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Live Blog: Convention Politics and the Fall Elections

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10:05 a.m. "Convention Politics and the Fall Elections" is the second panel this morning at the Humphrey Institute's series of forums entitled, America's Future: Conversations about Politics and Policy during the 2008 Republican National Convention. The discussion is moderated by former Minnesota Congressman Tim Penny (President, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation). The panelists are:

* Thomas Mann (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution)
* Ramesh Ponnuru (Senior Editor, National Review)
* Larry Sabato (Direction, Center for Politics, University of Virginia)
* Vin Weber (former Minnesota Congressman, Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy and Partner, Clark and Weinstock)

10:10 a.m. Mann has been struck by the different levels of interest, energy, and fundraising between the two parties, with Democrats holding a huge advantage in this regard. On the Republican side, Mann noted how 1/.3 of the seats were vacant at the Excel Center during last night's Republican National Convention proceedings, compared to the exceedingly high emotion and turnout in Denver at the Democratic Convention where security had to close the doors when the seats were full.

10:19 a.m. Mann says McCain knows the election is more a long-shot than a toss-up.

10:25 a.m. Sabato reveals he just got a text message from the Press Secretary of a "very, very conservative Governor" asking whether the Republican convention is as dismal in person as it appears on television.

10:28 a.m. Sabato says he ran into Governor Pawlenty on the street. After telling the Governor he thought he was going to get the nod, Pawlenty told him he was "One chromosome away from being picked."

10:31 a.m. Sabato says the only thing that gives him pause in predicting an Obama victory is the issue of "racial leakage" (whites who say they will vote for Obama, but just can't bring themselves to do so in the voting booth). He says there will be some of this across America, but he's not sure how much.

10:35 a.m. Ponnuru believes the only thing that is giving McCain a chance in 2008 is that Democrats won back Congress in 2006. If Republicans had remained in control they could not use the drilling issue, for example, as they campaign to solve the issue of gas prices this year.

10:38 a.m. Weber says the model for a McCain victory is in France where Sarkozy was able to win despite an unpopular outgoing president from his own party.

10:44 a.m. Weber says McCain's best chance to win is to make this an ideological contest between himself and Obama. (i.e. "It's not a question of change, but what kind of change.").

10:52 a.m. Mann says if McCain was elected he would not want to continue the ideological wars that have taken place during the last two years of the Bush presidency. He says McCain would rather 'stick it' to his own party and work with the Democrats than to become a loyal partisan.

10:58 a.m. Sabato believes Obama would govern as a moderate or moderate-liberal if elected. Sabato thinks Obama is much more cautious than people realize, and will govern in a way that will be at odds with his #1 National Journal ranking (rankings with which Sabato has great problems).

11:08 a.m. Sabato observes that both McCain and Obama are running traditional campaigns in that they are largely avoiding the press (McCain is no longer running the 'straight talk express').

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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