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

GOP Congressional Candidate: Medicaid Expansion Is ‘Working’

A Republican running for Congress has actually admitted that there are benefits to Obamacare.

David Young, who’s running in Iowa’s 3rd district against Democrat Staci Appel, said he supported Iowa’s Medicaid expansion in a debate last week.

“It seems to be working in Iowa,” he said.

He also indicated that he wanted states to “have some kind of flexibility” when it comes to Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act gives states the option to expand Medicaid coverage to Americans making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Though Iowa’s plan is a more “conservative version” of the federal plan, it still gave access to Medicaid to as many as 150,000 people who otherwise wouldn’t have qualified.

Though Young said he doesn’t want to repeal Obamacare, he still thinks that “it is a bad law.”

“I thought it was a bad process and very partisan. I wish this was a bill/law that both sides could have come together and Senate voted on and the House as well,” he said. “But it didn’t. We are stuck with it.”

He also criticized the ACA for causing insurance premiums to increase.

Young’s concession that the law works in Iowa is particularly significant, not just because he is a rare Republican acknowledging that it actually benefits Americans, but because Young used to be Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)’s chief of staff.

Though Grassley once supported the individual mandate in the health care law, arguing that it represented “individual responsibility and even Republicans believe in individual responsibility,” he changed his mind after the ACA passed, saying that requiring everyone to get health care was a constitutional violation.

Since then, he has tried to undermine Obamacare at every turn. Grassley proposed an amendment during the negotiations that would have required all members of Congress to enroll in the Affordable Care Act. The amendment was supposed to “embarrass” the Democrats, but it ended up making health care very complicated for members of Congress, causing a debate over whether they should still get to keep their employer subsidies.

As Grassley’s chief of staff, Young was most likely very involved with his policy decisions and arguments against the law.

Young has also recently come under fire for fundraising he did during Grassley’s 2010 re-election campaign while he was still the senator’s chief of staff. For the money he raised to be legal, Young would have had to do all of it on nights and weekends when he wasn’t working on Capitol Hill.

Grassley just officially endorsed Young, releasing an ad with Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA). In the ad, Latham promises voters that Young “will fight for lower taxes, less spending, and he’ll work to cut the debt.”

A recent Loras College poll has Appel ahead of Young by 6 points (40 percent to 34 percent).

AFP Photo/Karen Bleier

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Short On Supporters, Fracking Group Turns To The Homeless

The North Carolina Energy Coalition couldn’t find enough people who actually supported fracking to show up at a state hearing last week on the topic, so — in a move reminiscent of then-Senator Scott Brown’s 2012 re-election campaign — they may have bused in homeless people instead.

The men, who reportedly has no idea what fracking is, were bused 200 miles to Cullowhee and given turquoise shirts and hats with sayings such as “Shale Yes,” “Energy Creates Jobs,” and “NCEnergyCoalition.com,” according to the Citizen-Times.

“They were clueless,” Bettie “Betsy” Ashby, a member of the Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking, told the Citizen-Times. “At least two of them I met definitely came from a homeless shelter. One of them even apologized to me and said, ‘I didn’t know they were trying to do this to me.’ One said, ‘I did it for the …’ and then he rubbed his fingers together like ‘for the money.’”

The North Carolina Energy Coalition’s website states that its mission “is to provide the public with factual information and offer an in-depth look into oil and gas industry in North Carolina.” It’s not supposed to “advocate on issues but instead, provide the facts to let the public, business community, and elected officials decide for themselves.”

But it also notes that it’s sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, a group that definitely advocates for the oil and gas industries.

North Carolina has a complicated history when it comes to fracking. It was first legalized in the state in 2012 when a state representative accidentally pressed the wrong button while casting the deciding vote. North Carolina law doesn’t allow representatives to change their votes if they’ll have an outcome on the verdict.

However, a ban on fracking permits was put into place until regulations were written to protect the environment. The Mining and Energy Commission worked on writing these regulations. But Greenpeace uncovered controversial emails between the commission and fracking companies, such as America’s Gas Alliance and Halliburton. For example, the commission had originally proposed requiring fracking companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking fluid. But Halliburton convinced them not to.

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (R) has also faced criticism for his close ties to Duke Energy, where he worked for 30 years. The Associated Press found that his administration had blocked three lawsuits against Duke Energy and instead intervened, only making the company pay “modest fines” for its toxic waste ponds instead of requiring it to clean them up.

The state director of Environmental North Carolina, Elizabeth Ouzts, said that the regulations the Mining and Energy Commission has proposed so far are “inadequate,” as they don’t address air pollution and allow wastewater to be stored in pits, which could lead to leaks.

The Mining and Energy Commission is supposed to finish writing its regulations by January, and is holding public hearings (including the one last week) to discuss the rules. McCrory already signed a law in June lifting the state’s ban on fracking. Permits will be issued as soon as next spring.

Below is a video of Ms. Ashby talking to the men wearing pro-fracking shirts, taken by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Photo: danielfoster437 via Flickr

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Report: Climate Change Action Is Good For The Economy

Another study has found that mitigating climate change not only helps the environment, but is actually beneficial for the economy.

The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate put together a report to “examine whether it is possible to achieve lasting economic growth while also tackling the risks of climate change.”

Opponents of climate change action tend to argue that it’s too costly. But the report found that, if governments are motivated to support smart urban growth, they can reduce carbon emissions without negatively impacting the economy.

“Countries at all levels of income now have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth at the same time as reducing the immense risks of climate change,” the report states.

Over the next 15 years, the economy will more than double and at least one billion people will move to cities. The world will spend around $90 trillion on infrastructure.

At the same time, if no climate action is taken, warming will continue to increase. The report warns that the longer the world waits to do something about it, the harder it will be to transition to a low-carbon economy.

The report suggests that governments should use the money they were already going to spend on sustaining urban sprawl over the next 15 years on implementing a low-carbon system instead.

“This would mean building more compact, connected, coordinated cities rather than continuing with unmanaged sprawl; restoring degraded land and making agriculture more productive rather than continuing deforestation; scaling up renewable energy sources rather than continued dependence on fossil fuels,” the report states.

In order to make this transition, cities would need to end fossil fuel subsidies (which the energy industry won’t be pleased with), invest in research and development of low-carbon technologies, and have “strong political leadership and the active participation of civil society.”

The report states that by “combining renewable energy with reduced fossil fuel investment, more compact cities, and more efficiently managed energy demand,” infrastructure costs will only increase by $270 billion per year. But these have the potential to be offset by lower operating costs.

