Generic Republican ties Obama – President Obama looks weaker this month in a hypothetical match-up with a generic Republic in a new Pew poll. The double-digit lead Obama held in previous Pew polls has narrowed to just one point. Among registered voters, 41 percent would like to see him reelected and 40 percent would prefer a Republican. Independent voters are responsible for the changing fortunes, swinging from slightly favoring Obama in March and May to a generic Republican this month. Naming an opponent makes a difference, though. In the latest Post-ABC poll Obama runs ahead of most named Republican candidates. The new Pew poll also finds a wide open field for the GOP nomination among supporters of the tea party movement.

How to cut the deficit? – Most people believe closing various tax loopholes for big business or the wealthy should play a “major role” in a deficit reduction strategy. At the same time, most people say there should be no cuts to Social Security or Medicare to reduce the deficit in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Thursday. These preferences for targeting tax hikes for wealthy Americans and objections to general cuts in entitlements closely reflect findings from the latest Post-ABC poll. But people stop short of more broad-based tax increases in the Kaiser poll. Nearly three-quarters say “increasing taxes for all Americans” should play just a minor role or no role at all in deficit reduction.

Debt debate power player ratings – Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) – who’s driving negotiations for congressional Republicans in the debt ceiling debate – gets higher favorable ratings than other Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. In a CNN poll released last Friday, Boehner earns a 43 percent favorable rating, eclipsing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at 27 and 18 percent, respectively. Boehner also tops House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who earn 35 percent and 29 percent favorable ratings, respectively. Among those who support the tea party movement, Boehner wins significantly higher ratings than fellow Republicans McConnell and Cantor. These findings are similar to a mid-July Post-Pew poll rating confidence in Washington leaders to deal with the debt debate.

Regional differences in GOP nomination – Texas Governor Rick Perry emerges as the Republican presidential nominee of choice in the South among Republican and GOP-leaning independents in that region. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is relatively weak in the South, but he has the advantage in other parts of the country, particularly in the West, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday. Romney leads in all regions among announced candidates – excluding Perry and Sarah Palin.

Wine up, beer down – Is the United States beginning to look more like France? That might be the case, judging by the emerging preference for wine over beer.A Gallup poll released Wednesday shows that among adult Americans who consume alcohol, wine now rivals beer as the hard beverage of choice. Over the past two decades, preference for beer has been slipping as wine has become more popular. In the younger age demographic, adults under age 35, the preference for beer showed a sharp drop in the past year, from 51 percent to 39 percent, while wine and hard liquor have ticked up.

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