Isaac Chotiner

Even for those of us who are not '24' watchers, The Wall Street Journal's amusing front page story on the show is well worth a read. Concerned that Jack Bauer was becoming too closely identified with torture and the Bush administration's foreign policy, the producers sought to reinvent their hero. This (eventually ditched) idea was particularly hilarious: On May 31, the show's head writers went in for a meeting at the studio to present their first big idea: sending Jack to Africa.

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If you watched even a few minutes of the Democratic debate on Thursday night, you're well aware that many of the biggest applause lines were swipes at Republicans.

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Two national polls have been conducting nightly surveys since the former North Carolina senator departed the race, and both show his supporters moving more to Obama than Clinton. First, Gallup: Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as close as they have been since the polling program started at the beginning of 2008. Forty-four percent of Democratic voters nationwide support Clinton, while 41% support Obama, within the poll's three-point margin of error.

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The Fox Focus Group

The (probably fixed) Fox News focus group (which included John Cleese!), went overwhelmingly for Obama. --Isaac Chotiner 

Why So Few Sparks?

Neither candidate is willing to really go on the attack tonight. Although it's obviously a zero-sum game, the lack of sparks is probably a sign that both campaigns feel pretty good about where they are at this point. Or, to put it another way, it's probably pretty close to 50-50.  --Isaac Chotiner

That New York Times piece which Noam alluded to earlier about Bill Clinton helping broker a shady mining deal in Kazakhstan has this charming anecdote: Indeed, in December 2005, Mr. Nazarbayev won another election, which the security organization itself said was marred by an “atmosphere of intimidation” and “ballot-box stuffing.” After Mr. Nazarbayev won with 91 percent of the vote, Mr. Clinton sent his congratulations. “Recognizing that your work has received an excellent grade is one of the most important rewards in life,” Mr. Clinton wrote in a letter released by the Kazakh embassy.

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This Rasmussen poll, out tonight, has Clinton ahead of Obama by six points in Massachusetts. It was conducted the same day as Kennedy's endorsement, so if Obama got a Teddy bounce, it probably is not entirely reflected in the numbers. (A few weeks ago, some polls had Obama trailing by 30 in the state). Meanwhile, this PPI poll [PDF] has Clinton leading Obama by 12 in New York. Gallup had the home state senator ahead by 28 last week. --Isaac Chotiner 

The highlight of this debate has been the skirmish between John McCain and Mitt Romney over whether the latter once favored a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. As many commentators have pointed out, McCain misquoted Romney and went around Florida telling audiences what was in essence a lie. Romney, rightfully, was (and remains) furious.

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Obama Momentum

From Gallup: Barack Obama has now cut the gap with Hillary Clinton to 6 percentage points among Democrats nationally in the Gallup Poll Daily tracking three-day average, and interviewing conducted Tuesday night shows the gap between the two candidates is within a few points. Obama's position has been strengthening on a day-by-day basis. As recently as Jan. 18-20, Clinton led Obama by 20 points. Today's Gallup Poll Daily tracking is based on interviews conducted Jan. 27-29, all after Obama's overwhelming victory in South Carolina on Saturday. [Italics mine] --Isaac Chotiner 

I see via Mike (who noticed via Ben Smith) that Obama's so-called "snub" of Hillary Clinton at the State of the Union address has made it over to the pop cultural arena. On Inside Edition we get in-depth analysis of Obama's body language as he dissed his colleague. And then, on The View, Whoopi Goldberg goes off about Hillary Clinton bravely walking into a "tough room" (with all the boys) on a day where she "had just been exposed, as if someone snatched off her clothes." Whoopi is of course "very proud" of Clinton (the cheering crowd in the background appears to agree).

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