Jan. 22 absentee ballot for overseas voters

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House Dem 256   GOP 178  

2010 Senate Races (colors are from 2004 races for the time being)
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PW logo Extra Bonus Quote of the Day Goodman Will Not Run for Nevada Governor
Bredesen Still a Democrat Another Poll Shows Giannoulias, Kirk Leading
Do Democrats Want Lincoln to Retire? Bonus Quote of the Day

News from the Votemaster

Supreme Court OKs Corporate Donations to Election Campaigns     Permalink

In a decision yesterday, the Supreme Court has said it is constitutional for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their own money to run ads and otherwise attempt to elect or defeat candidates for public office. This decision reverses long-standing rules preventing corporate money from being spent to directly influence elections. As an example, as President Obama is beginning to announce plans to curb the excesses of the biggest banks, the banks' lobbyists could go to specific members of Congress and openly say: "Either you vote against his proposals or we are going to spend $10 million to defeat you in November."

The decision is a great boon to Republicans, who are the natural allies of large corporations. It also means candidates can run nasty and misleading ads and not be accused of lying by having corporate friends (or friendly billionaires) pay for them. Democrats in Congress are considering new laws to limit this new corporate power, for example, by requiring shareholders to approve spending corporate money on political ads but corporations will now be able to spend freely to oppose senators and representatives supporting such laws.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), no stranger to controversy, called it the worst decision since the Dred Scott case.

Fate of Health-Insurance Bill Uncertain     Permalink

Progressive members of the House are refusing to accept the Senate health-insurance reform bill as is. So what happens next? There seem to be two possibilities. One is for a deal in which a package of changes jointly approved by the House and Senate would be passed by the Senate using budget reconciliation (which cannot be filibustered) and then the House would pass both the Senate bill and the package of changes. A second option would be to pass a much smaller bill, covering fewer people and with smaller subsidies. However, progressive Democrats in the House who won't vote for the Senate bill are unlikely to vote for an even more watered down bill. At this point, Congressional Democrats are huddling frantically about what to do next.

Postmortems on the Massachusetts Senate Election Abound     Permalink

Numerous pundits, columnists, bloggers, and the like have given their take on the consequences of Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts. Here is a list. When debating the issue of whether the Democrats can get anything done with only 59 seats in the Senate, it may be useful to recall that Republicans have often passed legislation when they were in the majority even though the last time they had 59 seats was in 1923. Here is our list of take aways from the election.

  • Politicians can't take the voters for granted. Massachusetts voters' elected Republican governors continuously from 1991 to 2007. Red Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Wyoming all have Democratic governors. Blue Connecticut, Hawaii, and Rhode Island all have Republican governors. red Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Dakota, have Democratic senators. Blue Maine and New Hampshire have Republican senators. Here is a list of partisan misfits like these.

  • To win, you have to campaign. Coakley, who has the charm of Mitch McConnell, didn't bother to campaign. She even took a vacation in the middle of the campaign. In contrast, Brown put 200,000 miles on his truck going out and meeting voters. He showed he cared about them. She didn't.

  • One win or loss is not the end of the world. It wasn't that long ago that Republicans were bemoaning the loss of NY-23, a district they had held since the Civil War. Local circumstances matter. In Massachusetts, for example, voters didn't feel the need for universal health care so acutely since they already have it statewide.

  • Candidates have to match their electorate. Among voters who thought Scott Brown was a moderate or liberal, he won 79-18. Among voters who thought he was a conservative, he lost 32-63. This was not a vote for the Repubican Party but for Scott Brown. Jim DeMint could not have won there.

  • Voters are impatient. The health-insurance battle in Congress has taken an entire year. That is much too long. After an election, the voters expect the winner to act decisively and get things done. Endless intraparty squabbling is not a ticket to success.

In roughly a week, Brown will be sworn into the Senate. Then the hard part begins for him. He is going to have to vote on many controversial bills on which the majority of his constituents and the Republican senatorial caucus are on opposite sides. If he votes with the caucus, he will anger many voters and face an uphill battle against a far better prepared Democratic candidate in 2012. If he votes with the Democrats, he will be primaried in 2012. Don't count on Brown being around for a long time.

Another Bush Supports Rubio     Permalink

Another example of a race where the person expected to coast to an easy victory may have some tough sledding ahead is the Florida Republican senatorial primary. Initially, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) was expected to win by just showing up. No more. Not only has his lead against former state House minority leader Marco Rubio vanished, but Rubio keeps picking up mainstream endorsements. Yesterday he was endorsed by George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Lincoln Down, Beebe Up in Arkansas     Permalink

Both Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR) are up for reelection in November but their respective approval ratings couldn't be further apart. Her favorable/unfavorables are 34%/57% while his are 76%/14%. With polls showing her losing to almost any Republican, some Democrats are hoping she will pull a Dodd and retire and be replaced by Beebe, who would surely hold the seat for the Democrats.

Illinois Primary is Next     Permalink

With the Massachusetts special election behind us, the next course on the menu for political junkies is the Illinois primary on Feb. 2. Two Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes are vying to be the gubernatorial candidate against the winner of a seven-way Republican primary. Given the state's financial mess, with a need to raise taxes, cut spending, or both (neither terribly popular), it is surprising anyone would even want the job. Quinn is the favorite in both the primary and general election, but as we saw in Massachusetts, you shouldn't count your chickens too early.

Battles loom for both parties in the Senate race as well. The main Democrats are Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Cheryle Jackson. Giannoulias is the favorite in the primary. Rep. Mark Kirk is the leading Republican. More here.

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