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from The Great Debate:

One reason Congress is broken? Negative ads cripple even the winners.

mahurin 4golway

North Carolina is nearing the end of the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in its history. The volume of negative ads in the race between Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis is unprecedented. These ads matter -- but not in the ways that the candidates and their campaign consultants hope they do.

When the negative barrage of ads is over, the winner will likely emerge with an approval rating well under 50 percent, meaning that whoever wins will likely be sworn in with a majority of North Carolinians already disapproving of her or him. Neither Hagan nor Tillis will have a popular mandate.

The situation will be no better for Congress because a majority of winning candidates take office without the majority support of the citizens they represent. They can no longer legitimately cite the “will of the people” in proposing legislation -- because they are not in a position of strength when it comes to public support. Elected officials now often have little or no honeymoon period – even with the voters who supported them.

U.S. Senator-elect Kay Hagan (D-NC) reacts after defeating incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in GreensboroThe ramifications of this for the body politic are serious. Though winners will be determined on Nov. 4, democracy is already the loser. We can expect to see continued partisan gridlock in Washington and increasing public dissatisfaction with government at all levels. It is a downward cycle that serves to repress voter turnout and fuel angry cynicism about the role of government.

from The Great Debate:

Why Republicans may not win the Senate after all

 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition "Road to Majority" reception in Washington

Establishment Republicans should keep the champagne on ice until after the midterm elections. Too many are already popping corks, pronouncing their strategy of “crushing” the Tea Party during the primaries as a crucial step in their successful takeover of the Senate.

There are increasing signs, however, that the GOP might not take control of the Senate and may only make modest gains in the House of Representatives. In states like North Carolina, for example, the GOP candidate hasn’t shown the ability to wage a major-league campaign. In other key battleground states, the establishment GOP is supporting problematic candidates, like Monica Wehby in Oregon, who can alternatively be described as pro-Obamacare and a plagiarist. The National Republican Senatorial Committee handpicked Wehby over a strong conservative in the primary. She is now running 20 points behind.

from The Great Debate:

How strong Senate candidates can help GOP also flip statehouses

Scott Brown, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks during a town hall campaign stop at a VFW post in Hudson

Midterm election models continue to project that Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate, as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza recently reported. The GOP is running strong candidates, many in red states that Mitt Romney won 2012, but also stronger than first expected in states that went for President Barack Obama that year -- including Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon, which weren’t previously considered in play.

Having these candidates at the top of the ballot is likely to help other Republicans running in the states. Indeed, in key states it could increase the party’s chances of flipping control of state legislatures from Democratic to Republican.

from Jim Gaines:

A constitutional amendment to take Big Money out of politics dies quietly

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This week the U.S. Senate considered a constitutional amendment that would have allowed Congress and state legislatures to limit the power of money in politics. The debate was not much covered in the media because the outcome was so predictable. But the party-line vote that killed it should not go unnoted.

A remarkable majority of the American public — 79 percent according to Gallup — want campaign finance reform. The right and left, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, even Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly agree that, left unchecked, Big Money corrupts politics and undermines democracy.

from The Great Debate:

Perry’s indictment: Crime and punishment, Texas-style

Texas Governor Perry, a possible Republican candidate for 2016 presidential race, answers questions from reporters following appearance at business leaders luncheon in Portsmouth

It’s a big country, where states have their own legal peculiarities, political cultures and definitions of what makes a debilitating political scandal. Take Texas, for example, where the Republican governor, Rick Perry, has been indicted for abuse of office.

In the past 25 years, we’ve seen politicians and government officials increasingly treat scandal less as catastrophe and more as just another cost of doing business. Perry, however, has taken this to a completely new level: He is wearing his indictment as a badge of honor and has smoothly returned to his 2016 presidential campaign without missing a beat.

from Stories I’d like to see:

What we don’t know about Qatar and what we don’t know about key Senate races

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Qatari Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha

1. Inside Qatar:  the terrorists’ benefactor and America’s friend

As the war in Gaza continues, we keep hearing that one pipeline for negotiations with Hamas goes through Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich kingdom in the Gulf that has friendly relations with Hamas. In fact, Qatar hosts the leaders of Hamas and provides financial support.

According to the online Times of Israel, “Qatar continues to fund the movement’s terror apparatus abroad, enabling tunnel digging and rocket launching.”

from The Great Debate:

What’s the 2014 election really about? Religious vs. women’s rights

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the "Not My Boss's Business" rally for women's health and rights in Washington

Religious rights versus women's rights. That's about as fundamental a clash as you can get in U.S. politics. It's now at the core of the 2014 election campaign, with both parties girding for battle.

What generated the showdown was last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The decision instantly became a rallying cry for activists on both the right and left. Congressional Democrats are already proposing a law to nullify the decision. “It's shameful that a woman's access to contraception is even up for debate in 2014,” Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said.   Conservative blogger Erick Erickson crowed, “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer-subsidized, consequence-free sex.”

from The Great Debate:

How Uber can help the GOP gain control of the cities

Taxi drivers protest against transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft along with Assembly Bill 2293 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California

Republicans occupy the governor’s mansion in a majority of states and control both chambers of state legislatures where a majority of Americans live. In a country that is becoming more urban, however, Democrats have a major advantage: Their party runs most big U.S. cities. Of the 15 largest U.S. cities, only two -- San Diego and Indianapolis -- have Republican mayors, and 13 of the 15 have Democratic-controlled city councils.

Yet despite the Democrats’ urban dominance, cities may soon be up for grabs. For the party’s refusal to embrace the innovative technology and disruptive businesses that have greatly improved city life presents a challenge to Democrats -- and an opportunity for Republicans.

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent

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Agreement is not enough.  Performance matters more.

That's why the outlook for Democrats this November looks bleak.  More and more Americans now agree with Democrats on the issues.  But they are increasingly dismayed by President Barack Obama's inability to get results.

The Gallup poll reports that, ideologically, Americans are moving to the left on both social and economic issues. Though more Americans continue to identify as conservatives than as liberals, the conservative advantage is shrinking.

from The Great Debate:

How far right can Republicans go?

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at the Lexington Airport in Lexington, Kentucky

The line between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party has blurred.  That spells trouble for the GOP in the long run.  Possibly this year, more likely in 2016.

It might not look like it right now. The Republican establishment, which has been on the defensive since the Tea Party emerged in 2009, is on a roll. Establishment candidates have won contested primaries in North Carolina, Florida and now Kentucky and Georgia.  Republican voters seem to be turning away from the kinds of fringe candidates they went for in 2010 and 2012,  like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware (“I am not a witch”) and Todd Akin in Missouri (“legitimate rape”). Candidates like that cost Republicans their chance to take back control of the U.S. Senate.

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