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Saturday
May112013

Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal Visit Early Primary States

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- It may seem like the 2012 presidential race just ended, but two Republicans stoked speculation that they could be in the running in 2016 when they addressed groups Friday evening in the two earliest of early states: Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addressed the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal headlined a fundraiser for the Republican Senate Majority Committee in Manchester, the campaign committee for the 13-member GOP caucus in the New Hampshire state Senate.

Jindal gave a blunt prescription for a more successful Republican Party, telling the crowd at the Manchester Radisson that he won’t just attack the president and feed the crowd “bright, red meat.” Instead, he focused on “where do we go as a Republican Party.”

“We lost an election that we probably should have won,” Jindal said. “It’s time to get over it. … I think we can win elections by sticking to our principals, but I do think we need to make some changes and I think we need to think seriously about where we go from here.”

Jindal warned the crowd of Republicans to look “forward,” not backwards, and, in a clear reference to Mitt Romney’s failed attempt at the White House, said Republicans must “fight for every single vote, not 53 percent to 47 percent, we need to fight for 100 percent, we need to fight for every single vote."

“We need to have the confidence and we need to have the courage to say our principals, our policies, our beliefs help every American join the middle class, and if we want voters to like us we’ve got to like them first,” Jindal said. “Let the the Democratic Party start dividing people by groups, by subgroups, by special interests. We will have none of that. We view everybody as Americans first, and we are going to treat them like that.”

Jindal spent most of his speech on two topics: improving education in this country with more school choice and charter schools, as well as persuading Republicans to quit the austerity talk and focus on “growth and opportunity” and growing the middle class.

On education, a topic Jindal often talks about in both Louisiana and nationally, he told the audience to “let the dollars follow the child, don’t make the child follow the dollars.” He added that a “bright teacher in the classroom is the single most important thing we can do.”

Jindal also spent part of his address speaking about his family and personal story, noting his father grew up in India with no running water or electricity and was the first person in his family to go to school past the fifth grade.

“We spent too much time last year criticizing the other side without saying what we were going to do instead, without saying what we were for,” he said.

“We allowed them to characterize us instead of saying we stand for the middle class,” Jindal said. “We want everybody to have that American dream that my dad pursued, that your parents and grandparents pursued.”

“This is more than just winning an election,” he said. “This is about winning a very important debate where we go as a country.”

He told those listening to take that into account before they supported future candidates.

“As we decide the candidate we support, the leaders we rally around … I would hope we would rally around those candidates and those leaders who stand for what is right, not just what is popular,” Jindal said.

He did not mention the possibility that he might be included in that group of future candidates.

Paul’s speech focused on two issues he has been closely aligned with recently: the investigation into the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, as well as comprehensive immigration reform.

The Kentucky senator’s Benghazi comments were expected after he took former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to task earlier Friday for her handling of the terrorist attacks. In an op-ed article in the Washington Times, he wrote that Clinton “should never hold high office again,” and he repeated that charge in Cedar Rapids Friday night, earning a huge cheer from the crowd.

“There were a lot of mistakes made at the time,” Paul said. “Maybe at the time, maybe after the time, cover up this and that. But what was always been most important to me is what happened in the six months leading up to this, because there is no excuse in the six months leading up to this when your people on the ground – military people and State Department people – are asking for more help. They are asking for security, they are pleading for security and they got nothing. It was inexcusable, it was a dereliction of duty and it should preclude her from holding higher office.”

When discussing immigration, Paul noted that not everyone in the room would agree with him, including Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who spoke before Paul.

“I am in favor of immigration reform,” Paul said.

He added that he could vote for immigration reform legislation if more border security was added.

“Am I worried a little bit about it? Yes. I’m worried I might offend some people,” Paul told the group of Iowans. “I’m also worried [about] whether it works or not, if it doesn’t work, and the people who vote for it will catch blame for it. But I don’t want to just say I’m voting no and I’m not going to be for it. I do want to try and fix it, because I think there is a problem.”

Like Jindal, Paul said Republicans need to grow the party and be the party of all Americans, adding, “we need to attract the Latino vote. This is a very practical thing and I’m not ashamed to admit it. ”

“We need to attract the African-American vote,” Paul said, noting his appearance at historically black Howard University last month. “We need to change the way we are talking about it and who we are if we want to attract the Latino vote. … We need to treat immigrants with dignity and respect.

“We will get people to consider us as a party,” he said, “but they won’t if we don’t show up.”

Paul reprised many of the themes of a speech he gave in March when he first endorsed comprehensive immigration reform, saying, “If you want to work in our country, I want to find a place for you to work.”

“The people are here and there is a certain sense of de facto amnesty in that they are not going home, and their kids will be voting, and if their kids think we are hostile to them, they are never going to vote for us,” Paul said. “We are an increasingly diverse nation and I think we do need to reach out to people who don’t look like us, who don’t wear the same clothes, aren‘t exactly who we are. We need to reach out."

In a sense, it was a homecoming for Paul. The Iowa GOP leadership is made up of loyalists from his father Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign. After the botched reporting of the 2012 caucus results that initially put Mitt Romney on top, only to be corrected two weeks later with Rick Santorum as the true victor, the old players were out after the cycle, replaced by the top members of Paul’s Iowa team, including the present Iowa GOP chairman A.J. Spiker, who served as vice chairman of Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign.

Both Paul and Jindal, along with Hillary Clinton, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and others are already the subject of speculation as potential presidential contenders in 2016, but as recently as January, Jindal said it was way too soon for speculating.

“Any Republican that’s thinking about running for president in 2016 needs to get his head examined,” Jindal told reporters after delivering a speech at the Republican National Committee winter meeting in January.

In that same speech, he had some tough language for his party.

“We must stop being the stupid party,” he said. “It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. It’s time for us to articulate our plans and visions for America in real terms. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. We’ve had enough of that.”

Jindal mentioned that speech Friday night in New Hampshire, noting his 9-year-old son made him put a dollar in the “bad word jar” after that phrase was heavily covered. He said what he “meant by that that was we’ve got to present thoughtful policy solutions to the American people … not just 30 second solutions.”

Paul will also head to New Hampshire later this month to headline a fundraiser for the state GOP on May 20.

While he is in Iowa this weekend, he is also planning on meeting with the Iowa Federation of Republican Women and attend a fundraiser for Iowa’s Johnson County GOP.

It may be worth noting that, according to Kentucky law, unlike other states, a candidate cannot run for both the U.S. Senate and president of the United States simultaneously, so Paul will have to choose one in the coming years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar032013

In First Interview, Romney Says it ‘Kills’ Him Not to Be in Washington

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A reflective Mitt Romney Sunday blamed his loss in the presidential election last November to his inability to connect with minorities, and the former Republican nominee admitted to Fox News’ Chris Wallace that it still “kills him” not to be in Washington.

“We did very well with the majority population but not with the minority populations and that was a real failing, that was a mistake,” said Romney, when asked why he believes he lost the White House last fall.

“We didn’t do as good a job as connecting with that audience as we should have,” he added.

Romney, joined by his wife Ann for portions of the wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday, has spent most of the four months since Election Day out of the public eye, tucked away in his California home.

In this interview, his first since losing to President Obama, the former Massachusetts governor who received just 47 percent to the president’s 51 percent of the vote, spoke candidly about his disappointment on election night.

Romney said it was a “slow recognition” that he’d lost the campaign, but when Florida was reported to be a close race — a state his campaign thought they’d win easily — he began to realize his odds of winning were waning.

“We were convinced we would win,” Romney said. “My heart said we were going to win.

“It’s hard, it’s emotional,” he said. “There was such passion in the people who were helping us, I just felt we’d really let them down.”

Ann Romney added that she cried on election night, and though she described herself as being “mostly over” the loss, she confessed that she still cries.

“I mourn the fact that he’s not [in the White House],” she said. “I totally believe if Mitt were there in the office we would not be facing sequestration.”

Romney, who taped the interview in the San Diego home of his youngest son Craig earlier in the week, said bluntly, “I still care,” when asked what life is like watching business in Washington go on without him.

“I wish I were there,” he said. “It kills me to not be there, to not be in the White House doing what needs to be done.”

Romney said he does not see the “kind of leadership” that he believes the country needs and he thinks the current financial crisis is a “huge opportunity.”

“The hardest thing about losing is watching this critical moment, this golden moment, just slip away with politics,” he said, referring to the debate over sequestration.

“Come on guys,” Romney said, directing his remarks to those in office. “Focus on getting America through a difficult time and on the track to remain the most powerful and strong nation in the history of the earth and put people back to work.”

