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Does Maine hold the key to who controls the Senate?
As both political parties battle it out for control of the U.S. Senate, one man may be the deciding factor in tipping the balance of power one way or the other: Angus King, the former governor of Maine now running as an Independent. King is running to replace retiring Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). With Republicans trying to take over the Senate, a 50-50 split is not outside the realm of possibility. If King wins, his choice of which party to back could decide who controls the upper house.
King, with his high name recognition, high approval ratings, and double digit lead in the polls, is nearly a shoo-in to win the upcoming election. But the question remains, which party will he caucus with? Unfortunately, only King knows the answer to this question as he repeatedly refuses to answer it to reporters and voters alike. Even his own political history does not reveal enough to us, as he voted for George W. Bush in 2004 but then voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
Should King decide to caucus with the Democrats and the number of seats between the parties is split 50-50, the vice president will then have the deciding vote within the chamber. This race not only highlights the importance of keeping the power of the Senate, but also keeping the Executive Branch as well.
Republicans will be funneling huge sums of money into the state of Maine to attempt to keep control of the seat. Their candidate, Charlie Summers, is the current Secretary of State. He and the Republican establishment are attempting to portray King as a “closet liberal.” National leaders on the Democratic side show practically no interest in their candidate, civil rights lawyer Cynthia Dill, so they are expected to spend very little in this race.
Independent Senate Candidate Angus King.
The race appears to be tightening for the Presidential election in Wisconsin. Or does it?
In the latest Marquette poll done in the state, Obama was only leading Romney 49%-46%, down from the 5-point lead he held in the same poll before the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate. At first glance, it would appear that the Badger State holds quite a bit of love for their hometown boy. Ryan starts off his honeymoon phase with a 41% favorability rating.
However, what’s more interesting to note is the extremely high percentage of those who hold an unfavorable view of the Congressman: 34%. This is the highest unfavorable rating for a running mate since the selection of Dan Quayle. And as all political analysts know this number always climbs higher as we get closer to Election Day.
How long will the brief Ryan bounce help Romney in the end? Our guess is not very.
It's almost that time of year, again -- the America Votes State Summit will be held December 11 and 12 in Washington D.C.
Last week, America Votes was extremely proud to welcome Sister Simone Campbell, who joined us for discussion of the much-publicized "Nuns on the Bus" movement and national tour. Formed in the aftermath of the House's passage of the "Ryan Budget," "Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness" began a 15-day national bus tour that featured stops in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia - before concluding in Washington D.C. earlier this month.
In recent weeks, Sister Campbell has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs to further the movement's cause, including The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, Current TV, and NPR.
The Nuns on the Bus have made it their mission to highlight the harmful cuts in the "Ryan Budget," cuts that would primarily affect those struggling at the economic margins throughout our nation. Sister Simone compassionately promoted what she refers to as the "Faithful Budget," a fair, moral alternative.
Explaining the debilitating program cuts of the "Ryan Budget," Sister Simone reasoned, "It would take churches, temples, synagogues and other places of worship, who facilitate to the poor, about $50,000 worth of fundraising every year for 10 years to make up what the "Ryan Budget" cuts would eliminate in one year."
As such, the Nuns on the Bus not only visited ministries to highlight the critical work of catholic sisters, but also congressional offices, where Sister Simone periodically "scolded" Congressmen and -women for supporting Congressman Ryan's proposed budget. She also hosted what she calls "friendraisers." Similar to fundraisers, "friendraisers" build support by bringing together people of like minds and passions, specifically with respect to the "Ryan Budget."
Ultimately, Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus encountered much success and warm support all around. Sister Simone even had the opportunity to privately meet with Congressman Ryan, a meeting which left her feeling quite positive about the movement's efforts.
Looking ahead, the work of the Nuns on the Bus is far from complete. While they had to turn in the bus, car magnets are being created to sustain the momentum. Sister Campbell is also planning to attend the Democratic National Convention in September, where she plans to lead several workshops at St. Peters Church. The workshops promise to keep attention squarely on Sister Simone and the Nuns on the Bus. One series promises a general overview of the movement, while another offers the more specific "Mind the Gap, Mend the Gap" presentation.
Once again, America Votes would like to thank Sister Simone Campbell for her participation in yesterday's conference call. In a political world often defined by partisanship and gamesmanship, her compassion is not only refreshing, but also much-needed as we weigh the real consequences of various bills and policies.
A surprise Healthcare victory pushes the November election in a new direction for both sides.
Last Thursday was a great day for healthcare as the Supreme Court ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act is constitutional. A huge victory for the President, Democrats, and the American people.
The Supreme Court ruled that under the commerce clause the individual healthcare mandate could be upheld as a tax. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. delivered the deciding vote in 5-4 ruling. Stating that, “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” he wrote. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”
The mandate puts in place guidelines that help all Americans obtain access to healthcare by 2014, which will finally provide people access to the affordable coverage and preventative care measures that they deserve, and rights they should have.
