POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/16

On Independents and Moderates

Tom Jensen: “One of the media mistakes that drives me the most nuts is when ‘moderates’ are conflated with ‘independents.’ This is most commonly a foible of TV news. Democrats are in trouble with independents right now. They are not, however, in trouble with moderates.”

Anti-Incumbent Fever Hits New High

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll finds that only 34% of Americans feel that current members of Congress deserve re-election — the lowest number ever recorded in the survey — with 63% saying no.

In addition, 51% feel their member of Congress should be re-elected — also an all-time low — while 44% say their representative doesn’t deserve to be returned to office in November.

The anger is also bipartisan: 56% say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected while 56% say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.

Race for California Governor Deadlocked

A new Rasmussen Reports survey in California finds Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R) locked in a dead heat in the race for governor with 43% support each.

However, Brown would beat Steve Poizner (R) handily, 46% to 34%.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months.”

— Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), in an interview with CBS News, giving one more gift to Republicans.

The Death of American Virtue

Just published: The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley.

The author interviewed former President Clinton who is still bitter about the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that tried to bring him down.

Said Clinton: “They’re on a crusade. God has ordained them to crush the infidels… Ken Starr was their errand boy, and he danced to their tune, just as hard as he could dance.”

He adds: “Yeah, I will always have an asterisk after my name, but I hope I’ll have two asterisks: one is ‘they impeached him,’ and the other is ‘He stood up to them and beat them. And he beat them like a yard dog.'”

Quote of the Day

“I think the president is trying to re-engage with Republicans, but, quite frankly, he’s not dealing with the party of Lincoln. He’s dealing with the party of Palin.”

— Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, in an interview with the Financial Times.

Senate Democrats Still Look to Reconciliation

Senate Democrats are still considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform this year even though President Obama has scheduled a bipartisan summit next week to try to break the impasse, Roll Call reports.

However, given the unified GOP opposition to their health care effort, Senate Democrats argued that Obama’s summit “is no reason to shelve reconciliation as a potential strategy. The tactic would allow Democrats pass certain aspects of health care reform with just 51 votes.”

“Democrats highly doubt the event will soften Republican opposition, and Republicans are suspicious of Obama’s motives. GOP lawmakers worry that the president has no real interest in bipartisanship and simply wants to use the summit to paint the GOP as obstructionist before a nationally televised audience. ”

Pawlenty Budget Relies on Stimulus Money

Nearly one-third of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) final budget proposal would rely on $387 million in federal stimulus money to balance the budget, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Pawlenty opposed passage of the economic stimulus legislation early last year telling Bloomberg it was “largely wasted” and “misdirected.”

Alaska is Least Religious

Just 22% of Alaskans in a Pew Research survey said they attend religious services at least once a week, making Alaska the least religious state judged by this measure.

In Utah and a handful of Southern states, more than half of those surveyed said they were weekly service attenders.

Democrats in Panic Mode

First Read: “If we told you that Democrats were favored to lose about eight Senate seats (six of which are in states Obama carried in ’08), lose some 30 to 40 in the House, and see their top domestic issue — health care — stalled in Congress, you’d guess that President Obama’s approval rating was, what, 35%? Maybe 40%? But as any close follower of American politics knows, Obama’s approval is at or near 50% (even at 53% in the always-volatile Gallup daily track). Yet Democrats, including what we saw and heard from Evan Bayh yesterday, are behaving like Obama is at 35%. This is particularly ironic when we’re just a year-plus removed from a president whose approval was 25% to 30%. There is no doubt that this is a TOUGH political environment for Democrats, but are they making it tougher by running for the hills when things might not be as bad for them as was the GOP’s situation from 2006-2008? And what does it say about the Democrats and their ability to govern when they’re acting like this when their president is at 50%? Republicans rallied around their president in ’04, when he was hovering around 50%.”

Incumbents Fare Poorly in New Poll

A new Datamar survey finds that 44% percent of respondents nationwide believe that incumbents should be voted out of office with 41% saying they are doing okay but could be doing better.

Denying Bipartisanship

Elizabeth Drew: “The Republicans had decided even before Obama was sworn in that they would use the rules to deny him success on every major issue. Such obduracy was without precedent in modern times. Even if they hadn’t gone that far, it would have been impossible for Obama to achieve the bipartisanship he had so easily and naively promised in the campaign. The days of bipartisanship were already long gone. For sociological and political reasons, the electorate had changed; the center had just about disappeared… The Republicans believe that their strategy of denying Obama legislative victories is a winning one.”

Bayh Has No Interest in White House Bid

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) denied an interest in running for president in 2012 either as a Democrat or independent, the AP reports.

When asked if there were any chance he would run, Bayh said, “None, whatsoever.”

Romney Threatened on Flight

Mitt Romney (R) “was physically threatened by a violent passenger on an Air Canada flight leaving Vancouver” the Globe and Mail reports.

“Mr. Romney, who has been in Vancouver since Friday for the Olympic Winter Games, did not respond to the attack. Instead, he allowed the airline crew to deal with the incident.”

Obama Approval Steps Up

The Gallup daily tracking poll now shows President Obama’s approval rate at 53%, a jump of six point in the last three weeks.

Odds Improve for Republican Senate

Tom Jensen: “Three months ago I would have said Republicans have about a 5% chance of taking back the Senate. Now I’d put it more in the one in three chance range, and rising by the week. And who knows when the bad news for Democrats will stop pouring in…”

When Pundits are Candidates

The New York Times looks at the television of punditry of Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin and notes it could be a list of 2012 presidential contenders.

“Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.”

“To viewers, it seems to be an endless televised political campaign, with former, and possibly future, politicians biding their time giving sound-bite versions of stump speeches.”

More Quotes

“Sarah Palin will have to choose to be either the leader of a movement or the leader of a nation. She can’t be both. Right now, she is a figure like McGovern or Goldwater, two candidates who led the most intense movements in our country’s political history, but who couldn’t win the middle.”

— Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, quoted by the Washington Post.

“I don’t owe him s_ _t. He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it.”

— Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher, quoted by Scott Detrow, about Sen. John McCain “using” of him during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Steele Courts Tea Party Leaders

Politico reports on RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s meeting next week with 50 Tea Party leaders noting it “represents something of a breakthrough in the GOP’s courting of the tea party. Though Steele and other GOP leaders have occasionally scored meetings with individual leaders of national groups involved in the tea party movement, Tuesday will mark the first large-scale get-together between the national party and grass-roots activists from a wide array of regional tea party groups.”


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