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News from the Votemaster

Thompson Wins Wisconsin Senate Primary

Former four-term Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson won the Republican nomination to contest the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI). Thompson narrowly defeated businessman Eric Hovde, as well as former representative Mark Neumann, and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. Swimming against the tide, Thompson is a moderate defeating two very conservative candidates, Hovde and Neumann, who split the tea party vote.

In November, Thompson will face Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who if elected would be the first openly lesbian woman elected to the Senate. Wisconsin has traditionally been a blue state, but elected a Republican governor and Senator in 2010. Thompson has universal name recognition in the state and has a good chance to pick off a Democratic seat that Kohl would have kept had he run.

This is an important win for the Republicans since the Democrats have only a three-seat majority in the Senate. If Thompson wins, along with Republicans in Nebraska and North Dakota, that gives them three more seats. They also have a good shot at winning Missouri, Virginia, and Montana. In Maine, independent Angus King is certain to win and will probably caucus with the Democrats. Massachusetts is a tossup. All in all, Thompson's victory greatly increases the chances that the Republicans will take over the Senate.

McMahon Wins Connecticut Senate Primary

In Connecticut, Linda McMahon easily defeated former representative Chris Shays for the Republican Senate nomination. In November, she will face Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who is the strong favorite.

Pennsylvania Judge Upholds Voter ID Law

A Pennsylvania judge refused to issue an injunction delaying enforcement of the state's new voter ID law until after the election. It requires voters to show ID to vote. Democrats sued to have the law delayed because it affects poor people and minorities disproportionally and they are largely Democrats. The decision could cost Democrats up to 10% of the vote in Pennsylvania and possibly prevent enough people from voting that the otherwise blue state could go to Romney. The decision will be appealed to the state supreme court, but that is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. In the event of a tie, the lower court ruling stands.

When it comes to voter ID laws, the Republicans have a big advantage because they are willing to play hard ball and the Democrats are not. All the new voter ID laws passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures since 2010 affect only in-person voting, where there is virtually no fraud. These laws effectively disenfranchise many poor and minority Democrats who don't have voter ID cards. Getting them requires taking time off from work and paying fees to get birth certificates and other documents needed to get an ID card, even if the card itself is free. When Democrats control the state government, they could balance the scales by putting much tougher rules in place to prevent absentee-voter fraud, which really is a problem in some elections. This would affect Republicans adversely since many of the absentee voters are people out of town on election day on business, the elderly, and the military. But Democrats do not want to do something that gives them partisan advantage because they have always fought to increase the number of people who can vote, not decrease it. At the dawn of the Republic, only propertied white male Protestants could vote. The franchise has gradually expanded over the years but is still contentious (e.g., voting rights for felons who have served their time). If Republicans were really serious about stopping voter fraud, they would aggressively pursue legislation to stop absentee-voter fraud, where there really is a problem, but they don't because that would work against them.

Ryan Favorability Moves Up

A poll half taken before Paul Ryan's addition to the Republican ticket and half afterward shows an improvement for him. After his selection his favorable/unfavorable ratio was 38%/33%. Before he was picked it was 23%/32%. But as he gets better known, these numbers are likely to change substantially.

What Does Ryan Mean for Latinos, Blacks, and Women?

Groups that represent minorities and women are looking closely at Paul Ryan and do not like what they see. A much larger percentage of blacks and Latinos depend on Medicaid than whites do. Ryan would turn Medicaid into a program of block grants to the states, which might not use them to help the current recipients of aid. Women's groups are unhappy with Ryan's anti-abortion stand and gay-rights groups don't like the fact that he voted against repealing the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. An editorial on described Ryan as a nightmare for poor people and people of color.

Paul Ryan's Wife is No Ordinary Stay-at-Home Mom

Some press reports about Janna Little Ryan, wife of vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have depicted her as a stay-at-home mom who takes care of her kids. This is currently true, but she is no newbie to politics. She hails from Oklahoma, where her uncle, David Boren was a (Democratic) governor and senator. Boren's son is a congressman. Her parents were both wealthy, well-connected lawyers and she is a millionaire.

Before she was married, Janna Little was a tax attorney and lobbyist. She lobbied on behalf of health-insurance companies and the Cigar Association of America. She is obviously more like Hillary Clinton than like Laura Bush. If Team Romney decides to use her in the campaign, she will be able to hold her own, but will come under attack for her past lobbying work.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Missouri 47% 48%   Aug 08 Aug 08 Chilenski Strategies
New Hampshire 51% 45%   Aug 09 Aug 12 PPP
Ohio 45% 45%   Aug 13 Aug 13 Rasmussen
Ohio 48% 45%   Aug 09 Aug 12 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 47% Todd Akin 48%     Aug 08 Aug 08 Chilenski Strategies
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 47% Josh Mandel 37%     Aug 09 Aug 12 PPP

* Denotes incumbent