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Avik Roy’s article doesn’t just highlight the fact that PolitiFact isn’t the gold standard in fact-checking, though it certainly does that. This paragraph highlights the most important thing we need to know about Politifact:

On October 9, 2008, Angie Drobnic Holan of PolitiFact published an article using the site’s “Truth-O-Meter” to evaluate this claim: “Under Barack Obama’s health care proposal, ‘if you’ve got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it.’” The article assures us in its headline that “Obama’s plan expands [the] existing system,” and continues that “Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here…It remains to be seen whether Obama’s plan will actually be able to achieve the cost savings it promises for the health care system. But people who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama’s plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True.”

Thanks to Roy’s article, what we can definitively determine is that PolitiFact rates speculation as fact or fiction. It isn’t possible to determine whether then-candidate Obama’s statement was true because the legislation hadn’t been written at that point. Without reading the legislation’s language, it’s impossible to tell whether Obama’s promise was true or false.

That’s quite damning to PolitiFact’s reputation. The statements reviewed by FactCheck.org, by contrast, either note that something is speculative or they’re commenting on promises made by political candidates.

Simply put, PolitiFact is more about playing political favorites than it’s about fact-checking politicians’ statements. That’s why I’ve never taken their statements that seriously. Admittedly, they got President Obama’s lie of the year right. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it right until 5 years after they rated that statement as true. That’s a pretty pathetic record.

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TakeAction Minnesota, one of the organizations that opposed the proposed Photo ID constitutional amendment, authorized this report to be published. Here’s a key statistic from the report:

According to recent testimony by the secretary of state’s office, the proposed photo ID amendment could adversely affect more than 700,000 eligible Minnesota voters. This total includes 215,000 registered voters who do not have a Minnesota driver’s license or ID card with a current address on it, and another 500,000 eligible voters who use Election Day registration.

Prior to this article, people have generally accepted the importance of Election Day registration, aka EDR. That’s changing thanks to this information:

2012
Ramsey County 278,821 votes; 279,513 registered voters, 99.75%VPR
Hennepin County: 674,149 votes, 678,074 RVs, 99.4% VPR
Anoka County: 186,461 votes, 195,424 RVs, 95.4% VPR
Benton County: 19,755 votes, 21,051 RVs, 93.8% VPR
Carlton County: 18,545 votes, 19,929 RVs, 93.1% VPR
Carver County: 52,899 votes, 55,366 RVs, 95.5% VPR
Dakota County: 230,992 votes, 240,100 RVs, 96.2% VPR
Morrison County: 16,836 votes, 17,998 RVs, 93.5% VPR
St. Louis County: 115,921 votes, 122,755 RVs, 94.4% VPR
Sherburne County: 46,707 votes, 48,691 RVs, 95.9% VPR
Wright County: 69,861 votes, 70,572 RVs, 99.0% VPR
Washington County: 142,133 votes, 151,803 RVs, 93.6% VPR
Registered Voters at 7AM: 3,085,277, Voting Eligible Population: 3,876,752

In addition to the astonishing participation rates, notice that 3,085,277 people were registered voters in 2012.

Let’s compare those figures with 2008′s participation figures and registered voter numbers:

2008
Ramsey County 278,169 votes; 317,028 RVs, 87.7%
Hennepin County: 665,485 votes, 722,777 RVs, 92.1% VPR
Anoka County: 182,559 votes, 189,349 RVs, 96.4% VPR
Benton County: 19,429 votes, 21,438 RVs, 90.6% VPR
Carlton County: 18,530 votes, 19,942 RVs, 92.9% VPR
Carver County: 49,806 votes, 53,059 RVs, 93.9% VPR
Dakota County: 225,933 votes, 241,276 RVs, 96.2% VPR
Morrison County: 16,850 votes, 18,979 RVs, 93.6% VPR
St. Louis County: 119,435 votes, 134,550 RVs 88.8% VPR
Sherburne County: 45,121 votes, 47,397 RVs, 95.2% VPR
Wright County: 65,479 votes, 67,959 RVs 96.4% VPR
Washington County: 137,323 votes, 147,347 RVs, 93.2% VPR
Registered Voters as of 7AM 11-04-08: 3,199,981

In 2012, there were 1,544,914 registered voters in Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Dakota and Washington counties. According to the Secretary of State’s website, 1,512,556 people voted in those counties. That’s a participation rate of 97.9%.

Let’s compare those statistics with 2008 for those same counties. There were 1,617,777 registered voters in 2008, with 1,489,469 people voting in those counties. That’s a participation rate of 92.1%.

That isn’t the astonishing part, though. In 2008, there were 3,199,981 registered voters in Minnesota, compared with 3,085,277 registered voters in 2012.

If 500,000 people use EDR each presidential election in Minnesota, why were there 114,704 more registered voters in Minnesota in 2008 than in 2008?

That isn’t even the most astonishing statistic, though. Even though there were 114,704 fewer registered voters in Minnesota in 2012 than in 2008, 21,707 more votes were cast in 2012 than in 2008.

In 2008, the participation rate was 90.9%. In 2012, the participation rate was 95.03%, an increase of 4 points from a wave election.

With all due respect, it’s impossible to believe that the voter participation rate was 4 points higher this year than in a wave election. It’s impossible to believe that 500,000 people used EDR in 2008 and another 500,000 people in 2010 but there were 114,704 fewer registered voters in 2012 than in 2008.

Finally, where did those 1,000,000 registered voters disappear to? It isn’t a stretch to think that a significant portion of those voters who used EDR weren’t eligible to vote.

Without Photo ID, though, it’s almost impossible to tell.

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Dan McLaughlin’s post summarizes in statistical form why Mitt is likely to be the next president of the United States. These paragraphs sum things up nicely:

Everything in the latest polls suggests doom for Obama with independents. This morning’s Washington Post poll has him down 20 with independents, 58-38. The Rasmussen national tracker has him down 17 today. Today’s IBD/TIPP poll has him down 10, 48-38. SurveyUSA/Monmouth has him trailing by 19, 52-33. The outlier, SEIU/DailyKos pollster PPP, had Romney up 2 yesterday with independents, 47-45, after the PPP tracker showed him up 10, 51-41, three days earlier. In this morning’s swing state poll, Rasmussen shows Romney leading Obama by 11 with independents.

In Ohio, ARG has Obama down 20 with independents, 57-37, SurveyUSA has him down 8, 47-39; TIME has him down 15, 53-38; PPP has him down 7, 49-42; CBS/Quinnipiac has him down 7, 49-42; Gravis has him down 19, 52-33.

This explains why media organizations (notice that I didn’t call them news organizations) have vastly oversampled Democrats in their attempt to make it look like President Obama is leading. If these media organizations used statistically accurate registration models, their polls wouldn’t have shown President Obama leading nationally.

Most private polling companies figure Ohio as a D+2 state at most. Many of the media organizations’ polls are D+7-8 models. That rivals the PVI of 2008. Serious people know that President Obama doesn’t enjoy that type of PVI rating this year. It isn’t even close.

To make sense of the various polls, I’ve started looking beneath the horserace numbers. Based on Mr. McLaughlin’s methodology, it looks like I was right. What I’ve done is start looking at polls via a votes per 100 voters model. That’s what I did with this post.

Chip’s district is a D+2 or D+3 district. The KSTP-SurveyUSA poll is based on a D+7 model. Chip gets 89% of Republicans, 6% of DFLers and 53% of independents.

The proper weighting of the district is 35% DFL, 34% GOP, 31% independent. That means Chip gets 30.2 votes from Republicans, 2.1 votes from DFL voters and 16.5 votes from independents for every 100 voters. That’s 48.8 votes per hundred for Chip.

Adapting that methodology to Ohio, that means Republicans and Democrats (more or less) cancel each other out. That means independents will determine the winner. With Mitt winning independents by double-digit margins, there’s no reason to think he won’t win Ohio. President Obama certainly won’t have the type of turnout that he had in 2008 so he won’t be able to offset Mitt’s advantage with independents.

Here’s Mr. McLaughlin’s analysis of the race:

The waterfront of analyzing all the factors that go into my conclusion here is too large to cover in one post, but the signs of Obama’s defeat are too clear now to ignore. Given all the available information, Romney’s lead among independents, the outlier nature of the 2008 turnout model, the elections held since 2008, the party ID surveys, the voter registration, early voting and absentee ballot data, I have to conclude that there is no remaining path at this late date for Obama to win the national popular vote. He is toast.

