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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Florida GOP Spotlights Crist’s Answer on Strip-Club Owner Donations



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The Republican party of Florida is spotlighting this exchange between Charlie Crist and an interviewer, regarding $90,000 in contributions from strip-club owners — including contributions from owners of one that was the target of “a lengthy police investigation into allegations of prostitution and drug dealing.”

“Now that you’re aware of the source of the money, do you feel it’s appropriate to return it?”

“No, I don’t.”

Floridians may or may not disapprove of strip clubs. But it’s unlikely they feel particularly fond of strip-club owners.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Florida

A Slightly Better Outlook for Oregon Republicans, but Not Enough Yet



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Here’s the slightly good news for Dennis Richardson, the Republican candidate for governor in Oregon: The latest poll by YouGov puts him down, 48 percent to 42 percent, to incumbent Democrat John Kitzhaber. That’s a bit better than the last one, which had him down 49 percent to 42 percent.

Here’s the news that could cut either way: So far in this vote-by-mail state, only a tiny fraction of ballots have been returned: “As of Friday, 9.6 percent of the ballots statewide had been returned, with Wasco County leading the pack at just over 16 percent.”

There’s been a surge of voter registration this year, mostly among college students. At first glance, that’s not good news for a Republican candidate, but young voters may be not as warm to the Democratic party as expected:

A big part of the increase came in a voter registration drive spearheaded by the Oregon Student Association, which claimed to register 55,000 students around the state. Officials involved in registration drives during the summer and early fall had said that many of their registrants were shying away from registering with the major parties.

Remember that Survey USA asked the 60 percent of the sample paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about the scandals surrounding First Lady Cylvia Hayes, and found that 18 percent of those respondents agreed, “I was going to vote for Kitzhaber but now I will vote for Richardson.” Only 1 percent “were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.” In other words, there is some segment of the electorate that is upset enough with Kitzhaber to vote for the GOP’s Richardson — and SurveyUSA characterized those respondents as “disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals.”

In Survey USA’s sample, 856 respondents were registered to vote and 407 were paying attention to both the campaign for governor and the Hayes scandals. Eighteen percent of that sample 407 is 73.26, so let’s assume 73 people. That 73 people out of the 856 registered voters suggests that 8 percent of registered voters are switching.

At this point, the evidence suggest the Hayes scandals are going to make this race closer — but it’s far from clear it will be enough to put Richardson over the top.

Tags: Oregon , Dennis Richardson , John Kitzhaber

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Susana Martinez Is Going to Win Big, and Get a Lot of 2016 Buzz



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Prediction: In 2016, the talk of putting New Mexico governor Susana Martinez on the Republican ticket will be deafening.

Besides the latest good poll . . . 

Gov. Susana Martinez has maintained a significant lead over Democratic challenger Gary King with just over a week to go before Election Day, a new Journal Poll found.

Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they would vote, or already had voted, for Martinez, who is seeking a second term. Thirty-eight percent said they would back the two-term attorney general in the New Mexico race for governor. Nine percent of voters were undecided. Absentee voting for the Nov. 4 election began Oct. 7.

Check out the internals: Martinez is winning 50 percent of women (38 percent for the Democrat, King) 40 percent of Hispanics, 52 percent of independents, and 28 percent of Democrats.

Rock star.

All of this is in a state with 600,540 registered Democrats (47 percent) and 401,377 registered Republicans (31 percent).

Susana Martinez is probably going to turn in the Republican party’s biggest win in the least GOP-friendly state in the entire 2014 cycle. A lot of Republicans will be hoping their 2016 nominee or ticket can emulate that ability.

Our Jay Nordlinger has a profile of Martinez in NR’s October 20 issue.

Tags: Susana Martinez , New Mexico , Gary King , 2016

Meet Dan Sullivan, Watch Some Pretty Alaska Scenery



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As mentioned in today’s Jolt, the National Republican Senatorial Committee would like you to meet Dan Sullivan — U.S. Marine reservist, former Alaska commissioner of natural resources, former Alaska attorney general, assistant secretary of state, and, as he puts it, “American by birth, Alaskan by choice.”

Tags: Dan Sullivan , Alaska

What Happens in Places Without Competitive Statewide Races?



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Looks Like Nevada Democrats Are Sitting This Year Out. Who Else Will?

