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State of the Aggreblogging

There's a possibility that the House will have committee assignments later this week. And Rick Perry will opine on the state of the state. Doped or un-doped ... we'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out. Till then, homework on a batch of bills in the Lege is underway. Oh, and a few news items from recent days ...

» Chron: Alvarado, Garcia headed to a runoff for Gallegos' seat
The only surprise here was how negligible the vote was for the "other six" candidates. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a surprise to see the piling on that "Hispanic voters" are getting for a low turnout special election. First off, not all voters in SD6 are Hispanic. A quarter of the district's citizen, voting age population are Anglo. 17% are African-American. Yet I don't seem to see as much head-shaking over that part of SD6 online. The net result is that the turnout is almost identical to the runoff turnout in SD22 when Brian Birdwell was winning that seat in June of 2010. The first round in that contest (in May) was only 6.85% turnout. And somehow, I don't recall seeing a similar share of head-shaking over the patheticness of turnout among white Republicans. Bottom line: I think the reaction to turnout in this more recent contest highlights the prevalence of a bad stereotype that political junkies would be better off re-evaluating. Special elections are built for crappy turnout. I'd love to live in a world where that wasn't the case. I'd settle for one where turnout was double what it is. But that just ain't the real world.

» I'm still not sure what to make of the new redesign of The New Republic. But I am glad to see Michael Kinsley back with the rag. My sense is that the design is targeted toward tablet users/readers. It felt cozy to read on my Kindle browser on the ride between Austin & Houston. But on my laptop ... not quite as inviting.

» NY Times: Chinese Graduates Say No Thanks to Factory Jobs
Interesting for context on how American college graduates need to "catch up" to Chinese if we want to see any of those iPod manufacturing jobs in America. Considering how many jobs will supposedly require some post-secondary education, it'll be interesting to see how some of the definitions around these kind of projections change over time.

» Politico: Democrats launch plan to turn Texas blue
When I see a minimum of $50M being spoken of, a voter registration drive that makes sense in urban Texas, and a credible statewide candidate who can raise some dough to be on TV ... I'll believe it then. At first glance, however, I like Brad Bird's involvement.

» Statesman: Tort reform foes team up to force insurance companies to pay promptly
Mikal Watts ... still at it. I leave it for the reader to determine whether Watts would be a good fit for one of the open questions in the previous bullet point.

» Political Animal: Will Phil Mickelson Go Galt?
Oh good gawd, I sure hope so.

» Washington Post: Maryland Dream Act loophole increases costs for some Montgomery high schoolers
Always good advice to think through the unintended consequences of a poorly worded bill. Still, this is an easy fix.

» Washington Post: Dartmouth’s unresearched swipes at AP
A good follow-up from last week's item on Dartmouth vs AP.


In Case I Ever Get Around to Maryland

» Wash. Post: Washington suburbs pivotal in Maryland vote on ballot initiatives

Somewhere in the midst of election analysis, I owe it to myself to get around to looking at the Maryland ballot measures in more detail. For now, this'll tide me over ...

Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County), who led online petition drives to bring several measures before voters, said the analysis shows how the ballot questions transcended traditional political boundaries.

“Prince George’s County was strongly for Obama, yet it came out against changing the definition of marriage,” he said. “Anne Arundel County was pro-Romney, and it went for changing the definition of marriage. What we see are people voting values that don’t necessarily match up with what their party affiliation is.”

Exit polling done in Maryland on Election Day showed that same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly supported by voters younger than 40 and rejected by every other older group of voters. It won among white men and women and among black women, but it was rejected by black men. Voters who are college graduates, liberal, unmarried, high-income and do not regularly attend religious services were far more likely to support gay marriage than voters who are conservative, have incomes below $100,000 or are weekly church-goers.

I'm old enough to recognize that political coalitions that fragment over specific issues such as these have a hard time holding firm over time. You can review how the Religious Right movement picked away at pro-life Democrats beginning in the 70s for pretty decent lesson in how that works. But what seems to be interesting here (and even evidenced here) is that it doesn't seem to be a one-way phenomenon. How much of a disparity the issue divide matters in each party's coalition is still something to speculate on and possibly even measure more objectively. But either way, this should be worth remembering if we ever see changes in Democratic Party support levels among African-Americans, Hispanics ... and possibly even Asians.


The Lovers, The Dreamers … and Maps!

» Washington Post: For Maryland Democrats, redistricting referendum forces a look in the mirror
» Washington Post: Maryland ad war coming over same-sex marriage vote
» Washington Post: Costs, benefits of Md. Dream Act hard for voters to measure

I foresee a lot of interesting post-election analysis out of Maryland this season. That is all.


A DREAM Act Datapoint

Back to some Maryland news:

» Wash. Post: Poll: Marylanders split on gay marriage, immigrant tuition

The Gonzales poll found 47 percent of voters support the so-called Dream Act, while 51 percent are opposed.

Voters were asked whether they agree that “children of immigrants who are not in the state legally should be given the opportunity to receive Maryland in-state college tuition rates if they have graduated from a Maryland high school and their parents have filed Maryland tax returns for the past three years.”

The firm's previous poll didn't ask about the DREAM Act, but it does have some parallels on same-sex marriage and job approval for Gov. O'Malley. O'Malley went from 58% approval in January 2011 to 52% here, while same-sex marriage went from 51-45 for in January 2011 to 48-49 against in this poll. Maybe that's all just insignificant movement that can be explained away by party ID or the poll's qualifying question. But it's at least a datapoint to suggest that the DREAM Act isn't quite as locked in for electoral success in a state as reliably blue as Maryland.

The two biggest takeaways I have from the recent poll results are actually somewhat in conflict.

On the one hand, the poll's finding that African-Americans are 41-59 against same-sex marriage may certainly be a wedge issue to watch for. If you thought 2004 was rough, 2016 or thereabouts may be far harsher. A quick check of names who might be a front-runner for the Democratic nominee for President post-Obama will tell you why. How governors like Andrew Cuomo (signed) and Martin O'Malley (promising) navigate the issue over the next five years will be rather interesting.

On the other hand, it never ceases to amaze me how just about any hot-button issue seems to become politicized to the point where, they more-or-less break along partisan lines. The example above with African-Americans and same-sex marriage is an obvious outlier. And it's too early to tell if it's enough to see a splintering of their vote in any meaningful way. But how the issue gets resolved while applying an increasing amount of duct tape to the Democratic Party's coalition should be another target for future viewing.

I'm optimistic enough to think that a full campaign cycle with any amount of focus on the DREAM Act might pass in a state like Maryland. But as the issues become increasingly nationalized, I'm not sure that the optimism is shared for what it means for keeping the Democratic coalition together in its current form. Here's hoping I'm wrong to be worried about it.


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