Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – A moratorium on moratoriums

It’s official. Moratoriums are out (as are moratoria if you prefer the Latin plural). On the day the White House rejected calls for a nationwide moratorium on home foreclosures, it also lifted its own moratorium on deepwater drilling for oil and gas. Some Democrats, especially those like Harry Reid facing tough election races in November, had been calling for a foreclosure ban. But President Barack Obama, who doesn’t face voters directly for a couple more years, has accepted the longer-term argument that a broad halt to evictions would slow a recovery in the housing market and the economy.

Nevertheless, the scandal over how banks and other companies processed foreclosure documents and the uncertainty surrounding it is going to hang over the market, especially with 40 state attorneys general (many of whom are up for re-election) expected to announce their own investigation into the issue.

Obama, of course, rejected a similar economic argument when he imposed the deepwater drilling ban back in May, this time for the greater environmental good. Now, the White House says it can lift the ban on drilling because stricter rules are in place to prevent a repeat of BP’s massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Again, even without the ban, the drilling business will be slow to bounce back as companies adapt to the new safeguards.

As usual, some will blame Obama for hobbling business with excessive regulation. Others will say that unfettered business was exactly what led to the financial crisis and the oil spill.  The choice is yours on November 2.

Talking of choices, the voters of Wisconsin seem almost ready to make theirs. According to our latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, veteran Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is trailing his Republican challenger Ron Johnson by seven points. Interestingly, it is not so much Feingold’s vote for healthcare legislation that has hurt him (as some have suggested) but his failure to create enough jobs, the poll found.

Boxer votes early, like a good Californian

POLITICS-USA/Election day may be nearly a month off, but U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer wasn’t confused, or cheating, when she went to the polls on Tuesday to vote (presumably for herself).  The three-term Democrat was just following what has become something of a time-honored practice for many Californians: early voting.

In fact, more than 41 percent of California voters voted by mail, or absentee, during the 2008 general election, a number that has risen nearly every year since the 1978, and Boxer’s camp says the Senator — who is facing the toughest reelection fight of her career against former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina – was using it as a tool to increase voter participation.

Boxer, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, lives with her husband in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs, and cast her ballot at the Riverside County Registrar’s Office.

Bachmann says her “high-profile” congressional race targeted by top Democrats

Second-term Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who started the “Tea Party Caucus” in the House of Representatives this summer, says her “high-profile” congressional race is being targeted by some very high-profile Democrats ahead of  the Nov. 2 election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has set her sights on ousting her from the congressional seat,  Bachmann said. The outspoken Republican is a social conservative and is known for her strong Christian faith.  

“I’ve been one of Speaker Pelosi’s top targets to defeat this fall,” Bachmann said on NBC’s “Today” show. ”President (Bill) Clinton came in, he was campaigning against me. In a couple of weeks Speaker Pelosi will be in Minnesota as will President Obama. Mine is a very high-profile race, and she’s trying to do everything she can to defeat me.”

NY governor candidate Paladino says he only opposes gay marriage (and doesn’t like the parades)

Carl Paladino, the Tea Party backed Republican candidate running for New York governor, says he is not against homosexuals, only gay marriage and taking children to gay pride parades.

News reports quoted Paladino, in remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn on Sunday, saying: “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option — it isn’t.” USA/

The Buffalo businessman was on all the morning talk shows today responding to criticism over those comments. The campaign of his opponent, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, said the remarks displayed “a stunning homophobia and glaring disregard for basic equality.”

Loss of U.S. jobs to China becomes powerful election issue

In Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Joe Sestak, accuses his Republican foe Pat Toomey of favoring China over hard-working Americans.

In a new website, the AFL-CIO pointedly tracks the loss of U.S. jobs to China and other cheap-labor countries.

With about a month to go more the Nov. 2 election, Democrats and their friends are pushing as a potentially pivotal issue the export of U.S. jobs.USA-CONGRESS/LEVIN

GOP, conservatives seen dominating November turnout

USA-POLITICS/Bad news, Democrats.

The crowd most likely to vote on Nov. 2 is a lot more Republican and a lot more conservative than the one that gave Congress to the GOP in 1994.

So says a new Gallup survey that forecasts Republican and conservative majorities at polling stations for the congressional mid-term elections.

Fifty-seven percent of people who call themselves likely voters are Republican or lean Republican, while 54 percent are conservative, according to Gallup.

Voters may like the healthcare plan after all, poll shows

Pundits may want to reconsider the conventional wisdom that U.S. voters are sour on President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare overhaul, at least according to a new survey released Tuesday.

rallyA majority — 54 percent — of all voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported the healthcare overhaul, the Public Religion Research Institute found in its American Values Survey of more than 3,000 voters.

Among women voters, 60 percent said a candidates’ support for the new healthcare law made them more likely to vote for that candidate, Dan Cox, the institute’s research director, said.

Washington Extra – Trump cards

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.

White House adviser says Obama to energize his base for November

USA/President Barack Obama adds a new item to his first-term to-do list: energize his most loyal supporters in a national get-out-the-vote campaign for the November congressional midterm elections.

That’s the message Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett delivered on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where she predicted a robust White House campaign to encourage voters including blacks and Hispanics to get to the polls next month.

Obama has already been out trying to stir up enthusiasm among the younger voters. But that was just for starters.

Obama campaigning tactic: bash Bush years

President Barack Obama has apparently decided that the way to win voters’ hearts is to warn them against a return to the Bush years.

He’s been in campaign mode this week trying to drum up enthusiasm for Democrats worried about losing their majority in Congress with just one month left until the Nov. 2 election. OBAMA/

In a backyard in Iowa, Obama told voters the election was a choice between going back to the Bush years or moving ahead (although he never uttered his predecessor’s name).