Let the great Jon Ralston lay out just how horrific the early-voting numbers are for Democrats out in Nevada:

The turnout nightmare continues for Democrats, who tried to juice it on Saturday by handing out Bill Clinton tickets at The Dooilttle Center in the heart of West Las Vegas. It did not work. Republicans lose early vote by 42 votes out of 12,000 cast. Dems have six more days to turn this around and/or hope for Election Day miracle . . . 

Clark [County] totals with mail: 39,982, GOP; 38,715, Dems; 15,851, others.

Before you start saying, “so what, registered Democrats are still ahead,” note this county is the Democrats’ stronghold in the state. They need a huge advantage here to balance out the GOP advantages elsewhere.

Ralston notes, “It’s 42 percent for GOP and 41 percent for Dems, which means Republicans still 11 points over their registration and Dems 3 percent below theirs. How many different words can I find for ‘disaster’ for the Dems?”

As we noted last week, some of this reflects the fact that there isn’t a really big, competitive race on the ticket this year — no Senate race and Democrats effectively conceded the governor’s race. But the “meh” mood among Democrats is going to have a potentially huge impact on one Democrat-held U.S. House district, all of the non-governor statewide posts (currently held by Democrats), and races for the state legislature.

And if Nevada Democrats are tuning out because there’s no big statewide race on the ballot this year . . . how about all these other states with neither a competitive Senate or governor’s race this year?

Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington are states holding only elections for U.S. House of Representative seats, state legislative seats, and non-gubernatorial state officials.

Quite a few more states have gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races, but not particularly competitive ones: Alabama, California, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee. (Some would argue places like Texas and Ohio don’t have competitive governor’s races anymore, either.) Are we going to see Democratic turnout plummet in places like this, where there isn’t a convenient Republican bogeyman to motivate their grassroots to turn out?

Tags: Nevada , Elections

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Wow: Maine’s GOP Governor LePage Takes 10-Point Lead



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Here’s a stunning poll result that suggests this might be a really awful year for Democrats after all:

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has opened a lead over Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in the closing weeks of the gubernatorial campaign, according to a Maine Sunday Telegram/Portland Press Herald poll. The findings mark a significant shift from previous polls showing both candidates running in a virtual dead heat.

LePage leads Michaud 45 percent to 35 percent, with independent Eliot Cutler at 16 percent and 4 percent undecided, according to the poll of 639 likely voters conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The landline and cellphone poll has a 3.8 percent margin of error and was conducted from Oct. 15 to 21, a period that coincided with three televised debates, leaving questions about whether the forums affected the results.

For most of the year, LePage has been tied or trailed slightly in a three-way race. If this survey is accurate, voters are starting to make their decisions:

LePage’s favorability and job approval ratings have improved and his Republican support is locked. Meanwhile, Michaud’s support among Democrats has declined 10 percent, he and Cutler continue to split the anti-LePage vote, and President Obama’s approval rating — a bellwether for Democratic and Republican voter enthusiasm — continues to fall.

Maybe it’s a big Republican wave election after all?

Tags: Maine , Paul LePage

Jaw-Dropping Study Claims Large Numbers of Non-Citizens Vote in U.S.



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 This study’s claim is pretty eye-opening

Our data comes from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Its large number of observations (32,800 in 2008 and 55,400 in 2010) provide sufficient samples of the non-immigrant sub-population, with 339 non-citizen respondents in 2008 and 489 in 2010. For the 2008 CCES, we also attempted to match respondents to voter files so that we could verify whether they actually voted.

How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

(Note that they keep using the term, “non-citizen,” without specifying whether they mean immigrants who have entered the country illegally or immigrants who are in the process of legally becoming citizens — lawful permanent residents, a.k.a. “green card” holders, or both. It’s a crime either way, but it’s easier to imagine a lawful permanent resident mistakenly thinking they have already earned the right to vote.)

If they mean 6.4 percent of 11 million illegal immigrants… we’re talking about roughly 700,000 votes being cast by non-citizens in 2008. Stunning. If true, it refutes my earlier contention that proven cases of voter fraud would only swing elections in races that come down to a few hundred votes. 

But this section is fascinating:

We also find that one of the favorite policies advocated by conservatives to prevent voter fraud appears strikingly ineffective. Nearly three quarters of the non-citizens who indicated they were asked to provide photo identification at the polls claimed to have subsequently voted.

