Blog Posts by Chris Cillizza

  • The Fast Fix: Can Obama fix the economy?

    All voters care about is the economy, and that weight is on Obama's shoulders. Better numbers can help him take the 2012 election, but proving he can fix our money woes over the next four years is the clincher.

    "It's the economy, stupid".

    The line made famous by Democratic consultant James Carville is as true today as when he uttered it during the 1992 presidential election.

    If the economy is struggling, as it is right now, voters don't care about much else. And that's a major problem for President Obama.

    A new Gallup poll showed that just 26 percent of people approve of how Obama is handling the economy, a major decline since May and the lowest the president has ever scored on the question.

    Independents, who Obama has spent much of the past 8 months aggressively courting, are equally unhappy about his work on the economy with just 23 percent approving.

    The silver lining for the president is that most voters don't yet blame him for the current economic problems. A recent Marist

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  • The Fast Fix: Obama on break?

    President Obama's annual vacation to Martha's vineyard is already under fire, and he's barely unpacked. Is it fair for the commander in chief to relax when the country is facing big problems?

    President Obama leaves for a 10-day vacation to Martha's Vineyard today, a trip that has already stirred controversy.

    Republicans have criticized Obama not only for going on vacation at a time of economic turmoil but also choosing the ritzy island off of Cape Cod as his destination.

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has slammed Obama for "vacationing in Martha's Vineyard" rather than working to create jobs out in the country.

    Obama seems unconcerned about the barbs thrown his way. He's been criticized for vacationing in Martha's Vineyard in each of the last two summers without any long-term political consequences.

    Of course, the ongoing struggles of the American economy and the yo-yoing stock market make the optics of a trip to Martha's Vineyard a bit more complicated.

    Back in 1995, then

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  • The Fast Fix: Five fast facts about Rick Perry

    Rick Perry is a serious contender for the Republican presidential nod. Here are five things you need to know about him.

    Texas Governor Rick Perry enters the 2012 presidential race greeted by polls suggesting he is a serious contender for the Republican nomination.

    Here are five fast facts on Rick Perry:

    1. Perry was a yell leader at Texas A&M University. It's a much sought-after position and an early indication of Perry's political aspirations.

    2. He used to be a Democrat. Perry was elected to a West Texas state House seat in 1984 as a Democrat and even served as Al Gore's Texas chairman during the 1988 presidential race. He switched to the GOP in 1989.

    3. Perry's first statewide office in Texas was as Agriculture Commissioner. Expect him to remind Iowa voters of that fact early and often given the state's farming-based economy.

    4. Perry is the longest serving governor in the country currently. He took office in December 2000 after George W. Bush was elected president and won a third

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  • The Fast Fix: The race begins!

    The Iowa straw poll will kick off the Republican presidential race Saturday. Losing can put a candidate out of the running, but winning doesn't guarantee anything.

    The first major test of the 2012 presidential race will be Saturday in the unlikeliest of places -- Ames, Iowa.

    Every four year, the Ames Straw poll serves as the official kickoff of the Republican presidential race. Winning can mean newfound frontrunner status. Losing can mean you are out of the race.

    Ames is part carnival and part exercise in democracy. Candidates pay to bus in their supporters and spend the day wooing undecided voters with entertainment, food and the occasional bouncy room.

    Nine candidates for president will be on the Ames ballot with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann seen as the favorite going into Saturday's vote.

    The candidate with the most riding on the Ames result is former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty has struggled to get people excited about his candidacy and if he flops at Ames, he

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  • The Fast Fix: Facing off in Iowa

    The Iowa debate is early in the campaign season, but it's crucial for the Republican presidential candidates who come out on top.

    Ames, Iowa, is the site of Thursday's debate, the first time the major Republican candidates will be on stage together since June.

    The only new face will be former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has struggled to make a dent since entering the race. Neither Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to run, nor former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who still hasn't said anything about her plans, will be at the debate.

    The star of the show is likely to be Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who's been riding a wave of momentum since her strong performance in the June debate in New Hampshire. Polling shows Bachmann running strong in Iowa and she is the favorite to win Saturday's Ames Straw Poll.

