The Midterms Of Our Discontent

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • A BIG NUMBER FOR THE GOP: Registered voters by a 53-39 percent margin say they'd rather see the Republicans in control of Congress as a counterbalance to President Obama's policies than a Democratic-led Congress to help support him, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll out today. ABC's GARY LANGER notes that it was similar in fall 2010, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and gained six Senate seats. Meanwhile, Obama's job approval rating, after a slight winter rebound, has lost 5 points among all adults since March, to 41 percent, the lowest of his presidency by a single point. Fifty-two percent disapprove, with "strong" disapproval exceeding strong approval by 17 percentage points. He's lost ground in particular among some of his core support groups.
  • WONDERING WHY? Economic discontent remains the driving element in political views in this survey. Americans rate the condition of the economy negatively by 71-29 percent - the least bad since November 2007, but still dismal by any measure. Only 28 percent think the economy's improving, down by 9 points since just before Obama won his second term.
  • WRONG TRACK: The public, by a 66-30 percent margin, says the country's headed seriously off on the wrong track, LANGER notes. That's about where it's been lately, and more negative than a year ago. Just 22 percent of Americans say they're inclined to re-elect their representative in Congress, unchanged from last month as the fewest in ABC/Post polls dating back 25 years. And just a single point divides Democratic and Republican candidates for the House in preference among registered voters, 45-44 percent. Among those who say they're certain to vote (with Republicans more apt to show up in midterms), that goes to 44-49 percent. Independents, a sometimes swing-voting group, favor Republican House candidates by 55-32 percent (among those who say they're certain to vote).


ABC's JEFF ZELENY: If Democrats were beginning to think their outlook for November was looking brighter, the latest ABC/Washington Post poll dispels that notion. Not only is President Obama's approval rating at the lowest point of his presidency, a majority of registered voters, 53 percent, say they are eager to have a Republican-controlled Congress serve as a check on the White House, while 39 percent say they would rather see Democrats in charge to advance the president's agenda. A similar warning sign was blinking brightly just before the Republican wave of 2010. The challenges come as no surprise for Democrats, particularly those incumbents who are out battling the fierce headwinds everyday. It's still difficult for Democrats to distance themselves from the president, but the poll finds that it's far from safe to fully embrace him.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: They've got the issues, but - unfortunately for them - they've also got the presidency. You can read the new ABC/Washington Post poll and find plenty of reasons for Democrats to take heart. Voters say their prefer their approach to the economy, health care, immigration, abortion, gay marriage, the minimum wage, climate change - and even prefer Democratic candidates in House races, though just by a single point. But with President Obama's approval rating down to 41 percent, voters say they want a check on his power. Registered voters say 53-39 that they'd prefer a Republican Congress as a check on Obama to a Democratic Congress that would advance his agenda. So if the election is about the issues, Democrats have a chance to avoid a wipeout. If it's about the Obama agenda, that's another story.



CAN COPS SEARCH YOUR CELL PHONE WITHOUT A WARRANT? The founding fathers weren't exactly experts on issues like cloud storage, so Supreme Court justices often struggle with applying old, established rules to emerging technology, ABC's ARIANE DE VOGUE notes. Today, the high court will hear two cases that ask a variation of this question: Does a police officer need a warrant when searching a cell phone during a lawful arrest? Lower courts have split on the issue. Courts upholding the warrantless searches have relied, at times, on a 1973 Supreme Court precedent that privacy advocates say doesn't contemplate modern technology. The search of a smart phone today can reveal much more than the last call dialed. Many devices contain videos, photographs, GPS information, cloud storage, financial documents and even a link to a webcam in a private home.

HILLARY CLINTON SAYS SHE'S A PROUD 'HIPPY' MOM. Speaking to a room full of supporters and early education leaders Monday, Hillary Clinton touted an early education program that she admits she stumbled on by "fate" nearly 30 years ago, according to ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN. "In 1985 when my husband was Governor of Arkansas, I went with him to a Governor's conference in Miami," said the former Secretary of State at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. "I was in our hotel room getting ready for the day, flipping through the local newspaper, when something caught my eye." Clinton, now a prospective candidate for the Democratic party's nomination for president in 2016, went on to recount her experience reading about the origins of what would become the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, or HIPPY program. "I am honored to be introduced as a HIPPY mom… And soon to be HIPPY grandma," Clinton said. The HIPPY Program is a home visitation service that aims to foster early childhood cognitive development. Teachers offer a "curriculum" that they recommend parents work 15-20 minutes per day with their children ages 3-5.

GOP STUCK WITH MICHAEL GRIMM - FOR NOW. There is little, if anything, Republicans can do to get New York Rep. Michael Grimm off the November ballot despite his arrest yesterday on fraud charges, according to ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. "We are essentially handcuffed with him as a candidate," a state GOP aide told ABC News. "This is no accident that it was just after the petitioning period." Grimm's legal woes are welcome news to Democrats hoping to win the seat with a former city councilman, but Republicans can't even replace Grimm with a more formidable challenger. They are essentially stuck and some state Republicans say the timing of the indictment is politics at work. The petitioning process ended two weeks ago and there is some debate about the possible options the party has for getting him off the ballot, with state GOP officials believing there are three possibilities and election law experts saying only one is legal. All are unlikely, if not impossible, and two of them would need Grimm's support.

