What You Should Know: Two weeks until Election Day

Welcome back to What You Should Know, a regular roundup of the most important political, economic and university news for students.

Election Day is less than two weeks away, and it’s looking good for the GOP.

GOP_Logo1.svgElection Day is on Nov. 4, and while there is still time for candidates to swing undecided voters to their side, it’s increasingly looking like the Republican Party will take control of the U.S. Senate for President Barack Obama’s final two years in office.

The GOP is riding high this year thanks to a combination of factors, chief among them Republicans challenging for seats Democrats won in deeply conservative states six years ago when Obama was first elected and Democrats swept into power. The favorable map gives them a 65 percent chance to take back the Senate, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Good news for Michigan Democrats, though: Gary Peters is given a 94 percent chance to beat Terri Lynn Land for Sen. Carl Levin’s longtime seat.

Read more at FiveThirtyEight.

A GOP Senate likely means Obama’s nominations stand little chance of passing, but gridlock will remain.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

A Republican Senate would likely do little to break the gridlock between the two parties on Capitol Hill. A Republican majority is likely to be somewhat small (think between 51 and 53 seats), and Senate Democrats are unlikely to let the GOP pass its legislation through the chamber without a filibuster fight.

But even if the GOP is able to muster the 60 votes to break a filibuster, any chance of major legislation becoming law is unlikely since Obama would probably make great use of the veto pen. While that would result in little substantive policy change, Republican leaders are salivating at the prospect of forcing the president to veto legislation.

There’s a “political effect of Obama being forced to show what he’s for and what he’s against,” a senior Republican Senate aide told Vox last month.

One change that’s sure to occur, though, is the president’s ability to confirm his nominees for the executive branch and federal courts. Democrats changed Senate rules last year to require just 51 votes to confirm non-Supreme Court presidential nominees after repeated Republican-led filibusters kept numerous positions vacant.

Obama will likely have a much tougher time confirming his nominees in a Republican Senate, though, rendering Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s filibuster reforms meaningless for the president’s final two years.

Read more about what a Republican Senate could mean at Vox.

Three candidates are vying for two Mount Pleasant city commission spots.

Next month’s elections go beyond national and state-level races. Locally, Vice Mayor Jim Holton and Planning Commissioners Allison Quast Lents and Mike Verleger are all running for one of two city commission seats.

Read about the three candidates at The Morning Sun.

President Obama says colleges and universities should be able to use race as a factor in admissions.

Obama elaborated on his views of affirmative action in a piece by The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin.

Specifically, Obama told me that he believes the Constitution permits the use of racial preferences, though only within carefully defined limits. “It’s legitimate to say that when the government takes race into account it should be subject to some oversight by the courts,” he said. Judicial “oversight” of affirmative action has a controversial history. For many decades, starting in the nineteen-thirties, the Court applied “strict scrutiny” to laws that discriminate against racial minorities, and struck down most of them.

“If the University of Michigan or California decides that there is a value in making sure that folks with different experiences in a classroom will enhance the educational experience of the students, and they do it in a careful way,” the practice should be allowed. Still, he added, “most of the time the law’s principal job should be as a shield against discrimination, as opposed to a sword to advance a social agenda, because the law is a blunt instrument in these situations.”

Read more about Obama and his judicial legacy at The New Yorker.

Thomas Rawls was sentenced to probation and community service.

Thomas Rawls
Thomas Rawls

The star CMU running back sentenced to 104 hours of community service and 12-months probation for his role in that infamous Soaring Eagle Casino purse-snatching incident that led to a one (or was it two?) game suspension.

“When this incident happened, Mr. Rawls and the decision that he made showed a great deal of immaturity,” attorney Tom Hausmann said, according to The Morning Sun. “Since that time, Mr. Rawls has shown a great level of maturity in regards to taking care of this matter.”

Read more at The Morning Sun.

Wayne State’s law school is freezing tuition and expanding scholarships to get students to enroll.

Wayne State University’s law school is freezing tuition for the 2015-16 school year and expanding scholarships in order to counter declining enrollment figures. The move is essentially the equivalent of a 14-percent tuition cut, the school said.

Read more at the Detroit Free Press.

Don’t listen to predictions about snow totals this winter.

Winter is around the corner, and that means it’s time for meteorologists and climatologists to predict how much snow we can expect this year. Here’s a helpful hint: Don’t listen to them. They don’t have much of an idea.

Find out why at FiveThirtyEight.

2 thoughts on “What You Should Know: Two weeks until Election Day

  1. The thing most naïve college students don’t realize is how unlimited immigration and increased H1B visas are going to affect their lives by limiting job opportunities, depressing their earnings and enlarging the welfare class they will support through their taxes. Almost anything else can be undone. Amnesty cannot be undone.


  2. Oh boy oh boy. Between this and the story about the Friends Pac, You’re REALLY kissing up to the Fox News/Politico/MLive/DetNews/beltway punditry narrative about the election going for the Reps.


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