Starting Lineup: A Country, Divided
Good Friday morning and welcome back to the Starting Lineup. Here's our take on the day's political news.
A Polarization Problem: With all the focus on Pres. Obama's shift to the center in preparation for his reelection campaign, new numbers from Gallup shed light on an uncomfortable statistic for the president: He is one of the most polarizing presidents in recent history.
The Gallup survey, released Friday, found that the gap between the average Obama approval rating among Republicans (13 percent) and Democrats (81 percent) in the last year -- 68 percent -- is the highest for any president in his second year in office.
Now, part of the gap is a result of polarization throughout the country and parties becoming increasingly ideologically homogeneous. Gallup found that the span between Democratic and Republican approval ratings for president has grown significantly in recent years. It also isn't the worst sign for his reelection prospects; Pres. George W. Bush, actually had a 76 point gap in 2004 when he was re-elected.
Obama's recent move to the center -- calling for an end of earmarks, his tax cut compromise -- are clearly designed at appealing to independents and even some Republicans. And if that continues, it marks a different strategy from the one Obama used in 2008, when exciting the base and turning out new voters paved the way to the White House.
Off To The...Map Drawing: The redistricting process in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia can officially begin, as the U.S. Census released its final numbers late Thursday. Those states go first because they have legislative elections in 2011.
The data shows the official population of each congressional district, which means map drawers now know which districts need to add people and which need to shed them. In Virginia, Loudoun County grew rapidly, necessitating more than one congressman to represent the area. And Louisiana, which will lose a congressional seat, continues to shed population post Hurricane Katrina. In fact, New Orleans has 29 percent fewer people than it did 10 years ago, with 11,000 less voters than it had just one year ago.
Don't Miss: Speaking of redistricting, don't miss the Cook Political Report's David Wasserman's breakdown of redistricting in two of the most complicated states: Florida, which is slated to gain two seats, and Texas, which will pick up four.