PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL: Many public opinion polls have noted the sharp drop in President Obama’s approval rating which was over 80% in January of 2009. The surprise is that George W. Bush’s approval rating has increased from 35% when he left office to 45% today. In a new Quinnipiac Poll, Obama’s approval rating is 44%. Based on the Quinnipiac numbers, for the first time Bush is ahead of Obama.
ELECTORAL COLLEGE: The Massachusetts House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to abolish the electoral college, and the State Senate could take the same action as early as today. The proposal passed the State Senate in 2008, and Governor Deval Patrick (D) has already said he would sign the measure.
Five states have now voted to do away with the electoral college, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington. In addition to the Bay State, the proposal is pending before legislatures in Rhode Island, California, Colorado and Vermont.
BIPARTISANSHIP: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) on CNN’s State of the Union:
There are some things the President is trying to do that we support. We support his efforts in Afghanistan, I think he is on the right track there. I think he continued the policy successfully in Iraq. He says he is for trade deals, where are they? We would like to help him pass them. He says he is for nuclear power. What is he prepared to do on that? We are for that. He says he is for clean coal technology, we haven’t seen any evidence of any action on that, but we are for that.
REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP At a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, House Republican Leader John Boehner (OH) acknowledged he could face a leadership challenge after the November election. Boehner hopes to be the next Speaker of the House, but he may be on a collision course with GOP Whip Eric Cantor (VA).
Boehner does not believe House Conference Chairman Mike Pence (IN) will challenge him, and said: “I’ve made it clear that we’re going to run the House differently than it’s being run today and differently than it was run by Republicans in the past.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was defending the Obama administration’s auto bailouts last night and said “If it were up to the Republicans, Ford Motor Company would probably be gone.” Ford is the only U.S. automaker that did not take any bailout money and they just had their best quarterly performance in six years.
ALABAMA: State Rep. Robert Bentley was the surprise victor in the GOP gubernatorial primary last week. His opponent, State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks (D), also won a surprise victory.
Bentley was able to win the GOP nomination because he benefited from over $2 million in negative ads which were paid for by the Alabama Education Association (AEA). The ads portrayed Bentley’s opponent, former State Sen. Bradley Byrne, as a liberal.
Byrne is a solid conservative and a vigorous foe of the teacher’s lobby. The AEA was able to drive up Byrne’s negative ratings to 33%, and he has a 36% approval rating.
Dr. Bentley has a 68% positive rating and a negative rating of only 6%. Bentley defeated Byrne by a 56% to 44% margin. Another surprise was that Congressman Artur Davis (D) who was defeated in the gubernatorial primary, had high praise for the GOP nominee:
Robert Bentley is one of the most decent, honorable people I know in politics. I have nothing but admiration for him. I believe he will be a very strong candidate. I wish Ron Sparks well. But I think one common concern that people have — and I share — is that he could open the door that allows gambling interests to control Alabama.
IOWA: Rep. David Loebsack (D) has a narrow 46% to 41% lead in a new Susquehanna Survey. He is being opposed by ophthalmologist Marianette Miller-Meeks (R) who says:
Loebsack had the chance to represent us, but in vote after vote, he instead chose to stand with the liberal far left interests that are bankrupting this country with massive new government spending… A $1 trillion government stimulus plan that Loebsack didn’t even read, and which hasn’t created any private sector jobs… A $2 trillion government run health care bill that will raise costs on employers, force job layoffs and cuts to benefits, and $455 billion in cuts to Medicare… A cap-and-tax bill, which will send Iowa jobs overseas and, according to President Obama, will cause our energy rates to skyrocket.
MICHIGAN: A Detroit News poll has Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick trailing State Sen. Hansen Clarke by 8% in the Democratic primary. An EPIC-MRA poll has the 14 year incumbent losing by 11%. Her son is former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is now in jail for corruption. Rep. Kilpatrick survived in 2008 when two challengers split the vote.
NEBRASKA: Sen. Ben Nelson’s term does not expire until 2012 but he continues to trail Gov. Dave Heineman (R) by 30 points. In a new Magellan survey, the Governor has a 58% to 28% lead.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The state’s largest newspaper, the Union- Leader was quick to criticize Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Attorney General Kelly Ayotte in the Senate race:
Palin isn’t making these endorsements because, as she claims, she has spent time in New Hampshire and thus knows that the people here are a lot like Alaskans. She spent a few hours here on one day during the 2008 Presidential election. That’s still more time than she spent getting to know Ayotte, but it takes quite a bit longer to know New Hampshire.
Ayotte responded by saying she hopes Palin will campaign with her.
NEVADA: Dr. Stuart Rothenberg has a analysis of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) campaign in the current issue of Congressional Quarterly. The Senator has high negative ratings but has picked up considerable support in recent weeks, and now has the lead in two polls. Rothenberg says:
Even Republican political operatives acknowledge privately that former Nevada state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle has been an even worse candidate than they had thought. Angle’s prospects have now slipped from being a clear favorite to only 50-50.
Reid remains a political basket case, but he certainly has a fighting chance in a contest of two unappealing nominees. And Angle has the benefit of a Republican wind at her back that could still turn into a gale-force wind. Republicans might want to ship Angle out of the country for a few months to improve her prospects.
Gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval (R) has a 52% to 38% lead over Rory Reid, the Senator’s son.
OHIO: In the U.S. Senate race, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) has a 6% lead over Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D). Portman also has a huge cash advantage, $9 million to $1.4 million.
VIRGINIA: Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D) is losing to State Sen. Bob Hurt (R) by a 35% to 58% margin in a SurveyUSA poll. Perriello, 35, is a Yale lawyer who narrowly won this district in a surprise upset. He was losing by 32% three months before the 2008 election. Perriello has a large cash advantage, $1.7 million to $216,000.
WASHINGTON: Former State Sen. Dino Rossi (R) and Sen. Patty Murray (D) are running neck and neck. In a setback to Rossi, Sarah Palin posted a fundraising message on her website yesterday on behalf of Rossi’s primary opponent, Clint Didier, a former NFL player. Didier wants the U.S.to pull out of the UN, Iraq and Afghanistan. He says the troops should instead be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to halt “an invasion of illegal immigrants”. He has also been endorsed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
The New York Times noted Palin’s endorsement and said “She is leaving a major footprint on the 2010 midterm elections is not disputed, but less clear is whether the endorsements are rooted in an effort to amplify her image or to create a political strategy for the future.”
WEST VIRGINIA: In a major disappointment for Republicans, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito will not run for the U.S. Senate this November. She would have been allowed to seek re-election to her House seat and to run for the Senate at the same time, but she is not going to do it.
Gov. Joe Manchin (D) was the solid front runner before her announcement and this further cements his position. State Republican Chairman Doug McKinney said last night that he has not heard from any candidate who is seriously considering the race.
Former GOP party chairman John Raese, who has run two losing campaigns for the Senate, has scheduled a press conference for today. West Virginia does not have a Lt. Governor. If Manchin is elected to the Senate in November, the new Governor will be State Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin