News from the Votemaster
Less than three weeks from election day, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a 2013 law requiring a photo ID to vote. The decision was based on the state constitution, which says a person must be 18, a U.S. citizen, an Arkansas resident, and a registered voter in order to vote. The court said the law added a new requirement not present in the state constitution and was thus unconstitutional. Since the U.S. Constitution is not at issue here, it is unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court will take the case, unless it is to once again emphasize that it doesn't like changes to election procedures so close to elections.
This case is somewhat unusual compared to the other voter ID law cases in that it hinged on the state constitution's definition of an eligible voter. This issue may come back in future cases. If the state constitution gives explicit criteria for who may vote, then the legislature may not add additional requirements. This point hasn't come up before.
While the U.S. Supreme Court wasn't involved in this case (so far), it has been involved in many others involving election. Here is a rundown of how the Supreme Court has intervened in election law cases this year.
In their final debate last night, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and challenger Greg Orman (I) talked about many topics, including abortion. Orman's position was basically, look, we've been discussing this subject for decades; can't we finally move onto more pressing problems? Roberts responded with a vigorous defense of the unborn. Orman came back by saying the Supreme Court decided this issue 40 years ago. It's settled law now.
The two also sparred over immigration. Orman wants to address the problem of children arriving at the U.S. border at the source. Roberts said that immigration can never be tackled without a Republican majority in the Senate. Roberts also acted like it was a sure thing Orman would caucus with the Democrats and used this to go after majority leader Harry Reid. At the conclusion, Roberts admired Orman's well-tailored suit and said Orman's rise to great wealth was the American dream and that he hoped this could be true for everyone in Kansas. Of course it is impossible for everyone to be above the average and wealth is all relative. The average Kansan now has things Louis XVI couldn't dream of. Louis had a nice house at Versailles, but it didn't have high-speed Internet and Louis didn't have a smartphone, a car, a frequent flyer account at any airline, a TV set, or even a measles vaccination.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) tried to duck the tough questions at their final debate as politicians often do, but unusually aggressive moderators tried to pin them down. For example, while there has been a lot of talk about how women favor Democrats, a moderator asked Udall why he was doing so poorly among men.
Since it is the hype of the month, Ebola came up. Gardner wants to ban flights from West Africa (ignoring the fact that the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S. came in on a flight from Belgium). Udall didn't want to look like a wimp so he didn't object to the idea, but said this is a matter for the CDC, not Congress. (As an aside, for a good perspective on viral diseases, see this column by Ruth Marcus. Spoiler: forget Ebola and a get a flu shot.)
The moderators also went after Gardner on the matter of whether a zygote is a full-fledged person. In Colorado he is against the idea but in Washington he supports it. He basically just repeated his talking points on that. However, he has successfully hidden the fact that he is the 10th most conservative member of the House until now, but some of his conservative views came out last night. For example, he does not believe humans have contributed much to climate change. Now that all the Colorado debates have finished, it is into the homestretch in this crucial race.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) threw knives at each other in their final debate. They used "Obama" and "Harvard" as slurs. At every turn, Cotton tried to tie Pryor to the unpopular Obama. Meanwhile, Pryor said Cotton was an entitled elitist beholden only to the Koch brothers. Both were very aggressive about tying the other to out-of-state interests. Harvard also played a role in the debate. Pryor said it was fine that Cotton went to an expensive college like Harvard, but not fine that he wants to eliminate the student loan program that he himself used to pay for Harvard.
Cotton talked about his military service in the Iraq war. Pryor, a cancer survivor, attacked Cotton for wanting to repeal the ACA but not offering a replacement. They argued over many other things as well.
There are numerous media outlets, Websites, and others with models of the Senate election. All of them currently predict a Republican takeover of the Senate but they differ in the odds. Also, many of them note that its not over until the fat lady sings. There are almost three weeks to go and a lot can happen in 3 weeks. A 1% shift in the country could change the results because a dozen races are close to tossups. If Michelle Nunn (D) unexpectedly wins in Georgia, it's a whole new ball game, for example.
The New York Times has a good summary of the various models and predictions. They range from a 59% chance of a Republican takeover from Nate Silver to a 94% chance from the Washington Post.
With all probabilities, it is important to realize that, say, a 75% probability is not the same as a sure thing. If a family plans to have three children, there is only a 12.5% chance that all will be girls. Nevertheless, there are a lot of families with three girls. Here is a quick primer on probabilities as applied to politics.
Despite all the models and predictions, nobody knows how the Senate is going to go because so many races are so close. Roll Call has looked at three possible endgames for the Senate.
- The Republicans run the table: 53 R and 47 D
- It all depends on runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia: 49 R and 49 D before the runoffs
- The Democrats hold on by the skin of their teeth: 50 R and 50 D
At this point, 50 Democratic seats looks like a best-case scenario for the Democrats, but, once, again, the election isn't today and stuff happens, for example, the Democrats' $60 million Bannock Street project actually works and millions more Democrats vote than anyone was expecting.
