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Political Strategy Notes

Charles Babington's AP article "Republican losses obscure US drift to right" is more about Republican success in pushing policy rightward than than a real transformation of public attitudes.

Molly Ball's post, "5 False Assumptions Political Pundits Make All the Time" at The Atlantic is based on an article in The Forum by Stanford political scientist Morris Fiorina arguing that: 1. The electorate is not "polarizing." It's "sorting."; 2. Candidates change more than voters do; 3. Independents aren't partisans; 4. "Division" is easy to overstate; and 5. Campaign ads really, really, really don't make much difference.

Linda Feldmann's "Obama's divide-and-conquer strategy: Is it really about destroying GOP?" at the Monitor observes: "there's a case to be made that Obama has helped exacerbate the GOP's internal divisions by highlighting wedge issues. Gay marriage, the expansion of Medicaid, immigration reform, even the "sequester" - all have splintered the Republicans and at times forced them into debate among themselves as much as with Democrats..."Obama's doing a good job of exploiting internal discord," says Ford O'Connell, president of the conservative Civic Forum PAC.

Thomas Ferraro's Reuters post, "In separating gun-control bills, Democrats reveal strategy" signals a departure from the Democratic proclivity for "big package" reform. As Ferraro explains, "President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate have spread his gun-control proposals across four bills in an effort to get at least some of the less controversial measures - such as expanded background checks for gun buyers - passed into law...By breaking Obama's gun-control agenda into pieces, supporters hope to avoid having a less popular proposal such as the assault weapons ban contribute to the rejection of other proposals, aides said."

Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn takes no guff on gun control reforms from the insufferable Sen. Lindsey Graham in this video clip.

"Democrats Oppose Flexibility in Sequester Cuts" by Shane Goldmacher, Amy Harder and Stacy Kaper of the National Journal provides perspective on the latest debates going on inside both Democratic and Republican strategy sessions.

Liberal Supreme Court justices are reportedly making a big pitch to Justice Kennedy to join them in upholding the Voting Rights Act, according to Reuters' Joan Biskupic. Seems like a long shot, given Kennedy's hardening conservatism. But if he joined the liberals on the court on this important vote, it would increase his influence considerably to the dismay of the CJ who prefers the idea of "the Roberts court."

At The Daily Beast Ilana Glazer reports "A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals more self-identified Republicans disapprove of the way Republicans are handling federal spending than approve of their performance. Barack Obama's handling of federal spending did not rate well, either, with 52% of all adults disapproving. Democrats, though, show much more unity and cohesion, with 74% of self-identified Democrats approving of President Obama's handling of federal spending."

Commenting on the same poll, Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake note at the Fix that "Republicans have put their battle to rein in federal spending front and center as they seek to (re)define who they are as a party. And, at least according to these numbers, that effort has yet to pay dividends -- even within their own base."

According to a new Field Poll, 54 percent of California RV's now support legalization of pot, with 43 percent opposed -- quite a contrast from the 13 percent who favored legalization in 1969, the 30 percent who supported the reform in 1983 and 2010, when voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have legalized pot, by 54 percent to 46 percent.