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Tea Party Candidate Cruz Defeats Dewhurst in Texas Senate Race

In a stunning upset, former Texas Solicitor General, Ted Cruz, a tea party favorite, defeated Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-TX), a multimillionaire rancher who spent nearly $20 million of his own fortune and who was backed by Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and the entire Republican establishment up and down the line. Cruz' margin was 55% to 45%. This win will send shock waves across the country showing that the tea party is alive and well.

Cruz' victory will get a ton of media attention today but for purposes of controlling the Senate, it is less important than Richard Mourdock's win in the Indiana senatorial primary earlier this year. Texas is so red and the Democratic nominee, Paul Sadler, so weak, that any Republican could easily win the general election, whereas the tea party upset in Indiana actually gives the Democrats a shot at winning the seat.

When (not if) Cruz joins the Senate, he will become part of the informal caucus of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), which includes Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and others. They will make governing much harder, no matter who is President and which party controls the Senate. If Mitt Romney is elected President, he is not going to govern as a tea party candidate. Nothing in his background suggests that he really believes much of what he said during the primaries. He clearly knows that to get anything done, he is going to need the cooperation of the Senate Democrats lest they block (if they have the majority) or filibuster (if they don't) all his legislation. DeMint and friends regard compromising as selling out their principles, so the stronger they are, the more headaches they will give Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whether he is minority leader or majority leader. If the Republicans end up with, say 53 seats (probably a best-case scenario for them) and DeMint, Lee, Paul, and Cruz oppose all his plans because they aren't radical enough and won't budge, McConnell, despite all his cloakroom maneuvering skills, will be stymied time after time.

Also of great interest (to us) is how well the polling did here. Yesterday, we reported a PPP poll taken over the weekend giving Cruz a 10-point lead, 52% to 42%. The undecideds broke evenly and Cruz won by 10 points, so PPP (which the media often and incorrectly label a Democratic pollster) hit the nail smack on the head. In contrast, Dewhurst's polling firm released a poll saying he was going to win by 5 points. There is no conceivable way a legitimate polling firm can take a poll 2-3 days before an election and be off by 15 points (absent some game-changing news). One has to conclude that they made the numbers up as a last-ditch effort to save Dewhurst. This is why we never report anything from partisan pollsters or include them in the data base. They are totally unreliable.

Harry Reid Says Romney Paid No Taxes for 10 Years

Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney has paid no federal tax for 10 years. Maybe the investor is right, maybe he is wrong, but from Romney's point of view, the story itself is the problem. As of this morning at 6 A.M. EDT, a Google search for "Romney paid no taxes" limited to the past 24 hours turned up 2000 hits. As that story spreads, Romney has no easy way to put the fire out, short of releasing the returns. If Democrats start making television ads merely quoting Reid (or featuring Reid saying it), it could hurt Romney. Of course, it is August, and everybody is at the beach and not paying attention to politics. Still, it is clear the Democrats are going to keep going after Romney on this. Maybe even into the Fall.

This new tack could be payback for the ad Romney is running about Obama's "You Didn't Build That" remark. Obama was essentially summarizing Elizabeth Warren's earlier comment about a factory owner who may have built his factory but didn't build the roads his goods are transported on or educate the workers he hired or train and arm the police guarding his property. Romney took a small snippet of Obama's speech out of context and made him look antibusiness. The response may be snarky Democratic ads about how "informed sources" say Romney didn't pay any taxes, something Romney is apparently unwilling to refute by simply releasing his returns. For the next 3 months, please make sure your mudguards are correctly positioned.

Marriage Equality Plank in Platform Indicates Democratic Strategy

The Democrats' decision to come out officially in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry indicates an important strategic decision on the part of the party. Generally, there are two ways to win a close election: (1) convince the fence-sitters to get off their collective tushes and come join you or (2) increase turnout of your own base. For the coming election, surprisingly few voters remain undecided, so there isn't much to be gained by following route (1), although both parties will certainly try. A new Pew poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Democrats approve of marriage equality, so putting this in the platform is a clear attempt to rally a base that has been very critical of Obama. By doing something that is very popular with the base, he is trying to get them to donate, vote, and campaign for him.

Could Assad Be Obama's Ace in the Hole?

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad appears to have an Alamo complex and apparently would prefer to die in Damascus than to scoot off and live a life of luxury as a private citizen in some other Arab country. Analysts say he may get his wish. If the rebels capture Syria, Obama is surely going to talk more about foreign policy than he has, saying that when he needs to, he can take bold action (as in killing bin Laden), and when it is better to stay out of the fight, he knows when to do that (as in Egypt, Libya, and Syria). After Romney's adventures in diplomacy this past week, people may accept that Obama knows what he is doing on the world stage and Romney is something of a newbie. While it is doubtful that foreign policy will dominate the campaign, the final presidential debate, on Oct. 22, will be devoted entirely to foreign policy, thus forcing the topic onto the front pages only 2 weeks before the election.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Florida 48% 47%   Jul 26 Jul 29 PPP
Missouri 44% 50%   Jul 30 Jul 30 Rasmussen

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Connecticut Chris Murphy 50% Linda McMahon 42%     Jul 26 Jul 29 PPP

* Denotes incumbent