POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 8/20

Obama Endorsement Not an Asset Even in Illinois

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Illinois finds voters say they would be negatively influenced if a candidate was endorsed by President Obama. In fact, 40% of voters in the president’s home state say they’d be less likely to support an Obama endorsed candidate to only 26% who say it would be an asset.

Bottom line: “The reality at this point is that Obama turns Republican voters off to a much greater extent than he excites Democrats.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“The president is obviously — he’s Christian. He prays every day. He communicates with his religious adviser every single day. There’s a group of pastors that he takes counsel from on a regular basis. His faith is very important to him but it’s not something that’s a topic of conversation every single day.”

— White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, defending President Obama’s faith.

Close Race for Georgia Governor

A new InsiderAdvantage/WSB-TV poll in Georgia shows Nathan Deal (R) with a 4 point lead over former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) in the race for governor, 45% to 41%.

Said pollster Matt Towery: “Barnes and Deal are splitting independents virtually even. So that’s where the battleground is going to be. If one of those candidates can take control of those independent voters, then they have a good shot at winning.”

Dead Heat in Kentucky

A new Braun Reseach poll in Kentucky shows Jack Conway (D) closing the gap with Rand Paul (R) in the U.S. Senate race.

The race is essentially deadlocked with Conway just ahead 41.7% to 41.2%.

Fenty Trails in Re-Election Bid

A new Clarus poll in Washington, D.C. shows Vincent Gray (D) leading Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) in the Democratic mayoral primary, 41% to 36%.

Maes Refuses to Leave Colorado Race

Dan Maes (R) rejected a proposal from Tom Tancredo (I) that they both drop out of the Colorado governor’s race so the GOP could appoint a more formidable candidate to take on John Hickenlooper (D), the Denver Post reports.

Internal Poll Also Shows Toomey Leading

Countering two recent polls that showed Pat Toomey (R) with solid leads in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate, First Read reports an internal poll conducted by Democratic pollster Fred Yang shows Toomey with a more narrow two-point lead over Joe Sestak (D).

“Now, it’s never a good thing when a party’s own poll has its candidate trailing — even within the margin of error — as this poll finds. But Democrats want to show the race is in play for them.”

Quote of the Day

“The answer is no regrets.”

— President Obama, quoted by CNN, on whether he regrets saying he supported the rights of Muslims to build a mosque near the site of the September 11 terror attacks in New York. A new Siena poll shows large majorities of New Yorkers opposed to the plan.

Growing Number Say Obama is a Muslim

A new Pew Research poll finds a “substantial and growing number” of Americans say that President Obama is a Muslim, while the proportion saying he is a Christian has declined.

Key findings: 18% now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Just 34% say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is.

Interestingly, the survey was completed before Obama’s recent comments about the proposed construction of a mosque near the site of the former World Trade Center.

A new Time poll, completed after the recent controversy, shows 24% mistakenly believe that President Obama is a Muslim.

First Read: “These results don’t many anyone look good — Obama’s political opponents (who have helped spread false information about the president’s religion and birthplace), the press (which obviously hasn’t done its job here, thanks to some outlets even serving as a megaphone by running false equivalency debates), and the American populace (which should be embarrassed).”

Palin Bumped to Smaller Arena

Slow ticket sales for an upcoming Sarah Palin appearance in Florida have forced organizers to move her from a 2,936 seat arena to one that seats just 609 people, the Florida Times Union reports.

Bush More Popular Than Obama in Key Districts?

The Hotline reports a “prominent Democratic pollster” is circulating a new poll that shows former President Bush “is 6 points more popular than President Obama in ‘Frontline’ districts — seats held by Democrats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees as most vulnerable to Republican takeover. That Bush is more popular than Obama in Democratic-held seats is cause for outright fear.”

Santorum Says He’s Being Pulled Into Race

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tells the Des Moines Register he is “farther down the road of weighing a presidential campaign than he expected to be when he first set foot in Iowa 10 months ago.”

In fact, he “has quietly begun laying the groundwork for an all-out campaign for Iowa’s 2012 presidential nominating caucuses.”

