MORE SHAKEUP! The hapless Scott McClellan resigned this morning as White House press secretary. The conventional rap on McClellan has long been that, in stark contrast to the near-sociopathic unflappability with which his predecessor Ari Fleischer could lie and stonewall on behalf of the president, he always showed the flop sweat and strain when doing the same. If that reflects a bit better on McClellan's personal humanity, I suppose we can all wish him well.
Oregon's statewide vote-by-mail system remains unique -- for now. But with little fanfare, liberalized absentee balloting laws elsewhere have prompted a steady expansion of mail voting. In the process, popular support is growing, from the ground up. States are following the gradualist pattern of expansion first set in Oregon. Laws permitting at-will absentee registration in dozens of states, and permanent absentee registration policies in California and elsewhere, are expanding the pool of voters who know and like the process.
WHITE REPUBLICANS' BLACK REPUBLICAN PROBLEM. Here's an interesting preview of a forthcoming article by a Yale economist demonstrating that "white Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black," and that there is no noticeable boost in black voter turnout when the Republican candidate is black. Similar findings also apply to House and gubernatorial races. The sample size for black GOP senatorial candidates is, needless to say, limited -- the economist, Ebonya Washington, identified and analyzed five such races between 1982 and 2000.
OFF INTO THE SUNSET. Budget negotiations within the House GOP conference stalled last week over disputes between moderates, who wanted some boosts in spending, and the Republican Study Committee (RSC) folks, who were pushing for some of their usual litany of draconian caps and budget process changes.
DRAWING KNIVES?The Washington Postsurveys veteran congressional handicappers and concludes that the Democrats' chances of taking back the House in November remain very slim. I'll let the Midterm Madness folks judge whether the piece is trustworthy or persuasive on the merits; needless to say, it remains the case that structural barriers still do render a takeover a long-shot proposition, even with Democrats enjoying such a politically favorable climate nationwide.