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Forty percent of Democrats say they ‘probably won’t vote’ next year: poll

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Forty percent of self-identified Democratic voters say they are “not likely” or “definitely” won’t vote in next year’s Congressional elections, according to a little-noticed poll released over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The poll, which surveyed 2,400 Americans nationwide between Nov. 22 and Nov. 25, found that self-identified Republicans were three times more likely to say they were going to vote next year. The results suggest perilous fights for Democrats in the midterm elections, where the president’s party typically lose seats.

Democratic leaders still have an almost 15-point edge in favorability ratings over their Republican counterparts: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has a 41 percent voter approval rating and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) clocks in at 31, whereas Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) draws just 15 percent support to House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-OH) 14 percent. President Obama’s favorability rating sits at 53 percent, according to the poll.

But blogger Steve Benen pulled out the key figures from the question, “”In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?”

Among self-identified Republican voters, 81% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 14% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.

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Among self-identified Independent voters, 65% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 23% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.

And among self-identified Democratic voters, 56% are either “definitely” voting next year or “probably” voting, while 40% are “not likely” to vote or will “definitely” not vote.

A Daily Kos blogger, who wrote up details from the poll (conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog site) called the disparate figures between Republican and Democratic likely voters an “enormous enthusiasm gap.”

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“This enormous enthusiasm gap… seems to make passing legitimate health care reform an absolute political necessity for Democrats,” wrote blogger Steve Sinsiger. “This polling data certainly should be something for Congressional leadership to consider, as they move along the legislative path.

The support for Democrats over Republicans has narrowed, the poll also finds.

Nationally, Democrats now enjoy a 37 percent favorability rating on the handling of Congress, to Republicans’ 32 percent.

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Benen’s advice for Democrats in trouble?

“Finish health care,” he writes. “Pass a jobs bill. Finish the climate bill. Re-regulate the financial industry. Finish the education bill. Pick up immigration reform. Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”


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New Zealand tightens gun laws again after mosque attack

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New Zealand announced plans for a national firearms register Monday in its second round of gun law reforms following the Christchurch mosque attacks which killed 51 Muslim worshippers.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said regulations around who could hold firearm licences would also be tightened to "stop weapons falling into the wrong hands".

Ardern said the March 15 killings, when a gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques as worshippers gathered for Friday prayers, had changed attitudes towards gun ownership in New Zealand.

"There is a new normal around firearms, it is a change of mindset," she told reporters.

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Mascots and javelin carriers: Tokyo adds robots to Olympic roster

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A roster of Olympic robots that will do everything from welcoming visitors to transporting javelins has been unveiled as Tokyo works to showcase Japanese technology at next year's Summer Games.

Japan hopes the 2020 Olympics will be a chance to put its tech sector back on the map after years in which the country's reputation as an industry leader has flagged.

Auto giant Toyota has a roster of five robots with different roles to play, from cutesy renditions of the Olympic mascots to a staid transport bot.

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Final hours of voting in race to become British PM

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The voting closes Monday in the contest to become Britain's next prime minister, with Boris Johnson expected to be confirmed as the winner charged with delivering Brexit.

After a month-long contest between former London mayor Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the postal votes of up to 160,000 grassroots Conservatives will decide the governing party's next leader.

The voting window slams shut at 5:00pm (1600 GMT).

The result will be announced on Tuesday, with the winner immediately becoming the new Conservative leader, the victor taking office as prime minister on Wednesday.

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