Looming Recounts Mean Election May Not Be Over Yet

If you thought the election was over except for the protests and the formality of the Electoral College, prepare to be disappointed. One recount has already been requested and experts are urging Hillary Clinton file for recounts in three states.

The first recount was requested by Pat McCrory, governor of North Carolina, on Tuesday according to Politico. McCrory, the Republican candidate, was trailing Democrat Roy Cooper, by more than 8,500 votes according to the Cooper campaign. McCrory’s campaign has alleged widespread voter fraud.

The first recount of this election season may not be the last. New York Magazine reports that a team of computer scientists has urged Hillary Clinton to file for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania citing signs that vote totals could have been manipulated.

J. Alex Halderman, director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, was among the scientists who found a suspicious pattern of Clinton performing more poorly in counties with electronic voting machines than where paper ballots were used. The group said that the seven percent difference was large enough to raise the possibility that election computers could have been hacked.

So far no proof of tampering with the election has been found, but the large difference between counties with electronic voting machines and paper ballots is an anomaly that Halderman believes should be investigated. There may be other explanations for the discrepancy as well.

Donald Trump’s margins of victory in Michigan and Pennsylvania were less than one percent. Michigan has not been formally decided, but Clinton trails by 11,000 votes there. She lost Pennsylvania by 68,000 votes. Wisconsin had a margin of one percent, about 27,000 votes. Halderman’s statistical analysis, focused on Wisconsin, shows that there were enough suspicious votes to throw the outcome of these states into question. It would take a reversal of all three states to change the outcome of the Electoral College election, although faithless electors may change that total. As many as six electors have said that they will not vote for Donald Trump.

It is not clear if the suspicious pattern extends to other states as well. Also unclear is whether the North Carolina recount will examine presidential as well as gubernatorial votes.

The deadline to apply for a recount is looming in all three states. NY Magazine reports that Clinton supporters are lobbying for recounts and a forensic examination of voting machines, but the Obama Administration does not want the results challenged in order to smooth the transfer of power.

The possibility of Russian tampering with election results was raised prior to the election. The Obama Administration has blamed Russia for the hack of Democratic National Committee emails. Donald Trump has remained skeptical of the Russian connection, but Mike Pence has indicated that he believes that Russia was behind the email hack.

Whether Hillary will ask for a recount hasn’t been determined yet. The outcome of any recounts and investigation may not change the election, but it does raise the possibility that the election that everyone thought was settled might not be over yet.

Speaker Paul Ryan Paid for Trump’s Wis. Ground Game

On Tuesday night, Sean Hannity of Fox News was sure, absolutely sure, that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would not return to the speaker’s chair when Donald Trump takes office in January. “Paul Ryan is not going to be the speaker of the House in January,” Hannity told viewers. “He’s not going to be speaker.”

But while Trump briefly flirted with the idea of endorsing Ryan’s carpet-bagging opponent in Wisconsin’s August primary, he ultimately endorsed Ryan and has gone on to benefit from Ryan’s generosity with campaign cash. According to a review of campaign finance reports, Paul Ryan underwrote the Republican ground game that helped Donald Trump win Wisconsin and helped Sen. Ron Johnson (R) win an upset in the state’s U.S. Senate race.

As of mid-October, Ryan for Congress, the Speaker’s personal campaign committee, had given $1 million to the Republican Party of Wisconsin to fund voter turnout efforts across the state. In August, Ryan for Congress gave Wisconsin Republicans half a million dollars. That was followed by a $250,000 contribution in September and a final $250,000 contribution in mid-October.

In contrast, Trump Victory gave only $667,932.04 to the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Trump Victory is the joint fundraising account established by the RNC and the Trump campaign to accept contributions well in excess of what individual campaign committees can accept. The money is then frequently spent on voter turnout operations to boost the party’s candidates up and down the ballot.

Ryan’s contribution to his state party’s ground game is hard to overestimate. Wisconsin hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate in a presidential year since 1980, and hasn’t given its electoral votes to a Republican presidential candidate since 1984.

