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Inside the Beltway: Romney is the ‘parking lot’ for GOP voters

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 30, 2014

It is news that should secretly please Mitt Romney, a man who insists he won't ever run again for president, and so there. Some voters, however, have not forgotten him, and Mitt nostalgia lingers.

"If Romney were to run, he currently holds a lead in the New Hampshire Republican primary, with 25 percent of the vote," reports the Purple Poll, a targeted political survey that focuses on the 12 battleground states most likely to determine the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

"While Romney says he is not likely to run, it is instructive to note that he continues to cast a shadow over the primary at this early stage. He serves as a convenient 'parking lot' for Republican voters who are waiting for other candidates to develop," the poll notes.

"It's a wide open field as voters look for a candidate of stature," pollster Doug Usher tells Inside the Beltway. "Still, this is a surprising level of support, and I don't think we give voters enough credit. They remember Romney the man during 2012, not all the Republican infighting." The poll of 1,052 likely voters was conducted Jan. 21-23.

"Of non-Romney candidates, Rand Paul has 18 percent of the vote, essentially tied with Chris Christie (17 percent), with Jeb Bush receiving 13 percent. Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Bobby Jindal (5 percent) round out the GOP candidates," the analysis notes.

And about the ever-elusive Scott Brown, who may or may not run for the U.S. Senate seat in the Granite State against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Though still undeclared, Mr. Brown is faring well in this early poll. The two are tied, each holding 44 percent of the vote.

"This indicates substantial vulnerability for the Democratic incumbent," the analysis says, citing the fact that Mr. Brown has an edge among independents, 48 percent to Mrs. Shaheen's 39 percent.

THE PRIEBUS TACTICAL MOMENT

The oft steel-clad Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus won his quest for an apology from MSNBC after the network issued a most unfortunate tweet suggesting that the "rightwing" would hate a bi-racial family in a new Cheerios ad. Mr. Priebus, who told GOP staffers to boycott the network, got his apology Thursday directly from network CEO Phil Griffin. So case closed? No. An intricate tactical discussion goes on.

"Here's the problem. First, MSNBC's offensive tweet didn't target Republicans, but 'the rightwing.' Second, by inserting himself (and the RNC) into the discussion, Priebus risks changing the narrative, which was skewing decidedly against MSNBC," says Daily Caller senior contributor Matt Lewis.

"Another thing I don't like about this is the fact that it involves boycotting the network and demanding an apology — two tools straight out of the liberal playbook," he adds.

But Mr. Priebus was "absolutely correct" in demanding an apology, counters Mediaite analyst Joe Concha, who adds, "As they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity except for your own obituary. But if Griffin keeps allowing this behavior to define his network, the only obituary anyone will be talking about will be the one regarding his career."

O'REILLY TRUMPS COLBERT

Alright, so it's a very moot exercise.

But a survey of registered voters by Public Policy Polling finds that if Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert were both candidates for president in 2016, then Mr. O'Reilly would win, 38 percent to 35 percent. A quarter of those polled were unsure who the victor would be, but 38 percent said the comic had better hair than the pundit. Mr. O'Reilly only received 11 percent of the hair vote.

BIG HEALTH NANNY AT WORK

Those who wonder if the Centers for Disease Control is making proper use of tax dollars should note that the federal agency has released a list of "healthy recommendations" for anyone venturing to the Winter Olympics. Ready?

Get vaccinated. Check. Pack smart. Check. Carry proof of medical insurance, and be aware of emergency exit locations. Then comes this handy dandy entry:

"Healthy Habits. Always wear seat belts. Wash your hands well and often. Drink alcohol in moderation and use latex condoms if you have sex."

FUN AT HALF TIME

"Filing disclosure-palooza."

Voila. It's a new word, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog.

"Forget Super Bowl Sunday. For the geeks who keep score of political contests, this weekend's Really Big Day will arrive 48 hours prior. By midnight Friday, the vast majority of committees gearing up for the 2014 elections, regardless of whether they file on a monthly or quarterly schedule, have to hand 2013 year-end accounts into the Federal Election Commission," says analyst Peter Olsen-Phillips.

The "unusual confluence of reporting deadlines" offers insight into who's up and who's down; all 435 seats in the House, where Republicans currently hold a 32-seat edge, will be up for grabs in November. So are 36 of the Senate's 100 seats, where members of the Democratic caucus outnumber Republicans, 55-45. Curious geeks can track all those federal campaign finance filings: Influenceexplorer.com.

UH-OH: THE LIBERAL LIQUOR FACTOR

Some new academic research researching the link between unhealthy behaviors and political ideology does not bode well for liberals. A pair of Duquesne University economists conducted an exhaustive study comparing the demand for alcohol with the regional political make-up of all 50 states between 1952 and 2010.

"In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States, even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states. Holding everything else constant, we find that as states become more liberal over time, they experience higher consumption of beer and spirits per capita," write Pavel A. Yakovlev and Walter P. Guessford.

"Our findings are relatively consistent with the recent sociological studies showing that people with more socialist views tend to engage in more unhealthy behaviors such as excessive drinking," the two add. "This sociological argument is similar to the theory of moral hazard in economics, which postulates that people may behave irresponsibly when they do not fully bear the cost of their behavior."

The research was published Thursday in The Journal of Wine Economics, an academic publication.

POLL DU JOUR

94 percent of Americans give Congress a negative job performance review.

59 percent overall give a negative review of Republicans in Congress; 9 percent give them a positive review, 32 percent are "not familiar" with them.

56 percent give a negative review of House Speaker John A. Boehner; 12 percent give them a positive review, 32 percent are not familiar with him.

55 percent give a negative review of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; 17 percent give her a positive review, 28 percent are not familiar with her.

54 percent give a negative review of Democrats in Congress; 16 percent give them a positive review, 29 percent are not familiar with them.

45 percent give a negative review of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; 12 percent give him a positive review, 43 percent are not familiar with him.

38 percent overall give a negative review of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; 7 percent give them a positive review, 54 percent are not familiar with him.

Source: A Harris Poll of 2,236 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 15-20.

Commentary to jharperwashingtontimes.com; follow her at Twitter.com/harperbulletin

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