White House

Obama Only Takes Female Reporters’ Questions In Last Press Conference Of The Year

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama | Credit: AP

Think Progress

In his annual end-of the-year press conference on Friday, Obama took questions from eight women and no men— a move that did not go unnoticed by journalists and others listening to his remarks.

The president started the conference by joking that White House Press Secretary “Josh [Earnest] gave me the list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice,” and then proceeded to call on eight women from various news organizations. CBS News’ White House correspondent Mark Knoller said on Twitter that TV reporters were advised in advance that Earnest wanted “other reporters not regularly called on to get to question the [president].” The strategy resulted in the likely unprecedented female question sweep in addition to leaving out the major news networks.

On Fox News, White House correspondent Ed Henry joked that he was “outraged for men everywhere” but then admitted seriously that he was not pleased with the questions the women asked.

“Frankly some of the questions just didn’t press him,” he said. “There’s so much going on right now and the questions were trailing off. The president was almost like, let me remember what you asked because it was so unmemorable.”

Watch it:

The eight female journalists asked Obama about Sony’s decision to pull The Interviewfollowing threats by North Korea, the deal to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, the state of race relations in the country and the Keystone XL pipeline, which incoming majority leader Mitch McConnell said will be the first matter up for a vote when the new Congress returns from the recess. Notably missing were any questions about the CIA torture report released last week.

While Obama only formally called on women, two men were able to yell out their own questions during the conference. “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” one asked, while a reporter called after Obama as he left the room. “Will you smoke a cigar Mr. President?”

Tea Partiers Protest At White House: ‘Hang The Lying Kenyan Traitor’

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Right Wing Watch

TPM LiveWire

The rally was meant to show support for a group of sheriffs who were supposed to meet on the Hill later Wednesday in an effort to voice opposition to the immigration actions, according to the Right Wing Watch. The rally was reportedly only attended by about two dozen people, the site reported.

Watch the video below, via Right Wing Watch:

Prince William Meets With President Obama

 

President Barack Obama meets with Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on December 8, 2014. | White House Photo

TIME

Prince William met President Obama for the first time Monday during the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first official trip to the USA.

The Duke of Cambridge travelled to Washington to briefly meet with the President before speaking at the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance, hosted by the World Bank. As the President of United for Wildlife, the Duke is expected to speak about the illegal animal trade in wildlife parks.

Prince William joked with the President that in all the fuss surrounding the 2013 birth of his son, George, “I didn’t work out whether it was a boy or a girl.” “You forgot to ask?” the President joked, according to The Telegraph. Prince George did not make an appearance this trip.

Kate Middleton did not accompany her husband to Washington D.C., and instead stayed in New York to visit Harlem’s Northside Center for Child Development with NYC First Lady Chirlaine McCray. The Duchess, who is five months pregnant with the couple’s second child, wore a Goat branded coat to meet McCray. The pair spent the morning wrapping Christmas gifts with the children.

The President, in 3D

Introducing the first-ever 3D-printed presidential portrait.

Watch how the  sponsored this project.

The White House

Published on Dec 2, 2014

Recently, the Smithsonian stopped by the White House to take a 3D portrait of President Obama, in what will be be the highest resolution digital model of a head of state. Take a look at the process, and the 3D rendering created from this technology.

10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2014

Riot police patrol outside St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome. 