The same things that are artificially propping up President Obama nationwide are artificially propping President Obama up in Ohio. President Obama’s message sounds more like the rantings of a spoiled brat throwing a temper tantrum than the words of the President of the United States.

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Yesterday’s ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court is a major step in the right direction to restoring election integrity in Minnesota. Unfortunately, it’s the first step. Unfortunately, it isn’t the silver bullet solution.

Glenn Reynolds’ op-ed highlights what’s needed for a truly world class election system:

An ideal voting system would:

  • Make it easy for voters to register.
  • Positively ensure that voters were who they said they were.
  • Make certain that no one could vote more than once.
  • And guarantee that votes properly cast would be properly recorded, while making the recording of fraudulent votes impossible.

Unfortunately, no such system exists, and the ones we have are far from the best available.Reynolds then highlighted another problem that needs addressing:

In Minnesota’s 2008 disputed US Senate election, won by Al Franken, who proceeded to cast the deciding vote in favor of ObamaCare, the margin of victory was 312, but it turned out that 1,099 votes were cast by felons who were ineligible to vote. Many of them have gone to jail, but Franken has remained in the Senate.

Secretary Ritchie’s office failed Minnesotans because they didn’t enforce key provisions in HAVA. Specifically, Ritchie’s office didn’t meet HAVA’s requirements:

The Help America Vote Act also lists strict standards for each state in maintaining its Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS). HAVA mandates that each elections official at the State and local level MUST perform list maintenance on their SVRS with respect to the computerized list on a regular basis as HAVA mandates when a state does SVRS list maintenance that if an individual is to be removed from the SVRS from their respective state, that this maintenance must be done in the compliance of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg et seq.) which lists what is legal and illegal for reasons for a state to legally purge their voting rolls what is illegal to remove voters from the SVRS

When a state removes a ineligible voter from the official list of eligible voters states  mandated as follows that: Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 that each respective state’s election authority must coordinate with their Department of Corrections the computerized list with State agency records on felony status of convicted felons if they are eligible to vote under each state’s voting laws of allowing convicted felons to vote under probation/parole or released from prison If a registered voter dies that the registered voter under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 each state’s election authority MUST coordinate with the respective agency handling birth and death statistics (i.e. Department of Health and Human Services) in removing these voters as soon as possible from the voting rolls when the death is reported. Also, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) puts in strict requirements and oversight to make sure that each state is following their own laws on enforcement of maintenance of their respective Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS).

In other words, HAVA requires timely updating of the SVRS to prevent ineligible felons and dead people from voting. The fact that Ritchie didn’t enforce this key provision in HAVA indicates his disinterest in enforcing election laws. It doesn’t appear as though county workers are that interested in preventing voter fraud either:

The county workers’ attitude is pretty arrogant:

INVESTIGATOR: In theory, I could just, you know, say I have some illness or disability and just be at home and there’s no way that the state would know otherwise. WORKER: You are signing a statement, a form, that the information you’re providing is true and correct. INVESTIGATOR: So that’s it? It’s just kind of the honor system? WORKER: Yes, I guess, it’s, I mean, it’s been that way for many, many years, that, you know, Minnesota’s been an after-the-fact type of state. And, now, we do catch people, that do things, and they’re investigated and charged. But it is, you know, after-the-fact. My election judges have a difficult time with that. It’s like “Change the law. Change the law.”

These county workers admitted that voting fraud happens but that the fraudulent votes get counted.

There’s a national movement to restore election integrity, a tide that the Democratic Party is fighting against. It’s time that that tide swept these Corruptocrats Democrats out of office. Photo ID will clean up most of this voter fraud.

Still, a white hot spotlight should be shined on Corruptocrats Democrats like Ritchie. If he won’t enforce Minnesota’s election laws, then he must be thrown out of office, whether that’s through impeachment or whether it’s through defeating him in November, 2014.

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One of the DFL’s chanting points on Photo ID is that Minnesota has a great election system because voter participation is traditionally among the highest in the nation. They then, incorrectly, attribute that to Minnesota’s voting laws.