The report concludes with a 10-point action plan. The plan includes a call for a “strong” climate agreement and for lawmakers to think about climate when they make economic decisions. It also stresses sound environmental policy, such as halting the deforestation of national forests, restoring degraded forests, and moving away from coal.

“Implementation of the policies and investments proposed in this report could deliver at least half of the reductions in emissions needed by 2030 to lower the risk of dangerous climate change,” the report states.” All the measures would deliver multiple economic and social benefits, even before considering their benefit to climate.”

This report comes the week before the United Nations’ Climate Summit, where countries will discuss national commitments towards combating climate change and a possible international agreement in 2015. It’s been five years since the summit in Copenhagen, which “ended up simmering into mediocrity,” according to Think Progress‘ Ari Phillips.

AFP Photo

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Arizona Republican Resigns After Proposing Sterilization Of Poor Women

Former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce resigned from his position as the Arizona Republican Party’s vice chairman on Sunday, after suggesting that Arizona sterilize all women on Medicaid.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid,” Pearce said on his radio show last week, “the first thing I’d do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Right, because people on Medicaid couldn’t possibly have jobs. And apparently not everyone in the United States has the right to have children.

He later contradicted himself, arguing that the government shouldn’t be involved in people’s lives at all.

“I know there’s people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too,” he said. “But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community.”

Though Pearce claims to oppose dependence on the government, he’s didn’t mention the fact that the government pays his own paycheck. He recently accepted a job working for Maricopa County Treasurer Charles Hoskins for $85,000 per year. His job involves promoting the Elderly Assistance Fund, which helps out low-income seniors.

“That is, he’s helping to do exactly what he preaches against on his radio show,” Phoenix New Times’ Stephen Lemons wrote.

Lemons also points out that Pearce is very “influential” in the Arizona GOP, and that many Republican candidates seek out his endorsement.

The Arizona Democratic Party quickly took advantage of Pearce’s influence on other state Republicans to conflate his sterilization comments with the GOP’s values.

“For the first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party to advocate for forced sterilization is unacceptable,” executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party D.J. Quinlan said. “The silence of Republican leaders like Doug Ducey, Andy Tobin, and Robert Graham is even worse. It indicates that they have made a cynical calculation that Russell Pearce and his brand of politics appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base.”

The Republican nominees for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other candidates rushed to denounce Pearce’s comments.

On Sunday night Pearce resigned, claiming that his comments were “written by someone else and [he] failed to attribute them to the author.”

“I do not want the progressive left and the media to try and take a misstatement from my show and use it to attack our candidates. I care about the Republican Party and its conservative platform too much to let them do that,” he said in a statement. “I have no intention of being used as a distraction by the Democrats looking to escape responsibility for their failed policies.”

Pearce’s resignation did not stop the attacks, though. On Monday, Arizona state representative Adam Kwasman (who memorably thought a bus full of kids on their way to camp was transporting migrant children with “fear on their faces”), wrote in the Arizona Capital Times that Pearce’s comments are not only “unacceptable and wholly inappropriate,” but “were profoundly progressive and, in my opinion, betrayed a problematic misunderstanding of the proper moral justification of government.” Kwasman similarly described the eugenics programs of the 1920s as “progressive.”

Pearce had endorsed Kwasman’s failed campaign for Congress.

ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert notes that Pearce’s “ideas are far from being on the fringe. They in fact help inform our policies.”

She goes on to cite the Nixon administration, which “pushed through funding” for sterilization of low-income women and California’s previous practice of sterilizing women in their prison system.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Poll Roundup: Hagan Pulls Ahead In North Carolina

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of Sept. 7:

North Carolina

Democratic senator Kay Hagan’s “war on women” strategy might be “beginning to pay off,” according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released on Thursday. The poll shows Hagan leading Republican challenger Thom Tillis by 6 points (45 percent to 39 percent). Another 6 percent support another candidate, and 9 percent are still undecided. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. A month ago, Rasmussen found Tillis leading Hagan by 5 percent.

Hagan only leads by 45 to 43 percent among voters who are sure that they’ll vote in November.

Hagan leads among women by 21 points, which Rasmussen attributes to her “hammering Tillis for state budget cutbacks in the women’s health area and his opposition to the contraceptive mandate in the health care law.”

But she’s hurt by her support for Obamacare, as 53 percent of North Carolinians view it unfavorably.

A Survey USA/Civitas poll was also released this week, and showed Hagan with 46 percent of the vote and Tillis with 43 percent. The candidates were within the poll’s +/- 4.5 percent margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Hagan ahead by 1.8 percent.

Iowa

The Iowa Senate race is tied, according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll released on Friday. Democrat Bruce Braley has 49 percent of the vote, while Republican Joni Ernst has 48 percent. The candidates are well within the poll’s margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

But 20 percent of voters said that they could still change their minds before November, and some voters are still unfamiliar with the candidates: 6 percent don’t know who Ernst is, while 9 percent don’t recognize Braley.

The poll has received a lot of national attention, as Iowa is one of the seats that Republicans have a good chance of winning on their road towards a Senate majority. Ernst has also frequently been in the news for her very extreme comments, but Braley has been unable to use this extremism to gain much in the polls.

Both candidates have spent a large amount of money on their campaigns ($6 million total as of July), not including the millions flowing from outside Democratic and Republican groups.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Braley ahead by 1.1 points.

Colorado

Democratic senator Mark Udall leads Republican challenger Cory Gardner by 4 points (46 percent to 42 percent), according to a Denver Post/Survey USA poll released on Thursday. The poll shows that 7 percent are still undecided, 3 percent support unaffiliated candidate Steve Shogan, and 2 percent support Libertarian Gaylon Kent.

The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, meaning that the candidates are actually almost tied. The elections “could go either way,” according to Survey USA.

“It is a very tough year to be a Democrat,” political analyst Eric Sondermann said. “[Udall] would much rather be four points up than four points down. But he’s still in a difficult race and a difficult climate.”

Udall has a 13-point lead among women and has “hammered Gardner” on his past support for abortion and birth control restrictions. But Udall is currently under fire for referencing murdered American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as a part of his argument during a debate against Gardner last week.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Udall ahead by 3.7 points.

