For today's reminder that political headwinds can change on a dime, consider President Obama's approval rating. Or, more specifically, consider that it has rebounded from last fall's record lows and is creeping back toward positive territory.
Obama's approval rating stands at 46 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll, just a smidge less than the 48 percent of adults who disapprove of the president's job performance. Though that's still a net negative split, it's far better than Obama was doing late last year when polls routinely found him with double-digit deficits; one CBS poll pegged Obama's approval/disapproval split at 37/57 percent.
Other polls have shown a similar trend emerging.
So what changed? For one, ObamaCare has gone from a careening disaster to a feel-good success, with more than 8 million people signing up for health insurance. And we're also further away from October's disastrous government shutdown, which dragged down the approval ratings of pretty much everyone in Washington.
It's the first bit that is most salient to Democrats as they head into the midterms. Republicans have been counting on Obama and ObamaCare to be less popular than the plague come November in hopes it will weigh down Democratic candidates. They may need a new plan. Polls have shown voters warming up to the health care law, and if they keep warming to the president, too, that could shred part of the GOP's campaign strategy. Jon Terbush
In South Carolina, at least five people died during a storm that dumped more than 18 inches of rain in the central part of the state by early Sunday.
Of the five deaths, officials say three were caused by traffic accidents. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said that some areas saw a downpour expected to occur once every 1,000 years, Reuters reports. "Our goal is all hands on deck," she said during a news conference. "If you are in your house, stay in your house. This is not something to be out taking pictures of." A record 8.7 inches of rain was recorded in Columbia for a 24-hour period ending Sunday; Charleston broke its record for greatest monthly rainfall for October; and the Congaree River is at its highest level since 1936.
Flooding was reported along the highway between Charleston and Georgetown, a town of 9,000 that was mostly underwater, officials said. Georgetown County spokeswoman Jackie Broach said "every ambulance in the county" was out responding to calls, and "people are being moved from their homes in boats." Another two to six inches of rain is expected to fall through Monday. Catherine Garcia
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has run a presidential campaign plagued by low poll numbers, weak fundraising efforts, and lackluster debate performances. Recently, he's been pouring more fundraising energy into his Senate re-election bid, which he's running simultaneously to his effort to win the Republican presidential nomination.
But Paul insisted he's not going anywhere in a Sunday interview on Fox News' Media Buzz.
"I think the rumors of my demise are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least," he said.
Paul also took a shot at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who predicted Paul's downfall in a September tweet.
Prediction: Rand Paul has been driven out of the race by my statements about him-- he will announce soon. 1%!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 29, 2015
"We run a tight ship around here," Paul said. "We plan on being in for the long hall, and I think ultimately celebrity will sort of filter out of this."
Israeli authorities banned Palestinians — including Jerusalem residents — from entering the capital's Old City on Sunday, The New York Times reports.
The only exception to the ban was reportedly for Palestinians who wanted to worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque, where men under 50 are not typically allowed.
About 3,500 police officers in Jerusalem closed off some of the capital's Arab neighborhoods Sunday. The move came after the second deadly Palestinian attack on Israeli families in three days, where two ultra-Orthodox men were fatally stabbed. Julie Kliegman
The bad blood between pop stars Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus might run even deeper than previously thought. When Cyrus hosted Saturday Night Live, the show devoted a whole segment to relentlessly mocking her colleague's ever-growing squad.
On her 1989 tour, Swift has garnered attention for a mile-long list of invitations for celebrities to join her on stage: Lena Dunham, Uzo Aduba, Julia Roberts, Keith Urban, and Kobe Bryant, to name a very small fraction.
In a post-apocalyptic sketch that feels way too real, SNL dared to imagine what will happen when everyone forcibly joins Swift's cult.
Vanessa Bayer woke up in a dark, dark world where the few remaining survivors live in constant fear of being abducted to join Swift on stage.
"First it was the models. And then the athletes," a distraught Kenan Thompson said, moments before his own abduction. "Then it was everybody."
Watch your imminent demise unfold below. Julie Kliegman
Vice President Joe Biden said transgender people should be able to serve openly in the military, a stance that goes beyond anything the Obama administration has said before, The Associated Press reports.
"It's simple," Biden said at the Human Rights Campaign gala Saturday night. "All Americans are qualified to serve, should be able to serve."
In July, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a review of the policy banning transgender people from service.
Biden is known for supporting LGBT rights more vocally than other prominent Democrats. In 2012, he backed same-sex marriage before President Obama and Hillary Clinton did.
The vice president, who is still deciding whether to enter the 2016 race, also used the keynote as a chance to slam his would-be Republican opponents.
After noting how far the U.S. has come in supporting LGBT rights, Biden added a wry caveat: "There's homophobes still left — most of them are running for president." Julie Kliegman
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump doesn't believe stricter gun control would result in fewer mass shootings, he said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. In fact, he thinks more guns could be the answer to stop gunmen like Christopher Harper-Mercer, who fatally shot nine people at an Oregon community college Thursday.
"I can make the case that if there were guns in that room other than his, fewer people would've died, fewer people would've been so horribly injured," he told Chuck Todd.
Both on NBC and in a similar interview on ABC's This Week, Trump blamed gun violence on mental illness.
"No matter how you cut it, you have people that are mentally ill, and they have problems and they're going to slip through the cracks," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
In fact, only 4 percent of U.S. violence can be linked to people diagnosed with mental illness, according to a 2015 American Journal of Public Health report debunking the exaggerated role some believe mental illness plays in mass shootings.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) formally announced his bid for House speaker in a Fox News Sunday interview.
"The American people want a fresh face and a fresh new person," Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, told Politico he would treat the position as a facilitator.
"I'm not here to be a dictator, but to empower members to do what they see fit," he said. "I want the process to work its way through the body." Julie Kliegman