As for Romney’s infamous “47 percent” comments, in which the presidential candidate was surreptitiously filmed at a fundraiser essentially writing off a large portion of Americans as “completely wrong,” the former nominee said his remarks undoubtedly contributed to the failure of his campaign.

“It’s not what I meant. I didn’t express myself as I wished I would have,” he said. “You know when you speak in private you don’t spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and distorted and could come out wrong and be used.

“It was very harmful,” he said. “There’s no question that it hurt and did damage to my campaign.”

And about that embrace between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — considered to be one of Romney’s most powerful backers during the election — and Obama just a week before Election Day during a tour of Hurricane Sandy damage?

“I don’t think that’s why the president won the election,” Romney said, explaining that he does not blame Christie for his loss.

“I’m not going to blame Chris,” he said. “I lost my election because of my campaign, not because of what anybody else did.”

As for what’s next for the Romneys, both told Wallace that they’re enjoying spending time with at least one of their 20 grandchildren every day. They’ve started a foundation, The Romney Foundation for Children, that will serve to help poor children, and Romney said he hopes to still have some role in the Republican party, but notes that nobody wants to — or should want to — listen to a losing candidate.

“As the guy who lost the election, I’m not in a position to tell everyone else how to win,” he said. “I don’t have the credibility to do that anyway, but I still care.”

Romney is slated to deliver his first public address March 15 in Washington D.C. during the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“I’m not going to disappear,” Romney said. “But I care about America. I care about people who can’t find jobs.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov092012

Texas State Senator Wins Election After Death

Rick Scibelli/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Democrat Mario Gallegos won re-election to his Texas state Senate seat on Tuesday. Gallegos, who had served since 1994, overwhelmingly beat his challenger, Republican newcomer, R.W. Bray. But the victory is, to say the least, bittersweet.

Sen. Gallegos won his re-election bid three weeks after his death.

Gallegos died on Oct. 16 of complications related to liver disease, but his family kept a close eye on the election results in hope of keeping his seat Democratic.

Theresa Gallegos, Gallegos’s widow, told ABC News that the family felt compelled to proceed with his election because, as she said, “It was his legacy, first of all. He worked so hard for his community and we were all involved in his work.”

“He … instilled in us all of his hard work and he fought so hard to keep that seat Democratic,” she said. Sen. Gallegos served as a Democrat in the 6th District of the Texas Senate, in a primarily red state.

The re-election of Gallegos has prompted Texas Gov. Rick Perry to schedule a special election sometime in December.

According to Theresa Gallegos, it was her husband’s wish to have Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado succeed him. She tells ABC News that Alvarado has expressed interest in serving in the Democratic senatorial seat.

“He talked about it many times. [Mario] asked that we as a family try to endorse her and help her continue on to the senate seat. They both had the same goals and [Mario] believed that she would continue his work.”

Rep. Alvarado did not respond to requests for an interview with ABC News.

Though unusual, the posthumous election of a politician is not unheard of. In 2000, the late Gov. Mel Carnahan beat out incumbent Republican Sen. John Ashcroft for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri. Carnahan’s widow, Jean, became the unofficial Democratic candidate, and was appointed to the Senate seat by then-Missouri Gov. Roger Wilson.

Carnahan died in a plane crash a few weeks before the November election. By coincidence, both Gallegos and Carnahan died on Oct. 16.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov052012

POLL: Slim Edge Opens for Obama As the Closest Contest Concludes

John Gurzinski/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Barack Obama has inched to a slim advantage in the closing days of the 2012 presidential race, breaking out of a long-running deadlock with Mitt Romney to a 50-47 percent contest in the final-weekend tracking poll by ABC News and The Washington Post.

While still lacking a majority in vote preference, Obama has reached 51 percent job approval, matching his best this year; extended his advantage in better understanding Americans’ economic problems; and moved to within a single point of Romney in trust to handle the economy, reversing a 9-point Romney lead on the central issue of the campaign.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

In another potentially important measure, regardless of their own preference, 55 percent of likely voters expect Obama to win re-election, down from its pre-debate peak in late September but a majority steadily since last March. A little over a year ago, by contrast, when economic discontent was at full boil, just 37 percent expected Obama to win.

