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News from the Votemaster

Karl Rove's Group Starts $25 Million Ad Campaign Attacking Obama on Economy

Just in case anyone doubted that the economy was going to be issue #1 in the campaign, the announcement by Crossroads GPS, run by Karl Rove, that it is about to start spending $25 million on television ads in swing states should end that doubt. The ads will blame government spending and the deficit for the slow recovery. They will feature gloomy music in the background to set the tone. The music and lighting in ads like this are probably more important that the actual text since most people have only the foggiest idea of what the deficit is or why it is important. The idea of this kind of ad is not to convince people that Obama has followed ineffective policies, but to give them a sense of impending doom unless he is defeated. Republican ads going back at least as far as Lee Atwater have always been intended to scare people, not inform them. The technique has been extremely effective, especially since the Democrats refuse to follow suit.

On the other hand, above a certain level, it is not clear that more money means more votes. If a voter sees eight Romney ads and four Obama ads in an evening of watching television, does that make him or her twice as likely to vote for Romney? For the presidential race, where by November the candidates will be so well known, extra ads may not have much marginal effect. Down-ballot it is a different story. In a congressional race where neither candidate is well known, being able to define your opponent makes a lot of difference.

Romney Considering Both the Rich and the Poor as Veep

While it is doubtful that he will tout it as his love of poor people, at least one of the people Mitt Romney is considering as a potential running mate is not only not wealthy, he is deeply in debt: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Unlike most senators, who are millionaires, Rubio has an estimated net worth of minus $400,000, mostly due to some bad real-estate investments he made at the height of the boom. These properties have decreased substantially in value but their mortgages have not, so he is a net debtor. In the very unlikely event he is tapped for the #2 slot, Republicans will argue that he understands all too well the problems of homeowners whose houses are (financially) under water. Democrats will argue that if he can't even manage his own finances, how could he manage the nation's if the need arose?

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), is the mirror image of Rubio. Like Romney, he is a multimillionaire. Republicans will say he is a smart businessman who understands how the economy works. Democrats will point out that two old, white, rich guys is hardly a mirror of America. All other considerations aside, unlike Bill Clinton, who really enjoyed playing the saxophone with (poor) black jazz musicians, Romney prefers hanging out with people like himself. This alone makes it far more likely that he will choose Portman over Rubio, even though Ohio has fewer electoral votes than Florida. The last time a presidential candidate picked a running made who was completely different from himself was in 2008 (McCain-Palin) and that didn't work out so well.

Congressman Barney Frank Marries His Long-Time Partner

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the first gay member of Congress to come out of the closet, married his long-time partner, Jim Ready, yesterday in a ceremony presided over by the governor of Massachusetts, Patrick Deval. Frank now goes down in the history books as the first sitting member of Congress to be in a legal same-sex marriage. Frank said he got married so other members of Congress could get some practice interacting with a married gay person. Frank is retiring from Congress after this session, but he is sufficiently popular that he could have been easily reelected, married or not. But after 32 years in the House, he's had enough.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
California Dianne Feinstein 51% Elizabeth Emken 32%     Jun 21 Jul 02 Field Poll