- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Republican foes were eager to spring upon new Gallup poll findings revealing that a mere 25 percent of voters currently identify with the Grand Old Party, compared to a record high 42 percent who call themselves independents and 31 percent who were Democrats. Is it time to gnash teeth and panic as midterm election season sets in? No, Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak tells Inside the Beltway.

“There are many dynamics at work here. You have to remember how many people also identify as conservative or liberal, and that the generic congressional ballot currently favors Republicans. You also have to consider voter motivation and enthusiasm, a force which will likely sway the election in GOP favor,” he observes. “And yes, the party must woo independents to win a national election.”

But Mr. Mackowiak is keenly interested in news that a pair of Democrats — Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina — have chosen to retire, which places a damper on the Democratic Party’s grand plans to gain control of the House.

“One survey doesn’t mean more than a Democrat in a red state choosing to retire,” Mr. Mackowiak says. “I pay more attention to the decisions of Mike McIntyre than I do one Gallup poll.”

Interesting to note that a YouGov/Economist poll also released Wednesday finds that 62 percent of independent voters would not re-elect their current local representatives. So indeed, the demographic is up for grabs. See more findings in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

TRUMPALISCIOUS

“Achievers move forward at all times. Don’t tread water. Get out there and go for it,” Donald Trump advised his 2.4 million Twitter followers on Wednesday. And it appears he practices what he preaches. The billionaire will be going for, well, something in the Granite State later this month. Mr. Trump is the headliner at an invitation-only breakfast hosted by the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.

“Is he running for something? President? New York governor?” the eager invitation asks.

Only The Donald knows for sure. Meanwhile, he’ll underscore his alliance with Republicans in a warmer climate just 10 days later. Mr. Trump himself will host the Republican Party of Florida at a “House Majority 2014 Golf Tournament,” naturally on his own turf. We’re talking the Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach — which includes the “Trump Nine,” where one signature green is located on its own little island.

SOME INTELLIGENCE ON INTELLIGENCE

Just so you know: there was a cordial and what appears to be productive meeting Tuesday between Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire — three of the five-member review group that compiled “Liberty and Security in a Changing World,” a report delivered to President Obama in mid-December. It offered 46 recommendations on navigating the tricky balance between viable national security and privacy.

The review recommended, among many things, that Congress create the position of “Public Interest Advocate” and a newly chartered, independent Civil Liberties and Privacy Protection Board. And the meeting? Intelligence officials reviewed the review, and heard from its authors. Of particular interest, according to Mr. Clapper’s office: the collection of bulk metadata under Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; security clearance reform, encryption, judicial approval of national security letters and judicial approval of nondisclosure orders.

“Throughout the meeting, review group members expressed gratitude to the intelligence community for helping keep Americans safe,” the official account said, advising that Mr. Clapper in turn praised the reviewers for “facilitating an informed public discussion about proposed reforms and also thanked them for preserving intelligence capabilities while further strengthening privacy protections and oversight.”

Mr. Clapper “also expressed his appreciation for the ongoing close coordination and consultation between the administration, Congress, and the intelligence community as we work together on a measured approach to intelligence reforms.”

And that sounds promising.

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