Thursday, March 6, 2008

Clinton rejects the notion of a re-vote for Florida and says that she would "not accept a caucus" in Michigan (or Florida):
I would not accept a caucus. I think that would be a great disservice to the 2 million people who turned out and voted. I think that they want their votes counted. And you know a lot of people would be disenfranchised because of the timing and whatever the particular rules were. This is really going to be a serious challenge for the Democratic Party because the voters in Michigan and Florida are the ones being hurt, and certainly with respect to Florida the Democrats were dragged into doing what they did by a Republican governor and a Republican Legislature. They didn't have any choice whatsoever. And I don't think that there should be any do-over or any kind of a second run in Florida. I think Florida should be seated.
Clinton won Florida handily, so she already has an advantage there. Plus, both she and Obama were on the ballot there, so she's got some cover. Only her name was on the ballot in Michigan, though, last time, so she'll have a harder time opposing some kind of re-vote for the state. A Michigan caucus would probably play to Obama's strengths, however, so she she'd like to avoid that.
A California appeals court issues a ruling that may threaten many home-schoolers:
Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families.

Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation.

"This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. "If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California."
Actually there is something that can be done to "prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California": a law allowing home-schooling by non-credentialed parents.
Unlike at least 30 other states, home schooling is not specifically addressed in California law. Under the state education code, students must be enrolled in a public or private school, or can be taught at home by a credentialed tutor.
The state legislature could pass a law to defend home-schooling. Where would the state teacher's union stand?
Though even passing a law might not change the precedent that this ruling sets in adjudicating the relationship between parents and schools.

H/T: Protein Wisdom, which includes some comments on the way in which California courts have worked to limit the power of parents vis-a-vis public schools.

UPDATE: Some argue that the LA Times story quoted above misunderstands the import of the ruling and that it is not such a blow to home-schooling after all.
Clinton seems to have gotten a bounce in PA from her wins on Tuesday. According to Rasmussen, she now leads Obama 52-37 (as opposed to 46-42 on Feb. 26). Rasmussen also shows Clinton regaining a national lead over Obama, 48-43.
Howard Dean seems to be supportive of Florida and Michigan having a re-vote:
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean urged Florida and Michigan party officials to come up with plans to repeat their presidential nominating contests so that their delegates can be counted.

"All they have to do is come before us with rules that fit into what they agreed to a year and a half ago, and then they'll be seated," Dean said during a round of interviews Thursday on network and cable TV news programs.

The two state parties will have to find the funds to pay for new contests without help from the national party, Dean said.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A number of senators have joined together to form the "Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus." Right now, it has nine members (all Republicans). Are any Democrats interested in joining?

U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R- Louisiana), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) announced the formation of the Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus.

The U.S. illegal immigrant population is the highest it has ever been. One in 25 residents currently living in the United States is here illegally. Over the last seven years, immigration has been the highest in history – 10.9 million immigrants arrived, over half of them (five million plus) without legal status.

The Caucus members recognize that Congress has presented the American people with a false choice in solving the illegal immigration problem – give illegal aliens amnesty or round them up and deport them en masse. The principle mission of the Caucus is to promote a true, achievable alternative: attrition through enforcement and border security. Living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government – at ALL LEVELS – enforces all of the laws already on the books.

The Caucus will be a platform to let Americans know that some in the U.S. Senate are continuing to make sure that the laws already on the books will be enforced, act as the voice of those concerned citizens who have expressed their opinions time and time again for interior enforcement and border security, push for stronger border security and interior enforcement legislation, and work together in the U.S. Senate to defeat future legislation that offers amnesty.

Some GOP senators are about to propose a new package of immigration legislation:
The package, an enforcement smorgasbord assembled by at least eight lawmakers, consists of 11 bills, but could expand to include as many as 14. Some elements echo House bills, but others go beyond House proposals.

One would discourage states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants by docking 10 percent of highway funding from states that continue to do so. Another would extend the presence of National Guard on the border and a third would end language assistance at federal agencies and the voting booth for people with limited English ability.

A bill by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is leading the effort, would impose a maximum two-year jail sentence on someone caught crossing the border for a second time.

"The point is to reinforce the idea that most of us here feel that we need to make enforcement and border security a first step to solving the overall problem," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La., one of the sponsors.

Although Congress usually avoids tough legislation during an election year, Vitter insisted that he and his colleagues could still get something done. "There are concrete steps we can take. None of us see any reason to waste this time," he said.

Other bills in the package would:

• Block federal funding from cities that bar their police from asking about immigration status.

• Give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to use information from the Social Security Administration to target illegal immigrants.

• Require construction of 700 miles of fencing along the Southern border, not including vehicle barriers.

• Impose sanctions on countries that refuse to repatriate their citizens.

• Deport any immigrant, legal or illegal, for one drunken-driving conviction.

• Enable local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Republican proposal "falls far short of what is needed." Democrats want to combine enforcement with a guest-worker program and a way to deal with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Reid "continues to support legislation that is tough on people who break the law, fair to taxpayers and practical to implement," Manley said.

But Democrats also have begun embracing a tougher stance on immigration as well. A confidential study assembled for the Democratic leadership earlier this year urged them to start using tougher language. Democrats have focused on offering opportunity to immigrants, but the study by two think tanks urged them to begin speaking in terms of "requiring" illegal immigrants to become legal and about what's best for the United States.
Where does Sen. McCain stand on this package? Could his official support of it quiet some of the concerns of those who are doubtful about him over his support of the "grand bargain"?
Whom can Clinton in part thank for her victory in Texas? The border counties. Aside from Brewster county (which only cast 754 votes according to CNN), she won all counties on the US-Mexico border, some by very commanding margins (e.g. 77%-21% or 83%-16%), and a significant portion of her 100,000-vote victory margin can be found in these counties. Her margins of victory in Hidalgo, Webb, Cameron, Maverick, and Starr counties (just some of the border counties) combined add up to over 90,000 votes. Throw in Nueces county, which is on the Gulf of Mexico and close to the southern border, at you're at over 100,000. Part of Clinton's success in Texas came from her ability to avoid any massive pro-Obama blowouts in the urban areas of Austin, Houston, and Dallas (the counties of which often when very strongly for Obama but without too many 70-30 splits). But part of her success also relied upon her ability to rack up massive leads in the border counties along with suburban and rural counties.
Marc Ambinder discusses potential plans for a Democratic re-vote in Florida and Michigan, which currently are not having their delegates counted because they voted too early for the Democratic primary rules:

The thinking, here, is that the ONLY way that Clinton makes up her delegate gap is to get Michigan and Florida's earned delegates to count. The ONLY way they count is to re-run the vote under the umbrella of the DNC's rules.

The chutzpah here is that she already won Florida -- and is challenging Obama, essentially, to a fair fight... daring him... saying, "I can win this fair and square... same with Michigan... let's give the voters in those states a real voice."

Obama's response would no doubt me: "Well, wait a minute. You and I agreed to the rules. And now you want to change them at the last minute?"

He may not have a choice: if Florida and Michigan resubmit delegate plans to the DNC, if the DNC approves the plans, and if the states can find a way to pay for primaries, the contests would be on.

And it seems as though Obama may have a hard time complaining about a re-vote. Certainly, he wouldn't want to alienate the population of FL and MI, and too much complaining could do that.

But an opposition to having the voters of Florida and Michigan have a say also cuts against what is the main argument of proponents of Obama "inevitability": his lead in pledged delegates as these delegates represent the will of the Democratic voters (even if these delegates are often elected on the backs of independents and Republican voters). Alter says that it would be "suicide" for the superdelegates to overturn the "will of the people," but this democratic appeal has a harder time working when a significant portion of "the people" do not have their votes count. Obama and his backers can appeal to the "rules" and how they shouldn't change them partway through the election, but the "rules" also allow for superdelegates to vote as they will and not be bound by the numbers of pledged delegates.

A re-vote might not even significantly hurt Obama. Even if Clinton wins both states--and she might not do so well in Michigan--she may still not catch Obama's pledged delegate lead. Though she would be closer--and some superdelegates might not feel the "will of the people" is that clear if there's only a 20- or 40- delegate difference (both under 1% of the total delegate numbers). I'm sure the Clinton campaign would be glad to seat the current delegate results (Obama was not even on the ballot in Michigan), but I doubt the DNC would be very willing to let that happen.

And the networks have called Texas for Clinton, too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The networks call Ohio for Clinton.
Tensions between Obama and Clinton over the Texas caucuses: accusations of unfair play abound!
Obama's projected to win Vermont--no surprise there.
Exit poll watch: This site seems to be posting some tidbits on exit polls from Ohio and Texas. Don't know how reliable the information is, though.

Post will be updated when more information comes in.

UPDATE: From the first wave of Dem. exit polls in OH:

The first wave of Democratic exit polls are in: more women are voting then men, and the highest turnout is among white women, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky. The earliest results were gleaned from 1,020 Ohio voters.

Of those polled so far, 75 percent are white and 20 percent are African-American. Three percent are Hispanic.

Thirteen percent are between the ages of 17 and 29; 27 percent between the ages of 30 and 44; 33 between the ages of 45 and 59 and 26 percent older than 60.

Eighty percent of voters in the Democratic primary made their decision a week ago or more.

Fifty-nine percent considered the economy the most important issue facing the country, followed by 18 percent considering Iraq most important and 19 percent considering health care their most important.

Geraghty's seeing some exit polls that show a close race.

More exit poll data from ABC News. "Change" still trumps "experience" (though not by as much as in previous races):

The theme of change continues to resonate in Ohio and Texas, but not by as wide a margin as in most previous primaries. The ability to "bring needed change" beats "experience" as the most important quality in a candidate by about a 20-point margin in Ohio and by about 15 points in Texas, according to preliminary exit poll results.

That compares, for example, with the Wisconsin primary, where change beat experience by 32 points.

Preliminary exit poll results also suggest a healthy turnout by Latinos in the Texas Democratic primary, where early results indicate they're accounting for just over three in 10 voters. If that holds, it'll be a record.

Blacks account for about two in 10 Texas Democratic voters, closer to their customary share of the electorate. In this early data blacks also account for two in 10 in Ohio, which if it holds would be up from 2004.

Turnout among women looks to be up in both states in these preliminary results -- they account for about six in 10 voters in Ohio, and not quite as many in Texas, compared with 52 percent in Ohio and 53 percent in Texas in 2004.

The economy is the top issue in Texas and Ohio alike, and most strikingly so in Ohio, where nearly six in 10 Democrats rank it as the single most important issue. If that holds in later data, Ohio would be second only to Michigan in the importance of the economy to Democratic primary voters.

People in Ohio and Texas are still voting--so these numbers can certainly change.

7:40 ET: CNN exits for Ohio. Clinton wins Democrats 53-46. Loses Republicans and independents about 46-54.

8:08 ET: Clinton seems to be doing stronger among later deciders. In the CNN Ohio exits, she beat Obama 55-45 among those who decided in the past 3 days (compared to 50-49 among those who decided after. Some exit polls from Texas have her winning 66-34 among late deciders in Texas.
It seems most people are thinking the votes in the four primary states voting today--Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont--could go any way for the Democrats. Obama's favored in Vermont, and Clinton had been favored in Rhode Island (though her lead has shrunk a little recently). The big-ticket states of Ohio and Texas seem really up in the air. It seems as though Clinton has reversed Obama's momentum over the past few days and has expanded her polling lead in Ohio, and, in Texas, where Obama had been leading, she is now eking out narrow leads. Real Clear Politics averages for both Ohio and Texas show Clinton's poll numbers strengthening. Rasmussen's daily tracking poll shows Clinton achieving her first nation-wide polling lead over Obama in three weeks. Of course, this primary season has delighted in frustrating pundits. Obama's been able to outperform significantly his polling numbers in past races, but so has Clinton (as Kaus reminds us). Clinton probably has the edge in Ohio, but Texas is more complicated due to the fact that its primary includes both a conventional voting-booth primary and a series of caucuses.

So what could happen after today? That's hard to say. Certainly, if Clinton wins both Ohio and Texas (or at least wins the popular vote in Texas) and wins in Rhode Island, she seems very likely to stay in. A recent poll shows Democratic voters want her to stay in the race even if she wins only Ohio or Texas. If she loses both big? There seems like there would be significant pressure on her to bow out. If she loses both by a little? She may decide to keep on fighting. Her people are keeping an eye on the Rezko trial--which seems already to have damaged Obama's relationship with the press--and maybe even the Canada-NAFTA flap. If it seems like some scandal could derail Obama's campaign, Clinton's more likely to stay in no matter what the results are today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Has Clinton halted Obama's momentum a little? A new set of Public Policy Polling reports has Clinton leading Obama 50%-44% in Texas and leading him 51%-42% in Ohio. Last week's PPP polls had Clinton and Obama tied in Texas and Clinton having a four-point lead in Ohio. Rasmussen's latest TX and OH polls also show Clinton gaining.
David Ignatius quotes a Democratic senator wondering how "bi-partisan" Obama really is:
"The authentic Barack Obama? We just don't know. The level of uncertainty is too high," one Democratic senator told me last week. He noted that Obama hasn't been involved in any "transformative battles" where he might anger any of the party's interest groups. "If his voting record in the past is the real Barack Obama, then there isn't going to be any bipartisanship," this senator cautioned.
One wonders who this Democratic senator is. Is it a solid Clinton backer or an unaffiliated senator?
A Canadian memo has been obtained by the AP, and this memo reports that Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee did meet with the Canadian Consulate General and discuss NAFTA. Goolsbee is now admitting the meeting took place.

The memo is the first documentation to emerge publicly out of the meeting between the adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago, but Goolsbee said it misinterprets what he told them. The memo was written by Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate and attended the meeting.

"Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign," the memo said. "He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

Goolsbee asserts that this memo is only a summary of what he said and that this summary is sometimes mistaken. Clinton's people are already drawing attention to this memo.