Again, the stakes for tonight’s debate were high. According to a brand new WMUR/UNH poll released just before the curtains opened (showing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen statistically ahead), 25 percent of likely voters said they do not yet know who they will vote for. In a race this tight, that’s a huge plurality of voters to still be openly noncommittal. Any misstep, or gaffe, could tip the scales just enough to influence the outcome of the election.
And if you ask Democrats, there was one tonight. More on that later.
For what it’s worth, the rapid response section of the debate was utterly useless. The moderators actually asked the candidates what they thought about the Washington Redskins’ team mascot, and if our popular culture was too “politically correct.” Towards the end of the debate, however, sparks flew during the Obamacare kerfuffle. Brown relentlessly attacked Sen. Shaheen for voting for it. At the same time, he didn’t just explain why the bill was disastrous for New Hampshire; he called her out for never addressing or apologizing for lying to her constituents. This perhaps struck a chord. When she later tried to argue in her rebuttal that she had pledged to repeal the medical device tax, Brown reminded her that that very provision was in the original bill, which she voted for. She also had no real answer when Brown directly confronted her about the fact she votes with the president 99 percent of the time.
On the other hand, Shaheen was quick on her feet all night. Every time Brown accused her of something, she didn’t just deflect, she deflected and attacked his record. She certainly had the upper hand on some exchanges tonight. Also, unlike the last debate, she didn’t have any noticeable missteps or stumbles.
Brown, however, sort of did. For example, many spectators on Twitter were accusing him of not understanding the geography of New Hampshire. The clip below was, quite honestly, an awkward exchange. Brown was asked about Sullivan County in Western New Hampshire, and how he planned, as a US Senator, to improve the quality of life there. As he was responding, the moderator interrupted him:
Oof. In fairness to Brown, the clip cuts him off right before he's given a chance to respond; plus, this was totally a “gotcha” question. It is a well known fact that the "carpet bagger" charge is alive and well in New Hampshire, and therefore for one of the moderators to specifically ask about a random region of the state, and ask Brown to answer first, made it seem as if he was purposefully trying to trip him up. Was he?
Brown handled the question just fine. But I suspect that won't stop Democrats from screaming Scott Brown doesn’t understand New Hampshire’s geography!
I’ll leave you with this:
Staff at St. Anselm's confirms:@JeanneShaheen sneaks out of final avoiding media.— Matthew Boyle (@mboyle1) October 31, 2014
A new poll provided exclusively to the New Hampshire Journal today shows a continued tight U.S. Senate race in the Granite State, but with Republican Scott Brown ahead of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by four percentage points.
The poll by the Republican pollster Vox Populi Polling has Brown up 49 to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided. When “leaners” are excluded, Brown leads, 42 to 36 percent.
UPDATE: From tonight's moderator:
It was a sad day last night in Kansas when the Kansas City Royals lost the World Series in Game 7. Today, the GOP in "The Sunflower State" have something to celebrate as early voting results show positive turnout from Republicans.
Of the 153,436 early votes cast so far this election 82,739 or 54% were cast by Republicans. In comparison only 47,468, or 31% were cast by Democrats. The remaining votes were cast by unaffiliated or libertarian voters.
The blood red state of Kansas has the Republican incumbents for governor and U.S. Senate trailing in the polls. Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts have been in the spotlight of one of the most competitive races this season.
Read more from Townhall on how Kansas has the GOP scrambling here.
Clay Barker, Kansas Republican Party Executive Director said this in an email:
"Early voting is turning out as our voter data models predicted and is consistent with early voting patterns in 2010 and 2012. Republican voters are building a substantial lead over Democrats that is increasing with each passing day. There were no October surprises."
Unlike the Royals, Kansas Republicans think they can pull it off in their own Game 7 this Tuesday. Momentum is building as big names stump for Senator Roberts including Senator Mike Lee (R-AZ) who made a speech at a rally in Topeka, Kansas, and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who was in Overland Park, Kansas, earlier this week.
In case you missed it, NARAL aired an attack against Colorado GOP Senate hopeful Cory Gardner this week with the pressing question: ‘why are the condoms always gone?'
As ridiculous as it sounds, this futuristic scenario supposedly reveals what life might be like for Coloradans under Gardner’s leadership. Here is an excerpt (listen to the entire ad here):
“Cory Gardner banned birth control, and now, it’s all on us guys. And you can’t find a condom anywhere. And the pill was just the start…”
Not only does Gardner cause a shortage of condoms, according to the ad, he also kills Pell Grants and ignores the threat of climate change. This type of argument is known by critical thinkers as a ‘slippery slope,’ and it is, in fact, a logical fallacy.
