Isaac Chotiner

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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Hillary On Msnbc

The New York senator was just on tv telling Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews about her "big victory" in Florida tonight. I understand that her campaign wants to spin Florida and Michigan as wins, but it sure sounded pathetic when she went off about her victory in Michigan; her name was the only one on the ballot. "My opponents made a big effort to have people vote "uncommitted" and we still won," she said. Incredible! On the GOP side, Josh makes the key point: According to the exit polls, McCain beat Romney by four points among voters who named the economy as their top concern.

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Giuliani Death Watch

The great tragedy of Rudy Giuliani's precipitous decline is that The New York Times will at some point be forced to stop writing the exact same story about his campaign. In the last 5 days alone, we have read, courtesy of the Times: --Giuliani Finds Snowbird Friends in Florida, But Is He Winning Over Voters? --Hopes Pinned on Florida, Giuliani Sees Tough Week  --Less of a Draw, A Subdued Giuliani Stays Upbeat  None of these pieces, though admittedly fun, were as amusing as Dana Milbank's pre-mortem in The Washington Post today.

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One of the strangest symptoms of conservative distaste for government is a fondness for politicians who display absolutely no ambition or drive in trying to attain higher office. A case in point would be this Andrew Ferguson piece in The Weekly Standard. Ferguson writes: It's bad, apparently, not having fire in the belly. The premise seems to be that vein-popping ambition, unrestrained avidity, is a necessary if not sufficient quality for someone who wants to hold the highest political position in a democratic country.

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