The outcome is far from assured in a race that has been the closest on record, by some standards, since the start of pre-election polling in the mid-1930s. Turnout is critical, with Obama’s slight edge relying on robust participation by Democrats and minorities and a competitive showing among independents. But there’s some evidence for it: his supporters are more strongly enthusiastic than Romney’s by an 8-point margin in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. That’s numerically the widest enthusiasm gap since early September.

TREND – The race between the two has been locked for months, averaging a dead heat in fall polling by ABC and the Post. Romney took the momentum after the first debate and extended it as recently as a week and a half ago. He reached his apex Oct. 24, a numerical, 3-point edge in vote preferences overall, including a 19-point lead among independents.

But that advance stalled, with Obama pushing back in key groups and on the crux issues of managing the economy and economic empathy. By early last week – before Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast – the gap among independents, potential swing voters in national elections, had shrunk to single digits, and Romney’s gains on the key issues had halted.

The trend in these closing days, in Obama’s direction, has been slight but consistent. In a rolling four-day average, vote preferences since Thursday have gone from Romney +1, to a dead heat, then Obama +1, now Obama +3. Today’s 50 percent for Obama matches his high among likely voters, last seen July 8. Romney’s 47 percent is his lowest, numerically, since Oct. 13.

The 50-47 percent difference is not statistically significant at the customary confidence levels used in survey research. But it’s likelier than not to reflect a slight Obama advantage, given this survey’s models of who’s most apt to vote.

This is in a race that’s been heart-stoppingly close. The average difference between Obama and Romney in ABC/Post polling since September has been one-tenth of a percentage point, numerically the closest in comparable periods in pre-election polls since their start in 1936. And it’s the first race since 1960 in which neither candidate has held majority support at some point, adjusting for third-party vote.

Romney’s key shortfall on issues has been his difficulty closing the sale on the argument that he’d outperform Obama in handling the economy. They’re at essentially a dead heat on this issue – Romney +1 – and Obama leads by 8 points on economic empathy, that is, better understanding Americans’ economic problems. It’s Obama’s largest lead on empathy since mid-October, widening the past week and a half after squeezing to just +2.

THE CURVE – Regardless of the trends on issues specific to this election, Romney – and the Republican Party more broadly – are on the difficult side of an inexorable demographic curve, the shrinking dominance of white voters in national elections.

Romney leads among whites by 15 points, 56-41 percent – but they account for just 74 percent of likely voters, the same as in the 2008 exit poll and down from 90 percent in 1976. A quarter of likely voters are nonwhite, and they prefer Obama by a vast 76-20 percent, including by 96-3 percent among blacks and 61-31 percent among Hispanics. A similar equation led to Obama’s election in 2008, when he lost whites by 12 points but won the presidency nonetheless. Turnout among racial groups thus is critical to this year’s outcome.

Indeed, given the still-large size of the white voting population, the slightest improvement by Romney in this group – to 58 percent support among whites – would move him into a 1-point numerical edge, given the turnout proportions in this survey. Three candidates have done that well among whites since 1976, two of them incumbents – Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George W. Bush in 2004. The third was George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Romney’s already at his required support level among many whites; specifically, white women who lack a college degree and white men regardless of their education. He leads in those groups by a combined 59-38 percent. It’s among college-educated white women that he falls short; they now divide essentially evenly, 50-48 percent.

That difference carries across other measures. White women with college degrees approve of Obama’s job performance by 52-47 percent; other whites disapprove by 59-40 percent. More educated white women also are 12 points more apt than other whites to think that Obama better understands the economic problems of average Americans, and 11 points more apt to trust him over Romney to handle the economy.

These reflect gaps on social and economic issues in previous ABC/Post polls. College-educated white women are 14 points more likely than other whites to prefer Obama over Romney in trust to address “women’s issues”; 16 points more likely to favor legal abortion (as does Obama, not Romney); and a slight 7 points more apt to see unfairness in the economic system as a bigger problem than over-regulation of businesses.

The difference among more-educated white women contributes to the gender gap overall: Obama +8 points among women, Romney +5 among men. For comparison, Obama finished +13 among women, +1 among men, in the 2008 exit poll. While the shares have shifted, the gap is nearly identical.

PERFECT STORM? – While the presidential debates clearly helped Romney, a lasting question of the election will be the effect, if any, of Obama’s handling of the response to the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy. The president has won broad approval for his work on the issue – 79 percent in ABC/Post tracking poll data, including a majority of Republicans.

