POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/12

Bonus Quote of the Day

“A friend who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is your friend and ally. He’s not a 20-percent traitor.”

— Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), quoted by the New York Times, reminding the audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference of an old adage from Ronald Reagan.

Timing the Economic Recovery

James Surowiecki notes that there is “a strong correlation between voting in Presidential elections and income growth during election years.” In fact, income growth in “the second and third quarters of the election year seem to matter most. Since the second quarter started just last week, there’s time for moods to brighten substantially by Election Day.”

While it’s not a presidential election year, he notes that Democrats “do have an ace in the hole when it comes to keeping the economy moving: last year’s stimulus bill was backloaded, which means that close to five hundred billion dollars in stimulus money is still to be spent.”

“That backloading of the bill was good economics: with the Federal Reserve doing less to pump up the economy, an extra half-trillion dollars in fiscal stimulus will help pick up the slack. It was also good politics, since much of that money will be flooding into the economy during the key second and third quarters.”

Republicans Use Flag More Often

Smart Politics notes that of the nearly 400 members of the House of Representatives running for reelection, Republicans are 36% more likely to incorporate the United States flag prominently on their campaign websites than Democratic members.

Short List Gets Longer

Jake Tapper reports that former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice Leah Ward Sears is also on the White House short list to replacing retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

The other names: 7th circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, DC Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Brown Snubs Palin and Tea Party

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), “whose stunning victory in January was fueled in part by Tea Party anger, has snubbed the fiery grassroots group and declined its invitation to join Sarah Palin Wednesday at a massive rally on Boston Common,” the Boston Herald reports.

“Brown’s decision to skip the first big rally in Boston by the group whose members are credited with helping him win election has some experts saying he’s tossed the Tea Party overboard, as he prepares for re-election in 2012.”

Forecast Suggests GOP Could Win 37 House Seats

Alan Abramowitz’s election forecasting model for the 2010 House midterm election — “perhaps the most accurate of all political science models in projecting past midterm elections,” notes Larry Sabato — suggests Republicans will pick up 37 House seats in November. That is very close to the 40 seats the GOP needs to take outright control of the House.

The key variables in the Abramowitz model are (1) it is the midterm election of a Democratic presidential administration and (2) the Democrats are defending so many marginal seats — more than fifty that they added in 2006 and 2008, two exceptionally pro-Democratic elections.

Reid Has Killed Most Filibusters

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “is on track to set the record for having the best batting average when it comes to killing filibusters,” Roll Call reports.

“Since the beginning of the 111th Congress, Reid has won 90 percent of his efforts to cut off attempted Republican filibusters. Two former Majority Leaders — Bill Frist (R-TN) and Mike Mansfield (D-MT) — tied for the next best record of winning votes to end debate or invoke cloture; both Senators prevailed 63 percent of the time in the 109th Congress and the 94th Congress, respectively.”

“If the Senate continues at its current pace, Reid will set a new record if he is able to win just one in five cloture votes for the rest of this Congress. Sixty votes are needed to beat back a filibuster and invoke cloture.”

Rubio Pulls Even Farther Away

The latest Rasmussen survey in Florida shows Marco Rubio (R) crushing Gov. Charlie Crist (R) in their Republican Senate primary, 57% to 28%, with 12% undecided.

In October, Crist held a 14 point lead in the same poll.

The primary is on August 24.

Obama Approval Sinks Again

President Obama’s job approval rate hit a new low over the weekend and the Gallup daily tracking poll three day rolling average sank to 45%.

Obama Ditches Press Corps

President Obama “quietly breached years of protocol on Saturday morning by leaving the White House without the press with him,” the AP reports.

“About two hours before reporters were supposed to be in position to leave with the president, Obama left the grounds of the White House. Members of the press were told he was attending one of his daughter’s soccer games in northwest Washington, D.C.”

“The White House press corps traditionally travels with the president anywhere he goes, inside and outside the country, to report on the president’s activities for the benefit of informing the public and for historical record.”

According to Politico, the president later mocked the resulting brouhaha: “They were very upset about it. It was big news today.”

No Looming Supreme Court Battle?

Mark Halperin speculates that Republicans may avoid a tough fight over President Obama’s eventual pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, citing the relative quiet on the issue from speakers at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

“Some GOP strategists have been sensitive to the ‘party of no’ label their side earned during the health care battle and are reluctant to reflexively defy the President on his choice to replace Stevens before the process has officially begun. In addition, given Republicans’ recent opposition to using the filibuster in judicial confirmations and Democrats’ still strong 59-seat Senate majority, conservative politicians who brandish the court card would run the risk of whipping their base into a lather in anticipation of an epic fight with the President, only to watch a new Justice seated with little struggle shortly before the midterms in November.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Senate Republicans “declined to rule out a filibuster of President Obama’s nominee…if they think the pick falls outside of the judicial mainstream.”

Toomey Leads in Pennsylvania

A new Morning Call/Muhlenberg College Poll in Pennsylvania shows Pat Toomey (R) leading Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in the U.S. Senate race, 47% to 40%, with only nine percent still undecided.

The Sarah Palin Network

Tina Fey was back on Saturday Night Live announcing the latest media venture for the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate.

Read more…

Quote of the Day

“We need to purge the Republicans of the weaklings. And we’re on a RINO hunt. And we’re going to drive them to extinction.”

— Tea Party Express 3 Chairman Mark Williams, in an interview with CNN, on “Republicans in name only.”

Romney Edges Paul in Straw Poll Vote

In case you missed it over the weekend, Mitt Romney edged out Ron Paul to win the SRLC straw poll by a single vote, reports Dave Weigel.

Romney took 439 votes (24%) to Paul’s 438 votes (also 24%), a result that disappointed a Paul-heavy crowd that had stuck around to watch the results. Sarah Palin came in third with 330 votes (18%), and Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 321 votes (18%); Mike Huckabee, who did not attend the event, scored 4%. Total ballots cast: 1,806.

Proving that he’s the Republican party frontrunner in 2012, Romney won the straw poll without even attending the event.

1994 Casts a Shadow Over 2010 Midterm Elections

“In many ways, the 1994 election has become the template both Republicans and Democrats are looking to as they set their strategies for the fall Congressional elections,” the New York Times observes. “Democratic campaign operatives, who are girding for big losses, began meeting quietly with party strategists involved in the 1994 contests last summer, looking for lessons on how to avoid another rout.”

“Yet 1994 seems an imprecise way to predict how this contest will play out. While there are intriguing parallels, there are some important differences as well. And though Democrats might look to those differences as glimmers of light … the divergences seem as likely to benefit Republicans as Democrats, analysts in both parties said.”

“Further, it seems too early to measure the effect of what is perhaps the biggest difference between the two cycles — that Democrats this time succeeded in passing a major health care bill.”
Meanwhile, Ben Smith notes Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) “mischievously” floated the name of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning.

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