How Low They Can Go

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • WITH CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS VIRTUALLY UPON US, public disapproval of the Democrats in Congress has hit a new high in ABC News-Washington Post polls dating back 20 years. And disapproval of their Republican counterparts - while not a record - is even higher, according to ABC's GARY LANGER. Congress overall, for its part, has a 20 percent approval rating, one of its worst heading into a midterm election in polling dating back even farther, to 1974. Evaluating just the Democrats in Congress, 67 percent disapprove, a high in polling since 1994 (albeit by a single point). Even more, 72 percent, disapprove of the Republicans in Congress, narrowly missing their all-time record for public scorn, 75 percent in January 2012.
  • WHAT HISTORY TELLS US: While the Republican Party has weaker ratings overall, history suggests that the risk is more the Democrats', as the party that holds the presidency. From 1974 through 2010, using available data closest to each midterm election, approval of Congress has correlated with losses for the then-president's party at a substantial .63 (on a scale in which 1 is a perfect, positive match). Congress was about this unpopular heading into a midterm twice before, with 18 and 21 percent approval in a pair of polls in October 1994 and 23 percent (among registered voters) in October 2010. Both times the incumbent president's party got nailed, losing 54 and 63 House seats, respectively.
  • WEAK AT THE BASE: Notably, a substantial 42 percent of Democrats disapprove of the way the Democrats in Congress are doing their jobs, and an identical number of Republicans say the same about the Republicans in Congress.


ABC's JONATHAN KARL: We are eight days away from a midterm election that increasingly looks a like a wave that may sweep Democrats out of power in the Senate and further into the minority in the House. And, where is President Obama? He was without any public events over the weekend and today there's nothing on his public schedule. Nothing. Bill Clinton is out campaigning. So is Jimmy Carter. Jeb Bush and Bob Dole have been campaigning. Heck, so are John McCain and Mitt Romney - and they both lost to Barack Obama. It's not to say President Obama is not a presence in virtually all the closely contested Senate races. As Republicans make their closing arguments in virtually all of these races, they are portraying the election as a referendum on Obama and using his words ("Make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot - every single one of them") to make the case.

ABC's RICK KLEIN: History is written by the winners, of course. So Democrats can only hope the draft of campaign 2014 will be revised significantly on the other side of Nov. 4. Campaign events large and small over the past year-plus frame the outline for a book about a Republican sweep. Missed red-state recruiting opportunities - Kentucky, South Dakota, Montana. Federal government bungling -, VA and Secret Service scandals. Late-breaking external events that help establish a national frame - the border crisis and then ISIS and Ebola, in a toxic, scary mix. A series of Democratic unforced errors - bookended by Bruce Braley and the Iowa insult, and the inability of Democrats to pronounce Braley's name correctly. It caps an election season of role reversals so extreme that a class of Democratic senators ushered in with Obama feels like it can only survive by being as far away from him as possible. And the presidential buzz? It's now centered on another Bush.


-IOWA AND ILLINOIS: BIDEN HITS THE TRAIL. President Obama won't hit the campaign trail until tomorrow but in the meantime, his top surrogates continue to stump for candidates. Vice President Joe Biden is in Iowa today - another state where Obama will not be seen this campaign season. Biden is attending an event for Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (we'll see if the White House will finally get his name and title right). Later in the afternoon, Biden travels to Illinois to rally support for Gov. Quinn, Sen. Durbin and Rep Bustos. -Mary Bruce

-GEORGIA: OPPO BICKERING MARKS SECOND SENATE DEBATE. David Perdue and Michelle Nunn went back and forth over a lot of things Sunday night, most of them having to do with campaign oppo research. Their second of three televised debates was not quite as lively as their last encounter, which took place before a raucous crowd at the Georgia state fair. Main topics of intrigue included Perdue's career in outsourcing, and the appropriateness of Nunn's accusations that he outsourced "jobs," a motif that connotes shipping out actual American jobs, which might not be the case; Perdue's accusation that Nunn funneled money to terrorists, a claim lambasted by fact-checkers; two EEOC complaints against the organization Nunn ran; and Nunn's continued use of images of George H.W. Bush, whose nonprofit she ran, despite the former president's request through a spokesman that she stop. -Chris Good

-MASSACHUSETTS: FROM BAD TO WORSE FOR MARTHA COAKLEY. Newspapers across the country endorsed candidates this weekend, but perhaps no choice was more surprising than the Boston Globe's backing of Republican Charlie Baker over Democrat Martha Coakley in the bright blue Bay State. Remembered for her loss to Scott Brown in 2010, it looks like the very same thing could happen this year to the gubernatorial candidate now being called Martha "Choke-ly." The Globe says they endorsed Baker because during this campaign he "has focused principally on making state government work better" and the "emphasis is warranted." They also note his split from the national Republican Party on social issues. In their editorial, the Globe describes Coakley's "assessment of the status quo" as "fundamentally upbeat." They also noted her "campaign up to now suggests an odd reluctance to seize the initiative" and said during her primary she was "unwilling to spell out an issue agenda." All reasons they say they went with Baker. - Shushannah Walshe


FINAL COUNTDOWN: EIGHT DAYS TO ELECTION DAY. With just a week and a half until the midterm elections, the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable discussed key battleground Senate races and candidates poised for a 2016 presidential run. WATCH:


GEORGE P. BUSH: JEB BUSH 'MORE THAN LIKELY' TO CONSIDER 2016 RUN. Will another member of the Bush family dynasty make a run for the White House? In an interview in College Station, Texas, this week, George P. Bush told ABC's JONATHAN KARL he thinks his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will "more than likely" run for president in 2016. "I think it's actually, I think it's more than likely that he's giving this a serious thought in moving forward," George P. Bush told Karl aboard his campaign bus in College Station, Texas. "More than likely that he'll run?" Karl asked. "That he'll run," Bush said. "If you had asked me a few years back, I would've said it was less likely." Bush said his family will support his father "a hundred percent" should he decide to launch a bid for the White House.

-'AN OVERALL POSITIVE': In the weeks before the November election, the 38-year-old has crisscrossed the state on a campaign bus as he makes his pitch for the land commissioner post. At stops in San Antonio, Victoria, Goliad and College Station this week, voters repeatedly approached Bush to talk about his famous grandparents, father and uncle, a constant reminder that he's following in the family's political footsteps. "It's an overall positive for me," Bush said of the Bush family name. "But I said from day one of my campaign, 23 months ago, that I am a man of my own right, who stands on my own two feet with my vision. And I need folks to evaluate me based on what I bring to the table."

-FUN FACT: If he wins next Tuesday, George P. will hold the distinction of being the only Bush to win their first campaign.

-WEB EXTRA: GEORGE P. BUSH ON HIS GRANDFATHER'S LEGACY Watch George P. Bush discuss the legacy of former President George H.W. Bush.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI REJECTS MANDATORY QUARANTINE. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said yesterday he "would not have recommended" mandatory quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa to the U.S., ABC's BENJAMIN BELL reports. He said he does not believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should change its policy recommendations. This week, after Dr. Craig Spencer returned from Guinea to New York City and was diagnosed with Ebola, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced they would institute a mandatory 21-day quarantine for health care workers returning from West Africa who had contact with those suffering from Ebola. But on "This Week," Fauci said he would not have supported the quarantine had he been consulted about the decision. "As a scientist and as a health person, if I were asked I would not have recommended that," Fauci said.

MCCAUL: ISIS WAGING WAR ONLINE; RECENT HOMEGROWN ATTACKS EXAMPLES OF 'WHERE THEY'RE WINNING'. House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said on "This Week" that ISIS is waging a war against the West online, with three attacks this week against law enforcement and military personnel - two in Canada and one in the United States - serving as examples of "where they're winning." "I think all the markings are there of radical Islamist ties," McCaul said of the attack Thursday in the New York City subway, in which an unemployed recent Muslim convert - identified by authorities as 32-year-old Zale Thompson - attacked four NYPD officers with a hatchet in broad daylight, striking one in the head before being shot and killed by police. New York police said Friday that Thompson appears to have be picked up his Islamic extremist views himself, watching ISIS and al Qaeda videos on the Internet.

BILL CLINTON: GENDER AND RACIAL POLITICS 'GREATEST THREAT' TO COUNTRY'S FUTURE ?. Former President Bill Clinton warned over the weekend that despite great gains for the gay and transgender community, the lines of gender and race in politics could still cast a shadow in the years ahead, ABC's MATTHEW LAROTONDA notes. Clinton was the keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign's annual black tie dinner Saturday night. And as Hillary Clinton continues to lay the groundwork for a possible presidential run of her own, the leading lobby for gay and transgender rights represents a strong Democratic constituency profoundly affected - both positively and negatively - by his time in the Oval Office. "I believe that in ways large and small, peaceful and sometimes violent, that the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity," he told the crowd of activists, celebrities, and lawmakers.


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