POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 5/4

Huge Audience for Obama Speech

Despite airing after primetime Sunday in about 80% of the country, President Obama’s 9-minute address to the country announcing the capture and death of Osama bin Laden drew about 56.5 million viewers, Variety reports.

That’s more viewers than any other speech Obama has given.

Blowing Hot Air

Hamilton College study sampled the predictions of 26 political pundits and evaluated the accuracy of 472 predictions made during a 16-month period.

Key findings: Just nine of the prognosticators they studied could predict more accurately than a coin flip. Two were significantly less accurate, and the remainder were not statistically any better or worse than a coin flip.

Paul Krugman was the most accurate while Cal Thomas was the least accurate.

Huntsman Takes First Step

Jon Huntsman took his first step toward a presidential bid, Politico reports, “creating a federal political action committee that will allow him to travel and raise money in the weeks before he’s expected to formally announce a bid.”

Huntsman filed paperwork with the FEC to begin “H PAC,” which aides say will be a placeholder before a full-blown campaign. There will be no exploratory committee.

His announcement is expected by early summer, after visiting the early primary states and talking “at length with his family and the small circle of advisers who have been laying the groundwork for his run since the start of the year.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“For me it’s not just another political race. It’s about going on to the battlefield and defending God’s truth in the World.”

— Karen Santorum, wife of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), telling David Brody why her husband should run for president.

Do Politicians Discriminate Against Constituents?

Yale study looked at how race affects the response of state legislators in requests for help with registering to vote.

“Their idea was simple and elegant,”  Ezra Klein notes. “They posed as a voter and e-mailed thousands of state legislators asking for help registering. Actually, I guess I should say they posed as two different voters. One fake voter, ‘DeShawn Jackson,’ had a black name, and the other, ‘Jake Mueller,’ had a white name.”

Requests to white legislators from the black voter received fewer replies, even when controlling for partisanship. Minority lawmakers did the opposite and responded more frequently.

Quote of the Day

“I don’t know whether it helps or hurts politically the president but I really don’t care… This is not a Republican or a Democrat thing. This is an American thing.”

— Mitt Romney, quoted by the Boston Globe, on killing Osama bin Laden.

Students Predicted Bin Laden’s Location Two Years Ago

A UCLA geography class predicted in 2009 that there was an 88.9% chance that Osama bin Laden was in a city less than 300 km from his last known location in Tora Bora: a region that included Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed on Sunday, Science Insider reports.

“Based on information from satellites and other remote sensing systems, and reports on his movements since his last known location, the students created a probabilistic model of where he was likely to be. Their prediction of a town was based on a geographical theory called ‘island biogeography’: basically, that a species on a large island is much less likely to go extinct following a catastrophic event than a species on a small one.”

Flashback of the Day

“Sen. John McCain condemned Mike Huckabee Monday for saying that, as president, he would strike at terrorists inside Pakistan’s borders with or without permission from the country’s leadership… Sen. Barack Obama made similar comments about Pakistan in August, which McCain criticized at the time as irresponsible, as did several of Obama’s Democratic rivals.”

— CNN, November 27, 2007.

Obama Approval Jumps

A new Washington Post/Pew Research poll conducted last night finds 56% of Americans say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, an increase of nine points over April polls by the two organizations.

It’s the highest approval rating for the president in either poll since 2009.

However, the poll also finds virtually no movement in Obama’s numbers when it comes to handling the economy.

Chuck Todd: “The real bounce won’t be known until next week. Be careful of these 1-day insta polls. Give it a few days for public to digest.”

Cartoon of the Day

5-3-11.jpg

What’s on Bin Laden’s Hard Drive?

CIA chief Leon Panetta confirmed to Time that United States forces collected an “impressive amount” of material from Osama bin Laden’s compound, including computers and other electronics.

CNN has the inventory: 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices which include disks, DVDs and thumb drives.

Panetta Says Pakistan Could Have Jeopardized Mission

CIA Director Leon Panetta tells Time that American officials feared that Pakistan could have undermined the operation to get Osama bin Laden.

Said Panetta: “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission: They might alert the targets.”

Panetta also said they had only 60% to 80% confidence bin Laden was at the compound but told President Obama, “When you put it all together, we have the best evidence since [the 2001 battle of] Tora Bora, and that then makes it clear that we have an obligation to act.”

McCaskill Not Hurt by Tax Issue

Despite a significant amount of bad news about not paying taxes on an airplane, a new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sen. Claire McCaskill’s approval rating has held stead at 46% since early March.

McCaskill also has small leads over potential Republican challengers. She edges Todd Akin (R), 46% to 45% and beats both Sarah Steelman (R) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) by three points at 45% to 42%.

