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By Jan C. Ting

2012: Year of the low information voter and electoral lawsuit Armageddon?

In an exciting and issues-rich election year, polls find us evenly divided between President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. Swing states are being subjected to an unprecedented assault of political advertising, enabled by the Supreme Court's opinion in Citizens United treating unlimited political spending as the equivalent of free speech.

To whom is all this advertising directed, since nearly all of us have already made up our minds? Is anyone reading this, for example, likely to change his or her vote because of a TV commercial?

All that expensive advertising is directed at the very small number of voters whose votes are susceptible to being changed by advertising. Who are those voters? They are voters who haven't been paying attention to the campaign, don't know much about the issues or the candidates, but who will cast a vote anyway. This plays to the advantage of Mitt Romney, who is trying to recast himself as a reasonable moderate, after declaring himself "severely conservative" throughout the primary campaign.

Although he repeatedly pledged to repeal all of Obamacare, Romney now declares his intention to preserve all the popular parts of Obamacare, and get rid of only the bad parts. Although he condemned the entire Dodd-Frank law placing restrictions on Wall Street, he now says he will keep the reasonable parts of that law, too. What a reasonable guy!

Having signed the Republican pledge to never, ever raise taxes by even a penny, Romney promised during the primary campaign that he would reject a deficit-cutting deal that cut spending by $10 for every $1 in new taxes. But now he criticizes President Obama for failing to enact the proposals of the Simpson-Bowles commission on the deficit, which called for big spending cuts together with big tax increases. New, more reasonable Romney can ignore Paul Ryan's vote, as a member of the commission, against the proposals.

As top Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom predicted in response to a question whether Romney had tacked too far to the right to re-position himself as a moderate in the general election, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."

That turns out to be a good strategy to reach the undecided low-information voter. And as a result, the race is a dead heat in both the popular vote and the more important Electoral College.

I hope I'm wrong, but if the outcome turns out to be as close as the polls are predicting, we can expect a re-play of the 2000 Florida recount battle, but on a larger scale, in multiple states, that could last as long, or even longer than the 2000 litigation.

Both campaigns have studied and learned from what happened in 2000. Both campaigns have lawyers ready in every swing state to file lawsuits demanding recounts and citing voting irregularities if a close vote turns against them.

And don't think this could have been avoided by switching to a simple popular vote to decide the presidency. In a close election, that would trigger election challenges in every jurisdiction where any allegation of voting irregularity could be made, including absentee, military and overseas voting. That could mean high-stakes lawsuits in all 50 states and even the District of Columbia!

So we should be grateful to still have the Electoral College written into the Constitution by the founding fathers. And I'm sure all the candidates agree, whatever the result, we should be grateful this long political campaign is finally coming to an end!

Via Brandywine to Broad

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Posted Under :

2012: Year of the low information voter and electoral lawsuit Armageddon?

In an exciting and issues-rich election year, polls find us evenly divided between President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. Swing states are being subjected to an unprecedented assault of political advertising, enabled by the Supreme Court's opinion in Citizens United treating unlimited political spending as the equivalent of free speech.

To whom is all this advertising directed, since nearly all of us have already made up our minds? Is anyone reading this, for example, likely to change his or her vote because of a TV commercial?

All that expensive advertising is directed at the very small number of voters whose votes are susceptible to being changed by advertising. Who are those voters? They are voters who haven't been paying attention to the campaign, don't know much about the issues or the candidates, but who will cast a vote anyway. This plays to the advantage of Mitt Romney, who is trying to recast himself as a reasonable moderate, after declaring himself "severely conservative" throughout the primary campaign.

Although he repeatedly pledged to repeal all of Obamacare, Romney now declares his intention to preserve all the popular parts of Obamacare, and get rid of only the bad parts. Although he condemned the entire Dodd-Frank law placing restrictions on Wall Street, he now says he will keep the reasonable parts of that law, too. What a reasonable guy!

Having signed the Republican pledge to never, ever raise taxes by even a penny, Romney promised during the primary campaign that he would reject a deficit-cutting deal that cut spending by $10 for every $1 in new taxes. But now he criticizes President Obama for failing to enact the proposals of the Simpson-Bowles commission on the deficit, which called for big spending cuts together with big tax increases. New, more reasonable Romney can ignore Paul Ryan's vote, as a member of the commission, against the proposals.

As top Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom predicted in response to a question whether Romney had tacked too far to the right to re-position himself as a moderate in the general election, "I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again."

That turns out to be a good strategy to reach the undecided low-information voter. And as a result, the race is a dead heat in both the popular vote and the more important Electoral College.

I hope I'm wrong, but if the outcome turns out to be as close as the polls are predicting, we can expect a re-play of the 2000 Florida recount battle, but on a larger scale, in multiple states, that could last as long, or even longer than the 2000 litigation.

