Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Jul062012

The Week In Polls--July 6--Democrats Grab Generic Lead

            Polls are fewer in number this vacation week, but overall they must be termed good news for President Obama and Democrats.  Of course that could all change in the wake of poor jobs numbers Friday, and Obama is indeed viewed more unfavorably than favorably, but it’s a question of—compared to what.

            Compared to Mitt Romney, he’s in relatively good shape, not only nationwide but in the states which will really matter come November.  Increasingly focus must shift to the three big states of Virginia, Florida, and Ohio, and yes, I am going to start listing Virginia first.

            Obama is ahead in all three of those states, but even more alarmingly for Republicans this week, the party has fallen behind in the Real Clear Politics average for the all-important generic Congressional ballot.  Republicans had led most of the year, but they now trail by 1.8 points (44.4-42.6).  Rasmussen, which has had the GOP up six to seven points most of the year, now has their lead at only one point (41-40).  Most pundits don’t see this as enough for Democrats to regain control of the U.S. House, but it has to be disconcerting for the GOP.

            Equally as problematic are the top of the ticket numbers.  RCP has Obama ahead of Romney by 2.7 points (47.0-44.3), nearly the same as pollster which has Obama up by 2.5 points (47.1-44.6).

            At the same time, Pollster has Obama 2.7 points under water in favorability (46.3-49.1) and RCP has him down a point (47.3-48.3).

            In other words, even though Obama isn’t doing much to please people, Mitt Romney is falling farther behind rather than closing the gap.

            Fivethirtyeight.com updates its numbers on a daily basis now, and today it has Obama winning 300 electoral votes to 238 for Romney.

            It’s projecting Florida as the closest state (49.7-49.2 for Obama) with Virginia at 50.4-48.6 for Obama and Ohio at 50.4-47.8 for Obama.

            Even with the recent Marist tie in New Hampshire built into the formula, 538 now projects Obama to win here 51.9-48.1.

            Of course these numbers could all change at once (the jobs report could be the catalyst), but any partisan Republican must be worried.

            Today Rasmussen had Romney up two (46-44), but Gallup has Obama up four (48-44); those are the two pollsters which keep track on a daily basis.  Less frequent pollsters tend to show even better numbers for Obama.

            Gallup is out with a survey which shows little support for third party candidates this year, but what little support there is comes at Romney’s expense.  In a poll released today, Obama leads Romney 47-40 with Libertarian Gary Johnson registering at three percent (and two percent volunteering Ron Paul’s name) and Jill Stein of the Green Party at one percent.  If Ron Paul decides to run, Romney will have virtually no chance, but don’t look for that to happen.

            North Carolina appears to be in Romney’s camp.  Civitas has him up five points there (50-45), so that’s one less state to worry about.  We Ask America has Obama up only one in Florida (46-45).

            A look inside American Research Group’s recent New Hampshire poll bodes ill for Romney with Independents.  Obama leads 49-41 overall, but his margin is 63-33 with voters registered in neither party (Romney leads 82-12 with Republicans; Obama 81-14 with Democrats, pretty much a wash).

            ARG also shows a huge gender gap in New Hampshire.  Obama leads 58-34 among women, Romney 44-52 among men.

            The only good news for Romney is that he cuts the eight point deficit down to three when only those certain to vote are considered. 

            With all the talk this week of Ohio Republican Secretary of State Josh Mandel coming on against incumbent Democrats Sherrod Brown in the Senate race, I decided to check the Real Clear Politics average.  It does NOT appear to be close with Brown leading by 10.5 points (48.5-38.0).  Only Rasmussen has Mandel even close (down 47-42).  PPP has Brown up 46-39, perhaps the first indication that Mandel could be closing (you can usually add three points to any Republican in a PPP poll result).  PPP has Obama up only three (47-44) in Ohio.

            The latest I can find on the other Brown (Republican Scott in Massachusetts) is a 46-46 tie, but that’s from PPP, so we can assume Brown is actually ahead.

