Stories by Jeb Golinkin

Jeb Golinkin is an editor and reporter for FrumForum.com and the host of the FF Podcast. Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin

Heed McCain’s Warning on Immigration

January 5th, 2012 at 1:32 pm 31 Comments

Someone should listen to John McCain. Asked by First Read whether he thought Arizona was in play this election cycle, McCain reportedly responded “I think that if not this election cycle, the demographics are that Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, even Texas will all be in play.” The Senator then added, “We have to fix our problems with the Hispanics.”

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Gingrich Was Right About Ryan Plan

June 24th, 2011 at 11:41 am 11 Comments

Americans want the deficit reduced, but they aren’t so keen on Paul Ryan’s medicare plan. A new Bloomberg Poll finds that Americans by a 57 percent to 34 percent margin say that they will be individually worse off if Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan became the law.

The poll reveals trends that pose particular problems for GOP presidential candidates. On one hand, voters consistently say they want the deficit addressed. However the poll also show that 58 percent of independent voters said they would be worse off under the Ryan Plan.

This is a very serious problem: the Ryan budget plan specifically lays out a way to draw down the nation’s debt. But if the elderly and large numbers of independents both oppose the plan strongly, supporting the Ryan plan could singlehandedly drive a candidate out of contention.

What is perhaps most ironic about the results of this poll is that it shows that Newt Gingrich was right about the Ryan plan.

If you remember, Gingrich took heat for his Meet the Press statement, “What you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose it. I am against Obamacare imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”

Gingrich was compelled to apologize. But it turns out Gingrich hit the nail right on the head: Americans do think Ryan’s plan is radical.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin

Are Voters Ready for a Mormon Prez?

June 9th, 2011 at 6:06 am 66 Comments

Political watchers claim that the greatest impediment standing between Mitt Romney and the White House is his almost comic history of flip-flopping on major issues. Guess again. Ironically, a new Quinnipiac poll reveals that Mitt’s biggest political problem may be the only belief that he has held constantly throughout his career: his religion.

Similar to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, the new Quinnipiac poll reveals that, as things stand now, Romney appears to be the only Republican capable of knocking off the president in the general election. Head to head with the president, the poll shows Romney trailing by 6 points (47% – 41%).  The results show Palin getting annihilated (53% – 36%), while Huntsman and T-Paw don’t do much better: trailing 48% – 34% and 48% – 36% respectively.

However, there is bad news for Romney (and the GOP’s chances of taking back the White House). Americans, it turns out, don’t much care for the idea of a Mormon being president. The poll finds that less than half of voters have a favorable view of the Mormon religion. More than three in ten have an unfavorable view of the religion. This could be overcome by Americans’ distaste for President Obama’s politics, but it appears that for once, identity politics might actually swing in favor of the Democrats (a black Democrat, at that). Only 60% of those that responded to the poll said they were entirely or somewhat comfortable with a Mormon being President.

Yet, despite this unfortunate reaction and Romney’s record of flip-flopping, he’s running far ahead of the other GOP candidates and is toe to toe with Obama. This fact speaks to the weakness of the Republican field and the high level of voter discontent with Obama.

In 2008, Obama inspired a large portion of the country to actively support (rather than simply settle on) his candidacy.  No candidate (the president included) will inspire the same enthusiasm this time. For a variety of reasons — rightly or wrongly — when Americans head to the polls in November 2012 it appears they will be voting either out of sheer party loyalty or for the candidate they dislike the least.

GOP’s 2012 Choice: Romney… Or Obama

June 7th, 2011 at 8:00 pm 24 Comments

On the political spectrum, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are polar opposites. Normally, that is. Today, the two figures have something in common: a new ABC/WashingtonPost poll shows that both figures are on political life support.

Actually, that really isn’t true. According to this poll, Sarah Palin should turn her bus around right this second because she has no future in national politics.

The poll shows that nearly two-thirds of voters said they definitely would “not” vote for Palin for president. These numbers are not just driven by liberal and independent opinion: 42 percent of Republicans say they’ve ruled out supporting her candidacy.

At the other end of the political spectrum, it’s hard to imagine things getting a hell of a lot worse for President Obama. His economic numbers are, well… horrendous. Almost two-thirds of independent voters (i.e. the ones who decide elections) disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy. Of those, more than half  said they “strongly” disapprove.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the poll may be that it suggests that Romney may well be the only Republican candidate that can actually beat President Obama.

Among all Americans, Mitt is running dead even (47-47) with President Obama…and among registered voters, the poll actually shows the Mittster running ahead. You might legitimately wonder how this is possible given the fact that Romney basically invented Romneycare. The answer is that four out of 10 Republicans surveyed had no opinion on the Massachusetts healthcare plan at all. That may be the case now, but rest assured President Obama’s team will educate those four voters about where the President got his brilliant idea for Obamacare.

