News from the Votemaster
The economy is heading south. The Dow lost 394 points, unemployment took the biggest jump upwards in two decades, oil hit $139 a barrel, gas is averaging $3.99 a gallon nationally, inflation is around the corner, and the European Central Bank is going to raise (not lower) interest rates. All this bodes ill for the Republicans. Most hard-pressed families intutitively understand that when times are tough the Democrats' prescription for more government spending to create jobs is better for them than tax cuts, especially tax cuts tilted heavily towards the rich. Barack Obama has had trouble connecting with blue-collar workers. A sick economy gives him the opening he needs to address their concerns. Earlier this year he proposed a big government program to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure (and create jobs in every congressional district, which is easy to sell to Congress). It probably won't be long before Obama trots it out again.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced a bill to abolish the electoral college and choose the President by popular vote. As a senator from Florida he understands the important of one-person-one-vote better than most. His bill would also require voting machines to have a paper trail and would encourage early voting and mail-in voting. To abolish the electoral college, the bill would have to pass the House and Senate with 2/3 majorities in each and then be ratified by 38 states. It will be an uphill climb since this amendment would take power away from thinly populated states like Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota and give more to thickly popuplated states like Florida. The senators and legislatures from the thinly populated states understand this full well.
However, there is another move afoot to de facto abolish the electoral college without amending the constitution. Each state is free to cast its electoral votes as dictated by state law. Most states use winner-take-all, but Maine and Nebraska cast them by congressional district, with two extra votes for the statewide winner. Nothing prevents a state from using a different formula. There is a movement for a National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in which states would agree to cast all their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner, irrespective of how the state voted. If states with 270 electoral votes agree to this compact, the electoral college will be effectively abolished. Probably this Website, too. Oh well. So far Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, and Hawaii have agreed to it and other states are considering it. On the whole, Democrats like the idea and Republicans don't because it would greatly reduce the power of the thinly populated Western states, which are largely Republican. If it passed, Democrats would focus on massive get-out-the-vote drives in New York, California, and Illinois. Republicans would counter in Texas and Georgia, but the big states tend to be more blue than red. Unlike Nelson's bill, which is unlikely to pass, if the Democrats take control of many state legislatures and governor's mansions in November, more states might sign up next year.
Just when you thought there couldn't be any more twists and turns in the battle for NY-13, we have another one. As you probably recall, Vito Fossella, the incumbent ran a red light while drunk. When the arresting officer asked where he was going, he said to visit his family. Turns out he has one in Virginia and one on Staten Island. He decided running for reelection wouldn't be a good idea but the Republicans were not able to come up with a top-tier candidate or even a second-tier candidate, so they settled on a rich businessman, Francis Powers, Sr. (Note the Sr. part; it's important). The idea was that Powers, Sr, could fund his own campaign. Fine. Until his estranged son, Francis Powers, Jr. decided the best way to make sure his father was defeated was to run against him on the Libertarian ticket. Check it out on the Daily Irrelevant.
Hillary Clinton is going to make a major speech today conceding the nomination. She sent a letter to her supporters telling them what to expect. Here is the text.
No new polls for President or Senate today, but a poll in OH-02 shows Victorial Wulsin (D) leading Jean Schmidt (R) 30% to 24% with a lot of undecideds. This will be a closely watched race.
Needed to win: 2118
-- The Votemaster