What We Learned: State Of The Union Edition
Evolving wisdom from The Hotline staff:
-- While everyone loves an instant poll, surveys of viewers conducted after a presidential address tend to be skewed; supporters of the president are more likely to watch than those who don't support him. What are better, if smaller (and sometimes partisan), measures? Dial tests and focus groups. The GOP group Resurgent Republic reports that voters in their group had a "mostly positive view" of the speech, but Obama's "dial test approval tended to drop among independents when he proposed additional federal spending." And those independents tracked closely with Republicans during Rep. Paul Ryan's response.
-- Not everyone in Washington is afraid of the Tea Party, apparently. With the ever-present threat of a primary challenge, moderate Republicans typically seem to have two options when re-election season rolls around: Pivot to the right or announce your retirement. But Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) apparently has opted for Door No. 3: Provoke. Lugar spent the lame-duck session supporting measures that the Tea Party strongly opposed, like the New START Treaty and the DREAM Act. He further distanced himself from the movement by coming out in favor of an assault weapons ban in the wake of the tragedy in Tucson. This all led to last week's meeting of Indiana tea party leaders who intend to unite behind one candidate in the hopes of ousting Lugar. Never mind moving to the right, it sometimes seems like Lugar is looking for a fight with the Tea Party. If so, he's in luck -- he's almost certainly going to get one.
-- There's no one coming to save Orrin Hatch (R-UT) from tea party anger: Tea Party Express consultant Sal Russo's praise of Hatch was quickly countered by both a statement from Tea Party Express chair Amy Kremer, and one from the Club for Growth.
-- For candidates who lost the RNC chair race, the thing to do this week was consider a Senate run. In Michigan, former state GOP chair Saul Anuzis (R) announced that he was mulling a challenge to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). In Missouri, former state GOP chair Ann Wagner (R) announced her interest in a bid against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). It wouldn't be unprecedented: as Anuzis pointed out, in 1994 Spence Abraham and >John Ashcroft both lost RNC chair bids and went on to become senators from, ironically enough, Michigan and Missouri.