From Lydia Saad at Gallup:
Nearly six in 10 Americans approve of Obama's handling of terrorism; however, that is where majority approval of the president ends in the current poll. He earns his lowest issue ratings on the economic issue areas tested in the survey, with approval on the federal budget deficit the lowest at 30%, and his approval on the economy not much higher, at 36%.
Historically, presidents who won a second term had near-50% job approval ratings or better prior to the election. To move closer to that range, Obama may want to focus singularly on raising his approval rating on the economy, as with previous presidents it seems to have been the issue approval most closely linked to overall job approval.
From Robert Barnes at The Washington Post:
A Pennsylvania judge Wednesday allowed a Republican-backed law requiring voters to show IDs to go into effect starting this Election Day.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said those challenging the law had failed to prove that it violates the state constitution by denying voters’ rights. He also disputed the challengers’ predictions of the number of voters at stake and said there is still time for those without proper ID to acquire it.
Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground in this year’s presidential election, is also the front line of a bitter split between many Democrats and Republicans over voting rights. Supporters of recent laws passed by several Republican legislatures requiring voters to show IDs say the measures protect the integrity of the electoral process by making sure only qualified voters cast ballots.
The case will be immediately appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. But Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine, said that although he disagrees with Simpson’s opinion and voter ID laws in general, he found the ruling well-reasoned and nonpartisan, and he predicted that it will be difficult to overturn.
The elected state Supreme Court is operating with only six members because one justice is suspended. A tie vote would uphold Simpson’s ruling. Although their decisions do not always follow partisan lines, the remaining justices are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Prior to his selection as Mitt Romney's running mate, Ryan's name ID was in the mid-50s - the GOP convention in Tampa will likely provide a boost. From Jeffrey M. Jones At Gallup:
Frankly, I am of the view that many Americans are not fans of either major party candidate for the White House and that lack of enthusiasm is being further weighed down by a sheer lack of trust in our political leaders and the institutions they operate within. The USA Today's Susan Page has more:
Call them the unlikely voters.
A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1. Two-thirds of them say they are registered to vote. Eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives.
Even in 2008, when turnout was the highest in any presidential election since 1960, almost 80 million eligible citizens didn't vote. Curtis Gans, director of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate, predicts that number will rise significantly this year. He says turnout could ebb to levels similar to 2000, when only 54.2% of those eligible to vote cast a ballot. That was up a bit from 1996, which had the lowest turnout since 1924.
This year, perhaps 90 million Americans who could vote won't. "The long-term trend tends to be awful," Gans says. "There's a lot of lack of trust in our leaders, a lack of positive feelings about political institutions, a lack of quality education for large segments of the public, a lack of civic education, the fragmenting effects of waves of communications technology, the cynicism of the coverage of politics — I could go on with a long litany."
There's also the relentlessly negative tone of this year's campaign. The majority of TV ads don't try to persuade voters to support one candidate but rather to convince them not to back the other guy.
Tommy Thompson won a fierce Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday on the theme of electability, as voters agreed with the former governor's claim that he represented the best chance to win the seat in November and help the GOP regain control of the Senate.
Thompson, 70, defeated businessman Eric Hovde, home builder and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald in a primary that languished for months in the shadow of recall politics.
He now faces U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, in a race that likely will turn on the key issues of taxes, energy and health care.
The election presents voters with a sharp ideological choice that could help determine which party controls the Senate. But it could be overshadowed again by a suddenly more prominent Wisconsin narrative - the vice presidential bid of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.
From CNN's Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace:
Florida Rep. Connie Mack won Tuesday's Republican primary in Florida over other Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Mack's main opponents–former Rep. Dave Weldon and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister–conceded.
The winner of Tuesday's GOP contest will go on to challenge incumbent Nelson in Florida, a crucial swing state in the presidential election.
The Cook Political Report rates the seat as leaning toward the Democratic Party, while another political handicapper, the Rothenberg Political Report, describes the race as a "toss up/tilting Democrat" contest.
For nearly a year and a half, Virginia Republicans have attempted to tie President Obama around the neck of U.S. Senate hopeful Tim Kaine in hopes of dragging down the Democratic ticket in this potentially pivotal battleground state. But after Mitt Romney went to Norfolk on Saturday to announce his running mate, Democrats say they have been handed a corresponding target of opportunity in the person of Paul Ryan.
The logic of the GOP strategy of using Obama to undermine Kaine has always depended on a leap of faith for which there was little empirical evidence: Obama carried the Old Dominion by seven percentage points in 2008 and is still relatively popular there. Likewise, the Democratic Party’s emerging strategy of demonizing Rep. Ryan simply assumes that Virginia voters know who he is and are hostile to his idea of reining in federal entitlement spending.
Allen’s main strategy during this campaign has been to nationalize the race and pin his opponent, a former governor but also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, to health care reform, the stimulus package, and the president’s energy policy.
Unlike Kaine, Allen had to first beat back challengers in his party for the Senate nomination, and was cautious about fully embracing Romney and taking a position on the Ryan budget. “George Allen is understandably hesitant and wants to run on his own brand,” says Ford O’Connell, a Virginia-based Republican strategist, noting that seniors constitute 12 percent of Virginia’s population.
In a race expected to remain neck-and-neck until November, given the strong brands both Allen and Kaine have in the state, “literally both candidates are fighting over inches in the commonwealth,” says O’Connell. “In a lot of ways, the next 30 days could really define the race. And the question is whether Romney and Ryan can beat back the ‘Medi-scare’ tactics. If they can, Allen will be in great shape.”
Read more from Caitlin Huey-Burns at RealClearPolitics
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday indicates that 57% of Americans say that in past elections, presidential debates were very important to their vote for president, with 46% saying that the choice of a running a running mate was very important.
The poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, before Saturday's announcement by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was his running mate. This poll can not be seen as a reaction to the Ryan pick.
Forty-one percent said positive television commercials were very important to their vote, 31% saying that convention speeches were very important, one in four said the vice presidential debates were very important, and 13% said that negative TV ads were very important to their vote for president.
"Independents tended to ranked most of those items as less important to them than Democrats and Republicans did," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's probably because independents are not partisans and tend to tune out overtly political messages. That, in turn, may make it difficult for either candidate to reach this critical bloc of voters, even on debate nights."
From USA Today's Susan Page:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will deliver the keynote address that launches theRepublican National Convention in two weeks, telling USA TODAY he plans to make an "emphatic" argument on behalf of GOP approaches and shared sacrifice to face the nation's biggest challenges.
The choice of Christie as the keynoter, set to be announced today, puts the spotlight on a rising political star with a combative persona and sharp-edged sense of humor. His budget battles with the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and his blunt-spoken demeanor have made him a hero to conservatives and one of the party's biggest fundraisers.
"I'll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we're in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them," Christie said. He'll cite his experiences in New Jersey as evidence that "the American people are ready to confront those problems head-on and endure some sacrifice."
He also had some advice for Romney and Ryan in their convention speeches, saying they should give Americans "a window" into themselves. "The only path (to victory) is if people conclude they can really trust them, and the only people who can make that case is the candidates themselves," he said.