            As for Obamacare, only CNN/Opinion Research has it viewed favorably (52-47).  Strangely enough, even in that poll, most people want it repealed (52-46).  Go figure.  Rasmussen has it at -13 (39-52), Fox at -10 (39-49).

            Three Senate polls come as good news for Republicans.  It may be an outliar but We Ask America had Republican George Allen nine points ahead of Kaine in Virginia (44-35).  Quinnipiac had Republican Connie Mack within one (41-40) of Nelson in Florida, and Rasmussen has Republican Jeff Flake up 16 points (47-31) over Carmona in Arizona (for the Kyl seat).

           

Friday
Jul062012

Midyear Look At 12 for 12 Predicitons

            As I was leisurely filming scenes in Montreal’s Old Port Sunday, I realized that not only was it Canada Day (July 1), but it also marked the midway point of the year, and I usually check out my New Years predictions at this juncture.

            First I had to recall what the predictions were (I was in an Internet free zone), but once I jotted them down, I ran through them and found out that so far, two have proven correct, two incorrect with eight yet to be determined (I dubbed the prediction 12 for 12 back at the start of the year). 

I was right that gay marriage was not repealed by the New Hampshire House and that slot machines (or expanded gambling) was not approved.

I was—barring an unforeseen write-in of earth shattering magnitude—wrong that Ted Gatsas would be the next governor.  I was also wrong with my out-on-a-limb prediction that the New Hampshire House would discover the wisdom of raising the speed limit to 70 miles an hour on Interstate highways.

Of the eight remaining predictions, I remain satisfied with all but one.  I had Democrats picking up 55 or so seats in the New Hampshire House; I’ve expanded that to closer to 100 seats so that come November 7, the NH House will be very close to 200-200 (my exact numbers now are 202 Republicans, 197 Democrats and Cynthia Dokmo as an Independent).

I’m fairly comfortable with the other seven predictions including Mitt Romney as President (with approximately 53 percent of the popular vote and 300 electoral votes).  Although Romney continues to trail by three points or so in most polls, the economic data does not look good, and I’ll stick with the prediction, albeit by a closer margin.

I had Gene Chandler as the next Speaker of the New Hampshire House, and although that was based on Republicans maintaining somewhat firm control (although not enough control for O’Brien to return with the gavel—Gott sei Dank), I’m fairly confident that Gene will be an acceptable compromise.

Keep in mind that these are always things that I think will happen, not what I want to happen (I’ve endorsed Lee Quandt for Speaker).

Democrats could do slightly better than I predicted in the New Hampshire Senate (I had them picking up three seats to from 19-5 to 16-8).  With the large number of incumbents not seeking re-election, I would be comfortable increasing the gain to four seats making it 15-9, but keep in mind that Senate redistricting should be a big boon to Republicans.

Republicans should handily maintain control of the U.S. House (I had them losing six seats and will stick with that despite some polls showing Democrats actually leading in the generic Congressional ballot).  I am far less confident that Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass will be re-elected, primarily because top of the ticket will not provide as big a boost as I had thought, but let’s assume that Porter and Kuster can be tagged with their support of unpopular Obamacare and the only way to get rid of it is to give Republicans Congressional control.  I’ll stick with Guinta and Bass winning, but no gun to my head on this one please.

I remain far more confident than most pundits that Republicans will easily take control of the U.S. Senate.  I would reduce my number of gains from seven down to six seats (thanks to Snowe’s decision not to run in Maine).  North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wisconsin, and Missouri look like sure pick-ups.  The three states which could decide the Presidency (Ohio, Virginia, and Florida) could also produce Republican gains.  Virginia is a pure toss-up.  Although Sherrod Brown continues to lead in Ohio, 31 year old Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel (former Marine; he looks like a teenager) has received national attention this week as a potential upset winner (blame Obamacare and poor jobs numbers).  Although I think Nelson will hang on to defeat Connie Mack in Florida, I think Scott Brown beats the Indian wannabe in Massachusetts, and Jeff Flake easily holds the Kyl seat in Arizona.  Call it a gain of at least five seats for at least 52-48 control for Republicans.  53-47 is my new pick.

