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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


New Poll: Democracy Corps Says Clinton Boasts ‘Commanding’ 12-Point Lead

In a final survey before Election Day, Democracy Corps finds Hillary Clinton with a “commanding 12-point lead” over Donald Trump. The national poll of 900 likely voters by the Greenberg, Quinlan & Rosner firm shows Clinton moving up to 50 percent of the vote, well ahead of Trump’s 38 percent, while Libertarian Gary Johnson gets only five percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein remains stuck at two percent.

According to Democracy Corps, a nonprofit led by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, Clinton’s dominant position is the product of both historic voting patterns and a “breathtakingly unpopular Republican Party” led by Trump, as well as rising approval numbers for President Obama.

But Greenberg also told The National Memo that Clinton’s “impressive performance” in the debates and afterward had “brought down her negatives,” reassuring voters that her presidency would be “good for middle-class families and the economy.”

Although Trump still leads among white working class males, his advantage in that group is slightly lower than the lead held by Mitt Romney in 2012. Among independents, white college-educated males, and seniors, Trump is roughly even with Clinton — while she leads by wide margins among all women, white college-educated women, millennial voters, and suburban voters, In each of those groups her margin over Trump exceeds 20 points.

Greenberg emphasized that Clinton’s “emerging landslide” could turn 2016 into a wave election that does grave damage to Republicans in down-ballot Congressional and legislative races. The Democracy Corps poll included “a simulated contest where the Republican congressional candidates argue they are needed as an independent check on Clinton” and Democrats respond with a sharp counter-attack. The simulation showed Democrats moving into a nine-point lead on Congressional ballots, the cusp of a party turnover in the House of Representatives; and in that circumstance, Democratic control of the Senate would be assured.

While it is just one poll, the Democracy Corps projection deserves particular consideration for one simple reason: Greenberg and his team at GQR got the popular vote result in 2012 exactly right, missing by only a tenth of a percentage point. Their final survey predicted that President Obama would win by 3.8 percent; the final count had him up by 3.9 percent. As former GQR staffer Erica Seifert observed in a post for National Memo in December 2012:

Our final Democracy Corps poll (completed two days before Election Day) showed the race 49 to 45 percent –an unrounded margin of 3.8 points.  With other public polls still showing the race tied or Romney ahead, our poll was an outlier.

We were so confident in our results, we put our reputations on the line in the waning days of the campaign.  We were confident we had it right because we believed that the national poll tracking averages were likely underrepresenting Obama’s vote.  The main issue was cell phones and the changing demographics that most other pollsters miscalculated.   Those pollsters did not reach the new America.

In this cycle, however, the Democracy Corps poll is not such a lonely outlier. Most national polls now show Clinton with a substantial lead of five points or more — and the ABC News tracking poll, which was the second most accurate in 2012, also places Clinton at 50 percent and Trump at 38 percent. In fact, the ABC News results, based on a survey of 874 likely voters, are strikingly similar to those reported by Democracy Corps.

Discussing the reasons behind the results, Greenberg said that “Trump has driven away college-educated voters so he is only even with white college-educated men” — a group that is usually very reliable for the GOP candidate. And because the Republican nominee is also “only [running] even among seniors, he has none of the conservative base that a normal Republican would have.”

Despite her “stunning numbers” among college-educated and unmarried women, Greenberg added, there is still room for Clinton to “consolidate her support among Democrats,” where is still below the level of partisan support reached by Obama in 2012. “She is around 90 percent with Democrats and getting about two-thirds of minority voters,”he said. “Each could be higher.”He believes the key to consolidating her share of Democratic voters and improving Democratic chances down-ballot is for Clinton to emphasize “an economic change message, [which was] tested in this poll.”

What had been regarded throughout this cycle as an uninspiring succession of one Democratic president by another might then be recast as a change election that at last removes the obstructionist Republican majorities on Capitol Hill.

The Great Benghazi Scandal Gets Sillier

You say potato and I say potahto,
You say tomato and I say tomahto,
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto:
Let’s call the whole thing off.

–George and Ira Gershwin

Here’s how unreal the Great Benghazi Scandal had already grown as of last year. Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler devoted an entire May 2013 column to the scholastic question of whether President Obama’s calling the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya an “act of terror” was the same as calling it an “act of terrorism,” as he’d recently claimed.

