Tales from the Trail

Palin using her star power against selected House Democrats

MOTOR-RACING/

Sarah Palin really has the 2010 congressional elections in her cross hairs now.

As President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the potential 2012 Republican White House wannabe was out on Facebook with her own campaign to unseat 20 House Democrats who voted for the legislation. The page identifies targeted congressional districts via a map of the United States dotted by white and red cross hairs.

“We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies,” she says in a rallying note to supporters that also seeks donations for her political action committee, SarahPAC.

Palin’s aim is to go after House Democrats who voted for Obamacare and represent districts that she and John McCain carried in the 2008 presidential race.  USA-HEALTHCARE

It’s also an opportunity for Palin to demonstrate some of the political nous and muscle she’ll need in two years, if the former Alaska governor intends to make a credible run for president.  Since the 2008 election, her biggest rise as been as a media celebrity with a best-selling book, a TV gig as Fox News analyst and a possible reality TV show deal. She has made campaign appearances on behalf of Republican candidates up to now. But her new initiative would be her highest profile effort yet.

Weighing in on the 2010 elections also poses risks for Palin, who could lose credibility if the candidates she backs fail. A USA Today/Gallup poll suggests that 49 percent of Americans think the healthcare reform bill’s passage was a good thing, vs. 40 percent who see it as bad. Forty-eight percent called the legislation “a good first step” that needs to be followed up by more action.

Most Americans want Republican input on healthcare – poll

Most Americans want President Obama and the Democrats to jettison the healthcare bill they almost got together before USA-HEALTHCARE/WELLNESSthis week’s political earthquake in Massachusetts and instead look for something Republicans can support.

That’s according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll which says 55 percent of Americans want work stopped on a House-Senate compromise between Democrats, while 39 percent want the Democrats to press on.

In fact, a sizable minority — 46 percent of the 1,010 adults surveyed — say healthcare reform is important but should not be Obama’s top legislative priority. Nineteen percent say healthcare shouldn’t be a major priority at all.
USA-POLITICS/BROWN
The poll was conducted the day after Republican Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue Senate seat in Massachusetts. The findings have a 4 percentage point margin of error.

Gallup poll gives Obama some good news on terrorism issue

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings may have slipped in some polling data. But there’s a tiny bit of good news for him on an issue that his Republican critics have been whacking away at for weeks now: terrorism. USA HEALTHCARE/

A USA Today/Gallup poll says public approval for Obama’s handling of terrorism has risen since the Christmas Day bomb attempt, with more Americans than not giving him their approval on a political issue likely to rank high in this year’s congressional election campaign.

The numbers still aren’t great for the president, however. The thumbs up comes from less than half of the public — 49 percent – and those expressing disapproval are close behind at 46 percent. That three-point gap is well within the Jan. 8-10 survey’s 4 percentage point sampling error. Approval is also way down from May, when 55 percent of Americans endorsed his handling of terrorism.

The First Draft: Poll shows growing U.S. support for Afghan troop increase

If President Barack Obama opts to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan next week, the decision could be underscored by something a bit unusual for his policies: growing U.S. public support. 
 OBAMA   
Polling data have shown for a while now that most Americans don’t favor many of Obama’s policy positions, despite his enduring personal popularity.
    
A USA Today/Gallup poll depicts Obama battling headwinds on a number of fronts: Americans oppose the closing of Gitmo by more than a 2-to-1 margin; those against healthcare reform edge out those in favor by 5 percentage points; and most don’t want accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in civilian court in New York City.
    
Afghanistan is no cakewalk, either. Public opinion is divided over the question of more troops and 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the war up to now — a reversal of his 56 percent approval rating four months ago. CANADA/
    
But the polling data, compiled Nov. 20-22, might also suggest a silver lining for the president as he nears an announcement that could send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.
    
Less than half of Americans — 47 percent — favor a troop increase. But that’s up from 42 percent in a Nov. 5-8 survey.
    
Plus, the opposition is down: 39 percent of Americans now want the president to reduce the U.S. military footprint, vs. 44 percent earlier.
    
What hasn’t changed for Obama is that Republicans, not fellow Democrats, are his best buddies when it comes to increasing troops. Seventy-two percent of Republicans back a bigger U.S. force in Afghanistan, while 57 percent of Democrats say it’s time to start pulling out. USA-ELECTION/    

That could be important for Obama’s agenda in Congress as the 2010 election approaches and Democratic incumbents in tight races consider how they might fare with Democratic voters.

The USA Today/Gallup findings are based on telephone interviews with 1,017 adults. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.