Riot police patrol outside St. Louis’ Edward Jones Dome. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

The Week

Obama holds White House meetings on the Ferguson crisis, ISIS captures a Canadian woman, and more

1. Obama gathers leaders in White House to address Ferguson
President Obama is holding White House meetings on Monday to discuss the backlash over the fatal August shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. Obama and his cabinet will meet to discuss programs providing police with military-style equipment, like the weapons Ferguson officers carried when protests erupted. Later, Obama and civil rights leaders will discuss “mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color,” a White House official said. [The New York Times]

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2. Canadian woman reported captured by ISIS
Islamic State militants have captured a Canadian-born woman, Gill Rosenberg, who reportedly joined Kurdish forces fighting the Islamist group this month, Israeli media reported on Sunday. Syrian websites associated with ISIS are reporting that the group’s fighters captured several women in the besieged town of Kobani on Syria’s border with Turkey. At least 50 ISIS fighters were killed in 24 hours over the weekend in a flurry of street battles, suicide bombings, and U.S.-led airstrikes. [The Star, Alarabiya]

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3. Pro-democracy protesters try to surround Hong Kong government offices
Hong Kong officials on Monday ordered pro-democracy protesters not to return to their main protest site after demonstrators tried to surround government headquarters to prevent officials in the Chinese-run city from getting to work. The demonstrators, who have been demanding free elections since September, briefly shut down the headquarters as police armed with pepper spray, batons, and riot shields pushed back the crowd of thousands of activists. [Reuters]

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4. Pope urges Muslim leaders to denounce Islamist terrorists
Pope Francis, during his flight home from a three-day trip to Turkey, urged the world’s Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism by Islamists. Francis denounced people who suggest that “all Muslims are terrorists,” which he said was just as unfair as saying that all Christians twist the beliefs of their religion. The pontiff said Muslim leaders could help dispel the stereotype of their faith with a “global condemnation” of the violence carried out in the name of Islam. [BBC News]

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5. Two Egyptian protesters die in protest against Mubarak’s acquittal
Egyptian police cracked down Sunday on about 1,000 protesters angry over Saturday’s acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 deaths of people who were demonstrating against his government. Officers tried to disperse Sunday’s crowds using tear gas and water cannons. At least two of the protesters were killed, and nine were injured, government officials said. Mubarak, currently serving three years for embezzlement, was also acquitted on corruption charges, along with his sons Alaa and Gamal. [Voice of America]

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6. Missing Ohio State football player’s body found
A woman and her son found the body of missing Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge in a trash bin near his apartment on Sunday, Columbus police said. There was also a handgun in the bin, and police said Karageorge, 22, appeared to have used it to shoot himself. Before going missing on Wednesday, Karageorge, also a wrestler, texted his mother suggesting that several sports-related concussions might have driven him to despair. “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment,” he wrote, “but these concussions have my head all [messed] up.” [Columbus Dispatch]

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7. Plane evacuated at JFK after bomb threat
More than 200 passengers and crew were evacuated from an American Airlines plane arriving from Barcelona on Sunday due to a bomb threat. A police spokesman said somebody phoned in the threat to Port Authority Police. After landing, the plane was towed to a remote hangar and notified of the “unspecified threat” against their plane. “They told us to grab our luggage and get off,” said Flight 67 passenger Jacob Rosenberg, 37. [New York Daily News]

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8. Kabul police leader quits after Taliban attacks
Kabul’s police chief resigned Sunday in the wake of a Taliban attack that killed three members of a South African family in a guest house that was home to the staff of a U.S.-based charity called Partnership in Academics and Development. The Saturday attack by insurgents armed with guns and explosives was the third strike against a foreign guest house in 10 days. These and other high-profile attacks have chipped away at confidence in Afghan security forces as foreign troops leave. [Reuters]

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9. Quiet hurricane season comes to a close
An unusually calm Atlantic hurricane season ended Sunday. There were only eight named storms, just six of them hurricanes. Only one hurricane — Arthur, a Category 2 storm in July — hit the East Coast. That made the 2014 hurricane season the quietest since 1997. Hurricane-rattled Florida hasn’t been hit since 2005, a year when there were 15 hurricanes. “A lot of it is plain luck. I’d love for us to go for another year,” National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said, “but we have to assume that it is not going to happen.” [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Black Friday weekend sales decline
Total spending for the four-day Black Friday weekend fell from $57.4 billion to $50.9 billion, an 11 percent drop compared to last year, the National Retail Federation reported Sunday. Store traffic dropped by 5.2 percent compared to last year. Analysts blamed several factors, including discounting that began as early as Halloween. Another theory, however, is that some people are less desperate for sales as the economy improves. The retail trade group is predicting overall holiday sales rise by 4.1 percent. [The Associated Press, NBC News]

House Republicans Sue To Raise Health Care Costs For Poor Americans

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) | CREDIT: AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

I’m concerned about the Bulls**t  factor that politicians have served to it’s constituents since the beginning of this Republic.

