Ballot Box

Ford dropped in polls before exit

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) led former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) 50-19 before he dropped out of the race Monday, according to a new Marist poll.

The poll shows Ford would have faced a steep climb, but it also shows Gillibrand's campaign was off to a good start in their primary.

The last Marist poll, from one month ago, showed Gillibrand with a considerably smaller lead -- 44-27 -- meaning that the offensive against Ford was paying dividends on both ends, bringing Gilliband up and bringing Ford down.

It is the first time Gillibrand has cracked 50 percent in a primary poll.

In the general election, she is also over 50 percent against Mort Zuckerman and declared GOP candidate Bruce Blakeman. She leads Zuckerman 59-26 and Blakeman 58-28 in a pair of general election matchups.


Poll: NYers want Paterson to serve out term (updated)

With pressure mounting on Gov. David Paterson (D) to resign, a poll out Tuesday shows a majority of New York voters want him to stay on.

The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion survey, which was conducted before and after the latest scandal broke, shows 66 percent of registered voters want Paterson to serve out the rest of his term, 28 percent would prefer he resigns and 6 percent are unsure. Moreover, his job approval rating hasn't changed much since the scandal broke – 23 percent said Paterson is doing either an excellent or good job in office, down one point from before he withdrew from the campaign.

This doesn't mean voters have confidence in Paterson -- 62 percent expect he won't be an effective leader during the remainder of his term.

Meanwhile, former Rep. Rick Lazio, who's expected to be the GOP gubernatorial nominee, demanded Paterson resign.

Calling the latest report on Paterson by the New York Times "very sad," Lazio said in a statement: "If these allegations are true, then Governor Paterson must resign and resign now. This is another example of just how dysfunctional Albany is and how desperately we need serious change."

Updated at 2:11 p.m.


Poll shows Deal has work to do

It looks like Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) had good reason to leave his day job.

A day after Deal announced he would be resigning from Congress to focus on running for governor, an InsiderAdvantage poll shows him in third place in the primary.

State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is at 27 percent, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is at 13 percent, and Deal is at 9 percent. Deal is expected to compete for the nomination, but so far he's not showing much movement.

Maybe shedding his title will help.


Poll: Specter takes lead over Toomey in Pa. Senate race

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has taken a seven point lead over his Republican challenger, former Rep. Pat Toomey, in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey, which polled 1,452 Pennsylvania voters, showed Specter with a 49 percent to 42 percent lead over Toomey. In the last Q-poll taken Dec. 18, Toomey and Specter were deadlocked at 44 percent.

{mosads}Specter also holds a comfortable lead over his primary challenger, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), 53 percent to 29 percent. 

"Sen. Arlen Specter seems to be having a good winter politically," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said in a release. He is back ahead of Republican Pat Toomey after having been essentially tied with him since last summer, and there remains no evidence that his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Sestak, has made much progress as we get within three months of the May primary." 

Toomey currently suffers from low name recognition, according to the poll. 65 percent of those surveyed are not familiar with Toomey and only 74 percent of voters, including 73 percent of Democrats are unfamiliar with Sestak. 

Specter switched parties last April, saying that Republicans had strayed too far to the right. Many believed that Specter made the move to help himself politically in the 2010 elections. Though the political environment has soured for some Democratic candidates, Specter has pulled ahead for the time being.

The congressman has a shorter amount of time to make up his gap in name recognition

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points and includes 649 Democrats, with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.


Romney book a 2012 trial balloon

In the first seven pages of his book “No Apologies,” Mitt Romney hits all the talking points a politician needs for a successful campaign.

He has the obligatory family hardship story (his father’s rise from poverty to head of the American Motors Corporation – and becoming governor of Michigan); religion (his grandfather was persecuted for being a Mormon); his failed presidential campaign (but he reminded readers of his Michigan primary win); his private sector experience (helping the launch of Staples) and his heading the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.

Michigan, where Romney grew up, is the early focus of the book. He mentions being governor of Massachusetts on page 11.

The criticism starts on page 25, where he argues President Barack Obama has been on an “American Apology Tour” throughout the world. “President Obama has positioned himself as a figure transcending America instead of defending America,” he notes.

Romney writes: “Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined. … There are anti-American fires burning all across the globe; President Obama’s words are like kindling to them.”

Romney’s book, which hits stores on Friday, outlines his vision of America and will be seen as a 2012 trial balloon. After all, it criticizes the current White House occupant, defends Republican ideas and touts Romney’s resume in both the private and public sector. Romney hasn’t announced he’ll make another presidential run (he hasn’t denied it either) and “No Apologies” will be seen as a preliminary step in outlining a campaign strategy.

It will also get him media coverage. Among his scheduled appearances: a Tuesday morning stop on ABC’s “The View,” David Letterman’s chair on Tuesday evening and a speech at the National Press Club on Friday.


Brown to announce for Calif. gov. Tuesday

California Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) is expected to mark the official launch of his gubernatorial campaign with a web announcement at 11 a.m. Pacific Tuesday.

The 71-year-old Brown, who served two terms as governor starting in 1975, has no public events set for his first day in the race. He's not expected to face a serious opponent in the Democratic primary.

Web announcements are becoming the norm for a candidate rollout. On Monday, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D) announced his primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) via an online video. Halter waited until Tuesday to begin a round of press interviews.


Ford: Dem leaders putting majorities at risk

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) isn't going without some parting shots.

In a New York Times op-ed explaining his decision not to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a primary, Ford says Democratic leaders just don't get it:

When it was reported two months ago that I was thinking seriously about running for the United States Senate from New York, Democratic Party insiders started their own campaign to bully me out of the race — just as they had done with Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Steve Israel and others.

But as I traveled around New York, I began to understand why the party bosses felt the need to use such heavy-handed tactics: They’re nervous. New Yorkers are clamoring for change. Our political system — so bogged down in partisan fighting — is sapping the morale of New Yorkers and preventing government at every level from fulfilling its duty.

The cruel twist, of course, is that the party bosses who tried to intimidate me so that I wouldn’t even think about running against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the seat by Gov. David A. Paterson, are the same people responsible for putting Democratic control of the Senate at risk.


Voting for health care legislation that imposes billions in new taxes on New Yorkers and restricts federal financing for abortions is not good for the people of this state. Voting against critical funds necessary to ensure the survival of the financial services industry — the economic backbone of this state — is not good for the people of New York.


Yet the party has been too slow to change. The effects of its lack of flexibility have been clear in a series of worrisome political events: Ted Kennedy’s “safe” Senate seat was lost to a Republican; Evan Bayh of Indiana and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota announced they weren’t running for re-election; Senate seats held by Democrats in Wisconsin and Delaware now seem to be in jeopardy; New York’s state government faces even more controversy and challenge.


Top of the ballot

It’s primary day in Texas, where the magic number is 50-plus-one for Gov. Rick Perry (R). That’s what he needs if he wants to save the time, trouble and money of a six-week runoff with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R). Either way, it’s hard to see Perry losing this primary, but it’s going to be interesting to see how much of a fight Hutchison puts up. After that, get ready for the continuation of the will-she-or-won’t-she soap opera about whether or not Hutchison will resign her Senate seat. She has said her pledge to resign remains intact, but many, including admittedly the Ballot Box, are dubious. The GOP doesn’t need to risk losing another seat, just as some pundits are starting to talk about them regaining the majority in the Senate, and the pressure will be on for Hutchison. What’s more, if she resigns, she’d be giving the man who beat her, Perry, the right to replace her with a temporary appointment. That wouldn’t sit well with her.

Be sure to check back at the Ballot Box tonight, where we will be live-blogging the results from Texas. The GOP primaries to face Reps. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) are also on the ballot.

Specter surge or outlier alert?

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) inexplicably took the lead over former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in the latest Quinnipiac poll on the race. It’s hard to see what might have caused Specter, who has trailed by double digits in other recent polls, to surge to a 49-42 lead over Toomey. It also shows Specter with a net-positive (48-45) job approval rating, which is widely different than other polling – Franklin and Marshall recently showed Specter’s job numbers at 30-62, with him trailing Toomey 44-34. The one area where it does echo other polls is the primary, which shows Specter leading Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) 53-29. At this point, though, the poll has to be considered an outlier. 

Have you driven a Ford (out of the race) lately?

We shouldn’t be terribly surprised that former Rep. Harold Ford Jr.’s (D-Tenn.) primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was so quickly aborted. Ford’s launch was about as rough as they come, and his past issue positions made him a tough sell in a blue state so soon after his last campaign. The good thing for Gillibrand is that this threat, moreso than the others before it, really seems to have swung her campaign into high gear. If Mort Zuckerman or former Gov. George Pataki are really serious about taking a shot at her, they now know what they will be dealing with. And despite some lukewarm job approval numbers for Gillibrand, she’s shown she can more than hold her own in a statewide contest.


Report: Ralph Reed considering a run for Linder's seat

Ralph Reed (R) is "seriously" contemplating a run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), according to CBN's David Brody. Reed has made his interest known to key grassroots leaders and local elected officials around the district, but has not yet made a decision.

Reed was the first executive director of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition and later ran for lieutenant governor of Georgia. His political downfall came from his close ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.