Tag Archives: November

Marquette poll: Clinton’s Wisconsin lead expands to 15 percent of likely voters

The latest Marquette Law School Poll finds Hillary Clinton at 46 percent with Wisconsin registered voters and Donald Trump at 36 percent.

About 16 percent of voters in the state told Marquette they will: vote for neither candidate, will not vote or don’t know how they will vote, according to a news release issued on Aug. 10.

In July, the poll had Clinton at 43 percent and Trump at 37 percent.

Clinton’s numbers go up among likely voters in November. The Democratic candidate is at 52 percent and Trump is back at 37 percent. In July, on this question, Clinton was at 45 percent and Trump was at 41 percent.

About 65 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable view of Trump and about 53 percent have an unfavorable view of Clinton.

About 47 percent of voters say Clinton “cares about people like me” and 31 percent say that about Trump.

Fifty-eight say Clinton has the qualifications to be president. Just 29 percent say Trump has what’s needed to occupy the Oval Office.

The poll shows about 79 percent of Republicans support Trump and 90 percent of Democrats support Clinton. Independents are split 36 percent for Clinton, 34 percent for Trump and 29 percent saying they would vote for neither, they wouldn’t vote or they don’t know.

Marquette said Republicans and independents who lean Republican see their party as divided —47 percent saying it is divided now and still will be divided in November. The numbers has barely moved from July, when 46 percent said the GOP would remain divided.

Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, 16 percent say the party is divided and will remain so. In July, 19 percent thought the party would remain divided.

The Marquette poll also looked at the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold. In the November contest, Feingold is at 49 percent and Johnson is at 43 percent. Last month, Feingold was at 48 percent and Johnson at 41 percent.

About 53 percent of likely voters support Feingold and 42 percent support Johnson.

On other questions, Scott Walker’s approval rating is at 38 percent, unchanged from July. His disapproval rating is 59 percent, a point higher from July.

About 54 percent of registered voters have a favorable view of House Speaker Paul Ryan and the president’s approval rating is at 53 percent, two points up from July.

The poll was conducted by phone Aug. 4-7, after the Republican and Democratic national conventions. The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history.

On the web

The Marquette Law School Poll.

Critics seek replacement, call Trump’s candidacy a disaster

Desperate conservatives have circulated a petition calling for the Republican National Committee to host a special meeting where Donald Trump could be replaced as the party’s presidential nominee.

Organizers — some of the same Republicans who tried to prevent Trump from winning the GOP nomination — acknowledge the effort is a long shot at best. But fearing an Election Day disaster, they have appealed to RNC members across the nation in recent days to intervene.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Regina Thomson, executive director of a political action committee known as the GOP Accountability Project, wrote in an e-mail distributed to RNC members over the weekend and obtained by The Associated Press.

“Donald J. Trump is a disaster,” Thomson wrote, attaching a copy of the petition in the message. “His post-convention behavior has been deplorable.”

Trump has worried many leading Republicans in recent weeks with a string of controversies and fights, notably with the Muslim American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq and prominent Republicans up for re-election. Trump reversed course and ended up endorsing House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Still, Thomson and other anti-Trump Republicans are concerned.

Party rules allow RNC members to replace a presidential nominee in the event of “death, declination, or otherwise” – language Trump critics say allows for his replacement soon after he formally captured his party’s presidential nomination at the national convention. To force a meeting to discuss Trump’s ouster, however, organizers must submit signatures by at least 16 RNC members from 16 states.

Should they do so, GOP chairman Reince Priebus has 10 to 20 days to convene the full, 168-member Republican National Committee.

“This is the same story over and over again,” said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, dismissing the latest effort. He suggested that the Trump rebels have “a credibility problem” after repeated failed attempts to block Trump’s nomination at the convention.

Even after Trump ended his feud by endorsing Ryan last Friday night, a fresh wave of Republican operatives – and even a handful of elected officials – vowed to vote for someone else or even leave the GOP altogether.