Said Santorum: “I sort of feel in some respects I’m being pulled along in this. I’m still seriously going through this process. And at this point I’m very encouraged by everything that’s happening.”

Barbour Becomes De Facto Republican Leader

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) “is the most powerful Republican in American politics — at least for the next three months,” Politico reports.

“Barbour, who runs the Republican Governors Association, has more money to spend on the 2010 elections – $40 million – than any other GOP leader around. And in private, numerous Republicans describe Barbour as the de facto chairman of the party.”

“It’s not just because he controls the RGA kitty but rather it’s due to close relationships with everyone who matters in national GOP politics–operatives like Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie and other top Republicans running or raising cash for a network of outside political groups. Together, these groups are essential to Republican hopes of regaining power because Democrats are cleaning their clocks through more traditional fundraising efforts.”

Sink Leads for Florida Governor

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows Alex Sink (D) with a slight edge in the race for governor with 31%, followed by Bill McCollum (R) at 29% and independent Bud Chiles (I) at 12%.

With Rick Scott as the GOP nominee, Sink has 33%, followed by Scott at 29% and Chiles at 12%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Watching television must have been an enjoyable experience for Florida CFO Alex Sink over the last few months, as she watched Attorney General Bill McCollum and Rick Scott tear into each other with attack ads. Although she trailed either GOP competitor by eight or nine points in June, she has been the unintended beneficiary of the heavy volume of negative television ads her potential November opponents launched against each other. She has been able to sit back and save her money for the November election, while whoever wins the Republican primary will have substantial work to do healing wounds within his own party and cleaning up his image.”

Crist Maintains Lead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows Gov. Charlie Crist (I) continuing to lead the U.S. Senate race with 39%, followed by Marco Rubio (D) at 32% and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) at 16%.

With Jeff Greene (D) as the Democratic nominee, its Crist at 40%, Rubio at 32% and Greene at 15%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Crist is getting more support from Democrats than either Greene or Meek. The key for Crist will be whether he can hold this many Democrats once the party’s nomination is settled and keep his half of the independent voters. Crist’s edge in the Senate race is built on the very favorable impression Floridians have of his performance as Governor. They approve 56 – 35 percent of how he is leading the state, an impressive figure at a time when voters in many states seem to be taking out their economic frustrations on their governors.”

Corbett Up Big in Pennsylvania

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Pennsylvania finds Tom Corbett (R) is still the strong favorite to be the next governor, leading Dan Onorato (D), 48% to 35%.

The reason: “Corbett has a massive lead with independents (52-20), is winning over an unusually high number of Democrats (22%), and has his party pretty well unified around him (74-10). Add to that a Democratic base in the state that’s less than excited about voting this year and it’s the equation for a double digit lead.”

Brady Leads Race for Illinois Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Illinois shows Bill Brady (R) leading Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in the race for governor, 39% to 30%, with Green Party candidate Rich Whitney at 11%.

Key takeaway: “There’s certainly still room for Quinn to come back but it’s going to depend on whether people vote based on their feelings about the candidates themselves or just choose on party.”

Republicans Dominate in Kansas

A new SurveyUSA poll shows Republicans on their way to winning the top two races in Kansas.

In the U.S. Senate race, Jerry Moran (R) is crushing Lisa Johnston (D), 69% to 23%.

In the race for governor, Sam Brownback (R) is way ahead of Tom Holland (D), 67% to 25%.

A Formal Centrist Bloc in the Senate?

Matthew Yglesias: “It occurred to me today that there’s at least some chance that in January of 2011 the US Senate will have 49 Democrats, Joe Lieberman, Charlie Crist, and 49 Republicans. Which is to say that Lieberman & Crist could form a two-man caucus, hold the balance of power, and drive organization of the Senate. Crist could leapfrog seniority and chair a committee. And if it looked like that might happen, mightn’t it make sense for Northeastern moderate Republicans (Snowe, Collins, Brown, Castle) and Southern moderate Democrats (Landrieu, Pryor, Hagan) to join their rebellion against the two party system?”

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