In a radio interview yesterday with our own Guy Benson, Gardner explained that the groups promoting these ads aren’t expecting their audience to be critical thinkers:
“These are the same people who, during the healthcare roll-out, tried to portray young people across the United States as interested in nothing more than doing keg stands.
And again, I think it minimizes the intelligence, and the work ethic of people across this country. Young voters, millennials, are people who are interested in far more than what this extreme group would like them to be interested in.”
Millennials care about more than just drinking, sex, and dodging responsibility.
Perhaps the Democratic party’s misunderstanding of this important fact is what is driving young voters away from their party this election cycle. According to a recent Harvard poll, 51 percent of millennials plan on voting for Republicans
Also, just to set the record straight, Rep. Cory Gardner said the idea of banning birth control is 'simply outrageous.'
Of course they are. The Guantanamo recidivism problem has been very real for years at this point, with at least one former Gitmo guest reportedly participating in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks. We also know that of the 'Taliban Five' the Obama White House horse-traded for an alleged deserter, at least one has already made his intentions to rejoin the jihad explicitly clear. Some of the detainees released over the last two administrations genuinely posed little threat, and had been caught up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Many others, however, were dangerous Islamist radicals. It stands to reason, then, that a number of them would inevitably link up with the ISIS death squads. As you read this, keep in mind that these figures are limited to ISIS' Syrian fighting force alone:
As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees -- some of whom were released within the last three years -- are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria, Fox News has learned. The development has cemented fears that the U.S. military would once again encounter militants taken off the battlefield. The intelligence offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria. A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns...Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.
The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S...The discussions underscore the president’s determination to follow through on an early campaign promise before he leaves the White House, officials said, despite the formidable domestic and international obstacles in the way. Administration officials say Mr. Obama strongly prefers a legislative solution over going around Congress. At the same time, a senior administration official said Mr. Obama is “unwavering in his commitment” to closing the prison—which currently has 149 inmates detained in connection with the nation’s post-9/11 war on terrorism—and wants to have all potential options available on an issue he sees as part of his legacy.
In less than one week, voters in Washington state will decide on two competing gun measures: I-594, the Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, and I-591, the Washington Gun Rights Measure.
Via National Journal:
Via Townhall columnist Rachel Alexander:
[I-594] would mandate background checks as a condition of most gun purchases and transfers in the state (with exceptions for weapon transfers within families and purchases involving antique guns). Its main goal is "closing the gun-show loophole," says Geoff Potter, communications director for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the group spearheading the effort.
Washington’s Second Amendment Foundation came up with I-591, the Washington Gun Rights Measure, a pro-gun rights initiative on the ballot. [...] I-591 would prohibit the government from confiscating guns or firearms from citizens without due process, protecting against illegal search and seizure, something that happened after Hurricane Katrina. It would also prevent the government from requiring background checks, in order to prevent the creation of a universal gun registry - unless a uniform national standard is required.
While supporters of I-594 have successfully made the initiative sound innocuous enough, the reality is far from it. The 18-page measure is just the “latest and most comprehensive attempt to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners in the Evergreen State,” according to the NRA. “Initiative 594 is in reality a universal handgun registration scheme. Under I-594, every time a handgun is transferred, the person receiving the handgun will have their name added to the government database being maintained by the state Department of Licensing.”
It comes as no surprise, then, that the campaign has been bankrolled by a handful of ultra-rich gun control advocates, including Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, Nick Hanauer, and, you guessed it, Michael Bloomberg. I-594’s war chest has now surpassed the $10 million mark, compared to I-591’s $1.3 million. To say that the gun rights measure has been outspent would be an understatement.
Not content with the cash advantage, supporters of the gun control measure have resorted to stealing I-591 signs and sarcastically posted on Facebook that “We need more school shootings!!!” just hours after the school shooting in Marysville last week. And now, after sheriffs have backed I-591 and publicly opposed I-594—a serious blow to those behind the effort—I-594 supporters are reportedly pushing emails and robo-calls attacking them, and are urging their supporters to contact them as well.
I-594 won’t make Washington residents safer, it won’t stop criminals or the mentally-ill from obtaining firearms, and it won’t be a good use of the law enforcement community’s time and limited resources. What it will do, however, is erode Second Amendment rights, waste law enforcement resources, and turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.
The fight over gun rights may be in Washington state this election, but don’t think for a second that if it’s successful a similar measure won’t make its way on your state’s ballot in 2016 and beyond.
