Obama still unmoved after ‘ass-whuppin’

Buzz Cut:
• Obama still unmoved after ‘ass-whuppin’
• Conservatives push McConnell to keep Reid rules on appointments
• Odds against Begich
• Podesta departure will cue Clinton campaign
• Congress: defeating hosers one Wikipedia post at a time  

President Obama
was determined not to provide a descriptor for his party’s midterm election rout this week, using verbal gymnastics worthy of Alison Lundergan Grimes to deny headline writers an adjective akin to 2010’s “shellacking” or 2006’s “thumping.” So West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin did the job for him, describing 2014’s bloodbath as a “real ass-whuppin’.” In a perfunctory press conference held to face an almost taunting press corps, Obama tried to invalidate the outcome. The president suggested that there was no clear message from voters beyond, inexplicably, a perceived desire for his agenda to be implemented. More pointedly, Obama said: “To two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.” What were they saying? The president believes that they were also urging his agenda enacted. Funny how that works.
Devil of a duck – The president’s refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of Tuesday’s result bodes ill indeed for the months to come. Republicans had hoped that a loss, especially one as large as this, would chasten the president on the use of executive action and open him up to compromise. The president’s message was that he intends to give little ground, previewing what could be a very raucous close to 2014 as Democrats prepare to hand over power in the Senate. Spending bills and other must-pass measures are likely to mingle with rushed appointments, including an expected clash over the appointment of a new attorney general in the Senate. And from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Obama will be preparing to launch his promised temporary amnesty for illegal immigrants. Washington shouldn’t plan on a very merry Christmas this year.

Uncomfortably numb – Dana Milbank: “Fox News’s Ed Henry pointed out the obvious: ‘I haven’t heard you say a specific thing during this news conference that you would do differently.’ Obama restated his passive stance, saying it would be ‘premature’ to talk about changing personnel or policies…NPR’s Scott Horsley gave a last try, asking Obama whether he saw ‘some shortcoming on your part’ because Democratic policies fared better than Democratic candidates…Obama replied in the conditional: ‘If the way we are talking about issues isn’t working, then I’m going to try some different things.’ But after Tuesday, it’s no longer a question of ‘if.’’’

Turnout not the problem? – NYT: “Low Democratic voter turnout has been blamed for the decisive Republican victory in Tuesday’s midterm elections. It has quickly become the scapegoat, even though the Democrats invested millions of dollars in an expansive effort to persuade young and nonwhite voters who do not usually participate in midterm election to head to the polls. There is no question that turnout among core Democratic groups was lower in 2014 than it was in 2012 or even 2010. Many Democrats would have won if turnout had resembled a presidential election year. But Democrats also lost in states where turnout surpassed 2010, according to an Upshot analysis of preliminary returns and voter turnout data.”

War on women loses steam – WaPo: “The gender gap was not wide enough to save [Democrats] Sen. Mark Udall in Colorado, Bruce Braley in Iowa or incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Astute and well-financed campaigns honed a Republican message that worked spectacularly. And women who did show up at the polls let it be known that they hardly walk in gender lockstep on issues of education, the economy and abortion and choice.”

[NYT breaks down the substantial gains Republicans made among Hispanic voters in the midterms.]

Steyer miscalculated climate – LAT: “California hedge fund titan Tom Steyer’s $74-million bet — most of it from his own wallet — yielded little payoff. On Tuesday, voters elected the most hostile Congress environmentalists have faced in years. The Republicans who won control are already making plans to roll backPresident Obama‘s signature emission reduction efforts, green-light the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would transport Canadian tar sands oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and cancel subsidies for renewable energy… He chalked up Tuesday’s results to ‘that part of the world we don’t control.’”

[Where did the money go? – While Steyer-backed efforts sometimes used non-global warming issues to attack Republicans, the pure weirdness of his campaignshone through the brightest when discussing the topic.]

