Four battleground Senate surveys conducted in mid-February from leading Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman illustrate just how difficult the political environment is shaping up to be for Democrats in 2014. The polls, conducted in mid-February, show Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Udall (D-CO) in varying degrees of trouble ““ from dire to vulnerable.
— The most alarming numbers were in Louisiana. Landrieu’s favorability is 10 points underwater (42/52), and she loses to a generic Republican by 11 points, 47-36%. Against her leading GOP challenger Rep. Bill Cassidy, she trails 46-42%. The ads attacking her on Obamacare have made an impact: 38% view her “very unfavorably,” not far from President Obama‘s 45% figure.
— If anything, Pryor’s numbers, while middling, looked better by comparison. His personal favorability is still solid at 47%/36%, even with Obama’s dismal 32%/65% numbers. And among likely voters, he’s tied with Rep. Tom Cotton (R) at 46%. But there are clear warning signs: Likely voters supported a generic Republican 47-39% over Pryor. And among definite voters, he trails Cotton, 51-42%. These numbers suggest the race is still winnable, but requires Democrats turning Cotton into a political pariah ““ a difficult task, given his biography.
— The news is also mixed for Hagan. On the positive side, Obama’s favorability is much better in NC, at 46/50. And there’s a greater intensity level of support for the president (33% strongly favorable), along with angry opposition (40% strongly unfavorable). And Hagan’s net favorability (41/42) is better than her leading, lesser-known GOP rival Thom Tillis (13/20). But Hagan only leads Tillis 45-41%among likely voters, and trails a generic Republican, 44-38%.
Like Pryor, Udall’s favorability is respectable but very soft. He’s viewed positively by 46% of voters, but barely led flawed, one-time GOP challenger Ken Buck, 46-42%. (The poll was conducted before Rep. Cory Gardner entered the race.) Against a generic Republican, he trails 41-36%. Obama’s approval is 44%, with intensity on the side of his opposition. These are the types of numbers that led Gardner to change his mind and challenge Udall. And all the polls paint a picture of a Democratic party whose Senate majority is hanging in the balance.
— Josh Kraushaar
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”