Obama 263
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Romney 246
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Dem 51
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Ties 2
GOP 47
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News from the Votemaster

Editorial Note: Due to travel, postings for the next 2 weeks may be somewhat erratic and and later than usual.

Gifford's Aide Wins Her Seat

After former representative Gabrielle Giffords (D) decided to resign from the House so she could devote all her energy to recovering from being shot in the head in Jan. 2011, she handpicked her friend and district director, Ron Barber, to run for her seat in the special election. Barber, who was shot in the leg and cheek in the attack, faced former Marine Jesse Kelly yesterday and won 53% to 45%.

Now special elections do not generally have a lot of predictive power, especially not when there is massive sympathy for both one of the candidates and his predecessor, nevertheless, this campaign in a swing district, was used as a testbed by both parties for their fall themes. Kelly called for lower taxes and more domestic energy production. Barber attacked the Republican for wanting to privatize social security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Barber's easy victory will no doubt encourage Democrats and may cause Republicans to rethink how they present their message (but probably not cause any effect on the legislative goals themselves).

Since this was a special election, Barber gets to serve only until the current session of Congress ends, but both he and Kelly are candidates for the full term beginning in Jan. 2013, albeit in a slightly different district now called AZ-02 instead of AZ-08. However, both of them face primaries before they make it to the general election. Barber, now an incumbent congressman, is very likely to win his primary but Kelly might lose to Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot who is going to brand Kelly a loser.

Summers (R) and Dill (D) to Face Off in Maine but it Probably Doesn't Matter

Maine's Secretary of State, Charlie Summers (R), defeated five other major contenders to get the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who is disgusted with how dysfunctional the Senate has become (but she is not alone--see below). Summers will face Cynthia Dill (D), a state senator, who won the Democratic primary.

Normally, these two would go at each other for the next five months and one of them would be seated in the Senate in January. But this race is enormously complicated by the presence in the race of an 800-pound gorilla in the form of Angus King, an independent who was once governor and who is still popular in the state. King has refused to state which party he would caucus with if he wins, but most insiders guess it will be with the Democrats. If he quietly tells Democratic leaders that this is indeed his plan, they will most likely do their best to see that no major Democratic donors give any money to Dill and under the table try to sabotage her campaign. It seems odd--the Democratic Party not supporting the official Democratic candidate--but it has happened before. In Vermont, the Democrats tacitly support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), even though he is technically an independent. What the Democrats fear most in Maine is the Democratic vote being split between Dill and King, thus letting Summers triumph. This fear is not entirely unfounded. In 2010, an independent, Eliot Cutler, was on the ballot for governor and pulled enough votes from the Democrat, Libby Mitchell, to elect a Republican governor, Paul LePage.

Congress' Approval Rating Now at 17%

The American people are not happy with how Congress is functioning (or not functioning), with its approval rating now at 17%. there could be trouble for incumbents in the Fall. To get a feel for what a 17% approval rating means, the Washington Post has compiled a slide show of things that are more popular than Congress. These include caning (as practiced in Singapore) cloning animals, John Edwards, Tiger Woods during his affairs, George W. Bush at his lowest, and current European Union leaders. Fortunately, cloning of human beings is not more popular than Congress. It is tied, also at 17%. The pollsters did not ask what people thought of cloning members of Congress.

Republicans Have No Plan B on Health Care

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. If, as Republicans are hoping, the Supreme Court strikes down some or all of the Affordable Health Care Act later this month, they will cheer for a week. Then Democrats will pound them on what they plan to replace it with. An answer like "Nothing. The current system works well" is not likely to get many votes among the 50 million people currently uninsured. But despite the real possibility that the Court may strike down part or all of the law, the GOP does not have a plan of its own.

The problem for the Republicans is that coming up with a minibill that just includes the popular features of the ACA would be a disaster. Allowing young people up to 26 to stay on their parent's plans until 26 would be easy to do--in fact some health insurance companies may do it voluntarily because it means more customers. The tricky part is the provision that allows anyone to sign up for health care regardless of any preexisting conditions. A bill that included that but did not have a mandate for everyone to get health care would bankrupt all the insurance companies in short order since many people would wait until they were seriously ill before getting insurance. Every country in the world that requires insurance companies to take everyone also has a mandate in one form or other.