House Speaker Boehner seems especially adept at this factor even better than most.  When will Americans wake up and see they’re being duped over and over again.  I favor no one party in this assessment.  They are all the same when it comes to the Bulls**t factor.

Think Progress

House Republicans filed a long-awaited lawsuit against the Obama administration on Friday, arguing that the president has inappropriately acted without congressional authority to implement parts of the health care reform law. If it’s successful, the lawsuit could increase out-of-pocket costs for millions of vulnerable Americans who already struggle to afford health services — even though the GOP has repeatedly accused the law of making coverage too expensive.

According to the legal challenge, the White House shouldn’t have acted unilaterally to delay the employer mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. But it also takes issue with a different provision of the law: subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, which cap the amount that insurers are allowed to charge people for co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Over the next ten years, the ACA will give an estimated $175 billion in subsidies to insurance companies to keep health costs lower for Americans earning between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty line. House Republicans are arguing that money was illegally appropriated without getting approval from Congress.

If insurers no longer receive subsidies from the government to offset the cost of capping out-of-pocket costs, however, the New York Times reports that “the companies might be forced to raise costs elsewhere.” That could directly affect out-of-pocket expenses among a population that already worries about being able to afford insurance.

GOP lawmakers are setting their sets on repealing this particular consumer protection despite the fact that they’ve have previously had a lot of complaints about the health lawraising out-of-pocket costs, arguing Obamacare threatens to make coverage too unaffordable for average Americans.

In advance of the law’s first enrollment period, Republicans were quick to criticize the other expenses accompanying new Obamacare plans aside from the monthly premiums, saying the deductibles were much too high. At the time, the Senate Republican Communications Center circulated a roundup of consumers complaining about their deductibles.

In April, House Speaker John Boeher (R-OH) complained that Obamacare has caused his co-pays and deductibles to triple, and said he’s been getting letters from his constituents having similar issues. In the lead up to the recent midterm elections, Republicans in close races relied on the messaging that the health law was driving up co-pays and deductibles. Candidates like incoming Sen. Jodi Ernst (IA) argued that the Obama administration was hiding the “true cost” of out-of-pocket expenses from enrollees.

“The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action,” Boehner said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed. But if he gets his way, the House GOP might also end up fueling its own complaints about the law.

10 things you need to know today: November 21, 2014

Obama makes the case for his executive order on immigration.

Obama makes the case for his executive order on immigration | (Pool/Getty Images)

The Week

Obama outlines his unilateral immigration reform, an armed woman is arrested by the White House, and more

1. Obama details his immigration reform orders
President Obama announced Thursday that he was using his executive powers to unilaterally impose immigration reform despite gridlock over the issue in Congress. In a primetime address, Obama said he would enact measures deferring the deportation of four million undocumented immigrants, allowing undocumented parents of U.S. citizens who have been in the country five years to apply for legal residency, but with no path to citizenship. Republicans vowed to fight the moves, saying Obama had overstepped his authority by acting alone. [The Washington Post]

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2. Woman arrested for carrying a pistol by the White House fence
Secret Service officers on Thursday arrested a Michigan woman who allegedly was spotted walking by the White House fence carrying a pistol. Plainclothes officers noticed that the woman — identified as April Lenhart, 23 — was wearing a holster, and notified uniformed officers. Lenhart was charged with carrying an unregistered 9 mm handgun, and a man who was with her was questioned and released. A day earlier an Ohio man was arrested after police found a rifle in his car a block from the White House. [NBC News]

