Leah Barkoukis - Poll: Dead Heat in Illinois Governor's Race
Posted: 10/31/2014 11:44:00 AM EST

With Election Day just around the corner, the race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner is a dead heat, according to a new Early & Often poll.

The survey, conducted Wednesday in live telephone interviews by McKeon & Associates, shows Quinn and Rauner each with 45 percent of the vote in southern Illinois — a segment of the state that’s traditionally more loyal to Republicans.

Statewide, the head-to-head numbers gave Quinn the edge with 45 percent, Rauner with 42 percent of the vote and Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm with 4 percent. Rauner held a strong lead in suburban Cook County and the collar counties as well as a 9-point lead in central Illinois.

The survey also showed Rauner with strong numbers in Chicago, garnering 20 percent, and among African-Americans, winning the support of 15 percent of black voters statewide.

“There is no doubt that this is a close race, but the idea that Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn are tied Downstate is more far-fetched than the idea of a Pat Quinn tax cut,” Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Perhaps, but it’s important to remember that the billionaire has maintained that he has no “social agenda,” and has made assurances on the campaign trail that he’d protect abortion rights and would punt the same-sex marriage issue back to voters. Rather, his focus would be on jobs, taxes, fighting corruption, and schools, he’s said.

“There’s this kind of hypocrisy of being a liberal in Chicago and picking up some votes there and trying to sell as a conservative Downstate. It doesn’t work. And that’s his problem,” pollster Mike McKeon told the Sun-Times. “At the end of the day, he has to run close to [2010 GOP nominee Bill] Brady’s numbers to win Downstate … He was strong down there, he stuck to his conservative stuff and that was that. Either you’re pro-life or you’re pro-choice. There’s no dancing.”

More interesting is the split for the candidates among women, with Quinn pulling in 38 percent of the female vote, while 55 percent backed Rauner, the poll found. McKeon tied this to women being more interested in jobs and the economy rather than minimum wage and social issues.

We’ll find out soon enough who will come out on top in this extremely close race.

Guy Benson - Confirmed: Obamacare is Hurting Democrats
Posted: 10/31/2014 10:35:00 AM EST

Long gone are the days of Democratic chest-thumping about "running on" Obamacare in 2014. That boast was abruptly replaced with assertions that the issue was receding from the scene and wouldn't really benefit either party.  As it turns out, candidates on one side of the aisle has been talking quite a lot about the healthcare law on the campaign trail and in ads, while the other side has been notably tight-lipped.  And now Politico finally states the obvious:

...Not only did the political benefits that Democrats thought the 2010 law would eventually bring them not materialize, opposition has only grown, according to an analysis of multiple polls taken between 2010 and last month. “There have been backlashes, but never like this,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the analysis released Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. That backlash doesn’t appear directed at the mechanics of the law but at its underlying core principle. Only 47 percent of Americans agree that it’s the government’s job to make sure everyone has health coverage, down from 69 percent in 2006, the analysis found. That shift is particularly pronounced among likely voters. Of those who are most likely to show up at the polls on Nov. 4, one in four believe in this principle.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown support for the law underwater by double digits, with roughly twice as many Americans claiming harm from the law than those who say it's helped them. Opposition has been so entrenched that many national polls haven't asked about it in awhile. Still, several fresh data points confirm the trend. In Marquette's Wisconsin poll, Obamacare is upside-down by 20 points (34/54), and Harvard's poll of millennials shows a 57 percent majority of young voters disapproving of the law.  The vast majority of Americans would like to see the law repealed or scaled back with significant changes.  And contra the law's ideological apologists, the bad news keeps piling up:

(1) "New challenges" will face 2015 consumers when open enrollment commences -- after the elections, by design.  As you read this New York Times assessment, keep in mind that government data suggests the "7.3 million" figure appears to be wildly exaggerated, including millions of people who were previously insured. Quote: "The 'back end' of the federal exchange, which the government uses to enroll consumers in health plans and to send subsidy payments to insurers, remains unfinished. "

(2) Access shock, via USA Today: "Now that many people finally have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, some are running into a new problem: They can't find a doctor who will take them as patients. Because these exchange plans often have lower reimbursement rates, some doctors are limiting how many new patients they take with these policies, physician groups and other experts say. 'The exchanges have become very much like Medicaid,' says Andrew Kleinman, a plastic surgeon and president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. 'Physicians who are in solo practices have to be careful to not take too many patients reimbursed at lower rates or they're not going to be in business very long.' Kleinman says his members complain rates can be 50% lower than commercial plans." Becoming like Medicaid.  Terrific.

(3) More 'transparency,' Obama style: "With health insurance marketplaces about to open for 2015 enrollment, the Obama administration has told insurance companies that it will delay requirements for them to disclose data on the number of people enrolled, the number of claims denied and the costs to consumers for specific services. For months, insurers have been asking the administration if they had to comply with two sections of the Affordable Care Act that require 'transparency in coverage.' In a bulletin sent to insurers last week, the administration said, “We do not intend to enforce the transparency requirements until we provide further guidance.” Administration officials said the government and insurers needed more time to collect and analyze the data."

(4) Rate shock for Colorado's exchange participants: "Colorado health-insurance consumers relying on tax credits will see their share of premiums rise an average of 77 percent next year if they keep the same plans, according to the state's preliminary analysis. While premiums overall are not expected to increase significantly in 2015, the way tax credits are calculated under the Affordable Care Act is creating challenges for Colorado consumers. According to an analysis done for the Colorado Division of Insurance, the average share of costs for customers receiving tax credits in 2014 was $161.79 a month. In 2015, if they keep the same plans, their average share of costs after tax credits will be $281.01."  And that's in addition to the follow-on waves of cancellation notices in the state.

I'll leave you with this RNC video, parodying these DirecTV commercials:

Cortney O'Brien - Sen. Landrieu Wants You to Forget When She Called The Border Fence ‘Dumb’
Posted: 10/31/2014 10:15:00 AM EST

At Wednesday’s debate at Louisiana State University, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) seemed like she was 100 percent behind a border fence:

“I support a strong border and have for many years as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. I’ve increased the number of border agents from 15,000 to 20,000 and joined John McCain, a friend of my opponent here, in passing a comprehensive immigration bill to double it from 20,000 to 40,000. I also support a fence, 700 miles long that can tell the difference between whether a deer crosses or a person so we can allocate our resources effectively. So these attacks that I’m not for a secure border are absolutely false.”

Now, the Republican National Committee is calling her bluff. In June of last year, Landrieu was singing a very different tune:

“I voted for the dumb fence once,” she said at the time. “I’m not going to do it again because I learned my mistake when I went down there to look at it and realized that we could build two dumb fences or three dumb fences, and it’s not working. So I am simply not going to waste the money to do something that I know will not work.”

To emphasize her stunning case of hypocrisy, she even put out a TV ad accusing her opponent of being too soft on border security. Over at Hot Air, Guy surmised that since her campaign did not publicize the ad spot to the media and only aired it in Louisiana, she was trying to put on a different, more conservative face for Louisianans than in Washington. 

Sorry Senator Landrieu, you’re not fooling anyone with that mask - even on Halloween.

Kevin Glass - Liberals Are Often Wrong, But Rarely Evil
Posted: 10/31/2014 10:00:00 AM EST

Your daughter asks you to meet her in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon. You arrive. She's dead serious. She asks you to sit down across from her, and she takes your hand.

"You know I love you and respect you, right?" She says. "And I hope you'll always love and respect me." Your brow furrows. A light bead of sweat materializes on your forehead.

"Dad, I went down to the board of elections. I've registered with the Republican party."

Let's say you're a strident liberal. What in the world do you think of your daughter?

There's a saying you might have heard that goes something like this: liberals think conservatives are evil, but conservatives think liberals are just wrong, and it comes to mind when reading this Jonathan Chait piece:

I consider Republicanism a negative factor in a potential in-law. That is not the only ideological objection. I would likewise bring healthy skepticism to a Marxist, anarchist, radical Islamist, monarchist, or advocate of Greater Russia. That goes for advocates of belligerent, hypernationalism of any kind — though, come to think of it, most belligerent hypernationalists you run into in this country happen to be Republicans.


