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Political Strategy Notes

A majority, 58 percent of Americans want Congress to enact the payroll tax reduction, with 35 percent wanting it to expire, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications poll conducted 12/8-12. "Letting the payroll tax break expire would cost a family making $50,000 about $1,000...If an agreement is not reached by the end of the year, payroll taxes will jump on Jan. 1 from this year's 4.2 percent back to their normal level of 6.2 percent," explains Laurie Kellman in her AP report. It's not just Dems who support the extension, she notes: "Republicans were evenly divided," while "Conservatives supported an extension, 54 percent to the 42 percent who prefer to let the reduction expire."

It must be done. Think of it as basic training for Democratic warriors, this exploratory journey via AmericanCrossroadsWatch.org through the rancid belly of the beast.

Paul Waldman's "Is the GOP Base Willing to Lose in 2012?" explores the interesting question also raised by Ed Kilgore about whether the 'true believers' are OK with Obama winning re-election --- provided they get control of the Republican Party.

You go, guy.

Dems have been saying all along that unemployment compensation benefits the entire economy, as well as the jobless. And a new study by Mark Zandi and Alan Binder flagged at Demos finds that "UI has been one of the most effective forms of stimulus...Each dollar spent on extended UI benefits produced $1.61 in economic activity and has helped to mitigate the worst effects of the economic down turn...According to study by the Economic Policy Institute, letting extended benefits expire as a result of the debt ceiling deal will take $70 billion out of the economy in 2012, reduce GDP by 0.4 percent, and result in 528,000 fewer jobs."

There are serious questions that should be answered about Ron Paul's racial attitudes (audio clip here), but at least he's transparent about his reactionary views on Medicare.

On the racism issue, Michael Tomasky speculates at the Daily Beast about Paul's share of the youth vote: "I wonder what these young and gender-transcendent and differently melanined people would make, for example, of the racism charges. There is debate on this point, but back during the 2008 campaign, The New Republic's James Kirchick tracked down old copies (late 1980s and early 1990s) of a newsletter that went out to subscribers under Paul's name. The sentences that appear in these documents are so astonishing that they'd have stood out in Alabama in 1960...The name of New York City should be changed to "Welfaria," "Zooville," "Rapetown," "Dirtburg," or "Lazyopolis." David Duke's near-win in the 1990 Louisiana Senate primary was celebrated. Mountains of material about welfare cheats and animals and arming oneself for the coming race riot and so on."

Good news in The Keystone State -- Obama up 10 points since August.

Public Policy Polling also has welcome news for the white house: "PPP has polled Virginia four times in 2011 and has come to the same conclusion every time: Barack Obama just hasn't slipped there to the extent he has nationally. That's a finding with major, major implications for his reelection prospects because if he wins Virginia he's probably going to win the Electoral College...and our polling in the state over the course of the year has certainly suggested he's in a good position to do it. Right now we find Obama on positive ground in the state with 48% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapprove...in Virginia he has a very strong base behind him...Obama leads both Mitt Romney (48-42) and Newt Gingrich (50-43) by margins comparable to his 6 point victory over John McCain in 2008. He leads both of them with independents- Romney by 4 and Gingrich by 8. And between the two match ups he's picking up as many Republicans as he's losing Democrats, again something we just aren't seeing in very many places." (Full results, cross tabs here)

Check out these interesting maps of five possible paths to 270 electoral votes for Obama.

Massimo Calabresi reports at Time Swampland on "Texas Trifecta: Control of Presidency, Congress and Courts May Be at Stake in Redistricting Fight," and he does it with way-cool, jazzy maps. In addition to four new congressional seats at stake, the fight over the legality of the redistricting plan threatens to delay the TX primary from Super Tuesday, (March 6) to May 29, "nearly three extra months of expensive and damaging intra-party attacks between GOP candidates."