Wisconsin

The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov battleground tracker’s survey of likely voters finds Republican governor Scott Walker ahead of Democratic challenger Mary Burke, 47 percent to 43 percent. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error, meaning that the candidates are essentially tied. Meanwhile, 5 percent of voters aren’t sure, 2 percent lean Democratic, and 2 percent lean Republican.

Men, Independents, and voters older than 45 support Walker, while women and voters under 45 support Burke.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Burke ahead by 0.3 points.

Kansas

A Survey USA poll released Monday shows Republican governor Sam Brownback trailing Democrat Paul Davis by 7 percent. Davis has 47 percent of the vote, Brownback has 40 percent, and 7 percent are still undecided. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent.

Brownback hasn’t retained the support of his Republican base, as only 66 percent support him. Davis has 88 percent of the Democratic vote.

“The Brownback experiment is an unmitigated failure,” Davis campaign spokesman Chris Pumpelly told KSN. “His record? Devastating cuts to schools, a stagnant economy, three credit downgrades, and a looming billion-dollar deficit.”

The New York Times/CBS News/YouGov battleground tracker has Brownback ahead 43 to 39 percent, with a +/- 5 percent margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Davis ahead by 3.7 points.

Photo: Third Way via Flickr

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Poll: Kentucky Senate Race Is ‘Down To The Wire’

The race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes “could hardly be closer and will go down to the wire,” according to a poll of Kentucky’s likely electorate conducted by The Mellman Group for the Grimes campaign.

The poll finds Grimes leading McConnell by 1 point: 43 percent support Grimes, 42 percent support McConnell, and 15 percent are still undecided. The candidates are within the poll’s +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.

“The big point here really is that this is essentially a tied race,” pollster Mark Mellman said in a Grimes campaign press call.

Among respondents who “strongly” back their preferred candidate, 35 percent support Grimes strongly, while 30 percent support McConnell strongly. And among respondents who recognize both of the candidates’ names, Grimes has a 9-point lead (50 percent support Grimes, 41 percent support McConnell, and 9 percent are undecided).

Though McConnell is still far better known than Grimes, as he’s been a Kentucky senator since 1984, Grimes has a much “stronger image with voters.” The candidates have similar favorability ratings (McConnell’s is 42 percent while Grimes’ is 41 percent), but McConnell’s unfavorability rating is 11 points higher than Grimes’ (47 percent to 36 percent).

Grimes has a very strong advantage when it comes to job performance. McConnell has a 29-point net-unfavorable rating for his job performance as the Senate Minority Leader (32 percent view him favorably, 61 percent negatively), while Grimes only has a net-unfavorable rating of 1 point for her job performance as Kentucky’s secretary of tate (38 percent positive, 39 percent negative).

Respondents associated Grimes with the phrases “will work to create good jobs” and “will protect Social Security and Medicare.” They associated McConnell with “opposes raising the minimum wage,” “has been in office too long,” and “supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

“Alison’s strength is based on a real image advantage,” Mellman said.

The poll noted the “millions of dollars of ads” coming from the McConnell campaign against Grimes. But the Grimes campaign has been doing plenty of its own mudslinging, releasing ads criticizing McConnell for voting against a minimum-wage increase and for voting for corporate tax breaks, among other attacks. VoteVets also recently hit McConnell with a tough ad calling out the senator for blocking legislation that would expand benefits for veterans.

“[There’s a lot more ads from the other side than from our side,” Mellman said. “All of that has some effect on the public perception … I wouldn’t say that any ad is one ad that is making a difference.”

The poll did not include Libertarian candidate David Patterson, who Mellman says could “siphon” a few points away from either major candidate.

Mellman argued that his poll is more accurate than public polls, because it surveyed the “likely electorate” and didn’t just randomly call likely voters. This sample was determined by “analyzing the vote history” of each voter to see how it will affect their vote in November.

Other recent polls have found McConnell pulling ahead of Grimes. The Real Clear Politics poll average now shows McConnell ahead by 5.2 percent.

“We’ve been right when these public polls have been wrong,” Mellman countered, referencing two times — New York City’s 2013 election for comptroller, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) 2010 re-election — that he accurately predicted elections when other polls didn’t. “I feel very, very confident in our methods and I feel, frankly, more confident in our methods than the public polls that have been done.”

Photo: Patrick Delahanty via WikiCommons

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Democrats Have A Barack Obama Problem In The Midterms

The newest Washington Post/ABC News poll is out, and President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are terrible. But it’s not just Republicans who disapprove of the president. Some Democrats aren’t so thrilled with the way Obama’s been running the country, either.

Only 42 percent of Americans surveyed approve of the job Obama’s done as president, while 51 percent disapprove; 90 percent of Republicans disapprove, along with 54 percent of Independents, and 20 percent of Democrats.

In the June edition of the survey, 46 percent approved of the way Obama was handling his presidency, while 51 percent disapproved. Independents actually felt more negatively towards Obama than they do today, with 60 percent saying that they disapproved. Republicans and Democrats were slightly more favorable towards the president, as only 85 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats said they disapproved.

September’s poll asked respondents if they approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling four key issues. The president scored poorly across the board: 54 percent disapprove of the way he’s handling the economy, 56 percent disapprove of the way he’s dealt with international affairs, 56 percent think he hasn’t done a good job implementing Obamacare, and 59 percent disapprove of the way Obama’s handled immigration issues.

In fact, Americans are the most displeased with immigration policy, with only 31 percent approving of the president in that aspect. These numbers will probably continue to decrease, as Obama just announced that he doesn’t plan on taking any action on immigration until after the election.

A majority of respondents (65 percent) also think that the country is going off on the wrong track. Among Democrats, 42 percent “feel things have gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track.”

The public views Congress even more negatively; just 15 percent of respondents think that it is doing an adequate job. Democrats in Congress have a 33 percent approval rating, while Republicans in Congress have a 21 percent approval rating. But, as usual, people tend to support their local representatives far more than Congress as a whole (respondents gave their representatives a 45 percent approval rating).

Democratic candidates have had to deal with the nation’s negative sentiment towards Obama for a long time now. But if Democratic voters continue to view the president and the direction that the country is going in negatively, it will be difficult for Democratic candidates to keep their base invested in the midterms and turn them out to vote in November.

