The Note: Past Tea Time?

Oct 26, 2010 9:08am


HAS THE TEA PARTY PEAKED? It might be time for a Tea Party reality check. Although the power the movement has exerted over the Republican Party — and the electoral successes their candidates enjoyed in the primaries — is surely one of the most important story lines of the 2010 cycle, with exactly one week until Election Day where is the Tea Party now? As Republican and conservative groups shift their attention to get-out-the-vote efforts, some Tea Party activists are “refusing to cooperate with more mainstream Republicans,” according to the Los Angeles Times’ Tom Hamburger and Kathleen Hennessey. They write that unlike in previous years, the GOP turnout effort is taking a “patchwork” approach rather than a unified one led by the Republican National Committee: “FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group that has supported tea party activists across the country, expects to spend $500,000 on its own program that taps into the network of tea party supporters. Brendan Steinhauser, director of state and federal campaigns at FreedomWorks, said the distance from the party was an advantage in recruiting new activists. ‘A lot of people don't want to work with the Republican Party, for the most part,’ he said. ‘They like the candidate, but they don't want to go to GOP headquarters. They'll work with us.’”

At the same time, many of the Tea Party candidates who scored stunning wins over establishment Republican contenders are now locked in tight races. Politico’s Shira Toeplitz surveys the Senate landscape and finds that the Tea Party could get a “mixed return” on Nov. 2. “With about a week to go until Election Day, several candidates stamped with the tea party seal of approval are either locked in statistical ties with their Democratic opponents or sinking in the polls, despite well-funded war chests and endorsements from influential conservatives like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). In several cases, the candidates’ staunchly conservative views, thin political credentials and lack of campaign experience — the same assets that helped them upset the GOP status quo — have become liabilities in the general election.”

CRESTED WAVE? Nevada’s Sharron Angle, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Alaska’s Joe Miller, among others, may eventually prevail, but right now all three contests look tight. It may be all be part of a wave that “seems to have crested,” according to political odds-maker Charlie Cook. “This is approximately where the 1994 election was — something in the range of eight Senate seats, 52 House seats,” Cook told the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson. “A month ago, there was a chance it could have gone from gigantic to titanic. But the possibility of Republican House gains in the 60s or 70s has declined in the last month.”

OPTIMISIM DROPPING. A new ABC News/Yahoo News poll out today finds that Americans are less optimistic about the country’s system of government has dropped to a new low and the public’s view that America is the “greatest nation on earth” is sliding too. Gary Langer takes a closer look at the results: “[Public] disenchantment extends beyond its economic and political roots to broader questions about the country's governance and American exceptionalism. The bottom hasn't fallen out of national pride: Seventy-five percent call the United States ‘the greatest country in the world.’ But that's down from 88 percent when the same question was asked in 1984. And nearly a quarter, 23 percent, now take the alternative view, saying America used to be the greatest country "but isn't anymore." That's up from 9 percent. … Back in 1974 — shortly after Richard Nixon's resignation in the Watergate scandal — 55 percent of Americans were optimistic about ‘our system of government and how well it works.’ Today, 33 percent say that, the lowest number in nearly a dozen measurements taken across the decades.”



STARVING FOR CHOICE. The new ABC News/Yahoo News poll also asked Americans’ views of the midterm elections and as Gary Langer notes, much of the public said there aren’t enough good choices: “[Just] 19 percent of Americans feel there are at least a ‘good amount’ of candidates available to them who share their view of what the country needs. Forty-six percent instead see few or even no such choices. That leaves 35 percent who don’t know if there are any candidates with whom they agree, a number that’s about as high (30 percent) among registered voters. Those look to be the folks who’ve tuned the whole thing out.”

More exclusive insights from the news poll and a look at the political week ahead from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Amy Walter, Jon Karl and John Berman on the “Good Morning America,” pre-game show, GMA@6:45. Also on today, Yahoo! Senior Political Reporter Holly Bailey.

ON THE TRAIL: Today is a rare day when President Obama is not on the campaign trail. He will remain in Washington for meetings at the White House. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, travels to New York to headline campaign events for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y. First Lady Michelle Obama is in California today to raise money for Sen. Barbara Boxer.

NOTED: The Democratic National Committee unveiled a new Web video today featuring First Lady Michelle Obama designed to encourage Democrats to vote early in key states. It was filmed on a recent trip to Chicago where the first lady took advantage of early voting. In an e-mail, a DNC official writes: “The release of this video coincides with the DNC's 'Early Vote Day of Action' where we'll be working to get as many people as possible to tweet about early voting and change their twitter icon to an "I early voted" sticker. We'll also be promoting the website which gives supporters information about early voting and other key election news and dates.”


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”:  ABC’s Rick Klein and Amy Walter interview former Bush White House communications director, Nicolle Wallace, author of a new book “Eighteen Acres,” a novel about the first woman president. Also on the program, Jane Sasseen of Yahoo! News who will discuss the finding for the new ABC News/Yahoo! News Poll out today. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern.

Keep your eye on ABC’s always-updated House, Senate and governor’s race maps right here:

NIGHTLINE NOW. As the midterm election season comes to a head, ABC News “Nightline” announces the launch of accessible from the network’s site The new site allows Twitter users to customize their feed to follow, share and respond to a live feed of tweets on key races. The site, which is designed to allow users to be able filter their tweets by topic and location, provides real time tweets on the most followed election races this year. Check it out:



SOUNDING CONFIDENT. National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions gives his one-week-out take on the state of the House landscape in a memo circulated this morning: “As Republicans continue to expand the playing field and put races away early, Democrats are constantly plugging holes in the dam while resources grow scarce,” Sessions wrote. “After a natural post-Labor Day tightening in races across the country, developments at both the national and district-by-district levels confirm that Republicans are finishing strong. A few weeks ago, we found ourselves on the precipice of victory. Now we are closing the deal, moving toward accomplishing our ultimate goal of retiring Nancy Pelosi and capturing a new Republican majority.”

HOW HIGH CAN SHE GO? California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has spent more than $140 million of her own fortune on the race would not say whether she would spend even more in the closing days of the election, but she told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a “World News” interview that she would “do it all over again in a minute.” All of this despite what Whitman says have been viscous attacks by her opponent and his campaign. "I've been called a Nazi. I've been called a whore. I've been called a liar," Whitman said. "And I think the reason is that Jerry Brown can't run on his record. His record as governor was terrible. His record in Oakland was terrible."

GOING HOLLYWOOD. MoveOn is out with a new get-out-the-vote video titled “RepubliCorp,” which uses Facebook Connect technology to personalize the message weaving pictures the user’s friends into the story line. The video, which can be customized and sent to your friends, features actors Olivia Wilde and Romany Malco who play characters battling a fictional corporation — an imagined combination of the Republican Party and big corporations. “Since the Supreme Court has decided to allow corporations to buy elections, we felt a life-like, reality-based video from the future is exactly what progressives need to realize how much is at stake November 2nd,” Wilde said in an e-mail message to MoveOn supporters.


THE NUMBER: $2 billion

The combined amount that House and Senate candidates have spent on the midterm elections, according to FEC records and the Washington Post. That’s a new midterm election season record. The Post’s Dan Eggen puts the number in perspective: “ That's the equivalent of about $4 million for every congressional seat up for grabs this year. … As of last week, House and Senate campaigns reported taking in more than $1.5 billion, exceeding the total collected by congressional candidates in 2006 and in 2008, FEC data show. Most of that money already has been put toward advertising and other expenses. … Senate campaigns are also on track to exceed the $550 million mark from 2006…”


@JillDLawrence: Chris Coons turns 1st amendment into fun fodder for 75-minute auctioneer turn. Meet the other candidate for #DESEN

@postpolitics: Jesse Jackson Jr. says he won't run for Chicago mayor #p2 #tcot #chicago

@fixfelicia: RT @Stowydad: Dayton reports $4.2M in #mn2010 spending. $256K on hand. Loans in 2010 total $3.3M

@ezraklein: Divided government does not mean deficit reduction. And this year in particular, it might be quite the opposite:

@CrassPolitical: With it now increasingly obv.that Barnes will finish behind Deal in GA,he ought to hope Libertarian keeps Deal below 50%.Would be Dec.runoff


A DAY FOR WOMEN. ABC’s Diane Sawyer and Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, are among the keynote speakers at The Women’s Conference, the largest one day gathering of women in the country, that takes place in Long Beach, Calif. today. The conference will also feature First Lady Michelle Obama, Maria Shriver, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Suze Orman, Howard Schultz, Phil Knight, Laura Bush, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, Mary J. Blige, Oprah Winfrey, and others.

THE NOTE IS HIRING AN INTERN. Calling on College Students! The ABC News Political Unit is now seeking full-time Winter 2011 interns in Washington, D.C.  The paid internship begins in late December or early January and runs thru May of 2011.  Political Unit interns attend political events and contribute to stories for the politics page of They also help ABC News by conducting research, maintaining our calendar of upcoming political events, and posting stories to  

In order to apply, you MUST be either a graduate student or an undergraduate student who has completed his or her first year of college. The internship is NOT open to recent graduates.  You also must be able to work eight hours per day, Monday through Friday. Interns will be paid $8.50/hour. If you write well, follow politics closely, and have some familiarity with web publishing, send a cover letter and resume to Zach Wolf at, by Monday, November 15, with the subject line: "INTERN" in all caps.  Please indicate in both your cover letter and the body of your email your student status and the specific dates and hours of your availability.


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