It’s okay to judge people’s political values. It’s not like the sports team you root for or even (exactly) like a religion, where you are mostly born into your loyalty. Politics expresses moral values.

Chait is jumping off of a polled-attitudes survey that says that Americans are now more likely to view ideology and partisanship as larger divides when it comes to dating than race. Let's say this: that's unabashedly a good thing. It's the embodiment that we judge each other not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. But how much should ideology matter in our interpersonal dealings in general?

It's why it's important to pull Chait's son-in-law test one step closer, and why he's wrong that it's unlike one's sports team or religion. Our opinion of our kin's moral character should be as affected as if they told us they were changing religion, or had a different sports team allegiance. Political party is no more a proxy for moral character than religion or sports team. I'd be disappointed if my child grew up a Nats fan (rather than an Astros fan) but it would be so inconsequential to my feelings toward my child that it wouldn't really bear mentioning at all. (Caveat: I do not have children, so, er, grain of salt.)

It'd be the same if my child turned out to be a liberal. Liberals are, by and large, good people. I am related to a few of them! Their ideology is not noteworthy in the least if I were to discuss their moral character. And this would certainly go for anyone they'd choose to marry, as well.

What would be noteworthy? A lot of common sense things: a refusal to treat strangers with kindness and dignity, never working for charity, a selfish attitude that subjugates the feelings of others - it's complicated to define what makes a bad person. Party allegiance is so low on the list of what defines good and bad that it might as well be sports allegiance or religion.

Ah, but a partyist might say, party identification is a good proxy for all those things, and in lieu of knowing more about a stranger, it's perfectly fine to render judgment! Republicans, as we all know, tend to be selfish, egotistic, uncharitable, and want people without health insurance to die in the streets. Or something. That's why they're Republicans and not Democrats! Chait's hypothetical Republican son-in-law's GOP affiliation simply means the onus is on the son-in-law to prove that he is none of those things while retaining his GOP identity.

This is the "conservatives are not merely wrong, but evil" attitude. Sure, maybe not all conservatives are evil. But partyists might say it's a fine heuristic.

We could re-hash a lot of Jonathan Haidt's work on the inability for strong partisans to even understand their opposition or Bryan Caplan's ideological Turing Test, but I'll just say that if you think your opposition is evil, you either don't understand them or you're a dirty consequentialist.

Here's how non-partyists might view their opposition: they're people motivated by a desire to do good but with different values or principles that inform their thinking, leading them to arrive at different - and maybe wrong - conclusions. For a consequentialist, though, it doesn't particularly matter what their ideological opposition's motivations are. It matters that they're advocating for policies that would make the world worse. The nexus of someone's values, principles, policy prescriptions and motivations doesn't matter. What matters is that they're on the wrong side, and thus should be treated differently.

This is how "conservatives think the potential downsides of Obamacare outweigh the potential upsides" is turned into "conservatives want to kill people."

To a certain extent, this is all performance art. We want to signal to our in-groups (in Chait's case, the cosmopolitan Left) that we're on their side and that the outgroup (conservatives in general here) should be ashamed of themselves. It might turn out that Chait's Republican son-in-law effectively feels no different treatment from Chait than would a progressive son-in-law and Chait merely quietly judges him from afar. It's a coherent and cohesive stance to take. But if we take seriously that ideological polarization is accelerating in America and that might be a bad thing, the attitude that Chait lays out here - that our partisan opposition should be treated differently as human beings - is going to make it worse.

Jonathan Chait is wrong on the internet. But he's probably not evil.**

*I'd argue this saying is unfair, as there are plenty of conservatives who think liberals are evil in addition to being wrong. My experience is that there are greater numbers of liberals who believe the other side is "evil" - largely because of the prevalence of consequentialism on the left - but there's plenty of bad faith to go around on both sides.

**To maintain some consistency here: I don't know Chait as a person. But his partisan affiliation alone is not something that makes him evil, or even worthy of being treated differently from any other stranger. In the absence of evidence that he's evil, we should all treat him with the dignity afforded any other human.

Katie Pavlich - Here It Comes: First Republican President Debate Set For September 16, 2015
Posted: 10/31/2014 8:45:00 AM EST

We still have four full days to go before polls close on Tuesday for the 2014 midterm elections, but that isn't keeping 2016 from rolling our way early. 