Arguably the most newsworthy aspect of the poll was the question that asked respondents whether they support U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State. An overwhelming 71 percent responded that they support strikes against insurgents in Iraq, and 65 percent said they support expanding strikes in Syria. This is miles away from the anti-Iraq War surge that elected Obama in 2008, likely because of public anger over the beheading of two U.S. journalists by the Islamic State.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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DNC Commemorates The First Anniversary Of The ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal

Did you forget about “Bridgegate?” The Democratic National Committee (DNC) certainly hasn’t. It’s been exactly one year since the Bridgegate scandal launched, and Democrats are celebrating the occasion by holding a press conference and bombarding people who live near the George Washington Bridge with anti-Chris Christie ads.

On September 9, 2013, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge, causing a large traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Governor Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) administration is currently under investigation, as members of his staff may have ordered the lanes closed in retaliation against Democratic Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election campaign.

DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) went straight to Fort Lee on Monday, to deliver a “Bridgegate Anniversary Press Conference.”

“One year ago, Chris Christie was running for re-election on his so-called ‘New Jersey Comeback’ and on promises that he was a consensus builder — someone who worked across the aisle, who championed compromise and who could get things done,” she said. “One year later, we know that those promises were false. They were a sham. What has Chris Christie delivered instead? Gridlock.”

She went on to draw a connection between Bridgegate and the way Christie runs his entire government. Christie has denied that he knew anything about the lane closures.

“What Bridgegate did was raise the curtain on his culture of intimidation, bullying, and the incompetence that pervades the Christie administration,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz also noted that Christie cut funding for the New Jersey pension fund, vetoed a minimum-wage increase, and gave taxpayer dollars “to big corporations for jobs that haven’t materialized.”

On Monday, people living in or driving through Fort Lee or uptown Manhattan will see ads on their cellphones, courtesy of the DNC, that read “Gov. Chris Bridgegate Christie.” People in the area listening to Pandora will be treated to an ad that states, “Gridlock. That’s what happened one year ago in Fort Lee, when the Christie administration shut down lanes to the George Washington Bridge. But it’s also what Chris Christie has brought to New Jersey — wrecking our economy and losing our trust.”

DNC press secretary Michael Czin told MSNBC that thousands of people would see or hear the ads on Monday.

“We want to remind folks that there are still a lot of unanswered questions, including why the lanes were shut down in the first place,” he said. “What we do know is the lanes were shut, and Christie created a culture where something like this happened.”

Before the scandal occurred, Christie was a serious presidential contender for 2016. But he still seems to think he has a shot. He recently went to Mexico to meet with business leaders, a trip that has fueled speculation that he’s still seriously considering running.

Photo: Peter Stevens via Flickr

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Poll Roundup: Colorado Senate Race Is A ‘Nail Biter’ Leading Up To First Debate

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of August 31:

Colorado

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey, released on Friday, describes the Colorado Senate race as “nail-biter.” Democratic incumbent Mark Udall leads by 2 points, with 44 percent of the vote. Republican challenger Cory Gardner has 42 percent. The candidates are well within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Gardner is attempting to win the support of women by supporting over-the-counter birth control, even though in the past he’s backed fetal personhood bills that would have restricted some types of birth control. Udall has used this and Gardner’s support for other abortion restrictions against him in the past.

The two candidates have their first debate this Saturday. Political analyst Eric Sondermann told KDVR.com that Gardner needs to “come across as credible and reasonable. In tone as well as substance, he needs to put to rest the notion that his views are scary or somehow outside the Colorado mainstream.”

But Udall, like many other Democratic candidates, has to fight against President Obama’s low approval numbers. “This debate offers an opportunity for him to do the hard work of putting some distance between himself and the Obama-led Democratic establishment in Washington,” Sondermann said.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Udall ahead by 1.3 percent.

Kentucky

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be holding on to his lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. A CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday finds that 50 percent of likely voters plan on voting for McConnell, while 46 percent support Grimes, 2 percent support neither, 1 percent would vote for another candidate, and 1 percent have no opinion. When asked if there was a chance they would change their vote, 77 percent said they had “made up” their mind, while 19 percent said there was chance they could change, and 4 percent had no opinion.

Among registered voters, the race is a little closer — 47 percent said they would vote for McConnell, 46 percent for Grimes, 5 percent for neither, 1 percent for another candidate, and 2 percent have no opinion. When asked how confident they were in their decision, 68 percent said their mind was “made up,” 24 percent said there was a chance that they could change their mind, and 8 percent had no opinion.

The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error. It shows McConnell leading among men and white voters, while Grimes has the support of women, including white women.

In a Rasmussen Reports survey, also released on Wednesday, McConnell leads Grimes by 5 percent. Among likely voters, 46 percent support McConnell, 41 percent support Grimes, 7 percent like another candidate, and 6 percent are undecided. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has McConnell ahead by 3.2 points.

Florida

A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll released on Tuesday shows Republican governor Rick Scott ahead of Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by 5 percent, and “finds Florida voters mostly optimistic about the state’s economic direction but decidedly sour on their gubernatorial choices.”

Among voters surveyed, 40.9 percent would vote for Scott, 35.7 percent for Crist, and 6.3 percent for Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. When Wyllie was taken off the ballot, 43.7 percent supported Scott and 37.6 supported Crist.

Voters don’t think that either Crist or Scott is honest and ethical.

“This is not a case in which we’ve got two gubernatorial candidates who are captivating voters by their integrity and their leadership,” David Colburn, interim director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, said. “The voters are troubled by these candidates, and it seems to be anything can happen over the last two months.”

But 48.7 percent of voters think that Florida’s economy is recovering, and 25.2 percent said that it will recover soon. Most voters, 7 in 10, said that the governor “can do a lot” about the economy.

“If I were Rick Scott, I’d be playing up the economy as he has been. I would take this poll result and I would run with it,” Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center said.

The poll’s authors also said that Crist should “try and debunk Scott’s efforts to take credit for Florida’s improving economy.”

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Scott ahead by 1.7 points.

Wisconsin

A We Ask America poll released on Thursday shows Democrat Mary Burke ahead of Republican governor Scott Walker by 4 percent. Among likely voters, 48 percent support Burke, 44 percent would vote for Walker, 2 percent would vote for a third party, and 6 percent were undecided. The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

The poll authors point out that “Burke doesn’t provide the same type of easy contrast that Walker was able to use in the past against his opponents.” Walker has to deal with the consequences of his actions as governor — including his job-creation promises, on which he “fell short.”

Burke has to overcome her business career at TREK bicycle, where some have called her an outsourcer for sending jobs to China. President Obama also has a negative approval rating in Wisconsin, which could hurt Burke’s chances.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Burke ahead by 1 point.

