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Live Blog: What Are Americans Looking For?

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10:00 a.m. "What Are Americans Looking For?" is the second forum today in the Humphrey Institute's America's Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by the always colorful columnist E. J. Dionne (Washington Post, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution). The panelists are:

* Charlie Cook (Editor and Publisher of The Cook Political Report and Political Analyst for the National Journal Group)
* Andrew Kohut (President, Pew Research Center)
* Bill McInturff (Co-Founder, Public Opinion Strategies)

10:20 a.m. Charlie Cook is the first speaker and says understanding public opinion has been a detriment in understanding this presidential election during the last 1.5 years. (e.g. John McCain's campaign was nearly dead one year ago). Cook explains how this is an election that Republicans should not have a prayer to win - more than 4:1 Americans think the country is on the wrong track etc. However, McCain has a different brand than a typical Republican candidates, and that is why he is running a close race with Obama. Cook says the selection of Sarah Palin for VP is either 'brilliant' or 'insane.'

10:25 a.m. Cook says he overestimated the importance of experience in this presidential race. He says Bush's low approval ratings have devalued experience as a necessary component for a party's nominee. This is why Obama has a chance to become President, says Cook. Cook believes McCain wanted to pick Joe Lieberman as his VP -- to really stir things up -- but was told by enough Republicans that a mutiny would ensue, so he did the next best thing he could do to stir things up -- select Palin.

10:30 a.m. Kohut of the Pew Research Center asks whether young voters will indeed turn out and vote for Obama in November at the rates pollsters are projecting. Republican turn-out is also at issue due to indifference towards McCain. Kohut says independents always decide elections, and they are currently about split between both candidates. Independents want to know whether McCain will govern differently than Bush, and they are currently split about 50/50 on this issue.

10:38a.m. Other issues Kohut says are important in this election: McCain's age, Obama's inexperience, and whether race will remain a second tier issue.

10:40 a.m. McInturff address the issues Americans are concerned about in this election compared to a year ago. America's dependence on foreign oil has increased substantially, as have economic issues. McInturff believes, however, that Americans are now starting to get used to $4 a gallon gas. Independents, more than even Democrats, want the U.S. to be less involved around the world - to address the concerns in America first.

10:50 a.m. McInturff finds that in focus groups there is popularity for a more isolationist / Pat Buchanan model of foreign policy, but it receives low support as people do not find it a feasible model.

10:58 a.m. Kohut says the Republican Party has lost its advantage on the issue of terrorism, compared to 2004, but that John McCain has not - he leads Obama by double-digits when asked which presidential candidate could best handle the issue.

11:01 a.m. McInturff explains why independents have a more isolationist streak than Democrats or Republicans. Independents represent approximately 20 percent of the electorate, but do not follow elections as closely as core Democrats or core Republicans, are less education, and make less money. As a result, they do not see the wisdom or benefits of the federal government spending billions and billions of dollars on foreign interests.

11:11 a.m. The panelists are 'skeptical' that the Palin selection will recruit uncommitted 'Hillary Democrats' in a meaningful way.

Previous post: Live Blog: Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next Administration
Next post: Live Blog: Truth Telling in the Media and the Fall Elections

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Remains of the Data

Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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