One state that the GOP had expected to be an easy win is North Carolina. It is not working like that. Sen Kay Hagan (D-NC) has led in nearly all polls for weeks. The NRSC has decided to gamble $6 million on that race in order to help state legislator Thom Tillis. The problem is that although President Obama is not popular in the state, Tillis himself is even less popular due to the cuts to education he rammed through the state legislature. The race is already the most expensive in the country and this new expenditure will only increase that even more.
Meghan McCain, the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), yesterday answered the question of what her father thinks of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a likely presidential candidate in 2016, with "They hate each other." McCain is probably not going to endorse Paul in 2016. On the other hand, he once called Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) "a wacko bird," so Cruz is not likely to get McCain's endorsement either. Fortunately, there are likely to be another dozen candidates in the Republican primaries, so McCain will have plenty of choice after all.
The Republicans seem to be holding onto a small edge in both Colorado and Iowa, two must-win states for the Democrats. Early in the cycle, these didn't look so competitive, but now they are very close. Also of note today is a new poll in Georgia showing Michelle Nunn (D) with an insignificant lead. Still, she had been trailing before. She has been pounding David Perdue (R) over the recent disclosure that he once said he was proud to be outsourcing American jobs to Asia. This was when he was a consultant to apparel companies that were trying to save money, not when he was appealing to the voters whose jobs were being shipped overseas. Finally, we have a slight correction today. The SurveyUSA poll announced Tuesday did not include Libertarian Party candidate, Sean Haugh, but he is still in the race and a few people are planning to vote for him, which may doom Thom Tillis (R), so he should be included.
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Colorado||Mark Udall*||46%||Cory Gardner||50%||Oct 09||Oct 13||ORC International|
|Georgia||Michelle Nunn||48%||David Perdue||45%||Oct 10||Oct 13||SurveyUSA|
|Iowa||Bruce Braley||43%||Joni Ernst||47%||Oct 11||Oct 14||Suffolk U.|
|Iowa||Bruce Braley||45%||Joni Ernst||47%||Oct 08||Oct 13||Quinnipiac U.|
|Louisiana||Mary Landrieu*||43%||Bill Cassidy||52%||Oct 13||Oct 14||Rasmussen|
|North Carolina||Kay Hagan*||44%||Thom Tillis||41%||Sean Haugh (L)||7%||Oct 09||Oct 12||SurveyUSA|
* Denotes incumbent
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Oct15 Alaska Veterans Are Up for Grabs
Oct15 Accidental Experiment Compares Polling Techniques
Oct15 Landrieu Tries to Move Away from Obama
Oct15 Trackers Are Everywhere This Year
Oct15 Republican Leader Attacks National Science Foundation
Oct15 Ann Romney Rules Out a 2016 Romney Presidential Bid
Oct14 McConnell and Grimes Attack Each Other in Debate
Oct14 Voter ID Laws Are Getting More Analysis
Oct14 Voters Prefer Republican Positions on Key Issues
Oct14 New Ads Attack Republicans for Cutting Ebola Vaccine Funding
Oct14 Democrats Don't Trust the Polls
Oct14 Eleven Questions that Will Decide the Senate
Oct14 Christie in Trouble with Religious Conservatives
Oct13 Pressler Says He Is Really an Independent
Oct13 Billionaires Are Lining Up for Orman
Oct13 Ernst and Braley Clash over the Environment
Oct13 The Internet Is Full
Oct13 Candidates Skip Their Day Jobs at Their Peril
Oct13 As Many as 40,000 Voter Registrations Not Yet Processed in Georgia
Oct13 The Battle for the Early Voters Is Ramping Up
Oct13 Judge in Alaska Throws Out Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
Oct12 NRSC Moves Its Money to Six Senate Races
Oct12 Secret Money Dominates Campaigns
Oct12 Not All Large Donors Are Secret
Oct12 Candidates Call in the Big Guns in Iowa
Oct11 Washington Post Model Gives Republicans 95% Chance of Capturing the Senate
Oct11 Denver Post Endorses Cory Gardner
Oct11 Blank-Slate Candidates Are on the Rise
Oct11 Federal Election Commission Has Stopped Functioning
Oct11 Hillary's Potential Opponents Won't Attack Her
Oct10 Supreme Court Shoots Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law
Oct10 Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Voter ID Law
Oct10 Study: Voter ID Laws Reduce Turnout
Oct10 Roberts and Orman Debate in Kansas
Oct10 Landrieu Fires Her Campaign Manager
Oct10 Republicans' End-game Strategy Comes into Focus
Oct10 Have the October Surprises Already Happened?
Oct10 Huckabee Threatens to Leave Republican Party over Same-Sex Marriage
Oct09 Supreme Court Reinstates North Carolina Voting Restrictions
Oct09 Could There Be a Real Horse Race in South Dakota?
Oct09 Pollsters Predict Republican Senate--Maybe
Oct09 Brownback Tries to Blame the Media for His Troubles
Oct09 Could Colorado in 2014 Be the Prototype for America in 2016?
Oct09 Politics Affects the Response to Ebola
Oct09 Conservatives Attack Karl Rove
Oct08 Republicans Abandon Terri Lynn Land
Oct08 Rural Voters Abandon Roberts in Kansas
Oct08 Nunn and Perdue Engage in a Slugfest
Oct08 Judge Throws Out Gerrymandered Virginia Congressional Map