Is it really that a significant number of illegal immigrants now have a fake photo ID that looks realistic enough to fool voter registration and ballot box authorities? If that’s the case, it’s not really accurate to call them “undocumented immigrants,” now is it? More like “forged document immigrants.” Or is it that the poll workers manning the polling places that day aren’t really bothering to examine the IDs shown to them?

Keep in mind, people’s memories could be faulty. And we’re not dealing with a ton of examples from these interviews:

Of the 27 non-citizens who indicated that they were “asked to show picture identification, such as a driver’s license, at the polling place or election office,” in the 2008 survey, 18 claimed to have subsequently voted, and one more indicated that they were “allowed to vote using a pro- visional ballot.” Only 7 (25.9%) indicated that they were not allowed to vote after showing identification.

Tags: Elections , Voter Fraud

The Good, Bad, and Good News for Georgia Republicans



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Here’s the good news for Georgia Republicans: The Atlanta Journal Constitution poll out today puts GOP Senate candidate David Purdue ahead by 2 points over Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Here’s the bad news for Georgia Republicans: The five previous polls, including the CNN poll out earlier today, put Michelle Nunn narrowly ahead.

Here’s the other good news for Georgia Republicans: To win the Senate seat, a candidate needs 50 percent, and Nunn hasn’t hit that in any poll this year. Her share in the last five polls: 42 percent, 47 percent, 47 percent, 46 percent, 46 percent. In the most of the most recent polls, Nunn would need to win almost all of the remaining undecideds to hit the 50 percent threshold. The Libertarian candidate, Amanda Swafford, is getting around 5 percent and appears likely to keep the other candidates below the threshold.

If they go to a runoff, Nunn and Purdue would continue campaigning for another two months, and by the time the January 6 runoff arrives, control of the Senate may be resolved. In that scenario, it’s possible one or both parties and outside groups will be much less intense in their get-out-the-vote activities. (Louisiana holds its runoff in December.)

Of course, if control of the Senate comes down to the Georgia runoff . . . it is going to be a mean and nasty Christmas season and New Year’s in the Peach State.

Tags: David Purdue , Michelle Nunn , Georgia , Polling

The Tiresome, False ‘Democrats Will Steal the Election’ Doomsaying



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I expected quite a few readers to object to this section of the Jolt, but so far it’s only a few:

Voter Fraud: How a Legitimate Concern Turns Into Activists’ Favorite Excuse

Voter fraud, and the fear that nefarious partisan types taint our elections by voting more than once, is a legitimate fear. I refer you to the dogged reporting of our own John Fund, and some of James O’Keefe’s videos showing liberal activists happily condoning his undercover offers to assist them in committing fraud:

When he raised the issue of filling out some of the unused ballots that are mailed to every household in the state this month, he was told by Meredith Hicks, the director of Work for Progress, a liberal group funded by Democratic Super PACS.: “That is not even like lying or something, if someone throws out a ballot, like if you want to fill it out you should do it.” She then brazenly offered O’Keefe, disguised as a middle-aged college instructor, a job with her group.

However, the fear of voting fraud can also turn into a crutch in the minds of Republicans. If every defeat can be attributed to voter fraud, there’s no lesson for Republican campaigns to take from those defeats. And if voter fraud is as pervasive and decisive as some conservatives think, the entire system of elections is a sham; Democrats are destined to cheat their way to victory every time.

While there is clear evidence of fraud or suspected fraud — such as 765 North Carolina residents who voted in 2012 who had the same names, birthdays, and final four digits of a Social Security number as voters elsewhere — the scale of the fraud proven so far is in the hundreds, not the thousands. There are cases where key statewide races come down to hundreds of votes, such as Bush’s key victory over Gore in Florida in 2000, and Al Franken’s election in Minnesota in 2008.

Any fraudulent vote is wrong, a crime, and devalues the vote of everyone else who follows the rules and the law. But at this point, we have not seen evidence that suggests voter fraud occurs on a scale large enough to swing most elections.

Over at The Federalist, Dan McLaughlin examines whether Democrats really do always win the close races in suspiciously convenient ways:

Let’s begin with the very closest races, those decided by less than one percentage point. There have been 27 such races since 1998, and Democrats have won 20 out of 27 . . .