Kessler pondered the deep semantic differences between the two phrases before awarding Obama a full four “Pinocchios,” signifying a “whopper.” Seriously. That’s the big cover-up House Republicans pretend they’re outraged about.

Obama’s exact words, from the White House Rose Garden on the day after the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his security team:

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.

So who was Obama trying to deceive? People who hadn’t seen the smoking ruins on TV? And about what? Kessler doesn’t say. Only that the two phrases don’t signify precisely the same thing — a distinction without a difference in any realistic political context.

It will be recalled that GOP nominee Mitt Romney executed one of the clumsiest pratfalls in presidential debate history for mistakenly challenging Obama on this exact point. Had the president, or had he not, described the Benghazi disaster as an “act of terror?”

Obama cooly urged his rival to consult the transcript. In fact, he’d used the phrase several times. Had the Washington political press not had so much invested in a “cliffhanger” election narrative, Romney’s blunder would have been compared to President Gerald Ford’s denying Soviet influence in Poland during a 1976 debate with Jimmy Carter.

But then this is the great mystery confronting non-initiates in the great GOP Benghazi cult. What on earth are these people going on about? That if Obama had said “act of terrorism” instead of “act of terror,” Americans would have punished his failure to eliminate jihadists from the face of the earth by turning to Mitt “47 percent” Romney?

That everything would be different if UN Ambassador Susan Rice had cast aside White House “talking points” about inflammatory videos on the Sunday political chat shows and candidly confessed that “[w]hether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself…is one of the things we’ll have to determine?”

Because those were Rice’s exact words, block copied from the transcript of CBS’s Sept. 16, 2012 Face the Nation broadcast in response to a direct question from Bob Schieffer about al Qaeda involvement.

Everybody now pretends she named no terrorist groups, for the sake of keeping the make-believe scandal alive.

It follows that contrary to everything you hear from partisan mischief makers and their helpers among the Washington press, the Obama White House has never sought to deny the obvious: that the kinds of religious zealots who bring rocket-propelled grenade launchers to street demonstrations didn’t simply find them lying around in the bazaar.

The original CIA talking points released 11 months ago said pretty much what Ambassador Rice said: that outrage at a crude, American-made video mocking Islam sparked violent protests across much of the Middle East, and that militants took advantage of the resulting chaos for their own bloody purposes. The exact identity of those responsible isn’t yet known.

See, out there in the real world, it doesn’t always have to be either/or. Most often it’s both/and: armed terrorist groups and a provocative video. A Senate Intelligence Committee report released last January sharply criticized the State Department, but also concluded “that the attack was not a highly coordinated plot, but was opportunistic.”

David D. Kirkpatrick’s masterful reporting in The New York Times established that the anti-western Libyan militia Ansar Al-Sharia had long had the consulate under surveillance, although “[a]nger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters….A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him.”

However, a 2012 White House email has recently emerged, re-stating CIA talking points in somewhat different language. So big deal.

They’ll be singing all summer: Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto.

Well, you know the rest.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

John McCain: Popularity Poll Truther?

Public Policy Polling may say that John McCain is the least popular senator in America, but the Arizona Republican isn’t buying it.

Last week, PPP released a poll finding that just 30 percent of Arizonans approve of the job that Senator McCain is doing, while 54 percent disapprove. That makes him the least popular member of the Senate, according to PPP.

During a Monday appearance on Fox Business’ Cavuto, McCain pushed back against the numbers.

“There is a bogus poll out there,” McCain said. “I can sense the people of my state. When I travel around, which I do constantly, they like me, and I am very grateful.”

If McCain’s confidence in his ability to “sense” his true popularity reminds you of Republicans who were certain that 2012 polls were wrong, and that Mitt Romney would cruise to victory in the presidential election, you aren’t alone. Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen responded to McCain’s attack against his poll by reminding the fifth-term senator of the dangers of poll trutherism.

“We’ve used the same methodology to measure the approval ratings of more than 85 senators in their home states, and Senator McCain has the worst approval numbers of any of them,” Jensen told Talking Points Memo. “That’s because he’s unpopular within his own party and unlike other Republican senators who have a reputation for working across party lines — the Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowskis of the world — he hasn’t earned much popularity with Democrats either.”

