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Fist Bumps Around the White House? Obama’s Reaction to Trump’s Decision Not to Run

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May 17, 2011, 10:53 a.m.

Treas. Frank Caprio (D) on 10/7 “cri­ti­cized” ex-GOP Sen. Lin­coln Chafee (I) over “Chafee’s ac­know­ledg­ment that his old Sen­ate” camp cmte owed about $18.4K “in back taxes and fees due to a mis­un­der­stand­ing of tax reg­u­la­tions by his” camp treas­ur­ers.

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Caprio “said the tax prob­lem called in­to ques­tion Chafee’s lead­er­ship and the people he would bring with him to the State­house if elec­ted.”

Chafee deputy mgr Mike Train­or, 10/8 said “that Chafee doesn’t want to raise taxes, but the real­ity is the state is fa­cing” a $300M to $400M “de­fi­cit ‘that de­mands thought­ful and im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion.’”

Train­or: “He’s had the cour­age to step up to the plate, un­like any of his com­pet­it­ors, and say, in ad­di­tion to cut­ting ex­penses and re­du­cing costs, we need new rev­en­ue” (AP, 10/9).

Caprio: “He is ask­ing Rhode Is­landers to trust him, telling him that he wants them to pay more in taxes, when he owes back taxes. It raises a lot of ques­tions on what kind of lead­er he would be” (Edgar, Provid­ence Journ­al, 10/9).

The res­ults of the NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al poll re­leased on Monday con­firm pre­vi­ous sur­vey data that show the Re­pub­lic­an Party has suffered brand dam­age over the past few months. The GOP’s self-ab­sorp­tion and ob­ses­sion with pleas­ing its con­ser­vat­ive base in pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates’ rhet­or­ic and in policy ini­ti­at­ives at the con­gres­sion­al, gubernat­ori­al, and state le­gis­lat­ive levels have taken a toll. While tea party folks like to boast that they provided the GOP with its ma­jor­ity in 2010, I didn’t no­tice many of them vot­ing to put Nancy Pelosi in as House speak­er in 2006 or to elect Barack Obama pres­id­ent in 2008. In the Bible, the Lord giv­eth and the Lord taketh away. In polit­ics, it is pretty much in­de­pend­ents who giv­eth and taketh away.

In one telling find­ing, NBC News/WSJ poll­sters Peter Hart (a Demo­crat) and Bill McIn­turff (a Re­pub­lic­an) asked, “Which polit­ic­al party do you think cur­rently does a bet­ter job of ap­peal­ing to people who are not among its hard-core sup­port­ers — the Demo­crat­ic Party or the Re­pub­lic­an Party?” A whop­ping 55 per­cent said Demo­crats ap­peal more to those out­side their base. This is com­pared with only 26 per­cent who said that was true of the Re­pub­lic­an Party. The sur­vey also showed a con­tin­ued high­er trend of neg­at­ive rat­ings for the GOP that star­ted a few months ago. It is fur­ther evid­ence that noth­ing kills suc­cess like ex­cess.

The sur­vey, con­duc­ted Feb. 29-March 3 among 800 adults na­tion­wide, found that 33 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans thought the coun­try was headed in the right dir­ec­tion, while 58 per­cent said it was off on the wrong track. While this is a bad set of num­bers, the right dir­ec­tion ran in the 17-to-19 per­cent range in Au­gust, Oc­to­ber, and Novem­ber. The wrong track was in the 73-74 per­cent range. The right dir­ec­tion began turn­ing up in Decem­ber to 22 per­cent, and it rose to 30 per­cent in Janu­ary, be­fore the most re­cent 33 per­cent. The wrong track dropped to 69 per­cent and 61 per­cent in Decem­ber and Janu­ary, re­spect­ively, be­fore the cur­rent 58 per­cent.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing, which had been at 44 per­cent in three con­sec­ut­ive NBC News/WSJ polls in Au­gust, Oc­to­ber, and Novem­ber, edged up to 46 per­cent in Decem­ber. It was 48 per­cent in Janu­ary. Now it is up to 50 per­cent in the new sur­vey. The dis­ap­prov­al rates dropped from 51 per­cent for three months to 48 per­cent, then to 46 per­cent, and now to 45 per­cent. The Gal­lup Or­gan­iz­a­tion’s na­tion­al track­ing sur­vey con­duc­ted March 1-3 put Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing at 48 per­cent, with 45 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al, al­though those num­bers re­versed in the March 2-4 track.  

For all of the pub­lic at­ten­tion paid to the gen­er­al-elec­tion tri­al-heat fig­ures, once you get well with­in a year be­fore an elec­tion, the job-ap­prov­al rat­ing is a far bet­ter pre­dict­or of how an in­cum­bent pres­id­ent is go­ing to fare. The 48-50 per­cent ap­prov­al range is the min­im­um that an in­cum­bent wants to see to have a reas­on­able ex­pect­a­tion of win­ning reelec­tion. In 2004, Pres­id­ent George W. Bush had a 48 per­cent ap­prov­al rat­ing in his fi­nal, preelec­tion Gal­lup poll. He squeaked by Sen. John Kerry with a 51 per­cent to 48 per­cent vic­tory.

An im­prov­ing eco­nom­ic pic­ture and self-in­flic­ted Re­pub­lic­an wounds have com­bined to boost Demo­crat­ic for­tunes right now. Quan­ti­fy­ing how much things have changed, the Wall Street eco­nom­ic con­sult­ing firm ISI Group re­cords how many pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ments oc­cur each week. The firm found that in the peri­od from the week of May 23, 2011, through the week of Oct. 3, 2011, there was more neg­at­ive than pos­it­ive eco­nom­ic news in 16 out of 20 weeks. Since the week of Oct. 10, 2011, however, we now have had 22 weeks in a row of more pos­it­ive news.

To be sure, this eco­nomy is enorm­ously fra­gile, with dan­ger­ous land­mines — in­clud­ing rising oil prices and a re­ces­sion in Europe — ahead. But all you can judge is the here and now, which is a lot bet­ter than just four months ago. The ef­fect of bet­ter eco­nom­ic news on Pres­id­ent Obama’s num­bers, along with the brand dam­age Re­pub­lic­ans have been in­flict­ing on them­selves and likely nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney, have prob­ably boos­ted Demo­crat­ic hopes ar­ti­fi­cially high and de­pressed the value of the GOP stock.

Based more on “mi­cro” race-by-race de­vel­op­ments, The Cook Polit­ic­al Re­port has ad­jus­ted its cur­rent fore­cast from a net gain of between three and six seats for Re­pub­lic­ans in the Sen­ate to a likely gain of between three and five. It could drop to a two-to-five range, de­pend­ing upon who ends up run­ning for the newly open Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate seat be­ing va­cated by Maine’s Olympia Snowe. In the House, we’ve ad­jus­ted our fore­cast from some­where between a wash and a net Demo­crat­ic gain of 10 seats to, now, a Demo­crat­ic gain of between five and 15 seats. That still would leave Demo­crats short of the 25 seats they need to win a ma­jor­ity.

It’s worth re­mind­ing folks that there is an ebb and flow to polit­ics. We may just be at a pro-Demo­crat­ic ebb at this point. Eight months, though, is a long time to go.

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