Politics: Need-to-Know Video

N2K: North Carolina and the Hispanic Vote

Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
May 8, 2011, 8:16 p.m.

A High Point Univ. poll; con­duc­ted 9/25-30; sur­veyed 400 adults; mar­gin of er­ror +/- 4.9% (re­lease, 10/8). Tested: Sen. Richard Burr (R), ‘02 can­did­ate/Sec/State Elaine Mar­shall (D) and busi­ness­man/mo­tiv­a­tion­al speak­er Mike Beitler (L).

Gen­er­al Elec­tion Match­up

R. Burr 45% E. Mar­shall 31 M. Beitler 4 Un­dec 18

Burr As Sen.

Ap­prove 37% Dis­ap­prove 28

(For more from this poll, please see today’s NC In The States story.)

It’s too early to know for sure what the fal­lout will be from the fight over the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pro­posed — and, more re­cently, com­prom­ised — re­quire­ment for re­li­giously af­fil­i­ated in­sti­tu­tions to provide health in­sur­ance that cov­ers con­tra­cep­tion. A week ago, be­fore the flap, a string of pos­it­ive eco­nom­ic news had helped Obama reach a 49 per­cent Gal­lup job-ap­prov­al rat­ing. There was 45 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al in the Feb. 6-8 Gal­lup three-night mov­ing av­er­age, his highest Gal­lup ap­prov­al rat­ing since mid-June. In the next few days, Gal­lup tracks re­por­ted ap­proves-dis­ap­proves of 48 to 46 per­cent for both Feb. 7-9 and 8-10. Then, about the time the con­tro­versy erup­ted, Obama’s ap­prov­al dropped three points to 45 ap­prov­ing, with 48 dis­ap­prov­ing in the Feb. 9-11 track. On Monday, Gal­lup re­por­ted 46 per­cent ap­prov­ing, with 47 per­cent dis­ap­prov­ing in its Feb. 10-12 rat­ing. The ap­prov­al was up a point, and dis­ap­prov­al dropped one. With nightly track­ing, it’s al­ways prudent to watch for sev­er­al days be­fore draw­ing a con­clu­sion. But the latest num­bers sug­gest that Obama took a hit, al­though it’s hardly a free-fall.

This was al­ways go­ing to be a fight over which side of the con­tro­versy did a bet­ter job of fram­ing the is­sue. If the fo­cus was on con­tra­cep­tion, Obama and his team would cer­tainly come out ahead. In par­tic­u­lar, young­er wo­men, es­pe­cially single wo­men, are one of the best demo­graph­ics for him. With­in the Demo­crat­ic Party, the chal­lenge is get­ting more of them to vote.

On the oth­er hand, if this fight be­came per­ceived as largely one over re­li­gious free­dom, re­quir­ing in­sti­tu­tions af­fil­i­ated with the Cath­ol­ic Church to pay for ser­vices fun­da­ment­ally at odds with church doc­trine, that’s a dif­fer­ent story, and it’s one much more prob­lem­at­ic for Obama and Demo­crats. Keep­ing in mind that Demo­crats were once the party of choice for Cath­ol­ics, at least among whites, it is now al­most en­tirely a sec­u­lar party. In­deed, among white voters, fre­quency of church at­tend­ance, re­gard­less of af­fil­i­ation, is highly pre­dict­ive of vot­ing. The more fre­quently white voters at­tend church, the more likely they are to vote Re­pub­lic­an. Those who in­fre­quently or rarely at­tend church are far more as­so­ci­ated with vot­ing Demo­crat­ic.

The polit­ic­al choice faced by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on wheth­er to push the ini­tial rule re­minded me of something that happened years ago (the names of the state and the elec­ted fig­ures in­volved have been left out to keep things fo­cused on the ba­sic ques­tion). A con­ser­vat­ive Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate for the U.S. Sen­ate took on a lib­er­al in­cum­bent Demo­crat­ic sen­at­or in a fairly lib­er­al state. The in­cum­bent Demo­crat sup­por­ted a right to late-term abor­tions, a po­s­i­tion that was ana­thema to the GOP chal­lenger. While the state’s voters over­all were far more sup­port­ive of the pro-choice side of the abor­tion is­sue than the pro-life side, polls showed that late-term abor­tions were far more con­tro­ver­sial. When the GOP chal­lenger in­sisted on us­ing the late-term abor­tion is­sue, the GOP Sen­ate cam­paign com­mit­tee chair­man strenu­ously ad­vised the chal­lenger not to push that is­sue. The older and wiser party lead­er, I am told, ex­plained to the chal­lenger that if he could some­how build high walls around the late-term abor­tion is­sue and keep the fight con­tained there, it might be a win­ner. But the lead­er cau­tioned that it was im­possible to build those walls high enough: It would spill out and in­ev­it­ably be­come a fight over abor­tion writ large, mak­ing it a loser. The end of the story is that the chal­lenger chose to use the is­sue in ad­vert­ising any­way, and it soon grew to be­come a fight over abor­tion. The in­cum­bent Demo­crat nar­rowly won.