Georgia

A WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll released on Tuesday shows Democrat Michelle Nunn only slightly ahead of Republican David Perdue in the Georgia Senate race. Nunn has 44.74 percent of the vote, while Perdue has 43.09 percent of the vote. The candidates are within the poll’s +/- 2.47 percent margin of error.

GaPundit.com editor Todd Ruhm told WRBL that this election will be heavily affected by gender.

“Michelle Nunn does poll better among women,” he said. “Her campaign is designed to do better among women. She was chosen and promoted partly to do better among women.”

Rehn thinks that Nunn will benefit from the fact that more women turn out to vote than men.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Perdue ahead by 1.7 points.

Screenshot: Cory Gardner for Senate/YouTube

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Five Republicans Who Actually Protected The Environment

AFP Photo/Mladen Antonov

AFP Photo/Mladen Antonov

Today, environmental protection is an almost entirely partisan issue. Republicans aren’t only reluctant to enact any environmental legislation — they’ve even attempted to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) altogether. That’s why Republican Kansas governor Sam Brownback’s recent accusations that his Democratic challenger Paul Davis doesn’t care enough about conservation sounded so odd. Today’s Republicans usually haven’t been on the right side of the environmental debate.

But it wasn’t always this way. Here are five Republicans who actively worked to save the environment.

President Abraham Lincoln

Photo via WikiCommons

Photo via WikiCommons

Through the Yosemite Grant Act, Lincoln is credited “with laying the groundwork for what we know now as the national park system.” Though he didn’t create the first national park, Lincoln was the first president to set land aside for protection and public use.

“This was the seed,” former Yosemite superintendent Mike Tollefson told USA Today. “This was the idea, that an area should be protected for all people for all times.”

Around 4 million visitors now visit the park every year to see its giant sequoia trees and mountains. In fact, Teddy Roosevelt was so inspired when he visited that he later expanded the grant and made it a national park.

President Theodore Roosevelt

Photo via WikiCommons

Photo via WikiCommons

President Roosevelt, who famously loved the outdoors, created the U.S. Forest Service after worrying that big-game hunters were damaging the environment and the wildlife. He also created 51 federal bird reservations, 4 national game preserves, 150 national forests, and 5 national parks during his presidency.

Roosevelt also supported the passing of the American Antiquities Act, which allows federal agencies and the president to preserve “historic” sites and landmarks. Roosevelt announced 18 national monuments through this act, which House Republicans tried to abolish this year in an attempt to limit President Obama’s power to designate national monuments.

Roosevelt ended up protecting approximately 230,000,000 acres of public land during his presidency, according to the National Park Service.

“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred,” he said.

President Dwight Eisenhower

Photo via WikiCommons

Photo via WikiCommons

In 1960, Eisenhower established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is currently “one of the most intact and untouched ecosystems in America.” Today, the 19 million acre area hosts 42 different mammal species, 36 species of fish, and more than 160 species of birds. It’s a mix of tundra, wetlands, mountains, lagoons, and coastal marshes.

The refuge is an oasis in Alaska free from drilling and development. Yet today’s Republicans have tried multiple times to allow drilling in the area, arguing that it would solve the nation’s energy problems, without feigning any concern for the effect that drilling could have on wildlife.

New York City Mayor John Lindsay

Photo via WikiCommons

Photo via WikiCommons

Mayor Lindsay was well ahead of his time when it came to making cities more sustainable. In 1966, his administration banned cars from Central Park Drive on weekends, inspiring other parks to follow suit. He also added some of the first bus and bike lanes in the country, promoting a more environmental lifestyle.

He even celebrated Earth Day by banning cars from Fifth Avenue on Sundays in 1970. Lindsay also proposed closing a stretch of Madison Avenue from 34th to 57th streets and designating the space entirely to pedestrians, though that plan never came to fruition.

His daughters remembered his love of nature at a recent dedication ceremony for the former mayor.

“We remember as young children, living in Gracie Mansion, that the six of us would ride our bikes together through Central Park with so many other families on bikes, or just strolling, and joggers, who would call out their thanks to our dad for closing the parks to cars,” Kathy Lake and Margi Picotte said in a statement. “The park was special to all of us and dad took great pride it having made it more accessible for all to enjoy.”

President Richard Nixon

Photo via WikiCommons

Photo via WikiCommons

Though Nixon’s policy is often overshadowed by Watergate, his administration was essential in creating sound environmental policy.

In 1969, he passed the National Environmental Policy Act, which was one of the first national environmental protection laws. It created a set of national environmental goals and required federal agencies to document the environmental impact of their programs.

In 1970, he created the EPA, which gave the federal government the power to regulate the protection of the national environment. He also signed the Clean Air Act, which allowed the EPA to create regulations to reduce air pollution.

In 1972, he signed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and in 1973, he signed the Endangered Species Act. He also proposed the Safe Drinking Water Act, which ensures that the public water supply is clean and safe. It was eventually signed into law by his successor, Gerald Ford.

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Ted Cruz’s New Foreign Policy Suggestion: Bomb ISIS ‘Back To The Stone Age’

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is preparing for the 2016 presidential race by managing to move even further to the right. At a weekend summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity (the Koch brothers’ 501(c)(4) “dark money” group), Cruz introduced a new plank of his foreign policy: bombing the Islamic State “back to the Stone Age.”

“America has always been reluctant to use military force, but we have never shied away from defending the United States of America,” Cruz said on Saturday. “ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity, well I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

This is a definite shift for Cruz, who has previously said that he sees himself “somewhere in between” the hawkish wing of the GOP and libertarians like Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), against whom he’ll likely be competing if he decides to run in 2016.

Cruz isn’t the only conservative who used the summit to blast the president’s handling of ISIS. Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) criticized Obama’s lack of cohesive action in the region.

“Yesterday, the president admitted he had no strategy to deal with ISIS,” Perry said on Friday. “The deepening chaos in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine is all the clear and compelling evidence the world needs of a president one step behind, lurching from crisis to crisis.”

Paul, who needs to tread especially carefully on foreign policy questions or risk alienating his libertarian base, also didn’t miss the opportunity to criticize Obama. He suggested that “Obama’s lack of leadership showed he’d been on the job too long.”

This summit provided an opportunity for conservatives to get in the Koch brothers’ good graces ahead of 2016. Ted Cruz’s top contributors in 2012 had very close ties to the Kochs, and some attribute the government shutdown to their strong influence. Perry has also received a significant amount of campaign money from Koch Industries.