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3. Five detainees released in an effort to reduce numbers at Guantanamo
Five Guantanamo Bay detainees were transferred to Slovakia and Georgia under a plan to reduce the number of suspected terrorists at the facility, Defense Department officials said Thursday. The number of detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, where many Taliban and al Qaeda fighters captured early in the Afghan war were taken, reached 750 after the U.S. began holding post-9/11 terrorism suspects there. As of Thursday, there were still 143 detainees at the facility. [CNN]

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4. Fraternity vandalized after article on alleged gang rape
Vandals broke windows and spray painted walls at a University of Virginia fraternity house that was described by Rolling Stone as the scene of a gang rape two years ago, authorities said Thursday. The article, published Wednesday, quoted a student identified as Jackie who said she was raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house after going on a date with a member of the house. UVa. President Teresa Sullivan said there were details in the article that school officials had not been aware of, and she had asked police to formally investigate. [The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone]

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5. Mexicans protest students’ disappearance
Masked protesters threw Molotov cocktails at police in Mexico City on Thursday in an expression of mounting anger over the government’s handling of the abduction and apparent killing of 43 trainee school teachers in the southwestern city of Iguala. Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of demonstrators, led by parents of missing students, marched through the capital, many of them calling for President Enrique Pena Nieto’s resignation. The victims were believed to have been kidnapped by corrupt police working with a drug gang. [Agence France Presse, Reuters]

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6. More women make sexual allegations against Cosby
Two new accusers came forward on Thursday saying that comedian Bill Cosby raped or made unwanted sexual advances toward them years ago. Florida nurse Therese Serignese, 57, said she had been drugged and raped. Carla Ferrigno, wife of actor and former body builder Lou Ferrigno, said Cosby forced a kiss on her in 1967. More than a dozen women have now made allegations against Cosby, who has declined to address the claims, but his lawyer has called some of the latest ones “utter nonsense.” [USA Today, People]

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7. Utah panel backs proposal that would bring back firing squads
Utah lawmakers have backed a proposal to resume the use of firing squads in state executions. Utah banned the use of firing squads 10 years ago, but state Rep. Paul Ray (R) has introduced a bill that would give the state the option of using a firing squad if officials were unable to obtain lethal injection drugs within 30 days of a scheduled execution. An interim panel approve the measure 9-2 this week. It still has to be debated by the full legislature next year. [USA Today]

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8. Five members of family killed in crash en route to Disney World
Five members of a Texas family were killed as they set off for a “dream trip” to Disney World when a 16-year-old boy apparently fell asleep at the wheel, causing the family’s SUV to roll over, police said Thursday. Police charged the boy, who had a driver’s license, with reckless driving. The dead included the driver’s parents, primary-school teachers Michael and Trudi Hardman, and three of their children — Dakota Watson, 15, Adam Hardman, 7, and Kaci Hardman, 4. [The Associated Press]

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9. NFL moves Buffalo Bills game due to massive snowfall
The NFL decided Thursday to move a Sunday game between the Bills and the Jets from Buffalo to Detroit after a storm dumped more than six feet of snow on parts of New York state. The storm left 10 people dead and thousands stranded in their homes by drifts as high as 10 feet. The game was also pushed back to Monday night to give the Bills, who could not practice this week, time to prepare. [The New York Times]

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10. Spain’s Duchess of Alba dies
The Duchess of Alba, Spain’s richest woman, died in Seville on Thursday. She was 88. Guinness World Records said the duchess, Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuary, was the world’s most titled person. She was five times a duchess, 18 times a marchioness, and 18 times a countess, among other titles. She was a member of one of Spain’s oldest noble families, and had a fortune worth an estimated $753 million. She also was a gossip-column fixture known as the “rebel noble,” and was once asked by Picasso to be his muse. [BBC News]

10 things you need to know today: November 20, 2014

Tallahassee police investigate a shooting at FSU.

