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Political Strategy Notes

The GOP's Social Security and Medicare privatization policies are not the only thing Florida seniors are angry about. Writing in the AFL-CIO Now Blog, Laura Markwardt, senior communications associate at the Alliance for Retired Americans notes that "Hundreds of Florida seniors and others turned out for a rally in Tampa Friday against voter suppression....Recent changes in Florida's election rules will have a dramatic impact on Florida's seniors and other voters. The new law passed in the Florida legislature cuts early voting from 14 days to seven days before the election, which hurts many seniors who vote early because they are physically unable to stand in a long line or make it to the polls on Election Day."

Nate Silver's "Polls Diverge, but All Point to a Romney Win" crunches the polling numbers and estimates that "Odds are, instead, that Mr. Romney will win by somewhere in the range of 10 points to 20 points, meaning that many networks are likely to declare him the winner shortly after polls close."

Milking the 'liberal media' meme for the very little that it's worth outside of his right flank, The petulant bomb-thrower chucks a heat-seeking grenade into the discussion about debate formats in the fall campaign: "As your nominee, I will not accept debates in the fall in which the reporters are the moderators," Gingrich bellowed at a Pensacola rally. "We don't need to have a second Obama person at the debate." Millions yawn.

Most pundits are skeptical about Democrats' chances of re-taking the House. But a couple of opinion polls suggest otherwise, reports Deirdre Walsh at cnn.com's Election Center. "Two polls released last week bear that out: An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 47% of voters preferred a Democratic-controlled Congress, compared to 41% who supported a Republican-controlled one; and a National Journal poll indicated a wider margin -- 48% said they supported a Democratic Congress and 37% said they wanted Republicans to keep control."

Steve Roth's "Social Security: The Elevator Pitch" at Angry Bear spotlights a few stats Dems should master for shredding GOP arguments, among them: "The extra revenue needed to make SS solid far beyond the foreseeable future (75 years) is tiny: 0.6% of GDP...Coincidentally, Scrapping the Cap on SS contributions -- so high earners paid payroll tax above $110K -- would deliver ... 0.6% of GDP." Roth adds, "Worried about our fiscal future? It's the health care costs, stupid...U.S. providers charge two to five times what they charge in other countries, and it's rising faster -- and faster than wages, GDP, inflation...If you're not talking about that, you have nothing useful to say about our fiscal future."

Eric Boehlert has an interesting take at Alternet , "How Fox News Is Destroying The Republican Party." Says Boehlert: "For Ailes and company, that slash-and-burn formula works wonders in terms of super-serving its hardcore, hard-right audience of three million viewers. But in terms of supporting a serious, national campaign and a serious, national conversation? It's not working. At all."

It's all caucuses and no primaries for the GOP field during the the next month, according to "What's Next After Florida: Entering the Dead Zone" by Chris Good of ABC's the Note. Then the primary action picks back up on Feb 28 in Arizona and Michigan, with 'Super Tuesday' a week later (March 6), when 35+ percent of the GOP delegates will be selected in ten states in one day. Good believes "...it's unlikely any candidate will be able to win the delegate race before May" and California's 169 delegates (June 5) should clinch the Republican nomination if it isn't a done deal by then.

February could be Ron Paul's big month, with all the caucuses slated. But recent revelations about Paul's hands-on involvement in producing his racist newsletters could be damaging. As WaPo's Jerry Markon and Alice Crite point out "...People close to Paul's operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day...."It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product...He would proof it,'' said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul's company and a supporter of the Texas congressman."

Meredith Shiner and Steven T. Dennis have a Roll Call report on "Rust Belt Democrats Trying to Manufacture a Win," explaining that "Democrats believe manufacturing job growth, especially in the auto industry, has been one of the bright spots of their résumé and that it's about time the administration touts that success...Senate Democrats, in particular, have the opportunity to make the manufacturing message their own, or at least use it on the floor with symbolic votes designed to put Republicans in a tough spot."

Expect an uptick in howls of 'Class Warfare' from the GOP as Dems increasingly hitch their 2012 campaign to the growing popular demand for fair taxes. Senate Majrity Leader Harry Reid is planning votes on tax reform throughout spring and summer, according to Lisa Mascaro of the L. A. Times D.C. Bureau's "Democrats in Congress step up tax-the-rich efforts: They see it not only as a way to reduce the deficit, but also to lay down a populist line in the election battle for Congress and the White House."