Poll-axed – “#mediaBuzz” host Howard Kurtz looks at coverage of the midterms and why the media were stunned by huge Democratic defeat: “It’s clear now that most prognosticators underestimated the depth of the Republican triumph in the midterms by slavishly hewing to the polls, some of which were wildly off the mark.”

Oh, meaningless social media. From entertainment to politics to sports, we are constantly told about how social media users are responding to stimuli: Are the Tweets positive or negative? How are Facebook postings trending on the topic? But what is often passed off as a representative picture of how users feel is often just noise dressed up as data. Fast Company talked to sociologist Marc Smithabout the misuse of social media metrics in the 2012 pre4sidential election: “‘Imagine candidate 1 supporters and candidate 2 supporters are actually in a town square,’ Smith says. ‘And the reporter visits the square once a day and measures the noise of each crowd, and reports that as an actual change in public opinion.’” Read the piece on what’s wrong with the way we measure sentiment in social media and who’s fixing it here.

Got a TIP from the RIGHT or LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM

Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 42.2 percent//Disapprove – 53 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 28 percent//Wrong Track – 66 percent

Conservatives are pressing Republican Senators to keep the “nuclear option” rule change rammed through by Democrats last year to grease the skids forPresident Obama’s judicial nominees. In a letter, the group of academics and advocates says they see “very little upside” to restoring the old rules, which had allowed the minority party to require 60 votes to confirm nominees, The Hillreports. “They say the rules would help Republicans put ‘committed constitutionalists’ on the bench if the White House changes hands in 2016. ‘The decision by Senator [Harry Reid] and his Democratic colleagues to deploy the so-called ‘nuclear option’ was transparently designed to facilitate the confirmation of judicial nominees who would insulate ObamaCare and other aspects of President Obama’s agenda from meaningful judicial review,’ the letter says. ‘Regardless of their motives, we see very little upside and significant downside in reviving the judicial filibuster.’…[Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] declined to discuss the nuclear option in a Time magazine interview published Wednesday. ‘Oh, we’ll discuss that when we get back,’ he said.”

[“If Republicans refuse to hold Democrats to the new nominations rules they set for the Senate, Democrats will have no reason to fear that they may someday bear the costs of their own tactics. The Senate can and must be restored as a check on executive-branch overreach, a forum for true legislative debate and a bulwark for liberty. But unilateral disarmament on nominations would only invite further damage to the institution.” – Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in a WSJ OpEd.]

ObamaCare an early priority – The Hill: “Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to make ObamaCare a priority in his first weeks as leader of the Senate, vowing a sustained effort to dismantle the law piece-by-piece. Instead of a full repeal, McConnell said the GOP will tackle unpopular aspects of the law such as the individual mandate, the medical device tax and the 30-hour workweek requiring employers to provide insurance….The newly reelected senator isn’t giving up on full repeal, however. ‘He does support full repeal and will continue to push for it,’ McConnell spokesman Brian McGuire told The Hill…He also promised no more government shutdowns, asserting that the Senate would pass a budget and appropriations bills on time.”

[“On health care, there are certainly some lines I’m going to draw. Repeal of the law I won’t sign.” –President Obama during a press conference Wednesday.]

McConnell, Boehner lay out agenda – From a WSJ op-ed from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner: “These bills provide an obvious and potentially bipartisan starting point for the new Congress—and, for President Obama, a chance to begin the final years of his presidency by taking some steps toward a stronger economy. These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers; the Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans; and a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.”

Changing of the guard –  WaPotakes a look at who could potentially head key committees in the upcoming Republican controlled Senate, including Sens. John McCain R-Ariz., at Armed Services, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., at Homeland Security, Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., at the helm of the Senate Budget Committee,Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, at Finance, and James Inhofe, R-Okla., at Environment and Public Works which oversees the administration’s energy regulations. Among GOP women, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will likely take the reins of the Senate Energy Committee.

