News from the Votemaster
President Obama voted yesterday in Chicago, where he owns a house and is registered to vote. The idea of voting so early was to encourage other people to vote early. Early voting is a key part of the Democrats' strategy and photos and news stories about him voting will remind people it is time to vote in many states.
While it is a foregone conclusion that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will be reelected, there is a real battle going on for governor between Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) and wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner (R) so Illinois is definitely a state to watch on election night.
Michelle Obama is far more popular than her husband and can campaign in places where he would be a net negative. She is going back to Iowa, where she campaigned earlier for Bruce Braley (whose name she repeatedly mispronounced as Bruce Bailey), as well as Minnesota and Colorado. It is not clear why she is going to Minnesota, since Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) is in no danger. Maybe it is just the geography. Colorado, on the other hand, is the location of a fierce race between Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) that could determine control of the Senate. It is a must-win state for the Democrats.
The Republicans have seen how well the Democrats' 2012 get-out-the-vote operation worked and are aware of their $60 million Bannock Street Project for this year, so they are belatedly trying to emulate it. In particular, they are focusing on Georgia, where there are very close races for both senator and governor. If no candidate gets to 50%, voters will have to return to the polls on Dec. 2 for the gubernatorial runoff and again Jan. 6 for the senatorial runoff. Someone should teach the Georgia state legislature about instant runoff voting.
A new poll shows that among Republicans only 43% said the government is responding well to the Ebola situation whereas 81% of the Democrats said it was. This is not entirely surprising since Republican-oriented media have been pounding Obama for weeks for not instituting a travel ban to West Africa, even though virtually all public health experts say a ban would be a bad idea because it would lead people to hide where they came from and would hinder getting doctors and supplies to the affected countries.
While most Republicans have just talked about a travel ban, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a likely 2016 presidential candidate, has said he will introduce actual legislation into the Senate requiring such a ban. Normally Congress does not micromanage air travel, leaving decisions to the executive branch and the airlines. However, Rubio is merely trying to score points so that when the subject of foreign policy comes in the Republican primaries, he can point to his legislation as something he did. It has no chance of becoming law although it might pass Congress if the Republicans capture the Senate.
An issue over which neither party has control is whether any more cases of Ebola emerge in the U.S. before election day. If none show up, the issue is likely to fade. If another patient is found, the Republicans will say the epidemic is completely out of control.
The Democrats are betting the farm in Alaska on their get-out-the-vote efforts in places like St. Paul Island, only 500 miles from Russia. It is a barren place, populated by hardy people who hunt fur seals. About 500 people live on the island and those over 18 can vote. In a close election, the votes of these people and others in the Aleutian chain as well on the Alaska coast could determine who wins Alaska and possibly the Senate.
The Democrats have 16 field offices with 90 paid staffers and hundreds of volunteers all over rural Alaska. They have contacted every voter in rural Alaska in order to drum up votes for Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). These are people who rarely vote. Early voting in Alaska begins this week and the staffers and volunteers will be urging the villagers to go vote for Begich this week or next. The Republican candidate, Dan Sullivan, doesn't have any operation like this.
Lawrence Rafferty wrote a long and detailed piece on voter ID laws with many links and references to judicial opinions, including those of Judge Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and who wrote the decision on the first voter ID case. The bottom line is that all these laws are a very thinly veiled attempt at voter suppression. One clear bit of evidence that the laws are intended to prevent Democratic-leaning demographic groups from voting and nothing else is the fact that some jurisdictions do not accept college photo ID cards issued by colleges run by the state government but do accept gun license cards that do not have a photo. How could a gun license without a photo prevent voting fraud and what's wrong with a photo ID issued by a state college? It's hard to explain. Also, none of the new laws address absentee-ballot fraud, which is small, but does actually exist, unlike in-person voter fraud, which is virtually nonexistent.
In the guise of a plan for what a Republican Congress should do in 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has announced what is essentially his 2016 platform. He wants to repeal the ACA and take a hard stance against Iran and ISIS, things that many Republicans want to do. However, he also has some items that distinguish him from the pack. He also wants to replace the graduated income tax with a flat tax--everyone pays the same rate. This will be enormously popular with wealthy donors. In order to generate the same income the current system does, the rate would probably be about 21%, meaning that billionaires would see their taxes cut in half, and would hopefully shower donations on him like rice on the bride at a wedding. He also wants a lifetime ban on former members of Congress from lobbying, something that would surely be found to be unconstitutional. In addition, he wants term limits for members of Congress, which would require a nearly impossible to achieve amendment to the Constitution.
Cruz also wants to build the Keystone pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast, which environmentalists oppose. He also wants to repeal the Common Core educational standards, saying they were invented by Washington bureaucrats (actually, they were devised by the National Governors Association). He also wants to abolish the Internal Revenus Service although he does not specify how the flat tax would be collected.
The overall situation has improved slightly for the Democrats. They now are poised to get 48 seats. However, if they can win any one of Iowa, Colorado, Kentucky, or Alaska then independent Greg Orman of Kansas will be the deciding vote in the new Senate. However, this assumes that Michelle Nunn (D) not only wins her race in Georgia against David Perdue (R), but also wins the runoff on Jan. 6.
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Arkansas||Mark Pryor*||41%||Tom Cotton||49%||Oct 15||Oct 16||Hendrix Coll.|
|Kansas||Pat Roberts*||46%||Greg Orman||46%||Oct 16||Oct 19||Monmouth U.|
|Kentucky||Alison L.-Grimes||42%||Mitch McConnell*||45%||Oct 06||Oct 20||West. Kentucky U.|
|Kentucky||Alison L.-Grimes||43%||Mitch McConnell*||44%||Oct 15||Oct 19||SurveyUSA|
|Louisiana||Mary Landrieu*||40%||Bill Cassidy||43%||Oct 14||Oct 29||Multi Quest|
|North Carolina||Kay Hagan*||46%||Thom Tillis||43%||Sean Haugh (L)||5%||Oct 16||Oct 18||PPP|
|New Hampshire||Jeanne Shaheen*||48%||Scott Brown||45%||Oct 10||Oct 15||YouGov|
|New Hampshire||Jeanne Shaheen*||49%||Scott Brown||46%||Oct 16||Oct 19||Suffolk U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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