Washington (CNN)-– Less than 50 gets you 40. That's a rule of electoral math according to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, who is carefully tracking President Obama's approval rating 10 months before the midterm elections.
McCarthy believes that if Obama's approval rating dips below 50, then the GOP has a solid shot of picking up 40 Democratic-held seats – enough to wrest the House majority out of the party's hands. That majority would give Republicans a greater voice in shaping legislation, and the power to try and rework the health care bill as they see fit.
Currently, Democrats hold 256 seats in the House, while Republicans claim 178. There is one vacancy.
McCarthy is not the only Republican talking takeover. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, is also bullish on the GOP's prospects of a return to power – a notion that seemed remote this time last year.
(CNN) - It seems everything's bigger in Texas - including the amount of money flowing into the coffers of the state's top two Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Gov. Rick Perry, running for a third full term this year, reports raising $7.1 million in the second half of 2009. His campaign held $11.6 million cash on hand at the start of this year.
Primary challenger Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison reports bringing in more than $6 million during the same period, with $12.3 million in the bank at the start of this year.
The Perry and Hutchison campaigns released their numbers in advance of filing official reports with the Texas Ethics Commission by the end of the week.
The two candidates, along with fellow Republican Debra Medina, face off Thursday night in their first televised debate. The Republican primary is March 2.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
The CEO's of some of the nation's largest banks were sworn in Wednesday during a hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Four top bank chief executives told a panel probing the financial crisis Wednesday that they made mistakes but didn't realize how bad they were at the time.
In a heated exchange in Washington with the head of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs' CEO, agreed the banks had assumed too much exposure to risk at the height of the crisis, and he wished he could go back and change things.
"Anyone who says I wouldn't change a thing, I think, is crazy," Blankfein said. "Knowing now what happened, whatever we did, whatever what the standards of the time were - It didn't work out well."
"Of course, I'd go back and wish we had done whatever it took not to find ourselves in the position we found ourselves in," he added.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The economic stimulus program has boosted employment by 1.5 million to 2 million jobs, the president's chief economic adviser said Wednesday.
The Obama administration estimate includes both jobs directly funded by stimulus money, as well as those created indirectly by companies buying supplies for stimulus projects, people spending their stimulus tax cuts and the like.
The report, by the Council of Economic Advisers, is likely to spark sharp reactions from the Obama administration's critics who argue that the $787 billion package has failed to deliver on its promises.
To be sure, the economy has continued to lose jobs despite stimulus – shedding 85,000 in December. The administration, however, maintains that things would have been much worse without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Washington (CNN) - Some members of the Republican National Committee are considering drafting a resolution that would ask chairman Michael Steele to stop promoting to his new book and focus on leading the party.The resolution could also demand that Steele turn over proceeds from the book over to the RNC.
If members move forward with the idea, the measure would be introduced at the committee winter meeting in Hawaii later this month.
But no resolution has been written, and it's not clear how much support such a maneuver would have on the committee. Several members had not even heard of the proposal until they were asked about it by CNN on Wednesday.
David Norcross, a longtime committee member from New Jersey and one of the people involved in the discussions, said that at this point, the proposal is just "a suggestion flying around" via e-mail. Still, Norcross said, "I will take a look at it."
Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley debate in Boston, Massachusetts, on Monday.
Washington (CNN) - A contentious special election to fill late Sen. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat could have an effect on the cause he championed - health care.
Republican candidate Scott Brown, a state senator, is facing off against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. Election Day is January 19.
Recent polls suggest the race may be closer than expected in its final days, though the Democrat still holds a 15-point advantage in the overwhelmingly Democratic state.
No Republican has won a Senate seat in Massachusetts since 1972.
CNN political analyst David Gergen, who moderated a debate between Brown and Coakley Monday night, said part of the closeness of the race is tied to the health care reform bill in Congress.
"And his campaign has gotten a lot of traction suddenly, unexpectedly in the last few weeks by exactly that campaign pledge: 'I will send this bill back,'" Gergen said.
(Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET)
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama pledged Wednesday that the U.S. government would lead "a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives" in Haiti after that country's powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake.
Obama said U.S. relief efforts would be coordinated by the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Dr. Raj Shah.
He urged Americans trying to locate family members in Haiti to contact the State Department at phone number 888-407-4747.
"The reports and images that we've seen of collapsed hospitals, crumbled homes and men and women carrying their injured neighbors through the streets are truly heart-wrenching," the president said at the White House.
Washington (CNN) – Massachusetts Republicans wasted little time Wednesday criticizing Democrat Martha Coakley for attending a fundraiser one week before Bay State voters elect a successor to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
The Massachusetts Republican Party will release a new Web video this morning accusing Coakley of accepting contributions from health care lobbyists at the same time touting her efforts to hold “health insurers accountable for fraud and denying care.”
Coakley, a Democrat, holds a double-digit lead over Republican Scott Brown in next week’s special election for Kennedy’s Senate seat. But the race is tightening and the national political parties and outside interest groups are focusing their efforts on this race, because the outcome could determine the fate of health care reform in Congress.
Democrats currently have 60 votes in the 100 seat Senate – enough to overcome a GOP filibuster on Democratic health care reform legislation. If Brown were to win, he would boost the number of Republicans serving in the chamber to 41 – enough to sustain a filibuster.
Follow Mark Preston on Twitter: @prestoncnn
(CNN) - Florida's major Senate candidates have weighed in on the crisis in Haiti. Republican candidates Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist, as well as Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek have issued statements of condolence in the wake of the 7.0 earthquake that shook the island Tuesday.
Statements after the jump:
Washington (CNN) - Democrats are celebrating an election victory in northern Virginia.
Democratic delegate David Marsden narrowly defeated Republican Steve Hunt Tuesday in a special election to fill the state Senate seat in Fairfax County that was formerly held by Republican Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. Marsden won by 317 votes out of more than 23,000 cast. The district had been in Republican hands for nearly two decades.
The victory comes after the GOP made major gains in Virginia in November's elections, highlighted by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's trouncing of Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds to win back the governor's office for the first time in 8 years.
Republicans did win the other state senate special election Tuesday, holding onto a seat in Virginia Beach.
As of next week, the GOP will control the state's top three positions and will hold a larger majority in the assembly. Thanks to their victory in Fairfax County, the Democrats will now have a 22 to 18 seat advantage in the state Senate.
The Democratic National Committee sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning touting the election victory in northern Virginia.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn