February 8, 2013 •
Meet the 113th Congress
While the 113th Congress is just over a month old, the dynamic of the worlds most deliberative body is still being shaped. Members are retiring early, leaving congress due to legal trouble, pursuing other interests in the private sector, or joining the President’s administration. However, the majority of the legislature is in place, and Bloomberg Businessweek has a fascinating chart breaking down the professions and trades of everyone in congress.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhelming number of members are lawyers. The House boasts 128 lawyers and the Senate adds another 45. The second largest group represented are businesspeople with 130 members total in both bodies. Maybe somewhat surprising is the smaller number of career politicians as only 55 members of the House and 9 members of Senate have spent their professional lives in politics.
Though congress is still largely a male dominated institution (by a margin of 337), women gained a total of six seats while men lost a total of five. Among the demographic groups with the greatest amount of change were businesspeople with a net loss of 7 seats, the entertainment industry with a net gain of 3 seats, educators with a net gain of 2 seats, and lawyers with a net gain of 2 seats. Click the image to the right to see a larger version of Businessweek’s chart.
Note: These numbers don’t include appointments and changes made in recent weeks.
November 16, 2012 •
New Congressional Leadership Elected; With Few New Faces
Following a volatile election season that saw spending in excess of $6 billion, the makeup of the federal government not only stayed the same, but leadership in both parties will also change very little. Republicans held elections to their leadership posts on Wednesday, and Democrats are slated to hold elections on November 29.
Democratic House Leadership:
While democrats gained seats in the house, those gains weren’t nearly enough to win back the majority and the biggest question for house leadership was whether Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) would stay on in that role in the 113th Congress. In a press conference held Wednesday morning, surrounded by a number of new and current representatives, Pelosi announced she would again run for the position she’s held since 2011. Pelosi is not expected face any serious challenge but made one stipulation to her decision; that Rep. Steve Israel (NY) stay on as the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the next election cycle.
With Pelosi’s decision, the rest of the leadership positions are expected to fall into place with Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD) to remain Minority WHIP and Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) to stay on as assistant leader. The only expected change near the top of Democratic leadership is Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA) who announced he would run for the number four spot as the House Democratic Caucus Chair; a seat vacated by term limited Rep. John Larson (CT).
Republican House Leadership:
As expected, Speaker John Boehner (OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA) will stay in the top three leadership positions. The only new face to the top of Republican leadership is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) who won election to the fourth leadership spot as chairwoman of the House GOP Conference, replacing outgoing chair Jeb Hensarling (TX).
McMorris Rodgers was silently backed by the Speaker and other House leaders, while former Vice Presidential candidate and House Budget Chairman, Paul Ryan publicly supported Rep Tom Price (GA). Additionally, Rep. Greg Walden (OR) will replace outgoing chairman Pete Sessions (TX) to head up the National Republican Campaign Committee where has served as Vice Chairman for the last two cycles.
Senate Leadership Changes:
Senate leadership saw even fewer changes as both Sens. Harry Reid (NV) and Dick Durbin (IL) will maintain the top two Democratic Leadership positions, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY) will stay on as Senate Minority Leader. With the retirement of Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ), the Republicans elected outgoing National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (TX) as the new Senate Minority Whip.
On the campaign side, The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairmanship has been offered to Sen. Michael Bennet (CO). Bennet turned down the job in 2010, and has no hard deadline for making a decision this time around. The freshman Senator would be taking over for Sen. Patty Murray (WA).
Likewise, the NRSC has elected a new chairman. Sen. Jerry Moran (KS) will head the committee for the next election cycle, while Sen. Rob Portman (OH) and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (TX) will serve as vice chairmen.
November 1, 2012 •
Electoral Math: A Brief Primer on the Electoral College
With election day less than a week away, the electoral college is still perhaps the most influential and simultaneously least understood aspect of American Presidential elections. After tens of millions of votes are cast, only 270 are required to be elected President of the United States. Established under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the electoral college was later amended by both the twelfth and twentieth amendments to arrive at its current form. The idea is that states vote for the President and Vice President, and the people vote for the legislature. This method was essentially a compromise between those who wanted Congress to elect the President versus those who prefered a nationwide popular vote.
Each state is allotted a number of electors equal to the size of its congressional delegation. For example, Ohio’s 18 electoral votes equal it’s 16 members of the House of Representatives and two Senators. With a total of 538 electors (Washington D.C. is allotted three votes despite having no voting members in Congress) a majority of 270 is required to win election. Though the process varies, electors are generally selected by the political parties at statewide conventions or by each parties central committee’s. On election day, voters choose the electors by casting votes for one of the Presidential candidates on the ballot. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, all of a state’s electors are awarded to the candidate who receives the most total votes. Maine and Nebraska award electors proportionally allowing these states to award votes to more than one candidate.
The electors meet to cast votes on the first Monday following the second Wednesday in December in their respective states, and send the certified results to Congress. Congress then counts the official tally in a joint session on January 6 following the year of the electors meeting. While there is no Constitutional provision or federal law that requires an elector to cast a ballot based on the popular vote of their respective states, most state and party laws require electors to adhere to popular vote pledges. Additionally, the Supreme Court has traditionally held that electors must vote consistent with the results in their states. In practice, electors generally do not go against the will of the electorate. According the National Archives, the official record keeper of Presidential elections, less than 1 percent of electoral voters have not voted in accordance with the popular vote historically.
Essentially what all of this means is that each candidate is focused on a small number of states that are likely to go either way instead of running nationwide campaigns trying to win the popular vote. Based on a number of recent maps drawn from incessant polling and statistical models, there are between 7 and 9 states still rated as toss-ups in the election (FL, CO, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH, VA, WI). Without the electoral votes offered by these states, President Obama currently has between 237 and 243 electoral votes (NV leans D in some projections) to Governor Mitt Romney’s 191 to 206 votes (NC leans R in some projections).
If there is any confusion as to which states each candidate deems vital to winning the election, look no further than each campaigns schedule over the next few days. Both President Obama and Governor Romney will present their closing arguments in each of the aforementioned swing states hoping to turn that last undecided voter before election day. And if you’re still curious, keep in mind that no republican has EVER won the Presidency without winning Ohio, so expect to see a lot of the Romney campaign in the buckeye state.
September 27, 2012 •
New Polling and Electoral Math Show Uphill Climb for Governor Mitt Romney
The 2012 electoral map continues to take shape and with 40 days until the election, both campaigns are working hard in swing states to gain as much ground as possible. A slew of polls have come out over the past couple of days that have painted a decidedly grim picture for Governor Romney’s chances of winning in November.
A Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times poll of three swing states (Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania) shows President Obama has crossed the 50 percent threshold in all three states. Obama leads Romney 53 percent to 44 percent in Florida, 53 percent to 43 percent in Ohio, and 54 percent to 42 percent in Pennsylvania. Similarly, a Washington Post poll shows the President breaking the 50 percent mark leading the race in Florida 51 percent to 47 percent and Ohio 52 percent to 44 percent. (The Washington Post and ABC News have also moved the state of Ohio from toss-up to leans Obama)
Much has been made over the past week about the larger sample size of democrats in a number of polls which could potentially affect results. (See: here, here, and here) A look at independents responses in these polls shows a much tighter race for the coveted votes of those not identifying with any particular base. Rasmussen, Gallup, Survey USA, and Pew polls all show Gov. Romney with either a slight advantage or tie with President Obama among independents.
While polling numbers are a gauge of where the race currently stands, only one number matters on election day; 270. With current polling showing Ohio in President Obama’s column, the Washington Post and ABC News project the President has 255 electoral votes either safely on his side, or leaning his way; while Gov. Romney has only 196. If the President were to win either Florida, or a combination of two or more of the remaining swing states, he would reach the necessary 270 electoral votes needed to win reelection. No republican has ever won the presidency without also winning the state of Ohio, and if Gov. Romney were to lose there, he would likely have to sweep all remaining swing states to have a chance.
Other notes from the trail:
- Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) is being accused by Justin Sternad for secretly running Sternad’s unsuccessful campaign during the democratic primary election for the seat currently held by Rivera. Among the accusations are claims that Rivera steered unreported money to Sternad to run against Joe Garcia who previously lost to Rivera in the general election.
- According to a new Washington Post poll, Senator Sherrod Brown (D) maintains a comfortable lead over State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) for the Ohio Senate seat currently held by Brown. Brown leads among registered voters 51 percent to 39 percent and 53 percent to 41 percent among likely voters.
