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President Barack Obama has a net negative favorability rating in new polling from ABC News and the Washington Post. The data shows Obama at 49 percent unfavorable against 48 percent favorable, the first time he’s gone into the negative in ABC/WaPo survey. But that doesn’t mean his opponents are viewed any better. From

Gingrich is further underwater, with an unfavorable rating that’s essentially the same as Obama’s — 48 percent — but a favorable score that’s 13 points lower, 35 percent. (More are undecided about Gingrich than about the president.) Moreover, while just 23 percent see Obama “strongly” favorably, Gingrich’s core group of strong supporters is just half as large, 12 percent.

A new poll conducted by firm GfK for the Associated Press shows that new GOP frontrunner former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would start out in a much worse position against President Obama than former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. The national poll shows Obama up on Romney by a single point, 47 – 46, by the President tops Gingrich by nine, 51 – 42.

The key seems to be in favorability. Americans have a net positive view of Romney, with 48 percent of those polled saying they have a favorable view of him and 39 percent with an unfavorable one. The split for Gingrich is reversed, with only 40 percent seeing him positively against 47.

In the most pronounced contrast between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's position within the Republican primary contest and his standing in a matchup against President Obama, Gingrich has taken a commanding lead in a new national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. Newt gets 40 percent of the GOP vote nationally, the highest total for any candidate in the past few months. He's currently 17 points above his main competitor, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

But the data also shows that Gingrich is a much weaker candidate against President Obama nationally. While Romney is only bested by the President by two points within the poll, Gingrich is crushed 51 - 40, showing the expansive disconnect between the GOP voters' desire to have a non-Romney candidate and the chances that candidate has in the general election.

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Despite loud warnings from Senate Democrats and a veto threat from President Obama because of poison pills within the text, House Republicans Tuesday passed legislation to renew a 2 percent payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits of one more year.

The bill passed 234 - 193, with 10 Democrats joining with the Republicans and 14 Republicans pitching in with the Dems.

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group dedicated to protecting users' digital rights, on Tuesday posted an enormously helpful blog entry describing and illustrating in basic terms the various versions of the controversial Carrier IQ software installed in the background on upwards of 140 million mobile phones worldwide.

The post, by EFF Technology Projects Director Peter Eckersley, clarifies that the conflicting reports that have come from the company and independent security researchers regarding the full range of Carrier IQ's capabilities have arisen because everyone isn't referring to the same thing when they are referring to "Carrier IQ."

In fact, as Eckersley points out, this is due to the fact that software takes different forms on numerous different phones and due to custom implementation and other software added onto it by three major wireless companies that have admitted to using the software: AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile (Carrier IQ's customers). As Eckersley explains:

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Around this time in the last presidential primaries cycle, Mitt Romney was riding high in Iowa, until a certain fellow strolled into town by the name of "Chuck Norris." Mike Huckabee had picked up his endorsement and received a sudden boost that took him through to victory in the Hawkeye State.

But could someone of equal import throw in a game-changing endorsement this time round? Benjy Sarlin runs through the likeliest suspects.

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The Obama administration is signaling support for a forthcoming Senate bill that would impose tough criminal and civil penalties on individuals who make and distribute campaign literature with false information intended to deceive voters and suppress turnout.

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce in a major speech on voting rights in Texas on Tuesday night that Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) will introduce the bill on Wednesday. The bill will be "narrowly tailored" to respect provisions of the First Amendment, according to Cardin's office. It will apply to "only a small category of false communications that occur during the last 90 days before an election, such as literature listing the wrong date or time for the election, giving inaccurate information about voter eligibility, or promoting false endorsements of candidates." A nearly identical bill was introduced by Schumer and then-Sen. Barack Obama back in 2007 but never passed.

In his speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library And Museum in Austin, Holder will call for election systems "that are free from fraud, discrimination, and partisan influence" and will say that protecting the right to vote and combating discrimination "must be viewed, not only as a legal issue - but as a moral imperative." Holder's speech also offers a challenge:

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Remarks as prepared for delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library And Museum in Austin, Texas. December 13, 2011

Thank you, Mark [Updegrove]. It is a pleasure to be with you - and to join so many friends, colleagues, and critical partners in welcoming some of our nation's most dedicated and effective civil rights champions - as well as the many University of Texas law students who are here, and who will lead this work into the future.

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On Tuesday, Mitt Romney's campaign rushed to put out the latest flip flop fire: a 2002 video posted to YouTube featuring then-gubernatorial candidate Romney declaring his views "progressive" and bragging that he's not a "partisan Republican."

"The very last thing the Democrats want to do is run against Mitt Romney," spokeswoman Andrea Saul told Slate's Dave Weigel. "That is why they are focused on his campaign and not on the economy. The Democrats are continuing their campaign of deception in their strategy to 'kill Romney.'"

Saul was right that Democrats were happy to have the clip, at least. The DNC quickly cut it into a web video on Romney's flip flops and blasted it out to reporters. She was, however, very wrong about its source. It wasn't a Democrat who dug up the video and pushed it into the AM news at all, but a 22-year old Republican amateur, Andrew Kaczynski, whose opposition research has been popping up all over the race in recent weeks.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is clearly both a hated man -- and a beloved one. At the same time as Wisconsin Democrats are organizing a massive recall petition drive against him, on the other end he has been invited to deliver a a keynote speech at the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, organizers announced on Tuesday.

CPAC 2012 will be held from February 9 through February 11. Comparing this with the timeline for the recall campaign, this means that Walker's big speech will be held about three weeks after Democrats handed in the petitions to hold the recall election. (This analysis assumes that the Dems will have met the goal, rather than falling short.)

Thus, the state election officials will be in the the middle of reviewing the signatures, a process that will likely take 60 days. Meanwhile, we can imagine that both Democrats and Republicans will be actively campaigning back home in Wisconsin, while Walker is making his appeal in Washington to national conservative activists -- and perhaps more importantly, conservative donors -- for what could be the second most watched campaign of the year.