Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Time for a change, Take two

For the second time in two years, the American people have delivered a message of change, a message that they think Washington is broken. In 2008, Barack Obama took that message into the White House but has, at least according to these polls, failed to deliver change that most Americans readily believe in.

Now, the conservative Tea Party movement is riding what Kentucky’s new Senator-elect Rand Paul called a “tidal wave” right into the halls of power to “get our government back.”

USA-ELECTIONS/The change the Tea Party is proposing is, of course, very different from the agenda that Obama pursued. The question is whether the new kids on the block will be any more successful in handling the power they have now been granted.

Paul said the message he would take to Washington from day one was a message of “fiscal sanity, constitutionally limited government and balanced budgets.” That will be music to many voters’ ears, especially to people who felt that Obama had dangerously expanded the role of the government and presided over an alarming rise in spending and borrowing without curing the nation’s economic ills.

But the other message many Americans would like politicians to hear is for an end to the partisan bickering that has disfigured political debate and divided the country — that political, as well as fiscal, sanity would be restored. There was not much sign on Tuesday night that they would get it.

Reuters.com has the midterms covered

After a long and bitter campaign, Americans voted in midterm elections that could sweep Democrats from power in Congress and slam the brakes on President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda.

Our midterm coverage has all the angles covered, with the latest breaking news and developments, as well as thoughtful insight and analysis.

In between reporting the results and implications, our White House team will be tweeting the latest insights from the nation’s capital and posting behind-the-headlines stories to Front Row Washington.

from The Great Debate:

Senate Democrats choose losers to lead

[Updated to correct date of Daschle defeat.] For the second time in less than a decade, the Senate Democrats are finding themselves with a leader facing political extinction. Tom Daschle, Harry Reid’s predecessor as the leader of the Senate Democrats, lost his own reelection race in 2002 in 2004, having become minority leader after the 2002 elections. For Democrats, this is not an unprecedented experience.  In the 1950s, back-to-back Democratic leaders also lost their seats.

Checking out the relatively short history of the Senate Leader position shows that the Democrats have been more willing to choose vulnerable members. There have been only 11 Senate Democratic leaders (the position officially came into existence in 1920), and four have lost reelection campaigns.

Republicans have, in some ways, a happier success rate. The first Republican leader, though unofficial, was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who died in office in 1924. Including both of those men, of the Republicans' 17 leaders (one was only acting), only one lost his reelection campaign, James Watson of Indiana in the FDR tidal wave of 1932. In other ways, not so happy. Five of their leaders have died in office (as opposed to only one for the Democrats).

Is this the most negative campaign ever?

If you think political ads on TV this year are more negative than ever, here’s some data that back up your observation.

An academic consortium called the Wesleyan Media Project, which says it provides “real time” tracking of all political television advertising,  says in a report issued on Monday that in the last few weeks it has charted a “large uptick in negative ads.”

A couple of weeks ago, the same group said that the rate of negative advertising this year did not appear to be that much higher than in other recent general election campaigns. USA-ELECTIONS

Reuters/Ipsos poll: 52 pct don’t think Obama will be re-elected

President Barack Obama is not up for re-election this week, but the outcome of congressional elections will be seen as a referendum on his policies.

A Reuters/Ipsos  poll predicts that Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives by winning 231 seats, compared with 204 seats for Democrats, in the midterm elections Tuesday.

Among likely voters, 50 percent said they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 44 percent said they would vote for the Democrat, the poll showed. USA/

Twitter opinion analysis shows even split between parties

Social media hasn’t been around long enough for pundits to determine how accurately it reflects the mood of a nation, but Democrats grasping for positive news might take hope from a shift in the tone on Twitter.

Our analysis of some 1.6 million tweets since August, using sentiment analysis software from market research firm Crimson Hexagon, shows a more favorable trend for President Obama’s party in recent weeks.

When we first examined online sentiment back in the summer, we found considerably less enthusiasm among Twitter users for the Democrats than for the Republicans.

Meek stays in Florida Senate race despite Clinton overtures

This much is clear. Democrat Kendrick Meek is not dropping out of Florida’s three-way Senate race.

What’s not so clear is what happened before Meek summoned reporters to his campaign headquarters for a late evening news conference Thursday to deny reports former President Bill Clinton had asked him to quit the race.

Singling out a report by Politico.com, the Florida congressman said, “Any rumor or any statement by anyone that says that I made a decision to get out of the race is inaccurate, at best.”

“Obamacare” could help Democrats in 2012

Republicans are aiming their guns at health reform as they campaign to win midterm control of Congress on Tuesday, and many Democrats are ducking the issue. OBAMA/

But come 2012, the overhaul pushed through by President Barack Obama could help him and his fellow Democrats get re-elected.

Republicans accuse Democrats who voted for “Obamacare” of supporting a government takeover of healthcare. Many promise to repeal the reform passed in March after contentious debate and extended medical insurance to millions of Americans have none.

Washington Extra – Swallows and Democrats

In the words of Aristotle: “one swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

Nevertheless, Democrats might not be feeling quite so down in the dumps today, as evidence comes in that in early voting (allowed at election offices and satellite locations in 32 states) the Democrats are off to a stronger-than-expected start. It is impossible to tell how people actually voted, but Democrats do appear to be showing up in greater numbers in some key states than some had feared. But things are still not going as well for them as in 2008.

The “enthusiasm gap” is expected to be one of the Democrats’ biggest handicaps in the midterms, this early evidence, and rallies next weekend by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, notwithstanding.

Rhode Island Democrat says Obama can “shove it” for non-endorsement

Some unwelcoming words from a Democrat in Rhode Island for President Barack Obama who is scheduled to visit the state later today.

Frank Caprio, the Democrat running for Rhode Island governor, is miffed at Obama and not afraid to let everyone know it.

USA/He says he learned from a reporter last night that Obama did not plan to endorse his candidacy against independent Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican senator who endorsed Obama over Republican John McCain in 2008.