- Rep. Todd Akin will definitely appear on the ballot for the Missouri Senate seat after the passing of a September 25 deadline to withdraw from the race. Akin has struggled to raise money since his controversial remarks about “legitimate rape”; however, in recent days a number of conservatives have come to his aid including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and possibly South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
September 13, 2012 •
With 54 Days Left Until Election Day, the Money Race Tightens
For the first time in three months, the Obama campaign and the DNC outraised Gov. Romney and the RNC. The President’s campaign reported a monthly total of $114 million raised in August, narrowly beating the Romney campaign’s $111.6 million in total fundraising. The last time President Obama won the fundraising race was in April of this year when his campaign raised $43.6 million to Gov. Romney’s $40.1 million. August is also the first time this election cycle that the President has raised over $100 million; Gov. Romney previously raised over $100 million in June, July and August. The Romney campaign also reported a cash on hand total of $168.5 million while the Obama campaign has not yet released that figure.
The Obama campaign has petitioned supporters for the past few months to help close the fundraising gap with numerous emails and phone calls. Obama campaign spokesman Jim Messina said the campaign received contributions, “from more than 1.1 million Americans, donating an average of $58 per person – more than 317,000 who had never donated to the campaign before.” Gov. Romney’s campaign did not release a total number of donor’s but said that 94% of donations were for $250 or less.
The new fundraising totals come at a good time for President Obama as the President has started to open a bit of a lead in daily tracking polls following the completion of the national conventions. The Rasmussen Tracking Poll gives Obama a slight advantage at 46% to 45% over Romney and a Reuters/Ipsos poll gives Obama a 48% to 45% edge. Additionally, a Gallup daily tracking poll shows Obama with a 50% to 43% advantage.
Other notes from the trail…
- Roll Call has released its annual study of the 50 richest members of congress. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) tops the list for the second straight year with a net worth over $300 million. Senator John Kerry once again topped the list of richest senators and is the second richest overall member of Congress with a net worth of $198.65 million. Both McCaul and Kerry benefit from the sizable assets of their spouses. McCaul’s wife is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications founder and CEO Lowry Mays, and Kerry’s wife is the widow of the late Senator John Heinz of Heinz Ketchup fame.
- Freshman Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline (D-1st) won a challenging primary Tuesday amid concerns about his tenure as the mayor of Providence. At issue were Cicilline’s statements and reports as mayor regarding the financial state of the city including his decision to tap into the city’s rainy day fund. Cicilline released a series of apologies in April regarding a lack of transparency in city finances and his efforts to balance the budget. Cicilline will now face Brendan Doherty, a retired police colonel for the heavily democratic district.
- On Sunday, the New York Times Magazine profiles Joseph Kennedy III (D-Massachusetts) who is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Congressman Barney Frank. Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy and son of six-term congressman Joseph Kennedy II. If Kennedy wins the seat in the heavily democratic district, it will mark a return to Washington for the Kennedy family for the first time since Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) retired from his Congressional seat in 2011. Prior to Patrick’s retirement, a member of the Kennedy family had served in national elected office every year since 1947.
August 23, 2012 •
New Poll Shows Race As Tight As Ever
The New York Times, CBS News and Quinnipiac University today released a poll of likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Florida and Ohio have long been considered battleground states, but according to the new numbers, Wisconsin has now been added to the list of states where the Presidential election will be fought. The poll shows President Obama with only a two point lead over Governor Romney, well within the margin of error. If the election were held today, 49% of respondents in Wisconsin would vote for Obama, while 47% of respondents would vote for Romney.
The new poll comes on the heels of Gov. Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan as his running mate. During a poll conducted in the week prior to the selection, President Obama maintained a six point lead over Gov. Romney. In 2008, President Obama handily won the state over Senator John McCain by a healthy margin of 14 points. Recently, Wisconsin has been slowly moving towards toss-up status, and the Ryan selection seems to have pushed it over the edge. A Republican presidential ticket has not won the state since Ronald Reagan’s reelection in 1984.
Similarly in Florida, Obama maintains a lead with likely voters of only three points at 49% to 46%. However, in Ohio, Obama’s advantage has held steady from the previous poll at six points with 50% to 44% of likely voters favoring the President. The poll further shows that voters in all three states view the economy as the most important issue in the election; 60% of voters in Florida, 59% of voters in Ohio, and 54% of voters in Wisconsin characterized the issue as “extremely important”.