I’d argue Minnesota’s voter participation rates are high because Minnesotans are that interested in politics, not because of the laws.

That’s a fight that won’t get settled today. There is something that should be settled ASAP. Should election laws make it easy as defined by the DFL’s rules?

I’d argue that they shouldn’t be. For example, the DFL insists on same day registration and vouching be part of Minnesota’s election laws. There’s proof that both practices make it easy for people to commit voter fraud.

I’ve written repeatedly about the voter fraud plan that ACT put together for the 2004 presidential election. I’ve written about the 10 to 13 mysterious laundromat-dwellers in Smalltown, MN who voted in 2008.

These incidents are proof that voter fraud exists as a direct result of laws that the DFL insist must be part of Minnesota’s election laws. I’d argue that Minnesota’s election laws be straightforward but that they should prevent the voter fraud that’s currently happening.

Minnesota’s election laws should make it relatively easy for legal voters to vote but that prevent voter fraud from cancelling out legally cast votes. Minnesota’s election laws don’t prevent voter fraud. Minnesota’s election laws make it easy to commit voter fraud.

When election judge Rick Smithson testified in front of the House Local Government and Elections Committee, he said that “between 10 and 13 people” a) insisted on using same day registration and b) insisted that they lived at the local laundromat.

That’s what voter fraud looks like. You don’t need a Photo ID to know that these people are committing voter fraud. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s laws don’t allow competent election judges from preventing voter fraud. That’s because Minnesota is an after-the-fact state.

Photo ID, however, would prevent those laundromat-dwellers from casting a regular ballot, then being prosecuted later after their illegal votes decided a close local election.

The election laws that the DFL insists on are safeguard-free. They’re all about making voting as easy as possible. The DFL insists that voter fraud isn’t happening even though there’s tons of evidence that it’s happening. (If you don’t believe it’s happening, ask Janet Beihoffer about “vapor voters” sometime. After listening to Janet’s lengthy list of facts, honest people will agree voter fraud is happening in Minnesota.)

It’s my opinion that there needs to be a balance between straightforward voting laws and safeguarding against voting fraud. The DFL’s laws tilt only towards making it easy to vote, even if it means making voter fraud easy to commit.

That’s bad policy, which is why Photo ID will pass overwhelmingly when it’s put to the voters.

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When an op-ed is as filled with illogic as this op-ed, questions must be asked. First, let’s see what the writer said:

Recognizing these and other significant problems with the Voter ID amendment, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie last week proposed an alternative. Electronic poll books, offered through the Minnesota-based technology firm Datacard, would match voters at the polls with drivers’ license records in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. Those not in the system could register and have their photo taken on the spot, meaning no one wrongfully would be prevented from casting a ballot because of ID.

This doesn’t solve a thing because electronic poll books don’t prove that the person getting a ballot meets the requirements in Minnesota’s Constitution:

Every person 18 years of age or more who has been a citizen of the United States for three months and who has resided in the precinct for 30 days next preceding an election shall be entitled to vote in that precinct.

Cynthia Moothart opens her op-ed with this:

With approval ratings at historic lows and poll after poll showing they’re out of step with most Minnesotans, it strains the imagination to think that Republican lawmakers would nonetheless say “trust us” when doing something so great as rewriting the Constitution.

Yet that’s what happened last week, when a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID in order to vote cleared another legislative hurdle with only Republican support. If passed this legislative session, voters would give an up or down vote on the principle this November, although the actual provision wouldn’t be written until 2013.

Apparently Ms. Moothart hasn’t noticed that an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans have said that they’d trust Republicans on this issue. This article shows how willing people are to trust Republicans on Photo ID:

Party affiliation – Yes, 92% of Republicans support voter ID. So do 76% of independents…and 59% of those wingnutty Democrats in Minnesota, too.

The thing that TakeAction Minnesota and the League of Rural Voters can’t admit is that people understand that election integrity is a high priority to voters. They’ve heard the stories about ACORN’s voter registration fraud. They’ve seen Project Veritas’ videos showing how easy it is to commit voter fraud in Minnesota.

In short, they get it.

