“Are the midterm elections a referendum on the presidency?” Get ready to hear that question posed incessantly on cable news as the 2014 races heat up. The conventional wisdom says the answer to that question is yes. But as Americans vote for their representatives in November, will they really be casting their ballots out of spite or admiration for the president?
Forty one percent of respondents in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll say their vote in the upcoming election is “not a signal either way about Obama.” Twenty-four percent say their vote will be a vote of support for the president, while 33 percent say theirs will be a vote of disapproval. (These numbers were similar to the 2006 midterms, when George W. Bush saw a Democratic turnover in the House.)
So, yes, Obama (whose approval is now at 41 percent) will cast a shadow over the elections this fall. Forty-two percent of respondents said a direct Obama endorsement of a candidate would make them less likely to vote for that candidate. But as the poll reveals, there are other issues weighing more heavily on voters’ minds.
Among Democrats, 81 percent say a candidate’s willingness to raise the minimum wage will make a vote for them more likely; 75 percent say they’d be more willing to support a candidate who will fix the health care law.
Among Republicans, 88 percent say reducing spending will draw their vote, while 70 percent say supporting the health care law’s repeal will do the same.
But an overwhelming majority of both parties — 89 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans — agree that they want candidates who can compromise with the other side. That might be easier said in a poll than actually done in the voting booth, though. The issues that divide Republicans and Democrats are still polarizing. And, come this November, those issues may be more influential than the shadow of the president.
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A Russian government think tank run by Putin loyalists "developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system." Two confidential documents from the Putin-backed Institute for Strategic Studies, obtained by U.S. intelligence, provide "the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election."
"The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump's campaign as part of the justification" to monitor Carter Page, who was then a defense adviser to the Trump campaign. "The dossier has also been cited by FBI Director James Comey in some of his briefings to members of Congress in recent weeks."
"The Air Force is set to deploy its high-tech, fifth-generation F-35A fighter jets to Europe this weekend as part of an effort to assure U.S. allies there who are worried about Russian aggression." The new, state-of-the-art fighters will train with European air units. "The Pentagon noted that the deployment had been long planned, meaning it was not a reaction to recent increasing tensions between the United States and Russia," although a statement noted the move is part of the "European Reassurance Initiative," which began three years ago when Russia annexed Crimea.