Time for a Nancy Pelosi Farewell Victory Tour and new House leaders for Democrats

It isn't on Rolling Stone's list of 2018's biggest farewell tours, but it's time. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer and Assistant Minority Leader Jim Clyburn should announce that for the next three months, they are going to travel the country and campaign like heck, raise lots of money and make sure Democrats win a majority of House seats in November — and that after the election, all of them will step down from their positions to make room for a new generation of Democratic leaders.

Paul Ryan is third casualty of GOP dysfunction in 20 years. Is major change afoot?

For the first 200 years of this nation’s history, only three House speakers resigned from office, all because they were accepting other political appointments.

But in just the past 20 years, an equal number of House speakers, all of them Republicans, have decided to depart under very different circumstances.

Democracy on the Line

American democracy itself was on trial Tuesday at the Supreme Court. At least that's what Paul M. Smith, the Washington attorney representing challengers to Wisconsin's extremely gerrymandered legislative redistricting plan, was arguing.

From Washington to Lee to Trump

When President Donald Trump likened Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee to slave holders and Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and asked if we should pull down memorials to those two men along with statues of Lee and other Confederates, he perhaps inadvertently raised an important and extremely difficult question about American history.

Politics Has Become a Blood Sport

I have never been physically assaulted by a politician. I have however been verbally threatened on more than one occasion by politicians who didn't like the questions I was asking or the stories I was writing. What happened in Montana Wednesday when congressional candidate Greg Gianforte threw reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian to the ground and punched him is unconscionable. Gianforte belongs in jail, not in the House of Representatives.

Ideological purity comes back to bite the GOP

Amid the postmortem over everything that went wrong with the Republican health reform effort, we shouldn’t overlook the role of the system that elects members of Congress. It not only contributed to the massive failure, it is also predictive of what we will see from the Republican Congress moving forward.

The New Old Hickory

Donald Trump has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president, next to his desk in the Oval Office and members of his staff are touting the idea that the two men have a lot in common. Vice President Mike Pence has boasted of Trump's victory, "There hasn't been anything like this since Andrew Jackson." That may actually be true. There are already signs of similarities between the two men and it's a cause for significant concern.

DeVos vote bodes ill for bipartisanship

We didn’t need more evidence that this country is in for a very rough couple of years, but we got some anyway with the squeaker Senate confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. DeVos, who married into the Amway fortune, has given $200 million to Republican candidates and causes over the years. She has long been a strong advocate for school choice, including vouchers and unregulated for-profit charter schools. She has demonstrated both unfamiliarity and hostility toward public education, even calling public schools a “dead end.”

Trump's focus on forgotten men masks billionaire agenda

President Trump’s short inaugural address sounded the same themes he repeated throughout his divisive campaign. While it almost certainly resonated with his supporters, it is unlikely to have reassured many of the 65.8 million voters who did not cast a ballot for him. The overall tone of the speech seemed almost angry and grim — with Trump announcing that he is taking on Capitol Hill and all of the political leaders who have preceded him as well as much of the rest of the world.

Don't Repeat the Mandate Mistake

The biggest myth that needs to be dispelled about this election is that Donald Trump and the Republican victory was "huge" and overwhelming. Trump did win rural areas by a commanding margin but in the swing districts and states which secured his victory the margins were not massive but actually razor thin. The Republicans do not have an overwhelming mandate to push through a far-right agenda even though early indications are that they intend to govern this way.

The House won't go blue anytime soon

The moment when Democrat Hillary Clinton could expect a landslide victory seems to have passed. But even a huge margin would not improve the odds of her party taking control of the House. That’s because the self-dealing system used by most states, in which politicians draw their own gerrymandered districts to achieve maximum political and personal advantage, really is “rigged” and violates the principle of democratic representation.

Right message, horribly wrong messenger

Donald Trump’s assertions that the election might be rigged and that he will only accept the result if he wins (a supposedly facetious remark) have roiled the news media and political waters. But his overall campaign message that the entire political system is rigged against average Americans is the reason he is still in this race despite his horrible personal behavior and outrageous statements. Even though he is a deeply flawed messenger and not up to the job of being president, his message has resonated with millions of Americans who will still be angry and seeking change after Election Day.

Will the Supreme Court Tell Us Our Vote Doesn’t Really Matter?

If you’re angry about the polarization of American politics, then a case heard by the Supreme Court on Monday matters to you. Because if the justices decide to declare independent redistricting commissions unconstitutional, things are going to get much worse.

When Will We See a #Millennial Congress?

Whether it is entertainment, consumer goods, or almost anything else that can be purchased, viewed, or clicked on, millennials are the most coveted demographic. There are about 80 million Americans between the ages of 18-34 and next year they are expected to spend $2.45 trillion. But when it comes to politics and national policy, they have relatively little clout because most of them don’t reliably vote and aren’t major political contributors. These young adults have voluntarily checked out of a political system they consider corrupt and dysfunctional.

Yes, Independent Swing Voters Are Real. And May Decide Who Wins Elections

This midterm election has been pretty terrible measured by the metrics that independent/swing voters care about. Instead, there’s been a record $4 billion spent mostly on vacuous television attack ads, little substantive discussion about important issues or a clear argument for how Republicans or Democrats would lead the nation, and the feeling that nothing will really change in Washington no matter which party wins control of the Senate. That’s why a lot of voters could stay home November 4th. But in the closest races around the country—the 10 Senate races that are within five percentage points, including those in Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Iowa, at least half a dozen gubernatorial contests, and a handful of House races—the swing voters who do show up could determine the outcomes.

The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November

Anyone who has been talking to voters around the country and watching public opinion polls knows that American voters are angry, tired of both political parties, and ready for a change. Until very recently, though, that frustration has had almost no outlet, as independent candidates for office in the past were rarely competitive and almost always dismissed by the national media as a sideshow. Not this year.

Gary Johnson’s Fight for 15 (Percent)

Whatever metric you use – whether it’s the historically high negatives for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; the overwhelming desire by voters for change and their mistrust of establishment politicians; or the 71% of voters who say this country is on the wrong track, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll — this is clearly a year ripe for an independent presidential challenge. That’s good news for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico.

Has Donald Trump Found the Formula for Attacking Hillary Clinton?

Not since Donald Trump launched his campaign last June has he made as powerful a speech as the one he gave Wednesday attacking Hillary Clinton as “a world-class liar” who has profited from her time in public office.

A Catch-22 for Politicians Calculating Risks and Benefits of Supporting Donald Trump

To win in November, Donald Trump needs money and a national infrastructure. To keep their seats and the party’s House and Senate majorities, many Republicans running for office will need the enthusiasm Mr. Trump can generate among voters. Every seat in the House is being contested, and 24 Republicans are running for the U.S. Senate.

At New York Rally, Bernie Sanders Supporters vs. 'The System'

The 27,000 people who crowded into New York City’s Washington Square Park for Bernie Sanders’s rally Wednesday night included a lot of young people who had lined up hours before the candidate arrived. Some got there that morning. The excitement was palpable as supporters sporting Bernie pins assembled and vendors sold Bernie 2016 signs with his name outlined in twinkle lights.

Donald Trump’s Unfavorable Ratings

For months, Donald Trump supporters have not cared about pronouncements from the candidate that would have derailed the campaigns of traditional politicians. But recent polling suggests that what appeals to Trump supporters is hurting the candidate with other potential, and critical, voting blocs, especially women.

Ohio and Republican Opposition to Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

The one Republican primary that Donald Trump didn’t win Tuesday was in Ohio, a state that has been a national bellwether for more than 100 years. No Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio.

For Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, Exit Polling Shows General Election Challenges

Exit polling from the primaries in Ohio and Florida, two of the biggest and most important swing states, suggests that neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump would make strong general election candidates.

Donald Trump Supporters: A Look at Voter Groups

Who does Donald Trump appeal to and why? As this Wall Street Journal piece shows, Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a mixed bag for the Republican Party. He draws in some voters but alienates some people who might otherwise naturally be in the GOP camp.

Risks for Senators in Backing McConnell’s Call to Delay Supreme Court Appointment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the next president, not Barack Obama, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia‘s death could backfire in an election year when a number of GOP senators face tough re-election battles.

The Voter Challenges Facing Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Entrance polls taken around Iowa as people entered caucus sites on Monday show that when it came to younger voters, Bernie Sanders crushed it: Those under age 30 made up the smallest group of voters at 18% of the turnout, down from 22% when Barack Obama overwhelmingly carried this group eight years ago. These young voters supported Mr. Sanders by an overwhelming margin: 84%, compared with 14% for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Sanders carried 30-to-44-year-olds voters by 21 points, 58% to 37%.

Obama Confronts the Stubborn Problem of Political Rancor–Again

President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address recalled themes from the Democratic National Convention speech that launched him into national politics: that we are not just red and blue, liberal and conservative America but one nation. “Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?” he asked in 2004.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and the Still-Shifting Center

Peter D. Hart wrote on Tuesday that the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that Hillary Clinton’s support with independent voters has weakened over the past 12 months to 32%. But with 11 months to go before Election Day, this is not a cause for immediate alarm among Democrats.

A Hopeful Day in the U.S. House

With the election of Rep. Paul Ryan as the 54th speaker of the House of Representatives, Thursday felt like a rare optimistic day on Capitol Hill. The vote for the Wisconsin Republican was predictably along party lines. He got 236 Republican votes and Freedom Caucus member Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida received nine votes. But Mr. Ryan’s margin of victory does not truly reflect the divisions that still remain inside the GOP caucus and the challenges he will face as speaker.