This testimony is particularly damning to TakeAction Minnesota’s and the League of Rural Voters’ case:

RICK SMITHSON: We had an incident. I live in a small town of about 900 people and we had — I’m not sure. I called one of the city council members to ask him. It was between 10 and 13 people came into the same day registration table. And by the way, I election judge all the time so I’ve seen situations like this, not necessarily exactly like this but very similar ones.

On this particular night, between 10 and 13 people showed up for same day registration. They all claimed that the local laundromat address as their residence. When we challenged it, we called the State Auditors Office and we were told that there was nothing we could do about it. We were told that we couldn’t interfere with their right to vote but we could make note of it.

King Banaian defeated Carol Lewis by 13 votes in the 2010 election. Rep. Banaian now represents eastern St. Cloud in the state legislature. The League of Rural Voters, Common Cause MN, the League of Women Voters MN and TakeAction Minnesota have said that voter fraud is rare.

It’s true that voter fraud numbers are statistically insignificant. That isn’t the same as saying voter fraud isn’t electorally significant. With more races being decided by less than 50 votes with each election cycle, it’s imperative that we tighten up Minnesota’s election system as much as possible.

It’s annoying to hear the DFL’s chanting points. Here’s one of their favorites:

The only type of election fraud a photo identification requirement would prevent is voter impersonation.

When Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota made that statement, they tried making it sound like it doesn’t happen often. The facts as testified to by Mr. Smithson tell a different story.

When 13 people go into a small town and claim that the laundromat is their primary residence, that’s proof of real voter fraud. When the veteran election judge challenges the validity of these people’s address, that’s reason to think people are trying to vote illegally.

Citizens for Election Integrity makes this point in their less-than-scientific study:

Another way of evaluating the survey results is to review the total number of investigations of voter impersonation (7) and compare it to the total number of 2008 voters (2,921,498), which allows us to see that the total percent of all voters who were investigated for voter impersonation was two ten-thousandths of one percent (0.0002%). There was not one single conviction of voter impersonation.

Considering the fact that between 10 and 13 people in one small town who claimed that their primary residence was a laundromat, CEIMN’s ‘study’ is pretty much worthless. Rep. Kiffmeyer can find people who can give firsthand testimony highlighting questionable people attempting to vote. Why can’t CEIMN do the same?

The bottom line is this: the DFL and their corrupt special interest groups are scrambling because they’re on the wrong side of a prominent issue. The DFL knows that they can’t just do nothing because it’ll kill them politically but they can’t propose a real solution, either.

That’s why Ritchie outlined a proposal to a problem he says doesn’t exist.

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TakeAction Minnesota is one of the corrupt organizations that’s afraid of Photo ID. As a result, they’re lashing out in increasingly erratic ways:

St. Paul, MN – Following the party-line passage of the controversial photo ID constitutional amendment, H.F. 2738, by Minnesota’s House Republicans, TakeAction Minnesota’s Dan McGrath issued the following statement:

“The people of Minnesota were handed a first punch in the gut by Republican legislators seeking to curb the voting rights of the 99% in order to further the power and wealth of their big corporate financial backers.

“Under the leadership of Representative Mary Kiffmeyer, ALEC’s state chair, the wealthiest 1% are certainly getting their money’s worth as they work to reduce the voting rolls for partisan gain by rewriting the rules of democracy for electoral advantage.

“This is a grave day for Minnesota which has always led the nation in voter turnout and clean elections.

The Republican House members who made the choice tonight to end same-day voter registration and absentee voting as we know it should be ashamed of themselves.

“It’s now up to the Minnesota Senate to protect the constitutional right to vote of over seven-hundred-thousand eligible Minnesota voters who would lose their voting rights if a photo ID restriction is placed in our state constitution.”

That’s one of the most dishonest statements I’ve ever read. First, Photo ID won’t end same day registration. Rep. Kiffmeyer said repeatedly in testimony and during the floor debate that same day registration wouldn’t end.

What’s more is that, if the constitutional amendment is passed, the 2013 legislature will write the actual bill. TakeAction Minnesota can’t know that same day registration will end because the legislation hasn’t been written yet.

Next, Photo ID isn’t controversial. It’s supported by 92% of Republicans, 76% of independents and 59% of Democrats. If overwhelmingly supported is tantamount to being controversial, then Photo ID is controversial.

What’s interesting is that a) an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans of all political strips support this constitutional amendment, b) there’s substantial proof of voter fraud in Minnesota and c) TakeAction Minnesota insists that Photo ID disenfranchises voters.

Third, TakeAction Minnesota can’t prove their statement that Photo ID furthers “the power and wealth of their big corporate financial backers.” That’s unsubstantiated class warfare demagoguery.

Fourth, TakeAction Minnesota’s statement that passing a constitutional amendment approving Photo ID will end “absentee voting as we know it” is totally dishonest.

Fifth, TakeAction Minnesota saying that “over seven-hundred-thousand eligible Minnesota voters” “would lose their voting rights if a photo ID restriction is placed in our state constitution” is a bald-faced lie. In 2008, over 2,900,000 votes were cast for president. TakeAction Minnesota is arguing that 25% of the people who voted that night couldn’t get a state-issued ID or a drivers license.

Remember, TakeAction Minnesota didn’t say that 715,000 voters didn’t have a photo ID. They argued that they wouldn’t be able to get a valid form of photo identification.

Sixth, the “over seven-hundred-thousand” voters figure is inflated. In the Crawford v. Marion County Election Board case, the Democratic Party of Indiana made this claim:

“[U]p to 989,000 registered voters in Indiana did not possess either a driver’s license or other acceptable photo identification. She estimated that as of 2005, when the statute was enacted, around 43,000 Indiana residents lacked a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.

The Democratic Party of Indiana was off by 2300%. It’s impossible to think that this was just a simple mathematical mistake. It’s quite plausible to think that the Democratic Party of Indiana intentionally made this figure up.

Considering the extent of verifiable dishonesty in TakeAction Minnesota’s statement, shouldn’t Minnesotans start with the belief that TakeAction Minnesota isn’t telling the truth?

Finally, TakeAction Minnesota’s saying that Minnesota still holds clean elections is myth. I’ve written extensively about how Minnesota isn’t the gold standard anymore. See here, here and here.

TakeAction Minnesota’s statement is incredibly dishonest. There isn’t a verifiable sentence in their statement.

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This video, in which Gene Sperling speaks for President Obama on tax reform, is stunning:

Here’s a partial transcript of Sperling’s statement:

SPERLING: He supports corporate tax reform that would reduce expenditures and loopholes, lower rates for people investing and creating jobs in the U.S., due so further for manufacturing, and that we need to, as we have the Buffett Rule and the individual tax reform, we need a global minimum tax so that people have the assurance that nobody is escaping doing their fair share as part of a race to the bottom or having our tax code actually subsidized and facilitate people moving their funds to tax havens.

This is stunning. Why would other nations agree to this knowing that they’re in the business of stealing companies from the United States? Is President that naive?

There’s a reason why the U.S. economy isn’t flourishing. There’s a reason why companies aren’t hiring. There’s a reason why prosperity seems like a distant thing with this administration. There’s a reason why people think that fairness, not prosperity, is the primary goal of this administration.

That reason is because of statements like this. It’s also because of thinking like this from his debate against Hillary in April, 2008:

MR. GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.

SENATOR OBAMA: Well, that might happen or it might not. It depends on what’s happening on Wall Street and how business is going.

It isn’t in President Obama’s nature to cut taxes. It’s part of his DNA to raise taxes. It’s in his DNA to “spread the wealth around”, like he told Joe the Plumber.

President Obama, left to his own policies, would demolish the U.S. economy. His education reform package is known as Race to the Top. Unfortunately for Americans, the appropriate name for his economic blueprint is Race to the Bottom.

It’s immaterial to me whether he’s that evil, as some suggest, or whether he’s that clueless. I’m only concerned with the fact that he’s awful when it comes to putting policies in place that creates wealth and prosperity. I’m only concerned with firing him this November.

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Last night was caucus night in Minnesota. Though conservatives are dispirited elsewhere across the nation, there was no lack of enthusiasm at the Benton County precinct caucuses.

Four years ago, 230 people attended the precinct caucuses. This year, 284 attended, almost a 25% increase.

In addition to the increased attendance, there were other big stories. For instance, Mitt slipped from winning the Benton County straw poll in 2008 with 107 votes to finishing last this year with a paltry 19 votes. That’s a drop of 80%.