When a wave of unaccompanied illegal minors came across the U.S. southern border with Mexico over the summer, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell argued in front of Congress that her Department needed more taxpayer funding to handle the crisis due to a lack of beds and "sufficient resources to add beds" to existing government shelter facilities.
But according to a federal HHS grant detailed in a letter sent to Burwell from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley Thursday, an enormous amount of taxpayer money was used to house a number of unaccompanied illegal minors at a California resort that included guitar lessons, a petting farm, sunset views and many other amenities.
"On August 22, 2014, I wrote to your Department regarding concerns related to a Texas-based non-profit; Southwest Key Programs. Southwest Key has been the recipient of $368 million in government grants in the past six years and over $122 million alone from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2014," Grassley wrote. "The documents provided in response to my letter raise serious concerns regarding the Department and Southwest Key’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars. For example, on April 23, 2014, Southwest Key proposed to charge the government a “daily rate” of $316 to house unaccompanied alien children in a facility in El Cajon, California. There is no further detail as to whether this request was accepted. However, according to documents, HHS did approve a grant for Southwest Key to fund the El Cajon facility."
According to the information provided by Grassley, it can cost taxpayers up to $1000 per day to house each individual unaccompanied minor at these kinds of facilities. The El Cajon facility used by HHS included the following amenities:
“An organic orchard of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees. As well as an Organic (sic) garden that supplements our kitchen with a wide variety of organic vegetables throughout the year. We have a small petting farm with ducks, chickens, and miniature ponies. We have also established an Acuaponics system where we are cultivating over 1000 Tilapia.”
"It is disturbing that HHS is funding such expensive facilities despite claiming to be unable to meet basic needs for UACs," Grassley wrote.
In my Hot Air item on Marquette Law School's favorable final poll for Scott Walker yesterday (summarized by Conn here), I touched briefly upon a story alleging that Democrat Mary Burke had been fired from her family's bicycle company in the 1990's. Matt visited the brewing controversy in a post last evening. Burke has touted her business acumen and 'job creation' experience at Trek as a centerpiece of her gubernatorial campaign. I expressed some degree of skepticism over the Wisconsin Reporter's scoop, as the top named source in the piece is a Republican county chairman, and other quotes were mined from anonymous sources. Burke initially denied the allegations outright, calling them "ridiculous" and "completely false." But upon further review, there seems to be more 'there there' than she's let on:
I just spoke with the former President and CEO of Trek Bicycle who confirmed to me that, yes, Mary Burke was fired. Story coming shortly — Dan O'Donnell (@DanODradio) October 30, 2014
In 1993, Tom Albers learned about big problems with Trek Bicycle Corporation’s European division. Sales numbers were down, and employees were in a near mutiny against the young woman Trek founder Richard Burke had put in charge. Albers, Trek’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, served as Burke’s second-in-command and suddenly had to navigate a very difficult situation. The head of Trek’s European division was his boss’ daughter, Mary... “Her performance in Europe was not good,” he says. “We were losing a lot of money for us at the time. I don’t remember the amount, but it was considered significant based on where we were [as a company] at that particular point in time.” “And also, we were encountering personnel/people problems over there. The people were threatening to leave the company. Many of them were.” Primarily, Albers contends, because of the managerial style of their supervisor, Mary Burke. “Her way of managing was kind of a ‘her way or the highway’ kind of approach to things,” Albers explains...
“So because of all that—which had gone on for a while, obviously—John Burke went to his father basically saying, ‘We need to make a change over here.’ Obviously, being a family situation, this was extremely sensitive and very difficult to pursue. So Dick Burke came to me and said, ‘Before anything is done here, would you go over there and give me your thoughts on what the situation is like?’” Albers flew to Trek’s European headquarters and quickly discovered that John Burke wasn’t exaggerating. “I pretty much came back with the same conclusions that John Burke had made; and that was that we had major people problems over there and were in a situation where we could lose a lot of people. We were losing a lot of money and I couldn’t see where Mary Burke was going to turn this thing around.” Albers reported his findings to Richard Burke, who listened intently and then, Albers says, acted decisively. “The family—and by that I mean Dick and John Burke—finally agreed to bring her back. And so, to say it bluntly, she was fired.”
“I had made the decision a couple of months ago that I would not come forward on my own with information about Mary Burke,” he explains. “The only thing that’s brought this to a head is the article [in The Wisconsin Reporter] in which [former Trek executive] Gary Ellerman threw my name out there as someone who had conducted a review of Mary Burke’s performance in Europe...I decided that instead of saying ‘no comment,’ I wasn’t going to lie. I would tell the truth.” Albers says that Ellerman’s account is truthful, and it has been corroborated in the Wisconsin Reporter by a number of other Trek sources.