Although Republicans considering a run for the White House haven't officially announced their candidacy yet, the first Republican presidential primary debate has been set for September 16, 2015 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. 

"Our current focus is on taking back the Senate and growing the party this coming Tuesday," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told The Wichita Eagle about the debate. "By the end of the year the RNC will release a list of sanctioned debates and we look forward to working with networks, venues and groups that have an interest in hosting a debate." 

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is pleased the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle will be held at the library dedicated to her husband.

Katie Pavlich - Hail Mary: Obama to Pull Out War on Women Rhetoric in Last Ditch Effort Before The Midterms
Posted: 10/31/2014 8:25:00 AM EST

President Obama is set to give a speech this afternoon in Rhode Island and according to the Associated Press, "women's issues" and how Democrat policies can "help" women will be the subject.

President Barack Obama wants women to know what his administration is doing to help them succeed.

Four days before midterm elections in which Obama's fellow Democrats need a big turnout from female voters, Obama is delivering a speech Friday in Rhode Island on growth in the U.S. economy and administration policies directed at women.

Get ready for fear mongering about access to contraception. Will President Obama talk to women about why their health insurance premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare? A piece of legislation he promised would be good for them? Will he explain why they can't keep their doctors after they were promised they could? Will the President explain to women why it isn't sexist to define them by the pills that they take? Will Obama give reasons for why he pays women less in his White House than men for the same job? 

The war on women rhetoric, which is exactly what Obama's speech will be this afternoon, has fallen flat with many female voters in this election cycle. Overall, President Obama is underwater with women in swing states and with everything going on in the world, contraception being provided through federal government force isn't high on the priority list. 

The president’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority.

In battleground states across the country, Obama is underwater with female voters — especially women unaffiliated with a political party — and it’s making it harder for Democrats to take advantage of the gender gap, according to public polling and Democratic strategists.

Further, an Associated Press poll released last week shows more women want to vote for Republicans, not Democrats on Tuesday.

Women have moved in the GOP's direction since September. In last month's AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent.

A majority of Democrat candidates have purposely distanced themselves from President Obama this election cycle and there's no doubt that today's speech won't do much to encourage women to vote for more failed, patronizing policies.

Daniel Doherty - Battle for New Hampshire: Why Democrats Are Obsessing Over ‘Sullivan County’; UPDATE: Moderator Apologizes to Brown
Posted: 10/30/2014 9:30:00 PM EST

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:

And this:

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:

UPDATE: To his great credit, Pindell apologized on-air last night after the debate ended:

Ky Sisson - Kansas Republicans Take Strong Lead in Early Voting
Posted: 10/30/2014 8:00:00 PM EST

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. 

Sarah Jean Seman - Gardner Responds to Ludicrous NARAL Attack Ad
Posted: 10/30/2014 6:31:00 PM EST

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.”

Gardner is referring, of course, to the demeaning ‘Brosurance’ ads which began circulating in Colorado in 2013.

 photo brosurance_zpse1b02bed.png

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.'

Guy Benson - Report: Dozens of Former Gitmo Detainees Now Fighting With ISIS
Posted: 10/30/2014 5:31:00 PM EST

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.

Those who remain at Gitmo are the worst of the worst, which is likely one of the reasons why Congress has repeatedly blocked funding to close the facility and move the detainees onto US soil -- a move overwhelmingly opposed by the American people.  The Obama administration, naturally, is working on a scheme to bypass Congress and shutter the place anyway:

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.

His preference is to follow the law, you see.  But he'll do whatever it takes to get his way.  Here's Sen. Kelly Ayotte calling on Obama to suspend all Gitmo detainees, in light of the ISIS revelation.  I'm sure he'll get right on that.  Be sure to read Allahpundit's post on this, especially the bit about two Al Qaeda leaders we targeted early in our anti-ISIS air campaign in Syria.  US intelligence now believes both escaped, and may be "actively plotting" attacks.  I'll leave you with a few clips on what ISIS has been up to lately, now that the American public's attention has wandered elsewhere: