On Sale Now: the Wal-Mart Vote
It used to be "soccer moms" who held the key to elections. Then it was the opinion of NASCAR dads that gave the best indicator of who would get elected, followed by the "investor class." Now there's a new electoral predictor: the retail giant you prefer. According to pollster John Zogby, who discovered the trend, Democrats prefer Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus. Republicans trek to J.C. Penney, Sears, and Target. And then there's Wal-Mart. More than any store in the nation, its GOP-leaning customers can accurately predict which candidate will sell. "It was the No. 1 indicator in 2004," says Zogby, who now polls weekly Wal-Mart shoppers.
Zogby is a Wal-Mart devotee, though he once swore he'd never go in one, buying into the hype that it was killing Main Street. That all changed years ago when he needed an air conditioner and found one at Wal-Mart for 25 percent off. "That comes under the category of 'Duh,'" jokes Zogby, who'll expand on the Wal-Mart effect in a new Random House book on the American consumer out next year. Wal-Mart shoppers matter, he says, because they represent small-town America. And right now they don't like President Bush, giving him a low 35 percent approval rating. That's bad, because to win, says Zogby, "Republicans have got to get three quarters of Wal-Mart voters." But it's not deadly, he adds, because the Democrats aren't ready to answer the call for a mop on Aisle 3.
'Strategery' From the Primary Source
To the list of those penning books about the prez add the most authoritative source of all: President Bush. Insiders say that he's been working on the project for a year. "He's doing a memoir," one insider says. "He's keenly interested in it." But here's the odd part: Bush hasn't actually written a word yet. Instead, he and his aides have been packaging the stuff he wants to reference so that he'll be ready to write when the project moves into that stage. And that probably won't happen until after he leaves office.
On Immigration, It's House Rules
Don't look for the House to cave in to President Bush on immigration reform. Allies of Speaker Dennis Hastert say he won't give an inch to Bush and others who want to water down the chamber's plan, which is heavy on enforcement and border security. "No negotiations. No talking," is how one insider sized up Hastert's approach. And with good reason: The White House is bending to Hastert. Meantime, look for a new series of border hearings next month to back the get-tough measure.
Will Hillary Start Dating an Iowan?
A political marriage seems to be in the making between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. Or so Vilsack fans hope. The guv, who leaves office in January, is testing the presidential waters at "meet and greets," where supporters shop him to potential donors and backers. One supporter, Washington media and political consultant Morris Reid, says Vilsack would be a good president or veep and Hillary teammate. "He's a complement to her," he tells us. "He reminds me of the old Bill Clinton."