Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – Many candidates and political wonks like to talk about Iowa's 99 counties, but a more important number in this year's caucuses may be 809.
That's how many different sites will hold GOP caucuses next Tuesday, according to the Republican Party.
Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – Republican leaders of the largest counties in Iowa tell CNN they expect a stream of party switchers and high, in some cases record, turnout in this year's GOP caucuses.
"We're expecting at least a 30 percent increase (over 2008)," said Linn County Republican Chairman Steve Armstrong. "Attendance has been up at every event we've held this year. Republicans are more engaged." Linn County, which sits in the eastern part of Iowa and includes Cedar Rapids, had the second largest number of caucus goers in 2008.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - Confused or annoyed by the debt deal? We have a podcast and cheat sheet to simplify your life and ease your pain.
Listen to this week's American Sauce here. We lay out the debt deal, look at Congress' addiction to crises and go over the deadline lawmakers missed: to keep the Federal Aviation Administration funded and running.
Capitol Hill (CNN) - The candidates are talking economy, security, health care and the deficit. But we aren't hearing much about the other topic Americans say they care about the most: education.
Take a CNN/Opinion Research poll from January as proof. When asked if different issues were important for Congress and the president to tackle, more people said education was "extremely" or "very important" (83 percent) than terrorism (80 percent). And education received about the same response as health care and the budget deficit.
So where are we with education policy?
Washington (CNN) - Going a small step further than his governor, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller told reporters Tuesday that he believes his state will appoint a replacement for former Sen. Robert Byrd, who died June 28, on Friday.
"My guess is that we'll have somebody Friday of this week," the Democrat said outside the Senate chamber.
Mountain State Governor Joe Manchin said last week that he hopes to have a new senator in place by then, but did not indicate the likelihood.
(CNN) – Rep. Bob Etheridge apologized Monday for his physical confrontation with two young men who identified themselves as students and asked if the North Carolina Democrat "fully supports the Obama agenda."
"I have seen the video posted on several blogs. I deeply and profoundly regret my reaction and I apologize to all involved. Throughout my many years of service to the people of North Carolina , I have always tried to treat people from all viewpoints with respect. No matter how intrusive and partisan our politics can become, this does not justify a poor response. I have and I will always work to promote a civil public discourse."
(CNN) – Despite all the calls for new blood in Washington and for Americans to dismiss "career politicians," thus far primary voters mostly have chosen established party insiders over farmers, businessmen and candidates from outside the political realm.
And far more incumbents have survived than have been toppled.
Listen: CNN Radio's Lisa Desjardins speaks to a young, political outsider
"The idea that there's this huge anti-incumbent wave in the election is considerably exaggerated," said Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz.
Abramowitz believes all four of the incumbents ousted so far are special cases, with two party switchers (Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania, Rep. Parker Griffith in Alabama), one facing corruption charges (Rep. Alan Mollohan in West Virginia) and one losing at a closed-vote party convention (Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah).
And with just one exception - New Mexico congressional candidate Tom Mullins - the outright winners from Tuesday's House primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico were known political figures, backed by members of the establishment.
Washington (CNN) – Democrats have set a date to begin what they hope is the final phase of health care debate in Congress.
A Democratic leadership source told CNN Radio that the legislative push begins Monday when the House Budget Committee is expected to vote on a key procedural piece of the health care package.
That measure will not contain new policy language, but it ignites the process, known as reconciliation, that Democrats are using to pass and change the Senate health care bill.
The reconciliation vote would open the door to a possible final-passage vote on the Senate health care bill next week.
Washington (CNN) - Two days before the White House health care summit, the American Medical Association and some 75 other doctors' groups are focusing on one battle: malpractice reform.
In a letter to the president obtained by CNN Radio, the organizations imply that if President Obama is serious about working across party lines then malpractice or tort reform is the way to do it.
"A bipartisan agreement [on malpractice reform] would send an important signal… that Democrats and Republicans alike are willing to put aside partisanship to control costs and improve patient care," the letter states.
The physicians' groups who sent the letter range from the AMA and American Academy of Pediatrics to the Society for Vascular Surgery.
(CNN) - As House Democrats worry about complaints from the left over President Obama's health care plan, Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak is sternly reminding the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that abortion remains an unresolved, red hot issue on the right.
"Unfortunately, the president's proposal encompasses the Senate language allowing public funding of abortion," Stupak wrote in a statement released Tuesday morning.
He was unequivocal in the next line, saying, "The Senate language is a significant departure from current law and is unacceptable."
The House narrowly adopted its health care bill only after including Stupak's more conservative language on abortion funding. Some 64 Democrats voted for the Stupak amendment in a separate vote.
Stupak would block health care subsidies not only from directly funding abortions but also from supporting an individual to buy an insurance plan that covers abortion. The Senate and the president would also ban direct funding of abortions but would require insurers to wall off or separate the costs of abortions so that subsidized patients must pay for those with their own personal funds.
There is extensive debate over which measure best complies with current law limiting federal abortion funding and whether the Senate version does or does not allow public funding of abortion.
Follow Lisa Desjardins on Twitter: @LisaDCNN