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Saturday News: Prank Call to Air Force One Fools Trump; “How...

by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, June 30. North Korea has increased nuclear production at...

Wednesday News: Trump’s “Tiny” Offer on Gun Control; “Virginia Effect” Should...

by Lowell Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, February 21. Trump's compromise on gun control: explaining the...

Do Anti-Obamacare Ads Increase Enrollment?

Anti-ACA Ad Spending photo 140712anti-ACAadspending_zps2ac991b7.pngThough intended to serve at least two purposes, the $450 million spent on anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA) ads have failed their purpose(s) and may have unintentionally informed the uninsured that they have a path to healthcare coverage. The other intent, to support Republican candidates by inference, may also backfire.

The correlation of negative ad spending to enrollment is not direct and is affected by demographics, but research prepared by Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi provides some very interesting data. The chart for the television markets that encompass Virginia shows raw spending data from 2013 (national TV market map and data). This is not per capita data, so cannot be used for an accurate correlation, but it is informative. And Yaraghi does point out that the market where the highest per capita spending occurred, Washington, D.C., had the highest Obamacare enrollment rate, 11%.

In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future. People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.

What is also clear from the spending data is that this advertising is aimed at assisting Republicans in states with the most competitive mid-term Senate races: Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The aim is probably as much voter suppression as it is support for the Republican candidates. In Virginia, these ads may influence the outcome of two Congressional races (7th and 10th) more than the U.S. Senate race not only because Senator Warner has a nuanced position on the ACA but also because his opponent is a cold fish.  

Some Good News Amid the Bad

Election Day was certainly not a day to celebrate for Virginia Democrats, who saw the State Senate become a divided body that Bill Bolling will control with his tie-breaking vote. However, across the nation there were bright spots for those of us who have worried that extremism has become the norm in tea-poisoned American politics.

In Arizona, State Sen. Russell Pearce, the man who concocted Arizona's draconian immigration law, was voted out of office in a special recall election, replaced by a saner Republican who had opposed that law. The new Sen. Jerry Lewis (no, not that Jerry Lewis) also vowed to introduce a bill to ban gifts to members of the legislature, a law we sure could use in Virginia.  

The far-right's attack on public employee received a knockout punch in Ohio as high-flying Gov. John Kasich, the face of the law that banned collective bargaining in that state, watched a recall election nullify the law. More than 60% of Ohio voters rejected S.B. 5.

In Mississippi of all places, an attempt to amend the state constitution to declare a fertilized human egg a person from the instant of conception went down in defeat. The amendment was an obvious attempt to outlaw abortion, even for victims of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother. It also would have banned some forms of birth control and probably would have outlawed in vitro fertilization for infertile couples.

Elsewhere, Kentucky Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear won re-election in that Republican state. In Michigan Rep. Paul Scott, who had championed a change in the state teacher tenure law and the slashing of educational funding, was recalled from office. Finally, a new poll in Ohio, a must-win state for Dems in 2012, shows President Obama leading all GOP challengers by substantial margins. So, there may be hope for this country yet.

Aqua Buddha: Rand Paul’s Macaca Moment?

In the 2006 U.S. Senate race in Virginia, it wasn't as if George Allen's lead collapsed the day the video of Allen tauntingly calling a Democratic staffer "macaca" came out. It was the first in a chain of events -- Allen's multiple, convoluted explanations, news of his Jewish heritage & his virulent rejection of it -- that prompted voters to ask themselves, "Do I really know who George Allen is?" When they took a second look at Allen's phony cowboy boots next to Jim Webb's combat boots ... well, you know how that went.

At TPM this morning, Josh Marshall says Rand Paul's inability to offer any coherent explanation to the Aqua Buddha controversy may have similarly shaken Kentucky voters' faith that they really know who Rand Paul is:

It's his response that seems weird. Why won't he just deny it? Or say it was a college prank and move on? And what's with the grandiose backing out of the final debate? Why won't he show up and face the guy who smacked him? (Paul's actually kept this one in suspense. He's going to announce [Friday] whether he'll show up for the second debate.)

In other words, it's sounding like a pretty good example of what I've called "bitch slap politics", a form of political gambit in which the substance of the attack is less important than showing the recipient can't or won't defend himself.

It took Webb weeks to close the gap with Allen, while Jack Conway has only days to catch Paul. But the gap is much smaller. Could we be looking at an upset in Kentucky?

Jack Conway Ad Rips Rand Paul on $2,000 Deductible for Medicare...


From our neighboring state of Kentucky. More ads like this by Democrats, please!

Kentucky AG vs. Virginia AG: Now THAT Would Be A Fun...

I'd love to see Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli debate this guy.
The attorney general of Kentucky is dismissing calls from leading Republican officials to sue the federal government to block the recently passed health care legislation.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Jack Conway, a Democratic candidate for Senate and current Kentucky AG, described talk of health care lawsuits as the baseless meandering of Tea Party conspiracy theorists; not to mention a potentially large waste of taxpayer money.

"Most constitutional scholars looking at this issue say it is absolutely clear that these lawsuits will not be successful," Conway said. "While it may make for good Tea Party politics for [Republican Senatorial candidate] Rand Paul and Sarah Palin, it makes for really lousy lawsuits. And I'm not going to waste the taxpayer resources of the people of Kentucky on political stunts."

"The last thing I need is a lecture on the constitutional law from Rand Raul or Sarah Palin," he added.

Wait a minute, "waste the taxpayer resources?"   Didn't our fine Attorney General inform us that his lawsuit against the federal government will only cost Virginia taxpayers $350?  That is, unless you don't believe Kookinelli that his staff time on this case, which undoubtedly will reach into the hundreds of hours, doesn't need to be factored in to the cost. How much do those guys make, anyway, minimum wage? Maybe Jack Conway can ask Cooch about that when they debate. Heh.