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News from the Votemaster

Akin Wins Missouri Senate Primary

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) won the three-way Republican Senate primary yesterday. His win made two candidates very happy and one noncandidate unhappy. The happy candidates are Akin, himself, of course, but also his general election opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). McCaskill not only wanted him to win, she and the Democrats spent millions of dollars helping him in the primary. Technically, she was attacking him by saying he was extremely conservative and pointing out his conservative positions but while this may be a turn off for Democrats and independents, for many conservative Republicans it was probably a reason to vote for him.

The noncandidate who is unhappy is Sarah Palin, who bet on the wrong horse. She supported former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who came in last with 29% of the vote to Akin's 36% (Brunner got 30%). While Palin's endorsement is still desired by some politicians, the more often she picks a loser, the less useful it becomes and the less media attention it gets.

The general election between Akin and McCaskill is expected to be close. The most recent general-election poll, taken by Mason-Dixon in mid-July, has Akin ahead 49% to 45% but that can change as both parties are expected to throw gobs of money at this race. If the Democrats can hold this seat, they can probably keep control of the state. Republicans will tie McCaskill to Obama, who is not popular in the state. Democrats will say that Akin is way outside the mainstream.

Election Law Specialist Argues Against Changing Election Rules before November

Rick Hasen, a professor of (election) law and political science at the University of California at Irvine has argued that in-person voter fraud has not affected the result of any election in decades, so current attempts to require photo ID are misguided and should be suspended until after the election and then examined in an impartial way. He also notes that none of the new laws (which impact Democrats more than Republicans) address the issue of absentee ballot fraud, which has changed election outcomes in the past on a regular basis. Republicans do not want to tighten absentee ballot rules because this would negatively affect Republican turnout (think: businesspersons away from home on election day, active military personnel, and the elderly, all of whom skew Republican). John Fund, a former Wall Street Journal journalist who for years has been pushing for tighter rules for in-person voting, admitted yesterday that the Republicans have been interested in this simply for partisan advantage and not for some noble purpose of having more honest elections.

Elections have become so contentious in the U.S. that Hasen manages to write half a dozen articles a day on his Election Law Blog. In no other country would it be possible for a law professor to come up with so many relevant (and well researched) articles nearly every day. While this is a tribute to Hasen personally for being an expert in the area, it is anything but a tribute to the U.S. legal and political system that there is so much to write about daily.

The Case of the Senator Who Did Not Bark

As the controversy over Mitt Romney's tax returns continues, the one person other than Romney himself who could settle this has been completely silent. That would be Sen. John McCain, who inspected 23 years of Romney's tax returns in 2008 when he was considering Romney as a possible running mate. All he would have to do is hold a press conference and say: "Harry Reid is wrong. I personally saw Romney's tax returns going back over two decades and he paid federal income tax every year." But McCain has said nothing at all at a moment he could help Romney and hurt Reid. Why? It seems very strange. Maybe Reid is right and McCain knows this.

Big Donors Swamp Small Donors

There is a myth that many small donors to a political campaign are more important than a few big ones. Maybe it was true in the past but is not true any more. This year, 2.5 million people have donated $200 or less, but all their money combined amounts to only 18% of the funds raised. In fact, the top 0.07% of the donors gave more than the bottom 86%. The top 2100 donors gave a total of $200 million so far and we have 3 months to go. And none of this includes the secret donors to superPACs. It is a safe bet that many of the large donors want something specific in return for their generosity.

New President of France Wants to Raise Top Tax Rate to 75%

Part of the platform of newly elected French President Francois Holland is to raise the top income tax rate to 75% for incomes above 1 million euro (about $1.24 million). Needless to say, some rich people are threatening to leave the country if that happens. They could go to Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec, or maybe the United States. Typically when a politician says he will raise taxes on the rich, there is a lot of posturing like this, but usually it is only talk. While for some people, taxes are everything, when push comes to shove, not everyone is prepared to leave their children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends for lower taxes. Also, many of the very wealthy have companies that would be hard to run from abroad. If Obama wins the U.S. election and succeeds in raising the top marginal tax rate to a mere 39.6%, many rich people will no doubt say they are going to move to Canada where the top federal tax rate is only 29%. However the top provincial rate in Ontario is 11% and in British Columbia it is 14%, so moving there doesn't help at all. The province with the lowest top rate is Alberta with a flat rate of 10% but unless one is in the oil business, there is not a lot to do in Alberta.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 47% 47%   Aug 06 Aug 06 Rasmussen
Colorado 49% 43%   Aug 02 Aug 05 PPP
Georgia 41% 50%   Jul 23 Jul 23 Insider Advantage
North Carolina 49% 46%   Aug 02 Aug 05 PPP