IVN.us http://ivn.us Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:43:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ro Khanna Reaches Outside Party to Tighten Silicon Valley Congressional Race http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/ro-khanna-reaches-outside-party-tighten-silicon-valley-congressional-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ro-khanna-reaches-outside-party-tighten-silicon-valley-congressional-race http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/ro-khanna-reaches-outside-party-tighten-silicon-valley-congressional-race/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:25:34 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652876 Ro Khanna Reaches Outside Party to Tighten Silicon Valley Congressional Race

Ro Khanna is closing the gap between him and incumbent Mike Honda in CA-17, a competition only possible by California's nonpartisan top-two primary.

Jane SusskindIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Ro Khanna Reaches Outside Party to Tighten Silicon Valley Congressional Race

With less than a week until the midterm election, Democrat Ro Khanna is closing the gap between him and incumbent U.S. Representative Mike Honda in the race for California’s 17th Congressional District – a race only possible in the newly competitive environment that emerged from the implementation of California’s nonpartisan, top-two primary.

As previously reported on IVN, In this district, which encompasses the tech-driven Silicon Valley, both Mike Honda and Ro Khanna are Democrats.

The seven-term incumbent commanded a 20-point lead over Khanna coming out of the primary election, a lead that has since diminished. CBS’s KPIX 5 polling now shows the Democratic candidates in a statistical dead heat with 28 percent of voters undecided.

“It shows the momentum is building,” Khanna said. “The message of change is resonating. People are tired of the old ways of doing things in Washington. They want someone who is going to get things done, who is going to work across the aisle.”

“The race is tightening,” Honda said in response. The competitive nature of the race, coupled with the national significance of the Silicon Valley, has made headlines across the state, with the media paying close attention to this once safe district.

“Don’t look now, but a moderate might get elected to Congress next month from California,” TIME leads with in their analysis of the Democrat vs. Democrat race. Throughout the article, Jay Newton-Small cites moderation as the intent of California’s reform.

Top-Two Primary: It’s About Accountability Stupid

What the mainstream media continues to ignore, however, is the significance California’s nonpartisan, top-two primary has on voters. 

Prior to the implementation of the nonpartisan, top-two primary, just one member from each political party advanced to the general election. Thus, the general election was almost always a battle between one Democrat and one Republican. In a district with demographics that heavily favor one party, like Congressional District 17, the candidate advancing from the favored political party was almost guaranteed victory in the general election.

Under the old primary system, Honda would cruise to victory in November without having to actually campaign for the general election. The competition that is occurring today between Khanna and Honda would have occurred back in the June primary, when a smaller, more partisan group of voters participate.

Today, every vote in November’s general election matters. Every person in Congressional District 17 matters, because the “D” next to a candidate’s name no longer ensures victory.

In CA-17, non-Democratic voters make up the majority of the electorate, with 28.2 percent registered Republicans and 23.1 percent registered No Party Preference voters. To win, Khanna and Honda need to receive votes from people outside their political party – they have to talk to independent and Republican voters.

This is exactly what Ro Khanna has done, pulling himself up from a 20-point deficit in the polls. He shifted his campaign strategy to include all voters in his district, not just those who share his political ideals.

Khanna held over 200 town halls, inviting citizens of all political affiliations. He knocked on the doors of Republicans, Democrats, and No Party Preference voters. In doing so, he has forced Mike Honda to do the same.

Win or lose, Khanna’s rise in the polls is further evidence that incumbency no longer guarantees victory in California. A person’s party label is not as important as his or her ability to appeal to all voters in their district. It proves that California’s nonpartisan, top two primary has increased competition in California.

Jane SusskindIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Georgia Polling Place Finder: Where to Vote? http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/georgia-polling-place-finder-vote/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=georgia-polling-place-finder-vote http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/georgia-polling-place-finder-vote/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:38:50 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652923 Georgia Polling Place Finder: Where to Vote?

On November 4, Georgians will decide a number of statewide and local offices. Not the least of which include the next the state's next Senator and Governor.

Alex GauthierIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Georgia Polling Place Finder: Where to Vote?

On November 4, Georgians will decide a number of statewide and local offices — not the least of which include the state’s next senator and governor.


Both top-ballot races are hotly contested and polls show tight margins heading into Election Day. Incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal and his challenger, Democrat Jason Carter, are neck and neck. The Libertarian candidate for governor, Andrew Hunt, consistently holds 6 percent in the polls. If he reaches 20 percent on Election Day, the Libertarian Party would be a recognized party in Georgia and privy to all the perks the Republican and Democratic parties currently enjoy.

The race for retired U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss’ seat is close as well. Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn are in a dead heat as both campaigns have gone negative.