Jeb Bush and the Battle in Boulder

For Jeb Bush, the GOP debate in Boulder tonight is a make-or-break moment. Mr. Bush’s donors are restive because they, along with Republican voters, haven’t seen the fire in the belly or the vision that any successful presidential candidate needs. Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor who is now running in fourth place in RealClearPolitics’ average of national polls, has expressed both mystification and anger about trailing two political neophytes, real estate developer Donald Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

A Big Challenge for Hillary Clinton: Bernie Sanders’s Avid Supporters

An interesting thing happened at the Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend–something that could have a profound effect on the outcome of the presidential campaign and on Hillary Clinton’s chances to be president. After chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho — the oligarchy has got to go,” hundreds of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s supporters left the hall after his address and did not stick around to hear Mrs. Clinton’s remarks.

Hillary Clinton: The Timex Watch of Politics

Hillary Clinton has stamina. You’ve got to give her that. Even her fiercest critics, no doubt, would have to grudgingly admit that after more than eight hours of poking and prodding by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi she was still standing – or rather sitting – none the worse for wear.

Why Hillary Clinton Needs Joe Biden

It was with obvious sadness and regret that Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he won’t be seeking the presidency. Mr. Biden has had an office just down the hall from the Oval Office for the past seven years and has wanted to be president for at least three decades. Mr. Biden signaled that he will remain a staunch defender of the Obama administration’s record and has little patience for other Democrats (read Hillary Clinton) who aren’t.

Why Gerrymandering Is Responsible for the GOP’s Speaker Crisis

With their 247 seats in the House, the largest GOP majority since 1930, Republicans should have no problem pushing their agenda and agreeing upon a speaker to lead them. But here’s the rub: The Republicans are victims of their own success – gerrymandering success.

How House Freedom Caucus Has Alienated Members–and Risks Its Agenda

At the core of the turmoil in the House Republican caucus is a group of about 40 members known as the “Freedom Caucus.” Supporters are cheering its recent impact and perceived clout, but others—including some in its ranks–say those actions could ultimately prove disastrous for the conservative cause its members champion.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Boast About Benghazi Panel Backfires

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s boast that the Select Committee on Benghazi has weakened Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate confirms what most Americans think goes on in Washington — and it’s exactly why they have so little respect for our political leaders.

In CNN’s Early Debate, a Good Performance From Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham had a very good night. The foreign-policy subject matter of Wednesday night’s early debate played to the senator’s strengths. Whether he was using humor or talking tough about terrorism, Mr. Graham made the most of his opportunity to snag a lot of air time as one of only four on stage for CNN’s early debate.

Carly Fiorina’s Discipline and Other Takeaways From the CNN Debate

Probably the biggest winner in the Republican debates Wednesday night was Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whose name was barely mentioned. She did come up when Gov. John Kasich said, “I’m from Ohio, she will not beat me there.” Mrs. Clinton appeared on “The Tonight Show” after the CNN debates and participated in a skit in which host Jimmy Fallon, dressed as Donald Trump, mock-interviewed her. (There were, not surprisingly, jokes about Mr. Trump’s hair.)

Want to Understand Donald Trump’s Strategy? Read His Book.

Republican rivals seeking to take on Donald Trump and wanting to know what to expect from him in Wednesday night’s debate might check out his book “Time to Get Tough” (which, conveniently, has been reissued in paperback with a new subtitle to match his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again”).

What Bernie Sanders’s Speech at Liberty University Says About His Rise

It’s not clear how many minds Sen. Bernie Sanders changed on Monday or if he picked up a single vote speaking at Liberty University. But garnering voters wasn’t the point of his visit, and the senator’s willingness to take his message to a bastion of conservatism underscores why his long-shot campaign has gained “Bernmentum” and is now leading former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire among Democrats.

Hillary Clinton’s Authenticity Problem

After saying for months that she had nothing to be sorry about in the handling of her emails as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton apologized Tuesday. "That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility," she said. Sorry, responsibility, mistake–the idea was contrition, but like much of the Clinton campaign, this sounded scripted and poll-tested.

Donald Trump on Taxes: Keeping It Flexible

It’s not known whether Donald Trump is a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but there seems little doubt he would be in total agreement with one of Mr. Emerson’s most famous essays "Self-Reliance." -- "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen…Speak what you think now in hard words and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said to-day."

John Kasich’s Standout Performance in GOP Debate

Only time will tell how much Donald Trump will appeal to voters the more people see and hear him interact with other presidential candidates. In Thursday night’s debate, whether Mr. Trump was defending his remarks about women or immigrants, his corporate bankruptcies, or his past positions on health care and abortion, his statements showed that his view of the world–and the U.S. role in it–is angry. “Our country is in trouble,” he said in his closing statement. “We can’t do anything right.”

Voters’ Questions for First Republican Presidential Debate

According to Gallup editor Frank Newport, these are the top five questions Americans think should be asked of Republican presidential candidates in Thursday’s debates, based on polling about the country’s most important problems: 1. “How do you propose to fix the U.S. economy?” 2. “How do you propose to deal with the people’s record-low confidence in Congress and the elected representatives they send to Washington?” This question is all but tailor-made for Donald Trump, who has been rising in the polls thanks to voter dissatisfaction with politics as usual....

Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders–and Voter Dissatisfaction

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into the same dissatisfaction that helped Ross Perot capture 19% of the vote in 1992. Many of those dismissing Mr. Trump’s candidacy suggest that he appeals only to ill-informed voters looking for a thrill. But polls indicate that Mr. Trump’s appeal is widespread, running well beyond the ultra-conservative wing of the GOP.

How Court Rulings Could Kickstart Redistricting Reform Efforts

It’s a good bet that recent court rulings on redistricting will embolden residents in other states to emulate Florida, Arizona, and California in adopting oversight measures and rules for redistricting or creating independent commissions to oversee the process.

Fighting Extremist Terror Threats Here at Home

A recent New America Foundation analysis of violent extremist activity in the U.S. found that 48 people have been killed here by right-wing extremists since Sept. 11, 2001—almost twice the number killed by jihadists in the U.S. during that period.

A Redistricting Ruling That Helps Counter Partisan Gerrymandering

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in the Arizona redistricting case, electoral reform efforts had been in limbo. But Monday’s 5-4 ruling is a major victory for those who support citizen redistricting commissions as a way to counter the polarization and partisan gerrymandering that result from politicians drawing their own legislative districts.

Lindsey Graham, Race Issues and the Charleston Church Shootings

If Lindsey Graham wants, as he says, to use his presidential campaign to show how best to keep this nation safe, the shooting Wednesday at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., is an opportunity to talk about real threats that are being overlooked. Sen. Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, could address racial hatred and how the federal government has fallen short on dealing with domestic terrorism. He might consider appearing with the Palmetto State’s junior senator, Tim Scott, an African American who is also a Republican, to jointly decry racial violence in South Carolina and around the country.

How Donald Trump’s Candidacy Might Resonate With Voters (Really)

Many pundits and journalists will dismiss Donald Trump's candidacy as a joke. But in his announcement that he is running for president, Mr. Trump said a lot of things that many Americans have been longing to hear. And he said it all plainly and bluntly–communication styles that are not in the repertoire of most politicians. Mr. Trump began by talking about how the rest of the world is "beating us." When was the last time we had a victory, he asked. "Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger . . . and we as a country are getting weaker."

What Happened to the Trade Deal?

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote way back when that it is much safer for a leader to be feared than loved if he cannot be both. With the House defeat Friday of the fast-track trade package, largely thanks to Democratic votes, it appears that President Barack Obama may no longer be either with members of his own Party.

Shoring Up the Highway Trust Fund: A Bridge Too Far?

With a July deadline looming and no agreement between Republicans and Democrats over how to pay for a long-term extension of the Federal Highway Trust Fund, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has scheduled a hearing next week to discuss options. Just before they left town for a recess in late May, lawmakers approved a two-month transportation funding extension that runs out at the end of July.

Racial Gerrymandering – As Bad as the Other Kind

A recent U.S. District Court ruling that Virginia lawmakers engaged in racial gerrymandering by packing minority voters into one congressional district appears headed to the Supreme Court where the outcome could have a significant impact on other states with large minority populations covered by the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered the Virginia legislature to redraw its congressional map by Sept. 1, but Republican lawmakers intend to appeal to the high court.

Why Voting Rights Reforms Aren’t a Silver Bullet for Hillary Clinton

In her speech Thursday on voting rights, Hillary Clinton suggested automatically registering all citizens to vote when they turn 18 as well as expanding early voting and online registration. Measures by Republican-controlled state legislatures to tighten voter ID laws and limit early and weekend voting hurt minority, poor, and young voters the most, she said.

Will Republican Primary Voters Value Lindsey Graham’s Pragmatism?

When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) declared his candidacy for president Monday–joining what already feels like a Republican cast of thousands—what he didn’t say was more important than the words he spoke.

In Public Perceptions and Congress, a Disconnect on Trade?

Just before it recessed last month the Senate approved “fast track” trade authority that would help conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that’s been the subject of much debate and media coverage. The legislation is expected to be considered by the House this month. But a recent Pew Research Poll shows that uncertainty about trade deals’ benefits for American workers spans party and ideological lines.

Will Union Attacks Alienate Swing Voters in 2016?

Economic uncertainty and awareness of the widening wage gap between top earners and everyone else has made Americans sympathetic to unions, which suggests that attacks on unions may play with core Republican constituencies but are unlikely to win support among independents and swing voters in 2016. More Americans view unions favorably than unfavorably and a majority of people believe the steady decline in unions has been bad for working people in this country, a Pew Research Center survey found.

More Independents Than Democrats or Republicans

A Pew Research Center survey based on more than 25,000 interviews confirms a trend years in the making: More people consider themselves politically independent than identify with the Republican or Democratic parties.