“We’re concerned he’s on a path to destruction and we’re trying to avert that,” Thomson said in a Monday interview.

The Colorado Republican, the former state chairwoman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, said she has received verbal commitments from party officials willing to sign the petition, but declined to say how many or who they are.

Several RNC members, reached by the AP on Monday, acknowledged deep frustration with Trump’s candidacy, but said they would not sign the petition. None were willing to give their names for fear they would be associated with the move.

“It is a difficult path but we are supportive of their efforts,” said Republican operative Dane Waters, who led an anti-Trump effort at the convention. “It is important that all options be considered and tried. Priebus should never have allowed this to happen.”

Libertarian Party picks ex-New Mexico Gov. Johnson for president

The Libertarian Party again nominated former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential candidate, believing he can challenge presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton because of their poor showing in popularity polls.

Johnson, 63, won the nomination on the second ballot at the party’s convention in Orlando, Florida, defeating Austin Petersen, the founder of The Libertarian Republic magazine; and anti-computer virus company founder John McAfee.

The delegates selected former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld to be the vice presidential running mate.

Johnson, the party’s nominee in 2012, told the delegates during his acceptance speech that his job will be to get the Libertarian platform before the voters at a level the party has not seen.

“I am fiscally conservative in spades and I am socially liberal in spades,” Johnson told The Associated Press. “I would cut back on military interventions that have the unintended consequence of making us less safe in the world.”

On fiscal matters, Libertarians push for reduced spending and taxes, saying the federal government has gotten too big across the board. Johnson proposes eliminating federal income and corporate taxes and replacing those with a national sales tax.

He would reduce domestic spending by eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Commerce and Education departments, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

On social issues, Libertarians generally support abortion rights, gun rights, same-sex marriage and drug legalization, saying people should be allowed to do anything that doesn’t hurt others.

Johnson served as New Mexico’s governor from 1995 to 2003 as a Republican after a career as the owner of one of that state’s largest construction companies.

After failing to gain traction in the GOP’s 2012 primaries, he changed his registration to Libertarian shortly before running for that party’s nomination that year. He won the nomination and got just short of 1 percent of the general election vote against President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

For Johnson to make a serious run this year, he needs to qualify for the presidential debates. To do that, he must average 15 percent in five recognized polls.

He hopes that is doable because Trump and Clinton are both seen unfavorably by a majority of voters, according to recent polls.

Johnson will also need to overcome a huge financial disadvantage and history.

In 2012, Obama and Romney spent over a billion dollars each, a figure Trump and Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, are expected to also reach. Johnson spent $2.5 million in 2012, about one dollar for every 400 Obama and Romney each spent. Johnson hopes to raise “tens of millions of dollars” this time.

“Then we can leverage that to a level where we could wage political war” by hiring staff and running TV and radio commercials, Johnson said. He said Weld will help in this effort, having raised about $250 million during his political career compared to Johnson’s $8 million. Weld, 70, was Massachusetts governor from 1991 to 1997, also as a Republican.

The Libertarian Party has been running presidential tickets since 1972, but has never been a major factor. The party’s best showing was 1980, when candidate Ed Clark got slightly more than 1 percent of the vote. The only electoral vote the party has received was in 1972, when a renegade Virginia elector pledged to President Richard Nixon cast his ballot for Libertarian John Hospers instead.

Third parties have never won a U.S. presidential election. Former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, running on the Bull Moose Party ticket, got 27 percent of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes in 1912. He finished second to Democrat Woodrow Wilson, the only time a third party candidate has finished that well.

Other notable third-party runs include former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who got 13 percent of the popular vote in 1968, winning 45 electoral votes; and billionaire businessman Ross Perot, who got 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992 but no electoral votes.

Fierce legislative campaigns expected in 2016 elections

With the November 2016 elections just one year away, Republicans, Democrats and outside groups are preparing for expensive battles over state legislative seats.

Increasing activity by independent groups could push next year’s campaign fundraising totals past those of previous election cycles. Since 2006, contributions to state legislative candidates have ranged between $900 million and $1 billion.

In some states, control of a chamber is at stake. In others, parties are seeking to gain or thwart a supermajority. Elsewhere, one party is merely looking to cut into the other’s majority. Some of the states expected to attract the most legislative interest in the coming year.

In Wisconsin, Democrats are hoping for gains in the Senate in a state currently under full Republican control. The GOP’s Senate majority stands at 19-14.

In other states …

Arizona:

– Republicans control both chambers but hold a relatively slim 17-13 majority in the Senate, creating an opportunity for Democrats.

California:

– Democrats are just one Senate seat and two Assembly seats away from gaining the two-thirds supermajorities needed to raise taxes, pass emergency legislation and override gubernatorial vetoes without the need for any Republican votes.

Colorado:

– Both the House and Senate are up for grabs. Republicans currently hold an 18-17 Senate majority while Democrats hold a 34-31 House advantage.

Florida:

– Republicans hold sizeable House and Senate majorities, but Democrats are hoping to pick up some seats as part of a long-range goal of gaining control of one chamber before the 2021 redistricting.

Illinois:

– Democrats currently hold a three-fifths supermajority in both chambers needed to override vetoes of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. A gain of just one House seat by Republicans would wipe that out.

Iowa:

– Republicans are targeting the Senate, where Democrats currently hold a 26-24 majority that provides them a check against a Republican House and governor. Democrats, meanwhile, are targeting the GOP’s 56-43 House majority.

Kentucky:

– Republicans, who already have a sizeable Senate majority, are hoping to flip the House, where Democrats are defending a 54-46 majority.

Maine:

– Democrats, who control the House, will be looking to regain the Senate majority they lost to Republicans in 2014. The GOP currently controls the upper chamber 20-15.

Massachusetts:

– Democrats have solid supermajorities in the Legislature. But national Republicans have set a goal of chipping away at those to make it harder for Democrats to get the two-thirds majority needed to override vetoes of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Michigan:

– Republicans currently control both chambers and the governorship. The Democrats’ best chance for gains is in the House, where the GOP has a 61-46 majority.

Minnesota:

– Both chambers are in play, although it will take decent gains to flip either one. Democrats currently hold a 39-28 Senate majority while Republicans hold a 72-62 House advantage.

Missouri:

– Democrats will be trying to chip away at Republican supermajorities in both chambers, which the GOP has used to ding Democrat Jay Nixon with the distinction as the governor with the most overridden vetoes in state history.

Montana:

– Democrats are targeting both chambers, although Republicans hold a 29-21 Senate majority and 59-41 House majority.

Nevada:

– Democrats are looking to wrest control from Republicans, who currently hold an 11-10 Senate majority and 25-17 majority in the Assembly.

New Hampshire:

– Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, but Democrats are looking for gains in a presidential election year that typically bodes well for them. The House has a history of frequent flips in party control.

New Mexico:

– Political parties will be battling over both chambers. Republicans currently hold a 37-33 House majority while Democrats have a 25-17 majority in the Senate.

New York:

– Democrats, who already hold a commanding House majority, are looking to reverse a slim Republican majority in the Senate.

North Carolina:

– Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers, but Democrats are hoping to cut into those margins as part of a long-term goal of controlling at least one chamber by the next round of redistricting.

Ohio:

– Republicans hold a roughly two-thirds majority in both chambers, but Democrats are looking to regain seats in the House, where they lost the majority in the 2010 elections.

Oregon:

– National Republicans are targeting both legislative chambers with hopes of cutting into Democratic majorities that currently stand at 18-12 in the Senate and 35-25 in the House.

Pennsylvania:

– Republicans hold majorities in both chambers but have targeted their 120-83 House advantage as a defensive priority against potential Democratic gains.

Vermont:

– With an open governor’s race also on the ballot, Republicans are targeting both legislative chambers with a goal of chipping away at sizeable Democratic majorities.

Washington:

– Both chambers are in play in the closely divided Legislature. Republicans currently hold a 26-23 Senate majority, thanks partly to one Democrat who caucuses with them, while Democrats control the House 51-47.

West Virginia:

– Democrats are looking to regain the Senate after Republicans wrested control of both chambers from them following the 2014 elections. The GOP holds a slim 18-16 Senate majority but has a comfortable House advantage.

Ground game could determine Wisconsin governor’s race

Cooper Smith and Erica Imhoff hit the streets of Madison on a recent afternoon armed with a smart phone and campaign literature touting Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Instead of knocking on every door or on those where it appeared someone was home, though, Imhoff scrolled through her phone and called out the addresses of only certain voters.

Smith, a Republican Party field director, and Imhoff, a volunteer, were helping implement a new GOP strategy being rolled out nationwide that aims to identify undecided voters in certain neighborhoods and win them over by tailoring questions and responses to each voter’s particular situation.

The party hopes to improve its canvassing efficiency, ensure its backers are registered to vote and seize the technological advantage that Democrats first widely used to help propel Barack Obama to victory in 2008 and get him re-elected president four years later.

Actually knowing which side is doing a better job on get out the vote work is impossible — at least until Election Day.

“Ground game operations are one of the most secretive and black magic elements of all campaigns,” said Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin.

This much is known — Republicans in Wisconsin and elsewhere have been using new data and analytics tools to improve voter outreach, fundraising and campaign tactics.

Democrats, too, are fighting to maintain the edge they developed leading into the presidential election as they face the challenge of mobilizing their side in an off-year election.

“The things we’re doing now are going to make the difference on Nov. 4,” said Joe Fadness, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Both Fadness and Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate say a solid ground game operation could bring between 2 percent and 5 percent of voters to the polls, which could be enough to sway a close election like this year’s governor’s race is expected to be.

The most recent Marquette University Law School poll, which came out in May, had the race between Walker and Democrat Mary Burke, a former state Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, as a dead heat.

Democrats have done well in presidential years in Wisconsin, having carried the state every election since 1988. But in the last midterm in 2010, Walker won by 6 percentage points. That same year, which was huge for the GOP nationwide, Republicans also took control of the state Senate and Assembly and ousted Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold.

Walker won the recall election in June 2012 by 7 points. But that fall, Obama carried the state by 7 points and liberal Democrat Tammy Baldwin was elected to the U.S. Senate over former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Almost immediately after that, Wisconsin Republicans started preparing for this fall and the Walker re-election, Fadness said. That has put them far ahead of Democrats this election cycle, he said.

“(Democrats are) putting the plane together while they’re flying the plane,” Fadness said. “We understand now campaigning is 24-7, 365.”

Tate rejected the notion that the Republicans will overtake the Democrats’ ground game operation.

“Our ground game will absolutely outperform the Republicans and the reason for that is they are still trying to catch up to technology we’ve been perfecting for several cycles in a row,” Tate said. “I’m very confident in our ability at a very micro level to identify voters we need to get to the polls.”

EMILY’s List says defeating Walker a top priority

Defeating Republican Gov. Scott Walker and electing Democrat Mary Burke will be a top priority for the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List, its spokeswoman Marcy Stech said earlier this month.

Stech would not say how much the well-funded Washington-based group, which backs female candidates who support abortion rights, plans to spend on the race. EMILY’s List and its partners were major players in Wisconsin’s 2012 Senate race, spending nearly $5 million to help elect Tammy Baldwin over Republican Tommy Thompson.

Outside spending in this year’s governor’s race is expected to be significant, especially given Walker’s rising national prominence and possible 2016 presidential run. Walker, who was in New York City recently for a Republican National Committee fundraiser, has also proven himself capable of luring huge donations and support nationwide.

Total spending in Walker’s first run for governor broke $36 million, the highest ever for a governor’s race. That record was shattered in 2012 when Walker was forced to stand for a recall election following passage of a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers. Spending during the recall hit $81 million. Normal campaign finance limits did not apply during much of that race due to rules governing recall elections.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks spending on elections in the state, has estimated this year’s governor’s race between Burke and Walker could top $40 million.

Support from outside groups like EMILY’s List will help Burke chip away at Walker’s expected financial advantage. At the beginning of this year, Walker had $4.6 million cash on hand compared with $1.3 million for Burke. Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and member of the Madison school board, is running her first statewide campaign. She already has tapped $400,000 of her personal wealth on the effort.

Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre did not directly address the EMILY’s List plans, but instead said voters would reward Walker for cutting taxes by nearly $2 billion, balancing a $3.6 billion shortfall and being in charge while more than 100,000 private sector jobs have been created and unemployment is at its lowest point since 2008.

Stech said women will be motivated to vote for Burke because Walker signed a Republican-sponsored bill repealing a 2009 law that made it easier for women to sue over wage discrimination. She also said that Walker’s failure to add 250,000 private sector jobs, as he promised in the 2010 campaign, hurts families across the state. Stech also said EMILY’s List planned to criticize Walker’s signing of a bill last year that requires an ultrasound to be performed before a woman can have an abortion.

Burke’s campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki turned the focus of the EMILY’s List planned spending to an indictment of Walker for raising more than half of his campaign donations from people who live outside of Wisconsin.

Lesbian Democrat challenging U.S. rep. must defy history

In seven elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson secured 1.1 million Idaho residents’ votes to send him to Congress. His Democratic rivals? Fewer than 500,000.

Only once did Simpson win less than 62 percent, his inaugural 1998 run when he beat former Democratic Congressman Richard Stallings. On average, Simpson wins by 36 percentage points with Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District voters.

Confronted with these numbers, Simpson’s Democratic rival, Nicole LeFavour, a four-term state lawmaker from Boise, offers her own numbers to underpin a stubborn optimism about Nov. 6.

She has 11 paid staffers to reach voters. She’s made 30 trips to eastern Idaho, trekking door-to-door in hardcore Republican neighborhoods. Singer Carole King has given two concerts to energize her supporters – and financiers who have chipped in more than $300,000. With field offices in Boise, Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Twin Falls, LeFavour says she’s reaching more voters than any Idaho Democrat ever.

Forget numbers that say Mike Simpson is a shoo-in for an eighth trip to Washington, D.C.; LeFavour contends her 2012 campaign is a different animal than the seven that failed to beat or unseat Simpson over the last 14 years.

“How many of them were sitting state senators who had spent 20 years on the ground working with people, every day?” she said. “We’ve been talking to thousands of them. No one has ever done that in this congressional district.”

On paper, however, Simpson is the candidate to beat: A Republican in a state where 81 percent of the Legislature is GOP.

He’s outraised LeFavour, banking $1.1 million.

And he’s running in a district that includes eastern Idaho and eastern Boise that hasn’t elected a Democrat in 22 years – Stallings in 1990 – in a year when Idaho favorite Mitt Romney is on the GOP presidential ticket. Idaho Republicans are energized.

“Sen. LeFavour has a steep hill to climb, running against a popular incumbent in a heavily Republican district,” said David Adler, head of Boise State University’s Andrus Center for Public Policy. “What compounds the difficulty for Nicole is that, on a number of economic issues, Congressman Simpson has been an advocate of programs that appear to be centrist.”

Simpson, for instance, has been among a bipartisan lawmaker coalition that urge a broad compromise combining cuts with new revenue to trim the $16 trillion national debt by a quarter.

LeFavour, meanwhile, casts Simpson as an extremist lurking beneath a moderate veneer, barely concealing her outrage at his votes against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 that bolstered wage protections for women and for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s austere budget when it cleared the House in March 2012.

The spending package pushed by Ryan, now Romney’s vice presidential pick, foresaw changes to Medicare that LeFavour argues would hurt seniors.

She favors restoring extended federal unemployment benefits; Simpson doesn’t, wondering where the money is going to come amid trillion-plus annual budget deficits.

“Look at his voting record,” LeFavour said. “People expected him to stand up for them and against that kind of cruelty.”

LeFavour is an earnest crusader, born in Colorado but raised up in Idaho’s rural Custer County. She’s Idaho’s first openly-gay state lawmaker.

Simpson is an unapologetic jokester, a Mormon who drinks coffee with Bailey’s on cold, rainy days and who quit dentistry for politics.

The 62-year-old Simpson traded his House speaker post in Idaho’s Capitol in the 1990s for his current job, where since 2010 he’s led the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee that sets funding for the U.S. Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, a regular target of his budget barbs.

Simpson contends the Lilly Ledbetter law allows women claiming pay discrimination to wait for too long before lodging a complaint, but added his vote doesn’t conflict with his conviction that women deserve equal pay for equal work. His wife, Kathy Simpson, has worked for 42 years, he said.

“The idea that I don’t care about her being paid equally is just patently absurd,” he said.

And Simpson said his support of Ryan’s Medicare voucher proposal underscores his commitment to paring budget deficits, insisting it takes political courage to challenge Medicare’s status quo.

“It’s the third rail of politics. You touch it, you die,” he said. “But somebody has got to be stepping up and saying, ‘We’ve got to reform this program.’ “

LeFavour hopes an often-overlooked constituency – Hispanic and Latino voters in the 2nd Congressional District’s agricultural communities – turns out in greater numbers than ever to help her end Simpson’s run in Washington, D.C. Three LeFavour staffers are bilingual.

Even if the numbers don’t work out in her favor this time, she says they may provide guidance for her future.

“If I get 40 percent plus of the vote, I would certainly consider that a potential reason to run again,” LeFavour said.

Group forms to protect Iowa judge from right-wing revenge

A newly formed group is spearheading an effort to retain an Iowa Supreme Court justice who others are trying to oust because of his support of a ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

Justice Not Politics Action announced a campaign last week to support the retention of David Wiggins and all other judges on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

“Iowa judges have a strong tradition of ruling based on law,” Sally Pederson, former Iowa lieutenant governor and chairwoman of Justice Not Politics Action, said in a statement Thursday.

Voting to retain judges is a “vote to protect our courts,” Pederson said.

“Iowa Democrats, Republicans and independents need to stand together to prevent out-of-state special interest groups from intimidating our judges by threatening to spend millions to oust them,” she said.

Justice Not Politics Action signed up supporters and distribute campaign materials at the Iowa-Northern Iowa football game Saturday in Iowa City.

Wiggins is one of seven justices involved in the 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. He’s the fourth justice in the case to come up for a retention vote. Three others were booted off the bench by voters in 2010 following an ouster campaign led by Iowans for Freedom, an offshoot of the conservative group Family Leader.

Iowans for Freedom has promised a campaign aimed at driving Wiggins from office. Those opposed to retaining Wiggins plan to embark on a four-city “No Wiggins” bus tour in the state starting Sept. 24 from Des Moines.

“We are very passionate about our effort to restore integrity to the Iowa Supreme Court by ensuring the constitutional intent for the separation of powers,” said Bob Vander Plaats, state chairman of Iowans for Freedom, in a news release earlier this month announcing the bus tour.

“This is a freedom issue and we believe that voting ‘No’ on Wiggins will help preserve freedoms, the constitution, and the integrity of the judicial system,” he said.

The ordeal of democracy

It’s a sad comment on the state of American politics that most people fervently wish for the fall campaign to be over with as soon as possible.

The election is talked about as if it were an ordeal or bad smell that needs to be avoided or, failing that, overcome. The national party conventions rouse their members to action for the Nov. 6 election. Already, large corporate and other interests are airing blistering attack ads accusing candidates of undermining American values and destroying the American way of life.

Most folks I know say these ads all start sounding the same after awhile and they tune them out or press the “mute” button. Whether liberal or conservative in message, their persistence and negativity contribute to the alienation felt by voters.

The obscene amount of money poured into these ads may reach a billion dollars this year. The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, ratified unlimited expenditures by private interests that can remain essentially anonymous. Unless and until that ruling is modified or reversed, the glut of attack ads and disinformation will continue unabated.

For LGBTs, the choices this fall should be a no-brainer: supporting Republican candidates who deny our existence and rights or supporting Democratic candidates who recognize our existence and rights. That sounds simplistic, but it is true.

In an article in The New York Times, Frank Bruni interviewed gay Republicans about the GOP convention. They defended their party, saying that the absence of any mention of gays and lesbians was actually a hopeful sign.

The executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans said: “Our messaging within the party has been: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

How pathetic is that? The Republican platform is actively anti-gay, yet these oxymoronic gay Republicans are willing to accept that and abase themselves as long as party leaders don’t say anything mean about them?

Someone ought to use gay Republicans to study the power of self-delusion.

The Democratic platform is actively pro-gay and Barack Obama came out this year in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Contrast this to the GOP platform, which supports a constitutional amendment on marriage that excludes same-sex couples.

And the GOP stand on reproductive rights is just as clear: ladies, you don’t have any.

The Tammy Baldwin vs. Tommy Thompson senatorial race should be another no-brainer for LGBTs. Baldwin is a long-time public servant who is openly lesbian. She supports the Affordable Care Act (derided as “Obamacare”) and prioritizes jobs, education, civil rights and the environment. She consistently voted against the billions handed to private contractors for our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, money that is largely unaccounted for.

Baldwin faces a tough race against Thompson, who has won four statewide races and is more familiar to most voters. Thompson was almost comical in his insistence on being more right wing than his three opponents in the GOP primary this summer. If he wins, have no doubt that he will vote as a hard-right conservative on social, economic and defense issues.

The biggest challenge for LGBT and progressive voters is not to succumb to the fatigue of these seemingly endless campaigns. As clumsy, long and outrageously expensive as our national elections are, we can’t afford to sit them out. Somehow, every four years, we and our country manage to survive our democratic ordeal.

Contact Jamakaya at .

Mass opinion in mask sales: Tracking begins in the Spirit Halloween Presidential Index

What do Gallup, the Wall Street Journal, Marist and Quinnipiac colleges and the New York Times polls have in common? In terms of pure reliability and awesomeness, Spirit Halloween says they pale in comparison to the Spirit Halloween Presidential Index.

Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are turning their campaigns to winning those important swing states. And their strategists are looking at the polls.

But are they looking at the right polls? One important predictor of presidential politics since the mid-1990s would have them wondering: Are enough people buying my guy’s mask for this Halloween?

In the past four elections, nationwide sales of U.S. presidential candidate masks by Spirit Halloween unmaskes the winner days before general election results were in:

In 2008, the Spirit Halloween Presidential Index gave Obama the edge over John McCain, 60-40 percent.

• 2004: John Kerry, 35 percent; George W. Bush, 65 percent.

• 2000: George W. Bush, 57 percent; Al Gore, 43 percent.

• 1996: Bill Clinton, 71 percent; Bob Dole, 29 percent.

The sales have only just begun in this year’s contest.

Steven Silverstein of Spirit Halloween says, “With the elections falling just days after Halloween, the mask factor has proven to be a consistent and accurate predictor of the next president. Both Halloween and the elections are proud American traditions. The Spirit Halloween Presidential Index has proven to be a fun, lighthearted way to combine the two.”

obama_mask