TIME

Begging for Impeachment

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses, as he announces new economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy in the latest move by the U.S. to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his support for Ukrainian rebels, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

To improve its standing with voters, the White House tries to drum up some trouble for itself

At 10:02 on Friday evening, July 25, I received the following personal message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW A REAL POSSIBILITY.” The capital letters were in red. This was a blast email, of course, sent to everyone on the Democratic Party’s fundraising list, and also to political journalists. It referred to some very calculated remarks that White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer had made earlier that day about impeachment: “I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit [against the President], has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future.”

This was the beginning of a half-crazed weekend begathon by the Democrats. The next afternoon: “Sorry to email you early on a Saturday—but we’re on full RED ALERT at Democratic Head-quarters…According to our records, you haven’t chipped in since Republicans authorized a vote to sue President Obama.” (Or ever chipped in, for that matter.) And Sunday: “MAJOR UPDATE: House Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss impeaching President Obama.” On Monday I received a cranky email from Obama himself: “Joe Biden has emailed you. Michelle has emailed you. And now I’ve emailed you. We wouldn’t all be asking if it wasn’t so important. Right now, Republicans in Congress are trying to sue me for simply doing my job.” Later that day, the DCCC re-sent me that email: “Did you see this? President Obama emailed you this morning.”

Holy moley. There is cleverness to the onslaught, of course, a classic use of a political tactic known as jiu-jitsu: take your opponent’s feral vehemence and roll with it. No doubt, Pfeiffer is right. There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President, especially later in the summer, after he announces a major Executive Order that will affect a large number—millions, perhaps—of the illegal immigrants now in the country. There is speculation that it will be a further expansion of the legal status he conferred on children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents; perhaps the parents will now be included. There is likely to be an explosion if he does this—the Central American refugee crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has made immigration the hottest of domestic issues. It is also the most toxic issue for Republicans, who hope to win the presidency someday—and the Senate this November.

House Speaker Boehner has said there will be no impeachment. That’s why he instituted a rather silly lawsuit against the President over—yet again—Obamacare, which aides say could be expanded if Obama goes for broke on the border. Boehner is trying to placate the GOP base. But he also promised that there would be no government shutdown in 2013 and got trampled by his troops. The Speaker knows there’s nothing the Democrats would rather have than impeachment and immigration as the dominant issues in the fall campaign. He also knows there’s nothing Rush Limbaugh would rather have; indeed, it would be a ratings bonanza—the base would go berserk. And on the other end of the Republican evolutionary spectrum, a leading conservative thinker, Yuval Levin, has said the Executive Order that Obama is contemplating would be “the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American President in peacetime.” There might be no stopping the primal fury unleashed by what the Republicans are calling “executive amnesty.”

So, this is smart strategy on the part of the Obama political operation, right? Well, grudgingly, yes. But it’s also cynical as hell. The White House is playing with fire, raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy. There is something unseemly, and unprecedented, about an administration saying “Bring it on” when it comes to impeachment. Clinton’s White House certainly never did publicly, even though it was clear from polling that the spectacle would be a disaster for Republicans. Of course, President Clinton had done something immoral, if not impeachable, and Obama has not. Another impeachment ordeal would be terrible for the country.

Also terrible for the country, if all too common, is the DCCC’s impeachment begging—and the President’s constant fat-cat fundraising in a summer of trouble. What if he simply said, “I’m done with fundraising. This is an important election, but there’s just too much going on in the world right now”? His political folks would hate it, but I suspect it might be more effective, and presidential, than sending out tin-cup emails.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton: Redskins Should Change ‘Insensitive’ Name

American Indian Movement protest the Washington Redskins as they arrive in town to play the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile HIgh in Denver, Co.
Kordell Kills Crow, Gerard Montour and Chuntay Her Many Horses sing and play the drums during their protest outside of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Co on October 27, 2013. Helen H. Richardson—Denver Post / Getty Images

"There's no reason for it to continue as the name of a team in our nation's capital"

Hillary Clinton urged the owners of the Washington Redskins to consider changing the team name in a Tuesday television interview, arguing that the current name was “insensitive”.

“I think it’s insensitive and I think that there’s no reason for it to continue as the name of a team in our nation’s capital,” Clinton said on Fusion’s America with Jorge Ramos. “I would love to see the owners think hard about what they could substitute.”

Pressed to think of alternatives, Clinton demurred. “No, I haven’t thought a lot about that,” she said.