At Supreme Court, Arizona’s Standoff Over Redistricting Commissions

Is it unconstitutional for a majority of voters to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians? That is the question before the Supreme Court. Arizona’s legislature is challenging the authority of a redistricting plan devised by an independent commission created by ballot initiative and passed by voters in 2000.

At DNC Meeting, a Feisty Obama

It was a feisty, upbeat, even funny Barack Obama who showed up at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting Friday to challenge Republicans to work with Democrats on ways to help the middle class. His speech touched on all of the major Democratic Party themes, including same-sex marriage, climate change, immigration, health-care reform, and raising the minimum wage. But his main message was that government programs can and should do something to help address wage stagnation and the middle-class squeeze.

Analyzing Obama’s Budget Proposal

The big question of Barack Obama‘s budget is: Can we address income inequality and the middle-class squeeze with tax policies and government programs? History suggests it is possible. Tip O’Neill often talked about the expansion of the middle class through Franklin Roosevelt‘s initiatives–including the creation of Social Security, minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws, and progressive tax policies–and how befuddled he was that the same middle-class voters who owed their financial stability to Democratic policies supported Ronald Reagan policies that benefited the wealthy. Now, President Obama is following the Roosevelt model with proposals for middle-class tax cuts, raising taxes on the wealthy, free community-college tuition, and an infrastructure spending program to create jobs that is not all that dissimilar from the Works Progress Administration of the Roosevelt era. The danger, though, is that the Republican-controlled Congress will go for the dessert and skip the vegetables–approving the tax cuts and credits and much of the spending in the Obama plan but opposing his tax increases.

Rhetoric of Bipartisanship Meets the Snarky Reality

President Barack Obama attempted to close his State of the Union speech with a call for bipartisanship and “a better politics” that would appeal to Americans’ desire for action from Washington and “debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country.” He did say all that. But his call for Republicans to work with him was derailed by an unscripted moment that threw the cold water of reality on Mr. Obama’s lofty rhetoric.

The Record Number of Independent Voters and the GOP Congress

Data from 15 separate Gallup telephone polls conducted throughout 2014 confirm that the share of Americans identifying as political independents has climbed to a record 43%. The obvious reason is that Americans’ trust in government is the lowest Gallup has ever measured, and most people say government dysfunction is one of the nation’s biggest problems. Voters’ misgivings have caused Gallup to predict that the number of independents will climb even higher in 2015. There is certainly a disconnect between what people say they want from their government and what they are getting.

Mario Cuomo: Direct, Unapologetic Liberal

Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor who died Thursday at the age of 82, was an unabashed, unapologetic liberal who wore his heart and his political philosophy on his sleeve. He wasn’t afraid to say that a lot of what was going on in this country was unfair; that there were two Americas and two sets of rules for each of them. In his most famous speech, at the 1984 Democratic convention, he disavowed “nice but vague rhetoric,” the politician’s stock and trade, to tell what he believed were some important, tough truths about the U.S. He closed that speech with a dozen sentences that began – "we believe."

The Omnibus Spending Bill and D.C. Rights

After last year’s government shutdown and the dysfunction and gridlock that have gripped the nation’s capital, it must be recognized that for Congress to produce a spending bill is an achievement. But amid the questionable provisions in the 1,600-page, $1.1 trillion measure–which include repealing part of the Dodd-Frank Act and allowing larger contributions to political party committees–is one that would overturn a District of Columbia initiative to legalize possession of a small amount of marijuana. Approved overwhelmingly by D.C. voters in November, the initiative is similar to measures passed in Oregon and Alaska last month.

Engaging Disaffected Millennials

This week’s Gallup poll showing Barack Obama‘s standing with white millennials down to 34% reflects the severe disaffection young Americans have with not only the president but with both parties and the entire political system. Americans ages 20 to 34 are 21% of the U.S. population and the country’s largest adult demographic. But their participation rate in the November midterms was the worst of any age group. Only about 21% of adult millennials cast a ballot; exit polls showed that voters 30 and younger represented only 13% of the electorate.

In the Wake of Scotland’s Vote, a Lesson for U.S. Politics

Proposals announced last week in the United Kingdom would give Scotland more autonomy over taxation, social programs, welfare spending, and election procedure. The changes were promised by Prime Minister David Cameron during the run-up to Scotland’s September referendum on independence–if Scotland did not secede. After the vote, which failed 55% to 45%, Alex Salmond, the Scottish National Party official who had led the charge for independence, stepped down as the country’s first minister (or political leader).

Republican Relief at Obama’s Action on Immigration?

Despite GOP threats to cut government funding or take legal action, some Republicans may be relieved that President Barack Obama is moving to address the nation’s immigration problems. Executive action allows Republicans to have the best of both worlds: progress on immigration policy without having to cast a vote that would anger conservatives opposed to leniency for illegal immigrants.

Senate Politics and Defeat of the Keystone Pipeline Bill

So the first major congressional vote after the midterm elections, on the Keystone XL Pipeline, was primarily about political self-interest and big-money influence–even though that’s what voters just said they hate about Congress. Despite nine votes by the Republican-controlled House in favor of constructing the pipeline, the Democratic Senate leadership had refused, until Tuesday, to allow a vote on the pipeline.

Could Congress’s Moderates Make a Difference?

The disappearance and defeat of moderate legislators will make governing next year all the more difficult–something congressional leaders ought to keep in mind as they strategize for the next Congress. There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on inside the Democratic Party. Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, a member of the House Democratic leadership and a supporter of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Thursday that the midterm elections were “focused around President Obama. And it was not decided on a House of Representatives strategy. We had base voters who were disappointed in the President and who did not come out.”

Missing From the Agenda? Signs of Compromise.

Can the two parties bridge their differences and get a few things done over the next two years? The early signs aren’t good. President Barack Obama‘s behavior and statements at his news conference Wednesday suggested that he may be in denial about the definitive rejection of his management style, political leadership and policy direction that the American people handed him Tuesday. The president said that he is willing to work with congressional Republicans but also that he is not going to change his policy priorities or positions. His reaction seemed to be: Move along, nothing to see here, everything is going to proceed as normal.

A Closer Look at Virginia’s (Low) Turnout

There are a lot of things for Democrats to be depressed about after Tuesday’s midterm outcomes, but two of the biggest are Virginia and Colorado, vital swing states where Democrats performed poorly and where unhappiness about Barack Obama really made the difference. In Colorado, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall was defeated by Republican Cory Gardner by more than four points. In Virginia, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner appears to have won reelection by only about 12,000 votes over former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie. Mr. Gillespie has not ruled out seeking a recount, which Virginia law permits when the difference in vote totals is less than 1%.

‘Dishonest Abe’ and the Power of Television Attack Ads

With the polls closing, voters will soon be free of ads claiming that this president is “trying to take our economic freedom away,” that he’s “soft on terror” and that he refuses to “secure our borders, safeguard our nation, save our heritage.” But those who can stand just a few more attack ads, or who want to end the midterm elections with a laugh, should check out why those claims aren’t about Barack Obama but about Abraham Lincoln.

In Colorado and Beyond, Voters Turned Off by More of the Same

For all of the billions spent on the midterms and the fixation by the two parties and national media over which party will control the Senate, a lot of Americans don’t think either party has really made its case. That’s why every poll shows such low voter enthusiasm and disapproval of both parties. Nothing about this campaign has given voters reason to believe political gridlock and dysfunction will end, no matter which party controls the Senate.

The Broader Message in Virginia’s Negative Senate Race

The Virginia Senate race, which has largely stayed off the national media’s radar screen because incumbent Democrat Mark Warner is expected to be comfortably reelected, illustrates how negative television advertising has come to dominate political campaigns. Polls show Sen. Warner leading his opponent, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, by seven t0 10 points. Yet the Warner campaign chose to go negative, creating ads that labeled Mr. Gillespie a “million-dollar lobbyist who has never looked out for you” and who worked for Enron and “a dictator now awaiting trial for war crimes.”

A Closer Look at GOP Gains Among Latinos and Young Voters

Two recent surveys of Latinos and young people, both previously considered mostly Democratic supporters, prove that these groups do swing in their voting patterns, something Democrats should keep in mind for 2016. A Pew Research Center survey–written about further here–found that most Hispanic voters still favor Democrats but that support has been shrinking the past four years. Similarly, 18- to 30-year-olds who were so excited by Barack Obama‘s 2008 candidacy have cooled on both politics and the Democrats.

What Are Republican Motivations in Voting Laws?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a startling pronouncement this week about why Republicans need to win the statehouses in key swing states this year that was almost certainly tied to his presidential ambitions. At a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday, Gov. Christie said that Republicans must win gubernatorial races this year so they control voting procedures for 2016.

We’re Getting an Ebola Czar. We Need a Surgeon General.

Former vice presidential chief of staff Ron Klain will be the new “Ebola czar” to, as President Barack Obama put it Thursday, “make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward.” Mr. Klain may have significant political skills, but he has no medical training or public health experience. His appointment also wouldn’t have been necessary if the U.S. had a confirmed surgeon general. But the position of America’s chief doctor has been unfilled since July 2013 because of politics.

In Kansas Senate Debate, Washington Takes Center Stage

After about the 20th reference it was hard to keep track of how many times Sen. Pat Roberts (R.) mentioned the “Reid-Obama agenda” in his Wednesday night debate with Greg Orman. Sen. Roberts wanted the voters of Kansas to know that although Mr. Orman is running as an independent he is really a “liberal Democrat” who would side with President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Meanwhile, Mr. Roberts portrayed himself as a “trusted conservative Republican” who would help the GOP secure a Senate majority. Mr. Roberts said that “the number one thing” in this election is winning the Senate for the Republicans.

