That is the question posed by Jonathan Backer of the Brennan Center. In response to the claim that big money lost in 2012 (also addressed here), Backer points to the $20 million spent by the NRA in 2012 and suggests that spending influenced the votes of Sens. Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR) and Lindsey Graham (SC) on universal background checks. But is NRA spending really the catalyst for their votes?
Both Begich and Graham have “A” ratings from the NRA suggesting they have previously supported NRA stances on various gun legislation. Given this, why should we assume NRA spending is the reason for their vote as opposed to ideological reasons? Perhaps they are ideologically predisposed to support the NRA position.
And while Pryor has a “C” rating, other potentially vulnerable Democratic Sens. Hagan (NC), Landrieu (LA) and Rockefeller (WV) voted for cloture and have a “C” rating or lower. They also voted for the Manchin amendment. These are states where the NRA could potentially invest in spending against them in 2014. Why is the NRA a threat to Pryor but not these equally vulnerable candidates?
To assume the threat of NRA spending is the primary reason for their vote on the Manchin Amendment, we have to rule out all other possible motives, which is not reasonable when there are other alternatives, such as ideology or local political considerations.
Two groups have begun an advertising campaign targeting Senators in certain states regarding the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary (Sources: CNN, New York Times). The American Future Fund ad will focus on what they perceive as Hagel’s positions against Israel, weak position vis-a-vis Iran, as well as some previously undisclosed “personal, business and ethical conflicts.” The Americans for a Strong Defense charge that Hagel’s views are out of the mainstream and will weaken our defenses. Ads will be run in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina (Source).
As these ads are broadcast, keep in mind that many of these charges have already been checked and elaborated on by FactCheck.org when the Emergency Committee for Israel ran ads against Hagel earlier this year. You can also view Hagel’s ratings from national security interest groups here. If you would like to know more about how the ratings were devised: The Center for Security Policy has ratings here (2004), here (2006), and here (2008). The American Security Council Foundation ratings can be found here.
Early vote turnout for the Republican primary run-off was not far off the mark of the regular primary, and we saw the same with the total turnout.
During the regular primary, 1.4 million people voted, and during the run-off, 1.11 million people voted. Early voters (549,993) represented 49.5 percent of the total turnout [slightly higher than the 48 percent in the regular primary].
This year’s statewide run-off had the 2nd lowest drop off between run-off turnout and primary turnout, behind only the 1972 run-off between Ralph Yarborough and Barefoot Sanders, out of the 11 such statewide primaries held since 1950 (Source).
Conventional wisdom suggested the high turnout would benefit Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, since it was thought low turnout would play into the hands of activists/movement conservatives who were supporting Ted Cruz. But conventional wisdom, which proved right during the regular primary, was proved wrong during the run-off, as Cruz beat Dewhurst by 13.6 points (56.8 to 43.2 percent).
Public Policy Polling’s final poll of the TX Senate race [pdf] showed Cruz with a 10 point lead in the race, including a 15 point lead among those who already voted (the actual results for early voting were 52.9 to 47 in favour of Cruz). A lot of interesting numbers in the PPP poll showing where support for each candidate was coming from that might have some bearing on future GOP primaries, but I’ll leave that for another time.
The Texas Secretary of State publishes the early vote numbers for select counties. During the regular primary, they published the numbers for the top 15 counties, and during the run-off, they published the numbers for the top 10 counties.
The early vote turnout for the top 15 counties during the regular primary was 343,497 - 4.7 percent of registered voters.
The early vote turnout for the top 10 counties during the run-off was 243,795 - 3.3 percent of registered voters.
That’s pretty amazing. Opinion about why the turnout is so high for the run-off and who it benefits varies, but it’s remarkable none the less.
Usually when we think about impeachment proceedings, we think about Presidents, etc. and not Senators, but they can indeed be impeached. In fact, in 1797, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Senator William Blount of Tennessee. This was the first time that a bill of impeachment was passed. He was impeached for conspiring with the British to conquer parts of Spanish Florida and Louisiana (Source). The Senate expelled Blount, and eventually began trial proceedings; however, at the time, the Senate did not have a sergeant-at-arms and were unable to enforce their order that Blount attend his trial, so this impeachment case lead to the creation of the Senate’s first sergeant-at-arms. The Senate ultimately dismissed the charges as Blount refused to leave Tennessee and attend his trial - even after the sergeant-at-arms was directed to arrest him (Source).
Just an interesting little tidbit of American history I learned about tonight; hope you enjoy.