The Islamic State wasn’t the only topic conservatives discussed. Cruz spent a good deal of his speech talking about immigration, saying that it would be “utterly lawless” for President Obama to take executive action without Congress’ approval. He also invited Obama to come to the border, though it’s unclear what exactly he wants Obama to do, since Congress was unable to agree on an immigration reform bill before going on recess.

“I figured out the only way there is a chance in heaven he might come (is if) I’m inviting him to come to a golf course,” he said.

And it wouldn’t be a conservative gathering if no one mentioned repealing Obamacare.

“In the year 2017, a Republican president in the Rose Garden is going to sign a bill repealing every word of Obamacare,” Cruz promised.

But out of all of Cruz’s comments on Saturday, people are probably most offended by his jab at the Bronx.

“Now, I understand that Manhattan is very concerned with their security with the Bronx, but it’s a little bit different on 2,000 miles of the Rio Grande,” Cruz said while talking about immigration.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito chalked up these comments to Cruz’s “ignorance.”

“It really is ignorance, because if you do know the reality of what is happening in New York City, if you know the reality of what is happening in the Bronx, you know that what you’re saying is an outright lie,” she told New York’s CBS 2.

Photo: jbouie via Flickr

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Poll Roundup: Iowa Senate Race Is ‘Deadlocked’

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of August 24:

Iowa

The Iowa Senate race between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley is “deadlocked,” according to the latest USA Today/Suffolk University poll. The survey has Ernst and Braley tied at 40 percent. Independent Rick Stewart has 2 percent, and the other three candidates — Bob Quast (representing the Bob Quast for Term Limits party), Libertarian Douglas Butzier, and independent Ruth Smith — each have 1 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, 15 percent of voters are still undecided. The survey has a +/- 4.4 percent margin of error.

Braley is winning 80 percent of Democrats base, while Ernst has 77 percent of the Republican base behind her. Independents split pretty evenly between the two candidates, with 39 percent supporting Ernst and 36 percent backing Braley. Braley leads among voters passionate about jobs, health care, and education, while voters concerned about the budget and national security say that they would vote for Ernst.

“If you drive north into Iowa on I-35 coming from Missouri, you’ll see a landscape full of red counties far to the left and blue counties far to the right,” Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos said. “The poll pits Democrat Braley’s congressional district in the northeast against Ernst’s Senate district in the southwest, but the voters in between will make the difference.”

Though Ernst has made many extreme comments lately, it doesn’t seem to be hurting her campaign too much. The Real Clear Politics poll average has her ahead by 0.2 points.

Wisconsin

A new Marquette Law School poll finds that the race between Republican governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke is very close. Among registered voters, 47.5 percent would vote for Walker and 44.1 percent would vote for Burke. Another 5.5 percent say they are undecided or don’t know, and less than 1 percent would vote for someone else.

Among those who say they are definitely voting in November, however, Burke leads with 48.6 percent, while Walker has 46.5 percent, 2.5 percent are undecided, and less than 1 percent say they would vote for another candidate.

Both results are within the margin of error (+/- 3.5 percent for registered voters and +/- 4.1 percent for likely voters).

“The difference in vote between likely voters and all registered voters is a measure of the roles turnout and enthusiasm play in the election and tells us which party, at the moment, is enjoying greater intensity,” Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll, said.

In other words, Burke’s lead among people who say they will vote in November likely means that Democrats are currently more invested in the election.

The survey also found that Burke and Walker are tied at 45 percent when it comes to who voters think would create the most jobs. Women favor Burke, while men favor Walker.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has the two candidates tied.

Pennsylvania

Republican governor Tom Corbett might as well just give up hope for a second term. The latest Franklin & Marshall College poll has Corbett trailing Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by a staggering 25 points (49 percent to 24 percent). There’s still a large amount of undecided voters, however (25 percent). The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.

Only 24 percent of voters think that Corbett is doing a good job as governor, and less than half of his own party thinks that he’s done an “excellent” or “good” job. Just 26 percent of voters think that he deserves re-election. A majority of voters (61 percent) believe that the state is “off on the wrong track.”

Corbett has been heavily criticized for his drastic education cuts. He also came under fire this week for suggesting that women in particular support liquor reform because it would save them time when preparing dinner (the latest in a long string of gaffes throughout his tenure).

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Wolf ahead by 16.6 points.

Massachusetts

For the first time in The Boston Globe’s poll of the Massachusetts gubernatorial race, Republican Charlie Baker has pulled ahead of Democrat Martha Coakley. The race is essentially tied — 38 percent support Baker and 37 percent support Coakley.

Baker’s lead is within the +/- 4 percent margin of error, but The Boston Globe’s Stephanie Ebbert notes that “it shows movement” in the race. According to Ebbert, Baker was helped this week by a Republican SuperPAC that’s started airing ads touting his experience. And John Della Volpe — the chief executive of SocialSphere Inc, which conducted the poll for The Boston Globe — attributes Baker’s lead to the fact that he’s been able to distance himself from his original ambivalent reaction to the Hobby Lobby ruling, which Democrats used against him. Baker’s favorable rating has also risen to 47 percent, compared to 41 percent who saw him favorably in August.

Coakley’s favorability has dropped 2 points since the beginning of August, from 53 percent to 51 percent. Coakley still has to win her Democratic primary in September. Though she is heavily favored to do so, she’s going to need to work to gain the support of the rest of her party once she’s past the primary. The survey shows that 48 percent of supporters of her opponent, Steve Grossman, say they would go against the party and vote for Baker over if Grossman loses the primary. Just 28 percent would vote for Coakley.

The Real Clear Politics poll average still has Coakley ahead by 7.5 points.

Photo: Monica de Argentina via Flickr

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GOP Report: Republicans Have A Problem With Female Voters

Republicans can no longer deny that their party has a major problem with women. A new report, conducted by conservative groups Crossroads GPS and American Action Network, found that women are “barely receptive” to GOP policy, and view Republicans as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion,” and “stuck in the past.”

The report, titled “Republicans and Women Voters: Huge Challenges, Real Opportunities,” was presented earlier this month to senior aides in Washington and obtained by Politico. The results are based on eight focus groups across the country and a poll of 800 female voters. Politico describes it as “the most detailed illustration of the problem” so far.

“The gender gap is hardly a new phenomenon, but nevertheless, it’s important for conservatives to identify what policies best engage women, and our project found multiple opportunities,” American Action Network spokesman Dan Conston told Politico. “It’s no surprise that conservatives have more work to do with women.”