Other notes from the trail:
- Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has been chosen by the Obama campaign as the stand-in for GOP Vice Presidential Nominee Paul Ryan during debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden. Van Hollen is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs. Ryan and Van Hollen regularly go head to head on the issues that will be discussed in the vice presidential debate. The campaign has also confirmed that Sen. John Kerry will play the role of Gov. Romney in President Obama’s debate prep. Both Kerry and Romney hail from Massachusetts, and with Sen. Kerry comes the added advantage of a debate partner who has previously run for President as well. The Romney campaign has not announced who will stand-in for the President and Vice President during their debate prep.
- Following comments he made that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy and therefore is not a valid provision for allowing abortion, Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) announced that he will stay in the race for the Senate seat from Missouri. Akin has received numerous phone calls from members of his own party, including Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan, to withdraw from the race. As Akin did not step aside from the race prior to a 5 p.m. Tuesday, August 21 deadline, it would now take a court order to remove his name from the ballot should he change his mind. Additionally, under Missouri law, after September 25, his name would remain on the ballot regardless of his intentions.
August 16, 2012 •
July Fundraising Numbers and the Completed Republican Presidential Ticket
July fundraising reports are due on Monday, but as is custom, both campaigns have leaked numbers prior to the deadline. For the third consecutive month, Gov. Romney and the GOP has significantly outraised President Obama and the DNC. The Romney campaign reported receipts of over $101 million while President Obama brought in approximately $75 million. Additionally, the Romney campaign claimed to have raised $3.5 million in the 24 hours following the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan as the GOP vice presidential nominee. Perhaps more startling than fundraising numbers is the amount of money spent on advertising for the 2012 election cycle. According to NBC News Domenico Montaro, The Obama and Romney campaigns have so far passed the half billion dollar mark spending a combined $511 million.
As week one of the new Romney-Ryan ticket draws to a close, the election has reached a fever pitch. Both campaigns have ramped up their schedules with more rally’s, bus tours and fundraisers in swing states like Virginia, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin. With the addition of Ryan to the race, the messaging from both parties has begun to center around Medicare and the federal budget. The Ryan choice was undoubtedly made to call attention to these issues as they fall under the purview of Ryan’s leadership in his post as the House Budget Committee Chairman.
Notes from trail:
- Former Governor Tommy Thompson won Tuesday’s crowded Republican Wisconsin Senate primary garnering 34% of the vote, beating his next closest competitor by only three points. Thompson narrowly defeated businessman Eric Hovde, who spent millions of his own money on the race, as well as former U.S. Representative and tea party backed candidate Marc Neumann. Thompson will face Representative Tammy Baldwin (D) for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Herb Kohl (D). Kohl’s seat is seen as a toss-up and will be important in determining control of the Senate.
- Linda McMahon (R) and Chris Murphy (D) cruised to their party’s nominations for the Connecticut Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Joe Lieberman. McMahon is the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) and has so far spent more than $15 million of her own money on the race. Murphy is a well known three-term congressman from Connecticut’s fifth district.
- Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) announced Wednesday that he would resign prior to the end of his term. Cardoza had originally planned to finish out his term, but cited family issues as well as the lack of substantive legislative work being done during an election year as the reason for leaving early. Cardoza lives with his wife and three children in Maryland. A couple of hours after his announcement, Cardoza was named managing director of a top Washington D.C. Government Affairs firm.
August 9, 2012 •
Convention plans come together for both parties as each announce speakers for the events.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was selected last week as the keynote speaker for the DNC convention. Castro is being touted as a rising star in the party and the DNC is looking to garner latino support with his selection. First Lady Michelle Obama will open the event on Tuesday, September 4, while her husband will close the event accepting the party’s nomination on Thursday. Former President Clinton has also been given a prominent role and will speak at the convention and likely place President Obama’s name formally into nomination. Other speakers include Former President Jimmy Carter and Massachusetts Senate Candidate Elizabeth Warren.
While the RNC has not yet named a keynote speaker, Chris Christie is widely believed to be chosen for the slot. Additionally, as more speakers are announced, Gov. Romney’s Vice Presidential list grows shorter. Already announced speakers include Condoleezza Rice, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Current Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Noticeably absent from the list are potential VP’s Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty, Marco Rubio and Rob Portman. Both former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush declined invitations to the convention, as well as former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Other notes from the trail:
- Representative Todd Akin won the Missouri Republican Primary Tuesday and will face Senator Claire McCaskill in November. The race was tightly contested with Akin receiving 36% of the vote defeating businessman John Brunner and State Treasurer Sarah Steelman who received 30% and 29% respectively. Steelman was a favorite of the tea party and received a late endorsement from Sarah Palin. Democrats worked hard to elevate Akin, who they see as the weakest of the three candidates, by spending approximately $1.7 million on the race attacking both Brunner and Steelman.