Impact on vote preferences is less apparent. Fifty-one percent of likely voters call the storm a factor in their vote; about half as many, 23 percent, call it a major factor. By and large, though, people who call the storm a factor are those who fit the profile of Obama supporters in the first place.

Additionally, while Obama holds a 10-point advantage in trust to handle an unexpected major crisis, that’s no different after the storm than before it.

That said, the disaster could have worked in subtle ways, for example raising the salience of the handle-a-crisis attribute. Among other results, Obama’s image as a “stronger leader” than Romney rebounded in the past week, compared with their July levels. And Obama’s core support has rallied; the number of likely voters who “strongly” approve of his job performance overall reached 35 percent in this survey, his highest since September 2009.

ENTHUSIASM – As Obama’s strong approval has advanced, so has enthusiasm among his supporters – 69 percent say they’re “very” enthusiastic about their choice, steady the last three days, up a slight 5 points from last week and on par with his strength of support in 2008.

Romney trails on this measure with 61 percent strong support, essentially unchanged since mid-October. Nonetheless that’s far ahead of John McCain’s strong support in 2008, and John Kerry’s in 2004.

Romney’s deficit in strong support is base-related, recalling the challenges he had winning support among some core Republican groups in the GOP primaries. Today, among Republicans who support Romney, 69 percent are strongly enthusiastic about him. Among Democrats who back Obama, strong support rises to 76 percent. Similarly, Obama’s strong support among liberals is 7 points higher than Romney’s among conservatives.

AND TURNOUT – The question is whether disproportionate enthusiasm produces disproportionate turnout. The campaigns have been hitting it hard; nationally 44 percent of likely voters say they’ve been contacted by one or both of the campaigns, and that soars to 69 percent in the eight states designated by the ABC News Political Unit as battlegrounds.

Romney’s been keeping pace with Obama in voter contact overall, an improvement compared with McCain in 2008. In the battleground states, in particular, 48 percent of likely voters say they’ve been contacted by Obama’s campaign – 51 percent by Romney’s.

Turnout’s not an issue for a sizable group: Using just the most recent (Sunday night) results, 31 percent of likely voters say they’ve already voted; more said they still intended to vote early. Looking at the past four nights among those who’ve voted early or planned to, preferences are identical, 50-47 percent, to those of Election-Day voters. That’s far closer than Obama’s 18-point advantage among early voters in ABC/Post polls in 2008. Then again, it’s a far closer election.

CLOSURE – Whoever does win will take the reins of a sharply divided nation. Ninety-five percent of Republicans in this poll back Romney and 91 percent of Democrats favor Obama; independents divide closely 48-46 percent, Romney-Obama. Obama wins 85 percent of liberals and 57 percent of moderates; Romney, 80 percent of conservatives.

Those divisions are reflected, as well, in expectations of who’ll win. Ninety-one percent of Obama supporters expect the president to win re-election; among Romney supporters, fewer, but still 71 percent, expect their candidate to prevail. That means that whatever the outcome Tuesday, many in this country will have not only their preferences but their expectations dashed – for whomever will govern, not an easy place to start.

Partisan divisions, Democrats-Republicans-independents, are 35-29-32 percent among likely voters; they were 39-32-29 percent in the 2008 exit poll. The ABC News Political Unit defines the “battleground” states as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

South Florida Voters Waiting Four Hours to Vote Early

Comstock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Voters in some parts of Florida are waiting as long as four hours to cast their ballots before early voting ends Saturday night.

The Miami-Dade County Election Department was reporting early voting wait times in excess of one hour at all 20 of its polling locations. At two locations – the Election Department main office and the North Dade Regional Library – officials were reporting wait times of four hours.

The ballot in Miami-Dade County is five pages long, front and back, with an estimated completion time of as long as 30 minutes.

Farther north, in the Tampa Bay area, election officials were reporting shorter wait times at most polling sites, with only a handful exceeding 45 minutes.

When asked about how waiting voters were reacting to the lines in Hillsborough County, Travis Abercrombie, the public information coordinator for the Hillsborough County Elections Office, said they have “the patience of Job.”

The early voting window was reduced by Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott from 14 to 8 days, or from 120 to 96 hours.