How Politics as Usual Is Alienating Voters But Boosting Independents

Monday night’s debate between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, illustrates why Americans are so unenthusiastic about the midterm elections. Pollster Peter D. Hart wrote in Think Tank on Monday that voters are both angry and disinterested. It’s no mystery why: When forced to choose between a Democrat and a Republican, a lot of voters aren’t enthusiastic about either–and don’t think voting for either would change much in Washington. By not showing up, voters are saying, “None of the above.”

The Voter ID Issue That’s Still Unresolved

On the heels of two Supreme Court rulings upholding voting restrictions in Ohio and North Carolina came some good news Thursday for voting rights supporters: The Supreme Court put Wisconsin’s voter ID law on hold for this election, and a federal judge overturned Texas’s strict voter ID law. The high court’s 6-3 vote overturned a federal appeals court ruling Monday that would have allowed the Wisconsin law, passed in 2011 by the state’s Republican-held legislature and supported by Gov. Scott Walker (R.) to take effect. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, but they acknowledged “the proximity of the upcoming general election” as a reason for the majority decision along with concern that some Wisconsin voters have already cast absentee ballots for November without using the identification the law would require.

Why Is the Supreme Court Making It Harder for People to Vote?

I wrote here Wednesday about the partisan legal battles over voting rights, just hours before the Supreme Court issued an order upholding a North Carolina law that eliminated same-day registration and voting and disqualified ballots cast in the wrong precincts. This action, from which Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, followed the court’s 5-4 decision last week upholding limits on early voting in Ohio.

State Voting Laws in Legal Limbo

With less than a month until midterm elections that will decide control of the Senate and a number of close governor’s races, there are still states where the rules about who will be able to vote, and when and where they can cast a ballot, remain uncertain because of legal challenges. Republicans and Democrats are attempting to use election-law litigation to help their candidates, and the Supreme Court is expected to weigh in soon on election laws in North Carolina and Wisconsin as it has already done in Ohio.

Assessing Modi’s Agenda

Much has been written about President Barack Obama‘s dinner with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the elected leader of the world’s largest democracy and the third-largest economy–mostly because Mr. Modi is said to be fasting for a Hindu festival. Less attention has been paid to the leaders’ potential agendas, which are likely to feature prickly trade and defense issues. There are 3 million Indian Americans in the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of the adults in this group were not born here. Many of them are highly educated and earn more than the median U.S. household income; they also retain strong ties to India.

At Least the U.K. Parliament Voted on Airstrikes Against Islamic State

The British Parliament in a resounding 524-43 vote Friday approved airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq although not in Syria. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called Parliament back from recess to debate the matter, said, "The hallmarks of this campaign will be patience and persistence, not shock and awe." It was a not-so-veiled reference to the Bush administration’s long, costly and ultimately unsuccessful war in Iraq and former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s support for that effort.

How to Tackle Tax Reform? Start With the NFL.

The National Football League’s handling of the arrest of Ray Rice, the recently cut Baltimore Ravens running back who was caught on video assaulting the woman who is now his wife, has drawn attention to the league’s business practices and its tax-exempt status. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, criticized for his decisions surrounding Mr. Rice’s punishment, earned $44 million last year. That is almost three times as much as the $15 million average for CEOs of major U.S. corporations.

Could Civics Education Reduce Voter Apathy?

When it comes to understanding how our government works a shockingly large number of Americans have very little knowledge. A recent Gallup poll found that fewer than 40% of Americans could identify which party controls each chamber of Congress. Another survey, by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, found about the same number of Americans were able to correctly name all three branches of government.

Playing Politics Over the Kansas Senate Ballot?

The fight over removing a candidate’s name from the Kansas ballot for November has devolved into a partisan struggle over Senate control–underscoring why elections should be administered in a nonpartisan fashion. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the name of Democrat Chad Taylor, who withdrew from the contest this month, should be removed from the ballot. This puts in play a Senate seat that had long been considered safely Republican.

Scottish Independence: A Lesson for American Voters?

The referendum on Scottish independence from Great Britain has been a long time coming – arguably 700 years. In 1320, a group of Scottish noblemen issued the Declaration of Arbroath, also known as the Scottish Declaration of Independence — the founding document of Scotland. In it, the noblemen vowed “never a whit to bow beneath the yoke of English dominion. It is not for glory, riches or honours that we fight; it is for liberty alone.” Among Scots it is a well-known and time-honored passage which pretty much sums up what this election means to supporters of Scottish independence.

A Pair of Independents Could Decide Which Party Controls the Senate

If the race for the Senate is as close as predictions show now, a couple of independent senators could be the kingmakers who determine which party controls the chamber. For a Daily Beast piece Tuesday, I talked to Sam Wang, a Princeton neuroscientist who wrote two books on the brain and whose recent work focuses on autism. Mr. Wang runs the Princeton Election Consortium and has devised a computer program that predicts Democrats have a 70% chance of holding on to control of the Senate.

Is She or Isn’t She Running? Do Americans Really Care?

The media frenzy over Hillary Clinton’s trip to Iowa Sunday for a Democratic fundraiser no doubt leaves many Americans scratching their heads. We haven’t held this year’s election, which voters seem decidedly unexcited about, and yet political reporters can’t stop talking about the 2016 presidential race and the will-she-or-won’t-she question surrounding a Clinton bid. Let’s face it: She’s running. Her wink, wink, nudge, nudge references at Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry made that pretty clear.

Military Action and the Midterm Elections

A new Pew Research Center poll shows that more Republicans than Democrats support President Barack Obama’s plan for a military campaign against Islamic State militants. Some 64% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats say they approve the president’s action. But they have different concerns about the strategy – 66% of Republicans fear the U.S. won’t go far enough to stop Islamic militants and 54% of Democrats say they are concerned the U.S. will get too involved. Only 47% of Independents favor U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria, increasing air strikes and providing military support to the Syrian opposition. Young people under the age of 30 are the least supportive of any age group with only 43% of young adults favoring military action.

For Congress, a Minimal Agenda Until Election Day

The Gallup poll published Monday found that 14% of Americans approve of what has been the least productive Congress in history. That rating is among the lowest Gallup has measured before a midterm election since 1974. Two-thirds of those who disapprove of Congress said it makes them more likely to vote in the midterms. Gallup also reported that those who are paying closest attention to national politics are the most negative about Congress. That could mean some surprises for incumbents even though only four have been defeated in primaries this year.

How Independents Could Sway Primaries in Mass., N.H., and R.I.

The last primaries of 2014 are being held Tuesday–and independent voters could decide some major contests in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Independent or unaffiliated voters are the largest group in New England: In Massachusetts, 53% of voters are registered independents; in Rhode Island, 51% are; and in New Hampshire 43% of voters are independents–about the national average. In Rhode Island, almost 60% of the voters enrolling this year chose not to register with a party, the Providence Journal reported. Those figures should alarm Republicans and Democrats.

An Independent Shakes Up the Kansas Senate Race

There have been several dramatic reversals in the Kansas Senate race this week affecting Democrats’ hopes for defeating Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts. Democratic candidate Chad Taylor announced Wednesday he was withdrawing from the race without giving any reason. But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, determined Thursday that Mr. Taylor’s name would remain on the November ballot as the Democratic candidate.

Federal Judge in Ohio Delivers a Victory for Voting Rights

In a victory for voting rights, a federal judge in Ohio overturned Republican plans to cut back on the state’s early, evening and weekend voting and eliminate same-day registration and voting. The Ohio League of Women Voters, the state NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the legal challenge to the cutbacks adopted by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. The U.S. Justice Department also intervened in the case, arguing that reducing early voting disproportionately affects African Americans, who use early voting more than white voters.

Florida’s New Redistricting Plan: Round Two

Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis heard arguments Wednesday about whether to throw out the Florida Legislature’s redrawn congressional map, which critics say unfairly advantages Republicans, hurts minority voters and is unconstitutional. Under order by Judge Lewis, the legislature met in special session in early August and issued a revised congressional map on Aug. 11. But a coalition led by Common Cause and the Florida League of Women Voters says the new redistricting plan contains only minimal changes and still violates the state constitution.

Jim Jeffords: Ahead of His Time

Former Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, who died Monday at age 80, was in many ways ahead of his time. Mr. Jeffords, a Republican who shook up the Senate in 2001 by becoming an independent and caucusing with the Democrats, represented Vermont in the House for 14 years before being elected to the Senate in 1988. He was re-elected twice more as a Republican before giving Democrats control of the Senate for three years. Republicans considered him a turncoat and claimed his conversion was in exchange for receiving the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Dangers of Over-Correcting for the Iraq War

While so many are watching Martha’s Vineyard–where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama are expected to “hug it out” Wednesday night to put to rest any question of a rift over Iraq–discussions of that conflict and America’s role in the world aren’t going away. The mess that Iraq has become and doubts about why the U.S. launched the incredibly costly and unnecessary war have left deep scars on the American public and U.S. foreign policy.

How Fixing Government Could Lift Economic Gloom

Americans have extremely negative views about government and Congress, but those feelings are counterbalanced by concerns over the nation’s economic future and a desire for government policies that might help. Wall Street Journal-NBC News polling out this week found that 85% of voters favor tax incentives that would encourage companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. from overseas and that 70% support reducing regulations that add to the cost of doing business in this country.

Do-Nothing Congress Takes a Vacation

Although this is an election year, many members of Congress may not be too eager to meet with constituents during their five-week summer recess. Wall Street Journal-NBC News polling out this week showedthat only 2% of Americans are very satisfied with our political system, 79% are dissatisfied and 74% of voters believe Congress has been unproductive this year.

How Will the Kansas GOP Split Affect Primary Results?