Ron Paul won with 147 votes, up from 90 just 4 short years ago. Sen. Rick Santorum finished second with 89 votes, followed by Newt with 26 votes.

I’m told that Ron Paul won the SD-15 straw poll, too, this time with 40% of the vote, with Sen. Santorum getting 37% of the vote, followed by Newt, then Mitt well down the list.

This isn’t good news for Mitt. If he can’t win in the reddest part of Minnesota, he’ll get crushed this November. Couple that with Mitt’s devastating loss in Missouri and you’ve got the start of a ‘Mitt can’t win in the Heartland’ storyline gaining credibility.

The other message sent last night is that Mitt isn’t popular with the Roman Catholics or evangelical voters that comprise most of the voters in central Minnesota. Having Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket in Minnesota won’t make life easier for GOP legislative candidates though it wouldn’t be a fatal blow.

Having Sen. Santorum at the top of the ticket, though, would be a fantastic fit for GOP legislators’ campaigns in central Minnesota because of his blue collar background and his staunch pro-life stance.

This information isn’t directly related to the Benton County precinct caucuses but it’s still relevant because, in what feels like centuries ago, Tarryl Clark was my state senator. Apparently, Tarryl doesn’t ‘travel’ well:

Former DFL Congressman Rick Nolan won a straw poll of DFL caucus-goers in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.

Districts are still reporting results, but Nolan has so far picked up 1,381 votes, 500 more than Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson (875 votes). Former state Sen. Tarryl Clark received 365 votes. At least 231 voters said they were uncommitted.

Tarryl collected 365 votes from a pool of 2,852 voters. That’s 12.8% or 1 of 8 CD-8 voters. Rick Nolan, who was my congressman from 1975-1981, won with 48.4% of CD-8 DFL attendees.

There’s no arguing that Tarryl has the CoH to compete in a primary. Still, this straw poll confirms the rumors that’ve floated for the last 2-3 months: that CD-8 doesn’t like Tarryl because she’s seen as a carpetbagger. This straw poll won’t do anything to change that opinion.

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Monday, Gov. Pawlenty launched the Romney campaign’s attacks against Sen. Santorum. Tuesday night, Sen. Santorum hit back against both Mitt and TPaw:

The Romney campaign is going after the former Pennsylvania senator following a poll that shows him edging Romney in Minnesota, which holds its contest Tuesday. Santorum is also expected to be a contender in the non-binding Missouri primary that same day.

A Santorum press release following the call labeled Romney “Proud defender and author of ‘Obamneycare,’” a term coined by Pawlenty himself when he was a presidential contender and meant to suggest that Romneycare and Obamacare were one and the same.

“As Governor Tim Pawlenty so aptly said, RomneyCare should be called ObamneyCare,” wrote Hogan Gidley, national communications director for the Santorum campaign, in the press release. “Everyone knows that Governor Romney’s top-down, government-run, mandated health insurance plan was the basis of ObamaCare.”

“Oddly enough, the only accomplishment that Gov. Romney points to, and actually defends during his tenure as governor, is the most liberal, the most intrusive and unconstitutional,” Gidley continued. “In fact, the only area conservatives would appreciate Romney flip-flopping on would be RomneyCare. So why he doubles down on this liberal accomplishment instead of just flip-flopping as usual is beyond me. We’re all looking for Gov. Romney to finally have firm conviction on something, but it’s pretty telling that he picks RomneyCare.”

It’s telling that TPaw endorsesd Mitt but Mitt got clobbered in Minnesota. It’s telling that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Mitt but Mitt got clobbered in South Carolina.

The problem, it seems, isn’t totally with Haley or TPaw. The problem is mostly with Mitt. Mitt got crushed in both states. It’s apparent that Mitt’s having difficulty, especially considering that the press was touting his inevitability.

After Tuesday’s ‘Super Caucuses’, Mitt’s in need of desperately retooling his campaign. After losing Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, it’s apparent that Mitt doesn’t own the Heartland or the Mountain West. That doesn’t bode well for him.

As for TPaw, this is just plain embarassing. In 2008, he endorsed John McCain. McCain lost the state by 19 points that year. He endorsed Mitt this time, then Mitt proceeded to lose the state by 28 points.

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