Tales from the Trail

from Reuters Investigates:

How to make friends and influence people

White House correspondent Caren Bohan's special report out today examines President Barack Obama's testy relationship with the business community.

OBAMA/After Tuesday's election, Obama was faced with the prospect of legislative gridlock. Republicans pushed Democrats decisively from power in the House of Representatives and strengthened their ranks in the Senate as voters vented frustration over the economy.

Now that the election is over, one idea that could gain traction is a payroll tax holiday to give consumers and businesses some extra cash. Obama had considered proposing it before the election but rejected it because of its cost. There is some openness at the White House to it now but much would depend on whether it seemed likely to gain bipartisan support.

Obama aides say they were frustrated that the economic package the administration offered in September -- including tax breaks for companies and beefed-up infrastructure spending -- received little to no backing from Republicans in Congress. They hope to enlist business support in reviving these ideas.

The question is whether the divided congress can achieve anything. Tell us what you think. Could they at least agree on a payroll tax holiday?

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.

Washington Extra – Midterm, one-term?

As we approach half-time in his presidency, just over half of Americans believe Barack Obama will not win re-election in 2012. Our final Reuters/Ipsos poll showed just one-third of those surveyed still thought President Obama would win a second term. An amazing transformation in the national mood in less than two years since the inauguration.

BRITAIN ECLIPSEA 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll found 39 percent of those surveyed believe Obama should be a one-term president, compared to 26 percent who wanted a second term and 33 percent who were unsure.

But as that oracle of election wisdom (my barber) observed to me today, for all the polls Obama’s chances in 2012 may come down to just one number. The jobless rate. Anything over 8 percent in 2012, and it will be a huge uphill battle for the president, Curtis predicted. Six percent and he stands a chance. Wise words indeed.

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.

from Reuters Investigates:

Spoiling the party

Last month The New York Times had a story about Arizona Republicans putting up homeless people as candidates for the Green Party in elections there. Now Murray Waas, our Barlett & Steele award winner, has a special report about Democratic Party shenanigans. 

USA-ELECTIONS/TRICKSWaas went to Pennsylvania's 7th district to show how Democrats helped get Tea Party activist Jim Schneller (left) on the ballot, hoping to siphon off votes from the Republican candidate.

This is what one Democrat involved in the scheme had to say:

Abu Rahman, the president of the Delaware County Asian American Democratic Association and a Lentz supporter, who admits he gathered signatures for Schneller, said in an interview that he had some mixed feelings about what he was doing. "I remember thinking to myself that this is not clean," Rahman said, "But it is not illegal."   

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.

from Reuters Investigates:

In case you missed them

Just because it was summer, doesn't mean we weren't busy here at Reuters. Here are a few of our recent special reports that you might have missed.

IRAN-OBAMA/ECOMOMYTracking Iran's nuclear money trail to Turkey. U.N. correspondent Lou Charbonneau -- who used to cover the IAEA for Reuters --  followed the money to Turkey where an Iranian bank under U.S. and EU sanctions is operating freely. Nice to see the New York Times follow up on this today, and the Washington Post also quizzed Turkey's president about it.

 

 

USA-ELECTION/JOBSBlue-collar, unemployed and seeing red -- Chicago correspondent James Kelleher went on the road for this story about the long-term unemployed and what that means for Obama and the Democrats at November's midterm elections.

Twitter opinion analysis shows midterm ‘enthusiasm gap’

In order to gauge the mood of voters as the midterms approach, Reuters has joined with market research company Crimson Hexagon to conduct a detailed assessment of the political mood as expressed by Twitter users. As a first step in this process we’re taking a look at the feeling expressed by Twitter users toward the Democratic and Republican parties in general.

This analysis is similar to one we conducted during the British general election earlier this year that showed changes in Twitter sentiment immediately following television debates and candidate gaffes that were echoed in opinion polls conducted days after the events.

In life, it often seems that people are more likely to speak up with criticism rather than praise. Our numbers show this is true on Twitter as well, with negative tweets about parties more common than positive ones. As you can see from the graph below, over the last nine days, roughly similar numbers of Twitter users have had something bad to say about both political parties: