presidential election

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies, Unleashing an Election Year Earthquake

Supreme Court associate justice and giant of US politics and constutional law, Antonin Scalia, 79, has died of apparent natural causes in Texas.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Widely considered to be an “originalist”, Scalia actually used a “textual” interpretation of the Constitution, relying on the plain reading of the text as written to rule on cases. This interpretation placed him as one of the most conservative justices on the Court, and his intellect and integrity will make him impossible to replace.

It is no exaggeration to say that Justice Scalia was the most consequential jurist of the past 35 years. A persistent, pugnacious and persuasive advocate for textualist statutory interpretation and originalist constitutional interpretation, he had an outsize effect on his colleagues, the court and the course of the law. More than anyone else, Justice Scalia is responsible for the renaissance of these interpretive methodologies and the displacement of “living constitutionalism” and reliance upon legislative history.

He certainly won’t be replaced by President Obama.

New Hampshire Polls Have Created a Political Narrative Perfect Storm

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Election polling is always wrong. Except when it’s not. And even then sometimes. But especially in New Hampshire this year. Confused yet? You should be.

Every single poll that’s come out in the last week has said something completely different is happening in the first primary, and not even in a linear trending way, with certain candidates ascending or descending. They’re literally all over the place.

The following is a list of all the polls currently included in the Real Clear Politics average for New Hampshire.

NH1

From this data we can tell only three things:

  1. Trump is leading in New Hampshire.
  2. There is a fight for second place between Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, and Bush.
  3. Christie, Fiorina, and Carson should probably have dropped out yesterday.

Second is where the real mystery is. Every poll shows a different person (or tie) in second place behind Trump [highlighted above in yellow]. Rubio comes in second place in one poll and ties for second in two others, but so does Bush in one, Cruz in one and ties in another, and Kasich in two and ties in another.

Some of these individual polls even show trends from earlier data, which usually signal a real change in support. But even here those trends are contradictory. In the CNN poll, Rubio has gained 6 points from the same poll taken a little over a week ago, while the other candidates have only gained 1 point. But in other polls, like the UMass daily tracking poll, Rubio has lost 2 points over the last week.

Reforming the Electoral College

Electoral Vote for October 29th

There’s been a lot of talk lately, between Steven Taylor, Doug Mataconis, Jazz Shaw, and other bloggers, about the Electoral College. It seems to come up every now and then, usually in pieces calling for it’s abolition. That’s Steven’s and Jazz’s take, and they do make good points. Steven mostly thinks that the EC is irrelevant, and indeed, somewhat undemocratic:

Here’s the deal:  the only southern states that are true toss-ups are Virginia and Florida, and under any plausible EC scenario President Obama can lose them both and still win the electoral vote.  Governor Romney, however, can not.

Imagine a world in which all of those extra Southern voters mattered and imagine how differently the candidates would be behaving if that were the case.  As it stands, all of that Romney support is contained almost exclusively in places where extra support has no marginal value.  Each extra voter in Alabama who decides to vote for Romney simply doesn’t matter.  An Ohio voter, however, matters an awful lot.

A grand irony here is that a standard pro-EC argument is that it protects the states against national sentiment.  However, if the Gallup poll is correct and Romney wins the popular vote by a large margin due to overwhelming support in southern states, but still loses the electoral college, the fact of the matter will be that the EC actually diminished the significance of those states.

This is also, more or less, what Jazz Shaw thinks:

America’s least popular senator slams Ted Cruz

Sen John McCain (R-AZ) took a snide jab a his colleague, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), for his suggestion that the Republican presidential nominees have a history of not standing on principle. The lack of a clear distinction, the Texas senator told CPAC attendees, is why Democrats win elections.

“I spoke to Ted Cruz. He and I have a cordial relationship about this,” McCain told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. ”And he can say what he wants to about me — and he can say anything he wants to, I think, about Mitt. Mitt is capable of taking it.”

“But when he throws Bob Dole in there, I wonder if he thinks that Bob Dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded and left part of his body there fighting for our country? Bob Dole is such a man of honor and integrity and principle,” he said. “I hope that Ted Cruz will apologize to Bob Dole because that’s — that has crossed a line that to me is — leaves the realm of the politics and discourse that we should have in America.”

McCain said that he talked to Cruz on the Senate floor shortly after Cruz’s speech, adding that his “beloved Bob Dole,” who isn’t in good health, “doesn’t need that in the twilight of his years.”

Why it’s unlikely that states will postpone the election

New York City

With the remnants of Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc across the northeast, there has been talk of postponing Tuesday’s election in affected states. If such steps do happen to be taken, they couldn’t be done at by executive fiat, but rather the individual states that are in a state of emergency, assuming their constitutions give either the governor, chief election official, or election board authority to do so.

Congress could, theoretically, change the statutory provision (3 USC §1) that sets the presidential election date as the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in November,” making it uniform across the country. However, this doesn’t seem to be any stomach for it nor is it realistic with Congress currently out of session and six days to go until election day.

Suspending an election isn’t exactly unheard of. On September 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center buildings were targeted by terrorists, a state judge took such an extraordinary action to suspend New York City’s primaries. They were rescheduled two weeks later.

But that’s a just a city election — granted New York is America’s largest city. Writing at the National Journal, Billy House explains that postponing a presidential election across several states may be too difficult and polarizing a task:


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