CNN's GUT CHECK | for April 17, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
NEW TODAY: ROMNEY WITH HIS FAVORABILITY ON THE RISE, HITS “VAST LEFT WING CONSPIRACY” – On Breitbart TV, host Larry O’Connor asked Romney if he was ready to take on "the media and these nonprofits groups that are working together." Romney responded, “There will be an effort by the quote vast left wing conspiracy to work together to put out their message and to attack me. They're going to do everything they can to divert from the message people care about, which is a growing economy that creates more jobs and rising incomes."
DEVELOPING: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is in Brussels, Belgium, where he will sit down in a rare joint interview with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Panetta and Clinton are both in Brussels for a NATO joint meeting of Foreign and Defense Ministers. Have any questions? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see a picture of Wolf Blitzer en route, check out this link. For a sneak peek of the news, read tomorrow’s Gut Check.
Which senator was a payload specialist on a 1986 launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia?
Heading into the general election, 56 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of President Barack Obama, even though the country is split on how he is handling his job as president, according to a new CNN/ORC International Poll.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s favorable rating is 44 percent, while his unfavorable rating is 43 percent and 13 percent said they have either not heard of him or have not yet formed an opinion about him, according the survey.
This newly released data, coupled with the hypothetical CNN/ORC general election match up released Monday, shows that each candidate has work to do to before the November election.
In the CNN/ORC match up, Obama holds a nine-point lead over Romney (52 percent to 43 percent), but the poll comes as the campaign transitions from a Republican primary fight to a general election match up. Romney will no longer be taking fire from his Republican primary rivals and the Obama campaign together. Even though Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain in the race, Rick Santorum’s decision to drop his bid for the GOP nomination has signaled an end to a bruising battle. Romney has emerged victorious, but battered.
A good sign for Romney is that his favorable rating is moving in the right direction after plunging by nine points over the past couple of months. In January, Romney’s favorable rating stood at 43 percent, dropping to 34 percent in February and climbing back up to 44 percent in this most recent CNN/ORC poll.
The bad news for Romney is that there is not enthusiastic support for his candidacy among people who said they plan to vote for him. Only 35 percent of Romney voters in the CNN/ORC poll said their vote was more a vote for Mitt Romney, while 63 percent of Romney voters said their vote was more a vote against Barack Obama.
It is a much different picture when you look at the president’s core support: 76 percent of Obama voters in the CNN/ORC poll said their vote was more a vote for Barack Obama, while only 23 percent of Obama voters said their vote was more a vote against Mitt Romney.
There is no denying a protest vote can be very strong and at the end of the day every vote has the same value. But clearly Romney needs to increase his support among his base supporters at the same time broadening his appeal to others.
WHOM ROMNEY NEEDS TO WOO
A more in-depth look into the CNN/ORC poll shows that Romney’s weaknesses lies in the lack of strong support among women, non-whites, people under 50, people who earn less than $50,000 and people who did not attend college. It is these voters he will need to convince that he is more qualified than Obama to be the next president. (This information is from the CNN/ORC poll question that was asked to determine Romney’s favorable/unfavorable standing).
WHOM OBAMA NEEDS TO WOO
Obama’s task is to persuade men, people who are white, people over 50 (especially those 65 +), and people who earn more than $50,000 that he deserves a second term. (This information is from the CNN/ORC poll question that was asked about how Obama was handling his job as president. Obama performs better with each of these voter subsets when asked the favorable/unfavorable question).
As for independents, 47 percent approve of how Obama is handling his job as president, while 49 percent disapprove. But 52 percent of independents said they had a favorable opinion of the president compared to 45 percent who answered they had an unfavorable opinion.
Meanwhile, 43 percent of independents have a favorable opinion of Romney, while 38 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him and 19 percent said they had never heard or had no opinion of him.