All of that said, it still doesn’t change the fact that Romney polls well against the President while other candidates get absolutely slaughtered. Head to head, Obama beats Palin by 17, Bachmann by 13, TPaw by 11, and Gingrich and Huntsman by 10.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin

GOP Base’s 2012 Pick: None of the Above

May 27th, 2011 at 4:00 pm 6 Comments

The Iowa caucuses begin in 254 days. Not only do Republicans not have a clear favorite, but polls routinely show considerable support going to candidates who haven’t even thrown their hat into the ring. Case in point, a CNN poll released Friday puts Rudy Giuliani at the head of the pack of potential 2012 candidates.

16% of likely GOP voters said they would support the former New York City mayor. One point behind is the probable nominee, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who picked up 15%. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin finished third in the poll, picking up 13% despite being undecided on whether she will enter the race.

You can be forgiven if you were unaware that Mr. Giuliani was a “candidate,” since Giuliani himself seems not to know whether he is indeed running for president. Indeed, CNN says it was informed by a Giuliani adviser that the former mayor is not taking active steps toward getting in the race. The extent of Giuliani’s campaign activity is a single trip to New Hampshire.

John Avlon, a former speechwriter to Mayor Giuliani, candidly summed up the broader meaning of the CNN poll:

It speaks to the serious vacuum in the current Republican field.  I don’t know if Rudy will run – I take him at his word, that ‘the door is open.’ But the elephant in the room is that this is a weak crop of candidates, especially among the conventional wisdom front runners.  And I think we will see draft movements emerge in the coming weeks and months.  The key question for the GOP is what candidate can win a general election – and that means connecting with independent voters, who now make up more than 40% of the electorate.

There are two things to take away.  First, Mitt Romney is probably the frontrunner. The poll finds that if Giuliani doesn’t run, Romney emerges with a four point lead over Sarah Palin (gulp) and a six point lead over Ron Paul (double gulp). Perhaps more importantly, Romney also leads in the “second choice” category. 15% of the polled voters said if they didn’t get their first choice, they would vote for Romney (second place goes to maybe-candidate Rudy Giuliani).

The second, and perhaps more important takeaway from these numbers is that unless some dynamite candidate whom we don’t know yet gets involved in this race, the GOP’s nominee isn’t going to inspire much enthusiasm from the base’s voters – something they will need to contend with Barack Obama’s grassroots army. Only 16% of GOP voters reported being very satisfied with the current field of candidates. Only a quarter of voters will be enthusiastic if either Giuliani or Palin wins the nomination. Only one in five will be enthusiastic if Romney takes the prize.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin


Blago’s Back on the Stand

May 25th, 2011 at 11:01 pm 3 Comments

Blago is back. Dragged to trial by federal prosecutors (again) for allegedly attempting to sell President Obama’s old Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich’s defense began presenting its case (again) on Wednesday.

Perhaps humbled by the fact that the jury returned a verdict on only one of the twenty-three different counts of corruption charges brought against the former Illinois governor, prosecutors have been much less cocky this go round.

The governor, like the second trial, has been surprisingly quiet. That will all change Thursday, when Blago is expected to take the stand on his own behalf. Blago’s testimony will likely make or break his defense.

Abbe Lowell, one of the nation’s most accomplished defense attorneys (he served as President Clinton’s attorney during impeachment hearings) told FrumForum that it isn’t surprising that Blagojevich plans to take the stand on his own behalf:

It is not surprising that a defendant, especially a high profile defendant,  would testify in his or her trial.  This is especially true in a re-trial if the first attempt ended with any convictions.  The defendant may believe he has to testify to get a better result.  However, when a defendant testifies in a criminal case, he or she makes it a one witness case — the lawyers matter less, the evidence matters less — because juries will decide based on whether they like and believe the defendant.

However Lowell added that the cards seem stacked against Blago this go round. “Second trials are usually more beneficial for the prosecutors because, with their having the burden of proof, they often overdo it in their first attempt.”

Also, so called “high-profile cases” are different. Lowell pointed out that:

Any profile case is different from the 98% of other cases that get tried.  There is a fear that lawyers, witnesses, juries and even the judge will play to the public.   The O.J. Simpson trial proved that true.  High profile trials also put more pressure on defendants to testify because they have to then face the critics who would ask why they did not if the trial ends badly.  Public figures are given less leeway — before and during trial because prosecutors and judges are concerned they would be accused of favoritism otherwise.

One thing, though, is certainly true. If prosecutors can’t nail Blagojevich this second go round, then the governor’s claims that he was the target of a political witch hunt will begin to look right.


Primary Field Falls Flat with GOP Voters

May 11th, 2011 at 11:35 am 43 Comments

A new Zogby poll makes two things very clear. First, Republicans are very unexcited about this field. Only one “candidate,” Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (who maintains that he isn’t running), cracked the 15% mark. Second, GOP voters know more about who they won’t vote for than for whom they will. 50% of respondents say they would “never” vote for Donald Trump. 36% won’t vote for Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich. 34% have ruled out Mike Huckabee and 32% won’t be casting ballots for Ron Paul.

