Friday, December 18, 2009

Here is the ABC Political Polling Analysis Detail... Yes, Virginia, 2010 is an election year.....

*** 332 Days Later: For much of his first year in office, President Obama has largely resembled the protagonist in a futuristic zombie movie -- think "I am Legend" or "28 Days Later" or "28 Months Later" -- in which he's the only character that doesn't seem to have the virus that's infected everyone else. In those movies, the protagonist inevitably gets the virus, too. And that's precisely what has happened to Obama, according to our new NBC/WSJ poll: He has caught the anti-Washington, angry-at-everything virus, and it has dramatically changed the plot of our political movie. In the poll, Obama's approval has dropped below 50% (to 47%); his party faces its first net-negative fav/unfav since Sept. 2007; and one-third think he has the right goals and priorities to fix the economy. In fact, when the Afghanistan results are Obama's best numbers (55% support the troop surge, up eight points since October), you know this is a bad poll for the White House.

*** When Everyone Else Looks Worse: But just like in one of those zombie flicks, the environment -- and everyone else, for that matter -- looks even worse than the protagonist. In the poll, 55% think the country is on the wrong track; 61% believe the country is in a state of decline; and a whopping 81% believe the past year in Congress has been marked by division and a lack of willingness to compromise. (Compare that with the 52% who thought, immediately after Obama's presidential victory, that unity would prevail in 2009.) What's more, Sarah Palin's fav/unfav is 32%-40%, up a tick since her book tour. And the Republican Party's fav/unfav is 28%-43%. Indeed, the anti-Washington sentiment is so strong that the conservative, libertarian-leaning Tea Party movement has a net-positive fav/unfav, 41%-23%. Populism is alive and well, folks. And it's up for grabs. Washington-establishment types watch out: 2010 could be the year of the outsider and turn into the THIRD-STRAIGHT change election cycle, an unprecedented level of political volatility in this country.

*** The New Enthusiasm Gap: Looking ahead to next year's midterms, Democrats enjoy only a two-point advantage on the generic ballot, 43%-41%, which is their smallest edge on this question since 2004. In addition, unlike was the case during the 2008 election season, Democrats are now the ones facing an enthusiasm gap. According to the poll, 56% of Republicans said they were "very interested" in next year's midterms, compared with 46% of Democrats who said that (rounding explains why it is EXACTLY 100%, btw). Moreover, when you look at the generic-ballot score among high-interest voters, Republicans have an eight-point advantage, 47%-39%. "This survey underscores what I consider a dramatic and unmistakable change in the political landscape," said NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D). "For Democrats, the red flags are flying at full mast." Indeed, if Republicans end up taking back control of Congress -- and that still remains a BIG IF -- this survey would have marked the turning point and be the first poll to truly show the Democrats could actually drive off the cliff.

*** Obama And His Left Flank: Speaking of the enthusiasm gap, our poll suggests the health-care fight and the Afghanistan escalation have taken a toll on Obama with his base. Back in our February poll, 88% of Democrats approved of his job. Now that number is 79%. While it's still considerable support, that slight drop is the difference between being above -- or at -- 50%, and being below it.

*** A Final Thought On The Poll: If you don't believe the Tea Party fav/unfav, check out these numbers: 36% of respondents said they would be MORE likely to vote for a congressional candidate supporting Obama's issue positions more than 90% of the time, versus 45% who said they'd be LESS likely to vote for the candidate.
By comparison, 32% said they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate who has supported GOP leaders over 90% of the time, versus 42% who said they'd be less likely to vote for that person. And only 20% said that they'd more likely to vote for a candidate backing Nancy Pelosi 90% of the time, versus 52% who said they'd be less likely to vote for him. What does this tell us (other than we're going to see Republicans using Pelosi in their ads and mail)? That no one is happy with either party right now. Anyone else surprised we haven't seen more candidates attempt to run on a third-party of indie line?

*** Nelson Isn't The Only Guy Left To Watch: Turning to health care, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-Socialist) said in an interview with FOX Business News that he's not ready to vote for the Senate bill. But do note the wiggle room here: "As of this point, I'm not voting for the bill... I'm going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I've indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman's action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs?" (Hat tip: Taegan Goddard.) Also, SEIU President Andy Stern sent a message to his members saying that while the legislation does positive things, Obama must fight for more reform. "President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of 'Yes We Can' was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself." What say you, AFL-CIO? The White House has to hope all of this is posturing right now. If not, this thing could be in BIG trouble...

