Georgia Runoff Shows Just How Unusual Mississippi’s Was

The Senate runoff Tuesday in Georgia underscored just how unusual the one in Mississippi a month ago really was.

Both Republican contests featured an “insider-outsider” dynamic, with veteran incumbent Thad Cochran challenged by tea party favorite Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, and 11-term Rep. Jack Kingston facing off against first-time candidate David Perdue in Georgia. Both runoffs were close, with both Mr. Cochran and Mr. Perdue (a business executive and cousin of former Georgia GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue) prevailing by a margin of just 2 percentage points.

Yet in terms of voter turnout, the Georgia and Mississippi runoffs were dramatically different. CONT.

Rhodes Cook, Wall Street Journal

CNN Poll: Is Obamacare working?

More than half the public says Obamacare has helped either their families or others across the country, although less than one in five Americans say they have personally benefited from the health care law, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but that some of that opposition is from people who don’t think the measure goes far enough. CONT.

CNN

Obama’s numbers not great but holding steady

President Barack Obama’s poll numbers are nothing to brag about, but there’s little evidence he has suffered so far this year a “Katrina moment” that caused his predecessor’s numbers to plummet.

A new CNN/ORC International survey indicates that public opinion of the President has barely budged in the wake of new challenges that Obama has faced this year. CONT.

Paul Steinhauser, CNN

Will the president’s low approval rating cost Democrats the Senate?

One key factor in any election is the popularity, or unpopularity, of a president. An unpopular president can drag down his party and make life difficult for vulnerable incumbents in tough races.

That can be especially true in midterms when fewer voters turn out. The ones who do show up are generally the most politically active.

President Barack Obama’s approval rating sits at about 41 percent, if you take an average of the last two months of major national polls. So what might that mean for this election? CONT.

Domenico Montanaro, PBS NewsHour

Recent polls: President Obama

Why Democrats Now Have a Shot in Georgia

In 2005 and 2006, two moderate Democratic candidates, Jim Webb and Tim Kaine, won in Virginia with large margins in the Washington suburbs. Their victories demonstrated that there was a new path to victory for Democrats, one that did not depend on winning Southern conservative Democrats, the way Mark Warner did in 2001.

Georgia might well be moving down the same road as Virginia. No other plausibly competitive state — not Nevada or Virginia, not Colorado or North Carolina — has had a change in the racial composition of the electorate that’s as favorable for Democrats. CONT.

Nate Cohn, New York Times

Milking the Money Machine

It used to be that the Democratic Party, the party of the little guy, was the party of big money. Up until 2004, the party was dependent on so called soft money – contributions of as much as $10 million from corporations, unions and individuals that were beyond the reach of federal regulation.

Conversely, the Republican Party, the voice of Wall Street and corporate America, surpassed the Democrats in attracting small donations. The party pieced together direct mail lists of tens of thousands of men and women who were willing to contribute $5 to $25 a month, often motivated by the social and cultural issues of the 1960s and 70s. …

In the middle of the last decade, this pattern began to change. … In financial terms, the Republican Party and its candidates are now more in line with their ties to corporate America and the rich. CONT.

Thomas Edsall, New York Times

Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama

… Rarely has a president been confronted with so many seemingly disparate foreign policy crises all at once — in Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere — but making the current upheaval more complicated for Mr. Obama is the seemingly interlocking nature of them all. Developments in one area, like Ukraine, shape the president’s views and choices in a crisis in another area, like the Middle East. …

His approach to foreign policy has become more of a political liability, the subject of sharp criticism from Republicans and even some Democrats. In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted last month, 58 percent of Americans disapproved of his handling of world affairs, a 10 percentage point jump in a month and the highest such number during his five and a half years in office.

Yet polls find that Americans do not want Mr. Obama to get the country enmeshed more deeply in places like Ukraine and Iraq, suggesting that he is more in touch with a broader public desire for disengagement than many of his critics even though his leadership is in question. CONT.

Peter Baker, New York Times

The limits on presidential leadership

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) demonstrated that he is certainly not qualified to chair the “intelligence” committee, by mindlessly repeating that “the president of the United States is the only person” who can stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from aggression several times during a brief interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday.

Sometime, I may describe other problems with this argument, but here I will focus on just one limitation on a president’s power: public opinion. CONT.

Mark Mellman (Mellman Group), The Hill