Tales from the Trail

Washington economic indicator: political finger-pointing

How do you know the economy is souring?

One indicator that doesn’t come wrapped in a government report is political finger-pointing.

It’s an election year with a sluggish economy and so Republicans and Democrats want to make sure voters know it’s the other’s fault — or at the very least not their own fault.

Take a look at the response to the jobless data today which showed weekly unemployment benefit claims reached a nine-month high. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama, before leaving for Martha’s Vineyard, said the weak economic data underscored the need for small business lending legislation that is stalled in the Senate.  

“This is a bill that makes sense and normally we would expect Democrats and Republicans to join together,” Obama said at the White House. “Unfortunately, a partisan minority in the Senate so far has refused to allow this jobs bill to come up for a vote.”

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:

Slurpees and an economy car for Obama on the campaign trail

What is it about a Slurpee?

The frozen beverage so popular at 7-Eleven convenience stores has become the biggest laugh line of President Barack Obama’s campaign speech for Democrats running in the midterm election. 

The thirst quencher became entwined with Obama’s analogy of the U.S. economy as a car that Republicans drove into a ditch when they ran government. Here is how he told the story on Tuesday at a fundraiser in Milwaukee for Mayor Tom Barrett who is running for Wisconsin governor.

“It’s as if they drove a car into the ditch and then we had to put on our boots and go down there in the mud, and we’ve been pushing and shoving.  And they’ve been standing aside and watching us, and saying, ‘you’re not pushing right, you’re not pushing fast enough’,” he said to loud laughter from the crowd. ”You know, they’re drinking on a Slurpee or something and…”  he said to even louder laughter and cheers from the audience.

Democrats disagree on NY mosque, White House says no problem

Barack Obama and Harry Reid agree on most things.

They both favored stimulus measures to boost the economy. They both want climate change and comprehensive immigration reform to pass the Senate — at least someday.

OBAMABut the U.S. president and the top Democrat in the Senate disagree about an issue that could become a flashpoint in the November elections: whether or not a Muslim cultural center in New York should be built near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama has come out forcefully in favor of the rights of the builders to put the center, which would include a prayer room and an auditorium, near the site known as “Ground Zero.”

Washington Extra – housing gloomy

Gloomy housing data today with home builders’ optimism hitting almost a 1-1/2 year low in August, which along with other recent economic reports suggests the slowdown continued in the third quarter. More to come tomorrow when July housing starts are reported at 8:30 a.m. Even if starts edge up a bit, the number to watch is building permits which are an indication of things to come. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama went with familiar themes in Wisconsin where he visited a battery plant and a fundraiser as he began a three-day trip to five states. He took aim at Republicans, saying: “These are the same folks in Washington who made the political calculation that it was better to stand on the sidelines than work as a team to help the American worker.”

The Republican National Committee also had its say today, releasing a video to coincide with Obama’s trip that was a take-off on the dramatic job-quitting flight attendant saga. It showed Democrats in tight races sliding down an emergency chute to evacuate a plane with Obama on board.

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.

Meg Whitman’s Facebook ad nets 20,000 clicks — and a message about jobs

USA/Republican Meg Whitman’s campaign says the results are in from her innovative Facebook “polling ads,” which asked Californians to choose the issue most important to them. The message came back loud and clear:  Jobs.

The Whitman campaign said its poll, which ran from July 27 to July 31, drew 20,000 Facebook respondents — with 42 percent of them saying that jobs were their number one priority in the 2010 governor’s race.  Not surprising at all in a state with double-digit unemployment.

Another 32 percent voted for fixing education in California, with 26 percent saying that cutting state spending was most critical.  Whitman, who has said that putting Californians back to work is the number one goal of her campaign, released the poll results in a Facebook video.

Meg Whitman breaks new virtual ground with Facebook ‘polling’ ads

USA-POLITICS/CALIFORNIA

In 2010 a candidate would be ill-advised to ignore the Internet, especially if he or she wants to reach younger voters who aren’t paying attention to more traditional campaigns — or, even worse, are tuning out politics entirely.

And Republican Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO who is running for California  governor against Democrat Jerry Brown,  certainly isn’t the first candidate to advertise on Facebook in hopes of tapping into its nearly 500 million users.

But Whitman’s campaign says she has become the first political candidate to use “polling ads” on Facebook — or spots that engage users, asking them to decide which issues they want to hear the candidate address.

Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Obama approval at 48 pct, disapproval at 48 pct

Americans are evenly split over whether President Barack Obama is doing a good job or a bad job — and few are on the fence.

A Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll found that Obama’s approval and disapproval ratings are each at 48 percent.

In the July 22-25 poll of 1,075 adults, Obama’s approval rating is in line with other polls that show his popularity below 50 percent.

California city’s mess a golden opportunity for Jerry Brown?

Democrat Jerry Brown has taken some heat, even within his own party, for his seemingly minimalist campaign for California Jerry_Browngovernor — which so far has involved few rallies, speeches or even TV commercials — and which some say has allowed Republican Meg Whitman to make critical inroads with Latinos and other voting blocs in a race with national political implications.

Meanwhile supporters are quick to point out that Brown, the state’s attorney general, must husband his resources against Whitman, a billionaire who is  largely bankrolling her own campaign — and can’t possibly hope to match the former eBay CEO ad for ad all the way until the November election.

But political experts say a scandal involving the the massive salaries being paid to local officials in the small Los Angeles suburb of Bell, California — while potentially bad news for state and even local taxpayers – may have given Brown just the shot in the arm he needs.