    Bachmann's rise over the past two months ensures she will be on the receiving end of barbs from her rivals as they seek to slow her progress. How she handles the slings and

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  • The Fast Fix: Obama overload?

    Is President Obama shooting himself in the foot by making so many public appearances?

    President Obama is everywhere these days.

    He's given speeches, statements and press conferences galore over the past month as he sought to find an end to the debt ceiling debacle and reassure an anxious country about its economic future.

    Even as he's raised his public profile, Obama has seen his poll numbers dip in swing states like Pennsylvania and Florida.

    What gives?

    When people see Obama speak out, they expect immediate results. But the reality of the economy is that there are no quick and easy solutions to the morass in which we currently find ourselves.

    Obama then is politically trapped. If he says little to nothing publicly, people accuse him of being callous at a time of economic hardship. If he speaks publicly but his words don't turn into immediate progress, he's cast an ineffective.

    The simple truth is all presidents get more credit than they deserve when the economy is soaring and more

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  • The Fast Fix: Congress’ approval rating hits historic low

    Congress has a 14 percent approval rating, reason to worry for any incumbent -- Republican or Democrat -- who is running again in 2012.

    This Congress is making history. It's the least popular ever.

    A new CNN poll showed just 14 percent of people approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest ever measured in more than three decades of data.

    The only other time that Congress even approached this level of disapproval was in the spring of 1992 when discontent with the two party system led to the rise of Ross Perot.

    While Congress hasn't been popular for some time, the most recent dip is the result of the protracted debate over raising the debt ceiling that has consumed Washington in recent months.  People don't like to see sausage being made -- legislatively speaking -- and that was all Congress was doing of late.

    It's a virtual certainty that Congress' approval numbers will improve somewhat since they've vacated Washington for their annual August recess.

    But political experts in both

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  • The Fast Fix: Will liberals abandon Obama?

    Does President Obama run a reelection risk in upsetting
    portions of his own party?

    Many within his own party are deriding President Obama for giving up too much in the final debt ceiling deal.

    Emmanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Missouri and the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, went as far as to call the deal a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich".

    But what are the real world political implications for Obama of unhappy liberals?

    Not all that many. While liberals are peeved now, it's a long way until the 2012 election.  That gives Obama plenty of time to throw them a legislative bone or two to convince them that he's still their guy.

    And, when faced with the prospect of choosing between Obama and the Republican presidential nominee, it's hard to imagine liberals voting for someone with whom they agree on almost nothing in order to send the president a message.

    The biggest danger for Obama then is that some significant chunk of liberals decide to sit out the 2012 election, robbing him of

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  • The Fast Fix: Debt problem solved?

    A deal on the debt ceiling is reached, but the economy is far from fixed.

    A deal on the debt ceiling appears to have been made.

    Not only does the compromise raise the country's borrowing limit into 2013, it also cuts spending by $1 trillion immediately and creates a committee tasked with cutting even more.

    Assuming the current deal can win majorities in the House and Senate, here are three takeaways from the debt limit fight:

    First, Republicans largely won. They got major spending cuts without having to give any ground on revenues or taxes. While raising the debt limit was always going to be a tough vote for many newly elected Republicans in the House, they got much more than most people thought they might in exchange.

    Second, the next date to circle on your calendar in the debt fight is late fall when the committee created by this deal is required to report their recommendations for future cuts. Committees like these have a very mixed record of success in Washington, so there's

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  • The Fast Fix: Has Wall Street abandoned Obama?

    New figures suggest that Wall Street is investing in Mitt Romney.

    In the battle for Wall Street campaign cash, Mitt Romney is beating Barack Obama.

    Employees at Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street's most high profile companies, donated nearly $250,000 to the former Massachusetts governor over the past three months.  President Obama raised $127,000 from Goldman for himself and the Democratic National Committee over that same period. In 2008 Obama raised more than a million dollars from Goldman, the single biggest corporate donor to his campaign.

    The reason for Romney's edge is at least in part due to the relationship he built as a co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity firm. Romney allies insist his haul is also the result of a discontent within the financial sector toward the policies President Obama has pursued in office -- most notably the stiffer rules for the industry passed last year.

    Still, Obama isn't doing too bad among Wall Street types.  One in three of his top bundlers

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