IRS hearings are on the docket – Fox News: “Attorneys for the IRS have told a federal court that they have not searched various “other sources” for the missing emails of former agency official Lois Lerner, claiming that doing so would be fruitless. The attorneys made the assertions in a court filing last month as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over the missing emails that was filed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. The IRS has said that potentially thousands of emails belonging to Lerner, a central figure in the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, were lost in a hard drive crash in 2011.”

“Oh, you can bet on that.”— Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked at a press conference if the Senate would hold hearings looking into the IRS scandal.

[Watch Fox: Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., appears in the 10 a.m. ET hour]

What should Congress do about common core? – Recent polling shows that federal Common Core standards for schools are unpopular on both sides of the political divide. Today, the American Enterprise Institute is hosting a forum on how to find common ground in the next Congress on education. Click here to attend or watch online.

[The Judge’s ruling Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano considers how the culture wars could impinge on Republican plans in Congress: “A lame duck President Obama facing a Congress he hates and fears may become reckless. We should expect that. But if somehow he facilitates the killing of more babies in their mothers’ wombs or the suppression of more political speech from his critics, what will a Republican Congress do? What is its track record?”]

Alaska Dispatch News: “Numbers released by Alaska elections officials Wednesday morning showed [Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska] facing daunting odds: He needs to win a substantial majority of as many as 50,000 uncounted absentee and other outstanding ballots to catch up with [Republican Dan Sullivan]… With 100 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, Sullivan led Begich by about 8,000 votes. State elections officials said there were nearly 24,000 uncounted absentee and early votes, which won’t be tallied until next week. … In 2008, when Begich beat Republican Sen. Ted Stevens — who was more popular than Sullivan in rural Alaska — Begich trailed by 3,000 votes on election night, and he ended up winning by 4,000 votes, swinging the results about 2.7 percent. But that year, more than 100,000 votes were counted in the weeks after the election, and this year, there appears to be only about half that total outstanding, with Begich trailing by 3.6 percent.”

WaPo: “With all but one precinct reporting, [Sen. Mark Warner’s, D-Va.], margin of victory settled at nearly 17,000 votes out of more than 2 million cast in his race for a second term against [Republican Ed Gillespie], according to results compiled by the Associated Press. Warner held 49.2 percent of the vote, just slightly ahead of Gillespie’s 48.4 percent. … Gillespie may ask for a recount once the votes are certified by state election officials, a process that election officials expect to complete Nov. 24… In Virginia, the loser can ask for a recount if the margin is less than 1 percent of the total number of votes cast — which it is, so far, in the Senate race. But the state would pay for the recount only if the margin falls below one-half of 1 percent of the votes cast — a threshold that the current results do not meet.”

[Ed. Note: Since Virginia is still technically undeclared, I won’t declare victory in my bet on the outcome with Dana Perino. And though I’m not worried about having to start finding a silkscreen shop to make my “Jasper for President” shirt, Dana deserves lavish praise for seeing potential in Gillespie’s race when I saw none. I thought she was just following her heart, but I should have known better than to dismiss any insight from one of the sharpest minds I know.]

WSJ: “Democrat Daniel Malloy won a second term as Connecticut governor, edging Republican businessman Tom Foley in a rematch of their closely-fought battle four years ago. The Associated Press declared Mr. Malloy the victor Wednesday afternoon. With 99% of precincts reporting by 3:15 p.m., Mr. Malloy was leading Mr. Foley 50.8% to 48.2% according to the Associated Press.”

The Hill: “Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) didn’t lose her reelection race [Tuesday], but she did lose her powers as chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, leaving her with little leverage going into a December runoff. Landrieu will square off against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in [a Dec.6] runoff, but now she can’t wave her committee gavel as a symbol of the influence she wields in Washington, D.C. and offer its benefits to Louisiana voters… heading into a runoff makes the race an entirely different story, as Democrats have long admitted their best bet at a win in Louisiana was on Election Day.  ‘The narrative has certainly changed,’ J. Bennett Johnston Jr., a former Louisiana Democratic senator who held the same chairmanship when he was in office, said.”

