- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2010

TICK TOCK

The midterm elections are exactly eight weeks away. That’s 56 days. Or 1,344 hours. Or 80,640 minutes. Or 4,838,400 seconds. Batten down the hatches, folks, the real season has begun.

UNTHINKABLE

Alas. There are more uncomfortable dynamics at work for Democratic candidates. Bedrock supporters who buoyed the party up two years ago have gone all squishy.

“Earlier this year, President Obama identified women, blacks and young voters among the groups he highlighted as critical to a voter mobilization effort designed to help the Democrats hold their congressional majority. These groups made up a good portion of the ‘new voters’ who propelled Obama to victory in 2008,” says Gallup Poll analystLydia Saad.

“However, Gallup data suggest they are not poised to provide the same kind of boost for Democratic candidates this fall. As a result, and because of the extraordinarily keen interest in the elections that conservative Republicans currently display, Republicans overall currently enjoy a 54 percent to 30 percent lead over Democrats in ‘thought given to the election,’ ” she continues.

The numbers are stark. Two years ago, three fourths of the 18-to-29-year-old crowd were giving “quite a lot of thought” to the election, previous Gallup research found. Now, that figure has dropped to 19 percent, with the “preservation” of the Democratic majority in Congress now dependent on the party increasing appeal to voters at large, rather than counting on heightened turnout from their strongest backers, Ms. Saad says.

UNPALATABLE

Hey, a vote is a vote, no matter how odious things seem. Voters are vexed with both parties for complicated reasons. But given a choice of the two evils, they’ll pick Republicans.

“Independents and voters who dislike both parties are starting to break toward the GOP,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “In a year when anger at incumbents is a dominant political force, the key to the election lies among those who aren’t rooting for either side.”

Forty-nine percent of all Americans have an unfavorable view of the Democrats, with the same percentage feeling that way about Republicans as well, says a poll released by the network Monday. But who cares? The survey also found that the Grand Old Party leads the Democrats by 7 points on the “generic ballot,” — 52 percent to 45 percent — up from a 3-point margin last month.

AND IN SUMMATION

“The election’s just two months away,

But it’s hard to endure the delay:

How we long for a rout

And the bums all thrown out!

How we wish we were voting today!”

- Limerick by Politickles editor and friend-of-Inside-the-Beltway F.R. Duplantier.

SARTORIAL DEMEANOR

Well, OK. ABC has released its official portrait of Bristol Palin and her dance partner, Mark Ballas, posing, tango-like, before the couple debuts Sept. 20 on “Dancing With the Stars.” Miss Palin said only three days ago that she hoped to dress “modestly” on the reality show, but hey, show biz prevailed and she’s in black lace. And fringe. And gold shoes. Well, whatever.

If she wins, it means prize money for the single mother and her toddler son, Tripp, and lots of it — about $350,000, according to recent calculations from Gawker.com. So dance away, honey.

AXIS REDUX

Drama is already percolating around the National Tea Party Unity Convention, set for mid-October in Las Vegas with a lineup of speakers that includes pollster Frank Luntz, embattled Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton and talk radio host Neal Boortz, among many. Workshops include such topics as “A Tea Partier’s Guide to Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ ” and “Fighting Obama Secrecy: How to Get Records the Government Is Hiding.”

This breed of “tea partiers” seeks unity. But they’re also ready to rumble.

“The timing is crucial,” says organizer Judson Phillips. “As we head into the fall elections, we must be united in our opposition to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid axis of fiscal evil.”

JUST SO YOU KNOW

Big thinking, deep concepts? Apparently so. The Defense Department recently announced that it will dole out $227 million to finance 32 projects conducted by assorted academic institutions.

Among the winners: “Neuro-Inspired Adaptive Perception and Control for Agile Mobility of Autonomous Vehicles in Uncertain and Hostile Environments” (Georgia Institute of Technology); “Animal Inspired Robust Flight with Outer and Inner Loop Strategies” (University of Washington); “Knowledge Representation, Reasoning and Learning for Understanding Scenes and Events” (University of California, Los Angeles); and “An Omnivorous Framework for Translation and Analysis of Low Density Languages” (Carnegie Mellon University).

POLL DU JOUR

- 56 percent of U.S. voters favor a repeal of the recently enacted national health care law.

- 51 percent say the health care plan will be “bad” for the country.

- 49 percent say a repeal of the law is unlikely.

- 42 percent say a repeal would be good for the U.S. economy.

- 40 percent say a repeal would not create any new jobs.

- 21 percent say it will have no impact on the economy.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 likely voters conducted Sept. 4 and 5.

Iambic pentameter, haikus, political wisdom to jharper@washingtontimes.com.