Tallahassee police investigate a shooting at FSU | AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

The Week

A gunman wounds three people at Florida State University, NBC scraps Bill Cosby’s sitcom, and more

1. Three students injured in Florida State campus shooting
A gunman wounded three students at a Florida State University library packed with up to 400 students studying for final exams Thursday morning, shortly after midnight. The gunman allegedly fired at police outside the library and was killed when they shot back. “Obviously everyone wants to know why,” Tallahassee police Chief Michael DeLeo said. “That’s the hard answer we’re going to continue to investigate.” [Tallahassee Democrat, CNN]

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2. NBC ditches Cosby sitcom project as rape allegations spread
A day after Netflix called off the launch of a Bill Cosby comedy special, NBC announced Wednesday that it had dropped a sitcom project that was to star Cosby after a series of women came forward saying that Cosby had raped them years ago. TV Land also pulled Cosby Show reruns. Cosby’s lawyers vehemently denied that Cosby, 77, had done anything wrong. A former Pennsylvania prosecutor said he had decided against filing sexual assault charges in 2005 due to insufficient evidence, although he believed “something inappropriate” had happened. [USA Today]

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3. Buffalo gets more snow as storm’s death toll rises
A fresh blast of up to 30 inches of snow began falling on parts of New York state around Buffalo overnight, less than a day after a freak storm hit some areas with as much as a record six feet of snow. The death toll from the lake-effect snowstorm reached six. The area is expected to warm up rapidly over the weekend. Forecasters warn that the higher temperatures could turn the snow, which could reach eight feet in some places, into floods. “It will get worse before it gets better,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. [The Buffalo News, Newsday]

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4. Judge rules Montana’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional
A federal judge overturned Montana’s gay marriage ban on Wednesday, saying the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris said the ban violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Morris said the ruling would displease gay-marriage opponents, “Yet the United States Constitution exists to protect disfavored minorities from the will of the majority.” [ABC News]

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5. Obama plans to announce executive actions on immigration
President Obama is preparing for a Thursday prime-time address to unveil his plan to sidestep Congress and use his executive power to protect up to four million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Obama also plans to expand visas for high-tech workers, among other actions. “Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page. “Unfortunately, Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long.” Republicans denounced the move as a power grab as the GOP takes full control of Congress. [The Washington Post]

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6. Honduran beauty queen found murdered
Nineteen-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado, Honduras’ Miss World contestant, was found murdered along with her sister Sofia, 23, on Wednesday. The women had been missing for nearly a week. They were last seen leaving a party and getting into an unlicensed car. Their bodies were found buried in western Honduras. Authorities said Sofia’s boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz, confessed to killing the sisters in a jealous rage after Sofia danced with another man. [TIME, The Associated Press]

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7. Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, announces his retirement
Jason Collins, the first openly gay player in any of the four major U.S. professional sports leagues, announced his retirement from the NBA in a first-person story for Sports Illustrated unveiled Wednesday. Collins, 35, revealed his sexuality in the same magazine in April 2013. He played professional basketball for 13 years. “It feels wonderful to have been part of these milestones for sports and for gay rights,” Collins wrote, “and to have been embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league, and history.” [BBC News]

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8. California committee recommends hiking public university tuition
A committee on the 10-school University of California system’s governing board on Wednesday approved raising tuition by more than 25 percent over five years. The full Board of Regents will vote Thursday. Gov. Jerry Brown (D), one of the 26 regents, strongly opposes the plan, which would start with a $612 (five percent) increase next year to $12,804. “Governor, you’re going to vote ‘No,’ and I understand that,” the system’s president, Janet Napolitano, said. “But … this plan needs to move forward.” [Reuters]

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9. Secret Service arrests man near White House
The Secret Service on Wednesday arrested an Iowa man outside the White House. The suspect, Renae Kapheim, 41, allegedly had a hunting rifle and ammunition in his car. Authorities interviewed him after he approached uniformed officers a block from the White House. “He said that someone had told him that he should come to the White House so he had driven to Washington to do so,” a senior law enforcement official said. The officers, thinking “something wasn’t right,” searched his 2013 Volkswagen Passat with his permission, and found the gun. [The New York Times]

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10. Legendary director Mike Nichols dies at 83
Mike Nichols, who won an Oscar for directing the classic 1967 film The Graduate, died suddenly on Wednesday. He was 83. Nichols is survived by his wife, former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer. “No one was more passionate about his craft than Mike,” said ABC News President James Goldston in a statement. Over a five-decade career as a theater, film, and TV director-producer and performer, Nichols also won four Emmys, nine Tonys, and a Grammy, among other honors. [People]

Bad news for xenophobic wingnuts: Why new immigration poll should reassure White House

Bad news for xenophobic wingnuts: Why new immigration poll should reassure White House

Marsha Blackburn, Louie Gohmert | (Credit: AP/Chris Usher/Carolyn Kaster)

Salon

New survey shows familiar partisan split on executive action on immigration, a good sign for Obama

With all the turmoil and mishegas over President Obama’s plan to use executive action to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation, you’d think there’d be more polling out there gauging the public’s attitude on the issue. The guy’s been threatening to do this for months now, but the polling data seems to be sparse, and much of what there is comes from partisan outfits.

Anyway, USA Today and Princeton Survey Research stepped up to fill in the void and provide us with our first post-election look at the public’s stance on unilateral immigration action, and the results are pretty unsurprising: the country is split almost down the middle, and support for Obama’s proposal breaks down along partisan lines. Given the circumstances, that’s fairly decent news for the White House.

The USA Today poll’s question was curiously worded (more on that in a bit), but the survey found that 42 percent of Americans want the White House to act immediately on immigration, while 46 percent want the White House to wait. Democrats favor immediate action by a huge 60-28 percent margin, Republicans favor waiting by an even huger 76-17 percent, and independents are split 44-46 in slight favor of delay.

If I’m in the White House, then I’m reassured by this poll. After the child migrant crisis during the summer and Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action, the president’s credibility on immigration took a big hit, and for a while it looked like the public was starting to turn away from meaningful immigration reform. Obama’s approval rating on immigration as an issue tanked to 31 percent, according to Gallup. There were also dips inpublic support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Gallup hasn’t polled Obama’s approval on immigration since then, but public support for a pathway to citizenship has bounced back. The fact that Obama has fought the executive action issue almost to a draw would seem to indicate that he’s come back somewhat from the summer’s immigration doldrums.

As for the poll itself, the wording of the question was peculiar, and seems to give the Republicans lots more credit than they deserve when it comes to their capacity to legislate. Here’s how USA Today put the issue to respondents:

Should President Obama take executive action this year to deal with illegal immigration or should he wait until January for the new Republican Congress to pass legislation on this issue?

The question makes it seem like a) the Republicans have legislation that they’re willing to pass, and b) that they’re going to pass it in January, immediately after the new Congress is sworn in. (Also, Obama taking action wouldn’t preclude the GOP from legislating, but that’s a separate issue.) There aren’t many people who have any confidence that the GOP can come to an agreement internally on what they’d like to do on immigration, and not even the Republicans say they’ll pass anything. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, one of the more enthusiastic Republican critics of the Obama administration’s “amnesty” proposal, appeared on Bloomberg TV this week and was asked three times what he’d do to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the country. Each time he ducked the question (except to say “secure the border”).

The best Republicans have been able to do thus far is offer up vague hints about the possibility of legislative action on immigration, but only if Obama promises to back off. The USA Today poll offers an overly generous representation of the Republican position on immigration reform, and the GOP still only comes out barely ahead.

The split-decision should also be a warning sign to the growing numbers of Republicans and conservatives who want to shut down the government to stop Obama from acting. Last October, when the Republicans forced us through their wrongheaded shutdown fiasco over defunding the Affordable Care Act, they were emboldened by the fact that the ACA was deeply unpopular, with approval ratings were mired in the low 30s. Obama’s immigration proposal is far more popular than the ACA was then, and the shutdown actually saw the ACA’s approval ratings tick up (before they crashed back down in the ensuing rollout debacle).

Anyway, it’s just one poll and definitely not the final word on the issue, but for now I tend to agree with Kevin Drum that the topline numbers and all-too-predictable split among partisans show that there’s no more political risk for the White House on executive action for deportations than there would be on any other issue for which a similar divide exists. And the numbers certainly don’t bolster the argument that the White House should wait for Godot the Republicans. Going forward would piss off the GOP, delight Democrats, and divide independents, and that’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect from everything in the Obama era.

Mythbusting The Punditry Class’ Election Postmortems

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stock graphic

TPM Cafe – Opinion

Republicans won a tsunami victory that portends a big win in 2016

Uh, no, probably not. The GOP victory slightly overperformed (if at all) what you’d expect from a combination of several factors: a “sixth-year” election with a Democrat in the White House, a pro-Republican midterm turnout pattern, a wildly pro-Republican landscape for members of Congress (especially senators), and a strongly “wrong track” public opinion profile reinforced by negative perceptions of the economy.

The composition of the electorate was an awful lot like 2010: 75 percent white (77 percent white in 2010, 72 percent in 2012); 37 percent 60 and over (32 percent in 2010, 25 percent in 2012); 12 percent 30 and under (12 percent in 2010, 19 percent in 2012). The party splits in various demographics also strongly resembled 2010; the better Republican numbers in pro-Democratic groups (viz. 36 percent among Latinos in 2014, 38 percent in 2010, 27 percent in 2012) reinforces the impression that more conservative voters turned out across the board. (Since nobody really thinks Republicans surged from 26 percent to 50 percent among Asian-Americans since 2012, it’s likely one or both numbers for that group are skewed).

So we’ve now seen three consecutive “swings” in turnout patterns and results that reinforce the “two electorates” hypothesis suggesting a structural Republican advantage in midterms and a Democratic advantage in presidential elections. Since the close alignment of the two parties with the segments of the electorate most likely (Republican with their older white voter base) and least likely (Democrats with their younger and minority voter base) to participate in midterms emerged in 2008, nobody’s “broken serve” yet. It could happen in 2016, of course, but nothing that occurred last Tuesday appears to make that more or less likely than it was on Monday.

Part of the illusion of a last-minute “tsunami,” of course, was created by a systematic overestimation of the Democratic vote by polls, amounting to 4 percent according to Nate Silverand 5 percent according to Sam Wang. In 2010 it was Republicans who benefited from a polling misfire.

The Democratic GOTV operation was a failure

It’s true the DSCC’s Bannock Street Project did not reshape the midterm electorate and produce victories, and national turnout was at the lowest rate since 1942. But turnout was up from 2010 levels in most states with competitive Senate races (as a percentage of 2010 vote): by 12.9 percent in Louisiana; 9.9 percent in Arkansas; 6.8 percent in New Hampshire; 6.6 percent in Alaska; 4.7 percent in Colorado; 4.2 percent in Kentucky; 3.8 percent in North Carolina; 2.6 percent in Kansas; and 1.4 percent in Arkansas. Georgia was the biggest disappointment, with 13 percent fewer votes cast in 2014 as compared to 2010, perhaps indicating that allegations of voter registration applications being buried by the Secretary of State’s office ought to get a second look.