Not to be out-shined, Georgia’s other statewide races have been building steam. The self-proclaimed ‘Georgia Five‘ may make history as the first slate of African-American women to reach their respective statewide offices.

If you live in Georgia, use the above tool to find your polling location. All Georgians must have valid identification in order to vote. Accepted forms of ID, according to the Georgia Secretary of state, include:

  • Any valid state or federal government-issued photo ID, including a FREE Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar’s office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)
  • A Georgia Driver’s License, even if expired
  • Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state
  • Valid U.S. passport ID
  • Valid U.S. military photo ID
  • Valid tribal photo ID

If you do not have a valid ID you can receive one at the county registrar’s office or Department of Driver Services’ office for free.

If you live in another state, find out how your election works here.

Alex GauthierIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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What Nice Thing Pat Roberts Could Have Said About Greg Orman http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/nice-thing-pat-roberts-said-greg-orman/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=nice-thing-pat-roberts-said-greg-orman http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/nice-thing-pat-roberts-said-greg-orman/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:05:39 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652891 What Nice Thing Pat Roberts Could Have Said About Greg Orman

Greg Orman has largely ignored the attack ads launched against him. Other than pointing out Roberts' absences from committee meetings, Orman has run a pretty clean campaign.

David YeeIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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What Nice Thing Pat Roberts Could Have Said About Greg Orman

The final debate in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas was almost two weeks ago, but incumbent Pat Roberts (R) is still having a tough time shaking off his balk at the last question given to the candidates.

Greg Orman (I) was up to answer first — and the question (more of an instruction) was to “say something nice about your opponent.”

"Orman has run on a simple message: Washington is broken and we need problem solvers, not partisans, to fix it."David Yee, IVN contributor
Orman definitely played it safe by complimenting Roberts on his years of service to our country, both as a politician and as an officer in the U.S. Marines. Fair enough.

Roberts seemed almost completely baffled by the question. He first commented that Orman was a snappy dresser with nice teeth — then made a backhanded jab at his business practices.

This pretty much sums up the entire campaign. Orman has run on a simple message: Washington is broken and we need problem solvers, not partisans, to fix it. Roberts has desperately tried to associate Orman with the “far-left agenda of Harry Reid,” taking almost every possible opportunity to paint Orman as a liberal under the disguise of an independent.

While Roberts has outspent Orman by over 9-1, mostly on negative campaigning, Orman has remained mostly positive and stuck to his message of a broken Washington.

So what could Roberts have said if he had been able to turn off the negative campaigning for 30 seconds?

A Long Interest in the Political Process

Greg Orman’s interest in the political process stretches clear back to his high school involvement in Boys Nation, an annual, nationwide civic program sponsored by the American Legion.

In 1986, Orman was selected as the national Boys Nation President and was able to meet Ronald Reagan, one of his childhood heroes.

Orman has worked on several presidential election campaigns and ran for U.S. Senate in 2008 in Kansas.

Job Creation

As a successful businessman, Orman has experience in job creation and has struggled with the hardships of entrepreneurship.

His current business venture, a private-equity firm, has brought desperately needed capital to small and medium-sized firms that would have otherwise closed.

A Willingness to Explore Ideas

During the first debate, Orman stated, “

Orman has been a registered Democrat and Republican, but since 2010 has been unaffiliated with either party.

While many of Roberts’ attack ads have depicted Orman as a liberal with a new-found sense of “independence,” Orman has a history of supporting independent campaigns.

While in college, Orman worked for George H.W. Bush’s campaign, yet 4 years later supported Ross Perot’s independent bid for the White House.

An Honorable Campaign

While it is unlikely that Roberts would have complimented Orman on his campaign strategies, it’s amazing to think that an outspent underdog might overcome his opponent’s negative advertising and win one of the nation’s hottest races.

"Other than pointing out Roberts' absences from committee meetings, Orman has run a pretty clean campaign."
Greg Orman has largely ignored the attack ads launched against him. Other than pointing out Roberts’ absences from committee meetings, Orman has run a pretty clean campaign.

Orman’s own early research indicated that Kansans were more interested in a candidate who would solve problems and bridge gaps than a party label. Political backstabbing wasn’t going to win this election, according to his research.

Orman has stuck to this message and I personally think it will ring true to the voters on Tuesday.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have reported on Orman’s campaign on IVN since June. Watching each twist and turn has been exciting in my home state, where political campaigns rarely get any national attention.

Running a clean campaign has proven Orman’s independence from partisan politics, not just a business as usual campaign. On Tuesday, I am proud to say that I will support Greg Orman as Kansas’ true independent option for the U.S. Senate.

