Vox has a story on Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman and what he might do if he wins. The article says he is cynical because he says he might caucus with either party but his platform fits much better with the Democrats. He is pro choice, wants some minor gun control, thinks the Citizens United decision has to be reversed, and supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Depending on whether he is the deciding vote or not, his situation is radically different. If the Republicans have 51 seats without him and he joins the Republican caucus, majority leader Mitch McConnell will give him a choice. You can be a loyal Republican and vote as I tell you to vote, in which case you will get good committee assignments and we will take your bills and amendments seriously. Or you can vote as you wish, but then you get nothing. However, if Orman is the deciding vote for control of the Senate, then the shoe is on the other foot. Orman can dictate terms to McConnell (or Harry Reid), basically saying: "To get me to join your caucus, you must do X, Y, and Z." If the Democrats manage to eke out victories in Iowa and Colorado, then there is a good chance Orman will be the deciding vote.
An insiders poll published by the National Journal shows that 75% of Democrats think an Orman win would be at least somewhat surprising. Among Republicans, 82% would be surprised. So the insiders think Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is going to pull it off in the end, despite several polls now showing Orman with substantial leads.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and challenger Mike McFadden (R) really went at each other in their first debate. McFadden accused Franken of being the Ted Cruz of the Democratic Party. Think about that. If McFadden likes Cruz, then that is a compliment. If McFadden thinks Cruz is an idiot, then it is an insult to Franken but also to a fellow Republican. In addition, the two men differed on the Keystone pipeline, health care, education, and everything else. McFadden pretty much had to be very aggressive in order to shake up the race since Franken has a substantial lead.
Iowa state senator Joni Ernst (R) is really lucky. Half the Republican Party is in the state campaigning for her. Well, OK, not half, just the people who are going to run for President in 2016. The trend this year is for 2016 candidates to campaign for other people running for statewide office, especially in states with early primaries or caucuses. While they are nominally helping the 2014 candidate raise money and meet voters, they are also learning who's who in the state, connecting with activists, and generally observing how things work in the state in advance of their own run next time.
At least 10 GOP presidential hopefuls have shown up in Iowa, nominally to help Ernst. New Hampshire also has its share of visitors and Democrats are doing it, too. For example, Hillary Clinton's schedule shows upcoming visits to Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. This list includes key primary and caucus states, key general election states, and states full of rich Democrats who might be inclined to donate to her campaign later.
One person who is not campaigning all over is Michelle Obama. While she is personally very popular, her last name is a big problem in the red states in the South where a number of close races might determine control of the Senate. She did campaign for Michelle Nunn in Georgia because Nunn's only hope is to energize lots of blacks and women, but other than that, she has been keeping a low profile.
The unemployment rate announced yesterday was under 6% for the first time, the lowest rate in over 6 years. Yet 53% of the voters say President Obama is not doing a good job on the economy. Part of the reason is that people look at their own situation rather than national statistics and while fewer people are unemployed now that in previous years, wage gains have been small and much of the economic gain has been going to a small number of people at the very top of the economic ladder.
The Hill, a Republican-leaning political newspaper that covers Congress has 14 separate articles on Ebola on the front page this morning. While the disease is certainly dangerous, to say this is by far the most important political news of the day is more than a small exaggeration. The idea here is to make people think that the country is in imminent danger, not quite in the spirit of "big asteroid heading towards the earth," but close, and then somehow blame it on President Obama. In reality, there is little he or anyone else can do to prevent infected people from coming to the U.S. The first case was caused by a person who wasn't sick when he left West Africa, then traveled to Belgium and flew to the U.S. from Belgium. While screening people flying directly from infected areas to the U.S. is possible and is being done, banning all flights from all countries would be an economic disaster and probably wouldn't work since patients trying to get care in the U.S. would then just fly to Canada or Mexico and drive or take a bus from there.
This situation shows how politicized everything has become. With all the Senate and House races going on, with lots of stories out there, to make Ebola the main story seems rather strange for a newspaper whose mission is to cover Congress.
Not to be outdone, Politico, a competing Republican-leaning newspaper that also covers Congress, has the word "Ebola" on the front page of its Website 13 times this morning. In contrast, USA Today, a nonpartisan newspaper that covers all kinds of news, including health news, has only three links to Ebola stories on its front page. One is about an Ebola-infected family that was isolated, one was about the fact that it really isn't that contagious, and one was an opinion piece about what might happen if the virus were to mutate and become more contagious.
Kris Kobach, the Kansas Republican secretary of state who has been fighting to keep Democrat Chad Taylor on the ballot and later was fighting to force the Democrats to name a replacement may have to start thinking about another name on the ballot: Jean Schodorf. She is the Democrat opposing him in his campaign to be reelected as secretary of state. All the publicity he has gotten in the past few weeks has hurt him badly with independents and his once-substantial lead has melted to 1%. It would be more than a bit ironic if all his efforts to help other Republicans on the ballot ended up causing him to be defeated because the voters feel the position is supposed to be administrative, not a partisan platform for helping the incumbent's party.
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Georgia||Michelle Nunn||42%||David Perdue||46%||Sep 30||Oct 01||Rasmussen|
|Georgia||Michelle Nunn||43%||David Perdue||47%||Sep 29||Oct 01||Insider Advantage|
|Michigan||Gary Peters||42%||Terri Land||33%||Sep 25||Sep 29||EPIC MRA|
|Oklahoma||Matt Silverstein||32%||James Inhofe*||56%||Sep 27||Sep 29||Sooner Poll|