Oct. 03

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls: MN NH NJ SD TX WV
Dem pickups: (None)

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Wisconsin Voter ID Case Goes to the Supreme Court

Opponents of Wisconsin's voter ID law have asked the Supreme Court to block the new Wisconsin law requiring a photo ID to vote. There is not a lot of time left before the election and the Supreme Court has previously said it is not a good idea to change election procedures so close to an election, but they might still take the case.

There are now so many challenges to laws that make voting more difficult that it is hard to keep track of them. All the changes have been made in states controlled by the Republicans and all of them are aimed at making it harder for poor people, minorities, and students to vote although they differ in the mechanisms of how they work. Cases are pending in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas. A fundamental constitutional issue that the Supreme Court is going to have to address is this: "Do elected state legislatures have the authority to make voting difficult for certain groups of people or does this violate the Constitution?" Previous decisions suggest the Court will take the view that the elected legislatures can pretty much do whatever they want short of poll taxes, which were outlawed by the 24th amendment to the Constitution. For a good summary of the various cases pending in the courts, see this article by election law expert Rick Hasen.

No More Senators Are in the Middle

It used to be that there were conservative Democrats (like the Blue Dogs) and liberal Republicans (like Ken Keating and Jack Javits). In the past, there were plenty of conservative Democrats who were more conservative than some Republicans. This era is long gone. The Washington Post has a nice story with diagrams showing how the middle has vanished over the years. When they are in tight reelection battles, senators sometimes edge toward the center, but that is often short lived and after the election they move away again until the next election.

Pryor Says He Wants to Replace Reid--by Schumer

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is in a tight race with Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), yesterday said he would like to see the Democrats get rid of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) as their leader and replace him with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The Republicans have been attacking Reid relentlessly and by agreeing with the Republicans that Reid is a problem, Pryor thinks he will appear more moderate. However, Schumer is as liberal as Reid and just as capable of being an attack dog, so trading one for the other is not likely to change the Democratic caucus much.

Latino Groups Helping the Democrats

While some pundits had predicted that President Obama's lack of action on immigration reform would cause the Democrats trouble with Latino groups and voters, the opposite has happened. Latino groups are fired up to register voters and help the Democrats. They understand clearly that while Obama is hesitant to take any action before the midterms, in principle he is on their side. In contrast, many Republicans feel that what is needed in the way of immigration reform is to build a big (electric) fence along the Mexican border to keep everyone out. Action by Latino groups could make a big difference in Colorado, where 14% of the eligible voters are Latino, but also in North Carolina and other states.

Single Women Are the Democrats' Best Hope

For years, men have preferred the Republicans and women have preferred the Democrats, but the gender gap has grown to enormous proportions this year. In Senate and gubernatorial races this year it has averaged 20% and exceeded 30% in a few key races, such as Iowa and North Carolina. Iowa is particularly noteworthy because the Republican candidate, who women are rejecting en masse, is a woman.

Bill Clinton Appears in Ad for Alison Lundergan Grimes

Having President Obama make an ad for any Democrat in the South or border state would be political suicide for the candidate, but there is one Democrat who candidates like to feature in their ads: Bill Clinton. Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is running against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has done just that, with her ad featuring Clinton running statewide in Kentucky. If Clinton can make ads for friendly Democrats, it is likely a lot of Southerners will see him on the small screen during his wife's expected 2016 presidential run.

Biden Says Vice Presidency is a Bitch

As a job, the vice presidency is improving. Yesterday Vice President Joe Biden said the job was a bitch. This is clearly an improvement over the famous description of the job given by John Nance Gardner, a Texas politician known as Cactus Jack, who served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Vice President for 2 terms: "The vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm piss." That could change in 2015, though. There is a small chance that the Senate will be deadlocked with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, in which case Joe Biden will be performing his constitutional duty as President of the Senate daily and have enormous power.

Billionaires Begin Lining Up for Hillary Clinton

Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and 13th richest person in the U.S. with a net worth of $34 billion, is supporting the "Ready for Hillary" PAC. So is billionaire George Soros. While the Koch brothers will no doubt pour millions of dollars into the campaign of whoever the Republican Democratic nominee is, if Clinton is the nominee, she won't be hurting for funds with backers like these.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Minnesota Al Franken* 49% Mike McFadden 41%     Sep 29 Sep 30 Rasmussen
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 47% Scott Brown 47%     Sep 26 Sep 26 New England College
New Jersey Cory Booker* 51% Jeff Bell 40%     Sep 25 Sep 29 Quinnipiac U.
South Dakota Rick Weiland 28% Mike Rounds 35% Larry Pressler 24% Sep 29 Sep 30 PPP
Texas David Alameel 30% John Cornyn* 48%     Sep 11 Sep 25 Texas Lyceum
West Virginia Natalie Tennant 39% Shelley Moore-Capito 50%     Sep 30 Oct 01 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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