“I think we saw in 2012 what happens when Republicans try to just dismiss and ignore poll findings that they don’t like,” he added.

Were Jensen feeling boastful, he could also have noted that a Fordham University analysis found PPP to be the most accurate predictor of the 2012 election.

During his interview with Cavuto, McCain also took a moment to address his political future. Although he said that he is “seriously considering” running for Senate again in 2016, he reiterated that he has no interest in another presidential bid.

“I’m afraid that it is not a viable option,” he said.

McCain has shut down previous inquiries about his presidential ambitions by colorfully quoting the late Rep. Morris Udall: “The people have spoken — the bastards.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Can Any Republican Still Compete With Mitt Romney?

Again the Republicans debated, this time in Las Vegas, and again the dynamic of their presidential race remained static – a disappointing outcome for all of the candidates except Mitt Romney, who once more dominated his would-be competitors. Blitzed repeatedly on issues from health care to immigration, the former Massachusetts governor not only held his own but asserted his domination, pushing back only as hard as he heeded to, and leaving the rest of the field to bicker, snicker and posture impotently.

Continuing his stiff march toward the nomination, Romney demonstrated why he is the most formidable figure amid a decidedly unimpressive group, a candidate with confidence and intellect that complement his personal wealth, fundraising prowess, and organizational skill. He is a supple debater.

Politely but capably he put down Herman Cain, yet another version of non-Romney, for scheming to raise the taxes of middle-class Americans with that grossly regressive “9-9-9” tax plan. (With luck we’ve heard the last of this scheme, which is just as indigestible as Cain’s cardboard pizza.) Forcefully but calmly, he cut through Rick Perry’s furious assaults on him for hiring illegal immigrants, with the Texas governor still sporting a phony grin even as his severed head hit the ground. Wisely and slyly, he changed the subject when the questioning turned to “Occupy Wall Street” — and the responsibility of investment banks for the national economic disaster. Mr. Bain Capital knows what he doesn’t want to talk about, too.

The shrewd, persistent, dogged Romney slapped down every missile aimed at him, insisting on his time and overpowering even the belligerent Perry, who displayed considerably more animation than in his last lifeless performance. Saying that Romney had “lost all standing” for lying to the American people, the Texan sneered: “You hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year,” accusing Romney of scaling “the height of hypocrisy.” But like the exhausted scuffling over health care reform in Massachusetts, this charge too was recycled from four years ago, when the Boston Globe uncovered two alleged instances of undocumented laborers employed at Romney’s home. He replied now as he did then that he hadn’t known about their status, and nobody – or at least not Perry – is prepared to prove that he did.

It is hardly worth discussing any other candidates – the peevish Santorum, who polished his political credentials by disremembering his catastrophic defeat in 2006; the preening Gingrich, who was exposed in dissembling about his own previous position on health care; the excitable Bachmann, whose costume and demeanor were so reminiscent of Evita; and the avuncular Paul, whose radical views on foreign policy and defense are still far outside his party’s mainstream.

Cain seemed to be having a moment in the polls, but that is likely to deflate as his 9-9-9 plan’s flaws become obvious even to the most gullible segment of voters. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, it would raise taxes for 84 percent of taxpayers, with the worst impact felt by poor families earning under $30,000 annually, while reducing taxes on the wealthiest elite. If that doesn’t sweep Cain off the stage, he will surely be diminished by his remark suggesting that he would trade all the Guantanamo prisoners to Al Qaeda for a single US soldier – a gaffe he first tried to amend and later withdrew, saying he had “misspoken” or perhaps “misunderstood the question.”

Only Romney proved ready for prime time, as each of his vaunted rivals falls short. It is true that he consciously (and unconscionably) panders to the far right, as when he said that America should stop distributing humanitarian foreign aid around the world, and leave that to the Chinese. That was a stupid answer and he knows it. It is also true, however, that he can muster a certain gravity, as he did when he dismissed the bigotry of his fundamentalist critics as an insult to the founders and the Constitution. Although he is vulnerable on many levels, from his wooden insincerity to his business profile, none of the Republicans possesses the wit or the boldness to exploit his weaknesses.

“The cake is baked,” crowed Michele Bachmann, playing cheerleader to the angry audience that dreams of defeating Obama. But that cliché more aptly describes her own fate — and the state of the Republican primary — unless Romney stumbles very badly, very soon.