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Obama's New Stem Cell Policy Likely to Have Strong Support in Minnesota

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President Barack Obama's decision on Monday to permit federal funds for a greater spectrum of embryonic stem cell research is likely to be met with overwhelming support in the Gopher State, as well as the Upper Midwest generally.

Obama's directive overturns his predecessor's policy that limited the use of federal taxpayer dollars to simply the 21 stem cell lines that had been 'harvested' prior to former President George W. Bush's 2001 executive order.

Polling by SurveyUSA conducted on this issue just shy of 1.5 years ago (in October 2007), found more than twice as many Minnesotans supported stem cell research generally (63 percent) than those that opposed it (27 percent).

The results were quite similar in the neighboring states of Iowa (66 percent in support, 28 percent in opposition) and Wisconsin (64 percent in favor, 29 percent opposed).

Like the issue of abortion rights, partisan support for stem cell research finds Democrats overwhelmingly in favor of the policy, as well as a majority of independents. But opposition by Republicans tends to be slightly more muted than that on abortion, and, as a result, support for stem cell research across the political spectrum is a good shade stronger than that of abortion rights.

For example, in recent years notable Republican leaders like conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and former First Lady Nancy Reagan lobbied the George W. Bush administration to permit federal funding of stem cell research. Hatch's rationale was that, "Stem cell research facilitates life...Abortion destroys life; this is about saving lives."

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Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


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