REP. VANCE McALLISTER KISSES RE-ELECTION BID GOOD-BYE. Rep. Vance McAllister, the congressman caught on video making out with a congressional staffer, will not seek reelection this fall, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Sources say Louisiana Republican will not resign and intends to serve out his current term, which he won in a special election last fall to succeed Rep. Rodney Alexander. The incident, which was captured on surveillance video in his district office, occurred on Dec. 23, 2013, about a month after he took office.

JOHN KERRY CLARIFIES 'APARTHEID' COMMENT AMID BACKLASH. Speaking to a private audience about the Middle East peace process, Secretary of State John Kerry did what for many Israel supporters is the unthinkable and used the A-word: apartheid, ABC's ALI WEINBERG reports. "A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens - or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state," Kerry said Friday in remarks originally reported by the Daily Beast. Kerry weighed in Monday night with a statement clarifying his comments: "I have been around long enough to also know the power of words to create a misimpression, even when unintentional, and if I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution."

PENTAGON TO CONSIDER WHETHER DRONE PILOTS DESERVE TOP MILITARY HONORS. Jessie Spooner had just witnessed an Afghan detainee slash open his roommate's face with a set of handcuffs, ABC's BRENDAN CULLERTON notes. "I knew the next move would be going for the throat," said Spooner, a former Navy second class petty officer. "He was going to die." Before the detainee got a chance to make that move, Spooner pounced, pulling him off his roommate and saving his life. Actions like that earned Spooner a Navy Achievement Medal. On the other hand, drone pilots like Maj. Ted Shultz spend their time in a control room far away from the line of battle. They survey the surrounding area and can protect ground troops from enemy fire. But the awards available to Shultz are fewer and harder to get.

TOP DEMOCRAT CHALLENGES GOP'S McCONNELL ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE. The House Budget Committee's top democrat picked a political fight with Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell over campaign finance reforms during a speech Monday, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., challenged McConnell to be more specific in his critique of the DISCLOSE Act, Van Hollen's campaign finance reform bill that would require independent political groups that purchase ads designed to elect or defeat specific candidates to disclose the names of their top contributors. "I have here in my hand a copy of the Disclose Act," he said, holding up a dog-eared copy of the bill during remarks at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "I challenge Sen. McConnell - or anybody else - to show me where it selectively targets conservative groups."


'BEVERLY HILLS COP' THEME MUSIC GREETS OBAMA IN MANILA. Move over "Hail to the Chief," the official musical flourish for President Obama in the Philippines, the final stop of his four-country Asia tour, was the theme song to "Beverly Hills Cop." A local ceremonial band hammered out the tune on xylophones and tooted from long cylindrical instruments as Obama and Philippines President Benigno Aquino walked the red carpet to the Malacanang Palace, ABC's DEVIN DWYER AND ANN COMPTON report. WATCH:

JOHN BOEHNER'S GOP CHALLENGER LOSES JOB AFTER SUGGESTIVE AD. Making fun of House Speaker John Boehner's last name may get you some laughs - but it could also cost you your job, ABC's ALEXANDER MALLIN notes. J.D. Winteregg, the high school French teacher turned tea party challenger who is looking to oust Boehner in the primary for Ohio's 8th Congressional District has been let go from his position as adjunct professor at Cedarville University, school officials said yesterday. Winteregg taught one online class at the Christian university but stopped teaching last week, according to a statement from university spokesman Mark Weinstein. "When faculty or staff members participate in political conversations, interviews, advertisements, or endorsements, they are doing so as individual citizens," Weinstein said in the statement. "Mr. Winteregg in his recent political campaign video did not represent the views or values of Cedarville University."


RALPH NADER'S AMERICA: IMPEACH OBAMA, DECRIMINALIZE DRUGS, LIBERTARIANS & PROGRESSIVES UNITE! What if Washington politics were no longer defined by partisan gridlock but instead by a cross-party alliance that forged solutions? The alliance would be unstoppable. That's the premise of the new book "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State" by longtime political activist and five-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who contends that such a left-right alliance is not just the stuff of imagination but is actually emerging. "On Capitol Hill, I'm seeing more and more in Congress, left and right," Nader told ABC's JEFF ZELENY, host of "The Fine Print." "It was a vote in the House over a year ago over the NSA snooping, it almost broke through … so we're beginning to see formulations that once they click together, they're unstoppable."


@HillaryClinton: My heart is with all those in Arkansas and elsewhere that were in the path of those terrible tornados.

@SenTedCruz: For Sec. Kerry to use such incendiary rhetoric does real damage to our critical ally, Israel. He should resign: …

@Milbank: John Kerry is doing a great job as Secretary of State, apartheid from the way he says things.

@amyewalter: DGA chair Shumlin admits to reporters that he went to summer camp w/ Tom Steyer. "I've known him since I was 9?

@ccamia: Fixing handle: Condi Rice to help out Sen. @LindseyGrahamSC in #SCSen via @usatonpolitics

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