Tales from the Trail

Poll finds voters eager to give Congress the boot

voteHere’s something for members of Congress to contemplate in the weeks leading up to the November mid-term elections: a lot of people want to send you packing.

That’s according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll that finds 55 percent of registered voters don’t think their own members of Congress deserve to be re-elected. That up from 47 percent in 2006 and 27 percent in 2004.

When asked about “most members of Congress,” a whopping 78 percent said they want someone new.

Fifty-eight of those surveyed said they disapprove of the performance of Democrats while Republicans got a 68 percent disapproval rating.

The overall approval rating for Congress stands at a low 21 percent.

The results are in line with other recent polls indicating widespread voter discontent with Congress.

In California, no voting bloc is safe

First Republican Meg Whitman, a political novice running for California governor, seemed to catch her Democratic opponent, MegJerry Brown, napping with an aggressive early push for Latino voters –  a voting bloc that has proven tough for her party to crack.  

Whitman has run a series of Spanish-language TV commercials and billboards that, according to the latest p0lls, paid off with a 14-point gain among Latinos – despite the still simmering furor over a crackdown on illegal immigrants in neighborhing Arizona that was signed into law by Republican  Governor Jan Brewer.

Brown, the state’s attorney general and a veteran California politician who served as California governor from 1975 to 1983, has been criticized within his party for being slow to respond and taking the Latino vote for granted. 

Final round in Specter vs. Sestak coming up

The final bell is about to ring in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the Senate — and it’s a nail-biter. Who will win the chance to run against the Republican in November?

USA-POLITICS/In one corner is Senator Arlen Specter who has 30 years in the Senate, but for the first time faces voters as a Democrat after switching parties last year.

In the other corner is Representative Joe Sestak who won his first election to Congress four years ago by unseating 20-year Republican incumbent Curt Weldon.

Congress bracing for anti-incumbent anger among voters

WEATHER-USA/

By the look of things, the American public just might vote Congress out of office this November – Republican and Democrat alike.

But Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine sounds downright stoic, even as he admits that his own party could lose more than 28 House seats and four Senate seats.

Kaine says Democrats must accept voter anger as a fact of life in an economy that is recovering only slowly from the worst recession since the 1930s.

Gingrich once again at head of Republican pack

Once, a first-term Democratic president failed to deliver on healthcare reform and found his party USA-POLITICS/swept from office by a wave of voter anger that brought Republican Newt Gingrich to the forefront of American politics. Could this history lesson from the Clinton era be repeated?

Healthcare reform is stalled, voters are angry and Gingrich — who rose to prominence as House speaker after Republicans won Congress in 1994 — is again leading the pack, this time among  potential White House hopefuls for 2012.

The Washington-based political news outlet, Politico, says Gingrich’s political action committee is raising money far faster than those of 2008 campaign veterans including Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Is Obama a party animal? U.S. political trends make it so

The folks at Gallup say Barack Obama is easily the most ‘polarized’ first-year president of the postwar era — and they’re not talking about pre-digital camera snapshots.
    
They mean that Obama, like his immediate predecessors,  is the object of growing partisanship within American public opinion.
OBAMA/
Obama finished his first year in office on Jan. 19 with an 88 percent job approval rating among Democrats but only 23 percent approval among Republicans.
    
That leaves a 65-percentage-point gap between the two partisan lines, eclipsing the previous first-year polarization record of 52 points, held by Democrat Bill Clinton.
    
If Obama’s numbers don’t change, he will exceed Republican George W. Bush as the most polarized of post-World War II presidents. (Over the course of Bush’s presidency, Republicans and Democrats were 61 points apart on average.)
    
But there’s something more afoot than the individual horse races.
    
Gallup says its findings illustrate an upswing in voter partisanship since the time of Republican Ronald Reagan. Before the 1980s, partisan approval gaps ranged from a low of 19 percent for Democrat Lyndon Johnson to a high of 34 percent for Republican Richard Nixon.
    
“Obama — like his immediate predecessor Bush — sought to bring Americans together after periods of heightened political polarization in the United States. But despite their best intentions and efforts, both men’s approval ratings have been characterized by extreme partisanship,” Gallup said.
    
“The way Americans view presidents has clearly changed in recent decades, perhaps owing to the growth in variety, sources and even politicization of news on cable television and the Internet, and the continuing popularity of politically oriented talk radio.”

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Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama)