The Note: The Note

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan presides over his final board meeting today. Greenspan's likely successor, Ben Bernanke, is expected to be confirmed by the US Senate today as well.

Year-end FEC filings for 2005 are due today.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, columnist George Will, and former Sen. Phil Gramm address the "Conservative Members Retreat" in Baltimore, MD.

At 10:30 am ET, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and Democratic congressional candidate Lois Murphy unveil the DCCC's "Rubber Stamp Website" in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is in New York City for Republican Governors Association finance meetings.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of Coretta Scott King. LINK

SOTU: political analysis:

Matthew Dowd's polling memo sent RNC members indicates:

1. The Bush White House is always trying to play the expectations game.

2. Whatever has gone on in the past, this speech, and the rollout of the President's policies, will be critical in determining whether he can turn his political fortunes around, achieve some of his big goals, and, perhaps, keep control of Congress.

ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer also offers these two contextual points.

1. "Partisans watch these things; rather than torturing themselves, people who don't like the guy can just turn to another of their 100 channels. When we polled on the SOTU in 2003, we found that the president's approval rating among speech watchers was 70 percent, versus 47 percent among those who didn't watch. As we put it at the time: 'Simply put, people who don't like a particular president are considerably less apt to tune him in.'"

2. "These speeches tend to be composed of poll-tested applause lines, so the people who watch are already predisposed to like what they hear."

"We haven't done immediate post-SOTU reax polls in years (pre-war 2003 was an exception) because, given 1 and 2 above, they are so dreadfully predictable."

Dow Jones/General Electric:

Writing for the newspaper's new "Politics & Economics" page, the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood writes that the public's focus going into the State of the Union is making health care more accessible and more affordable and reducing the number of troops in Iraq.

"Two-thirds say it is time to reduce troop levels in Iraq, while just 28% support maintaining existing troop levels."

On the 2006 front: "By 47% to 38%, Americans say they prefer a Congress controlled by Democrats rather than Republicans to emerge from November balloting. A 58% majority wants Democrats in Congress to 'provide a balance to make sure that President Bush and the Republicans' don't go too far.'"

46% say it is time to give a new candidate a chance to serve in Congress, rather than the current representative. But Republicans can take comfort in the fact that "that predilection for change isn't as pronounced as it was in January 1994, 10 months before the Republicans swept away Democratic House and Senate majorities."


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