Gun to my head prediction for governor would now be Ovide, but don’t hold me to this one, and once again these are what I think will happen, not what I hope will happen.

Finally, I’ll stick with my predictions of 8.5 percent unemployment and 2.0 percent growth at the time of the election.

Only Ted Gatsas and failure to raise the speed limit to a reasonable 70 miles an hour stand between me and the chance at perfection for 2012.

But then I suspect something else will go wrong prior to November. 

Friday
Jul062012

People Still Don't Drive 65!

The Grand Bibliotehque in Montreal was closed for the holiday weekend (Canada Day was Sunday; the old port has been spiffed up even more this year).  Plus my state of lethargy was particularly pronounced.

Thus I did not get a chance to go in and blog my usual survey of people driving over the speed limit, but I did in fact keep a record as I drove up Interstate 89 between Concord and Lebanon from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. last Friday evening—that would be June 29.

You can probably guess the results.  Going approximately 65 miles and hour (the legal limit), for every car I had to pass (in other words, cars which were going less than the speed limit), I was passed by three cars speeding.  I wrote the exact numbers down, but managed to misplace it.  Still, I'm sure you'll take my word for it (it was something like 33 to 12).

Actually I tried to go slightly more than 65 (a confession), so no one could argue that 65 would make the survey improper.

Thanks to a law that should not be on the books (65 miles an hour on roads meant to be traveled at 70-75 miles an hour); the New Hampshire Legislature continues to make 75 percent of its citizens law breakers.

Don't blame me.

I introduced legislation to raise the speed limit last session, and despite the increased number of Libertarian-minded Representatives it failed lacking support of nearly all nanny state Democrats and Republican leadership which seemed more intent upon cramming gay marriage repeal and contraception control down our throats than of acknowledging that 65 is not an appropriate speed limit.

Here's the kicker.

Most people appeared not to traveling at unusually high rates of speed.  I would estimate they were going in the 70-75 mile and hour range.  Thus, had we changed the law to reflect reality, we would not have a state of law breakers.

The one dangerous spot in my 60 miles trek was not caused by excessive speed, but by a driver (Vermont license plate) poking along at 45 miles and hour, flicking cigarette ashes from her car when I passed her, causing a jam up.

I'll continue to say that it's not speed that kills.  It's a divergence from a reasonable speed limit.  With 75 percent of our citizens (albeit perhaps not Vermonters visiting here) breaking the law every time they get behind the wheel of their cars, we lose respect for all reasonable laws.

I will continue my surveys when I set out of trips later this summer (one in early August and one for Labor Day most likely).  Does anyone doubt that the results will be similar?

It's time to do as Maine has done--raise the speed limit to 70 or 75 miles an hour--to respect the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.  D.J. Bettencourt wouldn't get behind it as Republican leader.  Anybody wanna bet if he kept his speed down to 65?  I suspect not.

Maybe next year...at least Deej won't be here to oppose such sensible legislation!

My stay in Canada was uneventful, that is to say just fine.  Creature of habit that I am, I was not pleased to be unable to find my favorite weekly entertainment paper (The Mirror) which last year had welcomed me with the news that the B52s would be performing a free outdoor concert as part of the Jazz Festival.  No such luck this year; Liza Minnelli was on hand (but not for free).  Apparently the biggest name at the Festival was Chromeo, billed as the first Jew and an Arab in a rock group.  I took a pass on it, but the Old Port was fun.  Lots of fireworks; no one hurt; and they lasted more than 15 seconds.

I never did make it to the spot where Ethan Allen was captured (in 1775, not 1776); it’s not at all centrally located, way out beyond the LaFontaine tunnel.  Maybe next time.  Nor did I make it to where Jackie Robinson played minor league baseball, but I did read that his child was conceived in Montreal, and he loved it there.

