Political Notes – Lots of finger pointing in the Columbus delegation

[private]These are uneasy times to be a legislator from Columbus.

Lawmakers in that delegation are all blaming each other for the fact that the state budget doesn’t include funding for the National Infantry Museum and Columbus State University.

Rep. Richard Smith says it’s the fault of Sen. Josh McKoon for being so pushy on the “religious liberty” bill. McKoon says Smith is trying to throw him under the bus. Rep. Calvin Smyre agrees that some of McKoon’s comments may have caused the budget deletion.

It’s a long story, but here’s a partial excerpt from Chuck Williams’ account in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

“The governor and his chief of staff made it clear they were not giving any money and the reason was Sen. McKoon,” Smith said.

Two weeks ago, Ralston’s Chief of Staff Spiro Amburn came to Smith’s legislative office and told him the Columbus State funding was coming out of the budget, Smith said. The reason given was McKoon’s actions in the General Assembly, Smith said.

“He said the remaining $6 million was going to be taken out,” Smith said. “The governor’s staff told him if the money was left in, the governor was going to do a line-item veto.”

Asked if he told McKoon about either of the meetings, Smith said he did not.

“And I regret that,” he said. “… I would think somebody who has been as critical of the governor would know that his actions have consequences. … These things have consequences and everybody and their brother knows it. Josh is a big boy, and he knows his actions and votes have consequences.”

Smith should have come to him after those meetings, McKoon said.

“And if they happened the way that they were described, it was unbelievably irresponsible for Richard not to pick up the phone and call me and tell me what was going on,” McKoon said.

What do Obama’s approvals portend?

In a presidential election campaign where most of the media attention is focused on Donald Trump and his schism with the GOP establishment, or the Democratic divide between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, one important indicator could be getting overlooked.

It’s the approval ratings of the outgoing president, which have been on a steady increase in recent weeks. The latest Gallup Poll has Barack Obama’s approvals at 53 percent while his disapprovals are down to 44 percent.

This is a significant indicator for the Democratic candidates, says Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz:

All the noise being made by the presidential campaign, especially by the Republican campaign, has taken attention away from what may turn out to be more significant for the general election—Barack Obama’s rising approval rating. Obama’s weekly approval rating in the Gallup tracking poll (I ignore the daily fluctuations which are largely meaningless) has risen to its highest level in many months—53 percent approval vs. 44 percent disapproval for the past week.

This is potentially very significant for the November election because much research including my own has found that the president’s approval rating is a key predictor of the election results even when the president is not on the ballot. Thus a very unpopular George W. Bush probably doomed John McCain to defeat in 2008 no matter what happened during the campaign that year. A 53-44 approval-disapproval balance would give Democrats a good shot at keeping the White House even if they were not running against a badly divided Republican Party led by perhaps the most unpopular nominee in decades.

So why has Obama’s approval rating been rising recently? Several factors may be involved including an improving economy but one of the most important well be the GOP presidential campaign. The more voters see of the leading GOP candidates, the better Obama looks. Along these lines, it is probably not a coincidence that there has been an especially large jump in Obama’s approval rating among women which now stands at 58 percent.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Barack Obama , job approval , Josh McCoon , Richard Smith , state budget