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What We Learned: Looking Ahead To 2012 What We Learned: Looking Ahead To 2012

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What We Learned: Looking Ahead To 2012

-- It's been a little over a week since (most of) the votes were tallied, and many news organizations -- including this one -- have turned a critical eye on the public polling released in the days preceding the election. But, as a bipartisan coalition of pollsters pointed out in an open letter to the media this week, a firm's surveys for the entire cycle should be graded -- not just the ones in the final weeks. As the letter notes, polls "have the capacity to shape media and donor reactions to election contests, especially in late summer and early fall when organizations and individuals are making such decisions." It's a laudable effort, but with the proliferation of cheap, automated polling and the explosion of political media outlets, it is unlikely that polls that use questionable methodology won't spread like wildfire.

-- While Tea Party activists successfully forged their way into the Washington on Election Day, breaking the power barriers on Capitol HIll is proving to be much more difficult. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) dealt the Tea Party its first blow in the grab for power this week as he successfully warded off a challenge from Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for GOP Conference chair.

-- Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-S.C.) non-binding proposal to ban earmarks for Senate Republicans is facing considerably stiffer opposition than it did in the House. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and several ranking committee members opposing the measure appear to be ahead in the whip count entering the weekend, though only by the thinnest of margins. If DeMint and Bachmann both fail this early, what message does that send to the Tea Party and GOP activists back home?

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