If it's in the News, it's in our Polls. Public opinion polling since 2003.


GOP Loves Earmarks

A Commentary By Robert Novak

A recent secret survey of the House Republican minority by the party's whip organization showed a two-to-one margin opposed to imposing a moratorium on earmarks.

House Republican John Boehner, who personally sponsors no earmarks, has indicated the party's position should be based on what GOP House members want. That led to the whip check.

Reformers had contemplated calling for a vote on earmarks by a closed-door session of the House Republican Conference, assuming it would be difficult for many members to vote no. But the lopsided outcome of the whip check dissuaded reformers from requesting a vote.


Conservative Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who has declined news media requests for interviews about Barack Obama's comparison of Coburn with an urban terrorist, considers the Democratic presidential candidate's remarks offensive but not premeditated. He regards their friendship as still intact.

During his April 16 debate in Philadelphia with Hillary Clinton, Obama staved off questions about his relations with 1960s radical William Ayers by comparing it to his friendship with Coburn. Interviewed by Chris Wallace April 27 on "Fox News Sunday," Obama denied any "moral equivalency" between the advocate of violence and the conservative reformer. He said his relationship with Ayers "is far more tangential" than with Coburn, "who I'm working with all the time and who I consider a close friend."

Obama and Coburn each was elected to the Senate in 2004 and joined forces as battlers against pork-laden earmarks. The conservative Muskogee, Okla., obstetrician quickly concluded that the liberal Chicago lawyer was one Democrat sincerely committed to reform. But Coburn has been critical of presidential candidate Obama's refusal to answer tough questions on the campaign stump.


Republican insiders, including some of Sen. John McCain's own staffers, criticize the presumptive presidential nominee for demanding that the North Carolina Republican Party stop running television ads attacking Sen. Barack Obama's connection with his former pastor.

McCain is told it is not the proper function for a presidential nominee to censor the party's TV advertising and that McCain's position should have been conveyed to the North Carolina party by Republican National Chairman Mike Duncan. McCain now says publicly he should not be a "referee."

The overriding problem, some of McCain's friends say, is that he has not adjusted to his altered status after so long as an independent back-bench legislator.


Sen. Bob Casey was considered a big loser in the Pennsylvania primary April 22, where his endorsement did not prevent Sen. Barack Obama from suffering a severe defeat. But the event has propelled him to Obama's short list for vice president.

Until Casey delivered his unexpected support, he and Obama had not known each other well. But Obama, 46, and Casey, 48, established a friendship as they campaigned together around the state. Casey, a social conservative who is anti-abortion and pro-gun, balances the much more liberal Obama.

Casey's endorsement was widely interpreted as part of his political feud with Gov. Edward Rendell, Casey's Pennsylvania intra-party rival , who worked hard for the victorious Sen. Hillary Clinton.


California Republicans are divided over whether the GOP, for the fifth straight presidential election, should make a substantial investment of time and money in the nation's most populous state. Republicans have not carried California for president since 1988.

Sen. John McCain's campaign is inclined to make a serious effort in California, especially targeting the big Latino vote if Sen. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee. But other Republicans in the state urge McCain not to engage in another costly but fruitless California effort.

A footnote: McCain's chances in California may depend on the popularity of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a strong supporter of McCain. Schwarzenegger, though still the state's most popular politician, faces a decline during a battle of the budget that may involve his asking for tax increases.


See Other Political Commentaries

See Other Commentaries by Robert D. Novak

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.

To learn more about our methodology, click here.