In their latest line of attack on President Obama, Republicans are now saying he has a "lawless presidency."

The phrase evokes images of a Wild West where anything goes.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told ABC News that the president's embrace of executive orders to get things done is "creating a dangerous trend which is contrary to the Constitution."

The Washington Post notes that, in fact, Obama has taken fewer such actions than any president since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.

Ryan responded, "It's not the number of executive orders, it's the scope of the executive orders....  More»

February 3, 2014, at 4:58 PM

We’re two years away from the presidential primaries, yet new polls are being released every week that test possible 2016 matchups.

The latest is a new CNN/ORC poll that shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) now trailing Hillary Clinton (D) in a presidential race by 16 points.

Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein makes the academic case that general election polls at this early date are essentially worthless.

Writes Bernstein: "The results are some messy mix of relative party standing, candidate name recognition, recent press reports about the candidates, and who knows what else....  More»


If you donate to a candidate online, pay attention to the fine print to make sure your donation goes to the candidate you want and not his or her opponent.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a series of websites that look like they support a Democratic candidate for Congress, but instead direct contributions to the Republican Party instead.

The Tampa Bay Times interviews one donor who thought he was giving to Alex Sink's (D) congressional campaign. It even used the same blue and green color scheme as the candidate's official website....  More»


Just days away from the deadline to extend the nation's borrowing limit, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told House Republicans in a private meeting not to fight it, according to Roll Call.

Said Boehner: "There's no sense picking a fight we can't win."

Despite calls from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to insist on concessions from President Obama, Boehner knows it's not possible without risking default on the nation's debt.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew set a deadline of Friday to pass a bill. He said that otherwise he would need to take "extraordinary measures" to stretch out the current borrowing authority until the end of the month....  More»

February 6, 2014, at 5:19 PM

In the latest episode of Political Wire's podcast, we chatted with Teddy Goff, who masterminded the Obama campaign's digital efforts. Goff discusses how the internet age is reshaping the ways in which young people get their political information, as well as how campaigns organize, turn out the vote, and fundraise.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Young people get their information differently, so the Obama campaign sought their support differently: People no longer have to settle for what's on TV or in the newspapers for their information. Now they can seek it out from their preferred sources and get it from friends on social networking sites....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about the legal implications of scandals plaguing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), particularly the ongoing investigations into his administration's closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Toobin recently penned a column for the New Yorker on how Christie has a long road ahead in Bridgegate.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The bridge scandal is not as bad as Watergate and Iran-Contra: In terms of how the scandal's legal and political fallout is proceeding, Bridgegate does bear some resemblance to past scandals such as Watergate, Whitewater, and the Iran-Contra ...  More»

February 10, 2014, at 8:46 AM

In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster for the George Washington University Battleground Poll. Lake shared her insights with us on the mood of the electorate and Democrats' turnout challenges as the 2014 midterms approach.

Here are four takeaways:

1. We're in unfamiliar territory when it comes to voters' frustrations with government and the economy: The last time Americans felt this sour about their government was during the Watergate scandal, Lake said. Americans are fed up with both parties, and their frustration with Congress has gotten to the point where voters are even souring to some extent ...  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we chatted with Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report to get up to speed on the 2014 midterm election landscape.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Incumbency is not the asset it once was: For the longest time, lawmakers mostly helped themselves when they touted their experience and stature in Washington. But a new Battleground Poll shows that a majority of Americans are willing to toss out their own member of Congress. Voters are simply disgusted with Washington, Walter said, so it's not wise for congressional incumbents to run as Washington insiders....  More»


In just a few weeks, the Republican primary season begins with at least six incumbent senators facing Tea Party challengers. The November elections are months away but these are the races to watch. At stake is whether the GOP has a real chance at taking control of the U.S. Senate this fall.

Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the chamber. Their chances could depend entirely on the candidates they nominate in primaries over the next several months.

In the last two election cycles, flawed nominees almost certainly cost the GOP victories in Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, Missouri, and Indiana....  More»


Two important Democrats suggest that Hillary Clinton has already won the Democratic presidential nomination.

Robert Shrum, who was involved in eight Democratic presidential campaigns, says the media may want a race but it’s wishful thinking.

