Tales from the Trail

Political Surrogate Smackdown!

USA/You can tell it’s autumn in Washington: the leaves are changing color, Congress has flown away and the political surrogates are in full cry. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the full cry of the surrogate can often be heard from coast to coast — or at least from Broadway to Reno, Nevada.

Surrogates can do things the candidates can’t, sparring with words most candidates don’t use in places some candidates wouldn’t go. That’s why they’re fun to watch when they figuratively put up their dukes in the struggle before the November 2 vote.

At a Broadway theater on Monday night, Michelle Obama got a glitzy introduction from Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex and the City” fame, who called the first lady “a role model, an inspiration” and a woman who “doesn’t need a pair of heels to stand tall.”

Mrs. Obama called on an audience of New York City women to come to her husband’s aid. But this was no demure request. President Barack Obama‘s popular wife put it bluntly: “If I hand him over, then you all have got to have his back … because my husband cannot do this alone.”

Across the country, Sarah Palin – ex-Alaska governor, ex-Republican vice presidential candidate, current Tea Party star — took on members of her own Republican party at a stop in Reno. “Some of you need to man up,” Palin told Republicans, “and spend some political capital to support the Tea Party candidate.”

Gibbs is now predicting Dems will hold both chambers of Congress

White House press secretary Roberts Gibbs isn’t offering any more words of possible doom and gloom for fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill. 

Three months after riling Democrats by saying they may lose one chamber of Congress in the November 2 election, GibbsUSA/ said on Sunday that he expects them to keep both.

“Our candidates have done a remarkably good job in a tough, political environment,” Gibbs said. “I think that come election night, we’ll retain control of both the House and the Senate.”

Poll finds voters eager to give Congress the boot

voteHere’s something for members of Congress to contemplate in the weeks leading up to the November mid-term elections: a lot of people want to send you packing.

That’s according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll that finds 55 percent of registered voters don’t think their own members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. That up from 47 percent in 2006 and 27 percent in 2004.

When asked about “most members of Congress,” a whopping 78 percent said they want someone new.

Washington Extra – Slipping poll numbers

It’s more bad news for President Barack Obama with the release of our latest Reuters/Ipsos national poll today. The headline number is that, for the first time since he took office, more Americans now disapprove of his performance than approve. After a long period where his approval rating was stable at just over 50 percent, the last three months have seen a steady deterioration, matching the economy’s faltering performance.
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Just like Ronald Reagan in 1982, Obama’s mid-term poll ratings are suffering from the economy’s woes. Faith in Obama’s ability to tackle the crisis was a key factor that swung the presidential race his way in 2008, but his performance on the economy is fast becoming his Achilles heel in the face of a concerted Republican assault. As Ipsos pollster Cliff Young told us, many voters had long been giving Obama the benefit of the doubt, but now patience has “basically vanished.”

Last month’s Reuters/Ipsos poll found Obama’s approval rating for his economic leadership was lower — and was deteriorating faster — than on any other issue.  This month’s poll gives some more clues as to why this is the case. Unemployment and government spending topped voters’ economic concerns, with 72 percent and 67 percent of respondents saying they were very worried over those issues respectively.

Republicans have been trying to convince voters that last year’s deficit-financed economic stimulus was not effective in reducing unemployment and ending the recession, and this argument may be striking home.

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news”

OBAMA/President Barack Obama, on a campaigning blitz for fellow Democrats facing tough fights to stay in office, or get there, is trying to tie the state races to national issues to convince voters their ballot will have a broader impact.

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news,” he said.

On Wednesday, the president flew to New Jersey for a rally backing Governor Jon Corzine, who only just climbed into a tie with his Republican opponent, according to opinion polls.

Corzine is struggling in his bid for re-election Nov. 3, although New Jersey is a heavily Democratic state.