2014 Watch
July 24, 2014
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Democrats have a huge enthusiasm gap problem, according to a Pew survey out Thursday. In the poll, 45 percent of Republican voters say they are more psyched than usual to back the GOP candidate in their districts; among Democratic voters, that total is just 37 percent.

The split isn't quite as pronounced as the one Pew found in 2010, when Republicans held a 55 percent to 42 percent edge in voter enthusiasm. But the gap still shows the challenge Democrats face in exciting their base and getting them to the polls.

More troubling news for Dems, from Pew:

Barack Obama is as powerful a motivating factor for Republican voters as he was in 2010: about half (51 percent) of those who say they will vote Republican this fall consider their vote as a vote "against" Obama, little changed from June 2010 (52 percent). And Obama has become a less positive factor for Democrats — 36 percent of those who plan to vote for the Democrat in their district view their vote as being "for" Obama, down from 44 percent four years ago. [Pew]

So to recap: Republicans are more excited than Democrats to vote, and President Obama's unpopularity is a contributing factor. Probably not a good sign for Democrats, then, that the president's approval rating has slumped back to the low 40s in recent weeks, per Gallup. Jon Terbush

Mind's made up
9:15 a.m. ET

"If you thought the Republican presidential dance card was full before, the hits just keep on coming," Jon Stewart said on Thursday night's Daily Show, before skewering the presidential candidacies of George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, and Lindsey Graham, whom he blasted for jingoism, borderline racism, and more.

It's all great fodder for Stewart. But even that's not enough to entice him to stay.

"Guys, guys, guys, guys," Stewart said. "I appreciate the effort. My mind's made up. I'm leaving the show. I'm not staying."

Even Donald Trump — whom Stewart dubs "F---face von Clownstick," is apparently not enough to change the comedian's mind. Watch the video below. Ben Frumin

just when you thought it was safe to go back in the movie theater
9:09 a.m. ET

The original summer blockbuster is heading right back into movie theaters. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Jaws, Turner Classic Movies is partnering with Universal to bring the Steven Spielberg classic back to the big screen in theaters across the country.

Jaws will play in nearly 500 theaters across the United States on Sunday, June 21 and Wednesday, June 24. Each screening will be preceded by a special introduction from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, describing Jaws' overall influence and legacy. You can check here to see if it's playing at a theater near you. Scott Meslow

This just in
8:55 a.m. ET
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The resurgent U.S. economy might not be surging after all. The U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday that the country's Gross Domestic Product contracted by 0.7 percent in the first quarter, instead of growing by 0.2 percent, as it had previously reported. Economists blamed the news on bad winter weather and trade imbalances caused by a strong dollar.

"This isn’t the off-to-the-races kind of expansion we envisioned six months ago,” Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West in San Francisco, told The New York Times. Citing a shrinking unemployment rate and a housing market comeback, other economists cautioned against reading too much into the numbers. Nico Lauricella

The subtlety of politics
8:42 a.m. ET

You really have to see this video to believe it. Produced by the pro-Paul America's Liberty PAC, this wrestling-themed 2016 campaign video features a fire-breathing bald eagle, a jacked-up and shirtless Rand Paul dubbed "The Rand Man," President Obama as "the head of the Washington spy machine," and Sen. Ted Cruz as "the capitulating Canadian." Oh, and like any good wrestling-themed promo, it includes a dutifully growly "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!"

America's Liberty PAC was founded "by veterans of both the Ron Paul presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012 and veterans of Rand Paul’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign," and is "the only super PAC endorsed by Senator Paul." Ben Frumin

rescues
8:20 a.m. ET
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Emergency responders rescued dozens of people from continuing flash floods in Texas early Friday. Flood alerts stretch nearly 800 miles from southern Texas to central Missouri. Texas is facing its wettest May on record. At least 23 people have died in flooding and tornadoes caused by severe storms across Texas and Oklahoma in the past week. Another 14 were killed in northern Mexico. About 56,100 Texans remain without power. Read more at CNNHarold Maass

2016 fever
8:07 a.m. ET
(Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced Thursday that he was abandoning the Common Core program and calling for state education officials to develop new education standards. Christie once supported the controversial Common Core, but said in the five years since its adoption it had created "confusion and frustration" for parents and created unanticipated new problems. "The truth is that it's simply not working," Christie said. "We need to do something different." You can read more at CBS news. Harold Maass

Follow the money
7:27 a.m. ET

That's not revenue — that's pure profit.

FIFA, soccer's global governing body, took in $4.8 billion on last year's World Cup alone, the BBC reports, and incurred only $2.2 billion in expenses:

(BBC)

About $4 billion of FIFA's revenue came from sponsorships and broadcasting rights. Ticket sales only totaled $527 million.

So where did this mind-boggling profit go? "FIFA re-invests the majority of its revenue but it does hold on to a proportion of any profit to create a cash reserve," the BBC says. The reserve — which ballooned to $1.5 billion last year, from $350 million in 2005 — is meant to protect the organization in case the World Cup is canceled. By contrast, the $150 million that top FIFA allegedly accepted in bribes looks like just a drop in the bucket.

For more on FIFA's finances, head over to the BBC. Nico Lauricella

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