The large turnout in some South Florida counties prompted some groups, including the League of Women Voters and the Florida Democratic Party, to call on Scott to extend voting hours, as then-Gov. Charlie Crist did in 2008. But Scott declined, telling reporters at a fundraiser in Newberry, Fla., that early voting would end Saturday night, as scheduled.

“Once again, Rick Scott has sided against the people of Florida,” said Scott Arceneaux,  executive director of the Florida Democratic Party.  "In rejecting calls for an extension of early voting hours, Scott has failed in his constitutionally obligated duty, broken with the history of past Republican governors and reminded Florida voters why they continue to hold a negative opinion of this governor. The people of Florida will not forget his failure to stand up for their right to vote.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

President Obama Tells Voters to Vote Across Party Lines — As Long As Candidates Want to Break DC Gridlock

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(HILLIARD, Ohio) -- “I’ve said I will work with anybody of any party to move this country forward,” President Obama told a crowd of 2,800 Friday morning in Hilliard, Ohio. “If you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you’ll vote for leaders who feel the same way whether they’re Democrat, Republican or independent.”

The notion of a Democratic president telling crowds in a crucial swing state that they should feel free to vote for a Republican congressional candidate – as long as he or she wants to break the gridlock – is an interesting one, but it highlights one of the key messages of the president’s closing argument to undecided voters, who purport to loathe how dysfunctional Washington, D.C. has become.

Vote for me, he says, and other likeminded politicians so we can all work together and get something done.

It was one of then-Sen. Obama’s selling points four years ago, and as he hits the homestretch in this tight election, the president is trying to re-ignite that bipartisan flame after four often bitterly partisan years. The campaign hopes that endorsements from former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) and New York City Mike Bloomberg, an independent, augments that argument.

In Springfield, Ohio, Friday afternoon the president painted his opponents in the nation’s capital not as Republican – but as agents of, and lobbyists for, the status quo.

“When the other party has been with me” to work on issues such as middle class tax cuts, he has worked with them, the president said, praising “some courageous Republican senators.”

Vice President Biden in Beloit, Wis. sounded a similar note, talking about the Democratic Governor of Delaware “who’s gotten hurt” by offering more assets to New Jersey GOP Governor Chris Christie.

“I mean, that’s how it used to work,” Biden recalled. “You remember…we used to work together when I started in public life. This is how it worked. There’s a crisis, and everybody worked together and — you know, like we did most of my career with guys like Colin Powell and Dick Lugar and (GOP Senators) Chuck Hagel, Bob Dole, Alan Simpson. ... This is not a political slogan. We actually worked together where there was a crisis. And when this election is over, we need to get back to that. We got to get back to working together.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

Storm Response Earns Obama Praise Amid the Election’s Deadlock Drama

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Likely voters of all political stripes give broadly positive ratings to Barack Obama’s response to the devastating storm that smashed the East Coast this week. Whether it makes a difference in the long-deadlocked presidential election is another question.

Initially, the latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll finds essentially no change: Likely voters are back to exactly an even split in preferences, 49-49 percent between Obama and Mitt Romney – within a point or two of where the race has been all along.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

Regardless, in interviews conducted Tuesday night, 78 percent rate Obama’s response to the hurricane positively (as excellent or good), while just eight percent see it negatively. Romney, who naturally has had a far less prominent role in this issue, is rated positively for his response to the hurricane by 44 percent, negatively by 21 percent, with many more, 35 percent, expressing no opinion.

The federal government’s overall response to the storm is rated about as well as Obama’s, 73 percent positive in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. These ratings are far higher than the government’s, or George W. Bush’s, a week after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The future, of course, is uncertain, and these ratings can change depending on the pace of recovery. Notably, many in each case rate the responses to date as “good” rather than “excellent,” leaving room for reconsideration as the efforts progress.

Views on Obama’s response to the hurricane exhibit some bipartisanship in an otherwise highly partisan period; he’s rated positively on the issue by 63 percent of Republicans as well as more than 80 percent of Democrats and independents, and by nearly as many conservatives (73 percent) as moderates and liberals (eight in 10). The federal government’s response more broadly is rated essentially equally favorably across partisan and ideological lines.

Partisanship roars back in views of Romney’s response; these likely are based on political predispositions, given his lack of an official role in the effort itself. His 70 percent positive score among Republicans drops to 40 among independents and 24 percent among Democrats.

