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Rick Hasen: "How does the brave new world of campaign financing created by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision stack up against Watergate? The short answer is: Things are even worse now than they were then."
"The 1974 scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon was all about illegal money secretly flowing to politicians. That's still a danger, but these days, the biggest weakness of our campaign finance system is not what's illegal, but what's legal. As Dan Eggen of the Washington Post put it, 'there's little need for furtive fundraising or secret handoffs of cash.' The rules increasingly allow people and corporations with great wealth to skew public policy toward their interests--without risking a jail time, or a fine, or any penalty at all. It's an influence free-for-all."
Ninth Circuit Expedites Montana Case over Whether Parties May Endorse Candidates for Judge
The Ninth Circuit will hear Sanders County Republican Central Committee v Bullock in late August. This is the case over whether it violates the First Amendment for Montana to make it a crime for a political party to endorse a candidate for judge. Montana elects state court judges in non-partisan elections. Here is the scheduling order. Thanks to Rick Hasen’s ElectionLawBlog for the link. The lower court had refused to enjoin the Montana prohibition, and the Republican Party had then appealed.
Mitt Romney dispensed with a scheduled campaign speech to offer condolences on Friday to lives shattered in "a few moments of evil in Colorado."
Ron Paul Says He Hasn?t Decided Whom to Vote for in Presidential Election
Recently, Ron Paul was asked on-air about his vote in November for President. He said, “I’ve not made a decision.” See this story.
Ohio Secretary of State Appeals Provisional Voting Case
On July 20, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted filed a notice of appeal in Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless v Husted. See the previous coverage of this case here. Husted is asking the 6th circuit to rule that the state should be released from its 2006 promise to count provisional ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct, but the right building, when the error is not the voter’s fault. See this story.
Mitt Romney joined the president in putting aside politics Friday to address the Colorado movie-theater shootings, saying he was speaking not as a presidential candidate but as a father and grandfather.
After Killings at Theater, Campaigns Suspend Their Ads in Colorado
President Obama and Mitt Romney both said Friday that they were suspending advertising in Colorado in the wake of a deadly shooting at a movie theater in that state.
Politics Counts: Ohio Visits, Offices Hint at Campaigns? Strategies
The 2012 edition of the presidential campaigns' attention to Ohio is particularly impressive.
As has been previously reported, in 2011 a U.S. District Court Judge put the Ohio Libertarian Party on the ballot for the 2012 election, which caused the Ohio Secretary of State to also put other minor parties on the 2012 ballot (Americans Elect, Constitution, Green, and Socialist). The Secretary of State did not appeal the 2011 decision, but the Ohio legislature intervened in the case and appealed to the 6th Circuit. The hearing for the legislature’s appeal is set for July 24 in Cincinnati.
On July 13, the three judges who are hearing the state legislature’s appeal sent a letter to both sides, saying, “Dear Counsel, the panel assigned to hear the case on the merits is requesting a letter brief on the effect of 2012 Ohio Sess.Law Serv.105 (repealing HB 194 and restoring Ohio’s ballot access deadline for the general election to November 2011)(eff. August 15, 2012) on the above appeal. The letter brief should not exceed ten pages in length and must be filed by noon on July 20, 2012.”
This letter suggests that the three judges tend to think the state legislature’s appeal may be moot. Both sides have now filed letter briefs, responding to the Court’s letter. This provided an opportunity for the Libertarian Party to tell the court about the action of the legislature in June 2012, extending the deadline for the Democratic and Republican Parties to certify their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, but not giving similar relief to the other qualified parties. That issue is not directly related to this case, but it is relevant because the Libertarian Party’s attorney is showing that the legislature cannot be trusted to ever pass a constitutional ballot access law, and that it continues to be unreasonably hostile to minor parties.
The state’s brief of July 20 says the Court’s request for new briefs says that the repeal of HB 194 ‘restores Ohio’s ballot access deadline for the general election to November 2011.’ This is incorrect.” The state’s brief then says that Ohio has no deadline at this time. But the legislature still wants the 6th circuit to rule that the U.S. District Court was wrong in 2011 to have put the Libertarian Party on the ballot, even though the legislature says it doesn’t want the 6th circuit to remove any parties from the ballot. It just wants the 6th circuit to issue an order, blotting out the favorable 2011 precedent from the U.S. District Court.
1 in 5 Romney Voters Still Does Not Have a Favorable Opinion of Romney
The Republican primaries were essentially over months ago by now. Romney should be basking in his winner's glow and consolidating his base. But that's not exactly what's happening. Of respondents to the DailyKos/SEIU/PPP polls who say they will vote for Romney, only about 80% say they have a favorable opinion of him. That's after a slight nominal increase over the past few months. By contrast, about 94% of Obama voters say they have a favorable opinion of Obama. Both these numbers' trends over time are shown below at the top of the graph, red for Romney and blue for Obama, along with those who have unfavorable opinions and those who are not sure at the bottom.
It's interesting to note that in mid-June, coincident with Obama's immigration policy announcement, favorability among Obama voters dipped slightly, while un-favorability increased. This was only a temporary dip, so either people people's opinions returned to baseline, or those who had a newly unfavorable opinion of Obama left the category of Obama voters altogether.
Common sense would argue that Romney voters who don't like Romney might not be all that motivated to vote. And common sense, in this case, is right: the plurality of these voters are Not At All Excited about voting in the upcoming election. Details below.
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