That’s a truly impressive showing, and proof of how very unusual George W. Bush’s victory in Florida in 2000 was. For whatever reason, when statewide races are decided by less than 1 point, Democrats win almost three-quarters of the time. When the margin opens to 1-2 points, that advantage dissipates, and the Democrats win only half the races. . . . The same is true for elections decided by 2-4 points; out of 50 such races, Democrats won 25.

Some people will look at the above figures and conclude, “Ah-ha! It must be voter fraud!”

Still, to fraudulently generate 1 percent of a statewide election’s ballots, a cheater would need to create thousands of votes in most cases. The two least-populated states are Vermont and Wyoming. In Vermont’s 2010 Senate election, 235,065 voted, with incumbent Democrat Patrick Leahy winning handily. One percent of that ballot sum would be 2,351 votes. In Wyoming’s 2010 gubernatorial election, 188,463 people voted, meaning a fraud perpetrator would need to manufacture 1,885 ballots.

In more populated states, a fraudster would need to generate tens of thousands of fraudulent votes to swing the election. Let’s take Illinois’s extremely close gubernatorial election of 2010, where Democrat Pat Quinn won by less than 1 percentage point. We’ve heard all the dead vote and “Crook County” jokes. How many votes do you think the crooks generated?

The margin was 31,834 votes.

Colorado is switching to a vote-by-mail system, which many conservatives fear helps facilitate fraud by having lots of legal ballots floating around through the mail system and in people’s homes. In the state’s key Senate race, Cory Gardner is enjoying a consistent lead in polls, and in the governor’s race, Beauprez is keeping pace with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Comments from conservatives that “Democrats will steal the election” are depressingly common.

Oregon votes entirely by mail. If you believe fraudulent votes by Democrats are common and decisive, how many votes do you think were fraudulent in their 2010 midterms? Take a guess.

Those who were paying attention earlier this week remember that the margin of victory for John Kitzhaber in Oregon’s 2010 gubernatorial election was 22,238 votes. Did some liberal or Democratic group manage to coordinate the creation of voting records for 22,238 people who didn’t exist? Or did they steal the legitimate ballots of 22,238 other people who didn’t notice or didn’t care that their ballots were taken?

Again, this isn’t to say it never happens. Oregon prosecuted nine cases of voter fraud from 2000 to 2010 — but in those cases, the number of fraudulent ballots was a handful per perpetrator.

Don’t let fears of widespread liberal voter fraud deter you from taking action this year, and don’t let anyone tell you your efforts are useless because Democrats are going to steal the election.

One reader pointed out this case from 1982:

Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor’s races in Illi­nois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast. Sixty-five individuals were indicted for federal election crimes, and all but two (one found incompetent to stand trial and another who died) were convicted.

Do conservatives think that today Democratic lawmakers, election officials, and liberal groups work together to generate 100,000 or more fraudulent votes? How often? And how do they manage to keep this entirely under wraps from anyone in law enforcement at any level discovering?

Isn’t there some happy medium between Democrats’ and liberal journalists’ insistence that there’s no such thing as voter fraud, ever, and the claim that Democrats’ election victories are stolen?

Tags: Voter Fraud

SPOILER ALERT: This Is How the Governors’ Races Turn Out . . . Well, Some of Them.



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Here’s what happens when we apply Sean Trende’s chart to the big governor’s races this year, using the current RealClearPolitics averages, and accounting for the fact that we’re now 12 days from Election Day.

Almost all of the big governor’s races are very, very, very close.

In Georgia, Republican Nathan Deal leads by nine-tenths of a percentage point.

In Florida, Democratic nominee Charlie Crist is ahead by eight-tenths of a percentage point.

In Kansas, Republican incumbent Sam Brownback is ahead by six-tenths of a percentage point.

If we round those up to 1 percent, the chart says that historically candidates with a 1 percent lead 12 days from Election Day won 88 percent of the time. Pretty good! But before those candidates break out the party hats, if they have the same 1 percent or so lead on Monday, the odds look worse. Candidates with 1 percent leads 7 to 9 days out only won 68 percent of the time. And if you’re ahead by one with 4 to 6 days to go, the number goes down to 50 percent.

Five big races are so close, the leading candidate doesn’t even have a lead of a half a percentage point, so their lead isn’t on the chart.

Wisconsin is a tie. In Illinois, Republican challenger Bruce Rauner leads by two-tenths of a percentage point. In Colorado, incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper also leads by two-tenths of a percentage point. In Maine, Democratic challenger Mike Michaud also leads by two-tenths of a percentage point.

In Connecticut, Republican Tom Foley leads by three-tenths of a percentage point.

Moving on to the races where one candidate has a more substantial lead . . . 

In Alaska, independent Bill Walker is ahead of Republican incumbent Sean Parnell by 3.8 points. On the chart, that comes out to 92 percent.

In Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker is ahead by 4.5 points. Whether you round up or down, the effect is the same; candidates in his position win 92 percent of the time.

In Michigan, Republican incumbent Snyder is ahead by 5.7 points. Rounding up to 6 points, candidates in his position went on to win 93 percent of the time.

In Arizona, Republican Doug Ducey is ahead by 8 points — strangely, candidates with that lead at this point win “only” 90 percent of the time.

In Arkansas, Republican Asa Hutchinson leads by 7.5 points — he would be better off if he rounded down; candidates with a 7-point lead at this point won 100 percent of the time; with an 8-point lead, it was 90 percent.

Tags: Governors , Polling

BOOM: In Massachusetts, Charlie Baker Opens up a Nine-Point Lead



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Whoa. Martha “Choke-ly” indeed!

Republican Charlie Baker has opened up a 9-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley, 45 percent to 36 percent, according to a new Globe poll that depicts a far more comfortable advantage than either candidate for governor has enjoyed in months.

The poll reflects an October surge in independent voters toward Baker’s column. It was independents who provided Governor Deval Patrick with his margins of victory in 2006 and 2010.

What did she do this time, say the Lakers were better than the Celtics? Say Tom Brady is overrated? Order Manhattan clam chowder instead of New England?

Or did Scott Brown stop by to provide some pointers?

The Massachusetts Republican game plan for victory:
Run against this woman over and over again.

Tags: Charlie Baker , Martha Coakley

SPOILER ALERT: This Is How the Midterm Elections Turn Out



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

History Suggests Some Close Races Are Pretty Much Over

Sean Trende deserves some sort of medal for this chart:

He notes, “This trove of data dates back to 1998, and covers all manner of races: Senate, House, gubernatorial, and presidential.”

As of Thursday, we were 13 days from the election. Let’s use the RealClearPolitics average and see how things look for the big Senate races.

Let’s start with the good news for Republicans.

In Arkansas, Tom Cotton is enjoying a 5.5 point lead. 86 percent chance of victory!

In Colorado, Cory Gardner has a 4 point lead. 91 percent chance of victory!

In Alaska, Dan Sullivan has a 4.3 point lead. 91 percent for him, too!

In Kentucky, Mitch McConnell has a 4.4 point lead.

In Iowa, Joni Ernst has a 2.5 point lead, right between 2 and 3. Oooh, a 70 to 77 percent chance of victory!

(In Louisiana, Bill Cassidy has a 4.8 percent lead in a head-to-head matchup, but that race is almost certain to go to a runoff. Put that one aside for now.)

In case you were wondering, in South Dakota, Mike Rounds has a 9.8 percent lead in the RealClearPolitics average, but it would be 3.5 if you only used polls conducted in October. So you can interpret his odds of victory as either 97 percent or 91 percent if you round up to 4.

Here’s the kind of intriguing news for Republicans: In Kansas, “independent” Greg Orman’s lead is eight-tenths of a percentage point in the RealClearPolitics average. Rounding that to one, we find on the above chart that Orman has . . . a 44 percent chance of victory. Yup, somehow having a one-point lead 13 days from Election Day is actually a bad sign. However, by 12 days, the chance of victory with a one point lead jumps up to 88 percent; by a few days later, it’s down to 68 percent.

In Georgia, Michelle Nunn’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average is 0.4 percent. So she’s not even on the chart. Bump her up to one point for the sake of argument, and she’s in the same spot as Orman.

Now on to the not-so-good news for Republicans . . . 

In North Carolina, Democrat Kay Hagan has a 1.6 point lead, which we’ll round up to 2 points. Bad news, Thom Tillis, that’s a 70 percent chance of victory for her!

In New Hampshire, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen also has a 1.6 point lead, which comes to a 70 percent chance of victory. Considering how steadily Scott Brown has closed these past weeks, you have to wonder if this is one of those 30 percent cases.

Every other Senate race has a 6 percentage point margin or higher.

This is a nice but not quite ideal scenario for Republicans. Assuming neither Georgia or Louisiana are resolved on Election Night, let’s assume Republicans lose the seat in Kansas and gain seats in Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alaska, Colorado and Iowa. That’s a net gain of six seats! But as great as that sounds, it would give Republicans 50 seats and Democrats 48. If Democrats win both runoffs, they could keep control of the chamber by having Vice President Biden break the ties. If Cassidy wins the December runoff, Georgia’s January runoff becomes moot to control of the Senate.

Kansas, the Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations of the entire political world depend upon you reelecting Pat Roberts — or North Carolina or New Hampshire making Thom Tillis or Scott Brown one of those underdogs that win 30 percent of the time.

Tags: 2014 Midterms , Polling

The Nightly News’ Curious Disinterest in the Midterm Elections



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The Newsbusters guys chuckle at a CNBC discussion of the lack of network news coverage of the midterm elections, compared to 2006.

The Media Research Center watched the network news broadcasts and counted up the news stories:

When Democrats were feeling good about their election prospects eight years ago, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC World News aired a combined 159 campaign stories (91 full reports and another 68 stories that mentioned the campaign). But during the same time period this year, those same newscasts have offered a paltry 25 stories (16 full reports and 9 mentions), a six-to-one disparity.

The Newsbusters guys take issue with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood’s explanations, including the claim that “this is an election where there isn’t a dominant issue, you’ve got a whole bunch of little issues.” But this fall’s news cycle hasn’t really had a bunch of little issues; it’s had two really big ones with lots of different daily developments: the Ebola outbreak and then the U.S. beginning (and continuing) air operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, along the blame game over whether the administration underestimated ISIS. Both of those can be covered outside of a campaign context, or within it . . . 

The simplest, and most likely, explanation is that the networks are eager and excited to cover elections when Democrats are expected to win and much less interested and easily distracted when Republicans are expected to win.

That having been said, there are one or two non-ideological explanations too.

First, the network news broadcasts may be a lot more light and fluffy feature stories these days compared to eight years ago. Last night’s NBC News broadcast featured “thousands of shelter dogs in need of new homes and families, and the armies of volunteers helping to get them there.” Hey, everybody loves footage of puppies.

Second, the 2006 wave election changed the House and the Senate, changing the dynamic of Washington from a Republican president working with a Republican Congress to a Republican president working with a Democratic Congress. Because this year is going to leave us with a Democratic president and a Republican House — and probably, although not yet certainly, a Republican Senate — the dynamic will change less dramatically. A lot of voters on both sides of the political divide feel that the stakes aren’t particularly high.

Andrew Ross Sorkin offers the theory “there’s not an interesting candidate in this whole situation”? That explanation isn’t particularly compelling. Joni Ernst isn’t interesting? Harvard Iraq veteran Tom Cotton isn’t interesting? Cory Gardner’s not interesting? Scott Brown trying to win two senatorial elections in two different states in a four-year span isn’t interesting?

Tags: Media , 2014 Midterms

Ouch: BusinessWeek Calls Obama ‘Too Cool for Crisis Management’



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That is a heck of a cover image/gif, Bloomberg BusinessWeek. And probably about as bad an image as the Democrats could imagine, short of “VOTE GOP” in giant letters.

Inside, the headline to Joshua Green’s piece is, “Obama Is Too Cool for Crisis Management.”

Tags: Barack Obama

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s Make Sam Wang Eat a Bug.



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CNN, out today:

A new CNN/ORC poll shows a statistical dead heat between New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her GOP opponent Scott Brown, with Shaheen at 49 percent, Brown at 47 percent, and a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

ARG, out today: Jeanne Shaheen 49 percent, Scott Brown 48 percent. 

Come on, New Hampshire. Let’s make Sam Wang eat a bug.

Tags: New Hampshire , Jeanne Shaheen , Scott Brown

There’s Good News for Oregon Republicans, but Not That Good News



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Your friendly neighborhood Oregon-trotting campaign correspondent, in a piece written Tuesday night:

Could Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, a three-term Democrat, lose his bid for reelection because of scandals involving his fiancée? After Kitzhaber survived a cavalcade of embarrassing and expensive failures of state government, could he lose to Republican Dennis Richardson because of the Oregon first lady’s consulting business?

A new Survey USA poll, released Wednesday:

With each passing hour bringing new revelations about Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber’s fiance, Cylvia Hayes, KATU-TV and SurveyUSA attempt here to break the Oregon electorate into 4 quadrants. The question asked of voters paying close attention to the governor’s election and who are following news stories about Hayes, was this:

Which of the following best describes you?

38% were going to vote for Kitzhaber and will still vote for Kitzhaber.

37% were going to vote for Richardson and will still vote for Richardson.

18% were going to vote for Kitzhaber but now will vote for Richardson (disproportionately young, male, independent, liberals).

1% were going to vote for Richardson but now will vote for Kitzhaber.

6% overall, and, importantly, 9% of Democrats, are not sure what to do.

As the pollsters note, it is possible this poll reflects people saying they’re going to switch to Richardson, to express their disapproval of the Kitzhaber scandals, but that they won’t actually carry through with it. And importantly, the above numbers do not reflect the results of their entire sample, just the sub-sample of registered voters paying close attention:

SurveyUSA interviewed 950 Oregon adults 10/20/14 and 10/21/14. Of the adults, 856 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 60% (514 voters) are paying a lot of attention to the race for Governor. Of those paying attention, 79% (407 voters) are following stories about the fiance, Hayes. The poll’s essential question was asked just of the 407 qualified respondents. This may or may not directly overlap the universe of Oregon’s likely voters in 2014.

Remember, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state, so the definition of a “likely voter” in Oregon should be broader than in other states.

Dave Weigel scoffs at the notion that the first lady’s scandals could cost Kitzhaber reelection when voters yawned at Cover Oregon. He’s partially right in the sense that this is still a deeply Democratic state, and Kitzhaber’s head-to-head numbers against Richardson have been way better than his job-approval numbers. But the crunchy, progressive, quinoa-microbrew Oregon voters might have been able to explain away the Cover Oregon debacle as well-meaning incompetence. Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes, doing well-paid consulting work for groups with business before the state gives off a whiff of corruption, which probably strikes a significant number of voters as a different, and more serious, governing sin.

Kitzhaber is still the favorite, but Oregonians’ patience with him is clearly being tested, and there’s a deep vein of pent-up frustration for Richardson to tap.

Tags: Oregon , John Kitzhaber , Dennis Richardson

The Simple Closing Message: Americans Deserve Better Than This



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Recent events tied a bow around a simple, powerful, and true closing message for Republicans running for Congress this year: The American people deserve to be treated better than the way their government treats them.

People who like their doctors and health insurance deserve to keep them. Our veterans deserve care in a timely manner. The American people deserve the truth about illegal immigrants released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They deserve straight answers from the Centers for Disease Control, and when a promise is made, it should be kept. Americans deserve a secure border, and when there is overwhelming support for restricting flights from countries with severe Ebola outbreaks, the option deserves careful consideration, not arrogant dismissal.

Americans of all political stripes deserve to be treated equally in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, with no special targeting based upon political views. Our ambassadors and those serving our country overseas deserve protection when they ask for it. If American taxpayer money is going to be used to save a car company, the people deserve to know whether that company is making unsafe cars.

They deserve to send and receive e-mails, texts, and calls without the National Security Agency peering over their metaphorical shoulder without a warrant. They deserve a director of national intelligence who does not lie in testimony to Congress. For the amount of money we spend on gathering intelligence, we deserve better performance — or for an administration to act upon that intelligence more promptly. In a dangerous world, we deserve leaders who don’t fool themselves into thinking jihadists on the rise are just “the JV team.” They deserve a Secret Service that takes its job seriously and corrects its mistakes.

The Republican party and its candidates are not perfect. But the vast majority of its candidates bring a righteous anger to these unacceptable failures of the federal government and the culture of complacency that is flourishing within the federal bureaucracy.

Democrats, as the party of government, have proven themselves all too willing to avert their eyes from the problems of government, to excuse or explain them away, or to announce some bold-sounding reform that never gets seriously implemented and is eventually forgotten. They’re all too enthusiastic about nodding in agreement to bureaucrats’ excuses that their failures can be solved with a bigger budget. They’re all too likely to believe that appointing some other D.C. staffer in a special czar position will suddenly create accountability, honesty, and diligence. They’re all too inclined to accept passive-voice “mistakes were made” explanations with blame assigned to “systemic” failures instead of particular individuals who failed to perform their duties, meet their responsibilities, and act with integrity.

For all the flaws of Republicans, we know that when confronted with a failure of government, their first response will not be “How can we protect the president?”