The poll does suggest that GOP voters seem virtually resigned to accepting a candidate they are not that excited about. While a mere 9% of respondents said that they would vote for Mitt Romney if the election were today, Romney is by far the presumed frontrunner. 31% of those polled said they thought Romney would win the nomination. Second place went to Tim Pawlenty, who won only 8%. This is where it gets interesting: While Romney’s the presumed frontrunner, 27% of GOP voters already say they “never” would vote for him. Tim Pawlenty has only lost 16%.

For now, the figures regarding which candidates voters who will “never” back are more significant. Ultimately, this field will get whittled down to two or three, leaving many voters having to choose the least bad option. The boring TPaw will have an opportunity to win more of those votes as they free up than Romney.

One other point: the relatively unknown Mitch Daniels (not surprisingly) would only win 4% of the vote. However, a somewhat staggering 14% of voters already say they would “never” support him. That’s a very large number of voters off the table given that Daniels remains an “inside baseball” Washington favorite and hasn’t really made a lot of noise nationally.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin


The GOP’s DOMA Dead End

April 19th, 2011 at 11:40 pm 76 Comments

A political movement that doesn’t have its eyes on the road ahead won’t like what it finds when it gets there. On Monday, Republicans announced that they are gearing up for a legal battle over gay rights, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the political sand is shifting beneath their feet. A new CNN/ Opinion Research Poll shows that a majority of Americans think that gay marriage should be legal.

The poll, released Tuesday, finds 51% of Americans in favor of legalized gay marriage while 47% think it should be illegal. If the country seems split on the issue, it is, but the split is not likely to last, for social attitudes on gay marriage have been going one way and one way only in recent years: towards favoring marriage.

This information isn’t new, and Republican leaders read polls. They understand which way public sentiment is headed on the issue. Yet yesterday, Speaker Boehner announced the hiring of a top notch litigator to take up the task of defending a statute, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), against a multi-front legal assault on its dubious constitutionality.

House Republicans justify the decision to defend it on the grounds that they are doing what the Justice Department ought to be doing: defending a federal law. (DOJ isn’t defending it however because they decided the law isn’t constitutional and would be a waste of taxpayer dollars).

The GOP position is obviously nonsense. It’s a purely political decision: House Republicans are defending DOMA because it’s an easy way to score political points with the social conservatives in the party. This might seem like good politics to some of the more conservative Republicans today, but DOMA is bad law and defending it is bad politics.

Follow Jeb on twitter: @JGolinkin


For Trump, There’s No Bad Publicity

April 14th, 2011 at 11:24 am 44 Comments

Say what you will about Donald Trump, but the man is nothing if not creative. Trump’s not the first uber-wealthy person with an outsized personality to run for President (see Perot, Ross). The country hasn’t, however, seen a candidate like Trump before. While Perot was content to spend his money running for President, Trump is becoming the first man in American history to actually run for President in order to make money. On Thursday, Trump told CNN that will announce his 2012 intentions on the season finale of his reality television show, Celebrity Apprentice.

No, that’s not a joke. Donald Trump is a marketing genius. Normally, television programs have to pay for their own advertising. Ever the businessman, Trump figured out a better way to boost his show’s ratings: by running for President. By injecting himself into the Presidential race, Trump has made sure that not a day goes by where the eyes and ears of the cable news audience doesn’t see or hear the name “Donald Trump.” His interviews boost his relevance. And his outrageous personality, obvious intelligence and charisma will lead scores of viewers to watch his outrageous reality television show on NBC (In fact, I’m giving the man more free advertising as we speak).

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Don’t Let Radicals Stifle Free Speech

April 3rd, 2011 at 6:45 pm 49 Comments

On March 20th, a xenophobic idiot masquerading as a man of God lit a holy scripture on fire. This act was a proximate cause of events that caused 12 innocent people to lose their lives in Afghanistan.

This fiasco is yet another reminder of just how powerful speech is. Another group of people have found their way into the news because they (the Westboro Baptist Church) “protest” the military’s now defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (a policy which, in a fitting reminder of just how dull these protesters really are, they believe to be supportive of gay rights) by picketing the funerals of our nation’s dead soldiers.

Both of these groups caused immeasurable harm and this morning, our nation’s leaders were rightfully outraged. Of the Florida incident, General Petraeus explained “it was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful and again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible.”

Following up on Face the Nation, Sen. Lindsey Graham went even further:

“I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. During WWII, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. Free speech is a great idea, but we are in a war. Any time in America we can push back against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we oughtta do that. I think it would be right for Congress to enforce what he [General Petraeus] said.”

While the speech is certainly reprehensible, Senator Graham’s quotation is alarming and incorrect. Congress should not, and indeed, cannot take the sort of action to which Senator Graham alludes. As the Senator well knows (he is a lawyer by training), the 1st Amendment expressly prohibits the sort of censorship he has in mind. As the Chief Justice explained earlier this year in the funeral protest case, the United States chooses “to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

The Florida Quran burning was irresponsible and has caused harm.  But the answer to this ignorance is more speech, not less.