A fight within the Kansas Republican Party could affect several GOP primaries on Tuesday. Sen. Pat Roberts, 78, who is running for his fourth term, confirmed earlier this year that he no longer has a home in Kansas. That sort of admission helped defeat Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in 2012. Sen. Lugar was also branded an out-of-touch Washington insider by hard-line, anti-establishment conservative Republicans.

Why the ‘Top Two’ Primary System Won’t Solve the Turnout Problem

Declining voter turnout and decreasing civic engagement have prompted think tanks, academics and political leaders to consider various reforms. But most recommendations focus on process rather than the political system’s significant underlying problems. Last month a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform suggested adopting a June date for all congressional primary elections.

What the Nunn Campaign Memos Confirm About Money in Politics

The internal memos and 144-page campaign plan prepared for Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn are a fascinating if somewhat horrifying glimpse of the political industrial complex. The document–available here–was first made public by National Review. Much of the reporting so far has focused on internal opposition research in the memo exploring the potential weaknesses of Ms. Nunn’s candidacy.

What Voter Dissastisfaction and Low Turnout Could Mean for November

Studies out this week and an op-ed column by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) highlight the dreadful effect polarization and dysfunction have had on American politics and voters’ faith in the system. A Pew Research Center survey found that anti-incumbent sentiment is as high as it has been before a midterm election in at least 20 years. Fewer than half of all registered voters in both parties want to see their own representative reelected to Congress. Neither political party has a clear lead with voters at this point, according to Pew, but Republicans hold a slight advantage over Democrats in enthusiasm. Independents are the least enthusiastic about voting in this year’s midterms.

U.S.-Germany Tensions Sway EU Sanctions on Russia

Tensions between the U.S. and Germany over American intelligence gathering could have a decisive impact on whether the European Union adopts harsher sanctions on Russia. The U.S., which has already toughened sanctions against Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine, wants the EU to follow suit. But the Germans, angry about U.S. spying activities, first want a new agreement governing how U.S. intelligence gathering will be conducted in Germany. A recent Pew Research study showed German approval of the U.S. is down 13 points since 2009. Only 51% of Germans now view the U.S. favorably.

Poll Gap: Business Experience and Electability

A new Gallup poll shows that most Americans believe people with business and management experience would make better political leaders. Eighty-one percent of those questioned said the country would be governed better if more people with business backgrounds were in office. But that statistic doesn’t match voters’ track record of electing people with political not business experience to the presidency. Mitt Romney touted his business experience in the 2012 campaign but lost decisively to Barack Obama.

A Pension ‘Fix’ That Isn’t

Embedded in the $10.8 billion Highway Trust Fund measure that the House passed Tuesday in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, 367 to 55, is a funding gimmick called "pension smoothing." This mechanism, first used in a 2012 transportation bill, allows companies to temporarily defer contributions to employees’ defined-benefit pension plans. Companies save money in pension contributions and pay more in taxes up front, temporarily increasing federal revenue. But when companies eventually make up the missed pension payments, plus interest, tax revenue declines.

Why a D.C. Effort to Change the White House Address Is Likely to Fail

Members of the District of Columbia city council have proposed renaming the thoroughfare in front of the White House “DC Statehood Now Way.” The council members want to rename those two blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue to draw attention to the fact that residents of the District have no voting representation in Congress. But because the nation’s capital is a federal district and not a state, control over changing the street name–as with many aspects of Washington life–rests not with the D.C. Council but with Congress. D.C. residents pay federal taxes but do not enjoy the same rights as other Americans. D.C. license plates, including those on the presidential limousine, carry the phrase “Taxation Without Representation.”

The Political Warning in a Florida Redistricting Ruling

A Florida court ruling striking down part of the state’s congressional map is notable for its impassioned admonition of the unchecked power of political parties for whom “winning is everything.” The 41-page ruling last week, by Judge Terry Lewis of the state’s second judicial circuit, ordered several congressional districts in central Florida to be redrawn. It said Republican political consultants influenced the process and that districts had been drawn to protect incumbents and Republican seats.

The Message Obama Sends by Not Visiting the Border

President Barack Obama says he didn’t go to the Texas border to see for himself the humanitarian crisis that has brought tens of thousands of Central American children to the U.S. because he’s “not interested in photo ops.” But visiting an immigrant detention facility would have underscored that the president really cares about this problem, as well as allowing him and the American people to see what is happening at the border.

The GOP Chose Ohio for Its 2016 Convention. Should Democrats Too?

The GOP was smart to choose Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, even though, as The Journal’s Reid Epstein points out, that doesn’t mean Republicans can count on carrying Ohio in the presidential election. It is, however, all but certain that without Ohio the GOP would have almost no chance of winning the White House. Ohio is the swingiest of swing states and has been closely divided politically for a century. Its governorship has been passed back and forth between Republicans and Democrats since 1899, with neither party holding it for more than eight years.

Is 2014 the Year Independents Break Through?

For more than 150 years the Republican and Democratic parties have controlled U.S. politics: the presidency, almost all congressional seats, governors’ offices and state legislatures, with only a small number of exceptions. But public confidence in the two parties and their management of government has eroded. America’s polarized politics are mired in a dysfunctional and increasingly unpopular two-party system that has failed to address this nation’s major challenges and threatens its future.

The House Ethics Committee’s U-Turn on Disclosure

After sharp criticism, the House Ethics Committee reversed itself on changing how lawmakers publicly report trips financed by interest groups. Just two days after the change was first reported last week, the bipartisan panel decided House members would continue filing information about privately funded trips in their annual finance reports.

Independence Day Disconnect

As Americans observe the Fourth of July and celebrate the birth of this nation, the disconnect between people’s reverence for the principles on which this nation was founded and how they feel about contemporary American institutions and political leaders is striking. A Gallup poll this week showed record low confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court. Fewer than a third of Americans have confidence in Barack Obama‘s presidential leadership.

How Colorado’s Gubernatorial Primary Could Affect Its Senate Race

National Republican leaders were probably relieved at the outcome of last Tuesday’s GOP gubernatorial primary in the swing state of Colorado, in part because it could have a significant spillover effect on another Colorado race: the fight for a U.S. Senate seat. In the governor’s race, establishment Republican Bob Beauprez, a former U.S. representative who has run for governor before, won the primary–and the chance to challenge Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former mayor of Denver.

Supreme Hypocrisy on Buffer Zones?

The unanimous Supreme Court decision Thursday striking down a Massachusetts law allowing 35-foot buffer zones outside abortion clinics raises questions about what happens when constitutional rights collide. The court ruled that the state’s buffer zones infringe the free-speech rights of those who want to protest abortions performed in the facilities. But what about the privacy rights of the clinic patients asserted in the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade and previous Supreme Court decisions that have upheld buffer-zone laws?

Howard Baker and the Lost Art of Bipartisanship

Howard Baker was elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee in 1966. He later told people that when he arrived in Congress, he was taken aside by Norris Cotton, a Republican from New Hampshire, who asked whether he could smell the marble. “I didn’t know marble had a smell,” Baker replied, according to a Tennessee congressman who told me the anecdote. “Well, white marble, the kind around here does. And when you can smell it, you’ll like it. And you’ll be ruined for life,” Cotton advised.

The Voters Who Saved Thad Cochran

Much has been made of the fact that Democratic voters–including African-Americans–helped give six-term Senate incumbent Thad Cochran the narrow margin he needed to beat back a challenge from conservative tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in Mississippi. But perhaps more important, Mr. Cochran, in cobbling together his victory margin, employed the most basic rules of politics as articulated by one of the great liberal legislators of the 20th Century, former House Speaker Tip O’Neill. Mr. O’Neill counseled that all politics is local, and that voters like to be asked.

Why Bipartisan Reforms Won’t Fix Our Politics

The Bipartisan Policy Center's Commission on Political Reform has spent the past year assembling a “blueprint” for electoral changes and congressional reforms to encourage greater citizen engagement in the political process. It should, however, be no surprise that a report from a Washington organization headed by former members of Congress would take a decidedly insider view of what needs to be done to reform our politics and would offer, by its own admission, only “incremental” reforms.

Why So Many Voters Distrust Congress

Gallup’s finding that only 7% of Americans have significant confidence in our ineffectual and polarized Congress explains why much of the public seems to have tuned out politics and why so many people don’t think it matters whether they vote. But David Wessel is right to sound the alarm. Ultimately, a dysfunctional Congress threatens the nation’s future. As Mr. Wessel wrote, numerous domestic issues need to be addressed, as does the crisis in Iraq. President Barack Obama will have to work with members of Congress in both parties to determine a way forward.

How Obama’s Approval Ratings Complicate His Options on Iraq

Will the poor presidential ratings revealed in the latest Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll affect how the U.S. responds to the crisis in Iraq? Just 37% of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of foreign policy, an all-time low for this survey. A majority of Americans–54%–say they believe he is no longer able to lead the country and get things done. Americans are evenly divided–50-50–on whether they believe the Obama administration has competently managed the federal government.

So, What About the Americans Who Aren’t in Either Polarized Party?

A new Pew Research Center survey on political polarization proves what most people already know about this nation’s political life: that Americans engaged in the political process and who identify with a party are more polarized than they have been in two decades. The extensive survey of 10,000 Americans is the largest study of U.S. political attitudes ever undertaken by Pew. Intense partisans believe people in the opposing party “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” the study found.

Surge in Primary Electorate Propels David Brat’s Victory Over Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s unexpected defeat in Virginia’s Republican primary has led many people to wonder how challenger David Brat could have pulled off such a decisive victory without warning signs showing up in Mr. Cantor’s internal polling, which had predicted him easily winning re-election. The reason is that Mr. Brat won by enlarging the primary electorate in this solidly Republican 7th District, which runs north of Richmond.

