Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Trump cards

October 5, 2010

The “enthusiasm gap” was always the Democrats’ biggest problem heading into the November midterm elections, and conversely also their biggest hope. votersDemocrats have told poll after poll they were less likely to vote than their Republican counterparts. If only Democrats could enthuse their supporters, strategists have been hoping, then maybe the party could still trump the Republicans in some tight races.

So the Democrats will be pleased today with the results of our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll from California, which not only shows their candidates leading in the race for the Senate and the governor’s office, but also shows that enthusiasm gap narrowing slightly. Some 75 percent of Democrats now say they are certain to vote, up from 60 percent in June. Comparative numbers for Republicans are 83 percent now, up from 73 percent in June.

This tends to support evidence from other polls that the enthusiasm gap could be closing, giving Democrats a flicker of hope of avoiding a rout, as political correspondent John Whitesides reported last Friday. Add to that, some evidence from an ABC/Washington Post poll that voters are losing their enthusiasm for Tea Party candidates, and things are looking a little less grim for the Dems this evening.

Look out also for our special report on the Pentagon’s new cyber warriors, and an exclusive story about how Sarah Palin has paid tens of thousands of dollars for foreign policy advice to a U.S. firm that represents three overseas governments, including Georgia and Taiwan, raising questions about the impartiality of that advice. trump1And breaking tonight, news that Donald Trump might just be considering a bid for the presidency.

“For the first time in my life, I’m actually thinking about it,” Trump told Fox News Channel.  ”I see what’s going on with this country and it’s never been worse. What’s happening is a disgrace.”

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Special report: The Pentagon’s new cyber warriors

In the Middle Ages, vital resources were hoarded behind castle walls, protected by moats, drawbridges and knights with double-edged swords. Today, U.S. national security planners are proposing that the 21st century’s critical infrastructure — power grids, communications, water utilities, financial networks — be shielded from cyber marauders and other foes. Any major future conflict inevitably will involve cyber warfare that could knock out power, transport and banks, and causing “massive” economic disruption, says Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary William Lynn.

For more of this Special Report by Jim Wolf, read here.

Democrats hold narrow leads in key California races

The Democrats hold a narrow advantage in California where big-spending Republican Meg Whitman is struggling, as Democrats show increased enthusiasm about voting on November 2, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. A flap over Whitman’s former housekeeper Nicky Diaz, a Latina woman who said she worked for Whitman as an illegal immigrant, does not appear to have had a big impact on the race.

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

Debt woes dealt setback to financial stability: IMF

The International Monetary Fund said sovereign debt risk in Europe and continued real estate woes in the United States have dealt a setback to global financial stability in the past six months. “The global financial system is still in a period of significant uncertainty and remains the Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery,” the IMF said in its semi-annual Global Financial Stability Report.

For more of this story by David Lawder, read here.

Q+A-Will the Fed do more to help the economy?

The U.S. Federal Reserve is mulling whether or not it should do more to spur a sluggish economic recovery and lift an inflation rate that is too low. Given the economy’s weak outlook, many analysts expect the Fed to embark upon another round of asset buying as early as its next meeting on Nov. 3-4 meeting.

For more of this story, read here.

Need forex flexibility for rebalancing growth-U.S.

Allowing currency exchange rates to respond to market conditions is vital to ongoing efforts to rebalance global growth and will be on the agenda when finance chiefs meet Friday and Saturday, a senior U.S. Treasury department official said on Tuesday.

For more of this story, read here.

Many Tea Partiers part of religious right: study

Many supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement that has shaken up politics share the same views as the Christian right on social issues like abortion and the role of religion in public life, according to a new poll. “On nearly all basic demographic characteristics, there are no significant differences between Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement and those who identify with the Christian conservative movement,” the study’s authors wrote.

For more of this story by Andy Sullivan, read here.

For a factbox on Tea Partiers and the religious right, click here.

Obama agrees to put solar panels on White House

President Barack Obama has agreed to put new solar panels on the White House roof for the first time since then-President Ronald Reagan had an array removed in 1986. “By the end of this spring, there will be solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity and a solar hot water heater on the roof of the White House,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a clean energy conference at George Washington University. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had them up there.”

For more of this story by Timothy Gardner, read here.

Palin adviser worked for foreign governments

Sarah Palin, seen as a possible Republican presidential candidate, has paid tens of thousands of dollars for foreign policy advice to a U.S. firm that represents three overseas governments, campaign finance documents show. While legal, the adviser’s work as an agent for other countries raises questions about whether Palin is receiving impartial information about foreign relations and could become a subject of debate if she runs for president or another elected office

For Mark Hosenball’s story, click here.

What we are blogging…

Some voters may be losing their taste for Tea Party – poll

Is your tea getting cold? A new poll suggests the Tea Party movement may be losing some of its steam in the run-up to Election Day. The ABC/Washington Post survey found that only 18 percent of registered voters now say they are more likely to vote for a Tea Party affiliated candidate. That’s down from 30 percent in July.

For David Morgan’s full blog, click here.

From elsewhere…

Reflective “death ray” torments Vegas sunbathers

MGM Resorts International is taking the heat for an intense beam of searing desert sunlight that some hotel guests say poses a risk of severe burns to bathers lounging poolside. The beam is a concentrated reflection of solar rays bouncing off the concave-shaped, high-rise Vdara hotel, which opened on the Las Vegas “strip” in December. Locals refer to the reflection as the “death ray,” but MGM Resorts officials prefer to call it a “solar convergence phenomenon.”

For the full story, click here.

Philippines tells anthem crooners not to do it their way

In the Philippines, a land of passionate singers, taking on the national anthem is about to get a little more daunting — get it wrong and you could land in jail for a couple of years and be fined more than $2,000. A ban on the improper singing of Lupang Hinirang (Beloved Land) and unpatriotic displays of the Philippine flag is a Senate vote away from becoming law.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credits: REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UCLA students cast ballots in 2008 election); REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz  (Trump at U.S. Open Sept. 11, 2010)

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