Tales from the Trail

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.

Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei says the first polling ad went live last night, popping up on the Facebook pages of Californians over 18 and asking them to choose one of three issues facing California:  creating jobs, cutting state spending or fixing education.  

When the votes are tallied in about a week, she said, Whitman will address it in a videotaped speech to the Facebook audience.

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.

Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker

Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of  the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.

For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.

USA-HEALTHCARE/“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.

Washington Extra

What do central bankers and slalom skiers have in common? Bobbing and weaving, for one thing.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sat in front of lawmakers for a second day on Thursday to deliver his semi-annual assessment of the economy, cleverly sidestepping the obstacles they placed to his right and left. With election season fast approaching, each side wanted ammunition for their campaigns, and for their partisan readings of the economy.
bernanke

Not surprisingly, the resolutely apolitical Bernanke trod carefully. For the Democrats, there was comforting agreement that this week’s bill to regulate Wall Street had placed the financial system on a sounder footing and reduced the risk of another devastating financial crisis. Last year’s $862 billion economic stimulus had saved or created somewhere between one and three million jobs, Bernanke said, and the government was right to run a fiscal deficit in 2010 to support the economy.

Republicans turning up the heat on tax cuts

An election-year debate over tax cuts and deficits is heating up as Republicans press for extending all of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and Democrats debate what to do against the backdrop of a slow economy, huge deficits and feared shellacking in the November congressional elections.

USA/House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democrats support extending tax cuts for the middle class, but allowing the tax breaks for the wealthy to expire in order to help bring down huge budget deficits.

House Republicans immediately fired off an email to reporters saying “Pelosi announces tax hikes on small business.” Republicans argue that allowing tax rates to rise on individuals making more than $200,000 and couples with incomes above $250,000 amounts to a tax increase on small business since many small entrepreneurs report business income on their individual tax returns.

Republicans create caucus ‘to listen’ to Tea Party

There are scores of U.S. congressional caucuses that focus on specific issues — including ones to combat hunger and cancer, advance the arts, protect the environment and promote the rights of black, Asian, Hispanic and other Americans.

The conservative Tea Party movement scored a milestone on Wednesday in its drive to be heard in Washington when two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives held the first meeting of the new Tea Party Congressional Caucus. USA-HEALTHCARE/

“We decided to form a Tea Party Caucus for one very important purpose, to listen to the concerns of the Tea Party,” Representative Michele Bachmann, chief organizer, told a Capitol Hill news conference afterward.

Obama may want to cover his eyes, poll numbers not good

A standard public line for presidents is that they don’t make policy based on opinion polls.

But we’re fairly certain no president likes to see his poll numbers drop. Well, President Barack Obama may want to cover his eyes for this one.

OBAMA/The latest Quinnipiac University National Poll found that Obama’s approval rating has dropped to a net low, with 44 percent saying they approve compared with 48 percent who disapprove of how he’s doing his job.

Gingrich chides Obama for acting like a teenager with credit card

Extending unemployment benefits is this week’s battleground for Democrats versus Republicans. USA/NRA

Democrats look set to push the legislation through the Senate with the help of newcomer Carte Goodwin of West Virginia. They hope to show voters in an election year that they are the party responding to the plight of the unemployed.

Republicans had blocked the measure, demanding cuts elsewhere to pay for the $34 billion price tag and prevent it from adding to the U.S. budget deficit. They want to show voters that they are the party of fiscal restraint.

Senate hopeful Alvin Greene makes debut

The political unknown who stunned South Carolina and the nation by winning the state’s Democratic Senate primary produced headlines again on Sunday.

Alvin Greene made what’s believed to be his first campaign appearance — ever — speaking to an audience in his hometown of Manning, South Carolina. Greene attracted an audience of about 300 people and national media eager to hear what he had to say.

As far as anyone knows, Greene did not make any speeches during the primary campaign. And, except for a few interviews, the unemployed Army veteran, has had little to say since his surprise win last month.