New Senate: DEM 50             GOP 50

New polls: KY
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: AK CO MT SD WV

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Democrats Try to Energize Black Voters

The Republicans do well in midterm elections primarily because Democrats don't bother to vote. The midterm electorate is typically smaller than the presidential electorate by 40 to 50 million voters. If the effect were random, it wouldn't matter. But the nonvoters tend to be predominantly young people and minorities, which lean strongly Democratic. Here is a table showing turnout since 2000.

Year Voting-age population Turnout Percentage
2012 240,926,957 130,234,600 54%
2010 235,809,266 90,682,968 38%
2008 231,229,580 132,618,580 57%
2006 220,600,000 80,588,000 37%
2004 221,256,931 122,294,978 55%
2002 215,473,000 79,830,119 37%
2000 205,815,000 105,586,274 51%

The percentages aren't exact because the voting-age population also includes noncitizens and felons, but these change the numbers by only a few percent. Nevertheless, the big picture is clear: turnout drops dramatically in midterm elections and it is largely Democrats who don't show up.

To counter this effect this year, the Democrats have set up a program to mobilize black voters. It will focus on increasing turnout via black churches and black talk radio. Black voters will be reminded of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and told their voices can be heard by voting (for the Democrats).

This outreach to black voters has to be somewhat under the radar, though, because the states with large black populations, like Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, are also states where white voters don't like President Obama. Consequently ads on mainstream radio and television won't work and a more targeted approach is needed. That is what the Democrats are planning. Republicans don't have to worry about this kind of microtargeting since they are talking to the majority.

What Did Hillary Learn This Summer?

Since the 2016 presidential campaign has already started (even though not everyone realizes this) and Hillary Clinton is an all-but-declared candidate, her every move and utterance is scrutinized like the entrails of some sacrificial goat. The Hill has five takeaways about her summer.

  1. Anything she says or doesn't say is news
  2. The left really doesn't hate her
  3. Unlike 2008, in 2016 she will openly appeal to women as potentially the first female President
  4. She'll have to put some distance between her and Obama, but not too much
  5. Some people love her and some people hate her and that won't change

Seventeen People May Have Voted Twice in 2012

Cases of in-person voter fraud are very rare, but Fairfax County in Virginia is now investigating whether 17 people improperly voted in both Maryland and Virginia in 2012. The suspicion has arisen in these 17 cases because people with the same name and birth date voted in both states. That doesn't necessarily mean both voters were the same person. What is also highlighted by this investigation is how rare even allegations of voter fraud are, let alone convictions. Even if all 17 cases are true fraud (and that hasn't been proven yet), they represent only 0.0032% of the total vote. Laws requiring a voter to show photo ID do not catch this kind of situation since no voter tried to impersonate another voter in any of these cases. According to Prof. Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine, the biggest source of election fraud is people selling their absentee ballots or absentee ballots being stolen from mailboxes. None of the voter ID laws even address this problem.

Today's Senate Polls

SurveyUSA has released a new poll showing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leading secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes 46% to 42%. However, since the poll was taken, two events have happened that could affect the race. First, McConnell was caught on tape talking to the Koch brothers and promising them that as majority leader he would block everything Obama wanted to do in the last 2 years of his term. Second, McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, resigned yesterday amidst a scandal in which the Ron Paul campaign (which Benton ran) bribed an Iowa state senator for his endorsement in 2012. While McConnell was not involved in the bribe in any way, Grimes is surely going to run ads effectively saying: "The old boys club is corrupt and we need to send new people to Washington to clean up the mess."

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Kentucky Alison Lundergan Grimes 42% Mitch McConnell* 46%     Aug 25 Aug 27 SurveyUSA

* Denotes incumbent

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