Election Night Prep: Senate Curtain Raiser

While the Minnesota Senate race has generated a fair amount of visibility, Senate races overall have been mostly ignored across the nation as the presidential contest has sucked up nearly all of the oxygen in the room.  That’s too bad, because there’s an interesting macro story there as well as a number of fascinating local races worth watching.  As you settle in for a long evening of election viewing next Tuesday, here’s a quick snapshot of what to look for in these races and an overall story that will unfold all across the nation and may make it worth waiting up to see what happens in far-flung Alaska.

The Big Picture: The Democrats currently have a 51-49 advantage in the Senate.  That majority is about as thin as possible because it is achieved through the support of Joe Lieberman, Independent (and McCain supporter) of Connecticut, and Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.

Continue reading “Election Night Prep: Senate Curtain Raiser”

“Celebrate That In Your Classrooms….”

One of my favorite “I-wish-it-was-a-real-speech-by-a-real-politician” movie scenes is from The American President when Michael Douglas aka President Andrew Shepherd finally grows a pair and comes out swinging against his opponents and their smear tactics against him and his girlfriend (Annette Benning). The relevant part of the speech for today’s topic is fairly early on:

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Here’s our opportunity.

I read today where a young man in Colorado was suspended for wearing a t-shirt reading, “Obama, A Terrorist’s Best Friend” to school to “on a day when students were asked to show their patriotism by wearing red, white and blue, according to MyFOXColorado.com.”

As usual in such cases, the school district has tried to hide behind the “disruption of the learning environment” argument, but as usual the argument rings hollow to me.  Would they have suspended him for wearing a t-shirt reading “Obama, Inexperienced and Unprepared”?  How about a anti-Republican “Lying Liars” t-shirt?

I’m with Andrew Shepherd on such issues; this is one of the things that makes us special as a society, our willingness to give room for a wide, wide spectrum of voices to be heard.  Especially in our schools.  Even for opinions as offensive to me as this one, espoused by people with whom I have little in common.

– Austin

PS – The whole Andrew Shepherd speech runs 5 minutes and is well worth watching for a reminder of how far short of stirring rhetoric the current conversation falls (gosh, if only an actor would run for president…wait…didn’t we do that?).  And, as a challenge, watch the speech and see if you can detect an echo of it in one of the major speeches delivered in the last month.  As I listened to this particular line in the speech in question, I thought, “That sounds like…”

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Another Data Point…Or Four

Quinnipiac, along with the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, has today released head-to-head survey results from four battleground states:

  • COLORADO: Obama 49 – McCain 44
  • MICHIGAN: Obama 48 – McCain 42
  • MINNESOTA: Obama 54 – McCain 37
  • WISCONSIN: Obama 52 – McCain 39

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, President Bush’s approve/disapprove ratings in those states are abysmal:

  • 31 – 63 percent in Colorado
  • 26 – 67 percent in Michigan
  • 24 – 70 percent in Minnesota
  • 27 – 67 percent in Wisconsin

And are particularly telling because Senator McCain’s fav/unfav ratings are roughly on par with Senator Obama’s (albeit a bit lower).

And, as a data point for the “will it or won’t it” discussion on Senator Obama’s decision to reject public financing, the surveys were conducted June 17-24 so there should be some reflection of the impact of that decision in those numbers.

In the Minnesota breakouts, there are some interesting nuggets as well, including the news that Senator Coleman is leading Mr. Franken, 51-41, and that Minnesotans would be slightly less likely to vote Republican if Governor Pawlenty joins the ticket.

Let’s hope Team Franken is reading Brother Loveland’s prescriptions for how to close the gap.

The link to the survey results is worth checking out for you polling junkies because it contains lots and lots of data including the actual questions and results plus some crosstabs (do they still call them “crosstabs”?).  Margin of error in each state was under 3%.

– Austin new business loans fine