The Advantage Of Running Against Bat-Shit Crazy Opponents: Obama Leading All Republican Candidates In Ohio

The conventional wisdom is that Obama is doing poorly in the rust belt and that will have difficulty holding on to states he picked up in 2008 such as Ohio. Polls a year out are hardly conclusive, but a Public Policy Polling survey does show that Obama has large leads over his potential rivals in Ohio:

One person who should be feeling particularly good about last night’s election results in Ohio is Barack Obama. On our weekend poll, which got the final result of Issue 2 correct to within a point, Obama led all of his Republican opponents in the state by margins ranging from 9-17 points.  After a very tough year for Democrats in Ohio in 2010, things are looking up.

Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates.  What makes that particularly notable is that his approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.

Obama continues to suffer from poor approval ratings in Ohio with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. But voters don’t seem to consider any of his opponents to be viable alternatives. Cain has the best favorability of the bunch at a still poor 33/43 and it just gets worse from there- 28/48 for Romney, 31/51 for Gingrich, 24/47 for Bachmann, 20/50 for Paul, and a truly woeful 17/58 for Perry. This field of GOP contenders just doesn’t seem to have much appeal to swing state voters.

Besides calling into question the predictions that Obama will lose Ohio next year, this poll also shows that there is limited correlation between approval ratings and ability to win a state. With the Republican Party now under the control of extremists who have moved far to the right of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it is possible that Obama can win states despite mediocre approval ratings. It is also very likely that Obama’s approval will improve once he is seen in a head to head contest with a bat-shit crazy Republican.

Christiane Amanpour Joining ABC News In August

Christiane Amanpour has accepted the offer from ABC to host this This Week and work on other shows. She will be leaving CNN and joining ABC in August. ABC News President David Westin says that besides hosting This Week Amanpour will “provide international analysis on the issues of the day, as well as anchor primetime documentaries on international subjects for the network.”

Jake Tapper will be the “regular, interim anchor” of This Week until August.

ABC and Amanpour Reportedly Close to Deal for “This Week”

There have been rumors that Christiane Amanpour would take over as host of ABC’s “This Week” for several days. The last report I say quoted Amanpour as saying it was 50-50 whether she would take the job. Media Decoder believes they are close to making a deal:

ABC News is close to concluding a deal to install the longtime CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour as the new host of its Sunday political discussion show “This Week.”

The network’s interest in Ms. Amanpour — and her favorable response to the approach — has been widely speculated about for weeks. Now the negotiations are close enough to completion that an announcement may be made as early as Thursday, though an ABC News executive cautioned that nothing was final and a number of points in the deal had yet to be resolved.

Having Amanpour as host would also shift the show more towards international affairs as opposed to domestic politics.

Opposing Viewpoints on Afghanistan

The Washington Post has an op-ed by Congressman Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee calling for sending more troops into Afghanistan:

Failure to provide Gen. McChrystal with the military resources he needs to reverse the insurgency’s momentum would make all these challenges harder to manage by reinforcing doubts throughout the region about our commitment to this fight and our capacity to prevail in it. But if we can roll back the Taliban and establish basic security in key population centers, as a properly resourced counterinsurgency will allow us to do, it will put us in a position of far greater strength and credibility from which to convince Afghans and others throughout the region that it is in their interest and worth the risk to work with us.

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee argues against sending in more forces on CNN’s State of the Union. While Kerry is hesitant to go along with McChrystal’s call for additional forces, he does cite another point made by McChrystal:

Sen. John Kerry cautioned President Obama Saturday against raising troop levels in Afghanistan, saying it would be “entirely irresponsible” to do so while the Afghan government remains in turmoil following national elections.

“It would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country, when we don’t even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we’re working in, with,” Kerry told CNN’s John King in an interview set to air Sunday at 9 a.m. on State of The Union.

Speaking from Afghanistan, Kerry, who is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the U.S. should listen to the advice of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in that country.

“When our own, you know, commanding general tells us that a critical component of achieving our mission here is, in fact, good governance, and we’re living with a government that we know has to change and provide it, how could the president responsibly say, oh, they asked for more, sure, here they are?,” Kerry said.

President Obama and his advisers have held five meetings in recent weeks to discuss U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as they continue to weigh a call from Gen. McChrystal for as many as 40,000 additional troops in Afghanistan.

However, complaints of voter irregularities have dogged the Afghanistan election and the United States’ mission there. The top United Nations official in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this month that the vote was marred by “widespread fraud.”

Are We Safer?

One queston being considered today, after five years of George Bush fighting the “war on terror,” is whether we are any safer. Here is one post on the risk of terrorism which many in the liberal blogoshere might miss from Cato Unbound but is worth reading. Portions remind me of a recent post by DarkSyde at Daily Kos which I discussed here.

While considering how safe we are, there are two other previous posts worth looking back at to consider both sides of the question. Two articles from The Atlantic and Foreign Affairs raise the question of whether fear of terrorism has been more dangerous than terrorism. Before we downplay the threat too much, consider this chilling report from Christiane Amanpour on the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons by al Qaeda.

Regardless of how much a threat al Qaeda remains, the responses by the Bush administration have made us less safe rather than more safe. We have paid a heavy cost in terms of reduced civil liberties, loss of life in Iraq, and loss of prestige for the United States, with none of this making us any safer.