A “but for” test would seem to indicate that overall Bannock Street kept turnout patterns from being even worse than they might have been. But to the extent it was an experiment, it needs tweaking, and it may simply be that not voting in midterms (particularly for young people) is too entrenched a habit to be significantly changed by any GOTV program. Republicans claims that Democratic GOTV efforts were canceled out by their own more impressive measures should also be examined, along with the suspicion that both parties’ early voting programs didn’t really add that many new voters.

Democrats should finally write off the south

The defeats of Kay Hagan, Mark Pryor and Michelle Nunn, along with the projected defeat of Mary Landrieu in a December runoff and the near-death-experience of Mark Warner have fed perennial talk that Democrats are wasting their time in the former Confederate States.

It may be true that Democrats will henceforth struggle in midterms in much (though not necessarily all) of the region, and that the decline in ticket-splitting means outperforming national tickets among white voters is becoming a thing of the past. But in presidential years, there’s no reason Virginia (carried twice by Obama), North Carolina (once), Georgia (where the nonwhite percentage of the population is creeping ever upward) and of course such essentially non-southern states as Florida (carried twice by Obama) cannot remain competitive for the foreseeable future. The trend lines are actually positive, with the realignment towards Republicans of southern white voters reaching its point of diminishing returns.

I’d argue what’s really obsolete is the get-as-far-to-the-right-as-possible Blue Dog model for southern Democratic success, epitomized by Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), who finally lost this year. Absent some strong, specifically partisan anti-Republican trend in a particular year, southern white conservative voters see no reason to vote Democratic any more, and each year their return becomes more unlikely. But ascending elements of the southern electorate, including transplants and knowledge workers, continue to be a ripe target for Democrats.

‘Populism’ is the cure-all/won’t work for Democrats

Nothing was more ubiquitous in Democratic campaigns this year than support for such “populist” economic themes as a higher minimum wage, which polled well nearly everywhere and sometimes split Republicans. But even in states where voters approved minimum wage ballot initiatives, Democratic statewide candidates did not benefit, leading some observers to  “populist” appeals to reduce inequality might be less effective than a pro-growth message while others countered that a sharper populist message was needed when the Democratic Party holds the While House and is deemed responsible for the economy.

This is a dilemma for Democrats that goes back at least to the Clinton years, and will be partly ameliorated by the imminent departure from office of President Obama, making it easier for his successor as Democratic nominee to make 2016 a “two futures” choice of economic policies rather than a referendum on a status quo still suffering from the mistakes of the Bush administration. I’d personally argue that what Democrats most need isn’t “less” or “more” populism, but a more comprehensive economic message that explains how income equality is critical to growth and offers not just one but various ways to boost paychecks. Princeton professor Alan Blinder has made a pretty good start.

Meanwhile, a separate argument is that some Democrats spent too much time on “culture war” issues or talking about a “war on women.” I’d just note that the single biggest difference between the 2010 and 2014 votes were that Democrats won women last week by four points and lost them by a point in 2010. Something went right.

Fundamentals explain everything

I obviously agree such “fundamentals” as turnout patterns and midterm dynamics and the “presidential referendum” factor and demographics explain most of what happened last Tuesday. But sometimes candidates and campaigns trump everything. It’s very unlikely that Joni Ernst would have won comfortably had Bruce Braley not been filmed telling out-of-state trial lawyers he was their vehicle for keeping Chuck Grassley, “an Iowa farmer,” away from the Judiciary Committee gavel. Maryland’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown ran a sluggish and overconfident campaign, just like Maryland LG Kathleen Kennedy Townsend did eight years ago when she was upset by a Republican. And Mark Udall lost in 2014 while Michael Bennet won in 2010 largely because Cory Gardner was a helluva better candidate than Ken Buck. At the margins of every election, anything can and does happen.

Ed Kilgore is the principal blogger for Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog, Managing Editor of The Democratic Strategist, and a Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Earlier he worked for three governors and a U.S. Senator. He can be followed on Twitter at@ed_kilgore.

H/t: Don B.