POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 10/22

Frank Holds Comfortable Lead

Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) personal loan of $200,000 to his congressional campaign made some think he might be in trouble for re-election, but a new WPRI poll shows Frank leading challenger Sean Bielat (R) by double-digits, 49% to 37%.

Frank’s own polling reportedly shows him leading by 19 points.

Headline of the Day

“Obama cancels trip because Americans can’t tell Sikhs from Muslims.”

— From a story in Canada’s National Post commenting on the White House canceling a visit to India’s Golden Temple because of the headgear required for all visitors.

Should NPR Have Fired Juan Williams?

Not long after NPR gave the hook to Juan Williams for recent comments he made onThe O’Reilly Factor about Muslims, the public radio giant is receiving backlash from conservative critics, the Wall Street Journal reports. Critics question whether NPR should still receive taxpayer money, and they accuse NPR of hypocrisy for claiming to espouse the First Amendment while firing a commentator for speaking his mind.

Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, says he’s boycotting NPR.

Jeffrey Goldberg: “There’s a larger trend here, the increasing tempo of journalist firings around the issues of Islam, terrorism, and Israel. There is Helen Thomas, of course, as well as Octavia Nasr, who was fired by CNN for praising the radical Shi’a Ayatollah Fadlallah. Helen Thomas is a ridiculous figure, and her comments touched on the Shoah, so I think my position on her firing remains, good riddance, but Nasr’s firing seemed unjustified to me, and Williams’s removal, so far at least, seems unjustified as well. More to come, undoubtedly.”

Republicans Expand Lead in Generic Ballot

The latest Pew Research survey finds Republicans leading the generic congressional ballot by a whopping ten points among likely voters, 50% to 40%. Last month, Republicans held a seven point lead.

Key finding: “The Republicans’ advantage in 2010 is largely being driven by a swing in preferences among independent voters. Currently, likely independent voters favor the Republican candidate by 19 points (49% Republican vs. 30% Democrat). In November 2006, Democrats held a seven-point lead among likely independent voters.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I have zero desire, just so you know, to be in the limelight. I don’t think it’s good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor. You’re not going to see me giving my opinions in the public arena, until I start selling my book. I’m going to emerge then submerge.”

— Former President George W. Bush, quoted by the Chicago Tribune.

Boozman Widens Lead in Arkansas

A new Mason-Dixon poll in Arkansas finds Rep. John Boozman (R) with a 21 point lead over Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) for U.S. Senate, 55% to 34%.

Last month, Boozman’s lead was 17 points.

Blumenthal Takes Huge Lead in Connecticut

A new Suffolk University poll in Connecticut finds Richard Blumenthal (D) has opened up a big lead over Linda McMahon (R) in the race for U.S. Senate, 57% to 39%.

Said pollster David Paleologos: “It doesn’t appear that voter fusion will cause too much confusion in Connecticut on election day. Blumenthal, at this point, doesn’t even need the Working Families Party votes to secure a win — he just needs McMahon to continue her negative ad campaign, as voters have viewed McMahon’s campaign as the more negative between the two.”

Toss Up for Illinois Governor

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Illinois finds Bill Brady (R) leading Gov. Pat Quinn (D) by just one point, 42% to 41%, with third party candidates combining to get 10%.

Key finding: “Whether those third party candidates can maintain their current level of support is going to be critical to Quinn’s reelection hopes because in a head to head contest between Quinn and Brady the Republican leads 49% to 44%. That suggests the folks going for the minor candidates are folks who really don’t like Quinn but can’t quite bring themselves to support Brady.”

Haley’s Lead Cut in South Carolina

A new Rasmussen survey in South Carolina finds Nikki Haley’s (R) lead over Vincent Sheheen (D) cut to single digits in the race for governor, 47% to 38%.

Just a month ago, Haley held a 17 point lead.

Secretary Who?

Politico notes retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, who heads the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, “takes the dubious honor of being the president’s least-visible Cabinet secretary, despite running the fourth-largest agency by budget, earning a mere 25 mentions in five major daily newspapers over the past year. That means Shinseki — who’s been absent from major-network evening news shows for the past year — blips onto the national radar about once every two weeks. It’s been months since the secretary’s name last appeared in the print edition of The New York Times. Indeed, Shinseki’s biggest headline-grabbing moment to date was his appointment.”