She left the company in June 1993, taking a two-year break to snowboard, travel and work for a bicycle trade group. John Burke said he asked his sister to return to Trek in 1995...Mary Burke also served as commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007. Her [Democratic] predecessor in that role, Cory Nettles, has said that Burke's no-nonsense style upset some in the business community. "She was very, very tough," Nettles said recently. "People take umbrage at that." In a September 2006 email that first surfaced two weeks ago, Nettles expressed a far harsher opinion of Burke. "She's a disaster," Nettles wrote at the time to another political appointee who was still working under Burke at the state Department of Commerce.
"We reorganized and eliminated the position that I had."
The latest Elon University poll shows what most have been saying about the U.S. Senate Race in North Carolina; it’s very close. Nonetheless, Elon found that 44.7 percent of voters are breaking for Sen. Kay Hagan, while 40.7 percent are going for Tillis. The sample size consisted of 1084 residents of which 996 were registered to vote. Out of 996, 687 identified themselves as likely voters. There was a D+5 skew in the sample for those who identified their political affiliation.
Our poll results suggest that despite the millions of dollars spend on campaign ads not many people have moved.— Elon Poll (@elonpoll) October 30, 2014
Our poll: Of the likely voters who said they were undecided, twice as many were Dems.— Elon Poll (@elonpoll) October 30, 2014
Our poll: No GOP likely voter mentioned Libertarian Sean Haugh. Possibly bad news for @SenatorHagan.— Elon Poll (@elonpoll) October 30, 2014
Our poll: The General Assembly is upside down, too: 55% disapprove of its performance (30% approve.)— Elon Poll (@elonpoll) October 30, 2014
Additionally, it's the same story with Obama, the state legislature, and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory; no one really thinks they’re doing a good job. It also suggests that despite millions of dollars being poured into the state, the needle hasn’t moved all that much. Then again, the latest Marist poll shows Tillis has closed his 4-point deficit he had with Hagan in the polls.
Lastly, Roll Call’s Stuart Rothenberg, who labeled this race as leaning towards the Democrats, said this race is a pure toss up:
Voters in the Tar Heel State don’t seem to like Hagan or GOP challenger Thom Tillis, but one of them will win on Nov. 4. Hagan’s lead seems to have all but vanished, and Republicans who a month or two ago were quite pessimistic about the race have grown cautiously optimistic. This race now looks too close to call.
As a result, both sides have prominent national figures heading down to stump for them. Bill Clinton will be in Raleigh tomorrow, while Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Sen. John McCain have campaigned for Tillis.
Both sides have a healthy-and almost equal–amount of support amongst their respective bases. It’s whether who can maximize turnout that will decide the victor next week. Also, which narrative resonated more; the “sins of Raleigh” or the fiasco in Washington (via RCP):
Republicans have even used Hagan’s own words from 2008 against her in 2014. An ad sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee features a clip of Hagan campaigning against Dole: “Voting 92 percent of the time with the president, whether you support him or not, doesn't work here in North Carolina.”
But nearly each time these charges are lobbed at Hagan, she punches back with an attack on Tillis’ record in the state legislature, particularly the recent budget that resulted in cuts to education funding and teacher layoffs.
For his part, Tillis welcomes the legislature vs. Obama/Democrats paradigm. “If the senator is referring to historic tax cuts, historic reductions on unemployment, historic reductions on burdensome regulations, the things that I’ve done as speaker of the House, I agree -- that’s exactly what we’re running on,” he told RCP.
Tillis argued that the state’s education budget has increased since 2011, and pointed to fact-checkers as validation. (Politifact rated Hagan’s claim that he cut $500 million in education half-true.)
In these final days, the emphasis is on the ground game. Democrats credit the president’s campaign organization for having a built the infrastructure to locate and activate volunteers. But the party notes that it has expanded beyond that over the past two years, with 40 offices across the state and a volunteer base of over 10,000 people. Democratic operatives here say they have seen increases in early voting. “It’s an incredibly high-stakes election for North Carolina because there could not be a clearer contrast between the two candidates,” says Ben Ray, a spokesman for the coordinated effort. “Voters are confronted with a values statement.”
Making that values statement is a pricey undertaking. This contest could become the
most expensive in Senate race in history, with the two sides spending an estimated $100 million combined. Not surprisingly, voters here are exhausted by wall-to-wall campaign ads, most of them negative.