Don’t Blame the Tea Party for Eric Cantor’s Loss

Many will chalk up House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s surprise primary defeat to the tea party. But there was no national tea-party presence or spending in the contest, though conservative radio host Laura Ingraham did appear in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District last week on behalf of challenger David Brat and suggested tongue-in-cheek that the president should have traded Rep. Cantor for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl instead of five Taliban leaders.

Why Primary Voters Are Staying Home

Five states are holding primaries Tuesday–including South Carolina, Maine and Virginia–but if the primaries so far this year are any indicator, we should expect low turnouts and little voter enthusiasm. Most voters seem unimpressed with what both major parties are offering, and they are signaling their dissatisfaction by not showing up

Lindsey Graham vs. the Tea Party

South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham tops the list of Republican senators once thought to be vulnerable to a tea-party challenge this year who are now expected to easily win reelection. The South Carolina primary is Tuesday, and a recent Clemson University Palmetto Poll found Sen. Graham leading a field of six challengers by a commanding margin: 40 points. In second place is state Sen. Lee Bright, polling at nine points. None of the other five challengers garnered more than 5 percent in the poll.

D-Day and Downsizing U.S. Foreign Policy Expectations

In his speech at Normandy, President Barack Obama said America’s commitment "to liberty, our claim to equality, our claim to freedom and to the inherent dignity of every human being … is written in the blood on these beaches, and it will endure for eternity." We have come to expect that sort of rhetoric from U.S. presidents, but it’s not clear that sentiment accurately reflects President Obama’s view of American foreign policy.

A Big Test for California’s Open Primary System

Among the eight states holding primary elections Tuesday is California, where the open “top two” primary election is worth watching. California is an incubator of ideas and trends. In 2012, it used the top-two system in congressional races, and now it has expanded to all statewide races. Rhodes Cook has described its top-two system as an effort to get more centrist candidates on the ballot. But this system has several other important goals.

A Bipartisan Response to the VA Scandal?

It is striking how much in agreement so many Republican and Democratic congressional leaders seem to be in their response to Gen. Eric Shinseki‘s departure as secretary of veterans affairs. Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had said, rightly, that getting rid of Gen. Shinseki would not solve the systemic problems in the veterans’ health system.

Joe the Plumber and Gun Control

"[Y]our dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights," Joe Wurzelbacher–popularly known as Joe the Plumber–wrote this week. It is a sad reflection of our polarized politics that Mr. Wurzelbacher, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012, would seek to turn last Friday’s shootings in Isla Vista, Calif., into a political slugfest.

Why a New Contract With America Is Unlikely to Resonate

A group of senators led by South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham thinks that the way to ensure that the GOP wins control of the Senate in November is by offering voters a new Contract With America-style agenda. As Politico has reported, Sen. Graham–who entered the House with the Class of ’94 and is seeking reelection to the Senate–is pushing for a campaign agenda of four or five action items.

VA Crisis Casts Shadow Over Memorial Day

The allegations of false recordkeeping, years-long waits for medical appointments and even reports of some veterans dying while awaiting health care bring a sad and disturbing shadow to this holiday to honor the service of America’s military veterans. An ongoing CNN investigation into the conditions at Veterans Affairs facilities recently revealed that one hospital in Phoenix shredded the evidence of more than 1,400 vets who were placed on a secret waiting list created to make wait times look shorter and at least 40 veterans died waiting for care at the facility.

Millennials’ Distrust of Government

Although millennials are a significant portion of the electorate, their generation has almost no representation in Congress. Voters 30 and younger were 19 percent of the electorate in 2012, while voters 65 and older were 16 percent of those who cast ballots. Currently, no member of Congress is younger than 30. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a 31-year-old Democrat from Florida, is the youngest House member. Rep. Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, is to celebrate his 33rd birthday on May 28.

How Politicians Could Close the Voter Disconnect

Gallup reported this week that voters are seriously unhappy with both Democrats and Republicans and don’t believe either party should have total control of Congress. What’s worse this election year is that a lot of people don’t think it really matters who is in charge. Thirty-six percent of Americans think control should be divided in the House and Senate, and a quarter of Americans don’t think it makes a difference.

Will Voters Think Scott Brown Is Carpetbagging?

When former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown moved to New Hampshire with the intention of running for another Senate seat in what he perceived to be a friendlier political environment, he badly misjudged how Granite State voters would perceive his carpet-bagging. Mr. Brown was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts in a special election in 2010 but defeated for reelection two years later. He formally announced his challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor of New Hampshire, in April. Recent surveys by Republican pollster Vox Populi shows that Mr. Brown faces an uphill battle.

The Democrats Billionaire Tom Steyer Isn’t Backing

The seven political races billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer has picked to play in this year are instructive not only for those he has chosen but also for those he has ignored. As The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, Mr. Steyer has pledged at least $50 million of his own money for a $100 million effort to boost the candidacies of Democrats running for the Senate in Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and Michigan and for governor in Florida, Maine and Pennsylvania.

If Americans Are Dissatisfied, Why Are Incumbents Poised for Re-Election?

The latest Gallup poll confirms that Americans believe unemployment and dysfunctional government are the nation’s most important problems, followed closely by the economy. Independent voters are more dissatisfied than are partisans and consider government dysfunction, poor political leadership, corruption and abuse of power the country’s biggest problems.

Modi’s Victory and India’s Change Election

India’s election is a resounding call for change. More than half a billion Indians, a record 66 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots at some 930,000 polling places. Results released Friday show the conservative Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its controversial leader, Narendra Modi, on course to win more than half the seats in parliament, the first time in 30 years a single Indian party has won enough seats to rule without coalition partners.

The Case for Nonpartisan Election Overseers

The Wall Street Journal’s Beth Reinhard reports that secretary-of-state positions are the latest front in election war. Both parties see an advantage in controlling the offices that oversee election law and voting, especially in swing states such as Ohio, Colorado and Iowa. The 2000 presidential election, which came down to questionable and very partisan vote counting and legal challenges in Florida, is a perfect example of why election administration should be nonpartisan.

The Women Voters Democrats Need to Win: Starbucks Moms

The Journal’s Gerald Seib wrote Tuesday about the importance Democrats are placing on women in the midterm elections. I would go further and say that the specific women Democrats must win in November are white suburban women. I call these swing voters Starbucks Moms.

Voter Enthusiasm Is Down, But Republicans Still Have an Edge

Given our dysfunctional government, it’s no surprise that most voters are not very excited about the midterm elections. Gallup polling released Monday found 53 percent of registered voters are less enthusiastic about voting this year than in previous elections. No group of voters is especially interested in the midterms, but Republicans do have a significant edge that bodes well for their electoral prospects.

GOP Support for the Tea Party Is Down. Here’s Why It Still Has Influence.

A Gallup poll out Thursday reveals that just 41% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents support the tea party–down significantly from the 61 percent who were tea-party supporters in November 2010. Among this group, opposition to the tea party has doubled, to 11%. Among all Americans, support for the tea party stands at 22%, down from 32% in November 2010

Why Voters Don’t Care About the Monica Lewinsky Affair

John Feehery argued in a Think Tank post Wednesday that one of the many reasons Republicans “hated” Bill Clinton was because he stole their ideas. But the point of governing is reaching consensus, using the best ideas, and actually accomplishing things such as balancing the budget and welfare reform. It shouldn’t just be about taking positions so you have talking points for the next campaign. That’s what most politicians in Washington seem to have forgotten but what disaffected voters know all too well.

Monica Lewinsky and Moving On

Monica Lewinsky writes in Vanity Fair that she chose this moment to reemerge because she is fearful of becoming an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. After her sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton was revealed, Ms. Lewinsky became a cudgel for Republicans trying to topple the Clinton presidency; a “scapegoat” for Democrats trying to blame her; and a subject of scorn, ridicule and endless jokes.

If Ruth Bader Ginsburg Retires, How Would the Court Shift?

Many in Washington have argued that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s oldest member at 81, should retire. But there is an angle to this debate beyond the much-discussed potential difficulties any Obama nominee–particularly a liberal one–would face if Republicans win a Senate majority this fall.

Ignoring Moderates Is a Dangerous Strategy

WSJ’s Peter Nicholas today details the decline in Barack Obama’s popularity with independent voters – with his approval rating down ten points in four years to just 29% in the latest WSJ poll. Independents, who now represent a larger share of the electorate than either Democrats or Republicans, are deeply disaffected not just with the Obama presidency but also with Congress. They may prefer Republicans at this point but it isn’t with great enthusiasm.

WHCD: Little Reason to Party

I don’t know exactly when the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner jumped the shark. Maybe it was the first year a news organization rented an embassy for a lavish after-party, or when the dinner evolved into four days of events and schmoozing, or when the competition among news organizations for celebrity guests became an all-out arms race. Despite the millions spent and the dinner’s self-congratulatory and self-obsessed tone, in recent years it’s had a decidedly fin de siècle quality. Americans trust the media even less than they do the political leaders who have brought them governmental dysfunction and gridlock. Many news organizations are struggling to remain relevant. There really isn’t much reason to party.

This Was Hillary Clinton's Week—and Her Moment Is Just Beginning

If this week proved anything, it’s that Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy is pretty much inevitable, not only because of who she is and what she has done over the past decade, but also because of its historic import. After years of controversy and endless jibes about her hair, clothing, and manner, she has succeeded in becoming a transformational, touchstone figure not only in politics but American culture.

The Republican Push to Make It Harder to Vote

Laws like North Carolina's draconian new voter-ID laws are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. But voter backlash could be fierce.

Hate Congress? Blame yourself

Recent polls showing extreme dissatisfaction with Washington and the direction the country is headed are akin to telling a drowning man he’s not a very good swimmer. He’s well aware of the fact; but while the lifeguard (in this case, elected officials) is too busy flirting and showing off to do his job, the sharks are circling, and it looks like the only way to be saved is learn how to swim fast, because no one else is coming to the rescue.