Just Like That, We’re Winning the War on Terror

A new SurveyUSA poll conducted yesterday finds that 60% of Americans say the United States is winning the war on terror, compared to 18% who say the terrorists are winning.

The identical question in August 2006 found that just 41% said the United States was winning, while 45% said the terrorists were winning.

Interestingly, the poll found no real bump in President Obama’s approval rating.

A Knowing Smile

Stephen Colbert: “Of course, we know that Obama ordered this hit last week, so some of his recent behavior makes a lot more sense now… On Saturday night, he goes to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and laughed a little too hard at this joke: [Seth Meyers:] ‘People think bin Laden is hiding in the Hindu kush, but did you know that every day from 4 to 5 he hosts a show on C-SPAN?’… It’s funny because I’m about to kill him.”

Maybe Not a Human Shield

Politico: “The White House backed away Monday evening from key details in its narrative about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, including claims by senior U.S. officials that the Al Qaeda leader had a weapon and may have fired it during a gun battle with U.S. forces. Officials also retreated from claims that one of bin Laden’s wives was killed in the raid and that bin Laden was using her as a human shieldbefore she was shot by U.S. forces.”

Abbottabad

Jon Stewart: “Not only did we kill bin Laden, we killed him in Abbottabad. Abbottabad sounds like the name most New Yorkers would have invented for the fictional place they would have loved to kill bin Laden in.”

Kucinich May Seek Re-Election in Another State

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) “is rumored to be interested in moving out of Ohio to seek re-election to Congress from Washington State’s new 10th district,” the Daily Caller reports.

Said Kucinich aide Nathan White: “After people found out that Congressman Kucinich’s district could be eliminated or substantially altered in congressional redistricting by the Ohio Legislature’s Republican majority, Congressman Kucinich received requests from people in twenty states, including Washington State, encouraging him to move and run in their area.”

Measuring the Bounce

Public Opinion Strategies notes that outside of 9/11, a president’s approval rating jumps an average of 13 points for about 22 weeks after a big national-security story.

Free-For-All in Nevada House Race

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) has announced that the September 13 special election to fill Rep. Dean Heller’s (R-NV) seat after he replaces Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) will be a free-for-all “ballot royale” format, reports the Las Vegas Sun.

Backlash: “Miller’s decision to take the nominating process out of the hands of the state Republican and Democratic parties unleashed a flood of accusations from Republicans that his decision was partisan and not based on the law… Indeed, a free-for-all election…gives Democrats their best shot at capturing the congressional seat that has been controlled by Republicans since its creation… The problem is that at least three Democrats are mulling the race… If party leaders can’t talk two of them out of the race, the Democrats’ only advantage evaporates.”

Will Marginal Issues Return to the Margins?

Politico notes that the news of Osama bin Laden’s death “will immediately reorder a Republican presidential contest that until now had been colored by provocative voices and marginal issues.”

“The arc of the last week illustrated what so many Republicans fear may prevent them from re-capturing the White House next year. In the span of 100 hours, the spectacle of a national discussion over President Obama’s long-form birth certificate –sparked by the pronouncements of a real estate developer who doubles as a reality show celebrity — gave way to a moment of utmost seriousness, defined by the president’s somber delivery of history-making news.”

Return of the establishment: “The hope among establishment Republicans is that the succession of events will trigger an end to what they see as the silly season – that party activists will sober up and end their flirtation with the fringe.”

Behind the Hunt for Bin Laden

A must-read piece in the New York Times:

“The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan. Ultimately, administration officials said, he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in a wealthy hamlet 35 miles from the Pakistani capital.

“On a moonless night eight months later, 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound, the officials said. Shots rang out. A helicopter stalled and would not take off. Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program.”

Palin Praises Bush but Won’t Mention Obama

Less than 24 hours after the world learned Osama bin Laden was dead, Sarah Palin paid tribute to American troops but never mentioned President Obama by name, theDenver Post reports, instead saying, “We thank President Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory.”

Politico: “Palin had been circling around for a semblance of a concrete foreign policy philosophy in recent weeks, seeking out opportunities to attack President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya. But in the wake of bin Laden’s killing, Palin shied away from attacks on the president — she didn’t even mention him by name — and instead articulated her own ‘common sense’ spin on classic realist foreign policy.”

Republicans Look Good for Washington Governor

A new SurveyUSA poll in Washington offers early encouragement to Republicans who hope to take the statehouse away from Democrats.

Rob McKenna (R) leads Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), 52% to 40%, and beats Jay Inslee (D), 48% to 41%.

In another set of match ups, Dave Reichert (R) leads Gregoire, 48% to 44%, and tops Inslee, 46% to 44%.

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