survey says
March 26, 2014

Things are not looking too good for Democrats in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections, and a new George Washington University Battleground poll is, on the surface, more bad news. The respondents were roughly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but 64 percent of GOP voters said they are "extremely likely" to vote in November, versus 57 percent of Democrats. President Obama's 44 percent approval rating won't help the Democrats, and a daunting 73 percent said their personal economic situation has stayed the same or gotten worse over the past four years.

But there is one silver lining for Democrats: Marijuana. While 82 percent of respondents disapprove of Congress — with both parties "universally despised," according to Democratic pollster Celinda Lake — 73 percent support medical marijuana in their states, 53 percent back decriminalizing pot, and most importantly, 68 percent said they are more likely to go to the polls if marijuana is on the ballot. Voters in both parties are in favor of looser marijuana laws, but the highest levels of motivation are among younger, single people — a group that skews Democratic.

"We are very excited about the marijuana numbers in this poll, not only for personal consumption to get through this election, but [also] in terms of turnout," says Lake. Peter Weber

10:24 a.m. ET

Though the possibility of a Grexit is now dangerously close to becoming a reality, there have been plenty of indicators throughout the years that the country has been inching toward economic peril. That is to say, the Greek economy has been in the tank for awhile although, admittedly, it's never been quite this bad before.

After Greece notably missed its Tuesday deadline to make a $1.8 billion loan payment to the IMF, nearly 60 percent of Greeks voted "no" on a eurozone bailout referendum Sunday. The results of that vote could lead to the nation being forced out of the eurozone and into a future of prolonged economic uncertainty that could have global repercussions.

To put the prospect of a Grexit in perspective, here are four charts that illustrate just how terrible, horrible, no good, and rotten the Greek economy really is. A helpful guide to reading the graphs: It's really, really not supposed to look like this. Jeva Lange

The cumulative change in the Greek GDP has decreased 25 percent consistently over the past two years.

After over a decade of growth, Greece's GDP has almost begun to decrease between five and ten percent per quarter.

In 2014, Greece's public debt burden reached almost 180 percent of its GDP.

Greek unemployment rates remains above 25 percent — far above the rest of the eurozone. Jeva Lange

one state, two state, red state, blue state
10:01 a.m. ET

A new YouGov poll asked Americans to rate their feelings — positive or negative — toward each state, and then correlated those results with participants' party affiliations. Not surprisingly, Republicans tended to prefer red states, while Democrats generally favored blue states.

There were, however, some interesting anomalies. For instance, several reliably Democratic states in the Midwest and New England received fairly high ratings from both parties, coloring them purple.


And then there were the states no one likes: a handful which couldn't net much approval from Republicans or Democrats. New Jersey led this pack as the least popular state in the union, apparently fulfilling its reputation as the "armpit of America." Bonnie Kristian

10:00 a.m. ET
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, largely, it seems, to deal with the fallout of some truly cringe-worthy images of Team Clinton literally corralling the press in New Hampshire over the weekend. But perhaps more interesting was what Palmieri had to say about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is drawing huge crowds and polling impressively well in New Hampshire.

"We're worried about him, sure," Palmieri said. "He's a force. He'll be a serious force for the campaign... I don't think that will diminish."

She continued:

Of course we're worried about him. This is an election. And he is doing well. She'll have to make her case. But we knew this was going to happen... It's gonna be a slog, but I feel like she will win. [Palmieri]

Watch the video here. Ben Frumin

9:46 a.m. ET
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

At a holiday weekend event in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton warned that the U.S. must be "fully vigilant," since China is "trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America." On Monday, China caught wind of Clinton's accusation and simply shrugged it off. The country apparently wasn't too concerned that the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination was spreading the rumor that it was "stealing commercial secrets, blueprints from defense contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information — all looking for an advantage."

Beijing's seemingly blasé response to the accusations was a departure from reactions past. Previously, China has been outraged at U.S. claims that it supports information hacks. This time, however, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying simply said, "China and the U.S. have taken a constructive spirit and approach to strengthening dialog and cooperation to jointly face various challenges in line with the interests of both sides in a way that is conducive to peace and prosperity in the region and the world."

Clinton's remarks come just three months after the U.S. government discovered a federal database breach that is believed to have disclosed 18 million Social Security numbers. The U.S. government suspects that China is responsible for the attack. Becca Stanek

For those who have everything
9:40 a.m. ET
Courtesy photo

This is perhaps "the most important bikini ever," said Meredith Lepore at Food and Wine. Each suit ($167) in the debut swimwear line from Spinali Design of France features a removable sensor to help sunbathers avoid overexposure to UV rays. The waterproof sensor monitors temperature and sun conditions, adjusts its calculations to the wearer's skin tone, then sends an alert to her smartphone whenever it's time to apply more sunscreen. The customer can also choose a "valentine" alert, encouraging her partner to rub on more lotion. The Week Staff

Are you still watching?
9:34 a.m. ET
Getty Images Latam/Getty Images

Beginning in September, the city of Chicago will level a 9 percent "cloud tax" for online entertainment services like Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu — basically, any "paid television programming" or "electronically delivered music."

Previously, the same tax applied only to IRL entertainment, including movie tickets and sports events. When applied to online services, the tax will be collected based on billing information, which locates users in Chicago's jurisdiction.

The tax expansion is expected to collect some $12 million annually, but it's a revenue increase that appears negligible in light of the city's tens of billions of dollars in debts and pension obligations. In May, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Chicago's credit to junk status. Bonnie Kristian

Greek crisis
9:15 a.m. ET
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

No one knows for sure — but in the wake of Greek voters' decisive rejection Sunday of a European bailout referendum, the Obama administration is certainly worried. Here's Ben White at Politico:

The overwhelming "no" vote pushes Greece closer to a potentially messy exit from the eurozone common currency union. It also sets up possible global market chaos and presents a fresh headache for the White House, which has had little success pushing for a deal that would prevent a Greek exit.

Some in the administration fear that if Greece leaves it could lead to the eventual collapse of the entire eurozone, a destabilizing event that could crush markets and damage a U.S. economy that is growing at only around 2 percent a year and is vulnerable to outside shocks. [Politico]

Edward Luce adds this at the Financial Times:

Although the Greek economy is only the size of the state of Oregon — and its population the same as that of Ohio — a full-blown default would weaken growth in America's main trading partners. In addition to dampening U.S. export growth, a Grexit could spill over into global markets. Nobody can predict how or to what extent. But the risk of Grexit contagion weighs on the U.S. Federal Reserve. The biggest question over its return to normal interest rates sits in the Aegean. [Financial Times]

How likely is all this to come to pass? Many analysts peg the odds of a Greek exit at 75 percent or higher. Ben Frumin

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