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These are the Democrats who voted against abortion coverage, Wall Street reform, and the environment (January 23, 2015, 01:59 PM)

A Venn Diagram showing House Democrats who voted against abortion, Wall Street reform, and the environment

Click to enlarge.

A little while back, we showed you the House Democrats who voted with Republicans on two key topics: the environment and Wall Street reform. Today we add a third topic: abortion.

Yesterday, the House voted on a bill to codify a ban on federal funding for abortion, but with a new twist that would essentially exclude abortion coverage from ACA plans. Three House Democrats voted for this bill: Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Henry Cuellar of Texas, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

As it so happens, all three of these Democrats also voted with Republicans on approving the Keystone pipeline and gutting Wall Street reform. What will they vote for next?


Oregon's not-so-pretty racist past is not yet history (January 23, 2015, 12:33 PM)

Results of the 2002 election in Oregon for Measure 14.

If your impression of Oregon as a quirky island of tolerance is formed by its blue-state status and its history of progressive ballot measures (or by watching Portlandia), you should check out a fascinating history long-read by Matt Novak, writing for Gizmodo. Novak goes into great detail about Oregon's mostly-swept-under-the-rug racist past.

For starters, Oregon is the only state that explicitly enshrined outright racial exclusion into its state constitution at its founding, forbidding any black residents from living there. Novak details not just decades of Jim Crow-style segregation in Portland businesses, but also the mostly-forgotten Vanport flood, which wiped out a mostly-black section of Portland in 1948, and, maybe most shockingly, the KKK's infiltration into the state's corridors of power in the 1920s. If you've ever wondered why Portland is the nation's whitest major city, it's not merely a demographic accident.

Oregon has changed since the 1920s, but not as much as you might think. In 2002, a ballot measure passed which removed the language of racial exclusion from the constitution, and other racial references as well. You might imagine this would be a slam-dunk, nearly unanimous vote - but 29% voted against it, in a familiar geographic pattern as seen in the map above. One county passed it with only 53%. (This should be embarrassing enough, but Measure 14 actually did better than last year's equal rights amendment, Measure 89, which did not pass in a dozen counties.)

It's tempting to think the county-level pattern seen in Oregon's election results is the result of migration to Oregon's larger cities from all over the country, leaving more rural counties as representatives of an earlier incarnation of Oregon political culture. Census data show us that's not really the case, however. There's plenty of people born outside of Oregon living in rural areas as well - they're just not liberal.

It's easy to forget the extent of political diversity within states in a winner-take-all electoral system. And it's easier to leave history in the dustbin when it conflicts with the story we want to tell ourselves about our country and our communities. But history lives on and shapes our current society and its politics, whether we acknowledge it or not.

See also Mark Sumner's post on the subject.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/23 (January 23, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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7:17 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Charlotte Mayor: The Democratic field for the Queen City's semi-open seat race keeps growing. After flirting with a bid for a while, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes announced that he will run. Councilor David Howard also just confirmed that he's in, though he's been raising money since December. Former Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts and interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter have been running for a while, and Councilor Vi Lyles is considering joining them. The Democratic primary will be held Sept. 15 and if no one takes at least 40 percent of the vote, the top-two contenders advance to an Oct. 6 runoff. So far no notable Republicans are running.

7:40 AM PT (Jeff Singer): Las Vegas Mayor: On Tuesday, Republican Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony announced that he would challenge independent Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Anthony starts out with little money but he may get help from some influential groups.

Anthony is making opposition to an expensive new soccer stadium the centerpiece of his campaign, a stance he shares with Boyd Gaming and the Culinary Union. As James DeHaven of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, if these organizations ally themselves with Anthony he could get a much-needed financial boost. The Culinary Union also could give Anthony some vital get-out-the-vote support in what is expected to be a low-turnout race. The non-partisan primary will be held April 7 and if no one takes a majority the general will be June 2.

8:34 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA-Sen: A little while ago, Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra began floating his name for this open Senate seat. Since then Attorney General Kamala Harris has emerged as the frontrunner, but the congressman appears more interested than ever in running. Anna Palmer at Politico reports that Becerra is telling his colleagues and political operatives that he's very serious about a run. Becerra himself isn't being coy in public either, describing his interest in a Senate run as ?One to 10, 10 being serious, 10.?

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is also a potential candidate and if both he and Becerra are on the ballot, that could help Harris. Becerra represents a heavily Hispanic downtown Los Angeles seat, and the two men could split the Southern California and Latino vote. Plenty of influential Hispanic leaders want a Mexican-American senator, and there will probably be some behind-the-scenes maneuvering to keep them from both jumping in. This wouldn't be the first time the two have faced off though: In the 2001 mayoral primary Villaraigosa took first place in the primary with 30 percent, with Becerra way back in fifth place with only 6 percent (Villaraigosa lost the runoff, but won four years later).

When Sen. Barbara Boxer announced her retirement a few weeks ago former Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher confirmed that she was looking at a run, but she's been very silent since then. On Thursday when she was asked about her plans all Tauscher said was "I love the private sector." That's... not exactly a no. It is worth noting that Tauscher's protege Rep. Eric Swalwell just endorsed Harris, which seems to indicate that he doesn't think the former congresswoman will go for it. Harris would probably be relieved to not compete with another woman from the Bay Area in any case.