Year of the Outsider

First Read: “Here’s a scenario that’s not outside the realm of possibility: Sharron Angle (in Nevada), Carly Fiorina (in California), and Rand Paul (in Kentucky) all win, but Mark Kirk (in Illinois) and Pat Toomey (in Pennsylvania) lose. What would explain this? Well, just look at our new NBC/WSJ poll, which finds that only 23% of registered voters would back a generic congressional candidate who has served in Congress for more than 10 years, but 48% would support someone running for the first time. Being perceived as part of Washington is a bigger problem this midterm cycle than being perceived as too inexperienced to serve in Congress.”

Is Palin Snubbing O’Donnell?

Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), now running way behind in the polls in her race with Chris Coons (D), told ABC News she is still waiting on a promised campaign visit from Sarah Palin.

Said O’Donnell: “Well we’ve tried to schedule it. We’ve been talking to her going back and forth exchanging dates and I don’t know if we’ll be able to get it in within the next 2 weeks, we’re both trying very hard… I don’t know. Time is getting short.”

See more…

Obama Approval Sinks to New Low

A new Gallup poll finds President Obama’s approval rating averaged 44.7% for the last quarter — a new low since taking office.

In addition, just 39% of Americans believe Obama deserves re-election in 2012 while 54% say he does not. However, both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan “were in similar poor standing at this point in their presidencies, and both recovered in time to win second terms as president.”

Young People Staying Home

A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll of America’s 18-29 year-olds finds waning enthusiasm for participation in the midterm elections as less just 27% say they will definitely be voting in November, a drop of nine points from eleven months ago when 36% expected to vote.

A solid majority of young Americans, by a 53% to 42% margin, said they would prefer a Democrat-controlled Congress as an outcome of the November election.

The Temporary Senator

In an interview with Time, Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE), appointed to replace Joe Biden when he assumed the vice presidency, explains why he never thought about running for the seat in this year’s elections.

Said Kaufman: “Why? Because I’m 71 years old. I figured that if I tried to run, it would consume 50% to 60% of my time. I would never have gotten the chance to actually be a United States Senator.”

Is Pelosi’s Power Waning?

With at least five House Democrats announcing that they would not support Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as House Speaker if Democrats maintain a majority — and a dozen others saying they would consider someone else — the Washington Post concludes her “mathematical grip on political power is getting slippery.”

“The congressional palace intrigue has reached such heights that some insiders wonder whether she would resign from leadership if Democrats lose the majority. That’s what the previous speaker, Republican J. Dennis Hastert, did in the wake of the 2006 elections. Then again, Pelosi could move to the minority leader’s office, as the legendary Sam Rayburn (D-TX) did several times in the 1940s and 1950s as House control kept flipping between the parties.”

Hurricane Sarah

Republican operatives tell Politico that Sarah Palin “wreaks havoc on campaign logistics and planning. She offers little notice about her availability, refuses to do certain events, is obsessive about press coverage and sometimes backs out with as little lead time as she gave in the first place. In short, her seat-of-the-pants operation can be a nightmare to deal with, which, in part, explains why Palin doesn’t often do individual events for GOP hopefuls.”

In fact, “the high-maintenance aspects of dealing with the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee have angered and frustrated some conservative candidates and aides who once thought highly of Palin and, for more skeptical Republicans, simply reconfirmed their view that she’s self-centered and unhelpful to the cause.”

Update: Rebecca Mansour, SarahPAC communications director tweets: “Oh look, primary 2012 just began with anonymous GOP jerks backstabbing Palin! Put your name on your comments, you cowards.”

Quote of the Day

“Let me tell you right here and now that I would rather be in our position right now than theirs.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in an interview with Charlie Rose, arguing that it will be tougher than it looks for Republicans to gain 39 net seats in the House to take control.

Toomey’s Lead Collapses in Pennsylvania

A new Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania shows the U.S. Senate race is now a statistical dead heat with Pat Toomey (R) barely edging Rep. Joe Sestak (D) among likely voters, 48% to 46%.

Said pollster Peter Brown: “Pennsylvania is a blue state and Democrats there have begun to come home. They are more engaged than they were earlier in the race. This is not unusual, especially in off-year elections. Democrats often engage later in the campaign than do Republicans. The political environment is more favorable now for them, as evidenced by President Obama’s improved, but still decidedly negative, job approval rating.”

The latest Morning Call/Muhlenberg tracking poll shows Sestak and Toomey tied at 43% each.

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