So do I, even without a Mirror!

I dragged myself out of lethargy to film about 45 minutes (including some of the Art Festival in le Village--not as good as last year--I couldn't find Tick Tock Tom and his bleeding heart sculpture) and will be using it the next few weeks on The Liberty Express (Channel 23 in Manchester Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon and always available on line at vimeo.com/channels/mpa). 

Friday
Jul062012

FY 2012 Revenue Projections Were Remarkalby Accurate

            Although June 30 marked the end of the fiscal year for revenue purposes, it does not appear that all revenues (notably $34.1 million expected in Medicaid recovery) were in.

            Thus, there are two ways of looking at the final revenue totals for the year.  If the Medicaid monies arrive, the state will be in $7.5 million over plan for the year.  That’s an amazing accuracy rate; it’s within 0.35 percent of the projected revenues of $2,189,200,000 ($2.189 billion).

            Should the Medicaid monies not arrive (most “experts” say they will), the state will fall $26.6 million short of revenue projections.

            An $11.5 million shortfall in tobacco revenues (thanks to ten cent per pack tax reduction House Speaker Bill O’Brien insisted upon) was offset by $10.3 million more than expected in business taxes, $7.9 million extra in rooms and meals monies, $3.1 million in the real estate transfer tax, and $2.5 million in securities revenue.

            Other revenue sources which came in under play were, as had been indicated all year, liquor monies ($6.7 million under plan), interest and dividends monies ($3.5 million under) and lottery monies ($3.4 million under).

            Overall, it was a rather amazing job of revenue projections, not just in one category but in all of them.

            Most people expected the cigarette tax would come in $10 million under plan, that the Speaker was dead wrong in insisting that you could recover revenues by selling more packs if the tax were lowered.

            Legislation cutting the tax was accompanied by a measure that would return the ten cent tax if monies fell short, but that rider won’t kick in for another year.  Of course, legislators elected in November could raise the tax (ten cents or more) and have it kick in upon passage.

            If that sounds like a prediction, so be it.

            When I returned from a weekend north of the border, I read a media report that June revenues were $10 million short, but as I reported here before I left, those numbers were not final.  June’s numbers actually came in $2.1 million above the $204.9 million estimated.  The discrepancy is easily explained; the “other” category surpassed the $18.1 million plan by $3.1 million, but it had been million shy until the very end. 

            Overall the state took in $513.3 million in business taxes for the year; $237.1 million in rooms and meals taxes; $212 million in tobacco taxes; $124.7 from liquor sales; and $66.6 million from the lottery ($74.0 million in the other category as opposed to $74.1 million expected).

            Fish and Game revenues came in at $9.8 million $0.9 million shy of the $10.7 projected.

            Highway funds came in at $283.8 million, $5.1 million over plan, not due to the gasoline tax but rather due to an excess of motor vehicle fees.  The gas tax was slightly ($1.5 million) below the plan of $124.5 million.

            The numbers speak for themselves.  Other than the editorial comment on the cigarette tax, I could point out that if Governor John Lynch’s estimates had been used, we’d be in a big hole today, far in excess of $100 million.

            Ain’t democracy grand?           

Friday
Jun292012

Let's Celebrate Some Birthdays

My papers are in order (passport that is).  I expect clear sailing through the border.  Only once do I recall Canadian officials thoroughly searching everything; my State Rep files mystified them.  “What if someone were to steal these,” I was asked.  My response—it seemed logical to me—“What if someone were to steal anything?”  They let me in, paper and all.

Mais oui.

My tank is full of gas (I paid $3.22 on Queen City Ave in Manchester and expect to pay close to $3.50 when I refill in northern Vermont, still less than I would pay if I had to fill up in Quebec).

Ah yes, it's my annual excursion to celebrate two birthdays.  Canada turns 145 Sunday (Canada Day in the Old Port of Montreal is one of my favorite things).  Of course, the U.S. will hit 236 Wednesday; I expect to be back at my brother's house in Vermont for that.

Time was when I would visit Montreal with a purpose.  Now, most of the time, I attempt to have absolutely nothing to do, but this time, I've grabbed a camera and will attempt to do some filming for upcoming TV shows (Jackie Robinson played for the Montreal Royals in 1947; Ethan Allen was captured while trying to wrest Canada from the British there--1776 as I recall).  Then there's always jazz, a great arts festival and fireworks (although I've become jaded by fireworks).

Last year, I discovered the B52s were performing to close out the jazz festival.  I doubt I'll be so lucky this year.  I'm into Rod Stewart these days and have taken out some of his Standards CDs (along with REM and the Bs) to listen to when I get out of radio range through Vermont.

One of my friends at the State House motorcycled into Montreal last weekend.  He said the city was dead—it was St. Jean Baptiste Day.  He also noted that when they landed at a restaurant they happened to be in La Village, the gay section of town.  That’s all right; I assured him; last time I checked, they let heterosexuals in there to eat, drink, party, or whatever.

He told me two guys were arguing, in English, about which city is better, Montreal or Paris.  I remember a Montealer once telling me many years ago, “We’re not Paris, you know.”  My response was—in German—Gott sei Dank.  Thank god.  Excuse me for disparaging one of the world’s truly great cities (Paris), but Montreal is much better as I see it.  It’s every bit as international and cosmopolitan and free-spirited as Paris, but without the attitude.

Before I hit the road, I should comment on a few items.

Democrats On Medicinal Pot?--I may have been wrong when I reported that all five Senate Democrats voted not to override the medical marijuana bill.  A reporter had told me that; others tell me that in fact the only two Democrats who committed such treachery were Sylvia Larsen and Lou Boo Hoo D'Allesandro.

Rest in Peace, Leo--As I've reported here twice, Leo Pepino was hospitalized with a heart attack in the filing period.  He still managed to file, but now I read that he has passed.  I guess I remember Leo most for his time on the Charter Commission (I was working for Manchester City Hall at the time and was assigned the task of transcribing minutes).  It's truly ironic that Manchester voters will be asked whether or not to establish another Charter Commission this fall.  I do recall that Leo was very ill 12 or 13 years ago, so he was indeed a survivor.  His wife Rita, who passed years ago, was also very well known.  Perhaps Leo's greatest legacy is the paper trail bill.  He's the reason we have paper ballots available for all recounts.  It came as the result of the controversial Donna Soucy-Leona Dykstra Aldermanic election (was it 1995?).  Soucy's father C. Arthur was moderator--kind of an All in The Family thing.  There were voting irregularities; the election went to the courts, but back then Manchester used voting machines with no paper trail.  Leo changed that.

 

Revenue Estimates Nearly Perfect--Of course, the fiscal year ends tomorrow, and a quick look at revenues reveals that we might be just a tad off for June--probably only a few million when all is settled.  We should be very close to hitting the plan for the year overall.  Cigarettes, thanks to the O'Brien ten cent a pack cut, will be off $10 million for the year, but Rooms and Meals, Real Estate Transfer, and Business Taxes all beat plan for the year.

Obama Either Leads By 8, 3, or 0 in NH--No Week in Polls this week, although we are inundated with many new ones showing Obama moving slightly farther ahead of Romney nationwide and in key battleground states (Florida and Ohio especially).  Two New Hampshire polls tell a different tale.  NBC/Marist have Obama and Romney dead even here while American Research Group has Obama up eight (only three if you look at those certain to vote).

I'll check in from the Grand Bibliotehque in the Latin Quarter, but I haven't yet purchased a lap top (it's on my to do list--Montreal is chock full of WIFI cafes), so comments will be limited for a few days.

Happy Birthday.

How does one say that in French?  Bonne fete?