The American people deserve better from their government. And for now, the most effective tool to put unresponsive bureaucrats on the hot seat of public hearings, and wield the potential punishment through the appropriations process, is a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

You could say it’s time to pull the weeds out of Washington.

Tags: Barack Obama , Congressional Republicans , Bureaucracy

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide



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The opening section of the Morning Jolt spells out why Republicans would be fools to even consider any “comprehensive immigration reform” in the lame-duck session . . . or before the end of the Obama administration, really . . . 

Obama Administration Released Illegal Immigrants Charged With Homicide

This administration lies, and lies, and lies:

New records contradict the Obama administration’s assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records.

The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.

The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released “low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records,” a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress.

The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed.

Notice how many advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” will ignore this inconvenient story and continue insisting the administration can be trusted to sort through the 11 million or so illegal immigrants and sort out the ones who are a danger to Americans.

This is actually the administration’s second lie on the matter:

The director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, said his agency had released 2,228 illegal immigrants during that period for what he called “solely budgetary reasons.” The figure was significantly higher than the “few hundred” immigrants the Obama administration had publicly acknowledged were released under the budget-savings process. He testified during a hearing by a House appropriations subcommittee.

The allegedly cruel, xenophobic, and ignorant border-security crowd said that if we stopped deporting children who came to the United States illegally, it would create an incentive for more of them — and this summer they were proven right. Those same critics, mostly but not entirely on the right, argued that the administration saw illegal immigrants as a source of future votes, and put that goal over all other priorities and considerations. For this claim, they were mocked and derided; administration defenders insisted our government would never do that.

Shortly after his administration told this lie, Obama went to Ohio State and told the graduates to “reject” cynical voices telling them that government was the problem, that it was incompetent, and that it couldn’t be trusted.

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Barack Obama

West Virginia Democrat, Managing Election Laws, Violates Own Rules



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Of course:

The state’s chief election officer may have violated state election laws when she brought a group of supporters to the Kanawha County Voters Registration Office today.

On Wednesday, the first day for early voting in West Virginia, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who is running for U.S. Senate, led a group of supporters down Court Street to cast their ballots and proceeded to stump on the building’s front steps, an activity her office’s voting guide describes as “prohibited.”

Laws are for the little people.

In the photo above from the Charleston Daily Mail, Tennant campaigns
on the front steps of a voter-registration office.

 

Tags: West Virginia , Natalie Tennant

Updated Early Vote Numbers for Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Louisiana



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The Colorado secretary of state announced today that 332,050 Coloradans have cast ballots already, and out of that total, 145,824 are registered Republicans, and 105,401 are registered Democrats. That translates to a 43.9 percent to 31.7 percent advantage for the GOP.

In 2012, as Barack Obama was winning the state 51 percent to 46 percent, Republicans led the 1.7 million mail ballots cast in 2012 by 37 percent to 35 percent. So Republicans should be expected to lead, but a 12-point lead is better news than a 2-point lead.

In Florida, the news is also good for Republicans, but the figures could change quickly: 559,133 registered Republicans have voted early or absentee, 421,425 registered Democrats, and 198,423 independent or other. That translates to a 47 percent to 36 percent advantage. The Miami Herald summarizes:

History aside, the advantage is with Gov. Rick Scott right now for a simple reason: More of his people are voting. And the fact is, Democrats pride themselves on doing well in early voting. And they’re losing it at the moment. The big test comes Saturday and Sunday, the first full weekend for early voting, when Democrats tend to flock to the polls.

In Iowa, the GOP and Democrats are nearly tied in the number of returned absentee ballots — a mere 170-vote difference in favor of registered Democrats, with 238,147 ballots returned.

If Democrats want good cheer, they can point to Louisiana, where 20,760 of the first 38,620 ballots were cast by registered Democrats, and only 12,883 by Republicans. But this partially reflects the heavy partisan divide in the state’s registration; Louisiana has an electorate consisting of 47.1 percent registered Democrats and 27.5 percent registered Republicans, while having a GOP governor, one GOP U.S. senator and one Democratic one, and five Republican members out of six in the state’s congressional delegation.

Also note that those 38,000 ballots represent a small fraction of the expected total vote; back in 2010, with a less competitive U.S. Senate race, more than 1.2 million ballots were cast.

Tags: Early Voting

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