“It may not be the economy, stupid.

“Then again, James Carville’s famous maxim about the 1992 presidential campaign might well be valid in 2012. But it’s quite possible that on Election Day, voters’ most urgent concerns — economic or not — will be driven by overseas events that neither President Obama nor his Republican opponent can predict or control…

“It may be that in 2012 it’s the euro-zone crisis, stupid. And there’s nothing Obama or Romney can do about it.”

***

“Senate Democrats are making plans to force a floor vote on legislation that would invalidate Arizona’s controversial immigration statute if the Supreme Court upholds the law this summer…

“The legislation would have little chance of passing in a stalemated Senate or being approved by a GOP-held House, but it would allow Democrats to push their electoral advantage with Latino voters just as the presidential campaign heats up in July…

“‘It’s a calculated decision,’ said Steven Schwinn, a professor at the John Marshall Law School who has been following the case. ‘It would keep focus on an issue, but in a way that may or may not be a winner for Democrats.'”

***

“Obama’s central mission in the campaign’s opening days is to paint the most unflattering possible portrait of Romney before his protean opponent can redefine himself as a palatable, nonthreatening moderate.

“Yet for all the targets of opportunity Romney presents for them, Obama’s team is struggling with its own core messaging dilemma: Do you throw everything against the wall to see what sticks — or narrow the narrative to avoid muddling the message?

“‘I think it’s kind of curious that they are now starting to portray him as a right winger as opposed to a weather vane. … You can’t just keep changing these things around, they have to have more of consistent message or nobody will buy it,’ said veteran GOP consultant John Weaver, who ran Jon Huntsman’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination.”

***

“Every four years, the political conventions become magnets for mass protests, but this year the Occupy movement has added an unpredictable element to the mix. In Charlotte, the movement has already shown its clout through hundreds of protesters in October who gathered to demonstrate against Bank of America and a resulting encampment on the lawn in front of City Hall…

“Occupy Charlotte members recently met with Occupy protesters from throughout North Carolina to prepare for the convention and are planning to provide housing, food and other support for those who come from out of state. An Occupy Durham member is now helping the legal team in a potential challenge as Charlotte officials continue to hold off allowing groups to apply for permits to protest at the convention…

“And how many will come for the convention?

“‘I’m guessing in the thousands upon thousands,’ Mr. Zytkow said.”

***

“Steve Bell, a longtime Senate Republican budget aide now at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the White House and Congress “will not allow the sequester to occur and all the Bush tax cuts to expire. They’re going to be looking at each other on Nov. 20 and saying, ‘Well, what do you want to do?’…

“Former Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, a Republican who served on the Budget Committee, said the ‘working center in the Senate’ remained the foremost reason to expect a compromise. But he doubted that Mr. Obama would accept the scale of change in Medicare that Republicans would require to accept tax increases.

“‘Everything’s in place except the president,’ Mr. Gregg said.

“Mr. Orszag said his former boss wanted a deal, but he noted the risk that each side could miscalculate the other’s bottom line.”

***

“Polls show Obama beating Romney by a 3-1 margin when voters are asked who is more likable, a devastating disadvantage given that U.S. presidential elections have often become personality contests.

“Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both parlayed affability and other appealing personal qualities into political success, while George W. Bush’s capacity to exude a ‘regular guy’ charm helped him win narrow victories against Al Gore and John Kerry, both of whom were viewed by some as stiff and patrician.

“Those precedents give some Republicans pause for thought when it comes to Romney’s prospects. But they argue that if Romney can ensure the 2012 race comes down to a decision about picking the most competent leader for a country facing tough economic times, he can still prevail.”

***

“‘I would say that there is a two-in-three chance that we win control of the House again, but there’s a one-in-three chance that we could lose, and I’m being myself, frank,’ he said in an interview first posted online by the newspaper The Hill. ‘We’ve got a big challenge, and we’ve got work to do.’

“Mr. Boehner pointed to what aides called ‘orphan districts’ in Democratic-leaning states that would not be a factor in the presidential campaign. Local Republican Party affiliates are less organized in such states and turnout may be depressed.

“‘We have 50 of our members in tough races, 89 freshmen running for their first re-elections, and we have 32 districts that are in states where there is no presidential campaign going to be run, no big Senate race,’ he said. ‘You take 18 of them, California, Illinois and New York, where you know we’re not likely to do well at the top of the ticket, and those districts are frankly pretty vulnerable.'”