Jul. 01 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Senate Dem 59   GOP 40   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

Map of the 2010 Senate Races
Downloadable polling data
Previous report
Next report

strong Dem Strong Dem
weak Dem Weak Dem
barely Dem Barely Dem
tied Exactly tied
barely GOP Barely GOP
weak GOP Weak GOP
strong GOP Strong GOP
Map algorithm explained
Senate polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): PA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Pelosi's Arm Twisting Results in Big Win Quote of the Day
The Man Who Would be Governor Maloney Will Take On Gillibrand
Chuck Schumer's Legacy Christian Values, Character, Honesty

News from the Votemaster

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules for Franken; Coleman Concedes     Permalink

In a ruling yesterday, the Minnesota state Supreme Court decided 5-0 that Al Franken (D) won the Nov. 2008 senatorial election and is entitled to an election certificate. He beat his opponent by 312 votes. The court rejected the claim by Norm Coleman (R) that the lower court made major mistakes and should be reversed. The court said: "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally and is entitled under Minnesota Statute 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election."

At 3 P.M. Minnesota time, Norm Coleman (R) held a press conference and conceded defeat. Furthermore, Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), said he would sign the election certificate. Thus Al Franken will be sworn into the Senate when that body returns from recess next week. However, Franken could take the oath of office from a local judge if he wishes. It has been done before. Franken would then be allowed to start hiring staff so he can hit the ground running Monday.

Seats on key committees have been reserved for Franken, including the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee and the Judiciary committee. These seats will instantly put him in the middle of the health reform discussion and Supreme Court appointments. He would likely also get seats on two less important commmittes, such as Indian Affairs and Aging.

The seating of Franken means the Democrats will have 58 seats as well as the support of two independent senators who caucus with them, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). In theory, they will then have the necessary 60 votes to invoke cloture and end filibusters. The last time they had 60 seats was in the 94th Congress, from 1975 to 1977. But as Yogi Berra once put it: "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not." Whereas minority leader Mitch McConnell has a more-or-less iron grip on his caucus, majority leader Harry Reid does not. And McConnell has no weapons at his disposal to enforce discipline whereas Reid has many, but he doesn't use them.

Hot bills coming up in the next few months including the Senate version of the Waxman-Markey bill about global warming and health insurance reform. Democrats such as Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), among others, are not sure votes for cloture and definitely not sure votes for the bills themselves. So Reid may still have to try to peel off the two senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, but the addition of Franken, who is certain to vote with the caucus on almost everything, does make his life a bit easier. But to get senators like Nelson or Snowe to vote for cloture, the bills may have to be watered down somewhat. Global warming is probably the easier of the two since the senators from Maine have never dug their heels in against the environment and Maine has no coal mining and few, if any, coal plants that would suffer from the cap-and-trade system required to make any progress in reducing global warming.

Health care reform is a different story. Probably all Republicans and a handful of Democrats--including some surprising characters like Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--are dead set against any bill with a public insurance option in it--Medicare for all. It will be very hard for Reid to get 60 votes with a public option.

On the other hand, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that a bill without a public option does not have the votes to pass the House because the 77-member progressive caucus won't go for it. If the Senate won't pass a bill with a public option and the House won't pass one without a public option, what is going to happen? One possibility is no bill at all. But President Obama would consider that a colossal failure and it would probably mean he would be a one-term President. One possibility would be for him to give his notorius chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a meat cleaver--and the collected works of Lorena Bobbit--and tell him to go over to Capitol Hill and not come back until he has the votes.

Another option is to use the reconcilation process to ram the bill through, something that would enrage the Republicans (although George Bush used it to pass his tax cuts). As long as Joe Biden is alive and well, it would take only 50 Democratic votes to pass a health care bill via the reconciliation process as reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered under Senate rules. This is clearly not Obama or Reid's first choice, but it is a threat that can be held over the head of recalcitrant Democrats and Republicans.

There is one final consideration that shouldn't be forgotten. Two Democrats, Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, are extremely ill. In fact, it is conceivable either one might be in the hospital at the time of a cloture vote, although Byrd was just discharged yesterday. In both cases having them be wheeled into the Senate on stretchers in order to vote on a cloture motion is well within the realm of possibility. Bedridden senators have been wheeled in to vote in the past; it could happen again. According to Senate rules, however, wheeling in a senator only counts if the senator is alive. If Kennedy should die, Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) would call a special election to fill it. If Byrd should die, Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) would replace him with another Democrat, conceivably himself.

Thus while Franken's victory doesn't solve all the Democrats' problems (because they are internal to the caucus), it does make things a bit easier for them.

If you like this Website, tell your friends. You can also share by clicking this button  

-- The Votemaster

WWW www.electoral-vote.com