The Huffington Post: Who Will Win the Midterms?

By MARK PENN
Published October 18, 2010

As we head into the midterms it is increasingly clear that there will be no winners on election night given the massive discontent of the electorate almost across the board. Even if the Republicans have a good night, it will not be an endorsement of the Tea Party any more than 2008 was an endorsement of the progressive left. It will be another cycle in the game of ping pong being played out by an increasingly non-partisan, centrist electorate given too little choice — or, worse yet, given false choices.

The problem is that the successful strategies of the two wings of the parties, particularly as the parties have been shrinking, have driven both parties closer to the extremes. Think about the math of it — if the Republican Party is, say, 26% of the country and the most conservative elements of the party are 14%, then 14% can end up governing not just a minority party but the entire country.

At the root of the discontent is the desire to have practical, not ideological, solutions to intractable problems. In most cases, the voters oppose single-sided solutions that entirely reject one party’s ideas, and favor instead approaches that combine the best of each platform. No, not soft, watered down approaches, but strong, comprehensive solutions such as we’ve seen in the past with the balanced budget accord and Welfare reform.

Read the Full Article at the Huffington Post

The Hill: How to hold on to the House by Mark Penn

By MARK PENN
September 28, 2010

The selection of loopy Republican Senate nominees has given the Democrats their first serious opportunity in months to turn this election around to hold onto the House — a feat that would now be considered a major political victory no matter how slim the margin.

But capitalizing on these turns will take more than mocking negative ads — it will take a dash back to the center. The Democratic Congress is perceived as too far to the left to keep our fiscal house in order, safeguard our families or bring about needed jobs in the new economy. Its approval ratings are rock-bottom at 21 percent in the last New York Times / CBS News poll.

There is no doubt 2010 is looking more and more like 1994, when President Clinton’s series of legislative victories related to guns, trade and taxes boomeranged. Either President Obama acts now, or he will be faced with similar post-election choices that President Clinton faced in 1994.

The temptation on the Democratic side will be to nationalize the election with a broadside of attacks on the Republican Party, accusing the GOP of backing tax cuts for the wealthy. Making the election about class warfare has consistently been a loser for the Democrats, and this year will be no exception.

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Politico: Poll: Surprising demand for immigration reform, says Mark Penn

By MARK PENN
August 15, 2010

It’s not news in this poll that Congress receives poor marks for its overall performance, given the state of the national economy, but what is a surprise is that solid majorities of the public and overwhelming majorities of DC elites want some kind of comprehensive immigration legislation passed now.

The scarcity of jobs, the growth of the Latino vote and the legislation in Arizona have all contributed to creating an atmosphere in which the public says that progress on this issue is overdue.

View the full results from Penn Schoen Berland’s poll, the second of six in Politico’s “Power and the People” poll series

Fifty-nine percent of the general population wants to see action on meaningful reform and so do 76 percent of DC elites. More notable in today’s partisan climate is that reform gets the nod from Democrats and independents in equal measure (61 percent of both think Congress should “pass comprehensive immigration law guidelines now”) and that 59 percent of Republicans agree as well.

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Politico: Watch the Obama reelect numbers, says Mark Penn

By MARK PENN
July 18, 2010

By far, the most alarming numbers this poll presents for President Barack Obama are the reelection figures; against a generic Republican candidate, he loses by 5 points, 37-42. In general, when an incumbent’s reelect numbers fall below 50 percent, it’s a sign of trouble to come — and Obama’s inability to break even 40 percent may be the most telling indicator to come out of these data.

View the full results from Penn Schoen Berland’s poll, the first of six in Politico’s “Power and the People” poll series

Americans like Obama — despite nearly 10 percent unemployment and two ongoing wars, his 49 percent favorable rating remains much stronger than some of the low points hit by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. But what is surprising is the 11-point gulf between his favorable (48 percent) and reelect ratings. This suggests a lot of voters are saying, “I like him personally” but not “I would vote for him again.”

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Politico: Don’t let midterms take us back, says Mark Penn

Politico

By MARK PENN
July 6, 2010

The country is likely to go into the midterms divided and dissatisfied — conditions unlikely to produce good news for the Obama administration.

But just how bad the news could be remains uncertain. Successfully reducing and deflecting the damage could make a huge difference in the political landscape — and the administration’s future.

Many key variables are set: Unemployment is stuck at more than 9 percent, most Americans have a negative view of the health care bill, the deficit continues to skyrocket and the war in Afghanistan is not going well. Independent movements, like the tea parties, are spreading like wildfire, and the president’s approval ratings can’t seem to break 50 percent.

All in all, it could take a political Houdini to get out of this mess.

The administration’s plan, so far, seems to be to blame Wall Street for the economic mess, the health insurance industry for rising health care costs and BP for the oil spill and its protracted damage. President Barack Obama has blamed Republicans for the gridlock and a divided country.

But it is going to take a lot more than the blame game to cut electoral losses to acceptable levels. Democrats could lose 25 seats in the House and four Senate seats and still call it a midterm victory. But the fear is real that unless there are strategy changes, Democrats could lose a lot more.

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The Huffington Post: Strategy Corner with Mark Penn: Time for Obama to Lift the BP Fog With a New Strategy

By MARK PENN
Published June 1, 2010

President Obama’s political career and clout have never been in a more perilous state than this week as he faces mounting crises, plummeting poll numbers, and solutions that remain just out of reach.

The list of problems has become almost endless — the BP spill is becoming Obama’s hostage crisis, and will likely hit 100 days without a solution; unemployment remains stuck at nearly 10 percent; either from desperation or isolation, Israel has created a new Mideast challenge; Iran has enough nuclear fuel for two nuclear bombs; north Korea is threatening south Korea; the deficit is exploding and the healthcare bill remains unpopular. And these are just the top level problems; as a result, administration press briefings sound somewhat like the old theme song from “Car 54, Where Are You?” — a show from my childhood. And Voters across the country are wondering if they underestimated the value of experience and crisis management as important attributes for their president.

Despite this litany of growing problems, the president spent just 3 hours in New Orleans before heading off to a weekend vacation, attempting to move the traditional Arlington Cemetery Memorial Day ceremonies to Chicago, where they were rained out, filling up the Drudge report. Equally surprising was the White House decision to wait three months to answer questions on the Sestek job offer, and then do so on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

So what’s a president to do facing these problems and midterms around the corner?

First, almost all of these problems are about substance, not style, branding or even communications. They can’t be addressed with press conferences and panels. The public is looking for direct and immediate action, thought out and taken by the an administration that acted boldly when it took office to prevent a possible depression.

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The Huffington Post: Strategy Corner by Mark Penn: Time for a New Kind of Bold from President Obama

By MARK PENN
Published April 20, 2010

The prediction that passage of health care followed by an impressive agenda of global nuclear and Wall Street regulatory reform would lift up the administration by showing aggressive leadership seems to be one of those strategies that looks good on paper but so far has not worked in practice.

President Obama’s ratings remain below 50 percent in the Gallup tracking and in most other polls. The prophesied bump from health care never materialized, and the polls show most Americans still oppose the health care plan, believing it will increase, not decrease, the cost of their care.

The administration’s calculus that unpopular legislative success can translate into big November wins simply doesn’t add up. Unless the administration finds a new path and a new strategy, they’re facing potential electoral retribution on a scale unseen since 1994, when sweeping GOP victories seriously constricted President Clinton’s legislative options.

To hold on to his majority, the President needs to make course corrections — It’s time for a new kind of bold from President Obama.

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MSNBC Morning Joe: Mark Penn says “President Obama has his mojo back”

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On Morning Joe today, Democratic strategist Mark Penn says “President Obama has his mojo back.” With the passage of the healthcare bill, he has shown he can get things done. Now he needs to keep the momentum going and press on with his other initiatives, including financial regulatory reform.

Watch the video now at MSNBC

C-SPAN: Mark Penn talks about the 2010 Midterm Elections at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service



Mark Penn, Democratic political strategist, talked about the current political climate in Washington, D.C., heading into November’s midterm elections.

Watch the video at the C-SPAN Video Library

CNBC: Mark Penn on Congress’ approval rating


On CNBC, Mark Penn reviewed the latest NY Times-CBS News poll showing that 75% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling their job.

Watch the video now at CNBC

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