"Handicappers in the presidential race abhor the opposite of a vacuum — a campaign two years out where one candidate seems to blot out the entire field. Thus a mini-chorus now rises, and may swell, questioning Hillary Clinton's apparent lock on the 2016 Democratic nomination. It's a predictable reflex, but in cold, hard reality, logic suggests that the lock is authentic, not just apparent....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to Republican digital strategist Patrick Ruffini about how political campaigns present and future will change the way they use technology and data to better reach voters, winning their support and turning them out.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Campaigning is moving toward a digital era in which data will help campaigns reach the right voters more efficiently: Traditionally, campaigns defined universes of potential voters, and distinguished between winnable votes and non-winnable votes in a very binary way....  More»


In a new episode of the Political Wire podcast, reporters Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, co-authors of HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton, joined us for a fascinating look at the likely presidential candidacy of arguably the most powerful woman in U.S. political history.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Clinton is all but certain to run in 2016: Although Hillary Clinton long denied that she would be running for president again after her loss to Barack Obama in 2008, she has quietly laid the groundwork for another presidential bid, Allen said....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to election law expert Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, about campaign finance, the ongoing voting law wars, and the potentially major political implications of a pending campaign-finance court case.

Here are five takeaways from the conversation:

1. The Supreme Court could strike down aggregate limits on campaign donations. If so, the political parties could have more money to fight back against powerful outside groups. Right now, federal laws limit how much money people can give to a single candidate/committee in one year, as well as the aggregate amount that people ...  More»


In the latest episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling for an in-depth look at the 2014 midterm elections and the close battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

Here are five takeaways from the interview:

1. Republicans are successfully using ObamaCare to drag down vulnerable Senate Democrats: Already, at least two current Democratic seats (West Virginia and South Dakota) look to be firmly in the GOP column. If that holds up, Republicans would need only four more seats to retake the Senate. And they're dragging out the ObamaCare playbook on vulnerable Democratic incumbents such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana ...  More»


While headlines from the Texas primaries last night tout the fact that establishment Republicans survived their primary challenges, a deeper look at the results suggests the Tea Party may still be in control of GOP politics.

Republicans were especially quick to highlight the victories by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), but they ignore that both men benefited from very flawed opponents. Cornyn's 59 percent and Sessions's 64 percent share of the vote show they didn't exactly win runaway races.

Meanwhile, the conservative grassroots is very much alive....  More»

March 5, 2014, at 11:13 AM

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that just 22 percent of Americans want to re-elect their representative in Congress — the lowest percentage since the question was first asked in 1989. A stunning 68 percent want someone new.

Does that mean we're about to see a wholesale turnover of our lawmakers in Congress?

Unfortunately, elections are more often than not choices between the lesser of two evils. And given the choice, Americans almost always stick with the incumbent.

In fact, the incumbent re-election rate since 1989 has been over 90 percent in every election year but two: In 2010 it was 84....  More»

March 6, 2014, at 11:34 AM

If Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton decide to run for president, it’s easy to make the case that both could win their party’s respective nominations. Their political and fundraising connections would make them instant contenders. And both are very skilled politicians with credible records in public service.

But a new Washington Post-ABC News poll suggests the two are not at all equal in the eyes of American voters.

When asked about Clinton, 25 percent of all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — say they definitely would support Clinton if she made a White House bid, while 32 percent said they definitely wouldn’t...  More»


In a new episode of the Political Wire podcast, we spoke with Sasha Issenberg, author of The Victory Lab, about the behavioral science behind modern campaign strategy and winning campaigns.

Here are five takeaways from our discussion:

1. Voters aren't rational, both in terms of how they pick candidates and whether they even decide to vote: For a long time, political scientists and operatives held the assumption "that voters were really rational," Issenberg said. That long-held assumption, however, has turned out to be false. Social science research, especially in behavioral psychology, shows that voters don't decide whom to vote for, or even whether ...  More»


A new Pew Research survey finds a demographic trend in the United States that threatens to push the Republican Party into permanent minority status unless it changes quickly.

The survey found that millennials — the generation of adults between the ages of 18 and 33 — vote heavily Democratic and have "liberal views on many political and social issues, ranging from a belief in an activist government to support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization."

They are also the most racially diverse generation in American history and it’s a key factor in explaining their political liberalism....  More»


In the latest episode of the Political Wire podcast, we spoke with Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, founder of the group No Labels, about breaking the gridlock in Washington and creating an atmosphere of where both parties work to solve the problems facing the country.

McKinnon is optimistic the two major political parties can work to overcome the current political dysfunction.

