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Nine Most Likely Words From Congress
"I'm from the government, and I help rich people."

Nine Most Likely Words From Congress

National digest: Oct. 23, 2014

Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by Daryl

October 22 at 7:18 PM


Reynolds bans smoking in offices

Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc. is snuffing out smoking in its offices and buildings.

The nation’s second-biggest tobacco company informed employees Wednesday that beginning next year, the use of traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes no longer will be permitted at employee desks or offices, in conference rooms, hallways and elevators. Lighting up is prohibited on factory floors and in cafeterias and fitness centers.

The no-smoking policy will go into effect once Reynolds builds indoor smoking areas for those still wanting to light up indoors, spokesman David Howard said.

“We believe it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it because updating our tobacco-use policies will better accommodate both non-smokers and smokers who work in and visit our facilities,” Howard said. “We’re just better aligning our tobacco use policies with the realities of what you’re seeing in society today.”

Although Reynolds no longer will allow smoking, it will allow the use of smokeless tobacco products including electronic cigarettes, moist snuff and pouches of finely milled tobacco called snus (pronounced “snoose”).

— Associated Press


Shuttered abortion clinics reopen

Two closed abortion clinics have reopened, giving the state a total of five licensed clinics.

An attorney with the state health department says the Planned Parenthood Southeast clinic in Birmingham has reopened after taking corrective actions. The clinic closed in January after firing two employees for selling abortion medication to a person in the clinic parking lot. The clinic replaced its staff and made other changes.

Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville has reopened after moving to a new location. The clinic closed its old location in late June because it couldn’t comply with a new state law that requires clinics to have wide halls and doors and improved fire safety systems similar to a surgical treatment center. The new location contains those features.

— Associated Press


Navajo Nation court dismisses bid for higher office

A candidate for tribal president on the nation’s largest Indian reservation lost another round in a language fluency dispute Wednesday, all but ending his bid for office.

The Navajo Nation’s highest court dismissed an appeal from Chris Deschene, making a disqualification order from a lower court final.

The lower court had disqualified Deschene from seeking the tribe’s top elected post after he declined to demonstrate whether he is fluent in Navajo. Tribal law requires its presidential candidates to be fluent in the language, a defining part of Navajo culture.

Despite the long odds, Deschene said he is hoping that election officials and tribal lawmakers will provide a way for him to remain on the ballot.

— Associated Press

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Monkey Cage: Governors to watch for 2016 and beyond: What the polls tell us

Posted on October 21st, 2014 by Daryl

Of the 28 incumbent governors running for reelection in 2014, who are the true standouts this election cycle?  The question is more than just a pundit’s parlor game: today’s successful governors are tomorrow’s presidential candidates.  Indeed, several incumbents on the ballot this year–including Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Susana Martinez (R-N.M.), and Scott Walker (R-Wis.)–have already been mentioned as possible presidential and vice-presidential contenders.  Thus the list of hopefuls seeking their parties’ nominations in 2016 and 2020 will almost certainly include some of the governors who win a new term this Nov. 4.

Which incumbent governors can credibly lay claim to cultivating the kind of broad-based popularity required to win national office?  Answering this question requires more than simply looking at poll numbers.  We need to adjust these numbers for the fact that some governors have an easier path to reelection than others.  First, all things being equal, governors perform better in states that are their parties’ strongholds.  Second, political scientists have shown that electorates prefer government control to be balanced between the two parties, and thus they penalize governors when the state’s legislature is controlled by the same party.  Third, President Obama’s low approval ratings are dragging down the poll numbers of Democratic governors this year.

In order to account for these advantages and disadvantages, I use the latest election poll averages from to estimate the power of each of these factors on incumbent governors’ poll numbers. This generates a prediction for each governor’s performance in the polls. For the purposes of identifying high-quality future candidates for national office, we should take note of governors whose actual poll numbers exceed their predicted margins. Such over-performance serves as a rough signal of an incumbent’s quality and his or her ability to appeal to a national audience down the road.  States in which incumbents are currently performing particularly well are shaded in green on the map below.

Five incumbents—New York’s Cuomo, plus Republicans Robert Bentley (Ala.), Bill Haslam (Tenn.), John Kasich (Ohio), and Brian Sandoval (Nev.)—lead the pack.  Each enjoys a margin in the polls that is at least six points bigger than predicted by state fundamentals. At the top of the list is Kasich, whose current 63-37 percent polling margin puts him an astounding 11 points ahead of predictions.  To get a sense of Kasich’s strength, compare his performance to that of fellow Midwestern Republican governors Walker and Michigan’s Rick Snyder—both of whom are just barely beating expectations in the polls.  To be sure, Kasich had the good fortune to draw a remarkably weak opponent whose candidacy has basically imploded.  But during his term as governor, he’s also largely avoided the kind of knock-down, drag-out ideological fights catalyzed by Snyder and Walker over state policy. Governing from the middle (at least relative to their states’ electorates) has also been an approach ascribed to Cuomo, Haslam, and Sandoval.

Moderation is precisely not the way of Gov. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), one of 2014’s poorest performing gubernatorial incumbents.  He finds himself in a neck-and-neck reelection battle instead of the easy victory expected in a state Obama lost by 20 points in 2012.  All signs indicate Brownback’s electoral troubles are due to his ambitious conservative agenda that included dramatic cuts in taxes—and spending, but not enough to cover a revenue shortfall that led to the downgrading of the state’s bond rating.  Other states in which governors are performing particularly poorly are shaded in brown on the map; they include Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Paul LePage (R-Me.), Butch Otter (R-Ind.), and Pat Quinn (D-Ill.).

But the ignominious designation for the poorest performing incumbent goes to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania.  He currently trails challenger Tom Wolf by 20 percentage points, while the fundamentals say he should hold a narrow lead.  Reviled by the state’s public sector unions and shunned by conservatives, Corbett has presided over a schools crisis in Philadelphia after cutting $ 1 billion in state aid to education and engaged in highly publicized battles with his own party in the state legislature that have yielded little in terms of policy change.  Journalist Tom Ferrick Jr., a veteran observer of Pennsylvania politics, summarizes Corbett’s tenure as “beleaguered, endangered, hapless”—three words that say more about the poor performance of an incumbent governor than any model ever can.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner sparred on jobs, the state’s financial issues and qualifications in their final televised debate on Monday in Chicago. (AP)

Patrick J. Egan is an Associate Professor of Politics and Public Policy at NYU. He specializes in public opinion, political institutions and their relationship in American politics.

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