The team name has come under fire from politicians and advocacy groups this year. In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoked the team’s trademark, arguing that no company had the right to trademark names that could “disparage” a group of people.

TIME 2014 elections

Dems Latch on to Hobby Lobby in Election Year Push

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Was,. is joined by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col,. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., at a news conference following a procedural vote on S.2578, the "Protect Women's Heath From Cooperate Interference Act of 2014," July 16, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Was,. is joined by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col,. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., at a news conference following a procedural vote on S.2578, the "Protect Women's Heath From Cooperate Interference Act of 2014," July 16, 2014 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch—UPI/Landov

Democrats are using Hobby Lobby to get women to the polls in 2014

Senate Democrats tried and failed Wednesday to pass a legislative fix to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court. The bill would have forced all employers to offer all types of available contraception, and it was proposed after the court ruled Hobby Lobby, as an employer with religious beliefs, had a right not to pay for its female employees to receive four kinds of contraception the family owners believed to cause abortions.

The vote, which failed to overcome a GOP filibuster 56-43, was a political one, as there was no chance that House Republicans would have passed the measure. But it did what it was designed to do: highlight to female voters what Democrats say is a coordinated GOP push to take contraception away from women.

“I sincerely hope our Republican colleagues will join us and allow us to proceed to debate on this important bill,” Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who sponsored the bill, said on the Senate floor before the vote. “I’d like to remind them that women across the country are watching—and I think they will be very interested in seeing who is on their side.”

Democrats are hoping to turn out unmarried women—a reliably Democratic group but one that doesn’t always vote in midterm elections—this November in a bid to save the Senate from falling to Republican control. To that end, they have focused on a women’s economic agenda. On Wednesday, House Democrats unveiled a “middle class jumpstart agenda” that would raise the minimum wage, which disproportionately effects women, and limit executive compensation over $1 million.

Republicans, still smarting from the loss of two Senate seats in the 2012 elections due to inopportune comments about rape uttered by two of their candidates, have made a concerted effort this year to keep their candidates in line. They’re also pushing back on the legislative front. This week, Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced a family leave bill that competes with Democratic initiatives aimed at helping women and families get more flexibility at the workplace. And House GOP women are looking at legislation of their own in the coming weeks on equal pay and other work issues.

Fischer, along with Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, inked an op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal pushing back on the Democratic efforts around the Hobby Lobby decision.

“In the days since the Supreme Court’s June 30 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, we have been troubled by those who seem eager to misrepresent both the facts of the case and the impact of its ruling on women—all to divide Americans and score political points in a tough election year,” they wrote. “Americans believe strongly that we should be able to practice our religion without undue interference from the government. It’s a fundamental conviction that goes to the very core of our character—and dates back to the founding of our nation. The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, which protects rights of conscience, reaffirmed our centuries-old tradition of religious liberty.”

Still, Republican women aren’t unified on the issue. Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Susan Collins—who make up half of the GOP’s female Senate population—voted with the Democrats on Wednesday to end their colleagues’ filibuster. And polls show a majority of Americans were against the Hobby Lobby ruling and that women are trending Democratic in this election. But the question remains for Democrats: will their efforts get women to the polls?

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Gives Daily Show’s Jon Stewart No Clues on 2016 Candidacy

The former Secretary of State dodges The Daily Show host's persistent quizzing about her presidential intentions

+ READ ARTICLE

Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday appearance on The Daily Show failed to provide any clarity on whether she will run for President, despite host Jon Stewart’s best attempts.

“She’s here solely for one reason: to publicly and definitively declare her candidacy for President of the United States,” Stewart said jokingly when introducing Clinton. But the best he could coax out of the former Secretary of State and First Lady was that speculation on her candidacy had turned into a “cottage industry.”

Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show comes near the end of a book tour that has taken her across the U.S., to Europe and to the studios of most major American television networks for extended interviews. It is a return performance for Clinton, who first appeared on Stewart’s Comedy Central show when she was a Senator for New York promoting her 2003 memoir, Living History. She also made an appearance during her 2008 presidential campaign.

During Tuesday’s show, Clinton touched on several of the domestic and international issues she tackled as Secretary of State, topics that are the backbone of her latest book, Hard Choices, which currently occupies the No. 2 slot on the New York Times’ nonfiction best-seller list.

Stewart called the book an “eyewitness view to the history of those four years,” but repeatedly came back to the question of 2016. “I think I speak for everybody when I say, no one cares (about the book), they just want to know if you’re running for President.”

On that point, however, Clinton intends to keep feeding that cottage industry.

Watch the extended interview with Clinton below.

The Daily Show
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Indecision Political Humor,The Daily Show on Facebook

TIME Campaign Finance

If Campaign Ads Told the Truth, They Would Sound Like This

Meet "Honest Gil", a satirical candidate in Kentucky's senate race

+ READ ARTICLE

Ever wonder what politicians would say if they had to always speak the unvarnished truth?

Meet Gil Fulbright, (Or Phil Gulbright. Or Bill Fulbright. Or Phillip Mimouf-Wifarts. You’ll understand once you’ve watched the ad).

“Honest Gil” is a satirical candidate for the U.S. Senate in the Kentucky race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. Gil plans to rent a campaign bus, take out billboard and TV ads and show up at campaign events in order to make a spectacle of what is poised to be the most expensive Senate election in American history.

Fulbright will be the face of Represent.Us, a non-partisan movement claiming 450,000 supporters that wants to pass campaign finance and anti-corruption laws to limit the influence of money on Washington. With 26 days left in its Indiegogo campaign to raise money for Fulbright’s shenanigans, the group has already busted through its fundraising goal of $20,000.

The effort is reminiscent of the Mayday PAC, Lawrence Lessig’s new crowd-funded cannibal Super PAC to destroy all Super PACs.

Whatever your position on campaign finance, Fulbright’s commercial is at the very least a funny/tragically spot-on commentary on the state of political discourse in the U.S.

TIME 2014 Election

McDaniel Campaign Begins Legal Challenge in Mississippi GOP Primary

McDaniel delivers a concession speech in Hattiesburg
Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel delivers a speech to supporters in Hattiesburg, Miss. on June 24, 2014. Jonathan Bachman—Reuters

The Tea Party challenger says a write-in campaign is not off the table

This year’s most hotly contested Republican primary elections entered a new round of controversy Thursday morning, when the Tea Party challenger attempting to unseat incumbent Senator Thad Cochran officially initiated a challenge to the results of a runoff last week.

Insurgent candidate Chris McDaniel Thursday sent a “Notice of Intent to Challenge” to the Cochran campaign, the first step in an attempt to invalidate the election by revealing voting irregularities. Early next week the McDaniel campaign will file its official challenge with the state Republican Party, which oversees the primary election, McDaniel spokesman Noel Fritsch told TIME. A legal challenge in the courts will follow, Fritsch says.

“Most important in this challenge is the integrity of the election process. That’s what this is really all about,” Fritsch said. “What you have here are multiple criminal allegations, criminal misconduct.”

Cochran won a runoff against his more conservative challenger by about 6,700 votes, in part by appealing to moderates and Democrats, who were legally allowed to vote in the Republican runoff in Mississippi if they did not vote in the June 3 Democratic primary. McDaniel alleges that a significant number of Cochran votes came from Democrats who had violated that rule.

The McDaniel campaign has thus far found more than 4,900 votes it calls into question, Fritsch says. The campaign has not yet received access to records in 31 counties or to 19,000 absentee ballots, Fritsch says.

A Cochran campaign spokesman, Jordan Russell, told TIME he could not confirm the campaign had received the notice from McDaniel but called the challenge “baseless.”

“It’s not going anywhere. There’s no evidence of any wrongdoing,” Russell told TIME. “Frankly, it’s a publicity stunt, an attempt to help him to retire his campaign debt.”

Conservative activists were outraged by Cochran’s narrow victory, won with the support of Democrats after McDaniel bested the long-time Senator in the June 3 primary (neither man won more than 50% of the vote, automatically triggering the runoff). Some in conservative circles have called for McDaniel, a firebrand State Senator and former conservative radio host, to mount a write-in campaign, which may not be legally feasible under Mississippi law. A write-in effort would be good news for Democrat Travis Childers, a former congressman from Mississippi who under normal circumstances would face extremely long odds against a Republican in the deeply conservative state.

“We’ve got thousands and thousands of people telling us to do that” Fritsch said when asked if McDaniel would consider a write-in effort. “Oh no. We’re not taking any actions off the table right now.”

-With reporting from Zeke Miller

TIME Iran

Iran’s YouTube Message to Obama: Don’t Bully Us

Tehran takes a hard line as a July 20 nuclear deadline nears

+ READ ARTICLE

Iran’s foreign minister posted a defiant YouTube message on Wednesday, just as high-stakes talks over Iran’s nuclear program are resuming amid dim hopes for a breakthrough by a mid-July deadline.

“Iranians are allergic to pressure,” Mohammad Javad Zarif says in the English-language video. “Let’s try mutual respect.”

