TPM News

The Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll is registering its highest level of strong support for President Obama in months. At the same time, the number of poll respondents saying they "strongly disapprove" of the job Obama is doing has dropped to it's lowest level since Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy's old seat in Massachusetts Jan. 19. According to the pollster, the shift came after Obama's State of the Union address last week.

The latest numbers from Rasmussen's rolling poll of 1500 likely voters shows 35% "strongly approve" of the job Obama is doing as president. The last time the number was that high was in June. The day before Obama's State of the Union, it was 27%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 39% strongly disapprove of Obama's performance in the latest results. That's down from 42% before Obama's address to the nation.

Obama's overall approval is on the rise in Rasmussen's poll as well. For the last three days, Obama's approval rating has hovered around 50%. It had fallen to 44% after Brown was elected. Today's approval/disapproval split was 50/49.

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D.C. Superior Court officials have warned that Sen. Jim DeMint's hold on President Obama's nominee for that bench could harm the court's ability to hear cases in the nation's capitol.

DeMint (R-SC) has said he is holding up Marisa Demeo's nomination to serve on the D.C. Superior Court because she has a "history of very leftist activism," the Legal Times (sub. req.) reported today.

"There are just a number of things that don't look like a fair and balanced approach that you'd like in a judge," DeMint told the Legal Times.

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Interviewed on Fox just moments ago, Andrew Breitbart claimed that alleged Landrieu phone tamperer James O'Keefe "sat in jail for 28 hours without access to an attorney."

Breitbart, who has been on a public campaign defending O'Keefe, a paid contributor to Breitbart's, also charged that the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisiana leaked information to the press "helping" them to frame the episode as "Watergate Junior."

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Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said today that his committee will not exempt the Department of Defense from a three-year spending freeze in the 2011 budget.

The freeze proposed by President Obama exempts defense spending.

"We will not exceed [Obama's] requested level for appropriations, but we will also not exempt any department or activity from review, including foreign aid and the Pentagon, because none of them are without waste," Obey said, according to The Hill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner have also said the Pentagon should not be exempt from cuts.

Americans don't claim to be experts on the Tea Party movement, but that hasn't stopped them from getting behind what they think the movement is about. That's according to a new poll from Republican pollster McLaughlin conducted for National Review.

About 65% of likely voters said they know just "some" or "not too much" about the Tea Party when asked. Nevertheless, the Tea Party seems to be winning the message war, capturing the voice of populist anger in the country -- the majority of respondents expressed support for the goals of the movement and the people in it.

Though the numbers would seem to bode well for the GOP, which is more closely aligned with Tea Party than the Democrats are, the poll could actually cause heartburn for Republicans hoping for big victories this fall. When lined up against a Democrat and a Republican on a generic congressional ballot, 8% said they'd pull the lever for a third, Tea Party candidate enough to give the Democrats the win in a three-way race. The Democrats won the hypothetical matchup 31-26-8, with 35% undecided.

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama voted absentee for tomorrow's elections in Illinois.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the First Family voted, but did not tip his hand as to their preferences for the Democratic primaries for governor and senate.

The election will choose candidates from both parties who are vying to win what was Obama's Senate seat. This is the first election for the governorship since Rod Blagojevich was impeached for attempting to earn political favors to appoint someone to the Obama seat.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio's crusade against Maricopa County officials has created a "year-long emotional roller-coaster" for some county employees, they tell the Arizona Republic.

Arpaio, whose controversial immigration enforcement tactics have made him a nationally known figure, is reportedly being probed by a federal grand jury. The investigation is considering whether the sheriff abused his power by going after political opponents and others who crossed him, including several county supervisors and judges.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters this afternoon that President Obama will make several stops in the Pacific in mid-to-late March.

Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will stop in Indonesia and Australia. He will stop and visit with U.S. service members in Guam while en route, Gibbs said.

Gibbs noted that Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country and said the president will announce a comprehensive partnership between the two nations during the trip. Obama considered stopping there during his November nearly two-week visit through Asia, but the White House opted to wait in part due to last summer's attacks in Jakarta.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) was out-raised significantly in the last quarter by Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey, though the incumbent still has a lead in cash on hand.

Between October and December of 2009, Specter raised $1.15 million, compared to Toomey raising $1.67 million. However, Specter's cash on hand is $8.66 million, way ahead of Toomey's $2.8 million. Specter will have to spend some of that money in the Democratic primary, however, which would potentially narrow cash gap.

Specter and Toomey have a long history with each other, much of it negative, going back to when Toomey challenged Specter in the 2004 Republican primary, and just barely lost it in a 51%-49% race. Specter switched from the Republicans to the Democrats last year, in large part to avoid a likely loss in a GOP primary rematch with Toomey. He still faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from Rep. Joe Sestak, which could become costly.