Both campaigns have studied and learned from what happened in 2000. Both campaigns have lawyers ready in every swing state to file lawsuits demanding recounts and citing voting irregularities if a close vote turns against them.

And don't think this could have been avoided by switching to a simple popular vote to decide the presidency. In a close election, that would trigger election challenges in every jurisdiction where any allegation of voting irregularity could be made, including absentee, military and overseas voting. That could mean high-stakes lawsuits in all 50 states and even the District of Columbia!

So we should be grateful to still have the Electoral College written into the Constitution by the founding fathers. And I'm sure all the candidates agree, whatever the result, we should be grateful this long political campaign is finally coming to an end!

Via Brandywine to Broad

View Story

Posted Under :

What Joe Biden accomplished in his debate with Paul Ryan

On foreign policy, Vice President Biden made clear that House Republicans including Paul Ryan are responsible for cutting $300 million for embassy and diplomatic security to pay for more tax cuts, even as they try to score political points off the murder by terrorists of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other Americans.

Biden made clear that despite constant Republican criticism of U.S. policy towards Iran, Romney and Ryan don't specify anything different, and that international sanctions are in fact hurting Iran. Romney and Ryan have only been willing to hint at another open-ended U.S. war in another Islamic country in the Middle East, but so far have not yet openly advocated such a war.

On the economy, Biden contrasted the Obama administration's success in saving the auto industry and millions of American jobs when Romney advocated letting the auto industry go bankrupt.

Biden contrasted the administration's concern for American workers with Mitt Romney's stated contempt for the 47% of Americans, including retirees, the military, students, and the unemployed and underemployed, who don't pay federal income taxes. Romney called them unwilling to assume responsibility for their own lives. Ryan called them "takers". And Biden rejected Ryan's suggestion that Romney misspoke by inviting everyone to listen to the tape of Romney's carefully chosen and scripted words.

Biden exposed Paul Ryan's hypocrisy in personally requesting stimulus funds to create jobs in Wisconsin, even as he criticized the stimulus for not creating jobs.

On Social Security and Medicare, Biden asked who should Americans trust to defend those programs, the Democrats who created and defended those programs at every step over Republican opposition, or the Republicans who have never supported those programs and the guarantees they represent.

On the health insurance reform now known as Obamacare, Biden made clear that the Romney-Ryan alternative is for the uninsured to seek health care at hospital emergency rooms, which happens to be the most inefficient and expensive way to try to deliver health care.

On taxes, Biden exposed the absurdity of Romney's 20% across the board tax cuts, which give the biggest cuts to the rich, to be made deficit neutral by closing of unspecified loopholes and deductions. Which ones? Whose?

Not the capital gains loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay 13% taxes on $20 million in reported income. Romney and Ryan defend that loophole and advocate reducing the capital gains rate as well as the federal estate tax rate, paid only by the very richest decedents, to zero.

On defense, Biden made clear that Ryan and congressional Republicans insisted on the impending sequestration budget cuts they now bemoan, as a condition to raising the debt ceiling, and that Romney and Ryan would have kept American troops in Iraq, and would keep American troops in Afghanistan without the 2014 deadline set by President Obama.

On abortion, Biden made clear that he and the administration are not going to impose their personal religious views on a diverse American society with many differing religious and philosophical beliefs. Conversely, Paul Ryan made clear that he and Mitt Romney, if elected, will try their best to do just that.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President!

Via Brandywine to Broad

View Story

Posted Under :

What Joe Biden accomplished in his debate with Paul Ryan

On foreign policy, Vice President Biden made clear that House Republicans including Paul Ryan are responsible for cutting $300 million for embassy and diplomatic security to pay for more tax cuts, even as they try to score political points off the murder by terrorists of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other Americans.

Biden made clear that despite constant Republican criticism of U.S. policy towards Iran, Romney and Ryan don't specify anything different, and that international sanctions are in fact hurting Iran. Romney and Ryan have only been willing to hint at another open-ended U.S. war in another Islamic country in the Middle East, but so far have not yet openly advocated such a war.

On the economy, Biden contrasted the Obama administration's success in saving the auto industry and millions of American jobs when Romney advocated letting the auto industry go bankrupt.

Biden contrasted the administration's concern for American workers with Mitt Romney's stated contempt for the 47% of Americans, including retirees, the military, students, and the unemployed and underemployed, who don't pay federal income taxes. Romney called them unwilling to assume responsibility for their own lives. Ryan called them "takers". And Biden rejected Ryan's suggestion that Romney misspoke by inviting everyone to listen to the tape of Romney's carefully chosen and scripted words.