Here are five takeaways from our conversation:

1. Democracy usually rights itself after periods of frustration: There's no question that Congress is as dysfunctional as it has been in recent memory....  More»


This week on Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for the Cook Political Report, for a look at how some of the most competitive Senate races are shaping up and how the makeup of the upper chamber of Congress could change after November.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Republicans' chances of taking the Senate are going up. Not only have Republicans managed to expand the playing field by recruiting good candidates to compete for Democratic-held seats in Colorado (Cory Gardner) and Michigan (Terri Lynn Land). The political environment is also taking a bad turn for Democrats, Duffy said....  More»

March 17, 2014, at 10:46 AM

After a special election loss in Florida last week, two prominent Democrats with close ties to President Obama sounded the alarm and warned their party that this year's midterm elections may be a disaster if they don't act quickly.

Former White House political adviser David Plouffe told Bloomberg,"This is a screaming siren that the same problems that afflicted us in 2010 could face us again."

Similarly, former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Meet the Press that the Senate is "definitely" in danger of flipping to Republican control, adding, "If we lose the Senate, turn out the lights....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to GOP polling guru Neil Newhouse, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies and Mitt Romney's one-time campaign pollster, about what recent polling data portends for the 2014 midterms and beyond.

Here are five takeaways from our conversation:

1. Americans may feel as if they're experiencing a new normal of economic frustration. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds the longest period of sustained pessimism about the country's future since polling on the question began in the 1970s. Americans have viewed the direction of the country as negative for 10 straight years, and right now just 26 percent ...  More»


This week on Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to longtime Democratic strategist Robert Shrum for a discussion of the issues that are on voters' minds this midterm season and how Democrats should go about campaigning for the elections.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Democrats shouldn't be playing defense on ObamaCare. Democrats have long been nervous about how ObamaCare would affect them in the 2014 midterm elections, but that anxiety reached new heights after Alex Sink (D) lost her special election bid in Florida's 13th congressional district to David Jolly (R)....  More»


Despite numerous attempts to forecast elections months in advance, politics remains very unpredictable.

Just this week, we've seen three major gaffes by Senate candidates that could jeopardize their chances in November.

In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott Brown (R) blew a chance to show why voters should trust him even though he just moved to their state from neighboring Massachusetts.

Said Brown: "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state."

In Iowa, Rep. Bruce Braley (D), who is running for Sen....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to Nicco Mele, a Harvard lecturer and author of The End of Big: How The Internet Makes David The New Goliath, about the disruptive and even dangerous power of the internet in public life and elections.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Technology has helped give unprecedented influence to insurgent forces in American politics. To be sure, American political history has plenty of examples of insurgent candidates or movements that have risen to challenge the establishment. But traditionally it's been very difficult for these insurgent forces to gain a strong, long-lasting foothold and win a lot of elections....  More»


We had a fascinating discussion on the Political Wire podcast about GOP legislative and political strategy in 2014 and beyond with Washington Post political reporter Robert Costa, who has arguably followed Republicans on Capitol Hill more closely than any other reporter.

Here are five takeaways:

1. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's strategy ahead of the midterm elections: Sound more moderate without being too moderate. Cantor, a Virginia Republican, is trying to expand his party's majority in the House this November and "to do that he has to sound a little more centrist" in how he guides the party, Costa said....  More»

April 3, 2014, at 8:53 AM

Recently on Political Wire's podcast, we reached out to Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a deep dive into Georgia politics and a look at the U.S. Senate race that may determine which party controls the Senate.

Here are five takeaways for our conversation:

1. Demographic changes are putting Republicans in a difficult spot. Although Georgia has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996, the state's redness may be changing. Reflecting a trend that's occurring nationally, the Peach State's electorate is becoming less and less white — and less and less conservative — with each election cycle as immigrants ...  More»

April 8, 2014, at 12:17 PM

Sam Youngman, a veteran political reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, joined us on Political Wire's podcast for a fascinating look at Kentucky politics, including the Bluegrass State's marquee U.S. Senate race and Sen. Rand Paul's political aspirations.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Kentucky has turned sharply to the right after picking Bill Clinton twice for president. Based on President Obama's approval numbers, you wouldn't know that the Bluegrass State voted for Bill Clinton twice. The state's politics have changed dramatically, and not to Obama's benefit....  More»


In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with Nicholas Burns, a longtime ambassador and now a professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, about the Russia-Ukraine crisis and about the role that America should play as a world leader in the era of globalization.

Here are five takeaways:

1. We're not quite back into a Cold War, even if it seems as if we are. The media has continually suggested that America and Russia may have re-entered the Cold War in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. But the U.S. isn't in a protracted state of nuclear tensions with a communist superpower anymore....  More»

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