If you’re like me, you went to bed before the Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota results started to tricke in. It wasn’t hard to see at that point that last night was a good night for Mitt Romney, though he didn’t deliver the “knock out” punch to end the race quickly. We’re probably going to see this thing drag out between he and Rick Santorum for at least the rest of this month.
Had Romney won in Tennessee, it would be a different story. However, exit polls showed that socially conservative voters came out pretty strong in that state. Additionally, Romney’s win in Ohio was very close. So while he may get to claim the state and it certainly helps with momentum, it shows that he is still just getting by.
Santorum is going to keep trucking. As he said last night, he won a few states and got “silver medals” in others. His biggest issue is money. While his team says they’re willing to take the race all the way to Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, he may not have the resources to get that far.
Of course, Santorum’s biggest obstacle isn’t Romney, it’s Gingrich. Conventional wisdom says that if Gingrich drops out that Santorum will be the beneficiary. That’s probably true, but only to a certain extent. Gingrich was defiant last night, but the writing is on the wall. He’s not going to win, especially after five last place finishes. Yes, he won Georgia, but he didn’t get the 50% needed to take all of his home state’s delegates.
Ron Paul’s strategy of focusing on caucus states hasn’t panned out the way his campaign had hoped. Granted, Paul was strong in several states last night, but he still doesn’t have a win in either a caucus or a primary. But as we’ve said before, Paul’s support has grown substantially since his run four years ago and he can no longer be ignored by Republicans.
Do you live in a free state? This question would receive a variety of answers because, after all, the 50 states make up our Union each have their own versions and views on freedom.
Politicians on the “left coast” view freedom as “freedom from want,” which is why they have set in place a vast — and costly — welfare state and burdensome regulatory policies. The north isn’t too dissimilar, especially with its emphasis on nanny state policies.
States that comprise the “libertarian west” and the south tend to have fiscally conservative-leanings and the approach toward personal liberty is, while not great on every issue, generally much less regulated.
So how do you determine if you live in a free state? The Mercatus Center has released its annual report, Freedom in the 50 States, which serves as a guide to weigh various aspects of freedom — fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom.
The authors of the report, William Ruger and Jason Sorens, explained their findings yesterday and concluded that states that clamp down on freedoms are seeing people leave for states with more freedom.
“The more a state denies people their freedoms, increases their taxes or passes laws that make it hard for businesses to hire and fire, the more likely they are to leave,” wrote the authors of the report. “And while there’s clearly more to life than drinking oversized beverages and eating foie gras, the states that won’t allow you to often cause trouble for their residents in other ways.”
Regarding my post last week on the NRA and libertarians, I took issue with some comments that had been made by Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, in regards to a North Dakota case where an immigrant, Wayne Smith, had been engaged in a legal fight for his right to keep and bear arms.
Mr. Pratt e-mailed these comments to me on Friday to clarify the comments he gave to Fox News when they reported on Mr. Smith’s legal challenge:
My position was not clearly reported by Fox on the Wayne Smith case arising out of South Dakota. Let me break it down:
1. As I have stated all along, I do not agree with what South Dakota is doing in denying the right to keep and bear arms to alien residents.
Wayne Smith SHOULD BE ABLE TO OWN A GUN!
2. Our fundamental rights do NOT come from government, the Bill of Rights or the Constitution … they come from God. Hence, law-abiding citizens should be able to carry concealed firearms as a matter of right (without permission from the government) and that is why GOA has consistently supported legislation modeled after Vermont’s successful permitless carry law.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election in 2012, leaving open a seat is widely seen to be a likely pick-up for Republicans:
North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad announced today that he will not seek reelection, creating a potentially prime pickup opportunity for Republicans in a GOP-leaning state.
“After months of consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2012,” Conrad said in a letter to constituents. “There are serious challenges facing our state and nation, like a $14 trillion debt and America’s dependence on foreign oil. It is more important I spend my time and energy trying to solve these problems than to be distracted by a campaign for reelection.”
President Obama said in a statement that he was “saddened” about the news of Conrad’s retirement but added: “I look forward to working with him during the next two years on the important issues facing our country.”
Conrad, who currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee, has been in office since 1986 and risen to become one of the most influential — and intellectual — policy makers operating in the nation’s capital.
Conrad had been open about his ambivalence about running for another term and had taken several actions in recent months that suggested he was leaning against running again.
The Hill 2010 Midterm Election poll, surveying nearly 17,000 likely voters in 42 toss-up districts over four weeks, points to a massive Republican wave that, barring an extraordinary turnaround, will deliver crushing nationwide defeats for President Obama’s party.
The data suggest a GOP pickup that could easily top 50 seats (the party needs 39 for control of the House).
Of the 42 districts polled for The Hill, all but two of which are currently Democratic, 31 had Republicans in the lead. Democrats were up in just seven, and four were tied. In addition, there are some 15 Democratic districts that are so far into the GOP win column that they weren’t polled. That would suggest at least 46 GOP pickups, plus whatever the party gets out of another 40 or 50 seats that some experts believe are in play.
According to The Hll, Republicans are ahead in 31 out of the 40 districts polled that are currently held by Democrats. They also note that they didn’t even poll 15 districts because Republicans were already poised to win.
Here is a look at the latest polling from The Hill.
- Scott Tipton (R): 47%
- Rep. John Salazar (D): 43%
- Undecided: 8%
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), who is in a tough battle for re-election with Rick Berg (R-ND), is embracing George W. Bush, the Medicare Part D, a new program that added $9 trillion in unfunded liabilties to the already existing entitlement, and stressed his independence from his party on cap-and-trade (it’s worth noting tha he voted for ObamaCare):
This is in contrast from what we’ve heard from Democrats in these mid-term, which has been to remind voters of Bush. However, voters have not bought into that rhetoric.
Rasmussen Reports released their rankings of United States Senate seats in the 2010 mid-term elections. The rankings show 10 seats up for grabs, six of those being held currently by Democrats.
Listed below are the seats expected to be competitive in November. Not included are Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana and North Dakota, which are all currently held by Democrats but are expected to turn Republican.
- Florida (open)
- Illinois (open)
- North Carolina
- Missouri (open)
- Ohio (open)
- Pennsylvania (open)
- Kentucky (open)
- New Hampshire (open)
This story over at Newsweek caught my eye. Apparently, the governments of South Dakota and some other states are considering taking control of banks:
As Washington tries to regulate Wall Street’s newfangled derivatives, government officials in at least a dozen states are mulling a more old-school response to the financial crisis: 100 percent state-run banks. Since 1919, North Dakota has operated the nation’s only depository of this kind, a genuinely socialist enterprise that spins tax revenues into loans for in-state farmers, students, and small-business owners. Unlike other banks, the Bank of North Dakota (BND) plows about half its profits into the state budget and takes cues from the governor, who acts as chairman, and a seven-member advisory board that the governor appoints.
In normal times, such a bank might not be politically palatable. Now, however, it’s emerging as an attractive model for lawmakers—in large part because North -Dakota flourished during the recession, with the nation’s lowest unemployment rate (about 4 percent) and one of the largest budget surpluses (more than$1 billion). Some of the state’s well-being is attributable to its agriculture- and energy-based economy. But the BND has helped greatly, propping up more than 100 privately held community banks and keeping credit flowing to small, local businesses even as it remains tighter nationally. The bank could be attractive for more populist reasons, too: it helps keep taxes low—BND has offset $350 million in public projects since 1997—and Main Street’s money out of Wall Street’s coffers.
WASHINGTON — The battle over health care is poised to move swiftly from Congress back to the country as Democrats, Republicans and a battery of interest groups race to define the legislation and dig in for long-term political and legal fights.
President Obama plans to open a new campaign this week to persuade skeptical Americans that the bill holds immediate benefits for them and addresses the nation’s shaky fiscal condition. Republicans said they would seek to repeal the measure, challenge its constitutionality and coordinate efforts in statehouses to block its implementation.
The politics of health care are fragile — and far from certain — in the eight-month midterm campaign that will determine which party will control Congress next year. But both sides steeled for a fight to extend well beyond November, involving state legislative battles, court challenges and, ultimately, the next presidential race.
Even before the final vote, Republicans began relentlessly assailing lawmakers who supported the legislation, suggesting Democrats are spendthrift and proponents of big government. Democrats said they would seek to capitalize on the momentum from their success and strive to move beyond the political arguments in hopes of demystifying the complicated legislation.
“We ought to focus on not the political stakes, but the stakes for the country,” David Plouffe, an adviser to Mr. Obama, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re going to go out there and not just talk about what we’re for, but what the Republicans are voting against.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) will not seek re-election:
North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan says he will not seek re-election to the Senate in 2010, a surprise announcement that could give Republicans an opportunity to pick up a seat from the Republican-leaning state.
Dorgan, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 after serving a dozen years in the U.S. House, said he reached the decision after discussing his future with family over the holidays.
The moderate Democrat said he has other interests he wants to pursue.
Republican Gov. John Hoeven has been mulling a possible challenge to Dorgan and the veteran lawmaker’s retirement could clear the path for the popular governor. Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy could be interested in seeking the seat.
A Rasmussen poll conducted in mid-December showed Hoeven up 58% to 36% over Dorgan in a potential match up.