Sep. 30

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 1     GOP 52

New polls: IL MA SD
Dem pickups: (None)

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Supreme Court Rules 5-4 to Limit Early Voting in Ohio

It is almost predictable these days. If the Republicans want A and the Democrats want B the Supreme Court rules 5 to 4 for A. It happened again yesterday when the Court ruled that Ohio is free to set whatever days and hours for voting as it wishes. On paper, this seems perfectly reasonable of course, but the legislature previously had allowed more opportunities to vote and this year cut them back. Advocates for minorities and poor people had argued that for many people, taking time off from work is quite difficult, but the five justices appointed by Republican Presidents didn't buy it. They felt that 28 days was plenty of time to vote. More important, however, is the state eliminating voting on Sundays, when black churches often bus voters to the polls after services. Also at stake is evening voting. The change in the law, which was adopted after the 2004 voting fiasco, is a more-or-less transparent attempt to make it harder for minorities and poor people to vote. Defenders of the new law said that early voting is not a Constitutional right. New York, for example, does not have it and has never had it.

What is troublesome about this case and so many more is that justice not being served well. It is as if when a political case comes up Justice Scalia calls up John Boehner and asks him how he and his friends should vote and Justice Ginsburg calls up Nancy Pelosi to find out how she and her friends should vote. Right now Democrats are unhappy about this situation because there are more Republicans on the Court than Democrats, but if a Republican justice should retire or die and be replaced by a Democrat, then the Democrats would be happy and the Republicans unhappy but justice would still not be served. This was not always the case. When Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens were on the Court, they actually looked at the Constitution, the law, and the facts and were not predictable votes for one of the parties. Scotusblog has more on the story.

No Ruling in Kansas Senate Case

In contrast to the Supreme Court, which made a quick ruling, the three-judge Shawnee County court assigned to handle a lawsuit from a Kansas Democrat who wants to force the Kansas Democratic Party to name a replacement for its withdrawn candidate, didn't rule at all yesterday because the plaintiff, David Orel, didn't show up in court. Orel, a registered Democrat (and the father of a Republican campaign worker) sued to force the Democrats to name a Senate candidate but didn't show up in court yesterday to make his case. His absence raises issues about whether the case can go forward. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) says he needs the name of the candidate by Wednesday at 2 P.M. in order to have the ballots printed on time. Even if Orel shows up today and the court immediately rules that the Democrats have to name a candidate, how can they possibly find a candidate in one day? If ordered to name a candidate, the Democrats would probably appeal to the state supreme court, which could push the decision beyond the point when the ballots must be printed.

House Members Align Well With Their Districts

If you think it is the job of a representative to represent his or her district in the House, then you will be pleased to learn that the vast majority do exactly that. The Washington Post has an excellent diagram with the X-axis showing how liberal or conservative the member is and the Y-axis showing how liberal or conservative the district is based on its partisan voting index. The figure makes it clear that while the correlation is far from perfect, liberal districts elect liberals to the House and conservative districts elect conservatives to the House. In principle, that is how it should be. However, this also leads to complete gridlock in Congress since no one is willing to compromise ever about anything.

Political Leaders Have to Make Key Decisions about Spending Money Now

With only 5 weeks to go, party leaders have to triage their candidates now. Some of them will win without help from the party, so they get nothing. Some will lose no matter how much is spent on their behalf, so they also get nothing. It is the ones who might win if given money and who will probably lose without it that get the money. This is a nerve-racking and difficult decision for all concerned.

For example, the Democrats have given up on South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia. Their candidates in these states are not getting a penny. They are on their own. They have also limited their spending in Georgia and Kentucky, races that earlier looked like pickup opportunities. While neither party announces its decisions openly, looking at the map, it should be clear the Democrats should be putting a huge effort into Iowa and Colorado, states they are currently behind in but that often elect Democrats. Also North Carolina is a good candidate because the incumbent is actually ahead there. For Republicans, Arkansas, Alaska, and Kansas look like good investments. Of course, two weeks from now, the picture could look different.

Disaster Looms for Incumbent Governors

When the voters are unhappy, as they are now, they often take it out on their senators and representatives, but sometimes their rage is more local and governors get hit hard. That appears to be the case this year, where at least 10 governors appear to be in deep doo-doo. Here is a quick rundown from Politico.

  1. Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA) is extremely unpopular and will be crushed by Tom Wolf (D)
  2. Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) won in a four-way race in 2010. Only another split can save him, but it is possible
  3. Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT) raised taxes and is locked in a struggle with a wealthy former ambassador to Ireland
  4. Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) beat a loonie in 2010 but is now facing a well-funded mini-Mitt
  5. Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) actually governed on tea party principles and is now paying the price
  6. Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) has angered the unions in a union state and they will go all out to defeat him
  7. Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is facing former Republican governor Charlie Crist is in a very expensive battle
  8. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) survived a recall but is facing a very tough challenge from bicycle executive Mary Burke
  9. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) may luck out because the state is mailing every voter a ballot this year
  10. Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) has ethical issues and is facing Jimmy Carter's grandson, Jason Carter

All in all, it is surprising how many incumbents are in trouble, but the mood of the country is sour and the voters tend to blame any incumbent they can vote against.

Today's Senate Polls

South Dakota voters don't seem happy with any of the candidates. The presence of former Republican senator Larry Pressler in the race has confused matters, but probably Mike Rounds will win in the end.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Illinois Dick Durbin* 51% Jim Oberweis 37%     Sep 24 Sep 25 Rasmussen
Massachusetts Ed Markey* 54% Brian Herr 30%     Sep 25 Sep 28 Suffolk U.
Massachusetts Ed Markey* 56% Brian Herr 34%     Sep 20 Sep 28 Western New England U.
South Dakota Rick Weiland 26% Mike Rounds 39% Larry Pressler 24% Sep 21 Sep 25 Nielson Bros.

* Denotes incumbent

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