This survey was conducted the past four nights, including interviews after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday night. Out of a national sample of 1,288 likely voters, 102 were interviewed Monday and Tuesday in the Northeast. Results in this group are in accord with comparable data from nights before the storm struck.

ELECTION – Partisanship in the election itself is profound, with Obama and Romney each supported by at least 90 percent of likely voters within their parties. Depending on turnout, that can leave things up to independents, a movable group that’s less rooted in partisan preferences.

Their latest direction gives some ground to Obama: Independents now divide by 51-46 percent, Romney-Obama, matching the president’s best in this group since July. He’s gained eight percentage points among independents, and Romney’s lost seven, since last week.

That shift among independents doesn’t tell the whole story because the makeup of the eventual electorate, and precise vote preferences among groups, are yet to be settled. But as with so many other measures, it underscores the unusual closeness of the contest.

MORE GROUPS – Among other divisions are the continued sharp differences by race. Whites in this survey favor Romney by 58-40 percent, including white men at 62-36 percent. Non-whites, for their part, back Obama by 79-20 percent. The question again is turnout proportions; non-whites accounted for a record 26 percent of voters in the 2008 exit poll.

Turnout’s a question, as well, among young voters, a particularly strong group for Obama this year as in 2008, but one that seems less engaged this time around. At this point in 2008, 63 percent of adults under age 30 reported being registered to vote; that compares with 57 percent now. The falloff has occurred specifically among young men; just half now report being registered, down 13 points from this time last year.

Time, of course, is running short. Eighteen percent of likely voters in fact say they’ve already voted, and about as many more intend to do so between now and Election Day.

But the differences between these two groups, too, have tightened. Those who’ve voted early or intend to do so, previously looking better for Obama, now divide by a narrow 51-48 percent; and Election Day likely voters, previously better for Romney, Wednesday split by 47-51 percent. It’s close in both, just like it’s close overall.

FIRST/SECOND TERM – Another result looks at whether likely voters are focused more on what Obama has done in his first term – when the economy’s been in dire straits – or on what he might do in a second term. The division is 27-47 percent, with an additional 17 percent saying they’re focused on both.

Vote preferences among these groups are telling. Among those focused on Obama’s first term, Romney leads by a 17-point margin, 58-41 percent. By contrast, among those who are more interested in what Obama would do in a second term, or who say both matter equally, it’s a 16-point Obama lead, 57-41 percent. Those results explain both candidates’ broad themes – for Obama, a focus on what’s ahead; for Romney, one on what’s gone wrong, particularly economically.

ECONOMY and EMPATHY – Results specifically on the economy also reflect the dynamics of this contest. Trust to handle the economy has been Obama’s greatest vulnerability, yet Romney has been unable to capitalize on it fully; the two continue to run essentially evenly in trust to handle it, 49-47 percent, Romney-Obama. Romney had opened a 9-point lead on the economy last week; it didn’t hold.

But then there’s empathy, which has been Obama’s strong suit – understanding the economic problems of average Americans. On this they’re now at 50-44 percent, Obama-Romney, better for Obama from last week, but well down from his double-digit lead on empathy last summer.

There’s a telling contrast between these sentiments and those four years ago. At this time in the 2008 election Obama led John McCain by 10 points among likely voters, 52-42 percent, in trust to handle the economy, and by a broad 18 points, 56-38 percent, in economic empathy. That’s why the 2008 election was not a particularly close one – and why this year’s is another story entirely.

Partisan divisions in this survey, Democrats-Republicans-independents, are 33-28-36 percent among likely voters. Partisan divisions in the 2008 exit poll were 39-32-29 percent.  “Battleground states” as designated by the ABC News Political Unit are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct222012

Ohio Election Official Resigns over Stress from Upcoming Election

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DAYTON, Ohio) -- Just how intense is the focus on Ohio two weeks before the presidential election? Apparently, it’s so intense that some Ohioans can no longer handle the stress, including a county election official.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Miami County election director Steve Quillen resigned from his post last Friday morning "due to the stress of the upcoming presidential election."

Miami County is considered to be safely Republican. In 2008, John McCain carried it with roughly 63 percent of the vote. George W. Bush carried it in 2004 with about 66 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, in the toss-up battleground that is Ohio, the pressure of Election Day reverberates throughout the Buckeye State.