Zarif’s digital salvo came the day before the formal resumption of talks between Iran, the U.S., and five other major powers—and less than three weeks before the July 20 expiration of November’s interim nuclear agreement, which froze the progress of Iran’s nuclear program in return for relaxed international sanctions.

Experts call the video a clear message to the West and an effort to gain a public relations advantage as the final round of nuclear talks get underway. “Given that the video is in English, Zarif is clearly speaking to a foreign rather than a domestic audience,” says Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “His message to Washington is that a failure to reach an agreement today will only result in a more advanced Iranian nuclear program tomorrow. His message to the world is that a failure to reach an agreement will be America’s fault.”

In talks that began last fall, the Obama administration hopes to reach a long-term agreement trading sanctions relief for limits on Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb. Such a deal might be Barack Obama’s last chance for an enduring foreign policy triumph in a star-crossed second term.

Zarif’s defiant tone, however, reinforces pessimism about the prospects for such a comprehensive deal, at least this summer.

“This probably isn’t going to get done by July 20,” says George Perkovich, also of the Carnegie Endowment, who recently returned from meetings in Tehran with people informed about the negotiations.

November’s interim deal allowed for a six-month extension, until January 2015, and many experts predict that outcome. Earlier this year Obama officials seemed to raise expectations for a more comprehensive deal, one that could last for a decade or more, but have recently struck a much more pessimistic tone. Even so, most close observers expect that the talks will continue rather than collapse entirely.

“I don’t think either side can afford to take the blame for walking away from the table if the other side is prepared to continue,” said Gary Samore, who formerly handled the Iran nuclear issue for the Obama White House, said in recent public remarks.

In latest example of Iran’s canny digital diplomacy, Zarif’s new video presents a soothing tone, opening with a shot of the diplomat strolling past a trickling fountain. A piano gently plays. But Zarif’s tone is stern. Speaking in fluent English, Iran’s western-educated negotiator denounces U.S.-led efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program over the past decade, including “the murder of our nuclear scientists, the sabotage of our facilities” and “military threats” from Washington.

Zarif may have been responding, in part, to a Wednesday Washington Post op-ed by Secretary of State John Kerry, warning Tehran not to “squander a historic opportunity to end Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation,” and to accept limits that would allow for a peaceful nuclear program.

Obama officials in Vienna are pressing Iran to dismantle several thousand of its roughly 10,000 centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium into a more fissile form, and to accept other limits on its nuclear facilities and research programs. Their goal is to extend the “break out” time required for Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make one nuclear bomb, to as long as one year, thereby giving the international community time to detect and respond to the move. In return, Iran would get relief from harsh economic sanctions against its banking, energy and other key sectors.

Congressional Republicans and some Democrats are skeptical of such a deal, and argue for cranking up economic sanctions until Tehran, in effect, cries uncle and dismantles its nuclear program entirely.

Zarif insists that won’t happen. “To those who continue to believe that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has only been tried for the past eight years…. It didn’t bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission and it will not now, nor in the future,” he says in his message.

Zarif’s tone reflects a bargaining gulf that remains over everything from the number of centrifuges Iran will retain to the operation of a heavy water plutonium reactor at Arak, whose fuel can easily be fashioned into bombs. The U.S. also wants more transparency about any military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran maintains that the world has no right to dictate its use of nuclear technology for what it says are peaceful energy and medical purposes.

Complicating matters are renewed concerns that Iran could might try to build a bomb in secret after striking a deal that covers its known nuclear sites. A new report from Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs warns against the potential false comfort of a “nuclear Maginot line.”

Meeting with the Iranians in Vienna are the U.S., Great Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia—a group known as the P5+1, because, along with the U.S., it includes the five permanent members of the United Nations security council, plus Germany.

Casting a long shadow, meanwhile, is Israel, which sent a delegation to Washington on Sunday to repeat their government’s view that Iran should surrender its nuclear infrastructure entirely. In an interview after his arrival here, Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz cited the success of the deal that forced Syrian president Bashar Assad to give up his declared chemical arsenal, which has now been removed from the country. Only “total dismantlement” can ensure that Iran doesn’t test the international community’s will in the future.

Zarif wants the world to believe that Iran has no such intention. “We still have time to put an end to the myth that Iran is seeking to build a bomb,” he says. “My government remains committed to ending this unnecessary crisis by July 20. I hope my counterparts are, too.”

Even if both sides are genuinely committed to a deal, however, that doesn’t mean they can agree on one.