The study found that 49 percent of women see Republicans unfavorably, while only 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably. Republicans do “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, and “fail to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live” (for example, many don’t understand that not all female voters are stay-at-home moms).

It also found that Democrats have an advantage when voters are asked which party “wants to make health care affordable,” “looks out for the interests of women,” and “is tolerant of other people’s lifestyles.” Women who care about the economy, health care, education, and jobs vote “overwhelmingly” for Democrats. Politico points out that even though Republicans say that jobs and the economy are their top priorities, Democrats have a 35-point advantage with women who care about jobs.

Republicans only have a 3-point advantage over Democrats when it comes to which party has “good ideas to grow the economy and create jobs,” and is “fiscally responsible and can be trusted with tax dollars.”

The only area where Republicans did overwhelmingly better than Democrats was among married women, who prefer the GOP 48 to 38 percent.

The report suggests that the GOP develop policies that are not “driven by a desire to aid employers or ‘the rich.’” Two policies that former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pitched as ways to attract female voters — increasing access to charter schools and supporting more flexible work schedules — polled as the least popular policies. But the survey found that women think an equal pay policy would “help [them] the most.” So it’s clear that Republicans will continue to pay a political price by doing things like unanimously rejecting an equal pay bill.

The report suggests that the GOP “neutralize” the attack that Republicans don’t support fairness for women, and criticize Democrats for “growing government programs that encourage dependency rather than opportunities to get ahead.” It also tells the GOP that it needs to “deal honestly with any disagreement on abortion, then move to other issues.” Finally, it suggests that lawmakers do the “unexpected” and promote job-training programs, speak out against “gender bias in the workplace,” and actually support “expanding home health care services” through Medicare.

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will actually follow the report’s advice. Though Republicans are likely to do well in the midterm elections, their lack of female support will drastically hurt them in the 2016 elections, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

AFP Photo/Michael Mathes

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Most Americans Have Low Confidence In Police Ability To Treat Races Equally

Americans have little confidence in the police, according to a USA Today/Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday. The survey found that most people think police departments don’t do a good job “holding officers accountable for misconduct, treating racial groups equally, and using the right amount of force.” But there are large racial and political divides when it comes to assessing police officers’ job performance.

The poll was conducted two weeks after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was fatally shot six times by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

It found that 70 percent of blacks, 27 percent of whites, and 36 percent of all surveyed think that police departments across the country do a “poor” job of holding police officers accountable for their actions. When it comes to treating racial and ethnic groups equally, 70 percent of blacks, 25 percent of whites, and 33 percent in total think that police do a “poor” job. Similarly, 57 percent of blacks, 23 percent of whites, and 30 percent overall think that police departments do a “poor” job of using the proper amount of force.

Though whites view the police in a far more positive light than black respondents, only 37 percent of whites think that police departments do an “excellent” or “good” job of holding officers accountable, and 38 percent think that they do an “excellent” or “good” job of treating different races and ethnicities equally.

But the numbers are very different when it comes to assessing local police forces. Whites are almost twice as likely (72 percent of whites vs. 36 percent of blacks) to say that they have confidence in their police forces to treat whites and blacks equally. These numbers are very similar to the results from a 2009 survey asking the same question. The percentage of blacks who say they have “very little” confidence that police will treat them equally has increased from 34 percent in 2009 to 46 percent today.

There’s also a divide (74 percent of whites vs. 36 percent of blacks) when it comes to confidence that local police departments won’t use excessive force. More than half surveyed, and 60 percent of whites, say they are comfortable with police departments using military equipment and weapons, but 68 percent of blacks say that they have “not too much” or “no” confidence at all in police.

A large political gap also exists on police performance, which the pollsters say may be influenced by the “highly negative views of black Democrats.” Most Democrats (73 percent) think police departments only do a “fair” or “poor” job of holding officers accountable for misconduct, compared to 52 percent of Republicans who agree. Though black Democrats are far more likely than white Democrats to be critical of police accountability, white Democrats are more critical than Republicans overall. Young people are also overwhelmingly more critical of the police than those aged 50 and older.

The poll also found that most respondents (69 percent total, 75 percent of whites, and 64 percent of blacks) think that blacks and whites get along “very well.” But fewer blacks think so than in 2009.

AFP Photo/Michael B. Thomas

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Study: Reducing Carbon Emissions Actually Saves Money, Has Health Benefits

Opponents of carbon-reduction policies always argue that they’re too expensive. But a new study published in Nature Climate Change shows that popular proposals to cut carbon dioxide emissions not only help the environment, but can drastically lower health care costs. The savings in some scenarios are more than 10 times the cost of implementing the policies.

“If cost-benefit analyses of climate policies don’t include the significant health benefits from healthier air, they dramatically underestimate the benefits of these policies,” the study’s lead author, Tammy Thompson, told PHYS.org.

MIT researchers compared the health care and the economic costs of three different climate policies: a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy, and a cap-and-trade program. The clean-energy standard they used is similar to the carbon dioxide emissions reductions proposed in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which the agency proposed in June. The plan enforces tighter emission guidelines for power plants. As the EPA points out, “for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to $7 in health benefits.”

The MIT researchers calculated the health care savings by looking at avoided medical care and sick days. They also noted how changes in emissions levels reduce air pollution, which can cause asthma attacks and lead to heart and lung disease. In 2011, 231 U.S. counties had ozone pollution levels that were higher than the EPA’s standards. And in 2012, air pollution caused around 7 million global deaths, making it the world’s largest environmental health risk, according to the World Health Organization.

The researchers found that savings from reduced health problems due to lower pollution levels can reach 10.5 times the cost of implementing the policy. The health care savings were about the same for each of the policies, but the total savings depended on how much the policies themselves cost. The transportation policy, which would regulate the miles-per-gallon that consumers could use, was the most expensive policy; reduced health care expenditures mitigated only 26 percent of its cost. But savings from health benefits were up to 10.5 times the price of implementing a cap-and-trade program. Savings from a clean energy standard were also more than the cost of creating that program, with $247 billion saved versus its $208 billion price tag.

But health isn’t the only reason that the EPA has emphasized that the United States needs a strong emissions reduction plan. Global temperatures continue to rise, which will make extreme weather even worse. The costs of dealing with these natural disasters will also continue to rise.

Congress has not taken any action in reducing carbon emissions, which isn’t too surprising, as many politicians still don’t think Americans should be worried about global warming.