Since Quillen was a Republican, according to Ohio law, the state Republican Party recommends his replacement, the Dayton Daily News reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Texas Town Rolls Dice to Decide Election

Courtesy City of Webster(WEBSTER, Texas) -- The town of Webster, Texas, is rolling the dice on its newest city council member. Literally.

After Diana Newland and Edward Lapeyre each won 111 votes in a runoff election Saturday and a recount confirmed the result yesterday, Texas election code forced the two to "cast lots." A nearby pair of dice settled the matter: Newland rolled a five, while Lapeyre came up short with a four.

"It seemed odd, but after discussing it [with Lapeyre], we were just ready to get it over with," Newland said, adding that her opponent was gracious about his misfortune. "I could not have gone out and campaigned a third time, and we had already gotten people to come out twice, bless their hearts."

The decisive roll followed two failed attempts. Lapeyre's first roll skipped off the table, and the city secretary had decreed beforehand that a do-over would be triggered by that outcome. When the second throws yielded a tie, Newland said she became "frayed around the edges."

But the third roll ended a race that Newland said had the town of 10,000 abuzz with anticipation since Saturday's inconclusive runoff.

Lapeyre did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

While the tiebreaker was a first for Webster, it was not the first time an election has been left to chance in Texas. In nearby Seabrook, a dice roll determined the second participant in a recent city council runoff. Last month, a coin toss decided the mayoral election in the Panhandle's Wolfbrook. In the Lubbock suburb of Wolfforth, the top two candidates in a city council election agreed to flip a coin instead of competing in a runoff, to save the town $10,000.

In Woodland, Wash., a high school class president flipped a coin in front of a gym packed with students to decide a tied city council race last year.

Sometimes tiebreakers go beyond the traditional dice roll or coin toss. A 2004 election in White Pine County, Nev., went to the candidate who drew the high card from a deck. In 2005, a North Pelham, N.Y., election was decided by drawing straws. In perhaps the most novel tiebreaker in recent history, a Wyoming legislative race was settled by picking ping pong balls out of a cowboy hat.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun042012

Wisconsin Recall Election Seen as Referendum

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MADISON, Wis.) -- In a battle viewed largely as a barometer for November's showdown between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Wisconsin voters on Tuesday will decide whether to oust Gov. Scott Walker for what Democrats contend is an unacceptable attack on organized labor by the GOP lawmaker.

During the winter of 2011, the Badger State became locked in a standoff as Walker pushed to roll back union rights for many public employees, infuriating labor groups in the state and around the country.  While the governor ultimately succeeded in signing a law that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights on pensions and health care, and limited their pay increases, the backlash against Walker set the stage for this week's recall vote.

"It's a statement about what role we think the public sector ought to play," said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  "There are fundamental differences between the two parties here, and they mimic the debate in Washington.  Republicans want to reduce the size of government, and they view the public sector as a hindrance to job growth, while Democrats want to use the public sector to spur job growth, promote fairness and serve as a safety net.  We can't do both.  Wisconsin is a swing state, and it represents a lot of the diversity we find in the country in general, so for that reason I think the recall here is a symbol of the larger argument going on."

Recent polls show Walker leading his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  A survey of likely voters conducted by Marquette University Law School from May 23-26 showed Walker with a 52 percent to 45 percent advantage over Barrett.  But public polling can be unpredictable because of the special nature of the summertime election, and that poll came before the two opponents engaged in a heated debate last Thursday night.

Much of Thursday's debate focused not only on the dispute over collective bargaining, but, as in the general election battle between Obama and Romney, on the economic hardships facing many voters.

"We have a plan," said Walker.  "It's a plan that's working.  It's moving this state forward.  That's the choice people have to make."

But Barrett fought back, arguing that Walker's policies are "working for the wealthiest people in the state, but they're not working for the middle class."

Wisconsin is a key swing state in this fall's presidential race, with top Republican officials predicting doom for Obama -- who won the Badger State by nearly 15 percent in 2008 -- if Walker wins the recall, even though the Marquette poll found Obama with 51 percent support among likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

"One thing is really clear here: If Walker wins on Tuesday, which we are really confident he will, Obama's going to have a much tougher road ahead in Wisconsin this fall," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus told reporters last week.  "Certainly [if] Wisconsin goes red I think it's lights out for Barack Obama."

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