If the mandate is struck down, the Democrats have an easier path if they choose to take it. The Court's argument in striking down the mandate will no doubt be something like the government does not have the power to compel people to engage in commerce (like buying insurance) if they don't want to. The solution is simply to structure the mandate differently. Congress could amend the internal revenue code to say everyone has to pay a tax of $1000 to cover the costs generated by uninsured people getting treated at hospital emergency rooms (because Congress has mandated this). However, to help people who are not part of the problem, the same change to the law could give a $1000 credit to anyone who can prove they have health insurance. In effect, this is almost the same as a mandate except that failing to have insurance is no longer a violation of the law. It simply means you lose out on one of the myriad of credits the tax law provides. There is little doubt Congress has the power to tax, so such an approach is likely to be acceptable to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seems to have acquired the power to veto laws singlehandedly, even though he never campaigned for the job.

Allen Wins the Republican Primary in Virginia

Former senator George Allen has now formally been nominated to run for the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), the man who defeated Allen in 2006. There was never much doubt about that Allen would win the primary, but now it is official.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Iowa 46% 47%   Jun 11 Jun 11 Rasmussen
North Carolina 46% 48%   Jun 07 Jun 10 PPP
New York 59% 35%   Jun 03 Jun 06 Siena Coll.
Pennsylvania 46% 40%   Jun 05 Jun 10 Quinnipiac U.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Nevada Shelley Berkley 43% Dean Heller 44%     Jun 07 Jun 10 PPP
Pennsylvania Bob Casey 51% Tom Smith 32%     Jun 05 Jun 10 Quinnipiac U.

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Jun12 Median Family Net Worth Plunges 40% in 3 Years
Jun12 Attacks on Bain Capital Are Working
Jun12 Federal Government to Sue Florida to Stop Purging the Voting Rolls
Jun11 Should Obama Ignore Swing Voters?
Jun11 Obama Losing Support Among Jews
Jun11 Fun and Games in Maine
Jun11 Pick the Veep
Jun10 Reid Puts His Political Machine to Work for Berkley
Jun10 Rubio First Choice for Veep in CPAC Straw Poll
Jun09 A Demographics vs. Economics Election?
Jun09 Could Europe Determine the U.S. Election Results?
Jun09 Fifteen California Races Still Undecided
Jun09 Obama Falls Below 270 Electoral Votes for the First Time
Jun08 Clinton Didn't Say What He Meant to Say
Jun08 Romney Outraises Obama in May
Jun07 What Could Romney Learn from Walker?
Jun07 Democrats Start the Blame Game over Wisconsin Loss
Jun07 Might Romney Choose Walker as Veep?
Jun06 Martin Heinrich Will Face Heather Wilson in New Mexico
Jun06 Romney Sweeps the Primaries
Jun06 Walker Makes History: Survives Recall Attempt
Jun06 Democrats Appear to Have Won the Wisconsin State Senate
Jun06 California Runs a Jungle Primary
Jun06 Clinton Defeats Obama
Jun05 Wisconsin Recall Election Today
Jun05 Five Primaries Today
Jun05 Today's Presidential Polls
Jun04 Obama's Strategy Revisited
Jun04 Dept. of Justice Tells Florida to Stop Purging the Voter Rolls
Jun03 Is Romney's Mormon Religion a Campaign Issue?
Jun03 Ten Potential Game Changers that Could Happen Before the Election
Jun03 It's Obama vs. Clinton in New Jersey
Jun03 Is Romney's Mormon Religion a Campaign Issue?
Jun03 Ten Potential Game Changers that Could Happen Before the Election
Jun03 It's Obama vs. Clinton in New Jersey
Jun03 Today's Senate Polls
Jun02 Dismal Jobs Report for May
Jun02 Tipping-Point Table Revisited
Jun02 Presidential Polls
Jun02 Senate Polls
Jun01 New Table Available Showing Tipping Point States
Jun01 Ideas for Other Pages Are Welcome
Jun01 Presidential Polls
Jun01 Senate Polls
May31 McConnell Lists Top Senate Races
May31 Globalization and Politics
May31 Cell-Phone-Only Voters are Very Different
May31 Clear Your Cache!
May31 Correction on Natural-Born Citizens
May31 Presidential Polls