The White House clearly could not keep this is­sue con­tained either, and it star­ted a firestorm that was big­ger, I sus­pect, than an­ti­cip­ated.

But there is a second point worth not­ing: This fight totally shif­ted the fo­cus away from a flurry of pos­it­ive eco­nom­ic news that had pushed Obama’s num­bers high­er and seemed to bright­en his reelec­tion pro­spects. Why pick a new fight when the lead weight that has hung around your neck is be­ing lightened?

This should also be a re­mind­er that the elec­tion is just un­der nine months away. Those who said that Pres­id­ent Obama had sud­denly be­come a strong fa­vor­ite for reelec­tion, be­cause the eco­nomy seemed to be turn­ing around, ig­nored the fact that there is a long time for the eco­nomy to move up or down. Noth­ing re­mains con­stant in polit­ics for nine months.

If you think of the pres­id­ent’s reelec­tion out­look on a red-light (likely lose), yel­low-light (highly com­pet­it­ive), and green-light (likely to win) basis, the eco­nomy for most of last year was such that there was a red light on for Obama’s pro­spects. While no one knows what will hap­pen between now and Novem­ber, his situ­ation has im­proved to a yel­low light. This po­s­i­tions him bet­ter, but it hardly gets him out of the woods. This re­cent con­tra­cep­tion con­tro­versy should be a re­mind­er that there is still a lot of time and a lot of fights left, giv­ing sup­port­ers on either side the op­por­tun­ity to de­clare vic­tory or throw in the tow­el.

What We're Following See More »
White House Announces Enhanced Vetting for Eight Countries
29 minutes ago
"President Trump is replacing his controversial travel ban with a targeted list of restrictions that will enhance vetting for nationals from eight countries, senior administration officials announced Sunday. The eight countries on the modified list of countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen."

The officials say these states failed to comply with the U.S. information-sharing requirements that aim to make vetting processes stronger.

Every NFL Team Protests Trump in Some Way
29 minutes ago

"Every team that played on Sunday participated in some form of demonstration" of President Trump's comments about players who kneel during the National Anthem. Some "players, coaches and executives ... stood together arm-in-arm along the sidelines" while "others sat, knelt or raised a fist" and some entire teams "stayed in the locker room or tunnel for the duration of the anthem." The Broncos' Von Miller, who knelt with 31 of his teammates, said, "We felt like President Trump's speech was an assault on our most cherished right—freedom of speech. So, collectively we felt like we had to do something before this game."

Sessions to Address Campus Free Speech
29 minutes ago

"Trump isn't the only member of his administration fighting a culture war this week; his Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a "free speech on campus address" on Tuesday at Georgetown University law school in D.C. It's going to get testy." Sessions will tell the students: "Whereas the American university was once the center of academic freedom — a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas — it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."

Merkel Wins Reelection but Party Loses Seats
29 minutes ago

"Angela Merkel will once again lead Germany, but her governing coalition is going to have to deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which rode a wave of anti-immigrant anger to claim a sizable chunk of seats in the Parliament for the first time. ... AfD, a hard-right, anti-Islam group not even represented in parliament in 2013, has become the third largest party. That might mean big changes to the character of a parliament that, thanks to the long shadow cast by Germany’s Nazi past, was largely free of hardline nationalism. Elsewhere, the environmentalist Greens and classical liberal, centrist Free Democrats (FDP) both grew their share of the vote," at the expense of socialists and Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Collins, Cruz Appear to Oppose Health Bill
10 hours ago

Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now" he doesn't back it. White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week." Collins said she doesn't support the bill's cuts to Medicaid, while Cruz said it wouldn't do enough to lower premiums.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.