Image: U.S. Senator Pat Roberts / Source: AP

David YeeIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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How Mass. Republican Charlie Baker is Winning with Independent Voters http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/how-mass-republican-charlie-baker-is-winning-with-independent-voters/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-mass-republican-charlie-baker-is-winning-with-independent-voters http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/how-mass-republican-charlie-baker-is-winning-with-independent-voters/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:19:29 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652614 How Mass. Republican Charlie Baker is Winning with Independent Voters

According to a recent Boston Globe poll, Baker leads his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, by 9 percentage points. Among independent voters, Baker's lead is even stronger. Thirty-nine percent of independents surveyed said they would "definitely" be voting for Charlie Baker, while only 10 percent said the same for Coakley.

Chris EstepIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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How Mass. Republican Charlie Baker is Winning with Independent Voters

When it comes to politics, 2014 may be remembered as the year of the improbable. In Kansas, a GOP stronghold, both the Republican governor and a very conservative senator are fighting for their political lives against a moderate Democrat and an independent, respectively.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico, a state President Obama won by more than 10 percentage points just two years ago, the incumbent Republican governor, Susana Martinez, is poised to handily defeat her Democratic opponent. As surprising as these races are, however, they may not compare to what is going on in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is a state that has voted for the Democratic candidate in the last 7 presidential elections and does not have a single Republican in Congress. Democratic voter registration far outnumbers Republican registration in the state.

However, in what may better be described as a near-impossibility, Republican Charlie Baker is running a competitive campaign in the state’s gubernatorial race.

According to a recent Boston Globe poll, Baker leads his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, by 9 percentage points. Among independent voters, Baker’s lead is even stronger. Thirty-nine percent of independents surveyed said they would “definitely” be voting for Charlie Baker, while only 10 percent said the same for Coakley.

What is the cause of this widespread support for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in a deep-blue state like Massachusetts?

The communications director for the Baker campaign, Tim Buckley, explained this phenomenon in the following statement to IVN:

“Charlie’s positive vision for Massachusetts that focuses on job creation, reforming state government, and better schools is picking up momentum as huge numbers of independents and even Democratic officials across the aisle support [him].” – Tim Buckley, communications director for Charlie Baker’s campaign

This image of bipartisan and independent support for Charlie Baker is demonstrated in the Boston Globe’s endorsement of Baker on Sunday night. Just 4 years ago, the Globe endorsed Baker’s opponent, Martha Coakley, in her campaign for U.S. Senate.

Coakley is struggling to generate enthusiasm even among her fellow Democrats. In the previously mentioned Globe poll, only 53 percent of Democrats surveyed said they would “definitely” vote for Coakley, while 84 percent of Republicans said they would “definitely” be voting for Baker.

Writing in the spring issue of Commonwealth Magazine, Paul McMorrow stated that “Baker is running a campaign that’s heavy on crossover issues that don’t have a Republican or Democratic solution. He’s trying to win independents and Democrats to his cause by floating above his party.”

Later, McMurrow argued that Baker, who is both pro-choice and in favor of same-sex marriage, is “shrinking the field of play, taking divisive issues from gay rights and abortion to guns and the environment off the table. He plans to take the fight to his opponents on a few issues: education, the economy, and leadership.”

"Charlie's message of balance in this state has been a winning argument with independent voters."Kirsten Hughes, Massachusetts Republican Party
Massachusetts Republicans have centered their case for Baker around the issues of competent management and bipartisan cooperation. Massachusetts Republican Party Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, in a phone interview for IVN, said that Baker “is a true manager.”

She also stated that “Charlie’s message of balance in this state has been a winning argument with independent voters,” because independents “see the value of balance.” Baker, she argues, is “a great, uniquely-qualified candidate for governor.”

Hughes attributed much of the Baker campaign’s success in resonating with independent voters to the more extensive outreach efforts being made by the state Republican Party, whether through phone calls or door-knocking or the use of electronic data to target specific voters.

Meanwhile, the Coakley campaign has struggled to gain traction among independent voters in Massachusetts. Last week, David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post wrote that Martha Coakley “has been held back by a subdued campaign persona and a thin political agenda. And again by a perception that her party takes this state – and this seat – for granted.”

Hughes agreed with that statement, adding that “there’s a sense of entitlement on the part of Martha Coakley and the Democrats.”

In its endorsement of Charlie Baker, the Boston Globe editorial board made arguments that would appeal to independent voters. One of them was that “to provide consistently good results, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and troubled residents, agencies need to focus on outcomes, learn from their errors, and preserve and replicate approaches that succeed. Baker, a former health care executive, has made a career of doing just that.”