What the Second Brown-Warren Debate Says About Gender in Politics

What is the lasting impression Massachusetts voters may have following the latest Scott Brown-Elizabeth Warren Senate debate? Maybe that Scott Brown isn't quite as nice as his image would suggest.

Our Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Congress

Just when you thought members of Congress couldn't get any more ridiculous or despised, a rash of stories makes it clear that they can.

The Ryan I Know: A Mild-Mannered Wonk and Ideological True Believer

I first met Paul Ryan in 1995 when he was working for freshman Rep. Sam Brownback, a member of the House class of 1994. Like most of that class and their staffs, Ryan was a true believer -- a reference not to his faith but to the class's single minded conviction that reducing federal spending and cutting the deficit was their mission. It's a view Ryan still holds.

This Year's Fight Over Taxing the Middle Class -- and the Rich

Inscribed in stone on the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service headquarters in Washington are the words "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society", a quotation taken from a 1927 Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Why Congress May Be Done for the Year

The American people think Congress is broken and judging by its track record that assessment is accurate. The average House and Senate member now sides with their party about 90 percent of the time, according to a recent Congressional Quarterly study, a level of lockstep agreement that reflects the most profound partisan polarization in Congress in 100 years. Now, with Democrats trying to hold onto their majority in the Senate and Republicans trying to win it as the election draws closer, the chance that legislative comity might improve is close to vanishing.

Rick Santorum's Last Stand?

It was a slightly tired-looking and sounding Rick Santorum who greeted supporters at an American Legion post in Westerville, on Columbus' north side Monday afternoon. His voice a bit hoarse, Santorum began by setting the stakes for Ohio's role on Super Tuesday, "It's always make or break here." Polling has shown Mitt Romney has pulled ahead of Santorum in Ohio among GOP primary voters and a loss here could mean the end of the road for Santorum, whose long-short presidential bid has gone further than he may have dared to dream, but is now foundering from a lack of resources. Romney has spent $12 million on negative TV ads in Ohio, compared to Santorum's less than $1 million, the candidate said.

4 Types of Independent Voters Who Could Swing the 2012 Elections

It's a beautiful, brilliant autumn Sunday in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a city of about 10,000 where the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers converge about 200 miles west of Denver. Several dozen residents have gathered at the Blue Bird Café, an outdoor clothing and equipment outfitter, bookstore and café featuring gourmet coffee, organic ice cream, gluten-free cupcakes, ceiling fans, and 19th-century saloon-style furnishings. They have come to meet Kathleen Curry, their state representative who in 2010 was running for re-election to the legislature as an independent write-in candidate, a serious uphill battle.

Newt Gingrich Still Can't Win a General Election

In the wake of his 12-point victory in the GOP South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich has pierced Mitt Romney's mantle of inevitability, but it's still a long way to the nomination and many senior Republicans are warning that a Gingrich candidacy would mean disaster for the party in November.

Why Newt Gingrich Will Never Be President

Newt Gingrich has shot to the top tier in several recent national polls of Republican presidential hopefuls, becoming the latest beneficiary of GOP skepticism about Mitt Romney as well as the troubles of Herman Cain and Rick Perry.

Supercommittee Failure Confirms What Most Americans Believe About Congress

The failure of the Supercommittee, and by extension Congress, to come to any agreement about how to deal with the nation's fiscal problems came as no surprise to most of the American people who have pretty much lost faith in Congress' ability to do its job.

Even Barney Frank Thinks Congress Is Too Partisan These Days

Barney Frank is pugnacious, irascible, and an extremely sharp-tongued partisan warrior who has served as touchstone and poster boy for conservatives to illustrate everything they think is wrong with liberals.

Unions and Young People: A Winning Combination for 2012?

In the wake of a significant electoral victory in Ohio Tuesday, unions and their supporters are energized and eager to flex their newly honed political muscles. But the path to greater electoral clout in 2012 could lie in a partnership with young voters and followers of the Occupy movement.

A no-win election for independents

Whatever the result of the national election, one thing is certain – independent voters in swing states who will be determining the outcome will be disappointed no matter what happens. That’s because most independents feel they are choosing from their least bad option this year. The lack of enthusiasm in this election is palpable.

Israel skinny-dipping could cost GOP seats

If there is one thing voters don’t forgive - especially in the mood they are in this year and with Congress at a 10 percent approval rating - it is being embarrassed by their representatives in Washington. Americans already think Congress is essentially a joke.

Supreme Court ruling not a big deal for some

Republicans are characterizing the Supreme Court health care ruling as one of the worst decisions in the court’s history. Democrats, who asserted the fate of the republic — or at least of Barack Obama’s presidency — hinged on the outcome, are celebrating. Both sides are already preparing to use it as fodder for fundraising and television ads. Less than an hour after the decision was announced, the House scheduled an essentially meaningless repeal vote for July 11 — which will play to their conservative supporters. Chances are though, despite all the ballyhoo from the left and the right, it won’t have a major effect on the outcome of the presidential race. That’s because the independent voters who most likely will decide the election are undoubtedly shrugging their shoulders.

Exit Dick Lugar, and GOP nonpartisanship

Another domino topples. With Sen. Richard Lugar’s defeat in the Indiana Republican primary, it is now possible to count on one hand the number of centrist GOP senators with a track record of working with Democrats on legislation.

The last of the GOP moderates

For those who support centrist, bipartisan solutions to our nation’s many serious challenges and who reject the idea that the only way to serve in Congress is to blindly follow the leader and toe the party line, the announcement that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is leaving the Senate is sad news indeed. Snowe is a pro-choice GOP moderate, a vanishing breed in Congress.

Supreme Court Opens a New Front

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision on campaign spending by corporate interests was every bit as bad as public interest groups had feared it would be. They are ready for the next battle in the long war over campaign finance reform. In its 5-4 ruling, the court said that corporations can spend as much as they want to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, undoing decades-old limits on corporate spending in federal campaigns.

What happened to the class of '94?

When Arizona Republican John Shadegg announced earlier this year that he planned to leave Congress after seven terms, he was one of only 22 members of the majority-making GOP Class of 1994 who remained in the House of Representatives. Seventy-three new Republicans came to Congress that year in an election that was dubbed a revolution, as it upended 40 years of continuous Democratic control.

Hope vs. experience? Democrats want both

It may look like Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have made nice, but looks can be deceiving. Just as two suitors vying for the same sweetheart may agree to stop slugging it out and shake hands, the two Democrats have put a veneer of civility over their apparent dislike of each other.

The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November

Anyone who has been talking to voters around the country and watching public opinion polls knows that American voters are angry, tired of both political parties, and ready for a change. Until very recently, though, that frustration has had almost no outlet, as independent candidates for office in the past were rarely competitive and almost always dismissed by the national media as a sideshow. Not this year.

Candidates in Maine, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., Challenge Republicans and Democrats Alike

Meet the non-partisan candidates changing American politics. Innovate. Disrupt. Solve problems. This mantra of the hi-tech revolution has brought fundamental change to virtually every area of American life except one—politics. America’s polarized politics are mired in a dysfunctional and increasingly unpopular two-party system that has failed to address this nation’s major challenges and threatens its future. The approval rating for Congress—which just had its least productive year since at least the early 1990s—is at a historical low of roughly 13 percent. Less than a third of Americans have confidence in President Barack Obama’s leadership and voters have an even dimmer view of his Republican opponents. More than 40 percent of Americans now identify as political independents, a larger number than either Republicans or Democrats. And this anti-partisan trend has not gone unnoticed by aspiring office holders.

It’s Disenfranchisement When Independents Can’t Vote in Primaries

District of Columbia voters went to the polls Tuesday, a few of them anyway, to vote in mayoral and city council primary elections. Unfortunately, although I am a Washington resident, I was not one of them. My non-participation wasn’t due to a lack of interest but because I am an Independent voter.

The Senate’s New Taxman Won’t Be Controlled By His Own Party

Ron Wyden gets along with some Republicans better than Harry Reid or the White House. If Democrats let him work across the aisle, we may get the first tax reform in 30 years.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: How Ruy Teixeira Got it Wrong on 'Swing Vote'

When one gets a laughably bad review of a book that one has spent two years working on, the immediate reaction is—he’s a jerk, he didn’t like my book; so what—a lot of other people did. But in the case of Ruy Teixeira’s New Republic review of my book, The Swing Vote, a closer examination makes clear he has an agenda, and it has nothing to do with reviewing a book. In the purported review he lists a string of falsehoods, and claims swing voters are a myth on par with the unicorn, which begged for a rebuttal.

Haley Barbour’s Last-Minute Pardons Hurt the GOP’s Law-and-Order Image

For most of the last two decades, Haley Barbour was a model Republican able to appeal to social and fiscal conservatives alike. He led the GOP’s charge against Bill Clinton’s scandals, raised buckets of money for countless conservative causes, and rallied Mississippi back from Hurricane Katrina with little of the drama of neighboring New Orleans. But in his final hours in office as Mississippi governor this month, Barbour tarnished his own legacy as well as the GOP’s law-and-order image with more than 200 pardons, including a dozen convicted murderers, more than a dozen people convicted of manslaughter and homicide, several rapists, and a slew of robbers and drug dealers.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner Defies Party to Engage GOP on a Deficit deal

In politics as in business, Mark Warner can be indefatigable in the pursuit of deals. So last spring, while the Democratic senator’s suburban Washington home was in a state of utter disorganization during a renovation project, Warner still found it the perfect time to invite a half dozen of his Senate colleagues over for dinner.