*** White House vs. Howard Dean: The White House is clearly worried about the liberal chattering class possibly killing health care. White House adviser David Axelrod called into "Morning Joe" to pick apart Howard Dean's Washington Post op-ed on health care. He got quite animated about it -- just as Dean has -- which brings us to the entire relationship between the White House and Howard Dean. Why is it such a mess? How has it deteriorated like this? Does it go back to the Dean-Rahm feud from '06 and '08? Is it distrust of Dean by the Obama campaign in '08? Many progressive opinion elites are wondering this morning why the White House has an easier time attacking Howard Dean than Joe Lieberman. Speaking of Lieberman, ex-Dem Sen. Bob Kerrey pens an op-ed defending his former colleague. and

Countdown to MA Special Election: 33 days
Countdown to IL primary: 47 days
Countdown to TX primary: 75 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 320 days

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CONGRESS: Bernie's not on board, yet
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) ain't on board -- yet. "I'm struggling with this," he said on Fox News, per PoliticalWire. "As of this point, I'm not voting for the bill... I'm going to do my best to make this bill a better bill, a bill that I can vote for, but I've indicated both to the White House and the Democratic leadership that my vote is not secure at this point. And here is the reason. When the public option was withdrawn, because of Lieberman's action, what I worry about is how do you control escalating health care costs? ... I am doing my best right now to make this a better bill for the American people."
Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if she could you support the current legislation, now that it does not have a public option, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) responded, "It's a good question." She said she still has "concerns" with the legislation, including how much small businesses can expect in the bill and how much an average American would pay in premiums. "We still do not have answers," Snowe said.
"Liberal groups and labor unions have pulled back from calls to kill the Senate healthcare bill," The Hill writes, adding: "House Democrats and liberal interest groups are hoping to win a few concessions in conference, which is expected to wrap up in time for Obama to tout the completed bill during his first State of the Union address in January."
"Still, Democrats said they were determined to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure passage next week, despite the fact that Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has yet to privately assure Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he will provide the 60th vote needed to break a GOP-led filibuster of the package," Roll Call writes. " 'I think we can get this done in time for each of us to go home for Christmas,' Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters."
"Democrats in the House Wednesday muscled through a year-end plan to create jobs, mixing about $50 billion for public works projects with another almost $50 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments," The New York Daily News writes. "Not a single Republican voted for the plan, which passed on a 217-212 vote after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., worked the floor for an hour. The measure now goes to the Senate, which won't consider the measure until next year and which generally has a smaller appetite for such deficit-financed economic stimulus measures."
"It was the second suspenseful vote of what House members hope was their last workday in 2009," The Hill notes. "Democratic leaders also had to lobby members from conservative districts to pass a $300 billion increase in the debt limit." (They also passed the debt ceiling increased 218-214.
Nancy Pelosi says she's now done being Legislator In Chief. She now moves to being Campaigner In Chief as 2010 rolls around. "As I told the members this morning," she said, "I'm in campaign mode. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm in campaign mode." On 2010, she said, per The Hill: "I think we will have a Democratic majority. I don't think there's any risk to that." But she acknowledged that the party would probably lose seats next November. "It's been a swing of about 110 seats," she said, referring to the 2006 and 2008 election results. "That is really challenging to sustain. But that's our goal, to sustain our majority. And we'll have a strong majority."
Oh, the games they play... "Republicans accused Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin of being biased toward Democrats on Wednesday after he made a procedural ruling that allowed Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to short-circuit GOP efforts to derail his health care overhaul legislation," Roll Call reports. "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of 'somehow [convincing] the Parliamentarian to break with the long-standing precedent and practice of the Senate in the reading of the bill,' saying it proved Democrats will resort to any means necessary to pass the bill."
OBAMA AGENDA: What goes up, must come.
. down. Here's our take on the latest NBC/WSJ poll: "For much of his first year in office, President Barack Obama has largely defied political gravity in the midst of skyrocketing unemployment, an ambitious legislative agenda and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now nearing the end of his first year in office, the economy, the wars and the legislative skirmishes finally have taken a toll on the president and his party."
Here's the Journal's take: "Less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent. The findings underscored how dramatically the political landscape has changed during the Obama administration's first year. In January, despite the recession and financial crisis, voters expressed optimism about the future, the new president enjoyed soaring approval ratings, and congressional leaders promised to swiftly pass his ambitious agenda."
Meanwhile, a new AP/GFK poll "shows the president's popularity holding steady, with 56 percent of those polled approving of the way he's taking care of the country's business. His marks for handling the 8-year-old war in Afghanistan have jumped by double digits, with more than half now approving, since he capped a three-month strategy review by announcing a big troop increase."
GOP WATCH: Double-O Palin
The gossip site TMZ got its hands on a photo of Sarah Palin wearing a McCain hat with the logo blacked out. But NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports that someone close to Sarah Palin says she loves John McCain and had no idea that an attempt to preserve her -- and her kids' -- privacy while on vacation in Hawaii would lead to an incorrect conclusion by TMZ. Palin told her friend that she blacked out McCain's name with a magic marker on a leftover campaign sun visor in the hopes that the paparazzi would not recognize her -- so she could be left alone. TMZ interpreted the "blackout" as meaning Palin had had a falling out with McCain. That was an incorrect interpretation, the friend says. Says Palin, according to her pal, "I love John McCain. So much for incognito."" \o "