Other party entities left Wisconsin Republicans – notably Sen. Ron Johnson – for dead weeks before the election. The National Republican Senatorial Committee canceled television ad buys for Johnson just over a month out from Election Day. But Ryan used his Congressional campaign to write another quarter million dollar check to the Republican ground game, and then spent the final days of the race touring the state with Johnson.

Johnson noticed that his national party abandoned him, even as he refused to stop working for the win. His hard work paid off and on Wednesday morning he told a Milwaukee radio host that since the NRSC pulled its support, he felt he owed nobody in Washington anything.

Some high-profile Trump backers, chief among them Ann Coulter and Brietbart.com, believe Paul Ryan needs to go, but Ryan’s hard work in Wisconsin not only helped the state’s electoral votes go to Trump-Pence, but also helped assure at least a slim GOP Senate majority. That’s no small achievement given the fact that the Trump-Pence team had zero ground game of their own in Wisconsin and gave less money than Ryan did to the general GOP effort through the state party.

At a press availability Wednesday morning, Ryan dismissed a question about his primary challenger and Trump’s potential backing of him, and sounded optimistic about working with a new Republican administration to pass conservative reforms into law.

Democrats Poised To Win Control of Senate

A month ago, the GOP seemed to be the odds-on favorite to retain control of the Senate. With the tumultuous month of October behind us, the odds seem to have shifted slightly to favor the Democrats regaining control.

The Democrats have a structural advantage due to the fact that they are defending only 10 seats while Republicans are defending 24. Only one Democratic seat, the Nevada seat of the retiring Harry Reid, was considered at risk. A total of eight Republican seats, many in blue or purple states, are threatened. Many of these at-risk seats were won in the Tea Party wave election of 2010. Wave elections often allow weak candidates to win who cannot retain their seat when political conditions return to normal.

FiveThirtyEight puts the chances that the Democrats will win the Senate at over 60 percent. A recent blog post noted that four of the eight most hotly contested races have seen major shifts. Three races have shifted toward the Republicans and one toward the Democrats. Indiana, New Hampshire and Wisconsin have moved slightly toward the Republicans while Pennsylvania now favors the Democratic challenger.

Here are summaries on the battleground Senate races for Republican seats:

  • In Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio’s lead over Democrat Patrick Murphy has tightened slightly, but Rubio is still the clear favorite.
  • In Illinois, Sen. Mark Kirk’s seat is all but lost. Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s lead has widened to 13 points in the Real Clear Politics average after Kirk made an embarrassing comment about Duckworth’s heritage.
  • In Indiana, a race previously considered a Democrat lock, Rep. Todd Young (R) was tied with former Senator Evan Bayh (D) in a recent poll. FiveThirtyEight’s models show Young’s chances of taking the seat surging from 30 percent to 45 percent. The seat is currently held by Republican Dan Coats, who is retiring.
  • In Missouri, Sen. Roy Blunt is in a tossup race with Secretary of State Jason Kander. FiveThirtyEight gives the race as a 55 percent chance of going to the Democrats, a slight improvement for Blunt.
  • In New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte seems to be maintaining a margin-of-error lead over Gov. Maggie Hassan. FiveThirtyEight has downgraded Hassan’s chances of winning the seat from 67 to 56 percent. The race is still a tossup, but with slightly better odds for Ayotte.
  • In North Carolina, Sen. Richard Burr’s race with state Rep. Deborah Ross is still a tossup. FiveThirtyEight puts Ross’s chances of taking the seat at 34 percent, down nine percent from two weeks ago.
  • In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman’s seat seems to be reliably Republican. Portman holds a double-digit advantage over Gov. Ted Strickland.
  • In Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey has trailed Katie McGinty in nine straight polls. The race is still close, with McGinty leading by an average of less than four points, but FiveThirtyEight has moved the race from a tossup to a 73 percent chance of a Democratic victory.
  • In Wisconsin, Sen. Ron Johnson’s chances are still not good. Former Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold has consistently led the race. FiveThirtyEight says that the race has moved slightly in Johnson’s favor, but Feingold still has a 90 percent chance of retaking the seat.

The sole Democratic battleground seat is Nevada. This race is a tossup between Rep. Joe Heck (R) and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. Heck holds a slight advantage in the RCP average of polls, but FiveThirtyEight gives Cortez Masto almost a 60 percent chance of winning.

The current balance of power in the Senate is 54 Republicans to 46 Democrats (including independents). The Democrats need a net pickup of four seats to split control of the Senate or five seats to take a majority. In the case of a 50-50 split among the two parties, the incoming vice president can cast the deciding vote.

At this point, Democrats look likely to retain Harry Reid’s Nevada seat as well as pick up Republican seats in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. These four seats would be enough to split the Senate evenly with the Republicans.

The fifth seat, to give the majority to the Democrats, will likely come from either Missouri, New Hampshire or North Carolina. All three races are tossups and FiveThirtyEight gives Democrats the edge in both Missouri and New Hampshire.

Regardless of whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins the presidency, it has been viewed as critical for Republicans to hold the Senate. The Senate has the role of confirming judges and Supreme Court justices as well as confirming treaties. Any bills from the House’s Republican majority, which is likely safe, must go through the Senate before they are signed into law by the president.

The most recent round of polling gives little hope of preserving the Republican Senate majority. As Republican Senate hopes fade, so do hopes of everything from keeping liberal justices off of the Supreme Court to repealing and replacing Obamacare.

PolitiFact Wisconsin Says Ron Johnson Told The Truth. So He’s a Liar.

Fact checkers are liberal reporters who want to be taken seriously. So instead of writing on the editorial page or the front page, they create “fact check” columns where their liberalism can be used to claim the truth for the left, even when it is a lie.

PolitiFact is the worst of them all. Filled with a bunch of leftists who will claim a lie as the truth to fit their agenda, they are doing it in Wisconsin with Senator Ron Johnson.

In a campaign ad in Wisconsin, Senator Johnson says his opponent Russ Feingold “got paid $8,000 a lecture at Stanford University.”

What did Politifact find?

By our math, based on the course descriptions on Stanford’s website, there were 10 lectures in the first class and nine in the second, for a total of 19 lectures in those classes over the two terms.

If you take $150,000 and divide it by 19, you get approximately $7,895 per lecture. That’s pretty close to the $8,000 mentioned.

And then at the end, Politifact notes, “the math may be right, or close to it.”

So you’d think this would be rated true or mostly true, wouldn’t you?

Not if you are a leftist at Politifact. There, this is rated “mostly false.” Why?

Johnson claims Feingold “got paid $8,000 a lecture at Stanford University.”

While the math may be right, or close to it, the claim implies that the number of lectures is somehow tied to pay grade and ignores the other work required outside of class.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

The math is right, the claim is right, but to Politifact it is a lie.

Is it any wonder people hate the media?

Insurance Options Drop For WI Population Centers

Wisconsinites living in key population centers have seen their health insurance choices limited since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange. Launched three years ago, the ObamaCare exchange provides a marketplace for consumers to purchase government-mandated health insurance coverage while potentially receiving a federal subsidy for the cost of that insurance. While anyone can use the exchange, subsidies are allocated based on the annual income of the person seeking coverage.

A Media Trackers review of data collected by the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance finds that in the ten most populous counties in Wisconsin, the number of health insurance providers has significantly decreased since 2013, the year the ObamaCare exchange launched. OCI regulates insurance companies and tracks data about plans offered in Wisconsin, both on and off the federal exchange. Data for insurers offering health plans in 2017 is available because insurers must submit their plans to the OCI for review.

In 2014, there were a total of 20 insurance companies that competed to offer health insurance to Wisconsin consumers. Thirteen of those companies offered plans on the ObamaCare exchange. Those numbers remain relatively unchanged for 2017 with the exception that three large insurers, United Healthcare, Humana and WPS’s Arise Health, have left the market along with several smaller companies who have stopped or started offering health plans in the state.

The total number of insurers competing in Wisconsin for 2017 currently stands at 17, with 14 of them offering plans on the ObamaCare exchange.

But a deeper dive into county-by-county statistics reveals that in Wisconsin’s most populous areas, the number of options available both on and off the exchange has dropped noticeably.

Milwaukee County, the most populated county in the state, had 9 companies offering insurance plans to residents in 2014, with 4 of them offering plans via the exchange at HealthCare.gov. For 2017, only 4 companies will offer plans in the county and all 4 will have offerings on the exchange.

In northeast Wisconsin, Brown County, home to Green Bay, had 11 insurers competing for business and 5 of them offering plans on the exchange in 2014. Next year, residents will have to pick a plan from one of 4 companies with 3 of them offering plans on the federal exchange.

The chart below shows the decline in competition for the top ten most populous counties in the state:

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 3.45.06 PM
While options have declined in populated areas, health insurance premium costs have risen across the state, socking consumers’ pocketbooks as they try to avoid the penalties imposed by ObamaCare on those who don’t buy mandated minimum coverage.

The decline in health insurance options available in population centers across Wisconsin, along with the decision of several large health insurance companies to stop offering plans in the state, once again proves President Barack Obama’s now-infamous claim of “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” to be false.

ObamaCare Pushes Wisconsin Insurance Rates Up, Again

Wisconsinites who get their government-mandated health insurance via the federal health insurance exchange are once again going to be paying more out of pocket for their monthly premiums. Late last week the state’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, which regulates the insurance industry, disclosed that the average plan on HealthCare.gov for Wisconsin residents is going to see a 15.88% increase in premium costs. Some, in Wisconsin, will see their plan cost jump an astonishing 30.37%.

HealthCare.gov is the insurance marketplace established by ObamaCare to facilitate the buying of health insurance plans that meet federal mandates found in the Affordable Care Act.

“In order to be eligible for the federally facilitated exchange, insurers must meet all state standards and file their rates and forms with the state of Wisconsin,” a press release from the OCI explains. Since October 2013, when the ObamaCare exchanges launched with a massive technical glitch, each October as marked the “open enrollment” period during which consumers can buy health insurance and enroll in a plan via HealthCare.gov for the following year.

The average rate increase of just over 15% is higher than expected. Earlier in the year preliminary data suggested that the average rate increase would be a still noticeable 10% hike.

The price jump outpaces the rate of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 12-month CPI for the year that ended in August 2016 was 1.1%, a barely noticeable rate of inflation. For medical care the inflation rate was 5.1% over the past year, which is still only 1/3rd of the cost of the rate increases.

When ObamaCare-compliant insurance policies were first offered in late 2013, Wisconsin consumers saw huge premium increases. For example, a 21 year-old in Wisconsin in 2013 saw a 135% premium increase from the cheapest pre-ObamaCare plan available to them versus the cheapest ObamaCare plan offered on the health insurance exchange.

News of the rate hike comes as Wisconsin voters weigh who they want to send back to the U.S. Senate this fall. In 2010, voters booted Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, who supported ObamaCare and replaced him with Republican Ron Johnson. Now, Feingold, who has spent his career in government, is attempting to oust Johnson, who has term-limited himself to two terms and has spent his career in creating jobs in the private sector.

During the 2010 matchup ObamaCare was hotly debated by both candidates.

Johnson has asserted that Feingold cast the deciding vote on ObamaCare, and that’s true given the fact that Democrats needed 60 votes to move the legislation through the Senate past procedural hurdles, and they only secured 60 votes to do so.

Remarkably, PolitiFact, the editorial feature that fact checks statements by politicians and public figures, declared Johnson’s assertion “Mostly False” in 2015, arguing that while Feingold’s vote was absolutely necessary, it wasn’t right to say Feingold was the deciding vote of the 60 votes needed. “Obamacare backers needed 60 yes votes on a crucial vote in the Senate that paved the way for final Senate passage of the health care reform bill. Feingold cast one of those votes,” wrote PolitiFact writer Tom Kertscher.

But in a debate exchange in 2010, Feingold took credit for being the deciding vote on ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. “Not only was I the deciding vote for the healthcare bill,” Feingold said before delving into an aside.

Asked about the video of Feingold contradicting PolitiFact’s ruling, Kertscher said, “Doesn’t really matter who said he is the deciding vote; the question is whether he was.” Asked if that meant PolitiFact would either re-assess its ruling about Johnson’s statement in 2015 or would have to find Feingold to be “mostly false” in his own statement, Kertscher didn’t respond.

Liberals in Wisconsin blasted Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) decision ahead of the ObamaCare exchange launch in 2013 to not develop an expensive state-funded exchange. They consistently pointed to neighboring Minnesota as an example of model ObamaCare implementation, but this year’s open enrollment period is finding Minnesota consumers facing staggering premium hikes and shrinking options via the MNSure ObamaCare exchange.

BrewBrawl Week 4: Giants vs Packers

Another great autumn weekend, another amazing opportunity for two of my favorite things–
football and craft beer!

This Sunday’s matchup, New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers, has all the makings of a very interesting game. While both are recent Superbowl champions, the 2016-17 season is off to a rocky start, with both unexpectedly defeated by the injury-plagued Minnesota Vikings.

As for their respective brews, I am anxious to see how this week shakes-out. While ‘The Creature” Black IPA had been drafted for the Packers in week 1, one of my go-to American Pale Ale’s was absolutely the perfect fit for the Giants… So, without further delay, lets play BrewBrawl!

[Rules Refresh: Based solely on name and/or label appearance, a craft beer is assigned by me to each team. The matchup’s will reflect the two teams playing Sunday Night Football that week. Thus, all post-season playoff games and championship rounds are TBD.]

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

dales-pale-aleNew York Giants: Dale’s Pale Ale
Oskar Blues Brewery
[American Pale Ale] 6.5% ABV
65 IBU
Assertive but not overpowering. Medium bodied, prickly, slightly resinous with lively carbonation. Easy to drink with a clean finish.

the-creature-web1Green Bay Packers: The Creature
Urban Legend Brewing Company
[Black IPA] 8.5% ALC
85 IBU
A sturdy dark, malty flavor with rich, fruity hop aftertaste. Creamy, medium body making it easy to drink.

While it is clear these two beers could not be more different, the authentic deliciousness of ‘The Creature’ Black IPA was far-and-away the star of this game. Don’t get me wrong, as previously stated, I frequently buy and enjoying drinking Dales Pale Ale; especially when I am entertaining and want a reliable, middle of the road American Pale Ale option for my guests. And still it’s clear, ‘The Creature’ is not your typical beer, but the stuff of champions.

WINNER: Green Bay Packers/ The Creature

Please be sure to join me next week for: Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans…

 

WI Left Silent on MN ObamaCare Exchange Disaster

Minnesota’s ObamaCare insurance exchange is on the verge of collapse, but don’t expect Wisconsin liberals to be talking about it any time soon. Ever since Gov. Scott Walker (R) rejected federal ObamaCare Medicaid expansion money and refused to have Wisconsin pay for an insurance exchange (leaving the state to use the federal exchange), Wisconsin liberals have repeatedly pointed to Minnesota as a shining example of what Wisconsin could have been if only Walker had embraced the Affordable Care Act.

But Minnesota, once that shining example of all that was good about state-funded, federally-controlled health insurance exchanges and expanded Medicaid roles, is now in big trouble. According to Bloomberg, Minnesota’s individual insurance exchange has come “to the brink of collapse” in recent weeks and only emergency measures to allow insurers to raise rates has staved off further disaster. Rates will rise by at least 50%, and a spokesman for MNSure, the cleverly named state ObamaCare exchange, told Bloomberg the average rate increase will be a stunning 60%.

One of Walker’s biggest critics, and one of the Minnesota exchange’s biggest fans, has been Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a liberal think tank that has spent ample time defending Minnesota’s approach to ObamaCare and criticizing Wisconsin’s approach to the program. In 2013, Citizen Action released a report that blamed Wisconsin’s higher insurance premium costs on Walker’s refusal to embrace ObamaCare.

“Wisconsin’s rejection of a state-based exchange strip policymakers of additional tools for moderating health insurance rates,” the liberal group asserted. Additionally, the state’s unwillingness “to implement rigorous review of health insurance rates,” which means use its regulatory power to practically set the prices of private insurers, contributed to Wisconsin premiums being higher than Minnesota premiums.

What Citizen Action doesn’t mention in all of its praise of the Minnesota approach to ObamaCare is that despite fully embracing the program, insurance premiums still rose after MNSure launched its marketplace. Further, Robert Kraig, the head of Citizen Action, has tried to have it both ways when it comes to his critique of Wisconsin and ObamaCare. Citizen Action has a distant relationship with Common Ground Healthcare, a federally-subsidized health insurance cooperative that launched in Wisconsin around the time the ObamaCare exchange opened.

As part of Citizen Action’s “Got Healthcare?” campaign to promote the Affordable Care Act, Kraig excitedly praised the number of options Wisconsin consumers had for health insurance on the exchange. “It’s what we were hoping for. We were hoping people would have a lot of options,” he told the Associated Press in 2013.

Trying to have it both ways, criticizing Gov. Scott Walker’s rejection of ObamaCare on the one hand while praising Wisconsin’s overall mandatory participation in ObamaCare undermines Kraig’s message. But that hasn’t stopped numerous media outlets from touting or quoting Citizen Actions’ report praising Minnesota’s insurance exchange and price controls.

The Minnesota exchange’s embarrassing near-collapse is proof that Citizen Action’s theory about the state’s success with ObamaCare was based on flawed assumptions. Writing for the MacIver Institute, a free-market think-tank, Nick Novak pointed out in 2013 that Citizen Action used incomplete rate data to make their case.

“The first problem with Citizen Action’s analysis is its misrepresentation of rates in Minnesota. The report relies on information released by the federal government on September 25th that only included health care rates for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, instead of the whole state.”

Novak when on to point out that there are states not named Minnesota who did exactly what Minnesota did and ended up with insurance rates that were higher than Wisconsin’s rates. By confining their research to just two states, Citizen Action managed to create a small enough data sample that verified their own research bias.

A researcher with Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Health Research Institute also expressed skepticism in 2013 of the theory that state-funded exchanges result in lower premium costs for consumers. “I don’t know that there’s evidence to suggest that state-based exchanges have average lower premiums,” he told a Minnesota newspaper.

But while the recent near collapse of Minnesota’s ObamaCare exchange proves the state and its liberal policies aren’t the utopian success liberals and some media outlets want to make it out to be, the development is further proof that the ultimate losers under ObamaCare are consumers.

A headline in the Star Tribune blared this week: “Choices shrinking in Minnesota’s individual health plan market.” The story went on to quote a local health insurance industry expert who observed, “It’s almost like they’re running out of good choices. Each year, the selection gets higher priced and more limited.”

In Wisconsin, federal premium data reviewed by the MacIver Institute shows Wisconsin consumers will see an average price increase of 10%, with some plans costing up to 45% more. This is on top of premium increases last year.

Another new feature of the individual insurance market in Wisconsin is the departure of three insurance companies who have announced they are no longer going to offer plans through the federal ACA exchange. In May, Humana announced it was going to stop offering individual plans in Wisconsin through the exchange. In June, health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare announced it wasn’t going to participate in the ObamaCare marketplace in Wisconsin. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, the insurer cited a lack of profitability as a key motivator behind its departure. Now in October a hometown insurer, Arise Health Plan, a subsidiary of Madison-based WPS Health Solutions, announced it wasn’t going to offer plans via the ObamaCare exchange. “The marketplace was telling us that these are not profitable products,” a corporate spokesperson candidly said of the news.