But more than half of Americans support the EPA’s carbon reduction proposal.

AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz

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Poll Roundup: Scott Brown Catches Up In New Hampshire

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of August 17:

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Senate race has gotten significantly closer, according to a new WMUR Granite State poll that has Republican Scott Brown in a “dead heat” with Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen. Brown only trails Shaheen by 2 percent, with a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

A CBS News/New York Times survey conducted last month showed Shaheen ahead by 10 points.

This drastic change could have something to do with the fact that it’s still a bit early to conduct polls in New Hampshire. The Republican primary, which Brown will most likely win, won’t be held until September 9. Only 27 percent of likely voters say they definitely know who they’re going to vote for in the general election, while 13 percent are leaning towards someone, and 60 percent are still trying to decide. But if the election were held today, 46 percent would vote for Shaheen, 44 percent for Brown, 1 percent for someone else, and 9 percent remain undecided.

Though Shaheen is popular in New Hampshire, with a 48 percent favorability rating, the pollsters think the major polling shift has to do with national conditions and President Obama’s low popularity in the state (only 37 percent of voters approve of his job performance). Meanwhile, only 36 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Brown, whose campaign has faltered throughout the summer.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Shaheen ahead of Brown by 6.6 percent.

North Carolina

Democratic senator Kay Hagan (D) is essentially tied with Republican challenger Thom Tillis, according to the latest USA Today/Suffolk University poll. The survey finds that 45 percent of voters support Hagan, 43 percent prefer Tillis, 5 percent would vote for Libertarian Sean Haugh, 5 percent are undecided, and 1 percent did not select a choice. But when the survey asked Haugh supporters to pick their second choice, most sided with Tillis.

The survey finds that voters have unfavorable views of both candidates, Congress, and the state legislature, where Tillis is the House Speaker. Hagan has a large lead among women and minorities, while Tillis leads among men and whites. Hagan supporters are primarily concerned about jobs and education, while Tillis backers care about the budget and national security.

“North Carolina is going to be a central battleground in the national parties’ efforts to control the Senate in the 114th Congress,” Andrew Taylor, a political scientist at North Carolina State University, told USA Today. “There are estimates of $35 million spent (by the campaigns and outside groups) and it’s just the middle of August.” That onslaught of overwhelmingly negative TV ads “fits with the sour mood North Carolina is in.”

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Tillis ahead by one point.

Kansas

The latest survey from Public Policy Polling, which leans Democratic, has Republican governor Sam Brownback behind Democratic challenger Paul Davis by 2 percent. It finds that 39 percent of voters support Davis, 37 percent would vote for Brownback, 9 percent would vote for Libertarian Keen Umbehr, and 15 percent are still undecided. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent, which means that the candidates are essentially tied. This poll is a lot closer than previous polls, such as a recent Rasmussen Reports survey that had Davis ahead of Brownback by 10 percent.

PPP pollsters note that Umbehr is actually helping Brownback, as 65 percent of Umbehr supporters say their second choice would be Davis. If Umbehr wasn’t in the race, voters would support Davis by a 44-39 margin.

“[Republican senator] Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback are both very unpopular,” Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said. “Those things are combining to make it a much more interesting election year than usual in Kansas.”

The Huffington Post’s model estimate has Davis ahead of Brownback by 3.8 percent.

Connecticut

Incumbent Democratic governor Dan Malloy is behind Republican challenger Thomas Foley by 7 points, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday. Foley has the support of 45 percent of voters, while 38 percent say they would vote for Malloy, 7 percent would vote for another candidate, and 10 percent are undecided. The survey has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Foley lost to Malloy in 2010 by only 6,500 votes, so November will be a rematch for the two. Foley’s been ahead of Malloy in almost every poll for the past few months, and is trying to present himself as a strong businessman who can bring “change” from Malloy, whom he blames for high taxes and poor schools.

Malloy has emphasized his swift response to the Newtown tragedy and the way he took charge during Hurricane Sandy.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Foley ahead of Malloy by 4.6 percent.

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr

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Republicans: History Classes Should Leave Out The Bad Parts

Republicans are always talking about how the government is way too involved in the American education system. So it’s completely logical that the Republican National Committee (RNC) took the time to write a resolution condemning the new Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History curriculum.

They’re concerned that the new framework, “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

For example, the RNC thinks that 17th-century colonists should be seen in a mostly positive light — and that students should not be taught about the consequences of American colonialism.

The RNC also criticized the curriculum’s framework for not including enough about the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the role that religion played in forming the United States, and important battles and military heroes.

The critics complained that they weren’t able to view sample tests, which is a standard practice, and that everything in the curriculum is required knowledge, meaning that students are not going to be tested on anything outside the framework.

The RNC asked that the College Board delay implementing the new framework for a year, and that a new framework be developed that allows students “to learn the true history of their country.”

It also requested that Congress and state legislatures investigate this curriculum, and that Congress withhold any federal funding to the College Board until the framework is revised.

The RNC isn’t the only conservative group that has a problem with the way history is being taught. American Principles in Action and Concerned Women for America wrote an open letter to the College Board, condemning the curriculum’s “consistently negative view of American history,” which highlights “oppressors and exploiters while ignoring the dreamers and innovators who built our country.”

The letter also complains that “colonists are portrayed as bigots who developed ‘a rigid racial hierarchy.’” So basically they have a problem with the fact that the curriculum will teach students that slaves and Native Americans were still oppressed after the American Revolution.

The groups are also upset with the framework’s portrayal of Manifest Destiny as something that “was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority,” and that the curriculum focuses too much on some of the negative aspects of World War II, such as the use of atomic bombs and Japanese internment camps.

The College Board is taking this criticism seriously. College Board president David Coleman released a practice AP U.S. history test to the public, and announced that he will soon issue “clarifications” about the framework.

College Board spokeswoman Carly Lindauer told Education Week that the curriculum “is built to be flexible.”

“The new course emphasizes the American founding documents and their essential role in our nation’s history, and recognized American heroism, courage, and innovation,” she said. “College Board leaders continue to meet with individuals who have concerns about the redesign to listen and receive feedback.”

This isn’t the first time that the RNC has spoken out about education. Last year, it denounced the Common Core education standards, not just because they thought it was a government overreach, but because they believed a Glenn Beck-promoted conspiracy theory claiming that Common Core would collect personal student data from lab experiments.

Photo: Pesky Library via Flickr

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