POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES -7/9

U.S. Forces Drawing Down in Iraq

Joel Wing: “U.S. forces are scheduled to draw down to 50,000 by September 1, 2010 following President Obama’s withdrawal plan. It’s hardly been noticed, but U.S. troops are almost at that level already… In January 2009 when Obama first took office, there were 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.”

Americans Support Checks and Balances

A new Penn Schoen Berland poll finds that, while the American public “may be dissatisfied with recent administrations and the partisan political environment, they remain reasonably satisfied with the governmental framework set out in the Constitution. By 64% to 19% they endorse the system of checks and balances as necessary to prevent one branch from dominating the Government.”

Most interesting: “When it comes to fixing to the system, voters zero in on the judiciary branch as most ripe for extensive changes. 69% call for a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices and 66% favor term limits. Most significantly, by a margin of 51% to 34% the public favors popular election of Supreme Court justices, which follows the recent trend in some states that have chosen to elect their top justices. It is the most dramatic change to the system that the poll respondents favor.”

Nebraska Democrats Struggling to Find Candidate

The Nebraska Democratic Party is “left looking around, waiting for someone to emerge” and challenge Gov. Dave Heineman (R) just four months before the election, KETV reports.

Mark Lakers (D), who is under investigation on accusations of improper financial report filings, dropped out of the race last week, citing a lack of financial support.

Forward vs. Backward

First Read says that President Obama — in campaign stops yesterday in Missouri and Nevada — “made what appeared to be the Democrats’ clearest midterm argument: moving forward vs. moving backward.”

Said Obama: “You’re going to face a choice in November. This is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess in the first place, and the policies that are getting us out of this mess. And what the other side is counting on is people not having a very good memory.”

He added that Republicans are not “coming back and saying, ‘You know what, we really screwed up, but we’ve learned our lesson and now we’ve got this new approach and this is how things are going to turn out really well.’ That’s not their argument.”

Insiders See GOP Takeover Increasingly Likely

The latest National Journal Political insiders Poll finds the prospects of a Republican takeover of the House continues to rise. The poll also shows the GOP is predicted to gain 5 to 6 Senate seats this November.

On a scale of zero (no chance) to 10 (virtual certainty), how likely are the Republicans to take over the House this November? The average rating from 100 Democratic insiders was 4.5, up from a 3.7 rating when the question was last asked in April. The average rating from the 104 GOP Insiders who responded was a very bullish 6.6, up from 5.8 in April.

How many Senate seats will Democrats gain or lose this November? The average of 100 Democratic insiders said the party would lose 5 seats, and the average offered up by 103 GOP Insiders was 6. For Dems, the average was the same as it was in March when this question was previously asked. For GOPers, the number actually fell from 7 in March.

Inglis Says GOP leaders Let Demagogues Set Tone

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who lost his primary last month, said too many Republican leaders are acquiescing to a poisonous “demagoguery” that threatens the party’s long-term credibility, the AP reports.

In particular, he cited a claim made famous by Sarah Palin that the Democratic health care bill would create “death panels” to decide whether elderly or sick people should get care.

Said Inglis: “There were no death panels in the bill… and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It’s not leadership. It’s demagoguery… I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading. What it takes to lead is to say, ‘You know, that’s just not right.'”

RNC Never Reimbursed for Nightclub Expense

Although the RNC insisted it would be reimbursed for expenses at a Hollywoodbondage-themed nightclub, the Daily Caller notes that “months later, there’s no evidence in Federal Election Commission filings that that has happened.”

“According to FEC reports, the California political operative who initially incurred the nightclub expense on behalf of the RNC, Erik Brown, did not send money to the RNC. Neither did an RNC employee, Allison Meyers, who took young donors to the club, which features topless women dancers imitating lesbian sex acts.”

Manchin Holds Early Lead for Byrd’s Seat

A new Rasmussen survey in West Virginia finds Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is the early leader in a special election to be held later this year to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat.

Manchin leads Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R), 53% to 39%, and tops Secretary of State Betty Ireland (R), 65% to 26%.

Key finding: 77% of the state’s voters approve of the job Manchin is doing as governor.

Quote of the Day

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I can see it from my house. It’s the midterm elections in November.”

— Sarah Palin, in an interview on the Fox Business Network.

Bentley Poised to Win Runoff in Alabama

Baselice and Associates poll in Alabama shows Robert Bentley (R) with a substantial lead over Bradley Byrne (R) in the runoff for the Republican nomination for Alabama governor, 53% to 33%.

The runoff election is Tuesday and the winner face Ron Sparks (D) in the general election.

Haslam Leads for Tennessee Governor

A new WSMV Poll in Tennessee shows Bill Haslam (R) leading for the Republican gubernatorial nomination with 32%, followed by Zach Wamp (R) at 21% and Ronald Ramsey (R) at 11%.

The GOP primary is on August 5.

In general election match ups, all three possible Republican candidates beat Mike McWherter (D) by wide margins. Haslam leads 60% to 34%, Ramsey leads 51% to 41%, and Wamp leads 59% to 35%.

However, “those numbers could reflect the fact that the Republican candidates have so far campaigned far more visibly than the Democrat, who is unopposed in the primary.”

Still Tight in Illinois

A new Rasmussen survey in Illinois shows Alexi Giannoulias (D) edging Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 40% to 39%.

Orszag Will Head to Think Tank

Obama budget director Peter Orszag will join the Council on Foreign Relations as distinguished visiting fellow when he leaves the White House at the end of the month, Mike Allen reports.

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