Tales from the Trail

THIS JUST IN — Conservatives Find Home in GOP

USA-POLITICS/MASSACHUSETTS

The term “conservative Republican” may seem like a truism nowadays. But a new Gallup survey answers some interesting questions about just who those conservatives are — and who they are not.

The GOP is growing more conservative. Seventy-one percent of Republicans and Republican-voting independents call themselves conservatives today. That’s up from 62 percent in 2000, when the Bush-Gore presidential election split the country down the middle and had to be settled by the Supreme Court. Conservatives accounted for 66 percent of Republicans in 2006.

The latest Gallup findings say only 29 percent of Republicans are moderates or liberals — yes, this implies the continued but perilous existence of the species known as Republican Liberals. 

Conservatives are older — more than 40 percent are 55 years of age or above and thus belong to the American generation that once trusted no one over 30.

Only about one-third of Republican moderates and liberals are north of 55.
    
Two-thirds to three-quarters of Republican conservatives are Protestant vs. 17 to 22 percent who are Catholic and 5 percent who follow a different religious tradition.

Who doesn’t want to be seen with whom?

Congress is in recess and lawmakers are gearing up for midterm elections in November.

The Republican National Committee decided to liven up a slow mid-August Monday with a video taking aim at Democrats who might not want to stand too close to President Barack Obama and his sagging approval ratings. 

It was done as a take-off on the Steven Slater exit from his job as flight attendant — showing Democrats in hotly-contested races sliding down an emergency chute from a plane that has Obama on board.

Another poll comes out in favor of gays in the military

As Congress mulls “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a new poll finds support for repealing it.

A CNN poll showed that 78 percent, or nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe people who are openly gay should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. MILITARY-GAYS/

The results of the survey of 1,023 adults, conducted May 21-23, were similar to earlier polls — 81 percent in Dec. 19-21, 2008 and 79 percent in May 4-6, 2007.

So how’s he doing now? New polls on Obama healthcare

The White House (whether its occupant is Obama or Bush) has a tendency to be dismissive of public opinion polls, shrugging them aside as inconsequential to the president’s decision-making and basically to be brushed off like dandruff on a shoulder.

That is unless the polls are going their way.

USA-HEALTHCAREWhite House spokesman Robert Gibbs, amid the glee of the healthcare bill signing Tuesday, tweeted @PressSec “In the polling obsessed town of Washington, DC this will give the nattering nabobs of negativity something to chew on” with a link to a story about the USA Today/Gallup poll that said 49 percent vs. 40 percent saw passage of  the bill as “a good thing.”

But while early post-healthcare polling data show a bump in President Barack Obama’s favorability ratings, it remains to be seen whether there’s a trend in the making.

Palin using her star power against selected House Democrats

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Sarah Palin really has the 2010 congressional elections in her cross hairs now.

As President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the potential 2012 Republican White House wannabe was out on Facebook with her own campaign to unseat 20 House Democrats who voted for the legislation. The page identifies targeted congressional districts via a map of the United States dotted by white and red cross hairs.

“We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies,” she says in a rallying note to supporters that also seeks donations for her political action committee, SarahPAC.

Palin’s aim is to go after House Democrats who voted for Obamacare and represent districts that she and John McCain carried in the 2008 presidential race.  USA-HEALTHCARE

Obama bests Republicans on healthcare reform in public confidence poll

USA/OBAMA

Barack Obama appears to be winning the popularity contest over healthcare reform that’s been playing out in public since his White House summit on Feb. 25.

A new Gallup poll suggests that 49 percent of Americans have confidence in Obama to make the right recommendations.

That’s not a majority. But it’s way higher than the 32 percent who think Republicans in Congress would do the right thing.
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The findings appear to contradict Republican claims that the public favors their decentralized, piecemeal approach over Obama’s comprehensive reform plan.

Republican “blank page” challenges Obama

OBAMA/The next U.S. presidential election is more than 2-1/2 years away. But pollsters are already asking how President Barack Obama would stack up against a Republican challenger.

The results are favorable. But for whom? No one can say.

Obama is in a statistical dead heat against an unnamed Republican candidate, leading the challenger 44 percent to 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll with a 4-percentage-point margin of error. Gallup surveyed 1,025 adults Feb. 1-3.

Media pundits are divided about what the findings mean, or don’t mean.

Some say the data are meaningless except as a gauge of 2010 voter anger toward Washington and incumbents generally.

2012 may be an open door for Palin, but first comes 2010

USA/Sarah Palin’s right. It would be absurd for her not to consider a White House bid in 2012, especially while Tea Partiers are chanting, “Run, Sarah, run!”  
   
But first come this November’s elections, which could help build Palin’s credibility if her high-profile public appearances (and repeated attacks on President Barack Obama) actually help conservative candidates get elected to Congress and important state offices around the country. If.

Some political experts say Palin’s weekend keynote speech at the big Tea party in Nashville was her best since the 2008 GOP convention — detailed, focused and high on energy. Lucrative, too, given the $100,000 speaker’s fee, though the on-stage interview seemed a bit scripted, especially the part about what she’d do if she were president. 
       USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORM
The appearance also kicked off a busy travel schedule to help candidates in this year’s campaign.
   
On Super Bowl Sunday, she was in Texas helping Republican Gov. Rick Perry with his March gubernatorial primary contest against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Polling results show Hutchison trailing the incumbent by 15 percentage points and losing ground to a third candidate, Tea Party activist Debra Medina.

Palin spent much of her time in the Lone Star State assailing Washington, and by implication, Hutchison. She raised a huge cheer by pointing out in non-establishment fashion that Texans might like to secede.     
    
But moving the national political applause needle to the right in 2010 could be much more difficult than rallying friendly audiences or using a talking hand to bash that “charismatic guy with a TelePrompTer.”
   
A state-by-state analysis of Obama’s job approval ratings by Gallup may offer a glimpse of the voter sentiment challenge that Palin and her conservative allies face this year.

Is Obama a party animal? U.S. political trends make it so

The folks at Gallup say Barack Obama is easily the most ‘polarized’ first-year president of the postwar era — and they’re not talking about pre-digital camera snapshots.
    
They mean that Obama, like his immediate predecessors,  is the object of growing partisanship within American public opinion.
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Obama finished his first year in office on Jan. 19 with an 88 percent job approval rating among Democrats but only 23 percent approval among Republicans.
    
That leaves a 65-percentage-point gap between the two partisan lines, eclipsing the previous first-year polarization record of 52 points, held by Democrat Bill Clinton.
    
If Obama’s numbers don’t change, he will exceed Republican George W. Bush as the most polarized of post-World War II presidents. (Over the course of Bush’s presidency, Republicans and Democrats were 61 points apart on average.)
    
But there’s something more afoot than the individual horse races.
    
Gallup says its findings illustrate an upswing in voter partisanship since the time of Republican Ronald Reagan. Before the 1980s, partisan approval gaps ranged from a low of 19 percent for Democrat Lyndon Johnson to a high of 34 percent for Republican Richard Nixon.
    
“Obama — like his immediate predecessor Bush — sought to bring Americans together after periods of heightened political polarization in the United States. But despite their best intentions and efforts, both men’s approval ratings have been characterized by extreme partisanship,” Gallup said.
    
“The way Americans view presidents has clearly changed in recent decades, perhaps owing to the growth in variety, sources and even politicization of news on cable television and the Internet, and the continuing popularity of politically oriented talk radio.”

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Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama)

Most Americans want Republican input on healthcare – poll

Most Americans want President Obama and the Democrats to jettison the healthcare bill they almost got together before USA-HEALTHCARE/WELLNESSthis week’s political earthquake in Massachusetts and instead look for something Republicans can support.

That’s according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll which says 55 percent of Americans want work stopped on a House-Senate compromise between Democrats, while 39 percent want the Democrats to press on.

In fact, a sizable minority — 46 percent of the 1,010 adults surveyed — say healthcare reform is important but should not be Obama’s top legislative priority. Nineteen percent say healthcare shouldn’t be a major priority at all.
USA-POLITICS/BROWN
The poll was conducted the day after Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue Senate seat in Massachusetts. The findings have a 4 percentage point margin of error.