Besides the issue of competency, the Globe endorsement mentioned the benefits of having a Republican governor and a Democratic Legislature in Massachusetts:

“One needn’t agree with every last one of Baker’s views to conclude that, at this time, the Republican nominee would provide the best counterpoint to the instincts of an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. His candidacy opens up the possibility of creative tension.” – Boston Globe Editorial Board

Hughes agreed with this argument, and stated what perhaps best summarizes both the message of the Baker campaign and the reason for its success among independents in a heavily-Democratic state even as Election Day is less than one week away: “With a Republican in the corner office, there is a healthy exchange of ideas.”

Editor’s note: The Coakley campaign and the Massachusetts Democratic Party declined requests for comment.

Photo Source: AP

Chris EstepIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Social Media Campaigning Gives Libertarian Sean Haugh a Boost in N.C. Senate Race http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/social-media-campaigning-gives-libertarian-sean-haugh-boost-n-c-senate-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=social-media-campaigning-gives-libertarian-sean-haugh-boost-n-c-senate-race http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/social-media-campaigning-gives-libertarian-sean-haugh-boost-n-c-senate-race/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:29:23 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652759 Social Media Campaigning Gives Libertarian Sean Haugh a Boost in N.C. Senate Race

The soft-spoken pizza delivery man from Durham, North Carolina, has drawn attention for taking a substantial number of votes away from the two major-party candidates, and for admitting to marijuana usage. But there's more to Haugh than shock value, according to Dr. D. Sunshine Hillygus, associate professor of political science at Duke University.

Glen Luke FlanaganIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Social Media Campaigning Gives Libertarian Sean Haugh a Boost in N.C. Senate Race

North Carolina Libertarian Sean Haugh has attracted much attention in his race against Democratic incumbent U.S Senator Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis.

The soft-spoken pizza delivery man from Durham, North Carolina, has drawn attention for taking a substantial number of votes away from the two major-party candidates, and for admitting to marijuana usage. But there’s more to Haugh than shock value, according to Dr. D. Sunshine Hillygus, associate professor of political science at Duke University.

“It’s eye catching for people to focus on his message about marijuana, but I suspect it’s actually less about his messaging and more about who he isn’t,” Hillygus said. “He is an outsider. I think he’s probably capturing attention with the message about marijuana, but really the thing people would be attracted to is that he’s not a Democrat and not a Republican.”

Haugh voiced something similar in his campaign’s opening statement, posted on YouTube:

“The truth is, I’m mainly running for Senate just for me and my own conscience,” Haugh said in the video. “I just wanted to be able to walk into the voting booth and be able to vote for something other than more violence, more war, more debt — I just wanted to vote for peace.”

Much of Haugh’s campaign has taken place through similar YouTube videos and through social media, and it’s been an effective way to get his message out, according to Hillygus.

“I think he’s probably reaching a lot of the people he would like to reach,” she said.

"I think (Haugh) is probably reaching a lot of the people he would like to reach."Dr. D. Sunshine Hillygus, Duke University
That observation is backed up by a number of polls tracking the Senate race. An October 23-26 Monmouth University poll showed Haugh with one percent of the vote, an October 21-25 High Point University/SurveyUSA poll showed 5 percent, and an October 19-23 NBC News/Marist poll showed 7 percent.

Haugh has uploaded 35 videos to his YouTube channel over the past 7 months, each video between two and five minutes long. His campaign Facebook page has 2,339 likes.

But in a race where Hagan is leading Tillis by just a couple points, Haugh may lose votes if voters decide things are getting too close, Hillygus said.

“Voter decision making about third-party candidates is quite complicated because there are those who ideologically are in line with the [third-party] candidate,” she explained. “But oftentimes they’re the same ones who if the race gets close, will bail on the third-party candidate for the major-party candidate closer to their ideological preferences.”

Regardless of Haugh’s fate in the election, he has filled a unique niche during the race.

“I think it’s fun to see a minor-party candidate getting some attention in the race,” Hillygus said. “I think, unfortunately, observers and pundits have had a difficult time predicting what the potential impact is on the race. Certainly I can say as a political scientist that we know his chances of winning are very small, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on the election outcome.”

Glen Luke FlanaganIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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http://ivn.us/2014/10/30/social-media-campaigning-gives-libertarian-sean-haugh-boost-n-c-senate-race/feed/ 8 ro khanna mike honda GeorgiaVoter Charlie Baker roberts-orman
Kansas Senate Race Tighter Than Ever One Week Before Election Day http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/kansas-senate-race-tighter-ever-one-week-election-day/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kansas-senate-race-tighter-ever-one-week-election-day http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/kansas-senate-race-tighter-ever-one-week-election-day/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:12:41 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652865 Kansas Senate Race Tighter Than Ever One Week Before Election Day

Out of all the Senate races people will be watching on Election Day to see how the balance of power shifts for the 114th Congress, very few people predicted so many eyes would be on Kansas in the beginning of the campaign season. Now, it may be THE race that determines the fate of the upper chamber.

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Kansas Senate Race Tighter Than Ever One Week Before Election Day

According to a KSN News poll published on Tuesday, October 28, the U.S. Senate race in Kansas is in a statistical tie. Independent Greg Orman has a slight lead in the poll at 44 percent, but U.S. Senator Pat Roberts is only trailing by two percentage points — inside the margin of error (+/- 4%).

Out of all the Senate races people will be watching on Election Day to see how the balance of power shifts for the 114th Congress, very few people predicted so many eyes would be on Kansas in the beginning of the campaign season. Now, it may be THE race that determines the fate of the upper chamber.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for KSN, shows that 10 percent of respondents remain undecided this close to November 4 — including 21 percent of young voters. The race could come down to demographics that were once overlooked in Kansas because of its traditional “red-state” status.

However, while Orman holds on to a slight lead in public opinion polls, that doesn’t always translate into votes. In recent elections, Republicans have been the most enthusiastic demographic to vote, meaning Roberts may actually have the advantage going into Election Day.

That being said, Roberts is not popular with all Republicans. According to the KSN report, “Roberts holds 67 percent of the Republican base.” Twenty-three percent of voters who identify as Republican said they support Orman, while 3 percent said they plan to vote for Libertarian Randall Batson and 7 percent remain undecided.

Depending on how those 7 percent vote (if they vote), it could make or break Roberts’ re-election campaign. As it is for any competitive race, the outcome will come down to voter turnout. Will Orman be able to turn out the anti-incumbent vote? Can Roberts convince more dissatisfied Republicans to vote for him?

This race is making many politicos nervous because if public opinion polls hold in other states, the Kansas Senate race will decide how power shifts in the Senate. Three independent lawmakers (if Orman wins) could have the most influence in policy decisions if neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have a clear advantage.

It isn’t entirely clear what voter turnout is going to look like in Kansas on Election Day, but increased national attention may give it a significant boost from what it would have been if the field of candidates had not changed in the Senate race. The most important thing for Kansas voters to keep in mind is that it is important to participate in the process no matter how competitive a race is — so vote.

Photo Source: NBC News

Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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America’s Relay Race: With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/americas-relay-race-great-privilege-comes-great-responsibility/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=americas-relay-race-great-privilege-comes-great-responsibility http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/americas-relay-race-great-privilege-comes-great-responsibility/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:38:16 +0000 http://ivn.us?p=23295652822&preview_id=23295652822 America’s Relay Race: With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility

America has, unlike most of its rivals, enviable traditions in democracy, tolerance, freedom of thought and pursuit, entrepreneurial spirit, and self-reliance. With all of these assets, there is no question that America should be the top performer among nations. But the nation has allowed others to come a lot closer and it has proven incapable of addressing the big challenges of the 21st century.

Frans JagerIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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America’s Relay Race: With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility

Foreign Affairs Magazine wrote in an editorial for its September/October 2014 edition:

“For such a strong, rich, free, and favorably situated country, the United States is remarkably testy and out of sorts these days — and falling far short of its enormous potential.” – Foreign Affairs Magazine

That is exactly the conclusion I arrived at. The way I would word it is:

America is like the smart kid that is so convinced of its superior talent that it is no longer interested in applying himself to get straight A’s.

Like this kid, America is grossly underperforming to its capabilities. It is performing like an A+ student that turns in F grades. It should not be that way. As Bill Gates reminded the 2007 graduating class of Harvard, “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

My critics are quick to point out that America is still the greatest nation in the world. They point out that everyone wants to come here and that no one is leaving to go elsewhere. They are mostly right, but this is beside the point.

They should have higher expectations of a country that is blessed with the best of the most vital resources any nation could ever wish for: people, location, space, nature, water, minerals, and hydrocarbons.

America has, unlike most of its rivals, enviable traditions in democracy, tolerance, freedom of thought and pursuit, entrepreneurial spirit, and self-reliance. With all of these assets, there is no question that America should be the top performer among nations. But the nation has allowed others to come a lot closer and it has proven incapable of addressing the big challenges of the 21st century.

There is a broad consensus that the generation now growing up in America may be the first since the Second World War to be worse off than their parents and grandparents. It happens at a time of relative peace and prosperity in the world. If that is not an indictment of America’s performance, I don’t know what is.

Surveying the field today, the question keeps coming up: are the best times behind us? Is America going the way of the Roman and the British Empires?

"The American spirit has a natural capacity to step back from the brink and find another, safer way ahead."Frans Jager
We all see tell-tale signs of trouble around us, from persistently high unemployment, increasing income inequality, lost or unfinished wars, a skyrocketing national debt, a sub-par infrastructure, an ideologically divided voting public and — resulting from it — a dysfunctional political system.