The coming months will be very important as Democrats will face a battle against a conservative base that will be motivated to turn out at the polls for Mitt Romney, who is running on an anti-Affordable Care Act position, that if you elect him he will kill the entire law. Additionally, the federal government will also face opposition from certain Republican Governors who are reluctant to start putting in place initiates for the healthcare law until after November.
As opposition still remains, the road ahead will be sure to have some bumps as the details are put into place. But, today we can celebrate because 30 million people will now have access to healthcare, and that victory is a proud one.
America Votes and our partner organizations are very proud to celebrate this victory.
The Supreme Court today ruled the entire Affordable Care Act constitutional.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard arguments on legislation that hopes to limit deceptive voter practices in federal elections.
Today the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on S. 1994 which deals with the use of deceptive practices and voter intimidation tactics in federal elections. The hearing presented testimony on whether this bill would help limit deceptive voting practices and voter disenfranchisement, or effectively limit constitutional free speech and political speech.
The hearing brought up many issues of voter intimidation and deceptive practice that have plagued elections for years, and notably highlighted some of the most surprising and sickening voter deception practices since 2008. Some of these practices included robo calls telling voters to stay home, that the election date was changed, that there polling location has changed, and text messages saying the election had been postponed. In some instances calls were made that told students that if they voted then their parents would not be able to claim them as dependents, as well as threats of arrest to voters at the polls if they tried to vote and had outstanding parking tickets. Practices like this are becoming more widespread and often target youth voters, minority voters, and naturalized citizen voters.
S. 1994 would help to prevent some of these premeditated and intentionally deceptive voter disenfranchisement tactics that confuse an already-frustrated electorate. Access to the vote should not be met with deceptive practice, because there is an exception to malicious intent in free speech, something the Supreme Court has argued time and again.
Civic participation should not be hindered by fear tactics and deceptive practice, hidden behind the argument of free speech. People need to have trust in the electorial system again, and one way to do that is by preventing these practices.
Hopefully the Senate will take S. 1994 up for a vote, and these disenfranchisement tactics will be stopped in future elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court asserts Citizens United applies to federal, state, and local elections.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Montana's resistance to Citizens United in a 5-4 ruling and expanded the ruling to include state and local elections.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was a 2010 decision that struck down federal limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions. The decision stated, "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruptions," and therefore, "[n]o sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations."
However, the Montana Supreme Court disagreed. American Trade Parternship v. Bullock (2011) considered the scope of the Citizens United ruling. Montana State Attorney General Steve Bullock argued that Citizens United applied only to federal elections, not state or local elections. Montana, supported by 22 states, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) argued that Montana Corrupt Practices Act, the law in question, should be upheld due to Montana's history and the belief that independent political expenditures lead to corruption.
As of Monday, June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court officialy struck down Montana's challenge to Citizens United by a 5-4 majority. The majority wrote, "[t]here can be no serious doubt" that Citizens United applied to Montana's law. Further, "Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case."
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld its decision that corporations and unions - in every state - can spend limitlessly in the upcoming elections.
The U.S Senate race in Montana may determine whether Democrats or Republicans have a majority in the Senate.
November's election is comprised of numerous U.S. Senate races that are categorized as "Toss Ups" by the Cook Political Report. Examples of these races are found in Massachusetts, Virginia and Nevada. However, the U.S Senate race in Montana is sure to be just as, if not more, competitive in November.
In a recent poll released by Rasmussen Reports on June 19th, 2012, incumbent Democratic Senator John Tester trails his challenger, Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg, 49% to 47%. Democrats are increasing their efforts to bolster support for Tester by airing ads that emphasize Rehberg's support of tax breaks for the wealthiest of Americans, such as Wall Street Bankers. As the election draws closer it is expected that both Democrats and Republicans will implement an abundance of ads in an effort to sway undecided voters.
Republicans are optimistic that this poll is a reflection of what is to come in November. If they are able to win Montana and a few other "Toss Up" Senate races, Republicans have an excellent chance of regaining a majority in the Senate. However, Democrats have already displayed their determination to maintain a majority in the Senate.
Whether it is Massachusetts, Wisconsin or Montana, it is clear that "Toss Up" Senate races will play a pivotal role in November's eletion.
Even though it's been in session for the same amount of time as every other Congress, why does the 112th seem to be leaving behind a legacy of inactivity?
Even though the 112th Congress has been in session for the same amount of time as the two previous sessions, it has passed barely more than half of the number of bills that the 110th and 111th Congresses passed. According to CNN's article, only about 130 of the pieces of legislation introduced passed compared to well over 230 for the past two sessions; it is important to note, nearly one fifth of the legislation passed by the 112th Congresss was to approve names for post offices.
At a time when unemployment is high and job availability is low, the 112th Congress seems to be avoiding discussion on crucial legislation that could get many Americans back to work and/or grant Americans a reprieve during their time of hardship.
Several important pieces of legislation, including bills to address student loans and transportation funding, have fallen by the wayside, and Congress has yet again failed to pass a budget. Since 2012 is an election year, Congress is unlikely to add additional sittings, as most members are already overloaded with campaigning and fundraising.
In order to make progress, both houses and both parties in Congress need to compromise if they do not want their only legacy to be having one of the lowest congressional approval ratings in history.