Obama’s Keystone XL decision could play a role in Senate races

Energy issues will play a role in four key states that could decide control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election, according to a new poll. Specifically, President Barack Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will weigh on voters’ minds.

The poll, conducted by Hickman Analytics on behalf of Consumer Energy Alliance, found that more than three-quarters of likely voters in four states — Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — “said they will consider a candidate’s position on energy issues, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, before deciding whom they will support.”

More than two-thirds of likely voters in these four states support building the Keystone XL pipeline. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Kay Hagan (D-NC) support construction of the oil pipeline. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), however, does not.

Whether or not these Senate Democrats support Keystone XL may prove irrelevant depending on what action President Obama takes. The poll found that voters in these four states would be less likely to support a Democratic incumbent if the White House rejects the proposed oil pipeline:

Three Red State Democrats back controversial DOJ nominee

Debo Adegbile

The United States Senate rejected the controversial nomination of Debo Adegbile, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, largely due to his defense of a convicted cop killer.

Adegbile is a controversial nominee because he filed a brief at the Supreme Court on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who killed a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, when he worked for the NAACP. The brief argued that Abu-Jamal’s conviction was invalid, according to the Washington Post, “because of racial discrimination in jury selection.”

Though the Senate did reject Adegbile’s nomination by a 47 to 52 vote, three vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection this year backed the controversial choice: Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

While it’s true that everyone is entitled to legal representation, even cop killers, this trio’s votes for Adegbile’s nomination may not play well back home.

One reason is because it shows their almost unquestioning support of President Obama. The other is because they cast a vote in conflict with the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP), which opposed Adegbile because of his defense of Abu-Jamal.

LA Senate: Conservative group hits Landrieu on canceled health plans

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is continuing its onslaught of issue ads against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) with a new spot hitting her on the canceled health plans, including 93,000 in Louisiana alone, caused by Obamacare’s narrowly written grandfathered plan regulations.

The ad features different families checking their mailboxes with narrators reading letters from insurance companies notifying them that their health plan had either been canceled or that their premiums had increased.

“Senator Landrieu is playing political games with real people’s lives,” AFP President Tim Phillips said in a statement. “Politicians supporting Obamacare seem to forget that their actions have real consequences, such as the cancelled insurance plans, lost access to doctors, and skyrocketing health care costs that define the President’s health care law.”

The three-week ad buy is described as “significant,” though AFP didn’t say exactly how much it spent.

LA Senate: Landrieu tied with GOP opponent, 52% disapprove of job performance

The latest Public Policy Polling survey out of Louisiana finds Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) in a statistical tie with her top Republican opponent and her job performance numbers falling.

While she led her Republican by a 10-point margin in August, the Public Policy Polling now finds Landrieu with a 1-point lead, 45/44, over Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). That lead is statistically insignificant given the poll’s 3.9% margin of error.

“The big thing that’s changed over that period of time is Landrieu has lost much of her crossover support from Republicans,” wrote Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. ”Six months ago she trailed by only 42 points with GOP voters at 65/23, but now that’s a 63 point deficit at 77/14.”

Landrieu’s approval rating is down from 46% in August to 37% in February, an ominous sign for an incumbent Democrat running in a traditionally red state. Her disapproval rating has jumped 9 points to 52%.

“It’s no coincidence that her 52% disapproval rating is almost identical to the 53% disapproval rating Obamacare has in the state, compared to only 33% of voters who approve of it,” said Jansen. “Similarly to Kay Hagan the early ad blitz seems to have had the effect of creating a strong correlation between attitudes toward Landrieu and attitudes toward Obamacare.”

Though his disapproval numbers are higher, President Obama actually outperforms Landrieu’s approval rating. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of Louisiana voters approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 56% disapprove.

LA Senate: Landrieu loses supporters over Obamacare

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is hoping that she can distance herself enough from President Barack Obama and his agenda just enough to convince Louisiana voters that she deserves another term in office. Which is, basically, what every Senate Democrat up for reelection is trying to do.

But some Pelican State voters aren’t satisfied with Landrieu, one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats running in 2014. Fox News talked with some voters in the state and found that the number one concern they have is Obamacare, and they know that Landrieu has stood by the law almost every step of the way.

“I voted for her every year, but I won’t be voting for her this year,” Karen Parson, a Republican and Landrieu supporter, told Fox News. “I think she let the state down on the Obamacare issue.” Parson’s husband, a Democrat, is also no longer in Landrieu supporter.

Though Landrieu has tried to create some space for herself on Obamacare by pushing legislation that would force insurers to keep health plans made illegal because of the law’s regulations, Shannon Triche still isn’t too thrilled with the Louisiana Democrat.

“It’s not going to make any difference. She made herself look good by saying that,” said Triche, who voted for both President Obama and Landrieu. “Didn’t change my opinion over on that issue. In the end, she voted for [Obamacare].”

Parents Face Jail for Unauthorized Grocery Purchase

Hamlet Garcia

Okay, not really, but the situation is equally bizarre, if not more so. As reported by CBS Philly, the local CBS News affiliate in Philadelphia, last month Hamlet Garcia and his wife Olesia avoided seven years of prison time by pleading guilty to “felony theft” and agreeing to pay $11,000 in restitution. Their heinous offense? Providing false information to the local school system in order to enroll daughter in the Lower Moreland school district.

Like tens of millions of parents across America, the Garcias live in an area with poorly performing schools and, wanting a better education for their daughter, they lied about where they lived in order to make sure 5-year old Fiorella received the education necessary for her to be successful in life. And for this, they were almost imprisoned.

Apparently unaware of just how insane he sounded, Montgomery County prosecutor Steven Latzer declared to the press that “Hamlet Garcia has been brought to justice. He has admitted that he wrongfully enrolled his child in the Lower Moreland School District.” Brought to justice? Seriously? The outcome can be described in many ways, but “justice” is not one of them.

Sadly, this dilemma is all too common in America. Low and middle income parents who want nothing more than to make sure that their children receive a good education in order to escape lives of poverty are faced with a choice between breaking the law, or seeing their dreams of success for their children crushed before they even have a chance to flourish.

New polls show red state Senate Democrats in serious trouble

Senate Democrats running in red states are in serious trouble, according to internal polling released by a Republican super PAC, indicating that control of the chamber is very much in play this fall.

Americans Crossroads, a major Republican super PACs, commissioned polls in seven states, five of which are held by incumbent Senate Democrats. In a memo released on Friday, Steven Law, President and CEO of American Crossroads, detailed the results of the polling:

Virtually all Democrat incumbents in red states and purple states are in trouble – either down or tied in head-to-head contests with their likely GOP opponents, or upside down in approval ratings:

Report: Red state Dems not so independent of Obama

Vulnerable Senate Democrats have been working overtime to distance themselves from President Barack Obama by highlighting differences they have with the White House on various issues, even avoiding appearances with him in visits to their home states.

But are these Democrats as independent as they would have voters at home believe? Not really, according to a 2013 vote analysis by Roll Call:

As Sen. Mark Pryor runs for a third term in Arkansas — he’s the only incumbent now rated an underdog by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call — he will surely delight in announcing he voted more often against Obama than any other Senate Democrat last year. That will sound much more like a boast than a confession in a place where the president’s approval last year was 35 percent, according to state-by-state approval numbers released last week by Gallup.

But Republican Rep. Tom Cotton will just as undoubtedly promote his challenge by describing Pryor’s presidential support score in a way that sounds exactly the opposite, but is just as precise: The sitting senator sided with Obama 90 percent of the time.

LA Senate: Poll shows Landrieu down by 4 points

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) trails her likely Republican challenger for the first time, according to the latest poll out of the Pelican State.

In a poll released on Thursday, Rasmussen Reports found that Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) takes 44% of the vote to Landrieu’s 40%, while 5% of Louisianans would back some other candidate. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Now, Louisiana does elections differently. It’s basically a “top-two” system where voters have everyone on the ballot in the general election, even multiple candidates from the same party. If no one takes a majority of the vote, there is a runoff weeks later, usually at the beginning of December.

This could complicate efforts to unseat Landrieu, who has managed to survive politically, winning close reelection bids in 2002 and 2008, despite being a Democrat from an overwhelmingly red state. The biggest problem for the GOP is Cassidy isn’t the only Republican running.

Rob Maness, a retired Air Force colonel, is also looking to unseat Landrieu. The insurgent conservative candidate has been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project. Rasmussen didn’t include Maness in the poll, at least not in its public release.

If Cassidy doesn’t receive a majority on November 4, he’ll face Landrieu in a runoff. Assuming this scenario comes to pass, Republicans will have to overcome Landrieu’s New Orleans-based political machine, which proved essential to her previous successful reelection bids.

Democratic donors turn eyes to the Senate

Just hours after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that Democrats aren’t likely to win control of the House of Representatives this fall, Politico ran a story noting that many high-dollar donors are shifting their focus to the Senate races in which vulnerable Democrats are running:

With Democrats’ grasp on the Senate increasingly tenuous — and the House all but beyond reach — some top party donors and strategists are moving to do something in the midterm election as painful as it is coldblooded: Admit the House can’t be won and go all in to save the Senate.

Their calculation is uncomplicated. With only so much money to go around in an election year that is tilting the GOP’s way, Democrats need to concentrate resources on preserving the chamber they have now. Losing the Senate, they know, could doom whatever hopes Barack Obama has of salvaging the final years of his presidency. 
Some Democratic operatives think a big chunk of that money should be going to Senate contests instead — and they’re beginning to make that case to wealthy contributors. One senior Democratic strategist who is involved in a number of Senate races said conversations with many of the party’s biggest donors about shifting their giving away from the House and toward the Senate had begun and that, “it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the results.”

“After the health care rollout and with the start of the new year, Democratic donors are starting to focus on a critical choice they have to make: Donate money to pick up a small handful of House races or defend the Senate majority at all costs so that the president can get something — anything — done,” the strategist said.

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