The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll is filled with signs that the government shutdown damaged the GOP’s ability to win back the Senate, while giving Democrats an outside chance at contesting the House.
— The most important poll numbers in the battle for Congress are the president’s approval rating and the generic Congressional ballot. President Obama‘s approval numbers inched up to 47%, Democrats now hold an eight-point lead (largest since Oct. 2009) on their version of the generic ballot, and Obamacare approval got a bounce despite its implementation problems. Voters blame Republicans for the shutdown over Obama by a whopping 22-point margin.
— Context is important. The Democrats’ +8 edge, if it holds, probably wouldn’t be enough to retake the House. Dems held larger advantage in the wave years of 2008 (D+12) and 2006 (D+15), facing a more favorable landscape. In the Senate, nearly every competitive race is taking place in a world apart, in states Mitt Romney comfortably carried. Regardless, even in deep-red states, running as a member of the House won’t be easy. (We’re looking at you, Steve Daines, Bill Cassidy and Tom Cotton.)
— The biggest loss for Republicans is their opportunity cost. The GOP could have used the disastrous health care exchange launch as a lesson to convincing soft Obamacare supporters that the law wasn’t working. In the GOP-friendly Senate battlegrounds, the message would have found a receptive audience. Instead, there’s anecdotal evidence voters are now blaming the exchange problems on the shutdown itself.
If the midterms were held today, it would still be a status quo election with probable Democratic House gains and the party holding a slightly-smaller majority in the Senate. But all bets are off if there’s a debt default. That’s why Republicans are scrambling to make a deal.
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In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."