Newsday: “Sleep-deprived and smarting from what he called ‘an ugly night for Democrats at all levels,’ [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel] said one lesson from the midterms that’s essential in 2016 is identifying and contacting voters, early and often. But Israel won’t be preparing the DCCC for that. He said Wednesday he turned down a request by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to return as chairman for a third election. Instead, he said he is talking with her about staying in House Democratic leadership.”

The Hill: “Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) wants to become chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a source close to the senator confirms to The Hill. Heller, a swing-state freshman, plans to make the push to replace NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who’s not expected to seek another term. The next NRSC chairman will face a challenging map, with many more Republicans from Democratic-leaning and swing states up for reelection than red-state Democrats.”

How will the various parts of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s campaign dreadnaught know when to start really revving up? Watch John Podesta to find out. BuzzFeed: “One way to tell what Clinton is doing: Watch John Podesta. Most people watching the Clinton orbit agree that he will be key to a campaign. Last year, Podesta was in talks to co-chair Priorities USA Action, the pro-Obama super PAC that has realigned itself behind a potential Clinton candidacy. But that fell through when he agreed to join the White House senior staff as a counselor. Podesta has said he agreed to serve in that role for a full year. He hits the one-year mark on Jan. 1, 2015. One former campaign aide suggested Clinton wouldn’t announce her campaign until he could leave the White House and assume his expected role as chair.”

[The roster: Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee head Guy Cecil, Democratic strategist and opposition research maven Ace Smith, and the head of the head of pro-choice group EMILY’s list Stephanie Schriock are all in the list of senior campaign leaders, but the odds-on favorite for managing what will be the biggest, most-expensive and longest presidential campaign ever is Robby Mook, who ran the successful campaign of long-time Clintonite, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va.]

Hillary shadow groups set to huddle – USA Today: “Democratic strategists and donors Wednesday sought to quickly pivot away from their coast-to-coast midterm defeats, and prepare for the 2016 political battleground that includes the high-stakes presidential fight and more than two-dozen Senate races. Groups backing [Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton], for instance, plan major gatherings with donors in the weeks ahead. On Nov. 20, a super PAC called Correct the Record will hold a lunch with current and prospective donors in New York City. A day later, top donors to another pro-Clinton group, Ready for Hillary, will meet for a strategy session.”

Ryan: midterm results mean Hillary isn’t inevitable – Potential 2016 Republican contender Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is using the midterm results to suggest the GOP could topple Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “It just tells you that she’s not inevitable,” Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I think she’s very beatable. I really do.”

What about Warren? –  Fox News: “Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among the more successful Democrats stumping for their party ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.  Of the 11 candidates Warren campaigned or fundraised for, six won.”

Sun News Network: “There may be a lot of things wrong with the U.S. Congress, but Wayne Gretzky’s height isn’t one of them. While most people on Capitol Hill were busy dealing with the fallout of Tuesday’s mid-term elections, one hockey fan just couldn’t stand by and let Gretzky’s Wikipedia bio contain incorrect information. The Great One’s page listed him as being 5-foot-8. But on Wednesday someone changed that to six feet. The change was noticed by a Twitter ‘bot’ called @CongressEdits, which tracks edits that come from congressional IP addresses. The IP addresses are anonymous, so the identity of the Gretzky Good Samaritan is not known. The user’s information jibes with NHL.com, which has the Brantford, Ont.-born star as six feet tall.”

“Of course it was about [President Obama], of course it was his ideology and the execution of his leadership. This was a wall to wall rejection of Obamaism and he pretended today as if it was an election that doesn’t have a lot of meaning, because two thirds of the electorate didn’t show up.” – Charles Krauthammer, on “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Watch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News.  Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as digital politics editor based in Washington, D.C.  Additionally, he authors the daily “Fox News First” political news note and hosts “Power Play,” a feature video series, on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on the network, including “The Kelly File,” “Special Report with Bret Baier,” and “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.”  He also provides expert political analysis for Fox News coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.