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»


Former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) still haunts Republicans after his inflammatory remarks about rape during the 2012 election almost certainly cost his party a U.S. Senate seat.

Now another Akin-like character is popping up in Mississippi's U.S. Senate race.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in a Republican primary for a seat that embattled Democrats would love to win.

But recently leaked excerpts from a 10-minute clip from a radio show are enough to make any GOP strategist cringe. The recording from late 2006 or early 2007 has McDaniel riffing on topics from slavery reparations to homosexuality to living ...  More»


James Pindell, political director for WMUR-TV, gave us some fascinating insights into New Hampshire on the Political Wire podcast, including a special focus on former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's newly announced U.S. Senate campaign in the Granite State.

Here are five takeaways from the conversation:

1. Scott Brown's candidacy shouldn't have even happened. When Brown dropped hints late last year that he wouldn't rule out a Senate run in New Hampshire, it was entirely possible that he wasn't seriously considering it. "Republicans already had a whole host of candidates by the time he announced that," Pindell said....  More»


Recently on Political Wire's podcast, we brought on Lynn Bartels, a longtime political reporter for the Denver Post, for a fascinating discussion about Colorado politics and the state's all-important Senate and gubernatorial races.

Here are four takeaways.

1. Democrats are scared about Cory Gardner's Senate candidacy, but not just because he could win the race. This Colorado Republican, who previously said he would stay in the House, shocked the political world when he decided to run for the Senate against incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) after all....  More»


This past week on Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to Democratic Pollster of the Year Anna Greenberg, of the Democratic-aligned firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, about social media's influence on public opinion and the important issues and political dynamics at play in the 2014 midterms.

Here are five takeaways from the conversation:

1. Public opinion doesn't only mean phone surveys anymore; social media qualifies, too. Greenberg drew an analogy between the expression of political opinions on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook today and the forwarding of emails from MoveOn....  More»


After it was announced last week that more than eight million people have used ObamaCare's online marketplaces to enroll in health insurance, Democrats face a big choice ahead of the midterm elections: Do they stop talking about ObamaCare with the hope that Republicans stop bashing the law? Or do they finally embrace the law and tout its benefits?

President Obama made his preferences clear at a press conference last week: "I don't think we should apologize for it, and I don't think we should be defensive about it. I think there is a strong, good, right story to tell....  More»

April 23, 2014, at 9:46 AM

A new set of polls from the New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation have political observers buzzing this morning because they show Democrats still have a fighting chance in four key Southern Senate races.

Arkansas: Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 46 percent, Tom Cotton (R) 36 percent

Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) 44 percent, Alison Lundergran Grimes (D) 43 percent

Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) 42 percent, Bill Cassidy (R) 18 percent

North Carolina: Sen. Kay Hagan (D) 42 percent, Thom Tillis (R) 40 percent

These results are a big deal because the battle for control of the Senate will almost certainly be decided by these races....  More»


On the Political Wire podcast, we spoke to Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, about Arkansas' unique politics and how they could impact the state's marquee U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races.

Here are five takeaways from the discussion:

1. Sen. Mark Pryor (D) isn't in as much trouble as former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) was in 2010. Conventional wisdom holds that Pryor is highly vulnerable because he represents a red state in a low-turnout year that's expected to have a GOP-favorable electorate. The race has drawn some comparison to the 2010 race in which now-Sen....  More»


Republicans have spent much of the last few years fighting Democratic charges that they're a party not very friendly to women. Unfortunate comments about rape and birth control from male candidates have cost them seats and turned many women against the party.

But while the GOP has had mixed success limiting those types of remarks from their candidates, the party made some notable progress over the weekend by nominating two women who could quickly rise to national prominence.

In Utah, Mia Love (R) was the overwhelming favorite of the GOP convention to run for the seat held by retiring Rep....  More»


After more than 50 failed attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act, it seems Republicans are quietly changing their message on President Obama's signature health care law.

Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.), one of the GOP leaders of the multi-year repeal effort, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review over the weekend that it's unlikely the health care law will be repealed now that more than 600,000 Washington residents have signed up for health care insurance on the state exchange.

She added: "We need to look at reforming the exchanges."

Meanwhile, The Hill notes that Sen....  More»


The new ABC News/Washington Post poll is filled with very bad news for Democrats.

Here are three big warning signs:

1. By a 53 percent to 39 percent margin, voters say they'd rather see Republicans in control of Congress to provide a counterbalance to President Obama's policies.

2. Republicans now hold a 5-point lead over Democrats in the generic congressional ballot among those who say they will definitely vote in the midterm elections.

3. President Obama's job approval rating has sunk to 41 percent, the lowest of his presidency.

These findings suggests Republicans are on their way to expanding the Senate map....  More»

April 29, 2014, at 11:39 AM

It's hard to find many people enthusiastic about voting these days, but a new poll shows a big majority of young people have no interest at all.

A new Harvard Institute of Politics survey finds the percentage of young people who are likely to vote in the midterm elections "is shrinking relative to the last time we asked the question five months ago, and also compared to four years ago at this time."

Just 24 percent of Americans under the age of 30 say that they will "definitely be voting" in the upcoming midterm elections — a sharp decrease of 10 percentage points since a similar survey conducted last November....  More»


There is so much outside money flowing into political campaigns this year that individual candidates are no longer controlling the agenda of the races.

In fact, the candidates themselves may not even matter.

The Wesleyan Media Project finds that advertising in Senate races is off to an early start with $43.1 million spent on 109,701 advertisements. This is a 45 percent increase over the spending just two years ago. But the most striking finding is that outside groups are responsible for 59 percent of these political ads.

In addition, over half of the TV spots put up by outside groups are funded by so-called "dark money" groups, which are not required ...  More»


Recently on Political Wire's podcast, we spoke to Rob Christensen, a political writer with the Raleigh News & Observer who is often called the "dean of North Carolina politics," for an in-depth look at Tar Heel State politics and the state's key U.S. Senate race.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) is highly vulnerable. The Tar Heel State may be purpling with every election cycle, but Hagan has a number of factors working against her in her re-election bid. For starters, she was elected in 2008 during a Democratic wave year with the help of miscues by her opponent, former Sen....  More»

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