To help keep track of who could run on the Democratic side, dreaminonempty has created the above chart. We've included three would-be contenders who recently ruled out runs, but we're no longer including the many politicians who have said no to this Senate seat.

There's been a lot less action on the GOP side. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice very quickly made it clear that she wasn't interested in a Senate run, but some believed that she could be persuaded to change her mind. No such luck though: Rice is taking over as head of Jeb Bush's educational foundation instead.

8:45 AM PT (Jeff Singer): CA-Sen: Also on the Democratic side, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson hasn't gotten too much attention as a possible candidate. Johnson's office only answered "no comment," when asked about his interest but it sounds like he'd rather Villaraigosa run instead. On Thursday at a U.S. Conference of Mayors dinner honoring the former Los Angeles Mayor, Johnson told him "you?ve got a whole lot of mayors who are going to stand with you, no matter what you decide." If Villaraigosa doesn't join the Senate race maybe Johnson's plans will change, but it sounds like he's all in for Villaraigosa right now.


Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Team Cincinnatus departs Rome, returns to farm (January 23, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Tom Steyer, NextGen Climate Action
Tom "Cincinnatus" Steyer
Leading Off:

? CA-Sen: Good news for California Democrats, but as Colin Campbell wryly notes, bad news for California consultants: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who had styled himself a reluctant savior of his party in the mold of the Roman dictator Cincinnatus, says that he won't run for Senate after all. Steyer could have spent unlimited money, but the one poll we've seen of the race showed him starting off at the very back of the pack, with low single-digit support.

Of course, Steyer could still run for governor in 2018 (and there would be much rejoicing among the consulting classes); in demurring a Senate bid, he hinted as much, saying: "I believe my work right now should not be in our nation's capitol but here at home in California."

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents a safely blue suburban Los Angeles seat, has now chimed in to say that he'd "relish the chance to serve the entire state." So far, the only declared candidate in the race is Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is from the Bay Area, so if there's to be a geographic split, then there's still an opening for someone from Southern California. Perhaps that's what Schiff is thinking, though he still has to see what former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa does.

Villaraigosa is reportedly getting closer to running, and Latino leaders are excited about the prospect of electing the first Mexican-American in the Senate since Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar stepped down in 2009 to become secretary of the interior. Given his name recognition, Villaraigosa would probably squeeze out a smaller-time candidate like Schiff, and he'd set up a major battle with Harris.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/22 (January 22, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Democratic poll spells bad news for Team Blue on Staten Island (January 22, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New York, August 10, 2010. Donovan, who will compete against the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 2 election, supports a year-long moratorium for further study, but opposes specific bans.
Republican Dan Donovan
Leading Off:

? NY-11: Well, this is seriously bad news on several levels for Democratic hopes of winning back Mike Grimm's seat. Some unknown person just leaked a DCCC poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, that shows Republican District Attorney Dan Donovan absolutely crushing the Democrats' preferred candidate, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, by a 48-28 margin. What's more disheartening is that even after a battery of negative messages are tested against Donovan, he still comes out on top?over and over again.

With numbers like these, it's hard to imagine Cusick, who hasn't said much publicly since Grimm resigned, taking the plunge. But while Cusick was gonna have access to this information no matter what, you have to wonder why this poll got out there in the first place. Our best theory: Perhaps national Democratic operatives want to demonstrate that the party's chances are so poor, there's just no point in blowing a few million bucks on a hopeless race.

That may be overthinking things, though. In a particularly unusual development, the full crosstabs?54 pages worth?were also shared with Capital New York. That's something you almost never, ever see in the wild, and if all you want to do is make the point that you're effed, there's no need to go that far?just the summary toplines will do?so maybe someone went rogue.

But whatever the backstory, Democrats are in a really rough spot here. Lots of facile commentators will insist that this is a seat the party "has" to compete in?Obama won it! it's in New York City!?without recognizing the other factors (a low-turnout special election plus the heightened inflammation of Staten Island's corrosive politics of resentment) at play here. At the same time, many activists and donors will be quite disappointed if Democrats concede a seat to the guy who failed to get an indictment in the Eric Garner case.

The data are what they are, though, and in the ultra-expensive New York City media market, there's probably no amount of money that can budge this harsh reality. Democrats will likely have a better shot in this district in Nov. 2016, when presidential-year enthusiasm should offer a turnout boost. Right now, though, it's hard to see this seat changing hands in the special election.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/21 (January 21, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: The Toomey-Sestak rematch starts off tight (January 21, 2015, 08:00 AM)

Pat Toomey arguing for background checks April 17, 2013
Pennsylvania's Republican Sen. Pat Toomey starts the 2016 cycle as a top Democratic target
Leading Off:

? PA-Sen: Here's how you know the 2015-16 election cycle has officially begun: The good folks at Public Policy Polling have released their first public poll of the year. PPP starts with Pennsylvania, one of the Democrats' top pickup targets as they aim to claw their way back to the majority. (Down 54-46, Democrats need to gain four seats to win back the chamber if they can also hold the presidency, five if they cannot.)

In 2010, ultra-conservative ex-Rep. Pat Toomey narrowly defeated Rep. Joe Sestak, 51-49, after Sestak had in turn dethroned Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary by a 54-46 spread. (Specter, of course, had served decades as a Republican before switching parties in 2009 so that he could ensure he'd get "re-e-lec-ted." Didn't quite work out for him.)

Though Sestak pissed off the Democratic establishment for daring to challenge Specter (even Barack Obama endorsed the incumbent), he proved he had serious chops as a campaigner by taking on the party and prevailing. And Toomey's slim margin of victory, despite the GOP's intense tailwinds that fall, showed that in any other year, Sestak would have likely prevailed.

Will 2016 be that year? Perhaps. PPP finds Toomey with a schvach 28-35 job approval rating and just a 40-36 edge on Sestak, who's still largely unknown despite his prior run and has a 19-21 favorability score. Toomey doesn't do much better against other options:

? 41-44 vs. ex-Gov. Ed Rendell

? 42-38 vs. MSNBC host Chris Matthews

? 44-38 vs. state Attorney General Kathleen Kane

? 42-35 vs. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

? 43-31 vs. Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro

None of these alternatives are likely to make the race: Sestak has been gearing up for a rematch for quite some time, and despite Democratic potentates' efforts to find a less nettlesome candidate?we've long dubbed Sestak the Honey Badger of Pennsylvania politics?he's the only person ready to run. However, the fact that Toomey is mired in the low 40s against all comers is not a positive sign for the Republican.

Add in presidential year turnout and the likelihood that Democrats will once again carry the Keystone State (the last Republican to garner Pennsylvania's electoral votes was the first George Bush, back in 1988) and that means Toomey will face some serious headwinds. However, he's a crafty campaigner and knows how to sell an ersatz moderate image, plus he's also a gangbusters fundraiser.

So all we can say right now is that we should expect Pennsylvania to host a barnburner Senate race in 2016. Yep, we surmised that before PPP's poll, but now we have some hard confirmation. This should be a fun one.


We're off the the races! PPP finds Pennsylvania's Senate contest looking very competitive (January 20, 2015, 12:41 PM)

Pennsylvania Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey (L) shakes hands with Democratic senatorial candidate Congressman Joe Sestak before their debate at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 20, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS) - RTXTNZY
Pat Toomey (left) and Joe Sestak may face off again in 2016
Here's how you know the 2015-16 election cycle has officially begun: The good folks at Public Policy Polling have released their first public poll of the year. PPP starts with Pennsylvania, one of the Democrats' top pickup targets as they aim to claw their way back to the majority. (Down 54-46, Democrats need to gain four seats to win back the chamber if they can also hold the presidency, five if they cannot.)

In 2010, ultra-conservative ex-Rep. Pat Toomey narrowly defeated Rep. Joe Sestak, 51-49, after Sestak had in turn dethroned Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary by a 54-46 spread. (Specter, of course, had served decades as a Republican before switching parties in 2009 so that he could ensure he'd get "re-e-lec-ted." Didn't quite work out for him.)

Though Sestak pissed off the Democratic establishment for daring to challenge Specter (even Barack Obama endorsed the incumbent), he proved he had serious chops as a campaigner by taking on the party and prevailing. And Toomey's slim margin of victory, despite the GOP's intense tailwinds that fall, showed that in any other year, Sestak would have likely prevailed.

Will 2016 be that year? Perhaps. PPP finds Toomey with a schvach 28-35 job approval rating and just a 40-36 edge on Sestak, who's still largely unknown despite his prior run and has a 19-21 favorability score. Toomey doesn't do much better against other options:

? 41-44 vs. ex-Gov. Ed Rendell

? 42-38 vs. MSNBC host Chris Matthews

? 44-38 vs. state Attorney General Kathleen Kane

? 42-35 vs. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter

? 43-31 vs. Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro

None of these alternatives are likely to make the race: Sestak has been gearing up for a rematch for quite some time, and despite Democratic potentates' efforts to find a less nettlesome candidate?we've long dubbed Sestak the Honey Badger of Pennsylvania politics?he's the only person ready to run. However, the fact that Toomey is mired in the low 40s against all comers is not a positive sign for the Republican.

Add in presidential year turnout and the likelihood that Democrats will once again carry the Keystone State (the last Republican to garner Pennsylvania's electoral votes was the first George Bush, back in 1988) and that means Toomey will face some serious headwinds. However, he's a crafty campaigner and knows how to sell an ersatz moderate image, plus he's also a gangbusters fundraiser.

So all we can say right now is that we should expect Pennsylvania to host a barnburner Senate race in 2016. Yep, we surmised that before PPP's poll, but now we have some hard confirmation. This should be a fun one.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/20 (January 20, 2015, 09:00 AM)

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8:23 AM PT: PA-Sen: The 2015-16 election cycle has officially begun: We have PPP's first poll of the year. More to come.


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