- Ted Cruz won last Tuesday’s Texas republican primary to replace retiring Senator Kay Baily Hutchison (R). Cruz is a tea party backed candidate and defeated current Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. Dewhurst had support from a number of established members of the GOP including Texas Governor Rick Perry while Cruz earned support from the likes of Sarah Palin, Rand Paul (R-KY), Glenn Beck and others. Cruz’s victory is seen as a major win for the tea party as a Republican is likely to succeed Hutchison in her senate seat.
- Polls show a very tight race for the Virginia Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jim Webb. The race pits two former Virginia Governors, Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) against each other for the seat formerly held by Allen. Rasmussen’s latest poll shows the race tied with each candidate receiving 46% support. Virginia is vital to the presidential election as well and both President Obama and Gov. Romney will campaign with Kaine and Allen in the coming weeks.
July 26, 2012 •
President Obama leads in new NBC/WSJ poll. Presidential debate details announced.
On Wednesday, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll conducted July 18-22, of registered voters nationwide. In a choice between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, respondents favored the President 49% to 43%. Additionally, if the election were held today, swing state voters favor the president 49% to 41%.
The poll shows negative campaigning has affected both candidates as each has seen a rise in the number of respondents who view them negatively. According to the Washington Post, 75-90% of all ads aired across the country in the month of June were negative in nature. The poll is facing a bit of scrutiny; however, including from NBC’s Chuck Todd, that it may be skewed as 46% of participants self-identified as democrats while only 35% self-identified as republicans.
Additionally, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced details on Wednesday for the three 2012 Presidential debates as well as one Vice Presidential debate. The first and final Presidential debates will focus on domestic policy hosted by a single moderator, while the second debate will be a town hall meeting with undecided voters questioning the candidates. Moderators will be announced in August. More details can be found at the COPD website.
Other notes from the trail:
- ABC News has compiled a couple of charts showing how both Presidential campaigns are spending money. The figures include things like rent, credit card fees and payroll.
- The battle for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts could potentially become the most expensive in history for a senate seat. Scott Brown (R) and Elizabeth Warren (D) have raised a combined $46 million dollars through the end of June, not including money spent on advertising by outside groups. The record currently belongs to the 2000 New York race between now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Former Rep. Rick Lazio. Clinton and Lazio spent a combined $70 million in that contest. Recent polls show Warren has a 2 point edge over Brown.
- Congressman Jim Renacci (R) has returned $100,000 in campaign donations amid allegations that the funds were improperly funneled through Canton area businessman Benjamin Suarez. Renacci’s campaign had initially planned to keep the money until a federal investigation was completed, but have preemptively reimbursed individual donors. Renacci and Rep. Betty Sutton (D) are competing in Ohio’s newly drawn 16th district.
- The four congressional campaign committees reported similar fundraising numbers in June. The National Republican Campaign Committee narrowly outraised the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee $10.7 million to $10.5 million, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $8 million to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s $4.4 million.
July 12, 2012 •
Fundraising a central focus of the presidential campaign as the election heats up
Both President Obama and Gov. Romney’s campaigns have released fundraising numbers in anticipation of the July 20th deadline. For the second month in a row, Gov. Romney and the GOP outraised President Obama and DNC, bringing in $106.1 million to the President’s $71 million. The Romney campaign was helped by a $4.6 million spike in fundraising during the 24 hours following the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama’s campaign has been using the June numbers to encourage supporters to donate, sending out an urgent email claiming, “We’re getting outraised — a first for a sitting president, if this continues.” The Romney campaign reports $160 million cash on hand at the end of June. President Obama’s campaign has not yet released cash on hand numbers, but had roughly $147 million at the end of May.
Additionally, weekly claims for unemployment benefits were released Thursday, which saw a drop of 26,000 claims from the previous week’s total of 376,000 to 350,000.
Other notes from the week in politics:
- Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is being treated at an undisclosed facility for a mood disorder. Jackson has come under fire from fellow democrats for failing to fully disclose the circumstances surrounding his recent medical leave of absence from the U.S. House of Representatives. Jackson’s office announced June 25, that he had been on leave since June 10 to be treated for exhaustion and calls for further disclosure have come from senior congressional democrats including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (IL) and most recently, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD).
- Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) raised roughly $5 million in the second quarter, falling short of the $8.6 million raised by Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Brown and Warren are in a tight race for the seat formerly held by Senator Edward Kennedy. Brown reports $15.5 million cash on hand which gives him a $2 million lead over Warren who reported $13.5 million cash on hand. Recent polling shows Brown and Warren in a statistical tie at 46% each.
- Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R) has called for a special election to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Thad McCotter. A primary will be held on September 5th, and the election will take place on November 6, the same day as the general election. The winner of the special election will serve the remaining two months of McCotter’s term before the 113th Congress is sworn in on January 3, 2013.
July 6, 2012 •
Healthcare ruling already having impact on presidential race
Announcing their decision on the last day of the judicial term, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld key parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The decision of the Court is already playing a role in the Presidential and congressional elections as both sides look to paint the ruling in their favor.
The ruling was a win for the Obama Administration as the ACA was a major achievement of the President’s first term. The president’s campaign has used the decision to build support and highlight individuals who have been affected by the legislation. However, while the ACA was by and large upheld, the Court ruled that the individual mandate portion of the law is constitutional only as a tax, not as a penalty. A decision that has given fodder to the right to paint the legislation as a tax increase.
To complicate matters for Republicans, aides to former Gov. Mitt Romney came out in a couple of interviews over the last week stating they agreed with the administration that the mandate was in fact a penalty and not a tax putting the campaign at odds with many in the party. Eric Fehrnstrom, advisor to Gov. Romney, said during an interview with the Washington Post, “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the court, he agreed with the dissent that was written by Justice Scalia, that very clearly said that the mandate was not a tax.”
These comments forced Gov. Romney to clarify his position in an interview with CBS News on July 4th, stating, “Well, the Supreme Court has the final word. And their final word is that Obamacare is a tax. So it’s a tax.”
While both campaigns are still working to find the appropriate way to approach the ruling, polling suggests the issue may not be as important or at least not as currently relevant as previously thought. The Pew Research Center released a poll this week showing 45% of respondents either didn’t know what the court had ruled or thought most of the law had been struck down. Furthermore, 63% of people 18-29 years old either thought the law had been struck down or didn’t know.
While it’s almost certain that healthcare will become an issue in the campaign (the house has scheduled a full repeal vote for July 19) both President Obama and Gov. Romney have worked to pivot the focus of the dialogue to jobs and the economy. June employment numbers were released today showing the economy added 80k jobs leaving the unemployment rate at 8.2% for the second straight month.
June 25, 2012 •
Who will win the Romney Veep-stakes?
With the Republican convention less than 2 months away, speculation about Governor Romney’s choice for Vice President continues to grow. A report was released earlier last week that Florida Senator Marco Rubio, thought to be a frontrunner, was not being vetted as a candidate for the ticket. However, Gov. Romney’s campaign quickly rebuffed those rumors, and Gov. Romney himself announced that Rubio was being fully vetted. Other candidates have either withdrawn or effectively removed themselves from consideration, including Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who this week announced he was accepting the position as President of Purdue University at the completion of his tenure as governor.
While Rubio is still in the running, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty appears to be the latest frontrunner for the job. Pawlenty staged an unsuccessful run at the presidential nomination and has since been an aggressive Romney surrogate on the trail. Other names on the shortlist include Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who has long held a position at the top of the list, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who submitted his questionnaire to the campaign Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and South Dakota Senator John Thune.
Other campaign notes:
- This week, the Supreme Court will announce its decision concerning the Affordable Care Act. The court’s ruling will have a definitive impact on the Presidential race with both sides using the decision to encourage their base and shore up support for November. Court announcements will be made at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and can be found on SCOTUSblog.
- Former Florida Senator George Lemieux (R) has ended his campaign for Florida’s senate seat effectively clearing the way for Rep. Connie Mack (R). Lemieux was appointed to the Senate in 2008 by Gov. Charlie Crist after then Senator Mel Martinez resigned prior to the end of his term. Lemieux’s seat was then won by Marco Rubio in 2011. Lemieux cited dwindling resources and money as his reason for leaving the race. Lemieux and Mack have waged an often times contentious campaign during the primary.
- Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) received an endorsement last week from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The endorsement is welcome support as Velasquez, a 20 year house veteran, faces a tough race against City councilman Eric Dilon in the newly drawn 7th district.
- Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will likely weather the storm created by his failure to obtain 60% of the vote at Utah’s state convention in April. Hatch faces Dan Liljenquist in the state’s primary on Tuesday. A new poll by Key Research shows Hatch has a comfortable 16 point margin over Liljenquist.
June 18, 2012 •
Taking a look at the week in politics and campaigning.
President Obama and his campaign are looking to bounce back after a rough first week of June. According to numbers released by both campaigns, Governor Mitt Romney outraised President Obama in May bringing in $76.8 million compared to the president’s $60 million. This marks the first time Gov. Romney has topped the president during this campaign. President Obama’s totals include a $15 million fundraiser at the home of Actor George Clooney, while Gov. Romney’s totals include $75,000 donations made by both he and his wife.
Additionally, the President spent the week dealing with a May jobs report that didn’t meet projections as the unemployment rate rose to 8.2% and saw only 69,000 new jobs created. However, the campaign can find some comfort in that it is still early in the election cycle, and there is plenty of time for growth between now and November.
Super PAC’s continue to play a major role in the campaign as more and more money is being spent on advertising in key battleground states, like Ohio, where both the president and Gov. Romney gave speeches on Thursday. Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, has reportedly pledged $10 million to Restore our Future, a pro-Romney Super PAC while the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has teamed with Priorities USA, a pro-Obama Super Pac, to run a $4 million ad campaign.
Other Campaign notes:
- A judge has signed off on the Justice Department’s request to dismiss the remaining five charges against former Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards. The jury in the North Carolina trial found Edwards not guilty on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions but were deadlocked on the remaining five.
- In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker survived his recall election in what many are calling a referendum on the president’s policies and likely putting Wisconsin in play in the general election.
- Democratic candidate Ron Barber, former district director for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, won the special election in Arizona’s 8th congressional district and will serve the remainder of Giffords term. Giffords resigned to focus on her recovery from a brain injury suffered during a shooting at an event in January 2011. Barber was Giffords choice to succeed her and will run for a full term in November in the newly drawn 2nd congressional district.
- Utah will hold the final Presidential primary contest on Tuesday, June 26. While Governor Romney has already secured the Republican nomination, Utah will likely be a boost for the campaign as Romney is expected to do well in the state with its large Mormon population.
May 17, 2012 •
GOP nominee soon to be official; April fundraising reports due this week.
As the national party conventions draw nearer, the race to obtain a majority of the 2286 delegates available to secure the GOP nomination appears to be well within the grasp of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Following Tuesday’s primary wins in Nebraska and Oregon, the Associated Press and NBC News project Gov. Romney now has 989 of the 1144 delegates needed to become the Republican nominee for President. While most of Gov. Romney’s competitors have suspended their campaigns, (Congressman Ron Paul remains in the race) the governor must still obtain the necessary delegates in order to be officially nominated at the GOP convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, August 27-30.
Romney can potentially pick up 81 proportionally allocated delegates in the next two primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky on May 22. If he then wins the “winner-take-all” Texas primary, and its 155 delegates, on May 29, Romney will assuredly lock up the nomination heading into the summer. The Washington Post has an excellent, interactive delegate tracker and primer to help make sense of the GOP primary process.
As the Republican nominee, donors are certain to coalesce around Romney which he will need in order to mount a formidable campaign. April fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission on May 20th.
President Obama’s campaign has already begun to leak numbers announcing that it raised $43.6 million total in April for the campaign, the Democratic National Committee and other committees such as Organizing for America, a project of the DNC founded in January 2009. While the President’s numbers are lower than the $45 million raised in February and $53 million in March, President Obama still maintains a large overall fundraising advantage over Gov. Romney.
Gov. Romney’s campaign also leaked fundraising numbers today ahead of Friday’s deadline (campaigns are required to submit reports prior to the deadline if the due date falls on a weekend or holiday). The Romney campaign, along with the Republican National Committee and other committees, raised $40.1 million in April, just $3.5 million behind the President’s campaign.
If these fundraising numbers are any indication, we’ve only just begun.
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