POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/12

McConnell is Least Popular Senator in the Country

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Kentucky finds Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) with a lowly 37% to 55% approval rating, the worst favorable/unfavorable numbers of any senator the country.

Nonetheless, he leads all of the Democrats tested against him in a 2014 race: Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson (D), Attorney General Jack Conway (D), and actress Ashley Judd all trail McConnell by four points, 47% to 43%.

“The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat.”

 

White House Will Include Corporate Taxes in Deal

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner “spoke by phone after exchanging new proposals to avert the ‘fiscal cliff’ as negotiations intensified ahead of the end-of-year deadline,” Reuters reports.

“The conversation and exchange of counteroffers over the last two days are the latest sign of possible progress in efforts to avert the automatic steep tax hikes and spending cuts set for January 1 unless Congress intervenes.”

Meanwhile, the the Wall Street Journal says the White House has told Republicans “it would include an overhaul of the corporate-tax code as part of any deal to reduce the deficit, people familiar with the talks said, putting a major priority for business groups on the table as part of the intensifying negotiations.”

 

Michigan Governor Signs Anti-Union Law

Without ceremony, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said he signed two bills tonight making Michigan the nation’s 24th right-to-work state, the Detroit News reports.

 

Kochs Delay Post-Election Meeting

National Review reports the Koch brothers “will postpone their semi-annual meeting, which was originally scheduled to be held next month. It will now be held in April. In an e-mail to friends, Charles Koch says he wants to reflect on the results, and on election data, before he huddles with fellow business leaders.”

 

Why Hillary Clinton Would be Strong in 2016

Nate Silver sees Hillary Clinton’s high favorability numbers falling if she moves to run for president in 2016 because Republicans “would begin to criticize her, delicately at first, and then more expressly as the election drew nearer.”

“None of this is to argue that Mrs. Clinton would not have some unique strengths as a candidate. For all the reasons I mentioned at the top, she seems like Democrats’ best bet, perhaps by some margin, to extend their winning streak to three or more terms in the White House. If she ran even a point or two stronger than a ‘generic’ Democrat, the odds would shift meaningfully in her favor, holding other circumstances equal.”

“Perhaps Mrs. Clinton’s most impressive attribute is her ability to withstand criticism — and often emerge the stronger from it. If she runs for president again, she will surely receive plenty of it.”

The Week: Why Republicans are really scared of Hillary Clinton.

 

Haley’s Senate Shortlist

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has whittled down the list of people she is considering for Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat to five people, CNN reports.

Her final choices: Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), former state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford (R) and attorney Catherine Templeton (R).

“One thing they have in common: a warm personal relationship with the governor, who is known to prize loyalty.”

 

Haley Trails in Possible Rematch in South Carolina

A new Public Policy Polling survey in South Carolina finds Gov. Nikki Haley (R) running behind her 2010 opponent Vincent Sheheen (D) in a possible rematch, 46% to 44%.

The good news for Haley is that she does not look terribly vulnerable to a primary challenger with Republicans wanting her as their nominee, 53% to 37%.

 

Is the Republican Party Fracturing?

Matt Taibbi: “Any pundit who tries to claim he knows where all of this is going is lying. This schism could be a disaster for Republicans (because it will further alienate the rank-and-file, middle-and-working-class voters from the party establishment, which will now be bashed from the outside by DeMint and the Tea Party), or it could actually be a good thing for the Republicans’ future prospects (there’s a way to look at this as a long-overdue purge of the party’s moron faction).”

“Or it could all be irrelevant. Remember, the Democrats were facing a similarly bitter split not too long ago, when their party’s mainstream unforgivably backed Bush’s idiotic Iraq invasion and then saddled us with a war-waffling presidential candidate in John Kerry. And just like the Republicans after Romney, the Democrats after the Kerry loss felt hopeless, depressed and self-hating – you heard a lot of ‘Screw it, I’m moving to Iceland’ talk. Four years later, the party sold the identical Kerry policy package in an exciting new Obama wrapper, and suddenly people were partying in the streets. You just never know how these things will turn out.”

“But in the meantime, this split in the Republican Party is a crazy and highly entertaining mess.”

 

Boehner’s Challenge is Keeping His Caucus United

Wall Street Journal: “The unruly freshman class of 2010 has thwarted Mr. Boehner numerous times during his two years as speaker. To bolster his position, Mr. Boehner has been slowly bringing Republican freshmen to his side by introducing them to the realities of legislating and congressional leadership. Mr. Boehner’s strategy, and his future as speaker, will get tested between now and year-end as Washington wrestles with negotiations designed to avert tax increases and spending cuts due to begin in early January.”

“Boehner has used both carrot and stick to unify his ranks, lawmakers said. Rep. Steve Southerland, a voluble freshman, got a job managing a transportation bill. Three freshmen who continued to defy the House leadership on key votes got booted from plum committees. Others learned the limits of their power by watching bills the House passed disappear in the Senate.”

“Boehner mended fences with his No. 2, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), after the two repeatedly clashed over various budget negotiations, aides to both men said. He has made an overt effort to cultivate Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee and Mitt Romney’s running mate. Mr. Ryan didn’t embrace Mr. Boehner’s efforts to negotiate a deficit deal in 2011. This year, he is sitting in on Mr. Boehner’s daily strategy session and has endorsed the speaker’s plan to raise fresh tax revenue.”

 

Business Leaders Lose Confidence in Both Parties

Charlie Cook: “While the vast majority of major corporate leaders either backed Mitt Romney last year or stayed neutral, they don’t really see the Republican Party as the good guys and Democrats as the bad guys. They see the whole political and governing process as dysfunctional.”

 

An Increasingly Polarized Nation

Gerald Seib: “Based on nearly complete results, of the 234 Republicans elected to the House, just 15 come from districts that the Democratic president carried… Of 201 Democrats elected, just nine come from districts Republican Mitt Romney carried… Not only are House members coming from reliably partisan districts, many are winning in landslides. In this fall’s election, 125 House members — 42 Republicans and 83 Democrats — won their districts with 70% or more of the vote…”

“The situation is similar in the Senate. There will be 45 Republican senators in the new Congress. Only 10 of them come from states President Obama won. There will be 55 Democrats and independents who caucus with Democrats. Just 11 of them come from states Mr. Romney won…”

“Voting in that presidential race, meanwhile, was starkly partisan. President Obama won the votes of just 6% of Republicans, exit polls indicate. Mr. Romney won just 7% of Democrats.”

New York Times: “Of the 234 House Republicans who will sit in the 113th Congress, 85 percent won re-election with 55 percent of the vote; more than half of next year’s House Republican Conference won more than 60 percent. And virtually every one of them ran on holding the line against tax increases and the Obama agenda.”

 

Ohio Voters Still Sour on Kasich

A new Quinnipiac poll in Ohio finds Gov. John Kasich (R) has a 42% to 35% job approval rating — his first positive rating since he took office — but voters still say he does not deserve a second term by a 44% to 37% margin.

 

Fiscal Cliff Talks Get Serious

The White House and House Speaker John Boehner’s office held more negotiations on on ways to break the stalemate over the “fiscal cliff,” Reuters reports.

The Wall Street Journal reports talks “have progressed steadily in recent days, people close to the process said, breathing life into talks that appeared to have stalled… The people familiar with the matter say talks have taken a marked shift in recent days as staff and leaders have consulted, becoming more ‘serious.’ Both sides have agreed to keep details private, according to the people, who declined to detail where new ground was being broken.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg notes President Obama has softened his rhetoric about Republicans which “coincides with an acceleration of private meetings and discussions with the clock ticking down on the deadline for a deal.”

Wonk Wire: What to expect if we go over the cliff.

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