We see the unraveling of family structures and values, the proliferation of guns and drugs, the (relatively) poor academic performance of our youngsters, and the prevalence of obesity.

It does not have to be that way. It is in no way an inevitability that America will be the next great power to lose its dominance. The American spirit has a natural capacity to step back from the brink and find another, safer way ahead. It is quintessentially American to believe that, when it comes down to brass tacks, America will do what it has to do to avoid hitting the slippery slope.

America is not facing a challenge it cannot meet. But it will have to be galvanized into action. It is engaged in a world championship relay race that, by all accounts, it should win convincingly.

But look what’s happening: the first two legs are easily won, establishing what looked like an insurmountable lead; the third leg consolidates the lead, but does not add to it and the baton is nearly dropped in the hand-off; now in the fourth and final leg it is struggling to regain the pace and the competitors are nipping at its heels. It needs to pick up the pace and finish with a flurry. It will have to dig deep and find in itself the championship talent it has been bestowed with.

We can be grateful to be living in the greatest nation on Earth, but as the French say, “noblesse oblige (with the privilege comes responsibility).”

That is what Bill Gates reminded us in his 2007 Harvard commencement speech (at the brink of the great recession). We can’t rest on our laurels. As Will Rogers so famously said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

The resources are there. America has it all. But having it all does not mean anything unless these resources are all brought to bear.

What is needed is leadership and engagement. Leadership on the part of our top public officials and engagement on the part of the American people. We need to rally behind a cause and the cause should be the enhancement of our leadership position in the world in terms of wellness, productivity, social justice, moral superiority, and creativity. We need to have high expectations of ourselves and our nation if we want to win the relay race.

Photo Credit: justasc / shutterstock.com

Frans JagerIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Elan Carr Looks to End Democrats’ 40-Year Hold on Calif. Congressional Seat http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/elan-carr-looks-end-democrats-40-year-hold-calif-congressional-seat/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elan-carr-looks-end-democrats-40-year-hold-calif-congressional-seat http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/elan-carr-looks-end-democrats-40-year-hold-calif-congressional-seat/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:05:10 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652787 Elan Carr Looks to End Democrats’ 40-Year Hold on Calif. Congressional Seat

After 40 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Henry Waxman (D) is stepping down. As the November election approaches, voters of California’s 33rd Congressional District must decide which candidate will replace the Democratic stalwart, Republican Elan Carr or Democrat Ted Lieu.

Danielle BalderasIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Elan Carr Looks to End Democrats’ 40-Year Hold on Calif. Congressional Seat

After 40 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Henry Waxman (D) is stepping down. As the November election approaches, voters of California’s 33rd Congressional District must decide which candidate will replace the Democratic stalwart, Republican Elan Carr or Democrat Ted Lieu.

Comprised of Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Malibu (among others), the 33rd is one of the wealthiest congressional districts in the nation. The redrawing of district lines in 2011 and California’s first top-two open primary gave rise to Waxman’s first competitive re-election bid in 2012. Bill Bloomfield, a longtime Republican who ran as an Independent, lost by 8 percentage points.

Waxman secured his seat for one last term after an expensive campaign season.

Now, Carr is attempting to disrupt the Democrat’s 40-year hold on the seat. He is running against Ted Lieu, a California state senator.

The June primary fielded a plethora of candidates with 10 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Carr won the primary with Lieu placing in a close second, 21.6 percent to 18.8 percent. However, registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the 33rd District (43.9% to 28.4%).

This race is proving to be one of the most expensive House races in California. Each candidate has spent over $1 million and Lieu is closing in on $2 million.

Both Carr and Lieu have highlighted their immigrant history. Carr’s mother fled to Israel from Iraq and his step-father escaped Nazi-occupied Bulgaria by fleeing to Israel. The two eventually immigrated to the United States to become full citizens. Similarly, Lieu immigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was three years old.

As a Jewish Republican, Carr has gained attention from Jewish publications such as the Jewish Journal and both Carr and Lieu are staunchly pro-Israel.

In a debate on October 22, hosted by KPCC and USC, Carr and Lieu elaborated on where they stand on Israel, as well as other key issues. Both candidates support Israel’s right to self-defense.

“Israel has an absolute right to self-defense… the right to not have 3,000 rockets launched at it and [that] America needs to protect Israel and her security,” Lieu said.

Carr also expressed support for U.S.-Israeli relations.

“Pressuring Israel publicly or ciriticizing the way Isreal conducts negotiations is not the way friends treat each other,” he said.   .

The debate made apparent that the two candidates also share common ground on providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Lieu supports the Senate immigration reform and would press the speaker of the house to allow a vote on the issue.

“We’ve got to secure our borders, but we also have to have a sensible and humane approach to the many undocumented residents who are here in this country who are decent, hardworking, and patriotic people…There’s got to be a pathway to legalized status,” Carr elaborated.

However, Carr and Lieu disagree on some key issues.

Lieu is opposed to any fracking in California while Carr says he is open to energy exploration in California, provided it is safe and backed up by good, hard science. And while Lieu supports raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, Carr opposes such a raise on the grounds that increasing the minimum wage would hurt businesses and prevent new job creation.

The two military veterans also spoke about ISIS and where they differed on the U.S. response. Lieu made it clear that he is completely opposed to boots on the ground.

While Carr opposes ground forces in the current climate, he said he would not take ground forces completely off the table. Drawing on his experience in Iraq, Carr said, “You don’t use the United State militarily sparingly, you either use it not at all, or to decisive effect…To do it halfway is dangerous for America.”

Based on the political leanings of the district, Carr is fighting an uphill battle. He is hoping President Obama’s low approval rating will help him garner votes on Election Day.

In an interview with American Thinker, Carr explained:

“The sixth year of any presidency has the electorate tending to break decidedly against the president’s party. It is called the ‘Six-Year Itch.’ Because the president’s poll numbers are quite low and voters are worried about the economy, jobs, the national debt, and education, I think I have a good chance.”

As of October 28, within the last week, outside spending supporting Carr exceeded $300,000 (mostly on broadcast and television media), and in only a single day, outside spending against Lieu exceeded $50,000.

In a district made up of almost 44 percent Democrats, Carr will have to sway a substantial amount of voters outside his party.  However, given the strong legacy left by Waxman, it will be difficult for a Republican to grab the seat.

Image: Republican Elan Carr (left), Calif. State Senator Ted Lieu (right)

Danielle BalderasIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Independent Larry Pressler Challenging Major Party Candidates in Tight S.D. Senate Race http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/independent-larry-pressler-challenging-major-party-candidates-tight-s-d-senate-race/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=independent-larry-pressler-challenging-major-party-candidates-tight-s-d-senate-race http://ivn.us/2014/10/29/independent-larry-pressler-challenging-major-party-candidates-tight-s-d-senate-race/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652739 Independent Larry Pressler Challenging Major Party Candidates in Tight S.D. Senate Race

While Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com still gives a 63.3 percent advantage to the Republicans to win control of the Senate, an independent upset in South Dakota could possibly upend these hopes. Pressler endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 and has said he will be a “friend of the administration” if elected -- suggesting that he could choose to caucus with Democrats in the Senate.

Debbie SharnakIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Independent Larry Pressler Challenging Major Party Candidates in Tight S.D. Senate Race

When IVN contributor Eric Robinson spoke with independent U.S. Senate candidate Larry Pressler (South Dakota) in May, Pressler lagged far behind in the polls. Trailing in a distant third behind the two major-party candidates, he was struggling to raise money.

However, in the last few weeks of the campaign, things have changed.

Republican candidate Mike Rounds still leads in statewide polls with close to 40 percent, but some surveys differ as to whether Pressler or Democrat Rick Weiland is in second. While some polls have Pressler trailing by as much as 10 points, others, such as SurveyUSA, have Pressler in the lead by 4 points. Nielsen Brothers has him behind by only two points.

If it was a two-candidate race, some politicos suggest Pressler would be ahead in many polls.

The race has taken on an additional degree of added importance because the control of the Senate hangs in the balance.

While Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com still gives a 63.3 percent advantage to the Republicans to win control of the Senate, an independent upset in South Dakota could possibly upend these hopes. Pressler endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 and has said he will be a “friend of the administration” if elected — suggesting that he could choose to caucus with Democrats in the Senate.

Many more registered Democrats say they would consider supporting Pressler, compared to only 8 percent of Republicans.

As the race tightens, Republicans are sending in additional money to secure their candidate’s lead while Pressler still lacks funding. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity recently attacked Pressler’s ‘liberal’ credentials with an ad targeting voters online.

However, as a former Republican U.S. representative for two terms and a U.S. senator for three terms (from 1975 to 1997), Pressler has deep ties with state voters and is drawing on these connections in his campaign.

Pressler has no campaign mailers and no yard signs. According to the campaign, he only has “one full-time staffer,” and that person is aided by a small cadre of volunteers.

Instead, he is relying on an unusual campaign strategy, which includes poetry readings, endorsements, and campaign events with men like former FBI agent John Good, who led the Abscam raids in the 1970s — featured in the critically-acclaimed 2013 movie, American Hustle.

These strategies, as opposed to the massive influx of cash from Republican and Democratic groups, further produce intrigue in Pressler’s independent campaign.

If Pressler has any real chance of winning, though, he has to overcome substantial historical precedent. The only independent candidate South Dakotans have elected was James H. Kyle in 1890, shortly after the state joined the union, and he soon joined the Populist Party after entering the Senate (eventually switching to the Republican Party when the Populist Party disintegrated).

Though his campaign tactics are unorthodox, they have broad appeal among voters. Pressler supports a ban on lobbyists from making campaign contributions to state races for the U.S. Senate and House, and supports South Dakota’s controversial restrictive abortion law.

A message that may resonate with many voters, however, is Pressler’s insistence that the political environment in the U.S. needs to return to how it was when he served in Congress. He argues it was a less ideological time and a time when money didn’t drive politics to the extent it does today.

Photo Source: Larry Pressler / Facebook

Debbie SharnakIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Higher Voter Turnouts Challenge Big Money in Politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/28/higher-voter-turnouts-challenge-big-money-politics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=higher-voter-turnouts-challenge-big-money-politics http://ivn.us/2014/10/28/higher-voter-turnouts-challenge-big-money-politics/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:30:07 +0000 http://ivn.us/?p=23295652639 Higher Voter Turnouts Challenge Big Money in Politics

Money and power go hand in hand in the current discussion over the state of politics in America. A 2014 study by the California Public Interest Research Group, CALPIRG, found a relatively small number of large donors made up over half of spending in California's 2014 nonpartisan, open primary election.

Danielle BalderasIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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Higher Voter Turnouts Challenge Big Money in Politics

Money and power go hand in hand in the current discussion over the state of politics in America. A 2014 study by the California Public Interest Research Group, CALPIRG, found a relatively small number of large donors made up over half of spending in California’s 2014 nonpartisan, top-two open primary election.

According to CALPIRG, 67 percent of all campaign contributions in the 2014 California primaries came from large donors – those who contributed more than $1,000. Just 864 individuals spent more than 34,000 small donors (< $200) combined. The study ranked each state according to the ratio of large to small donors.

Compared to other states, California ranked twenty-second in this area. Texas came in first place with 80 percent of all campaign money coming from large donors. Accompanying Texas at the top of the list were Tennessee, Alabama, New York, and Arkansas, respectively.

These states have more in common than a disparity in the largeness of campaign contributors. They also have low voter turnout rates. Of the top 7 states with the most money coming from large donors, only one state ranks in the top 25 for voter turnout (Michigan, 12th). Conversely, out of the 7 states ranking last in the percentage of contributions from large donors, 6 are ranked in the top 25 for voter turnout.

While correlation does not mean causation, there is a trend between the disparity of large and small donors and voter turnout. Campaign dollars mean more people a candidate can reach whether it’s through mail, TV ads, or online. Hence, the more voters who turnout in an election, the less powerful one campaign dollar can be.

For example, if a candidate knows only 100 voters will show up on election day, it’s both easier and cheaper to reach those 100 voters. Following this logic, one campaign dollar in Texas (with only 48% voter turnout) has more influence than one campaign dollar in Minnesota (with 69% voter turnout).

In California, another factor besides voter turnout influencing the effectiveness of campaign contributions is the top-two primary. In June, when Californians went to the polls for the state’s primary, voters received a ballot listing all the candidates regardless of the voters’ party affiliation. The top two candidates with the most votes moved on to the November general election.

In a nonpartisan, top-two open primary, candidates are tasked with campaigning to a larger base than in a traditional closed primary because not only are they campaigning for votes from their own party, but also the votes of independents and those affiliated with the opposing party.

The outcome of the top-two primary can result in a same-party general election. In the 2014 election cycle, there are 7 races for the U.S. House of Representatives between candidates of the same party. Hence, candidates must decide how to effectively spread their campaign money across a broader voting base.

The SF Gate interviewed Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of Grow Elect. He said, “Everything is so much more expensive. We’re doing polling earlier than ever, and every race is different (than it used to be) – even in the same district.”

The top-two primary opens up the race to a wide range of candidates, which challenges seats once deemed safe in the traditional primary system.

Carla Marinucci of the SF Gate wrote, “Many candidates must calculate how to run back-to-back elections against the same challenger – weighing the merits of expending effort and money before the June primary versus keeping the powder dry for November.”

With so many variables leading to the ultimate victory of a candidate, it may be impossible to isolate the effect of any given campaign contribution. However, one thing is clear, increasing the pool of voters diminishes the power of one individual campaign dollar. For those concerned about big money in politics, simply turning out on election day may be the best grassroots strategy to weaken the influence of big donors.

                                 Photo Source: AP 

Danielle BalderasIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

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