Biden exposed Paul Ryan's hypocrisy in personally requesting stimulus funds to create jobs in Wisconsin, even as he criticized the stimulus for not creating jobs.

On Social Security and Medicare, Biden asked who should Americans trust to defend those programs, the Democrats who created and defended those programs at every step over Republican opposition, or the Republicans who have never supported those programs and the guarantees they represent.

On the health insurance reform now known as Obamacare, Biden made clear that the Romney-Ryan alternative is for the uninsured to seek health care at hospital emergency rooms, which happens to be the most inefficient and expensive way to try to deliver health care.

On taxes, Biden exposed the absurdity of Romney's 20% across the board tax cuts, which give the biggest cuts to the rich, to be made deficit neutral by closing of unspecified loopholes and deductions. Which ones? Whose?

Not the capital gains loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay 13% taxes on $20 million in reported income. Romney and Ryan defend that loophole and advocate reducing the capital gains rate as well as the federal estate tax rate, paid only by the very richest decedents, to zero.

On defense, Biden made clear that Ryan and congressional Republicans insisted on the impending sequestration budget cuts they now bemoan, as a condition to raising the debt ceiling, and that Romney and Ryan would have kept American troops in Iraq, and would keep American troops in Afghanistan without the 2014 deadline set by President Obama.

On abortion, Biden made clear that he and the administration are not going to impose their personal religious views on a diverse American society with many differing religious and philosophical beliefs. Conversely, Paul Ryan made clear that he and Mitt Romney, if elected, will try their best to do just that.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President!

Via Brandywine to Broad

View Story

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Delaware's hot political races

What are the hot political races this year in Vice-President Biden's home state of Delaware, where campaigns are underway for all the top offices including Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, and all the seats in the state legislature?

You have to look pretty far down the ballot to find a competitive race in what is now deeply blue Delaware. Popular Democratic Governor Jack Markell is headed for a comfortable re-election, along with his running mate Lt. Governor Matt Denn.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper, the most successful politician in Delaware history, is about to be re-elected to his third term in the Senate, despite a vigorous self-funded challenge from Independent businessman and lawyer Alex Pires. With the anti-incumbent opposition divided between Pires and a Republican challenger, Tom Carper is again a shoo-in.

Delaware's freshman member of Congress, former Lt. Governor John Carney, is waging an all-out re-election campaign, even though most Delaware voters couldn't pick his Republican challenger's name out of a multiple choice.

With President Obama and Vice-President Biden at the top of the ballot, and a Democratic plurality in Delaware voter registration, all the statewide Democratic officeholders can expect to be re-elected by big margins, including Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart, who survived a serious primary challenge.

I would pick three state senate races to be competitive, in which both major parties should and will concentrate their spending.

The single most competitive race in Delaware is in northern Delaware's 4th senatoral district where freshman Democratic Senator Mike Katz is being challenged by State Representative and Republican Minority Leader Greg Lavelle. This is a district which has always had a Republican registration plurality, and still does even after the 2010 redistricting by the Democratic controlled state legislature.

Senator Mike Katz is a practicing physician, and currently the only physician in the legislature. I believe he is the first Democrat elected in the 4th senatoral district since at least before the Civil War, and would welcome any information or correction pertaining to this belief. Republicans are raising money to try to stop his re-election, and Democrats know this is a seat that needs to be vigorously defended. Senator Katz has been politically independent and during his first term challenged the leadership of Senate President Anthony DeLuca who was this year defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary.

A second competitive state senate race is in the 12th senatoral district which straddles the northern Delaware communities of New Castle, Bear, and Glasgow, where 16-year incumbent Republican Senator Dori Connor, age 65, is being challenged by Democratic special-needs advocate Nicole Poore, age 39. The age contrast in this race is striking, but it's hard to predict which candidate will benefit from it.

A third race to watch is Sussex County's newly constituted 6th senatoral district where Republican Ernie Lopez faces off with Democrat Andrew Staton. Both candidates had to win their nominations in contested primaries. Although there's a Republican registration plurality in the district, which ought to favor Lopez, his primary victory over Tea Party favorite Glen Urquhart was both close and heated, which could affect turnout for this race in the general.

If these, the most competitive races in Delaware this year, seem relatively small potatoes, take heart from the fact that Tea Party insurgent Christine O'Donnell, who upset veteran Congressman Mike Castle in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, has signaled her intent to make a fourth run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

In a move welcomed equally by both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, O'Donnell has indicated her interest in challenging U.S. Senator Chris Coons, to whom she lost in the 2010 general election to fill the final four years of Vice-President Biden's last Senate term. A replay of the Coons-O'Donnell race should again put Delaware back on the national political frontburner in 2014!

Via Brandywine to Broad

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