But seriously, wouldn't you just buy/wear another hat?

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty paid a visit to major primary state New Hampshire yesterday, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader there that "he will not endorse or have his PAC contribute to the campaigns of any candidates for the U.S. Senate or House who are competing in "open, transparent" primary campaigns," the Union-Leader reports (h/t The Hill).
2010: Does the GOP have a shot in MA?
The Hill lists vulnerable lawmakers on both sides of the aisle whose electoral fates may in part already be decided by their support for the highly unpopular $700 billion bank bailout plan: Sens. Bob Bennett (R-UT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AK) are among those incumbents that The Hill predicts "should expect a heavy dose of bailout-based criticism." And "the issue is more likely to affect Republican incumbents seeking other jobs, including governor and the Senate," like Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) and Reps. Roy Blunt (MO), Mark Kirk (IL) and Mike Castle (D).

CONNECTICUT: Republican Linda McMahon's campaign is touting Obama's message that will run soon as evidence that "WWE is broadly recognized as a company that for years has made tremendous contributions to the community, to the state of Connecticut and to men and women in uniform," the Hartford Courant writes. McMahon's husband Vince is the founder and she was CEO. But the "White House is saying not so fast. Obama did not tape a greeting to be aired exclusively on the wrestling program, a White House spokeswoman said Wednesday night. Instead, the president taped a general greeting that was made available to multiple outlets who wanted to air it."

ILLINOIS: In a debate among the four Democratic candidates for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat, "Cheryle Jackson and Jacob Meister spent much of the 70 minute debate looking on as [Alexi] Giannoulias, the state's first-term treasurer, and [David] Hoffman, Chicago's former inspector general, sniped over their records and how they would stand up to special interests if they were elected." Giannoulias labeled Hoffman a hypocrite for funding his campaign through personal investments in institutions that received help from the federal bailout, while Hoffman retaliated by saying that Giannoulias' experience mostly involves helping run a now-unsuccessful family bank.

MASSACHUSETTS: "On paper, the special U.S. Senate election next month should be another walkover for the Democrats," the Boston Globe writes. "Yet the race for the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy will play out not on paper, but in a noxious political environment, providing a rare glint of hope for the state's undermanned Republicans."" \o "

NEW HAMPSHIRE: U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Ayotte (R) was feted in Washington last night at a fundraiser sponsored by AT&T's political action committee and a lobbyist from CTIA, a wireless telecommunications industry lobbying firm, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

NEVADA: Danny Tarkanian, one of the Republican challengers to Harry Reid for the Majority Leader's seat, has raised more money in Fresno -- the city where his father coached the college basketball team -- than any other city besides his hometown of Las Vegas, the Miami Herald reports.

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