Tales from the Trail

Reuters-Ipsos Poll: Republican Portman leads in Ohio Senate race

It’s a bad news and not-so-bad news scenario for Democrats in Ohio.

The bad news is in the Senate race where Republican Rob Portman has a strong 13-point lead over Democrat Lee Fisher, 50 percent to 37 percent, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll.

USA-ELECTION/“It’s starting to look insurmountable,” Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson says of the lead held by President George W. Bush’s former budget director and U.S. trade representative.

A majority of Ohio voters, 60 percent,  said Portman’s work with Bush made no difference in their vote, while another 30 percent of registered voters said it made them less likely to vote for Portman, including one in five independents. Nine percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

The not-so-bad news is Democrats are closing the enthusiasm gap in Ohio, although they still lag Republicans who say they are certain to vote.

Now, 79 percent of Democrats say they are certin to vote compared with 67 percent in August, while 91 percent of Republicans said they were certain to vote, compared with th 89 percent in August.

Advice from Biden: Don’t underestimate O’Donnell and Palin

The only Democrat who has run against, and defeated, both Republicans Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin says don’t sell either of them short.

biden4“Take them both very seriously,” Vice President Joe Biden said Monday in an MSNBC interview.

Biden, a former senator from Delaware, defeated the state’s Republican Senate nominee in his last senate race. He also went head-to-head with Palin in 2008 when the former Alaska governor was Republican John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

Obama sounds note of optimism about Democrats and November

AFGHANISTAN/OBAMAPresident Barack Obama sounded an optimistic note about the Democratic Party’s prospects in upcoming congressional midterm elections, saying in an NBC interview  that Democrats would “do just fine” if they could keep the focus on issues of substance.   

“The question for voters over the next five weeks is: Who is putting forward policies that have a chance to move our country forward so that our schools have improved, so that we have a world-class infrastructure, so that we’re serious about helping small business, we’re serious about getting a handle on our spending, and who’s just engaging in rhetoric?” the president said near the end of a half-hour interview devoted mainly to education issues.

“And I think that if that debate is taking place over the next five weeks, we are going to do just fine,” he said. 

Twitter opinion analysis shows change in sentiment following ‘Tea Party Tuesday’

Our analysis of political opinions expressed by Twitter users shows that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ that previously favored the GOP over the Democratic Party seems to have evened out recently.

Our last analysis of the Twitter sentiment data provided by market research firm Crimson Hexagon indicated that while there were similar numbers of tweets criticizing both political parties, there were many more pro-GOP tweets posted on the social networking service than pro-Democratic ones – a result in line with what some saw as a lack of enthusiasm among Democratic voters as the midterms approached.

Since that analysis there have been two changes in the trends we’ve been seeing. The first was a divergence in the “anti” numbers with anti-Democratic sentiment far outweighing anti-GOP. This trend was most pronounced in late August – a period that coincided with the controversy surrounding the planned cultural center and mosque near the Ground Zero site in downtown Manhattan.

Washington Extra – Two to tango

One of the more surreal experiences at the Reuters Washington Summit this week was hearing Republicans saying they are prepared to work with President Barack Obama over the next two years and then listing their priorities – which started with undoing and repealing almost everything he has done in the past two.

republicansToday, at the Tart Lumber Company in Virginia, John Boehner unveiled the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” – a glossy 45-page booklet meant to set out their agenda for government. “Republicans have heard the American people,” said Boehner, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives.

As expected, there were howls of derision from the left. Many conservative commentators rallied behind the proposals to cut spending, lower taxes and balance the budget, but not everyone is happy. In his column, Reuters Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis argued that Republicans had missed the chance to make the case for the kind of serious fiscal reform the United States desperately needs.

from Summit Notebook:

Five weeks: It’s an eternity in the world of politics

By Christopher Doering carper

Five weeks:  It may not be a lot of time for many people, but with the pivotal mid-term elections looming on Nov. 2 Delaware Senator Tom Carper said five weeks is an eternity for Democrats to use to turn the tide in their favor.

"Today, five weeks a lot happens. A lot of minds change in five weeks," Carper, a self-proclaimed "optimist", told the Reuters Washington Summit.

"What we have to do is to be able to remind people if there is some good news here in the next five weeks of what that is and get people to focus on the future."

from Summit Notebook:

Rumors of our demise exaggerated, Van Hollen says

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/VAN HOLLENRepresentative Chris Van Hollen likes to paraphrase Mark Twain when talking about the Democratic chances in the November mid-term election.

"News of the Democratic demise is greatly exaggerated," the man in charge of the House Democrats' election effort told the Reuters Washington Summit. "I think the pundits have been wrong before and they'll be wrong again. Democrats will retain a majority in the Congress. I'm very confident of that."

Of course it's Van Hollen's job to be confident or at least project an image of confidence six weeks ahead of the election where Republicans and the conservative Tea Party movement are trying to convince Americans to vote Democrats out of office and take back Republican control of the Congress.

from Summit Notebook:

If Democrats hold US House, Pelosi seen concentrating power-lobbyist

SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/JOSTENIf Democrats are able to hang on to the U.S. House of Representatives in the November 2 elections, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be able to concentrate her power because there will be fewer conservative Democrats giving her a hard time on critical votes, according to top senior lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Political prognosticators have said that Republicans are within striking distance of taking control of the House in November, with Republicans needing a net gain of 40 seats and polls showing them closing in on that target.

"She'll have a much more cohesive conference than she has now because it's the middle that's anticipated to get cratered in this election," Bruce Josten told the Reuters Washington Summit.  "Most of the seat losses anticipated come from the people that are the hardest votes to get on party-line unity votes."

Washington Extra – Painful choices

When it comes to framing economic policy, it looks increasingly as though Republicans are winning the debate. Not only have they made “stimulus” almost a dirty word but there seems to be a growing feeling that deficit-financed spending is not a great way to pull the economy out of a recession.jobless Forget the conclusions of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office about how the bailouts and stimulus of 2008 and 2009 saved millions of jobs. Forget the global consensus around the need for coordinated stimulus after the financial crisis. The American public is simply not convinced.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll released today found 57 percent of Americans believe that, when economic times are tough, cutting the deficit is a better way to create jobs than deficit-financed stimulus.

With the U.S. congressional elections just six weeks away, this finding is bad news for President Barack Obama as he struggles to convince people that Republicans drove the economy into a deep ditch and Democrats are hard at work pulling it out.

Washington Extra – Gridlock and the fiscal deficit

summit

The term gridlock may have first entered the vocabulary during the 1980 New York transit strike, reportedly coined by “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, chief traffic engineer in the city’s transport department.  In those days it was definitely not something to aspire to. It is a different story in 2010.

“Gridlock’s not all bad,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told the Reuters Washington Summit today, citing the need to “slow things down” politically.  His fellow Senator and Tea Party champion Jim DeMint would probably go even further.

But is that really what lies in store after the midterm elections?

Republican and Democratic speakers on the first day of the summit agreed on one thing above all else: that the other party is to blame for the lack of bipartisanship in Washington.