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THE LONG HAUL

Election fatigue: Seven out of 10 Americans can’t wait for the 2012 presidential campaign to be over, preferring to “fast-forward” to the end, says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones. An endless campaign, negative ads and public distaste for politicians and politics contribute to such antipathy in a new Gallup poll, which reveals that 66 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats share the sentiment.

“Importantly, despite their generally negative feelings toward the campaign, Americans are not necessarily going to tune it out completely, or decline to participate. The same poll finds that 57 percent of Americans have already given quite a lot of thought to the upcoming election, and 72 percent are at least somewhat enthusiastic about voting in next year’s election,” Mr. Jones adds.

BEST OF THE LESSERS

As the big Republican guns roll through Iowa on Monday for last-minute voter shopping, the “Lesser-Known Presidential Candidates” forum unfolds with gusto at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. Initially, 35 assorted primary candidates were invited by the organizers; 11 Republicans and 8 Democrats from 17 states accepted.

The mix includes GOPers Bear Betzler of Philadelphia and satirist Vermin Supreme of Rockport, Maine - plus Democrat and anti-abortion activist Randall Terry. Well, uh, as the sages say, rock on. Each candidate gets an opening statement and lots of questions at this very public event.

CRAIG‘S LIST

A sterling moment for Ronald Reagan historian Craig Shirley, author of the intense, patriotic and exquisitely researched book “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World,” released Dec. 6 by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher: Mr. Shirley made the New York Times best-seller list on Sunday, debuting at No. 20 for print and e-books combined, and No. 8 for e-books alone.

The takeaway: some traditional values and experiences transcend everything, including the New York Times.

“The month in 1941 he has chosen to chronicle did indeed change the way we live now, the way we will live as long as liberty is the organizing principle and animating spirit of America,” says Jon Meacham, former Newsweek editor, now executive editor of Random House.

Mr. Shirley’s work is in the Amazon top 10 for historical books, incidentally. The industrious author’s shrewdly titled “Citizen Newt: The Rise, Fall and Future of Speaker Gingrich” will be published in late January.

METAL METTLE

Neodymium, lanthanum, tellurium, indium and tungsten top the “most endangered” list of strategic elements vital to multiple defense applications, electronics, medical devices, autos, batteries and solar panels.

As with foreign-controlled oil, the lack of these metals could roil American industry, says manufacturer American Elements, which warns that China controls 97 percent of global rare-earth minerals production. See their list and its implications here: www.americanelements.com/2011Endangered_Elements_List.html

IN 30 DAYS

“One month from now, the race for the Republican nomination will probably have a very different look. Iowa and New Hampshire will be in the past, and the candidates that remain in the race, having made a decent enough showing in those first states to continue, will be moving on to South Carolina and Florida,” says Regina Corso, senior vice president of the Harris Poll, which has released a new round of campaign numbers here: www.harrisinteractive.com.

“How this races moves from there is anyone’s guess, but the current thinking is that this nomination fight will continue into March at least,” she adds.

Yes, well, uh-huh. This is promising news for The Washington Times; we host the final candidate debate and sound bites roundup with Oregon Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio in Portland on March 19.

AGGRESSIVE PROGRESSIVES

Grass-roots progressives are opting for a “big-government-is-lousy”-style message with their own populist twist, urging party loyalists to run for local office - any office - and push both the liberal agenda and “a renewed American Dream.” Their goal is to sign up 130 potential candidates; they’ve already recruited 118.

“There are thousands of key positions up for grabs around the country in 2012,” says Kaili Lambe, political manager for the million-member Democracy for America, which has launched the “Candidate Project” in partnership with progressive activists at the New Organizing Institute.

They intend to “recruit, train and support progressive candidates running for everything from dog-catcher to state representative,” Ms. Lambe says. “In 2012, progressives will be running for seats at every level of local government nationwide - to take back our school boards, town councils and statehouses.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 70 percent of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction.

• 54 percent disapprove of how President Obama is handling his job as president.

• 52 percent say he “deserves” to be voted out of office; 43 percent say he deserves to be re-elected.

• 51 percent would vote for Mr. Obama and 42 percent for Newt Gingrich in an Obama/Gingrich matchup.

• 47 percent would vote for Mr. Obama and 46 percent for Mitt Romney in an Obama/Romney matchup.

• 49 percent predict Mr. Obama will be re-elected; 48 percent say he will be voted out of office.

• 42 percent say they are conservatives, 35 percent are moderates, 20 percent are liberals.

• 33 percent say they are independents, 27 percent are Democrats, 25 percent Republicans, and 16 percent “none of the these.”

Source: An Associated Press-GfK Poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 8-12.

Crabby observations, reassurances, big fat press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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