TIME

GOP Target Pryor Surviving TV Attacks in Arkansas

WARREN, Arkansas — Television ads have relentlessly attacked Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor for more than a year, and not even his famous name is off limits. Says a little girl in a spot set at a spelling bee, it’s spelled “O-B-A-M-A.”

In a state where Democrats have become an endangered species in the past decade, the televised onslaught ought to have long since laid flat the Senate incumbent perhaps most vulnerable come November.

And yet you’d hardly know it from how at ease Pryor is among the crowd at Bradley County’s annual Pink Tomato Festival. To a warning from supporter Sam Wherry, who said he fears House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s loss has recharged tea party conservatives, “they’re really going to come after you now,” Pryorreplied: “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Work off-the-air is what’s keeping Pryor alive. He’s shown a remarkable personal touch with voters who are comfortable with his family name, for decades a powerful political brand in Arkansas. And his aggressive effort to counter televised attacks by emphasizing his independent political style has him still standing in a race few outside the state expect he can win.

“If you want to stop that gridlock and stop all that partisan bickering and all that, you have to have people in Washington that want to stop it,” he said.

If Republicans are to gain the six seats they need to win control of the Senate in November, Pryor’s seat is sure to be among them. President Barack Obama is less popular here than in about any other place, and the dollars from groups such as American Crossroads will continue to find any way possible — from the scandal at the Veterans Administration to escalating violence in Iraq — to tie Pryor to the president.

“I don’t think Mark Pryor’s road is going to get any easier,” said GOP nominee Tom Cotton, a first-term U.S. House member seeking a move up to the Senate.

It’s a race that sets up well for Cotton, even if devout Arkansas Republicans admit the combat veteran and Harvard-trained lawyer lacks Pryor’s personal ease with voters. GOP presidential nominees have carried Arkansas with increasing margins in every election since Bill Clinton’s last run in 1996. Eight years ago, Democrats made up a majority of the state’s congressional delegation; today, Pryor is the only one who isn’t a Republican.

This is also the first real race of Pryor’s political career. The son of David Pryor, a former governor, senator and congressman, Mark Pryor won election to the Senate in 2002 after scandal sunk his GOP opponent. He didn’t draw a challenger six years later.

“This year he’s forced to run on his own record,” said Alice Stewart, a GOP strategist based in Little Rock.

This campaign started early, with Pryor, Cotton and their advocate groups starting with television ads in February 2013. For Pryor, the quick start on TV was a move aimed at avoiding what some feel was the mistake made by his former Democratic colleague, Blanche Lincoln, by not engaging in her re-election effort early enough ahead of a lopsided loss in 2010.

Along with supporters, Pryor has bombarded voters with ads about the freshman Republican’s support of last year’s partial government shutdown and opposition to the 2014 farm bill.

“They tried to strangle my candidacy in the cradle, and it obviously isn’t working,” Cotton said.

Obama figures into the attacks of both. Cotton’s side has called Pryor an Obama rubber stamp for voting for the 2010 health care bill and the $787 billion economic stimulus package in 2009. Pryor, meanwhile, got some unintentional help from then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who paid for ads urging Pryor to support Obama’s call for expanded background checks for gun buyers. Pryor doubled down on his opposition to the idea.

“They are trying to say I’m just like Obama. Bottom line is it’s just not true,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m probably the most independent senator in Washington.”

Through June, both sides had spent roughly $16 million in television advertising pounding home those arguments. So much so that both men appeared to be fighting to win their place on the November ballot in the state’s May primary. In fact, both were unopposed.

But along with, or maybe in spite of, the TV ads, it is Pryor’s connections to the state that are keeping him competitive. His campaign borrows his father’s logo, a somewhat outdated looking image of a red, white and blue image of Arkansas emblazoned simply with “Pryor.” A new touch is the small script at the bottom: “Arkansas Comes First.”

Pryor did more listening than talking while strolling the Bradley County courthouse grounds at the Pink Tomato Festival. He nodded silently as Wherry, an influential African-American Democratic activist, pressed him about the race, and later as farmer Jonny Pitillo fretted aloud about the price of cotton.

The next morning, Pryor lit up with laughter the mostly black congregation of a Little Rock Baptist church. Tucked into his sermon was a subtle message, too, about how much all those television ads really ought to be worth.

“One thing that comes through loud and clear in the Bible is that it’s not just the words but the doing that leaves an impression,” he said.

