Every afternoon, CNN Senior Political Editor Mark Preston takes you behind the headlines on a few top stories, looks ahead at what will makes news tomorrow and why it matters.
Obama's likability is no help for Democrats: People like the president, just not his policies. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll confirms this fact with 59 percent of Americans saying that he has the "personal qualities a president should have."
Good news? Well, not so fast. When asked, "Do you agree with Obama on issues that matter to you," only 42 percent answered yes. Ouch. And I mean ouch for Congressional Democrats, not the president.
Why? Because there are only 21 days until Election Day and voters are going to take their anger out on Democratic lawmakers who have spent the past 20-plus months helping pass Obama's agenda. If Obama was on the ballot, likability and loyalty might convince some voters to support him even though his job favorability remains below 50 percent.
The bottom line is that Obama has time to recover and turn his job performance numbers around. Congressional Democrats do not.
Tea Party targets Barney Frank: The Tea Party Express just announced it is setting its sights on Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts.
"You can help us defeat Barney Frank - one of the worst liberals in Congress - and make history," reads an email from the Tea Party group known for its cross-country bus tours. "Please support our efforts to Defeat Barney Frank by making a contribution." Frank, first elected in 1980, was recently joined on the campaign trail by former President Clinton. But Frank, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, is not necessarily in danger of losing his seat.
"Winning this seat is by no means an easy task, but it's not totally outside the realm of possibility either," said a GOP strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "If Barney Frank loses on November 2nd, we're likely looking at a 60-plus seat wave so big that Cape Cod might not be on the map by the end the night."
So if Frank is expected to win re-election, why is the Tea Party's involvement important? Well, an influx of money now could help the Frank's Republican opponent Sean Bielat as an alternative to the longtime Democrat. And if a huge GOP wave developed on Election Night, it is plausible that Frank could lose. Stranger things have happened in Massachusetts. After all, a little-known Republican state senator came out of nowhere in January 2009 to win the late Edward Kennedy's Senate seat.
Why be positive, when you can be negative: In the last 60 days, more than $53 million has been spent on political television ads by outside interest groups, according to a new analysis conducted for CNN by Campaign Media Analysis Group. And get this - 89 percent of those ads have been negative! Evan Tracey, president of CMAG and CNN's television advertising consultant, said that these outside groups' main purpose is to be negative and disruptive which then allows individual candidates to focus on a positive message.
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