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Two Key Republican Senate Primaries Today

Wisconsin Republicans go to the polls today to pick a candidate to face Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for the Senate seat of the retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI). Four Republicans are vying for the nomination: former governor Tommy Thompson, businessman Eric Hovde, former representative Mark Neumann, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Polls shows that Thompson and Hovde are neck-and-neck.

Connecticut Republicans also get to vote today for a Senate nominee. Polls show that former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon is likely to beat former representative Chris Shays. The winner of that contest will almost certainly face Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) in November.

The Ryan Budget in a Nutshell

The Christian Science Monitor has a quick guide to Paul Ryan's budget plan. The details are important because there are many items in there that both Democrats and Republicans are going to use in the campaign. In particular, the Democrats are salivating at the prospect of making Ryan not only Mitt Romney's running mate, but also the running mates of all 33 Republican Senate candidates and all 435 House candidates. Here are the highlights of Ryan's budget.

In short, the budget decimates just about everything except defense, social security, and interest payments in order to cut the top marginal tax rate. The budget has been called a fantasy by none other than David Stockman who can hardly be labeled a liberal. He ran the budget office for President Ronald Reagan and knows a thing or two about the conservative approach to the federal budget.

More Facts about Paul Ryan

As the media begin to dig into Paul Ryan's past, no doubt many facts about him will emerge and there will be many lists. These lists are important because they give a clue about his personality and what he is really like. People prefer politicians who are likable, even when they disagree with his policies. Ronald Reagan was a very popular President, even though many people disagreed with him on most of what he wanted to do. Yesterday we had a list of items about Ryan. Here is another one, from The week,

It is hard to say whether all the unusual things being discovered about Ryan will ultimately help or hurt him. In any event, he is certainly a far more colorful character than Tim Pawlenty.

Ryan's Starts with Approval Numbers Worse than Any Running Mate Since Dan Quayle

A Gallup poll conducted on Sunday found that 42% of Americans think Ryan is a poor or fair choice while 39% think he is a good or excellent choice. This ratio is worse than that of every vice-presidential candidate since Dan Quayle in 1988. Of course, there is plenty of time for it to improve, but there is also plenty of time for it to get even worse with the battering the Democrats are going to give him. When Quayle was first introduced, his negatives stood at 52% and he ended up being an object of ridicule, in part because he once misspelled "potato." That is clearly unfair to him since having excellent spelling skills is not really part of the job description for the Vice President, but when the media have stuck a label on someone, any fact that reinforces it gets lots of play. Quayle was seen as a lightweight who wasn't up to the job, the Sarah Palin of his era. If Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush made a spelling error it would just be ignored because nobody ever accused either one of being incompetent.

Both Vice-Presidential Candidates Are Catholics but They Couldn't Be More Different

For the first time in history, both parties have a Catholic on the ticket, but they are wildly different on issues the Catholic Church cares about. Vice President Joe Biden is a social-justice Catholic who emphasizes the Church's long-standing commitment to help the poor and downtrodden. Biden supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage, in opposition to the Church. Paul Ryan is the mirror image of Biden. He is a believer in the Ayn Rand approach to the world: every man for himself, which is certainly not in line with the Church's teachings, but he is completely on board with respect to abortion and same-sex marriage, both of which he strenuously opposes. What's a Catholic to do? Probably Catholics will not vote as a block but will splinter along political lines, like all voters this year.

Presidential Debate Moderators Are Old White People from the Old Media

The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced who will be moderating the debates this Fall and instantly drew criticism for the choices. The three moderators are Jim Lehrer (78) of PBS, Candy Crowley (63) of CNN, and Bob Schieffer (75) of CBS. The vice-presidential debate will be moderated by ABC's Martha Raddatz (59). All four of them are white; all four are television journalists; none is a big tweeter. The questions being asked of the Commission are (1) where are the younger journalists and (2) how come there is no one who represents the new media? While the Commission could have looked for someone younger, so much of the Internet is so partisan, it is hard to think of someone who would be considered neutral. But having Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos questioning Romney and Erick Erickson of Red State questioning Obama might be far more interesting and even informative than TV journalists who hate to ask really pointed questions.

Retail Sales Way Up in July

Retail sales rose 0.8% in July, the largest increase in 5 months. Retail sales drive much of the economy, so a boost here is seen by economists as a good sign and could mean more jobs ahead. To the extent the economy is no longer the focus of the the campaign (because the role of government is) an improvement in the economy does not hurt Mitt Romney so much as it would have if all he were talking about was the economy.

Domain Names Are a New Battleground

Would you like to own No problem, but it will set you back $50,000. Too expensive? Then bid on or In general, if some random person buys a domain name that contains a registered trademark, the mark owner can get a court to force the person who bought the domain name to give it up. But for names involving politicians, it is first-come, first-served.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Missouri 44% 45%   Aug 09 Aug 12 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire 49% 46%   Aug 01 Aug 12 U. of New Hampshire

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 40% Todd Akin 51%     Aug 09 Aug 12 SurveyUSA

* Denotes incumbent