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.
Specifically, Twitter. I haven’t followed the #txlege on Twitter this year, and really haven’t been the worse for it. However, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency bill’s death lead to a Twitter brouhaha last night - involving slurs, fake accounts and general pettiness. Let this be an example of how not to engage on social media.
(h/t: Houston Chronicle)
I came across this story the other day about New York City considering allowing green card and visa holders to vote in municipal elections. The story also noted several cities in Maryland and Massachusetts allow non-citizens to vote. Apparently this was the case many states until the 1930’s. Intrigued, I decided to read up on the issue a little more, and this paper by Jamin Raskin caught my attention. According to Raskin’s research, alien suffrage was common in the early United States and was part of the Northwest Ordinance, which was reenacted in 1789 by the First Congress. The Annals of Congress for this time show no debate on the issue in either the Senate or the House. Just some interesting history I learned this week that I thought I’d pass along.
The Texas Legislature is considering online voter registration legislation - SB 315 by Sen. Uresti (D-San Antonio). The bill passed the Senate on April 23rd (21-10) and is now in the House, where they have until May 26th to send it on to the Governor. If it becomes law, voters with a valid driver’s license or identification card can register online.
There are currently 18 states who have passed online registration legislation, and another 15 states are considering it - including Texas (Source). Arizona was the first state to adopt online registration in 2002, and their Secretary of State says that over 70 percent of voter registrations are completed online.
You can read more about Arizona and Washington’s online voter registration program here [pdf].
Writing in Federalist #17, Alexander Hamilton posited that the citizens of each state naturally felt a stronger bias towards their local government than towards the national/federal government. He said, “It is a known fact in human nature, that its affections are commonly weak in proportion to the distance or diffusiveness of the object.”
Hamilton’s observations still seem to ring true after two centuries according to a new Pew survey:
Favourable views of all levels of government have declined since 1997, but local and state governments are still closer to the hearts of the citizenry (the exception appears to occur around 9/11).
Hamilton’s goal was to habituate the citizenry to a more favourable attitude towards the federal government; however, he’d be disappointed that it seems to be a losing battle for a variety of reasons at this stage.
(h/t: Washington Post)
The Cook Political Report has been looking at swing districts and have reported their findings in the National Journal. Essentially, there has been a significant decline in the number of swing districts since 1998 (when they first began collecting the data).
Swing districts declined from 164 in 1998 to less than 100 today. Meanwhile, solidly Democratic and Republican districts have continued to increase their numbers.
Cook, et al attribute this to voters being more like minded (and voting the party brand as opposed to voting for the individual candidate) in these districts, which in turn is affecting redistricting - making it easier to group Republicans and Democrats together. They also found that it’s becoming more difficult to achieve crossover success in Democratic or Republican leaning districts.
They conclude this hurts Democrats chances of retaking the House; however, a majority of Electoral College votes “are now in Democratic-leaning states.”
I didn’t get around to checking my newsfeeds until this afternoon, and I wish I had checked them sooner, because of this news. Bob Perry - founder of Perry Homes - passed away last night at 80 years old. He had a profound influence on Texas politics, and U.S. politics as well. What you may not hear about today is his charitable giving, which was more important, and perhaps, more influential, than his political giving.
Rest In Peace Bob Perry.
Profiles of Bob Perry:
Colorado is considering changes to it’s election laws, including same-day registration, mailing ballots to all registered voters, and removing the “inactive voter” label (applied to voters who do not vote in the prior election). This bill, which has not been introduced yet, comes after large increases in the state’s voter registration and mail ballot returns. County clerks reported that 74 percent of Colorado voters returned mail ballots during the 2012 election. That figure alone suggests changes in conducting future Colorado campaigns; chasing mail ballots will be a much more important factor in campaigns.