POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2-8

Election Results

Waiting for results from Colorado.  There were no exit polls conducted so the television networks are waiting for the votes to be counted before projecting a winner.

Rick Santorum was declared the winner in Missouri and Minnesota.

If Santorum has a big night, the primary race to watch will be in Arizona on February 28.

An emerging theme is that Mitt Romney can’t win any state unless he’s able to hammer his opponents with negative ads.

New Poll Shows Paul Jumping Into Second

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Mitt Romney leading the GOP presidential race nationally with 29%, followed by Ron Paul at 21%, Newt Gingrich at 19% and Rick Santorum at 18%.

“The results suggest Romney — despite his vast advantages in organization, fundraising and momentum after victories in New Hampshire, Florida and Nevada — still has many doubters among Republicans nationwide.”

Kasich Remains Very Unpopular

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Ohio finds just 33% of voters approve of Gov. John Kasich (R) to 53% who disapprove.

If voters could do the 2010 election over again they’d vote for Ted Strickland (D) by a whopping 20 point margin, 56% to 36%, numbers that not coincidentally track closely with the margin voters rejected collective bargaining restrictions proposed by Kasich last fall.

Also interesting from the poll: An astounding 42% of voters have no opinion whatsoever about Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), “the highest figure we’ve found for any sitting senator.”

Romney Leads Every Anti-Romney Candidate

A new Rasmussen survey shows Mitt Romney beating each of his remaining GOP rivals in head-to-head match ups, showing the frontrunner still dominant even if there was just one so-called “anti-Romney” candidate left.

Romney beats Newt Gingrich 46% to 40%, tops Rick Santorum 50% to 38%, and crushes Ron Paul 58% to 30%.

The latest Gallup tracking poll also shows Romney expanding his lead over the field. He’s in front with 37%, followed by Gingrich at 22%, Santorum at 16% and Paul at 11%.

California Gay Marriage Ban Is Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court on declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, “putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court,” the New York Times reports.

Rick Hasen: “Judge Reinhardt wrote his opinion for an audience of one: Justice Kennedy.”

Romney Sets Expectations Very Low

Mitt Romney’s campaign apparently doesn’t expect to do well in the three GOP presidential nomination contests tonight and has released a memo dramatically downplaying their importance.

See more…

A Polarizing Moderate

A new study finds that President Obama “is the most moderate Democratic president since the end of World War II, while President George W. Bush was the most conservative president in the post-war era.”

Ezra Klein: “Republicans, however, can and should take partial credit for this. Obama is so moderate in part because the Republicans are so extreme. Politicians are ideological, of course, but they are also opportunistic. And the GOP, in closing ranks against almost every major initiative Obama has attempted, has taken away most of his opportunities to be truly liberal.”

How to Raise and Spend Money Secretly

BuzzFeed reports on a loophole that is already accelerating the collapse of the campaign finance system.

“The fundraising part of the loophole has been in the news lately: Some donors to Romney’s SuperPAC simply set up shell corporations and gave through the corporations, whose ownership is opaque. Their identities, so long as they don’t inadvertently disclose them, will remain secret. But a SuperPAC supporting John Edwards, and playing a supporting role in his trial, has already experimented with using shell corporations on the other end of the equation: spending.”

“The net result: To turn these committees into black boxes, which report to the Federal Election Committee the total amounts raised and spent, and nothing else.”

U.S. Constitution Loses Appeal Around the World

A new study finds the U.S. Constitution “appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to the New York Times.

“Among the world’s democracies, constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall. Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. Constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s. The turn of the twenty-first century, however, saw the beginning of a steep plunge that continues through the most recent years for which we have data, to the point that the constitutions of the world’s democracies are, on average, less similar to the U.S. Constitution now than they were at the end of World War II.”

GOP Lawmakers Told to Ignore Public Comments

As Wisconsin legislative leaders “secretly developed new election maps last year to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private strategy sessions, according to a GOP memo that became public,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

Republican lawmakers were told: “Public comments on this map may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments.”

“Other newly released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed.”

Kerrey Will Not Seek Return to Senate

Bob Kerrey said he won’t seek the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the AP reports.

Kerrey’s announcement “shuts down hopes for a bid both parties called Democrats’ best chance to hold on to the seat. Kerrey himself had described it as a longshot.”

Obama’s Super PAC Reversal Not Surprising

First Read: “Anyone who is surprised by the Obama campaign’s announcement last night that it’s encouraging Democratic donors to give money to the pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA Action — after previously criticizing this practice — wasn’t paying attention in 2008. Back then, remember, Obama reversed himself and opted out of public financing for the general election, enabling his campaign to raise some $750 million to win the presidency. That reversal then and this reversal now tell us two important things about Obama and modern presidential politics. One, it’s a losing proposition to always put principle above winning. Indeed, the rise of these Super PACs… could very well wipe out any fundraising advantage the incumbent enjoys in 2012. And two, as the L.A. Times’ Mark Barabak points out, voters rarely care about these kind of process stories. After all, did Obama lose a single vote in ’08 due to his public-financing reversal?”

Hoekstra Urged to Pull Ad

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra’s (R-MI) first major ad of Michigan’s 2012 U.S. Senate race — aired before and during the Super Bowl — “was a doozy, drawing sharp criticism for racial insensitivity from Democrats, Republicans and civil rights advocates,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

However, Hoekstra “stood his ground Monday, saying the ad did what he wanted: It drew a clear contrast between himself” and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Detroit News: “A chorus of ethnic, religious and cultural groups called on Hoekstra to pull the ad that’s slated to run for two weeks in Michigan. Democrats (as well as some Republicans) blasted the GOP candidate for advancing stereotypes by using a Chinese-American actress speaking in broken English.”

See more…

Why Tuesday’s Contests are Important

First Read: “While they haven’t received the same kind of attention as the other early nominating contests, Tuesday’s races in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri are worth keeping in mind for three reasons. First, they have more projected delegates at stake — a combined 76 (40 in Minnesota, 36 in Colorado, and zero in Missouri, whose delegates will be determined a later date) — than all the combined delegates for Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Second, they all occur in presidential battleground states. And third, they give Mitt Romney’s challengers, particularly Rick Santorum, the opportunity to upset Romney.”

The Fix: “It all sets to stage for one of the biggest spin wars of the 2012 campaign, in which the results matter about as much as how they will be interpreted.”

See more…

Obama Urges Super PAC Donations from Democrats

President Obama is “signaling to wealthy Democratic donors that he wants them to start contributing to an outside group supporting his re-election, reversing a long-held position as he confronts a deep financial disadvantage on a vital front in the campaign,” the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “The move marks a clear political risk for Obama, who has staked much of his political career on opposition to the outsized role of ‘secret billionaires’ and other monied interests while also attempting to win reelection in a struggling economy.”

Obama Independents

Ryan Lizza: “Over at Third Way, Michelle Diggles and Lanae Erickson take a deep dive into the data to show that the real swing vote for Obama is a group they call Obama Independents–voters who ‘liked and voted for [Obama] just 3 years ago… were the most ideologically moderate segment of the electorate,’ and ‘are true swing voters, with one-quarter voting Republican in 2010 and one-quarter voting for President Bush in 2004.’ This group, which we are likely to hear a lot about in the coming months, is disproportionately young, female, and secular, and it was hit hard by the recession. One quarter of its members are non-white.”

Obama to Return Donations Tied to Fugitive

“Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for President Obama’s re-election campaign,” the New York Times reports.

However, the Obama campaign “said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.”

First Read: “This kind of story hits at this truth: When campaigns are raising big bucks – whether they are Democratic or Republican – it is human nature that you sometimes screw up the vetting. Fundraisers get so excited about hitting the lottery with a big donor or big bundler that they, perhaps, vet with eye toward finding nothing.”

Lawmakers Seek Funds from Exiting Members

Roll Call notes there is more than $7.6 million in the combined bank accounts of the 19 House Members who have thus far announced their retirements.

“Campaign finance laws allow retiring Members to donate their funds to charity, give to their colleagues’ re-election campaigns, or save it for a future run for office. But the party committees are typically among the first to ask for financial help from Members before they exit the halls of Congress for good.”

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