Americans for Prosperity’s North Carolina chapter has also been aggressive in GOTV efforts. Their deputy state director, Donald Bryson, said that the race will come down to this question: “When you sit down and think about it and try to figure it out, are the good policies that are affecting my life coming out of D.C. or are they coming out of [the] state house in Raleigh?”
Also, immigration groups have fired off shots inside the ship, criticizing Hagan for her stances on immigration; she called on Obama to avoid halting deportations this past summer via executive order and was one of five Democrats who joined Republicans voting to kill the DREAM ACT’s advance in the Senate back in 2010. If immigration becomes an issue in the waning days of the 2014 cycle, it will surely play into Republican hands, as it’s a topic that hasn’t played well with Democrats.
Regardless, this is shaping up to be a very exciting election night.
On a final note, I’ll leave you with this video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas showing North Carolina campaign workers doing nothing to stop a non-citizen from voting in next week’s elections. It dovetails off a Washington Post article that discussed the possible impact of non-citizens voting in American elections.
I’m not saying voter fraud will occur, but it’s something to ponder–even if Think Progress doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.
Seriously, this is so jaw-dropping, I’m thinking I must be misreading it http://t.co/fOlHbrlDbE— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) October 24, 2014
If statistical findings in this story actually true they would shake Americans' faith in fairness of vote to core: http://t.co/GT39euKFtY— Jeff B@AoSHQDD (@EsotericCD) October 25, 2014
Serious question: Is there a closer Senate contest in the country than the one in New Hampshire?
Bear with me for a second. There have been three separate polls published in recent days. New England College gave Brown the edge (48/47); CNN/Opinion Research did not (49/47); and now, of course, the ARG survey has the race all tied up:
The race is so close that Brown and Shaheen are essentially splitting the vote among every single demographic: 18 to 44-year olds (50/49), 45-year olds and older (48/48), and independents (47/51). To make matters even more complicated, the gender gap is evenly split (Brown has an 11 point advantage among men, Shaheen an 11 point advantage among women) and both candidates are showing strong support among the party faithful.
Tellingly, however, 51 percent of respondents believe Shaheen will ultimately win; 41 percent disagree and claim Brown will. The safe bet, then, is supposedly on the Democrat.
But this race hasn't broke either way yet -- although it could tonight. After all, tonight is the third and final debate between the candidates this month. And while the moderator is probably the worst choice ever, it is what it is.
Republicans are used to "impartial" moderators. And so is Brown.
UPDATE: Oh my. This just dropped this evening:
A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is maintaining a lead over Republican challenger Scott Brown. The WMUR Granite State Poll shows Shaheen leading Brown 50-42 percent among likely voters. That's a 2-point increase over earlier this month, but the difference is still within the poll's margin of error.
Fresh off two big debates this past week that turned some heads, WBUR’s last tracking survey of the cycle has the candidates neck-and-neck. Baker is earning 43 percent of the vote; his opponent 42 percent.
But check out this graph:
At first blush, one would assume Baker is finished. The poll shows him down by double digits in the city of Boston -- a deficit of 24 percentage points. But in fact he’s actually slightly ahead, in part because Coakley hasn't locked up the Democratic base as winning progressive candidates for governor have done in the past. Also interesting, as the pollsters note, in 2002 Mitt Romney lost Beantown two points shy of 30 percentage points (see above). So if, according to this offering, Baker is only expected to lose urban voters by 24 points, he's in good shape.
The following is also good news for Baker supporters.
“As we reported in a previous post on Poll Vault, Coakley needs to turn the gender gap into 'a gender gulf' to win,” the pollsters explained in their analysis of the survey. “In the last few weeks, she’s done the opposite. The WBUR surveys shows Coakley’s support with women is deteriorating. Six weeks ago, she led Baker by 20 points; now, her lead has shrunk to 9 in this group."
A nine point advantage is hardly “a gender gulf”; Coakley's not even leading by double digits anymore.
Finally, and for what it’s worth, there was a much-talked-about moment during Tuesday evening's debate. Baker actually broke down in tears as he described the plight of a fisherman in New Bedford who stopped his children from accepting football scholarships to follow his own, near moribund, career path:
Emotional stuff. And yet, the Boston Globe reports that the conversation between Baker and the fisherman in question happened roughly five years ago, not recently. Nevertheless, Baker fired back yesterday, brushing off criticisms that his tears were disingenuous or that he made up the anecdote:
Eight percent of respondents are still undecided. This race could go either way.