Independents Are Growing in Number and Drifting Away From Obama

Studies released this week about key swing states confirm that the numbers of voters who identify themselves as independent are growing, that Barack Obama is facing a serious challenge in battleground states, and that swing voters will almost certainly determine the outcome of the 2012 election.

Intramural War of Words Raises Question of Who Loves Israel More

A growing controversy in Democratic and pro-Israel circles over U.S. policy toward Israel, the security threat posed by Iran and what some journalists and bloggers are writing about these issues has unleashed a bitter feud involving the Center for American Progress (CAP) and charges and counter-charges about who actually has Israel’s best interests at heart.

Labor's New War Chest

The off-year elections usually don’t attract much voter fervor, but don’t tell that to labor unions in Ohio. They have amassed more than $30 million to fight for a ballot measure next Tuesday that would repeal restrictions on collective-bargaining rights for public employees.

Why Women Don't Win Massachusetts

Massachusetts, home of the Kennedy dynasty, the first state to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the only one to vote for George McGovern for president in 1972, revels in its über-liberal reputation. And while Democrats hold most of the elected offices that matter, the paradox is that voters here don’t seem comfortable electing women to statewide office.

Advice for the House Class of 2011 From Their Revolutionary Predecessors in '95

It is one of the most celebrated and historic classes in congressional history -- not the one seated Wednesday but the last group of Republicans who took over the House after the 1994 midterms. With 73 GOP freshmen, that class was smaller than this year's group, which boasts 87 new Republicans elected in November. But members of the historic '95 class contend their takeover was more significant because it was the first time Republicans had been in control of the House since the Eisenhower administration.

Senate Farewells Sound Familiar Warning: Partisanship is Ruining Us

Over the past few weeks, many of those leaving the U.S. Senate -- either voluntarily or by defeat -- have given a farewell address, something of a Senate tradition. The speeches have been remarkable for their similarity. Not in terms of thanking staff and family members and recounting memorable moments or greatest hits of a legislative career. Most of the senators did those things. Rather, they have been remarkable for the warning most of them have sounded about the dismal state of the nation's body politic.

'No Labels' Wants to Deliver on Public's Cry for Change, but Will it Work?

At the rollout for No Labels at Columbia University on Monday, one of the group's founders called the event "our little Woodstock of democracy." But the well- organized event, with its national media coverage, roster of top political names like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, and media heavyweights like David Gergen and Joe Scarborough, felt like anything but Woodstock.

GOP's John Kasich Takes Down Ted Strickland in Ohio Governor's Race

In a state badly hurting from the recession, Republican challenger John Kasich narrowly defeated Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in one of the most closely watched races in the nation. Kasich's triumph Tuesday capped a GOP sweep of statewide executive offices, including attorney general, secretary of state, auditor and treasurer.

Republican Robert Hurt Defeats Tom Perriello in Virginia's 5th District

In Virginia's 5th Congressional District, incumbent freshman Democrat Tom Perriello, elected in 2008 as part of the Barack Obama wave, was defeated by Virginia state Sen. Robert Hurt whose campaign slogan was "A Proven Conservative with Virginia Values." This district was one of the most hotly contested and closely watched House races in the nation, featuring a last minute campaign visit by President Obama.

Independent Voters Fed Up With Entire Political System

Much has been written about the anger and disillusionment of voters this year. Pollsters are predicting a "throw the bums out" wave that could sweep hundreds of new candidates into office on Tuesday. The Tea Party has manifested much of this anger on the right but what is particularly striking and has been much less reported is the level of anger this year in the independent/swing voters, who represent a much bigger block of votes.

Democrats Struggle to Hold Northeast Ohio Swing District

With prognosticators like Charlie Cook and others calling for a 50 to 60 seat Republican gain in the House of Representatives on November 2, there are a plenty of districts around the country where the Democrats are trying hard to hold a finger in the dike. Ohio's 16th District is one of them.

The Race Looks Over for Ohio's Lee Fisher, but He Keeps Running

For weeks, the Ohio Senate race between former Republican Congressman Rob Portman and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has appeared to be essentially over with various polls showing Portman with a double-digit lead. National Democratic groups stopped giving Fisher money long ago and he is being hugely outspent not only by Portman's campaign but by American Crossroads, the conservative pro-Republican group which is the brainchild of Karl Rove.

Mitt Romney Keeps Busy in New Hampshire for Possible White House Run

Mitt Romney may not have formally declared his 2012 presidential candidacy but there's little doubt he's running as evidenced by his frequent visits and political activity in New Hampshire. And while they wait for another Romney bid, some of his top campaign hands are staying active in races like Tuesday's GOP Senate primary won by Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general and establishment Republican candidate.

As Ohio Goes, So Go the Midterms - And Possibly 2012

In this "swingiest of swing states," as one Ohioan described the Buckeye State to me recently, no political party has a lock on voters' affections. Politicians have to earn it, election by election. And right now, the advantage that Democrats won in 2008 with Barack Obama's victory and the pickup of U.S. and state House seats is seriously threatened.

Turning around Ohio - or Turning Gov. Strickland Out of Office?

In 2006, Democrat Ted Strickland campaigned for governor using the slogan "Turnaround Ohio." It was an approach that worked gangbusters: Strickland carried 72 of 88 counties and won the governorship with 61 percent of the vote. He is now running behind in his bid for re-election primarily because most Ohioans feel that turnaround was short-lived -- that the state is worse off now than when Strickland took office.

Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello: Trying to Fight His Way Out of Trouble

It's still a little more than eight weeks to Election Day, a long time in modern politics, and the outcome is far from certain -- but polls out this week have Democrats plenty worried. Among the most concerned is first-term Virginia congressman Tom Perriello, who already knew he was running uphill. Two years of recession have made it a tough environment for any Democrat in a swing state.

Court Ruling Against Rahm Emanuel Devalues Service

Rahm Emanuel would probably be the best mayor of Chicago, considering who is running for the office. But that's not why the ruling yesterday of the Illinois appellate court is so egregiously wrong. It's because the decision totally devalues service to our country.

Arizona Shooting Shouldn't Stop Government Openness

The tragic events in Tucson this weekend have focused attention on a lot of things that need to be examined—dialing down political rhetoric and hate speech, tightening gun control laws, and having better systems in place to address the problems of the mentally ill.

Left And Right Attack No Labels Movement

The new group No Labels held its kick-off at Columbia University last week and announced an effort to try to reform our national political culture offering bipartisanship, civility and centrist political solutions. It’s a goal that virtually every recent poll shows a majority of Americans also want.

Obama's Tax Cut Deal With the GOP Is Bad Policy

For the past year or so I’ve been writing a lot about bipartisanship and the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together to get something done for the American people. So it’s hard to criticize the deal the president struck with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for another two years as not being a bipartisan effort. However, it’s pretty easy to call the plan not very good policy, and I expect that’s exactly what a lot of congressional Democrats will be saying in the coming days.

Republicans, Democrats Must Compromise on Tax Cuts, Federal Budget

As Americans gather around the Thanksgiving table this week and ponder what they are thankful for at a time of economic pain and uncertainty about the future, one thing unlikely to be on anybody's list is Congress.

Deficit Commission’s Staff Salaries Raise a Red Flag

There is pretty much something for everyone to dislike in the recommendations by the co-chairmen of the national debt commission on what to do about the national fiscal shambles.

The 2010 Election Results Could Come Down to Your Vote

The candidates, the pollsters, the pundits, the media, and the political consultants who make all of those crazy campaign ads have had their say. Now it’s up to the voters. Despite all of the hoopla about what a landslide election this could be for the Republicans, I predict many of the races will be extremely close--within a couple thousand votes. And that means every vote does count.

Negative Ads Only Fuel Voter Anger

I’ve been traveling around the country for the past few months talking to independent voters and it is striking how angry they are and how disappointed in the entire political system.

The Senate Filibuster Isn't Going Anywhere

With the Senate limping out of town last week for a six week recess, unable to deal with major pieces of legislation before it adjourned including small business tax relief, the defense authorization bill, and the extension of middle class tax cuts, there has been renewed attention about whether the rules of the Senate should be changed to make it harder for the minority to block consideration of legislation and appointments.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan Are the Real Heroes

In this silly season of political name calling and finger pointing about which party is going to wreck the country faster, I was privileged recently to attend a New Hampshire ceremony that exemplified what real service to this nation involves.

Olympia Snowe’s farewell from the Senate

When Olympia Snowe gave her farewell address to the Senate last week it signaled not only the end of a long, distinguished political career but ominously for the nation, the possible end of an era in US politics.

Goodbye to Olympia Snowe, Maine independent

Maine’s Olympia Snowe is officially a Republican, but really she is an independent, perfectly in keeping with her state’s independent streak. In other words, Snowe is a centrist, committed to finding common sense, bipartisan solutions for our nation’s many serious challenges, which makes her one of a vanishing breed in Congress.

Paging Through History

Congressional pages have brought a youthful idealism to the Capitol for two centuries. Now they're suddenly gone from the House—and some people think it's a mistake.

Stuck in the middle

A recent Pew Research Center survey confirmed what most Americans already know — Republicans and Democrats are more polarized than they have been in more than a quarter of a century. Party affiliation is actually a bigger divide than age, race, sex or socioeconomic status. As they become more extreme, the two parties have also shrunk, as centrist voters become disenchanted and leave to become independents. More people now consider themselves independents — 38% — than either Democrats (32%) or Republicans (24%). That’s the largest percentage of independents in 75 years, which is how long Gallup has been keeping track.

Time to stop fighting and start fixing

Perhaps the most overused and misunderstood term in politics is the word mandate. Does simply winning an election give the winning candidate and party a mandate? Not automatically. Does the size and scope of the win determine the power of the mandate? It can. By any measure President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats won a decisive victory.