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

An AFL-CIO poll found that 49% of union households in the state supported Brown, while 46% supported Martha Coakley (D).

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Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics

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