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Thousands of People Apply to Defer Deportation

On the first day that people brought into the U.S. illegally as children could apply to have their deportation delayed, thousands did it. The flood of applicants was not started by passage of the DREAM act, which Republicans have consistently blocked, but by President Obama's executive order not to give a high priority to deporting young people who are illegal but have graduated from high school or served in the Armed Forces and honorably discharged. The order does not provide a path to citizenship but it is immensely popular among legal Latinos, many of whom have friends and relatives whose deportation can now be delayed. It is a fair guess that nearly all of these people will vote a straight Democratic ticket in the hope that the Democrats will try to pass the DREAM act again after the election.

Romney Gets Bump from Picking Ryan

As is normal after a vice-presidential pick, convention, or anything that spotlights a candidate for a week, Paul Ryan gave Mitt Romney a bump in a new poll from Purple Strategies. Today, Romney/Ryan leads Obama/Biden 47% to 46% nationally. This is the first time Romney has been ahead in quite a while. The poll also focused on some of the swing states. Romney has taken the lead in Virginia (48% to 45%), in Ohio (46% to 44%), and in Florida (48% to 47%). Obama leads in Colorado (49% to 46%). Bumps from events like these tend to be short lived and in this case, everyone sees his positives--a young, good-looking guy who is very enthusiastic. The negatives will come out later as people begin to learn what he stands for.

What is noteworthy about these polls is the sums in the state polls: 93%, 90%, 95%, and 95%, respectively. That doesn't leave a lot of undecideds left to convince. We are probably going to see a billion dollars spent in the next 2 months to get at 6% of the voters in a dozen state. Also, with so few undecideds left, both campaigns are likely to emphasize getting their bases to turn out, which probably means both sides will throw out lots of juicy red meat for them (and some fresh vegetables, to satisfy their vegetarians). This is why the voter ID fight is so important.

Why Did Pennsylvania Judge Uphold Voter ID Law

When a Pennsylvania judge upheld the state's new voter ID law yesterday, he gave an explanation of his ruling. The long and the short of it is that the law does not violate the federal or state constitution or any federal law. Under those conditions, the state legislature is free to pass whatever laws it likes. The fact that it might affect some voters more than others is not sufficient reason to curtail the legislature's powers. He also noted that the state was prepared to issue ID cards to voters for free and any voter showing up without ID could cast a provisional ballot. If large numbers of voters end up casting provisional ballots and their number exceeds the margin between the candidates, we will have a situation like the Franken-Coleman Senate race in Minnesota, with hand-to-hand combat over every ballot, possibly hundreds of thousands of them. It won't be pretty.

Provisional ballots are one of those areas where one thinks of Yogi Berra's comment that in theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice they aren't. If a voter is disqualified from voting, he or she may cast a provisional ballot. This right is guaranteed by federal law. However, the 80-ish volunteers who staff the polling places in many states, frequently do not understand this. In the worst case, they mnay intentionally block people they suspect of voting the wrong way from getting one. Since both parties expect problems, it is possible that the parties will send monitors to some polling places to keep an eye on things.

If you really want to get into the details of the Pennsylvania decision, Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog has a number of stories on the ruling.

Romney Takes the Gloves Off

Up until now, Mitt Romney's view of President Obama was that he was a pleasant enough fellow who is just in over his head trying to run the country. No more. Yesterday he accused Obama of running a campaign of "anger and hate." Then he said: "His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces." This is far harsher than anything Romney has said before. It will be interesting to see if Obama replies in kind. Up until now, he has criticized Romney's policies but not criticized him as a person so much. It is not Obama's style to do that, so he might outsource the attacks to Joe Biden, who is more comfortable in the role of an attack dog.

What this change in the Romney strategy probably means is that he has seen many polls showing that Obama is far better liked than Romney. He apparently thinks that by attacking Obama directly, he won't make himself more likable, but he will make Obama less likable.

Americans Hate Congress but Reelect the Bums Nevertheless

Jack Cafferty observed that Congress is exceedingly unpopular but it doesn't seem to matter. About 90% of Americans think it is doing a miserable job, and that is equally true of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Nevertheless, reelection rates are always above 85% and usually above 95% as shown in this chart from Open Secrets.

reelection rates

Why? There are several factors. Incumbents have more visibility, experience, and money than challengers. However, even more important is the fact that nearly all congressional districts are badly gerrymandered to protect incumbents. If a district is 60% Democratic or Republican, the only way the incumbent will lose is in a primary or big scandal. In Democratic districts, the voters hate Congress because the bloody Republicans block everything. In a Republican district, the voters hate Congress because the Democrats are all bloody socialists. It is all quite logical: the problem is with the other party and if our side could crush them completely, all would be well. Only the country is so evenly divided, that is not very likely. So we have this irony of everyone hating Congress while the members rarely get booted out.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 49% 46%   Aug 13 Aug 14 Purple Strategies
Florida 47% 48%   Aug 13 Aug 14 Purple Strategies
Maine 52% 37%   Aug 05 Aug 06 Moore Consulting
New Hampshire 50% 44%   Aug 07 Aug 08 PPP
Ohio 44% 46%   Aug 13 Aug 14 Purple Strategies
Virginia 45% 48%   Aug 13 Aug 14 Purple Strategies

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Maine Cynthia Dill 08% Charlie Summers 28% Angus King 46% Aug 05 Aug 06 Moore Consulting
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 44% Josh Mandel 44%     Aug 13 Aug 13 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent