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Florida Judge Strikes Down Ban on Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriages

While Congress moves at the speed of a dead beached whale, in other ways the United States moves quite rapidly. One of Karl Rove's moves to reelect Pres. George W. Bush in 2004 was to try to get states to have ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriages, either as amendments to the state constitution or state law. The idea was to motivate conservatives to vote. Now the Democrats are using their support for same-sex marriage as a way to get young voters to the polls. The law and public opinion have changed so quickly that yesterday a federal judge in Tallahassee told Florida that its law that says out-of-state same-sex marriages are not legal violates the U.S. Constitution. He is the 16th federal judge to strike down similar laws since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Windsor in June 2013 that the IRS had to recognize same-sex marriages for estate tax purposes. Undoubtedly the whole issue of same-sex marriage is going back to the Supreme Court soon. What is so unusual about this topic is that in a very short time an issue that was used to drive Republicans to the polls now drives Democrats to the polls.

Pryor Begins Touting Obamacare

As with same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") was initially a weapon the Republicans were wielding against Democrats. Also like same-sex marriage, the tables are beginning to turn. The number of attack ads Republicans have run recently pointing out that their Democratic opponent voted for the law has dropped drastically. In fact, in at least one state, Democrats are now campaigning based on their support for the law. The most surprising example is in Arkansas, where Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is in a tough reelection campaign against Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Pryor is airing an ad that has his father, former senator David Pryor, say that when Mark got cancer, his insurance company refused to pay for the treatment that saved Mark's life. Basically, the ad attacks the insurance industry. It is an interesting approach. While the law is still not popular (although many of its provisions are), the insurance industry is even less popular and to the extent Pryor can put Cotton in a position of having to defend the insurance industry, it could sway voters who have had personal battles with an insurance company.

Could Begich Win in Alaska?

At first glance, Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) looks like a dead man walking. After all, Alaska elected the late senator Ted Stevens statewide eight times. The other Alaska Senate seat is held by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who was preceded by her own father, Frank Murkowski (R). Together father and daughter have held the seat since 1981. And Begich defeated Stevens just weeks after the 86-year-old had been convicted of seven federal felonies (later overturned) and Begich's margin over Stevens was a mere 4000 votes. And to top it off, Alaska also chose Sarah Palin (R) as governor. All in all, it doesn't look like a state friendly to Democrats.

But this year could be different. To start with, incumbents are tough to beat under all conditions, especially when the challenger is not currently a high-profile official in a statewide office. Begich's opponent, Dan Sullivan, was commissioner of natural resources until Sept. 2013, but this is not a widely known office. Before that, he was attorney general, which is more visible. However, Sullivan has two serious problems besides low name recognition. First, his connection with Alaska is tenuous. He was born in Ohio and didn't even move to Alaska until 1997, then left and went to D.C. after 5 years, not returning until 2009. In contrast, Begich was born in Anchorage and his father was Alaska's lone representative before his disappearance in a small plane that has never been found. Consequently, Begich, with deep roots in Alaska, is already firing the charge of "carpetbagger" at Sullivan. In a state far separated from the rest of the U.S. such a charge can get traction.

Sullivan's second problem is the bitter primary he won with just 40% of the vote. There are hours of footage available in which Sullivan's opponents called him every name in the book. You can be certain quite a bit of that will turn up in Begich's ads. Nate Cohn at The Upshot has a good article on the Alaska Senate race.

Nunn and Perdue Attack Each Other in Debate

Michelle Nunn (D) and David Perdue (R) debated each other in Macon, Georgia, yesterday. They are fighting for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). Nunn hit Perdue hard for backing last year's government shutdown, which furloughed 4000 people at a nearby Air Force base. She also attacked him for laying off workers at a Georgia textile company he was once CEO of. In contrast, Perdue didn't attack Nunn quite as much. He mostly emphasized his four decades of business experience and mentioned that only 10 sitting senators have more business experience than he does (at 64). This race is for only one of two Republican seats that the Democrats have a shot at picking off (the other is in Kentucky).

Today's Senate Polls

Alaska isn't the only state where carpetbagging is an issue. Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown is now running for the Senate in New Hampshire, where his opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has been bringing this up. Up until now, Shaheen has been ahead of Brown (who is the presumed winner of the Republican primary on Sept. 9) but a new poll puts him within 2 points of her. We will need more polls to see if the race has really tightened or this is simply a statistical outlier.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 46% Scott Brown 44%     Aug 07 Aug 17 U. of New Hampshire
West Virginia Natalie Tennant 33% Shelley Moore-Capito 50%     Aug 19 Aug 20 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster
Aug21 Goes Live Today
Aug21 The Key Races for 2014
Aug20 Daily Tracking to Start this Week
Aug20 Special Elections in Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Hawaii This Year
Aug20 Third-Party Candidates a Factor in Some States
Aug20 Sullivan Wins Alaska Republican Senate Primary
Aug20 Hanabusa Concedes in Hawaii Senate Primary
Aug20 DSCC Outraises NRSC in July
Aug16 Schatz Defeats Hanabusa for Democratic Senate Nomination in Hawaii
Aug16 Gov. Rick Perry Indicted for Abusing His Office
Aug16 2016 Presidential Race Already in Full Swing Under the Radar
Aug10 Schatz Holds Small Lead over Hanabusa in Hawaii Democratic Primary
Aug10 Abercrombie Defeated in Gubernatorial Primary in Hawaii
Aug10 Federal Judge Upholds North Carolina Law Restricting Voting
Aug08 Alexander Easily Defeats Tea Party Challenger in Tennessee Republican Senate Primary
Aug08 Walsh Drops out of Montana Senate Race
Aug06 Roberts Beats Tea Party Challenger in Kansas Senate Primary
Aug06 Peters and Land to Face Each Other in November in Michigan
Aug06 Rand Paul is Already Campaigning in Iowa against Hillary Clinton
Jul23 Perdue Wins Georgia Republican Senatorial Primary
Jul23 Supreme Court Will Probably Get to Rule on the ACA (Again)
Jul23 Fiery Pastor Jody Hice Wins Runoff for Broun's Seat
Jul09 2016 Republican National Convention Will Be in Cleveland
Jun25 Cochran Beats McDaniel in Mississippi
Jun25 Establishment Candidate Beauprez Wins Colorado Gubernatorial Nomination
Jun11 House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Defeated in Primary
Jun04 Independent Gums Up the Works in Mississippi
Jun04 Joni Ernst to Face Bruce Braley in Iowa
Jun04 Independent Gums Up the Works in Mississippi
May28 Democrats Escape Disaster in Texas
May28 Republicans Court Disaster in Texas
May21 Perdue and Kingston Advance to Runoff in Georgia Senate Race
May21 McConnell Whips Bevin in Kentucky
May21 Wehby Beats Conger in Oregon
May21 Chelsea Clinton's Mother-in-law Loses in Pennsylvania
May18 How Republican is the South?
May07 Tillis Wins North Carolina Primary
May07 Boehner Renominated Easily
May07 Long View of the Senate
May07 Future Voters May Use iPads
Apr23 Summary of the Prognosticators on the 2014 Senate Races
Apr23 North Carolina Primary is Next
Apr23 Other Southern Races Tight
Apr07 Scott Brown Makes Freudian Slip
Apr07 Republican Poll Shows Landrieu Ahead in Louisiana
Mar24 Methodology Matters
Mar24 Rand Paul May Have to Make a Choice in 2016
Mar11 Version 1.0 of the 2016 Republican Presidential Primaries
Mar11 Tier 1 Candidates
Mar11 Tier 2 Candidates