Tales from the Trail

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

But data analyzed in the final stages of the midterm contests led the group to conclude that 2010 turned out to be “the most negative campaign in recent history by both sides,” with “a marked increase in negativity as the general election season has heated up and drawn close to Election Day.”

Raw numbers cited by the project show that around half the ads broadcast by both official campaigns and “independent” interest groups related to individual congressional races are ads which “mention an opponent” – in other words, attack ads.

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.”

Palin for President? Someone’s gotta do it

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. And if no one else wants to do it, Sarah Palin says she would step in.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate, who has been stirring the pot this year with her backing for Tea Party candidates for the midterm elections, has been hard to pin down on whether she plans to run for president in 2012. Well, until now.

In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight, to air tonight, Palin let the moose out of the bag.

“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.

When politics feels like a bad flight

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He sounded like someone bombarded by too many election ads.

“I call it the perfect storm of bad manners,” Steven Slater told CNN’s Larry King. “I was angry at all of it.”

The former JetBlue flight attendant, who famously quit his job by jumping down an emergency chute, beer in hand, was talking about his life in the U.S. airline industry — not politics.

But his words could just as easily have described what some people think about the tone of the 2010 midterm election campaign – like audience members who booed Republican California gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman for refusing to stop TV ads attacking her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown. 
    
USA/This election year, negative ads can be mild compared with campaign events on the ground.
    
Last week, Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller’s private security guard handcuffed a journalist for asking questions the candidate didn’t want to answer. This week, video footage from Kentucky shows a woman protester from MoveOn.org being dragged to the ground and stepped on by supporters of Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul. 
    
Among voters, the anger appears aimed mainly at Democrats, who the Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook now predicts will lose 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible.
    
Republican officials are already preparing for an invasion of fresh new GOP House members, some of them Tea Party candidates who say they want nothing to do with business as usual in Washington. USA-POLITICS

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.

O’Donnell credits prayer for campaign boost

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Republicans may be abandoning Christine O’Donnell’s U.S. Senate campaign. But she still has friends in high places — really high places.

In fact, the Delaware Tea Party favorite is crediting divine intervention for the successes that her campaign has had.

“The day that we saw a spike in the polls was a day that some people had a prayer meeting for me, that morning for this campaign,” she tells the Christian Broadcasting Network, a cable TV channel founded by televangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson.

No more Mr. Nice Guy, Republican sets sights on Obama’s energy czar

Michigan Republican Fred Upton is known as a moderate who disappointed many conservatives by voting with the Democratic majority on some major issues including the taxpayer bailout of U.S. automobile manufacturers.USA/

But expect no more Mr. Nice Guy if Republicans win big on November 2 and he becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Upton has a hit list of White House policy czars he plans to investigate starting with White House energy adviser Carol Browner.