On the issues, voters are split on who is best equipped to handle the economy, but they chose Obama over Romney on just about every other characteristic/quality asked in the CNN/ORC poll (LINK)
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: CNN/ORC poll: Most Americans say tax system favors wealthy
As procrastinators rush to file their 2011 tax returns by the Tuesday deadline, a new poll shows more than two-thirds of Americans believe the revenue system benefits the wealthy while being unfair to average workers.
Leading Drudge: Record Number of Americans Renounce Citizenship
Last year, nearly 1,800 people followed Superman's lead, renouncing their U.S. citizenship or handing in their green cards. That's a record number since the Internal Revenue Service began publishing a list of those who renounced in 1998.
Leading HuffPo: Utah Senate Race: Nominating System Poses Challenges For Orrin Hatch Re-Election
Every handshake counts in Utah's unique nominating system, even for a senator seeking his seventh term.
Leading Politico: Blue Dog Democrats face extinction in next election
Just when the Blue Dogs thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Two years after the 2010 midterm elections decimated their ranks, the coalition of conservative Democrats is poised to get pummeled again in November — moving the Blue Dogs dangerously close to extinction.
Leading New York Times: Once Every 36 Years, Primary Fight for Indiana Senator
At age 80, Richard G. Lugar, one of the longest-serving members of the United States Senate, is getting a crash course in what a campaign looks like.
The political bites of the day
- The White House: ‘Drill Baby Drill’ Doesn’t Cut It -
PRESIDENT OBAMA AT A WHITE HOUSE OIL MARKETS EVENT: “The problem is we use more than 20% of the world's oil and we only have 2% of the world's proven oil reserves. Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we'd still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil.”
- Please Ted, tell us how you really feel -
TED NUGENT’S REMARKS FROM THE NRA CONVENTION OVER THE WEEKEND ARE MAKING WAVES: “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year… If you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of.”
- Scandal be damned, President stands by his man –
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY AT THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING: “The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service. Director Sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter.”
- Not to prejudge… but I will anyway -
BEN CARDIN, SENATOR FROM MARYLAND, AT A PRESS CONFERENCE ON RACIAL PROFILING: “Quite frankly, the Trayvon Martin case has put a national spotlight on this and I think the American public were outraged by what they saw. And as the investigation continues, we'll, again I don't want to prejudge the investigation, but everything that we've seen indicates that race had an immediate impact on Trayvon Martin being targeted. And the end result was he lost his life. We want to make sure that never happens again.”
- Boehner: Proud to support Mitt Romney -
SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER AT THE WEEKLY GOP CONFERENCE: “It's clear now that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee. I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put Americans back to work and, frankly, contrast sharply with the failed economic polices of President Obama and I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, was a “payload specialist” on a January 1986 launch of the space shuttle Columbia. Nelson spent six days orbiting the earth and the seven-person crew conducted a number of experiments while in orbit.
“That experience gave him a new perspective on the Earth’s fragile environment and a greater appreciation of the importance of our nation’s space exploration program,” reads Nelson’s NASA page. At the time, Nelson was the U.S. congressman representing Florida’s 11th district – an area that included the state’s Space Coast.
Nelson was not the first sitting member of Congress in space. Jake Garn, a long-serving Republican senator from Utah, went to space as a payload specialist in April 1985. Garn served in the Senate from 1973 to 1993. Additionally, John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth in 1962, later became a U.S. senator in 1974.
The return of Columbia’s seven-member crew on January 18 occurred only 10 days before the Challenger disaster, where the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight. According to news reports, the debriefing of the Columbia crew was interrupted by the Challenger disaster.
In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, Nelson described his reaction to watching the Challenger disaster on television. "Everyone had disappeared to leave me alone," Nelson said. "But I went back in the little bathroom, and I got down on my knees and I said, 'Why were we spared?'"
Years after Nelson uttered that prayer of thanksgiving, the space shuttle Columbia, the same shuttle Nelson traveled on, broke up upon re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003. All seven crew members were killed.
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