 

 

TIME 2014 Election

More Bad News for Democrats in 2014 Battleground States

A new survey of likely voters in 12 key Senate races shows the electorate continues to skew Republican

A new survey has more bad news for Democrats running in key battleground states this November.

The poll by Resurgent Republic and Democracy Corps, Republican and Democratic research firms, respectively, found that President Barack Obama’s approval rating in 12 states with the most competitive Senate races is only 38%—3 points lower than his national approval number.

Recent headlines surrounding the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, the Veterans Affairs and IRS scandals, and the initially botched rollout of the health care reform law haven’t helped: 57% of voters consider them to be “real problems that raise serious doubts about the competence of the Obama Administration.”

“That is a problem for the Obama Administration,” Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who worked on the survey, told reporters Thursday. “But it is a problem for the Democrats running for reelection in these battleground states because the reputation of the President always overshadows midterm elections.”

While the slew of scandals may not drive voters to the poll, Ayres said, the results make it difficult for incumbent Democrats to stand with the President on key issue.

And Republicans have the upper hand when it comes to party trust on key issues, according to the survey: 50% of all voters favor Republicans’ handling of foreign policy, 16 percentage points higher than their trust in Democrats. The split is less dramatic on the economy, with 47% of voters trusting Republicans, compared to 37% trusting Democrats. Among independents, who often cast the key swing votes in close races, 48% say they trust Republicans handling of the economy while only 28% trust Democrats.

Even on health care, Republicans are favored, albeit slightly: 45% of all voters trust Republicans to handle health care and 41% of voters trust Democrats.

The problem for Democrats is more their weakness than Republicans’ strength.

“There is enormous frustration… for Congress in general,” Ayres said. “But the Republican leaders in the House are not on the ballot in these… battleground states.

“The playing field,” Ayres added, “looks more promising for Republicans than any time in recent memory.”

TIME 2014 Election

Tea Party Activists Eye Mississippi Write-in Campaign After Shocking Loss

McDaniel
Chris McDaniel addresses his supporters after falling behind in a heated GOP primary runoff election against incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran on Tuesday June 24, 2014 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. George Clark—AP

Chris McDaniel was defiant in defeat, but hasn't signaled he'll mount a long-shot write-in bid

Tea Party activists in Mississippi and beyond urged state Sen. Chris McDaniel to mount a write-in campaign against Republican Sen. Thad Cochran on Wednesday, following McDaniel’s stunning defeat in a primary runoff vote Tuesday.

“When the Republican Establishment acts like Democrats, what is the point of supporting them?” Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday morning. “Every McDaniel supporter in Mississippi from DeSoto County in the North to Biloxi in the South should stand up today and tell Chris McDaniel that if he runs as a write-in candidate in November, they will support him.”

McDaniel lost in a runoff to the six-term incumbent Cochran by only about 6,000 votes, amounting to less than 2% of the total count. Many of those who pushed Cochran over the top were either Republicans who’d been unmoved to vote in the initial June 3 primary (in which McDaniel narrowly won but failed to secure the 50% needed to prevent a runoff), or Democrats who were inspired to vote for Cochran to prevent a Tea Party victory for McDaniel.

Turnout in Tuesday’s runoff was higher than in Round One, with about 55,000 more ballots cast, many of them by Democrats for Cochran. McDaniel supporters felt robbed; as their candidate took the stage at his election night watch party, the crowd chanted “Write Chris in!”

“There is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats,” McDaniel said, clearly incensed. “Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.”

Aside from those comments, McDaniel has offered no indication that he intends to mount a write-in candidacy.

Just hours after the race was called for Cochran, a Facebook page entitled “Write-in campaign for Chris Mcdaniel” appeared online. Conservatives vented outrage on Twitter and echoed calls for a write-in campaign.

Any such effort would be a long shot, to say the least, for the McDaniel camp, but victory in the upcoming general election may not be the only goal they have in mind. The Cochran-McDaniel primary was more than a mere nominating contest, it was a proxy battle in the broader ideological war over the future of the GOP, and the conservative wing of the party is outraged. If a McDaniel write-in campaign gained enough steam, it could imperil Cochran’s otherwise easy path back to Washington, emboldening the state’s marginalized Democrats and making for an interesting three-way general election.

At least one man is thoroughly enjoying the family feud still underway in Mississippi and the prospect of a write-in McDaniel campaign.

“Clearly there was some sloppiness to say the least, and probably some failures to comply with the law,” Mississippi State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole told Breitbart. “I listened to some of McDaniel’s speech, and in a race this close I’m sure there are irregularities that ought to be looked into.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser