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I.V. Weekly Chronicle

Powered by article titled “Supreme court health care day 3 – live” was written by Jim Newell, for on Wednesday 28th March 2012 18.45 UTC

2.44pm: And the second session of the day has adjourned – the Most Important Legal Proceeding Since The Trial Of Jesus Christ is over! Let’s see if worrywart Jeffrey Toobin escaped before his head exploded:

Toobin will survive. Again: Toobin will survive. The healthcare reform law though? We’ll have to wait a couple of months before we know about that.

2.31pm: Another thing to keep in mind about the “severability” of the individual mandate: legislators didn’t (forgot to?) include a “severability clause” in the healthcare law, which would have prevented the court from throwing out the whole bill if it found one provision – such as, say, an individual mandate – unconstitutional. That doesn’t mean it is obligated to throw out the whole bill if there’s one one provision it finds unconstitutional, and doing so would be a radical act. But if the whole thing was tossed, Democratic lawmakers would deserve part of the blame for their carelessness.


2.16pm: In the afternoon session, Paul Clement tried to argue that the provision for states to expand their Medicaid programs, a part of the bill expected to bring coverage for 15 million low-income Americans and children, unfairly coerces the states. The way the program would work: The federal government would pick up the states’ full tab for new enrollees through 2014, after which it would pick up a mere 90%.

This “coercion” claim is expected to be Clement’s most challenging argument, and as the Wall Street Journal liveblog notes, liberal justices were all over him as this afternoon’s session began. Stephen Breyer, for example:

Justice Stephen Breyer, meanwhile, has been hitting Mr. Clement hard on his most central claim: that the federal government will force states to leave the Medicaid program entirely if they don’t go along with the expansion under the health law. States say that they are afraid that this will destroy their budgets, which rely heavily on Medicaid funds.

Justice Breyer says that that isn’t the case — it’s up to the Health and Human Services Secretary to decide whether to kick them out altogether, and administrative law requires the secretary and other federal government officials to act reasonably, he argues. “Now, does that relieve you of your fear?” he asked.

1.51pm: Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum just wants to be left alone with his lunch.


1.46pm: The court’s audio and transcript (PDF) from this morning’s session are online.

1.29pm: Our correspondent Chris McGreal lined up at 4am to be sure of a seat in court today. Here’s his take:

Wednesday morning’s session boiled down to dueling between the court’s liberal and conservative justices over who should have the authority to decide the fate of the rest of the health care legislation if its core, mandatory medical insurance, is ruled unconstitutional. Justice Scalia was the most aggressive in pressing the idea that it is not up to the supreme court to wade through the remainder of the legislation to decide what should remain and what should not.

He appeared firmly in favour of striking down the whole law if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional – and gave a clear sign that he thinks it is when he argued that it would be better to throw out the whole law and let Congress begin again.

“Whether we strike it all down or leave some of it in place, the congressional process will never be the same. One way or another, Congress is going to have to reconsider this, and why isn’t it better to have them reconsider it – what – what should I say – in toto, rather than having some things already in the law which you have to eliminate before you can move on to consider everything on balance?” he said.

Some of the more liberal judges were open to the idea that it need not be the end of the health reform law. Justice Sotomayor suggested that if the individual mandate is ruled out, the rest could he allowed to stand while Congress amends the legislation to make it workable.

Justice Kagan said the legislation did not have to be perfect for it to be viable. She said the law was in any case a compromise reached in Congress. “And the question is always, does Congress want half a loaf. Is half a loaf better than no loaf?” she said.

Justice Breyer argued that there are many aspects of the legislation not directly related to the individual mandate. “I would say the Breast Feeding Act, the getting doctors to serve underserved areas, the biosimilar thing and drug regulation… those have nothing to do with the stuff that we’ve been talking about yesterday and the day before, okay? So if you ask me at that level, I would say, sure, they have nothing to do with it, they could stand on their own,” he said.

1.16pm: So the takes following this morning’s session don’t seem as gloomy for the law’s prospects as yesterday, but it was still hardly a walk in the park for the government’s lawyers. The four liberal justices seem intent on preserving the law even without an individual mandate – although, as we gleaned yesterday, they’re also intent on preserving the individual mandate. Justice Scalia, meanwhile, sounds eager to destroy the entire law with a sledgehammer as soon as possible, for various constitutional and political and congressional procedure-based reasons (whatever works, basically.) Justices Roberts and Kennedy simply would like to ask more questions, and perhaps play devil’s advocate on occasion, to mess with our heads.

The key issue is to what degree removing the individual mandate would disrupt interlocking parts of the bill. Scalia best exemplified the absolutist’s take: “My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute, the statute’s gone.” This neatly echoed the argument of the plaintiff’s lawyer, Paul Clement, who put it, “If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, then the rest of the act cannot stand.”

Perhaps there’s a bit of nuance the absolutists overlook, however? The individual mandate may be the heart of the health insurance finance mechanism in the law – if you require insurers to offer coverage to applicants with pre-existing conditions, then you need a lever for universality that keeps healthier folks in the risk pool to prevent the so-called health insurance “death spiral”, while offering generous government subsidies to further induce them into participation. But if the individual mandate was struck down, wouldn’t this just leave a bad, ineffective public policy in its wake that Congress would have to clear up (some way, somehow?) Some would say that the United States government has plenty of bad public policies in place, but that doesn’t mean they’re the concern of the supreme court.

And even if the mandate/pre-existing conditions/subsidies interlocking complex was excised, much of the rest of the bill – the set-up of state health insurance exchanges, high risk pools, the expansion of Medicaid, and more – could still stand without leading to the collapse of the healthcare market.

Of course, the afternoon session will deal the federal government’s ability to hoist healthcare mandates upon the states, so the conservative justices could simply rule all of the other stuff unconstitutional too.

12.39pm: Just like Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia seems unusually concerned congressional vote-counting, which – last we checked – is not his job as an arbiter of constitutionality. It sounds like he, and others on his side, might be looking for an excuse to invalidate the whole law as a practical necessity:

12.26pm: The Romney press shop has sent out a notice that former president George HW Bush will endorse Mitt Romney in Houston today, just as he did back in December. Now it is super-official, though, we guess. He now leads his son, former President George W. Bush, 2-0 in total Mitt Romney 2012 presidential endorsements.

12.25pm: Apparently we had some argumentative comedy today, during the president’s alleged train/plane wreck inside the Supreme Court:

Who hit who with the chair or the barbed wire? These Supreme Court justices play too many violent video games.

12.16pm: Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog has an interesting, practical take – that some justices may not be interested in striking down the individual mandate alone because it would be too much of a pain to figure out what to do afterwards:

The Supreme Court spent 91 minutes Wednesday operating on the assumption that it would strike down the key feature of the new health care law, but may have convinced itself in the end not to do that because of just how hard it would be to decide what to do after that. A common reaction, across the bench, was that the Justices themselves did not want the onerous task of going through the remainder of the entire 2,700 pages of the law and deciding what to keep and what to throw out, and most seemed to think that should be left to Congress.

12.08pm: The morning session has adjourned. Here’s CNN/New Yorker legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, giving his latest apocalyptic, sky-is-falling tweet that will terrify Obamacare supporters for the rest of the day whether it has merit or not:

11.59am: The Los Angeles Times has the latest from inside, and its take, at least, is that conservative justices want to tear down the whole law if the individual mandate is invalidated. Oh, they’re feeling frisky today:

The Supreme Court’s conservative justices said Wednesday they are prepared to strike down President Obama’ s health care act entirely.

Picking up where they left off Tuesday, the conservatives said they thought a decision striking down the individual mandate means the whole statute should fall with it.

The court’s conservatives sounded as though they had determined for themselves that the 2,700 page law must be declared unconstitutional.

“One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.

Agreeing, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an “extreme proposition” to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down.

11.38am: Longtime Democratic Representative Bobby Rush was kicked off the House floor this morning for donning a hoodie in honor of dead Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Rush supposedly violated chamber rules against wearing hats. Hats!


11.31am: The Wall Street Journal live blog, fed by its reporters in the Supreme Court indicates that things are, again, shockingly, breaking down along ideological lines!

Liberal justices are making a strong case for “salvaging” the law even in the event of the individual mandate being ruled unconstitutional; and Chief Justice Roberts – considered, along with Justice Kennedy, one of the two conservative justices who remain open to upholding the law – is exploring another, well, another option:

Chief Justice John Roberts has asked several questions of Mr. Clement that further the case for striking down the whole law, and echo other remarks from Justices Alito and Scalia.

He has suggested that the whole of the health-law should be considered to be linked to the individual mandate because its myriad of other provisions, such as black-lung payments, were actually included as sweeteners to pass the main bill. Without them, Congress “would not have been able to cobble together the votes to get it approved,” he said.

So now Chief Justice John Roberts fancies himself the House Majority Whip, checking out vote counts?

11.14am: Supporters of the health care law – or at least defenders of its constitutionality – dug up all the bitterness they could muster in some sweeping reactions to the liberals’ rough day in court Tuesday.

Slate legal writer Dahlia Lithwick, for example, nearly gave up on modernity, community, and hope altogether:

This morning in America’s highest court, freedom seems to be less about the absence of constraint than about the absence of shared responsibility, community, or real concern for those who don’t want anything so much as healthy children, or to be cared for when they are old. Until today, I couldn’t really understand why this case was framed as a discussion of “liberty.” This case isn’t so much about freedom from government-mandated broccoli or gyms. It’s about freedom from our obligations to one another, freedom from the modern world in which we live. It’s about the freedom to ignore the injured, walk away from those in peril, to never pick up the phone or eat food that’s been inspected. It’s about the freedom to be left alone. And now we know the court is worried about freedom: the freedom to live like it’s 1804.

The New Yorker’s John Cassidy gave up on humanity, calling the case “a bad joke”:

But, of course, this case isn’t ultimately about the law—it is about politics. The four ultra-conservative justices on the court—Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas—are in the vanguard of a movement to roll back the federal government and undermine its authority to tackle market failures. The movement began in the nineteen-eighties, when the Federalist Society got its start and Ronald Reagan appointed one of its members, Scalia, to the court—and for thirty years it has been gathering strength.

Thus the creation of a new legal theory to sink Obamacare: the idea that while the federal government might well have the authority to regulate economic activity, it doesn’t have the right to regulate inactivity—such as sitting around and refusing to buy health insurance. Now, it is as plain as the spectacles on Antonin Scalia’s nose that opting out of the health-care market is about as realistic as opting out of dying. But necessity is the mother of invention. And, judging by his questions this morning, it is this invention that Kennedy has fastened on.

As I said at the beginning, it’s a bad joke—upon us all.

And Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer poured a few tons of salt into Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s wounds:

Stepping up to the podium, Verrilli stammered as he began his argument. He coughed, he cleared his throat, he took a drink of water. And that was before he even finished the first part of his argument. Sounding less like a world-class lawyer and more like a teenager giving an oral presentation for the first time, Verrilli delivered a rambling, apprehensive legal defense of liberalism’s biggest domestic accomplishment since the 1960s – and one that may well have doubled as its eulogy.

Reactions on the conservative side, meanwhile, are all more or less in line with that of Senator Ron Johnson, who apparently thought he was watching Braveheart during the hearing:

10.43am: Mitt Romney is now even more deeply engaged in a spat with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, writing at Foreign Policy, “It is not an accident that Mr. Medvedev is now busy attacking me. The Russians clearly prefer to do business with the current incumbent of the White House.” As president, Mitt Romney will… never do business with Russia, or something.

9.57am: If you’re looking to kill a few hundred hours reading something, The New York Times Magazine’s Matt Bai has written an impossibly detailed 10,000-word account of how last year’s debt ceiling negotiations between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner went. (They went poorly.)

9.45am: Good morning. This is Jim Newell in Washington, ready to cover the final day of oral arguments in the Supreme Court health care case, and assorted other political item. There will be two sessions at the court today. At 10am, justices will hear arguments relating to whether the whole health care law should be struck down if the individual mandate is found to be unconstitutional. The second, at 1pm, deals with the health care law’s Medicaid expansion and issues of states’ rights.

While we wait for the excitement to begin, here’s Ryan Devereaux‘s summary of Supreme Court and campaign news today.

President Barack Obama’s signature health care law appears to be in peril, as a number of the Supreme Court’s more conservative judges continue to raise questions about the legislation’s constitutionality. The court’s decision is expected in June. Given the centrality of the Affordable Care Act to the president’s first term, the Supreme Court challenge will undoubtedly impact his efforts at re-election and the arguments of his challengers.

Newt Gingrich has admitted he can’t win the GOP presidential nomination outright and is cutting his staff in order to focus on winning at the Republican convention this summer. Tuesday night Gingrich’s campaign manager announced one third of the former House speaker’s staff would be leaving soon. The Gingrich camp believes neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum will collect enough delegate votes to clinch the nomination. They hope to “take it to Obama” with Gingrich’s “big ideas”, which currently reportedly include a $2.50-a-gallon gasoline and two or three other things.

Mitt Romney appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Tuesday evening. The Republican frontrunner played a game of word association with Leno and joked about his rival Rick Santorum’s recent struggles with the media, suggesting the former Pennsylvania senator could serve as “press secretary” in a Romney administration. Romney resisted Leno’s attempts to go into detail about who he’d like to enlist as a vice president. He did, however, suggest he would be okay with Santorum filling the role. “I’m happy with him saying he’d like to be part of an administration with me, nothing wrong with that, if he’s the V.P. that’s better,” Romney said. “I’d rather be the president. Let him be the vice president.”

A new poll finds President Obama leading his Republican rivals in three important swing states. According to the latest Quinnipiac survey, Obama beats Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Florida, Obama leads Romney 49% to 42%, and Santorum 50% to 37%. Obama has an advantage of 47% to 41% over Romney in Ohio, and beats Santorum 47% to 40%. The race is closer in Pennsylvania, where Obama tops Romney 45% to 42 %, though Romney is well within the margin of error. Obama beats Santorum in home state of Pennsylvania 48% to 41%. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Powered by article titled “Supreme court debates ‘Obamacare’ and Republican campaign – live” was written by Jim Newell, for on Monday 26th March 2012 16.55 UTC

12.54pm: Day One of the Case of the Century has already concluded, and the chamber is clearing out. Here’s CNN/New Yorker legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin‘s insta-reaction from the press bench:

Jamie Dupree of WBS radio had a bit more to offer, suggesting that there was still plenty of intra-justice sparring during these early, procedural hours:

While the U.S. Supreme Court set aside 90 minutes for argument on the first day of its review of the Obama health reform law, it did not seem like there was an appetite among the Justices to side step the essential question of the constitutionality of the law itself.

Instead, the Justices started skirmishing in advance of what will be the main event on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court takes two hours to review the individual mandate.

Jess Bravin at the Wall Street Journal felt a similar vibe – that the justices seem quite eager to fight this out instead of making an anticlimactic punt:

From what we’ve seen today, most of the justices appeared ready to get to the core of this case now, without waiting until 2014. Overall, the justices didn’t seem receptive to the argument that the Anti-Injunction Act bars a suit until 2014 or after because they didn’t see the insurance-mandate penalty as the kind of tax envisioned by the act.

For further insta-reactions, read any news website. Or stay here all day! You should stay here.

12.31pm: Actor Martin Sheen, who played President Jed Bartlett on The West Wing, has lent his fictional presidential voice to this new ad for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

“The same Republicans in Congress who obstructed Mr. Obama every step on the road back,” he says, “now want to end Medicare, eliminate it altogether.” Watch out, Martin Sheen! PolitiFact is going to shake a fist in your direction, any second now.

12.14pm: Today’s hearing at the Supreme court has now finished for the day.

12.10pm: Why can’t the Supreme Court justices simply decided this case with a game of paintball between the liberals and conservatives? You can learn so much from a game of paintball, according to these Western journalists who played with Hezbollah members.

11.56am: Aaaaand here’s the long-awaited video footage of Rick Santorum calling “bullshit” on Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times. Yes, it looks worse on video. Meaning it’s hilarious! He is quite the angry fellow.


11.44am: It wasn’t the big name lawyers for either side – profiles here and here – who opened the proceedings, the Wall Street Journal writes:

In a twist, the first lawyer set to stand up before the court Monday morning wasn’t Donald Verrilli or Paul Clement, the powerhouse advocates leading each side. Instead it’s Robert Long, a Covington & Burling partner who is arguing that the case isn’t ripe for adjudication. Long was hired by the Supreme Court to make that argument because both of the litigants – in a rare point of agreement – say the case is ready to be decided.

And the Associated Press reports on what sounds like a very… exciting… opening…

Eight of nine justices fired two dozen questions in less than half hour at Washington attorney Robert Long. He was appointed by the justices to argue that the case has been brought prematurely because a law bars tax disputes from being heard in the courts before the taxes have been paid.

Under the new law, taxpayers who don’t purchase health insurance will have to report that omission on tax returns for 2014 and will pay a penalty along with federal income tax. At issue is whether that penalty is a tax.

The “good stuff” comes tomorrow, when the individual mandate will be up for question-firing.

11.32am: Here’s our latest commentary on the issue, in which Jason Farago argues that Justices Roberts and Kennedy are all too aware of how overturning the PPACA would reflect on the Court’s reputation:

John Roberts surely wants to see the president lose this election as much as any establishment conservative, but it may be the election of 2000, rather than 2012, that really forces the chief justice’s hand. Whether he believes the zany arguments of the act’s opponents have worth is not the central question – because, to be frank, he has more to lose than Barack Obama, if he strikes it down. Obama may get a second chance, but for Roberts, the entire legitimacy of his court is as stake.

I wouldn’t go before a “death panel” to say so, but it seems a safe bet that Roberts and Kennedy will back the administration, if on narrow terms. But in the unlikely event that the justices kill part or all of the Affordable Care Act, it will at least remind us of one unspoken issue in this presidential race: that when we choose a president for four years, we’re also getting supreme court justices for decades more.


11.19am: Evan McMorris-Santoro of Talking Points Memo is also outside the Supreme Court, and notes that the atmosphere closely resembles those last days of protests outside the Capitol two years ago when the House was passing the health care law – specifically, tea partiers and liberal supporters shouting past each other with cheap sloganeering:

11.08am: Spotted amid the throngs of activists and angry journalists who couldn’t procure seating to today’s Supreme Court hearing: Rick Santorum, whining (appropriately) about how Mitt Romney basically invented the dreaded legislation being discussed indoors.

10.45am: Rick Santorum is standing by his hurling of a curse word – oh my! – at a New York Times reporter, telling Fox & Friends this morning, “If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican.” A new public litmus test! Romney? Gingrich? When will you curse out a Timesman in public?

Santorum – like any good Catholic boy – is even turning his vulgarity into a fundraising opportunity, emailing his supporters this morning:

Earlier today, while campaigning in Wisconsin, I criticized Romney and Obama for their outrageous healthcare legislation. Predictably, I was aggressively attacked by a New York Times reporter all too ready to defend the two of them, and all too ready to distort my words. Let me assure you, I didn’t back down, and I didn’t let him bully me. I think it is high time that conservatives find the courage to expose the liberal press for what they are, a defender and enabler of Romney’s and Obama’s liberal agendas.

This will probably reap great rewards.

10.35am: Let’s say there are two ways to evaluate the likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning, or at least mortally wounding, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: (1) Read every explainer – or really the entirety of every legal blog over the past two years – to arrive at a conclusion based on justices’ previous rulings, overturn rates, or even (god forbid) the case’s merits, or (2) notice that there are five conservatives on the court as opposed to four liberals and just assume they’ll overturn it. The American public, according to The Hill’s latest poll, seem to be thinking more along the lines of (2):

Although voters want the court to strike the law, they don’t necessarily trust the justices’ motivations. Fifty-six percent of likely voters believe the justices are swayed by their own political beliefs, while just 27 percent believe they “make impartial decisions based on their reading of the Constitution.”

Skepticism about the justices relying on their political beliefs ran consistently among age, racial and philosophical categories, with a majority of whites (54 percent), blacks (59 percent), Republicans (56 percent), Democrats (59 percent), conservatives (54 percent), centrists (56 percent) and liberals (59 percent) expressing the same viewpoint.

10.17am: Not that he matters in any way whatsoever, but here is a new ad from Herman Cain in which a bunny is launched from a catapult and then shot in mid-air.

You’ll recall that Herman Cain led a major party’s race for its presidential nomination for several whole weeks last fall.

10.13am: President Obama, as ABC’s Jake Tapper reports, got himself into a bit of hot mic trouble near the end of his 90-minute meeting with Russian president Dmitri Medvedev this morning. Here’s the eerie transcript, in which Obama pleads for “space” on missile defense until his would-be reelection is out of the way:

Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

The White House has responded that with Russia having only recently resolved (in its own special way) its “election,” and the United States still having eight more months until its election that’s already been under way for a year, it’s true that neither side expects to get much done in the near term.

10.00am: Good morning and welcome to your Monday politics liveblog. This is Jim Newell writing from Washington. While you can usually find me at Wonkette these days, I’ll be substituting this week to bring you all the freshest political misery.

Most of today’s focus will be on the Supreme Court health care reform hearing, as Ryan Devereaux writes in our briefing of the morning’s events, but sadly the Supreme Court can’t fit us all as spectators. So we’ll have plenty of time to cover the other stuff – what mean things Rick Santorum said about Obama, or Mitt Romney said about Santorum, and so on, forever.

The main focus of political news comes away from the campaign trail today as 26 states challenge the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s signature health care legislation in the Supreme Court. A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds more Americans continue to disapprove of the president’s federal health care law than support it. According to the poll, 47% of Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care act while 36% approve, 16% don’t have an opinion. The issue has been prominent on the campaign trail: last week the Obama administration decided to embrace the term “Obamacare”, a phrase often used pejoratively by the president’s challengers.

Rick Santorum took a swing at Mitt Romney on Sunday, calling him “the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama.” Speaking in Wisconsin over the weekend, Santorum added that the former Massachusetts governor was “uniquely disqualified” to serve as the GOP’s presidential candidate. “Pick any other Republican in the country. He is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama,” Santorum said. When pressed about his comments by a reporter, Santorum responded with obscenities. “Quit distorting my words. It’s bullshit.” Both the Obama and Romney camps have capitalized on Santorum’s outburst to cast him as a panicky and unhinged candidate in the final days of a failing campaign. It’s also earned him the nickname, “Tantorum”.

A senior White House adviser, David Plouffe, hit back at Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for their “reprehensible” comments on the Trayvon Martin shooting. On Friday President Obama expressed his sympathy for the Martin family, saying: “If had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” Gingrich said the comments were divisive, and Santorum said the president was “politicizing” the issue. Plouffe said the comments were “reprehensible” and appealing to voters’ “worst instincts”. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Powered by article titled “March Madness 2012 – live! New Mexico vs. Long Beach State” was written by David Lengel, Michael Solomon, Hunter Felt and Steve Busfield, for on Thursday 15th March 2012 22.37 UTC

Coming up:

6.50pm ET Kentucky (1) vs Western Kentucky (16)
7.15pm Wichita State (5) vs Virginia Commonwealth (12)
7.20pm Gonzaga (7) vs West Virginia (10)

FINAL New Mexico 75 – LBSU 68: And New Mexico will survive, although Long Beach kept it close most of the game.

New Mexico 73 – LBSU 68, 27.1, 2nd Half: New Mexico makes a big mistake fouling Casper Ware late, but Greenwood makes his free throws on the other end so it may not matter.

New Mexico 70 – LBSU 66, 55., 2nd Half: Long Beach is somehow still hanging on by a thread here with less than a minute to go. They’ve got three time outs to work with.

New Mexico 64 – LBSU 61, 5:44, 2nd Half: Long Beach State briefly took the lead on a thrilling dunk, but Kendall Williams answers with a three pointer, the momentum is with New Mexico now.

New Mexico 54 – LBSU 53, 12:03, 2nd Half: Long Beach has just made it a one point game.

Hotseat change: Hunter Felt takes over and it’s New Mexico vs Long Beach State…

New Mexico 49 – LBSU 43, 12:03, 2nd Half: We take you now to the West Region where the Lobos and the 49ers are in a tough game. But New Mexico looks like they’re turning it up now…

That’s all for me today. Enjoy the rest of opening day action.

UPDATES: Two other games in progress…

Vanderbilt 33 – Harvard 23 (Halftime)

New Mexico 41 – Long Beach State 40 (15:07, 2nd Half)

FINAL Syracuse 72 – UNCA 65: That’s a tough loss for Asheville. They played as good as basketball game as they could have hoped for in this opening round. But in the end, Syracuse was just faster and more physical.

And it’s not just that Asheville was a strong 16-seed—Syracuse looked like a weak No. 1 today.

FINAL Syracuse 72 – UNCA 65 They foul Syracuse…but this one is over.

Cue the tears….

Syracuse 70 – UNCA 65, 02.7, 2nd Half: And Syracuse steals the ball!

That’s going to be the ballgame.

Tough one for Asheville.

Syracuse 70 – UNCA 65, 0:17, 2nd Half Asheville wasting a lot of time here…

Syracuse 70 – UNCA 65, 0:21.9, 2nd Half: Chris Stephenson fouls out of the game as Syracuse steps to the line.

They sink both.

Syracuse 68 – UNCA 65, 0:21.9, 2nd Half: Wow, did the refs blow the call on that inbounds.

Now it’s a two-possession game with 25 seconds.

And Asheville at the line. Now they’re within 3.

Syracuse 66 – UNCA 63, 0:36, 2nd Half: Back at the other end, Syracuse makes a foolish foul.

And on the inbounds, Syracuse loses it…but the refs blow the call again! Oh that’s a BAD call.

And now Dickey fouls for Asheville.

Syracuse 64 – UNCA 61, 0:58.3, 2nd Half And Jaron Lane drains another three for Asheville!

It’s a three-point game with less than a minute.

And, man, does that foolish lane violation hurt now. Lane violation? What is this, high school j.v.?

Syracuse 64 – UNCA 58, 1:15, 2nd Half: Syracuse is in no rush here. They had a perfect one-on-one situation and slowed it down. Now Asheville fouls.

Ooh…bad call. Lane violation on one of the free throws! Replay shows it wasn’t.

Syracuse 62 – UNCA 58, 1:30, 2nd Half: Dickey can’t shoot…but he can still pass. Sweet feed to Atkinson. And it’s a 4-point game with 90 seconds to play.

Syracuse 62 – UNCA 56, 1:56, 2nd Half: Asheville uses its last timeout. And they have no fouls to give. It’s gut-check time for them.

Squeaky bum time for Syracuse.

Syracuse 62 – UNCA 56, 2:10, 2nd Half:Asheville’s Stevenson cuts Syracuse’s lead to 6 with a couple of free throws. Then UNCA steals the ball…and Dickey misses a layup!

Scrapping for the ball…and the Bulldogs get it back. Again.

UPDATES: Two other games underway…

Harvard 17 – Vanderbilt 16, 6:33, 1st Half

New Mexico 33 – Long Beach State 29 (Halftime)

Syracuse 62 – UNCA 54, 2:37, 2nd Half: And James Sutherland drains a three for the Orange. Syracuse on an 8-0 run here. And looking like they’re ready to put this game away.


Syracuse 59 – UNCA 54, 3:11, 2nd Half: And Dickey keeps coming up short on every shot. (And let’s face it, nobody likes a short Dickey.)

Someone else needs to step up here for Asheville. Their defense is holding up, but they just can’t score.

Syracuse 59 – UNCA 54, 4:41, 2nd Half: This is a dangerous time for Asheville. Dickey really needs to start sinking some shots if Asheville has a chance of pulling off this upset.

But he just can’t find his stroke.

Syracuse 54 – UNCA 54, 6:20, 2nd Half: How long can Asheville rely on wild shots from angles that would scare Pythagoras?

Still, they’re going in.

These Bulldogs are playing like bulldogs…


Syracuse 52 – UNCA 50, 8:00, 2nd Half: Asheville is wisely slowing the tempo, taking 25 or 30 seconds off the shot clock on every possession, but it will work against them if they can’t score.

And Syracuse is answering with VERY physical play on the other end.

UNCA 48- Syracuse 47, 10:15, 2nd Half: After a couple of free throws by ‘Cuse, UNCA answers with a strong drive to the basket.

Asheville is in no hurry now…

UNCA 46- Syracuse 45, 11:15, 2nd Half If Asheville can keep hitting threes, they can stay with Syracuse. But that’s a lot to ask late in the game. UNCA has to get more physical because you can feel the Orange squeezing them.

UNCA 46- Syracuse 45, 11:36, 2nd Half Asheville is not taking good shots and the Orange continue to out-muscle them on the boards.

Asheville is relentless here. They will not be intimidated.

UNCA 43- Syracuse 41, 14:16, 2nd Half: After Syracuse went on an 8-1 run, Asheville answers with a big three!

They are not intimidated by this Syracuse team that is bigger and faster.

Syracuse 41 – UNCA 40 , 14:56, 2nd Half: And there it is! Syracuse has finally taken the lead. They came out of the locker room clearly pumped up, playing hard and fast—beating UNCA to every loose ball.

Asheville calls a timeout to regroup. And the Orange are fired up.

UNCA 40 – Syracuse 39, 15:23, 2nd Half:Back to Pittsburgh for the second half of Syracuse and UNC-Asheville.

UNCA looks like they’re really trying to control the tempo early, keep the game slow-ish, but Syracuse won’t let them.

BONUS COVERAGE Marquette 74 – BYU 61, 7:03, 2nd half They have been having some moisture problems with the floor in this game. (Though not from where I’m sitting. It’s nice and dry here.)

Meanwhile…Long Beach State and New Mexico have tipped off:

UNM 11- LBSU 10

BONUS COVERAGE Marquette 69 – BYU 56, 9:24, 2nd half: Marquette has really stepped it up here, playing a much more physical game, particularly when it comes to rebounds.

After a brief BYU surge, Marquette calls a timeout to settle down.

Marquette 66 – BYU 52, 11:21, 2nd half:
Marquette is stepping up the physicality here—they are not going to let Mitt Romney’s alma mater back into this game.

Orange you glad we can also talk about Syracuse?
@twayward tweets: “just when it seemed this would be a dead afternoon, the NCAA Tournament rises from the Asheville.”

This would be a huge upset—historical—if Syracuse loses to UNCA. But there is a LOT of basketball yet to play.

BONUS COVERAGE: While Syracuse is at the half, let’s move to the West Region, where Marquette is dominating BYU.

Marquette 60 – BYU 51 13:06, 2nd half

UPDATE: We have another final score:

Wisconsin 73 – Montana 49 (The Badgers will face the winner of Harvard-Vanderbilt in the next round. That game tips off in 15 minutes, by the way.)

UNCA 34 – Syracuse 30, HALFTIME Let’s put this Syracuse game in perspective…

In the history of the NCAA Tournament, a No. 16 seed has never upset a No. 1 in the first round. And this is only the seventh time in history that a 1-seed has trailed a 16-seed at the half.

So clearly Syracuse needs to make some adjustments.

UNCA 34 – Syracuse 30, HALFTIME: Syracuse makes a last-second shot as the half ends and gets the foul! But had the shot clock expired? Sure looked like it….

The refs take a second look…and it’s not allowed.That would have been a big lift at the end of the half for the Orange. Instead, they go into the locker room down by 4.

UNCA 34 – Syracuse 30, 0:39, 1st: The scary thing for Boeheim in this first half is that UNCA is playing this well and their leading scorer, Matt Dickey, has yet to make a basket.

Also…yes, UNCA’s Keith Hornsby, who just hit a big 3, is the son of musician Bruce Hornsby.

UNCA 29 – Syracuse 27, 2:01, 1st: Syracuse is trying to pick it up under the boards here and remind Asheville why they’re a No. 1 seed. It’s as if they’ve just realized they’re the bigger, stronger team.

UPDATES: Marquette 49 – BYU 34 (Halftime)

Wisconsin 66 – Montana 44 (3:32, 2nd Half)

UNCA 27 – Syracuse 22, 4:29, 1st Half: We take you know to the East Region, where the No. 1 seed, Syracuse, is looking very shaky against UNC-Asheville.

The loss of Melo has really taken the Orange out of their game.

And the crowd is clearly behind the Bulldogs…

FINAL Louisville 69 – Davidson 62: Louisville somehow let the Wildcats back in the game at the end, but it was never really in danger.

A very strong opening performance by Louisville. They got into some foul trouble…but Rick Pitino can work that out by the next round when the Cardinals will face the winner of New Mexico and Long Beach State.)

Louisville 67 – Davidson 60, 0:22 2nd Half: This has been a very solid opening game for Louisville. They came out strong and clearly took Davidson out of their game early.

And just as Davidson looks out of it…Louisville fouls on a three-point attempt. Why?

Louisville 65 – Davidson 55, 0:51 2nd Half: And Louisville continues to be solid at the line, shooting 77%.

Once again…Davidson fouls. And prays Louisville misses.

Louisville 63 – Davidson 53, 1:04 2nd Half: Louisville up by 8 with the ball…and all Davidson can do is foul. Rick Pitino calls a timeout.

Louisville 63 – Davidson 53, 1:25 2nd Half: Louisville is playing smart ball in these final minutes, giving up the two, which can’t really hurt them with this much time left on the clock. All Davidson can really do at this point is foul and make Louisville miss at the line.

Which they don’t.

Louisville 59 – Davidson 51, 1:53 2nd Half: A desperate three has brought Davidson to within 8 points, but it really feels like too little too late.

Louisville 58 – Davidson 44, 3:22 2nd Half: Davidson is not only running out of time, they’re running out of steam. Louisville is firmly in control of this one…so we’ll head over to Wisconsin-Montana soon, where the Badgers are up by 16 in the second half.


Louisville 56 – Davidson 44, 4:23 2nd Half: Davidson just keeps launching these sad bombs from behind the three-point arc. And all the Wildcats can do on defense is foul Louisville to stop them from scoring. Except for all those free throws.

Time is really running out for Davidson.

In other games: Marquette 35- BYU 19 (6:56, 1st Half)

Wisconsin 43 – Montana 30 (16:13, 2nd Half)

Syracuse – UNC Asheville has just tipped off…

Louisville 55 – Davidson 44, 6:23 2nd Half: The Cardinals are just so much stronger and so much faster than Davidson. They beat the Wildcats to every ball. Even if Louisville doesn’t score, they’re still letting the time run down.

Louisville 52 – Davidson 42, 8:20 2nd Half: Davidson fiiiiinally hits a three. That brings it back to a 10-point game. The Wildcats still need to turn up the defense here.

Louisville 51 – Davidson 39, 9:27 2nd Half: Davidson can’t hit the three — not sure why they need to go for them with so much time left — but they’re not exactly hitting twos either. And they continue to be weak under the boards.

Louisville 49 – Davidson 37, 10:55 2nd Half: Chane Behanan has really come up big against Louisville. With plenty of time left in the second half, he already has a double-double.

But Louisville is fouling…so Pitino has to go to his bench.

Louisville 47 – Davidson 37, 11:23 2nd Half: The Cardinals are just getting too many second chances under the basket. Davidson has to start pulling down some rebounds if they’re going to claw their way back.


Wisconsin 39 – Montana 29 (Halftime)

Marquette 22 – BYU 14 (11:37, 1st Half)

Louisville 45 – Davidson 37, 12:17 2nd Half: Mann continues to have a solid game for Davidson, but now they have to hold defensively. Louisville has just been too strong on the boards.

Louisville 43 – Davidson 32, 13:35 2nd Half: Louisville has opened up its biggest lead in this game and looks to be in control.

Substitution: Thank you, Mr. Lengel…

Let’s get everyone caught up on all the games:

FINAL: Murray State 58 – Colorado State 41 (Next up for Murray State is the winner of Marquette-BYU)

FINAL: Kansas State 70 – Southern Miss 64 (K. State will meet the winner of Syracuse-UNC Asheville)

Wisconsin 39 – Montana 29 (at the half)

Marquette 18 – BYU 5 (14:15, 1st Half)

Louisville 41 – Davidson 32 (15:21 2nd Half)

In the hot seat: Michael Solomon will now take over the liveblogging duties…

Southern Miss 64 Kansas State 70 Final Big thanks to Kansas State for screwing up my bracket. The Wildcats move on, and will play the winner of Syracuse and NC Asheville. Apologies to Montana and Wisconsin fans, who haven’t gotten any love whatsoever. The Badgers are heading towards halftime with a 37-28 lead over the Grizzlies.

Southern Miss 61 Kansas State 67, 00:31 2nd Half Dodson forces a three that’s off the mark, Jamar Samuels gets the rebound, and So Miss has to foul. That’s Dodson’s fifth foul, which means he’s gone. I’ll miss him, really.

Southern Miss 61 Kansas State 64, 00:58 2nd Half Torye Pelham steals the ball and sends it down to our man Dodson who lays it in to close the gap once more. Southern Miss call for time with under a minute to play, it’s our first close finish of the tournament-that kind of makes me excited.

Southern Miss 59 Kansas State 64, 1:27 2nd Half Pretty reverse layup from Kansa State guard Angel Rodriguez who was able to find room to move in the paint. A bit more breathing room for the Wildcats heading into a timeout.

Southern Miss 59 Kansas State 62, 2:25 2nd Half There’s Darnell Dodson again, in the middle of everything–he steals, he dunks, he’ll make you dinner. We have a three point game here. Buckle up.

Southern Miss 55 Kansas State 60, 3:12 2nd Half LaShay Page is the high man for the Golden Eagles with 15. His team are down five by just five with under four minutes remaining after Darnell Dodson’s rebound turns into two points.

Southern Miss 51 Kansas State 57, 5:37 2nd Half Rodney McGruder is the top scorer in this game, he has 30 as the Wildcats start to finally take control of this game. It doesn’t help that So. Miss has missed 10 of their last 11 shots.

Davidson 25 Louisville 33 Halftime It’s a bit more comfortable now for Louisville, mostly thanks to The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, sometimes known as the Davidson Wildcats. Let’s move over to Kansas State and Southern Miss.

Davidson 24 Louisville 31 00:33, 1st Half It’s now official, Murray State 58 Colorado State 41. They will play the winner of Marquette vs. BYU match-up.

Davidson 24 Louisville 31 00:59, 1st Half Louisville are careless with the basketball, but since Davidson can’t hit their three’s they aren’t taking advantage here. Then Russ Smith comes back for the Cards and burys a three, making it a seven point game. Davidson should be kicking themselves.

Davidson 24 Louisville 28 1:45, 1st Half Update, they are under way in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where #13 seeded Montana are taking on the fourth seed Wisconsin. The Badgers are up 17-11 in the first half.

Southern Miss and Kansas State are tied at 51 with 7:47 left in the second half.

Davidson 24 Louisville 26 2:49, 1st Half Siva is called for an offensive foul after the Southern Conference player of the year, Jake Cohen, hits a jumper for Davidson. Louisville’s lockerroom is going to be loud at half-time. To early to start talking upset, but Davidson are hanging in there depite shooting badly.

Davidson 22 Louisville 26 3:33, 1st Half Nathan Hughes tweets: “Murray State are, IMO, definitely goin to Final Four and are sleepers to win it all. Been saying so all week.”

They will win today without their main man Canaan firing on all cylinders, so there is definitely upside for the Racers.

Davidson 18 Louisville 22 6:33, 1st Half
Louisville’s defense is extremely tight, but a patient Davidson break it down, moving the ball well, into the hands of Clint Mann who slams it home, prompting a Cardinals timeout.

Davidson 15 Louisville 20 8:16, 1st Half Kyle Kuric is Louisville’s leading scorer, he takes a feed from Siva and converts a jumper. He has nearly half of the Cardinals points here. Meanwhile Murray State are about to become the first team through to the next round as their second half domination continues. Southern Miss is up 45-42 with nearly eight minutes gone by in the second half. It’s an 8/9 game, but most thought that the Wildcats were two athletic for S. Miss. and they are more than holding their own.

Davidson 15 Louisville 16 10:15, 1st Half
Standout junior guard Peyton Siva is banged up, and thus, has been dissapointing this season, but he turned it on in the Big East final somewhat dramatically. His performance will be the key to any Louiville run in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Cards Gorgui Dieng grabs a board and hits a little jumper to put them on top by one. He is definitely the best Senegalese player on the floor right now.

Davidson 10 Louisville 12 13:40, 1st Half Louisville suprised many by winning the Big East Championshipo at the Garden last week. The skinny with them is that injuries have kept them from performing at full speed, but as they get healthier, Rick Pitino says a New York Giants typ run is possible. Meanwhile, tiny Davidson, a North Carolina school of around 2000 students, are keeping up with the Jones’ for now. Sophmore forward De’Mon Brooks is their man, averaging 16 ppg.

Davidson 10 Louisville 12 16:03, 1st Half With Colorado State getting pummeled in the second half, let’s move to Portland, where #4 seeded Louisville are taking on the #13th seed Davidson.

Colorado State 26 Murray State 39 12:24, 2nd Half More points off turnovers for the Racers. Jesse Carr’s long pass is intercepted by Zay Jackson, who says thank you very much and pops a three. This is getting out of hand here.

Colorado State 26 Murray State 34 14:22, 2nd Half Have you all filled in your brackets? Made your predictions? Care to share?

ShakerFox below the line has his:

“My final four are.

North Carolina.

UK to be National Champs.”

Colorado State 26 Murray State 34 14:22, 2nd Half How about 13 boards for Hornung! CBS says his career high is 17. Meanwhile Edward Daniel’s hard work in the paint pays off fopr Murray State, his layup puts the Racers up by eight. Turnovers are killing the Rams here.

Colorado State 26 Murray State 32 15:38, 2nd Half Meanwhile, they are at the half in the East, in Pittsburgh, where Kansas State is up 30-27 over Southern Miss.

Colorado State 24 Murray State 30 15:51, 2nd Half Hornung puts it in from inside, where would they be without him? It’s the Rams first points of the half.

Colorado State 24 Murray State 30 17:00, 2nd Half So far Miles’ team is getting run in the 2nd half, a 7-0 run for the Racers and their defense is tight. Meanwhile Donte Pool got an elbow in the face from Wes Eikmeier, a flagrant foul. Time out on the floor, a break that could help Colorado State catch their breath.

Colorado State 24 Murray State 25 18:43, 2nd Half CBS reminds us that Coach Miles is a tweeter: @CoachMiles “Win the half, we’ll win the game.”

Southern Miss 25 Kansas State 23 4:12 1st Half Watson is blocked by Irving as he drives down the lane but picks up the foul and converts the foul shots. Southern Miss is up.

Southern Miss 20 Kansas State 21 5:25 1st Half As we bounce around the nation to the east, Southern Miss, a team that hasn’t been in the tourney in 21 years is hanging with Kansas State, a tough defensive club. Neil Watson has eight points, his latest, a three from the left side of the arc. The Golden Eagles are balanced offensively, and Watson is a good example of their getting help from all parts of the roster.

Colorado State 24 Murray State 23 half-time These teams have picked up the pace in the final three minutes of the half. Jesse Carr has the big bucket, another Rams three-ball to give the Rams the lead heading into the locker room. Tim Miles, Colorado State’s head coach will be thrilled with his team–if they can trim the turnovers and keep up their perimeter play, we’ll have an upset in the first game.

Colorado State 19 Murray State 21 2:56 1st Half Meanwhile, the second game is underway: Southern Miss (9) vs. Kansas State (8), who are up by two early on.

Colorado State 19 Murray State 20 2:56 1st Half Airball on a little hook in the post from the Racers Ivan Aska, then a seventh turnover by Colorado State. Points are at a premium right now.

Colorado State 19 Murray State 20 3:47 1st Half Colorado State looked like they might be rolled over for a moment there, but they’ve locked it down defensively, and have a certain poise. The Rams are out rebounding the Racers, and outshooting them from three-point-land–they’ve got to be happy about where they are right now.

Colorado State 17 Murray State 20 4:24 1st Half Daniel getting more involved, drawing a foul in the paint, but misses both free throws. Hornung with another board, that’s nine! He’s strong, must be related to a famous football player or something.

Colorado State 15 Murray State 18 8:28 1st Half Edward Daniel has the best hair on the floor, and a decent array of moves in the low post. He puts the Racers up three.

Colorado State 13 Murray State 16 9:13 1st HalfBoom! Here come Murray State, with a mix of permiter shooting and penetration. Canaan got on the board with a three, and then Stacy Wilson followed with another long ball. Zay Jackson managed to get by that animal Hornung and just like that the Racers are up. You can see how dangerous they are now.

Colorado State 13 Murray State 8 11:47 1st HalfHornung is causing problems for Murray State, he has seven rebounds already and is a presence in he middle. Meanwhile, Poole has all but one of Murray State’s points.

Colorado State 12 Murray State 8 12:29 1st HalfMurray State lost exactly one game this year and are 30-1. Naturally they come in with some expectations. Last time they were in the tourney, the Racers were within a bucket of upending Butler, a team that went on to the Final Four. Isaiah Canaan was talking a lot over the past few days about how important it is to him to make up for the dissapointment of two years ago when he was a freshman.

Colorado State 7 Murray State 3 15:45, 1st Half Both of these teams shoot well, and have started out hot from the perimeter. Pool hit a three and then Wes Eikmeier, Colorado State’s leading scorer hit a three ball himself. Time out on the floor.

Colorado State 4 Murray State 0 18:13, 1st Half Pierce Hornung is the big man for the Rams, he has the first four points and a board–he is 6’5 but plays bigger.

This is a game that’s all about guard play. Junior Isaiah Canaan is the headliner for Murray St. Donte Pool is also a standout.

Preamble: Welcome to one of the best days of sports there is – it’s finally NCAA Tourney time, and today, no less than 32 teams will take to the floor looking to advance, writes David Lengel. This is the start of hours and hours and hours of continuous live basketball coverage, so, if you haven’t already, fill out your bracket and follow the games along with us. What we love about the tournament is the unpredictability, and chances are, by about midnight on the east coast, your bracket will have a few hiccups, I know mine will.

Here is the March Madness day one schedule:

Murray State vs. Colorado State, 12:15 p.m. EST

Kansas State vs. Southern Miss, 12:40 p.m. EST

Louisville vs. Davidson, 1:40 p.m. EST

Wisconsin vs. Montana, 2:10 p.m. EST

Marquette vs. BYU, 2:45 p.m. EST

Syracuse vs. UNC Asheville, 3:20 p.m. EST

New Mexico vs. Long Beach St., 4:20 p.m. EST

Vanderbilt vs. Harvard, 4:40 p.m. EST

Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky, 6:50 p.m. EST

Wichita State vs. VCU, 7:15 p.m. EST

Gonzaga vs. West Virginia, 7:20 p.m. EST

Baylor vs. South Dakota State, 7:27 p.m. EST

Iowa State vs. Connecticut, 9:20 p.m. EST

Indiana vs. New Mexico State, 9:20 p.m. EST

Ohio State vs. Loyola Maryland, 9:50 p.m. EST

UNLV vs. Colorado, 9:57 p.m. EST

Everybody has their bracket tendencies. I can’t help myself when it comes to Ivy League teams, I have to pick them, even if I know they’ll go out in the first round. Actually, Harvard are pretty talented, and of course, they have Jeremy Lin’s aura following them around. Maybe this is the year that pick doesn’t destroy my bracket. How about you? Send us all your predictions, thoughts, recipes and bank account numbers–a tremendous day of basketball beckons!

Email us at or post a comment below or you can contact us via Twitter. The liveblogging duties will be shared by the Guardian US sports team, starting off with David Lengel, who can be found on Twitter @LengelDavid

Enough already with this, first up, the Racers of Murray State, sixth seed in the west face the Colorado State Rams, an 11th seed. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Powered by article titled “Mississippi and Alabama primary day – US elections live” was written by Richard Adams, for on Tuesday 13th March 2012 23.04 UTC

7.04pm: Now time for a quick summary of the action this afternoon. Then Richard Adams will be back for the blow-by-blow of tonight’s contests.

A large number of voters in Mississippi and Alabama rate “electability” or the ability to beat President Obama as the issue most important to them, according to exit polls. That’s a good sign for Mitt Romney. Both states also are seeing high turnouts of evangelical and “very conservative” voters. That’s not such a good sign for Romney.

• Newt Gingrich faces a moment of truth. It will be extremely difficult for the former speaker to continue to speak of a winning strategy involving southern states if he cannot win southern states.

Rick Santorum is hoping for at least one outright win, to combat Romney’s increasingly aggressive argument that Santorum ought to step aside. As of this writing the Intrade market has Santorum the 49-25 favorite to win in Alabama. Stay tuned.

6.20pm: It turns out that, popular perception notwithstanding, Mitt Romney has not been running for president or planning on running for president for what might as well be his whole life. At least by his telling.

6.15pm: A first wave of ABC News exit polls from Mississippi and Alabama seems to hold copious bad news for Mitt Romney – a high evangelical turnout, a high proportion saying it matters that a candidate shares their religion, and a high turnout of “very conservative” voters – until you get to this last datum:

Nonetheless, Romney leads his opponents in perceptions of electability – the sense he’s best able to defeat Barack Obama in November – and that’s the most-desired candidate attribute among voters in both states. Romney pushes back against his ideological and religion-based deficits in another way as well: Voters in both states cite the economy as the top issue in their vote choice, an area in which Romney has done consistently well this cycle.

5.45pm: Santorum wants Gingrich out. Now Romney is on CNN saying Santorum’s finished. If only Gingrich would call on Romney to get out this all would wrap up nicely.

5.41pm: Our first exit poll results now. The turnout of voters who identify as evangelical Christians appears to up in Mississippi and down slightly in Alabama compared with 2008, according to CNN:

The comparable 2008 numbers are 69% in Mississippi and 77% in Alabama.

5.22pm: Inside the Hawaii Caucuses: We wish. Instead we’re covering the race from Manhattan. Here’s what you need to know: It’s the state’s first Republican primary caucus ever. They’re calling it a caucus, at least, but as far as voting process it appears to be more of a primary, with 41 polling stations and a secret ballot.

The money here is on Romney, who has won the backing of the state’s Republican dons. Hawaii will award its 17 delegates proportionally, and then in November it will vote for Barack Obama.

The Hawaii Reporter has video of Elizabeth Santorum in Hawaii making the pitch for her father. Candidate offspring Ronnie Paul and Matt Romney also are reportedly in Hawaii. Which, fine.

4.47pm: Good question Ethan! So readers which is it for you tonight – March Madness or election madness? Or would that be c) None of the above.?

4.41pm: And… Rick Santorum STILL thinks Newt Gingrich should get out of the race. Here’s what he told radio host Glenn Beck this afternoon:

Congressman Gingrich has really shown no ability to get votes outside of the State of Georgia and, you know, those primaries are all over. All the states that border Georgia are now, as of today, will have had their primaries.

Gingrich supporters might point out that Santorum is conveniently forgetting Gingrich’s 40-28 shellacking of Mitt Romney (and Rick Santorum) in South Carolina.

Why is Santorum so eager for Gingrich to exit? Two words: Michigan and Ohio. Santorum lost to Romney by 32,378 votes in Michigan, a race in which Gingrich got 65,016 votes. Santorum lost to Romney by 10,288 votes in Ohio, where 175,554 voters went Gingrich.

4.20pm: A new ad builds on the perception that women voters are turning their backs on the Republican Party. “Judging from their comments, the GOP must have a serious problem with women,” the ad asserts.

Women voters actually gravitated toward Republican candidates in 2010. And that much-talked-about NYT/CBS poll from this morning had one doozie of a number: President Obama’s approval rating tanked among women over the last month, falling 12 points from 53 to 41 percent, according to the poll. A Washington Post/ABC News poll out yesterday reached a substantially different result, however, finding Obama’s approval among women holding steady from a month prior.

(h/t: Taegan Goddard)

4.05pm: Never take candy from a stranger, and don’t believe early afternoon exit polls.

4.00pm: For Democrats hoping to retain control of the Senate, former Sen. Bob Kerrey’s decision to run for his old Nebraska seat is on par with Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s decision to retire. (Kerrey, also a former governor of Nebraska, would replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson in a state that otherwise likes to vote Republican.)

Now Kerrey’s out with his first ad: “America needs to step up its game.”


3.48pm: The Google Politics and Elections team has put together charts tracking searches for the GOP candidates’ names in Alabama and Mississippi. Santorum’s clearly out front in Google searches despite running neck-and-neck in the polls. Strange. Why would “Santorum” attract disproportionate search engine interest?

(h/t: BuzzFeed)

3.32pm: Did you see “Game Change,” the HBO movie based on the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about Sarah Palin and the McCain candidacy?

Wonder which narrative from the 2012 race will be turned into a movie.

3.10pm: And now, the fable of Barack Obama, magical petrol fairy. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama over rising gas prices. The New York Times reports on a campaign stop in Kirkwood, Mo.:

Mr. Romney first offered up some suggestions for why gas prices are skyrocketing, including Mr. Obama’s objection to drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “Maybe it’s related to the fact that you said we couldn’t get a pipeline in from Canada known as Keystone,” he continued. “Those things affect gasoline prices, long term.”

Rising gasoline prices across the country are thought to be a primary cause of the president’s falling approval rating. A Times/CBS News poll out today found that 54 percent of respondents believed that a president can do “a lot” to control gas prices, as opposed to 36 percent who believe they are beyond a president’s control.

Jamie Haber, 39, “an independent voter of Orlando,” told the Times: “I think just being the president of the United States of America, you would have some type of control over gas pricing.”

Let us recklessly spend a moment thinking about this. Is it true? Does the president control gas prices? What would it take for Barack Obama to be able to control gas prices?

He would have to be able to control the price of crude oil, meaning he would have to be able to control the conduct of states like Iran and China as well as the psychology of oil futures traders. He would have to be able to control the capacity and behavior of U.S. oil refiners. He would have to be able to control the marketing and distribution strategies of those fine companies with the big logos that sell gas to station owners. He would have to be able to control station owners and how much markup they tack on to each gallon. He would have to be able to control US drivers and how frequently and far they decide to drive. He would have to be able to control the weather, preventing atmospheric events such as Hurricane Katrina that send crude prices soaring. Alternatively (and least plausibly of all), he would have to be able to control the US Congress, which might be persuaded to pass a Gas for America Subsidy.

A tall order, it seems.

2.50pm: A note on Mississippi:

Exit polls from the 2008 GOP primaries show a slightly smaller proportion of evangelical Christian voters in Mississippi than in Alabama. Sixty-nine percent of GOP primary voters in Mississippi in 2008 identified as Born Again or Evangelical. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had withdrawn from the presidential race a week earlier, leaving the field open for Sen. John McCain to romp to a 79 percent win. Ron Paul grabbed 4 percent.

Why tally evangelical voters? As our pollster Harry J Enten first pointed out some time ago, “Mitt Romney’s vote in each state is linear to the percentage of evangelicals that make up each state’s electorate.” Meaning that evangelicals are a good inverse predictor of Romney’s chances.

2.41pm: Some notes on Alabama:

• Rick Santorum may not pick up as many delegates as he might have here because his campaign failed to qualify in four Alabama districts. The campaign similarly botched the Virginia and Michigan qualifying tests.

Exit polls from the 2008 GOP primaries show the influence of evangelical Christian voters in Alabama. Seventy-seven percent of GOP primary voters in that race identified as Born Again and Evangelical. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee beat eventual nominee John McCain 41-37. Romney grabbed 18 percent of the vote.

By the way: Why is Mitt Romney having such a tough time with evangelical voters? It’s not his Mormonism, according to Michael Tesler:

My analysis of seven surveys conducted by YouGov from late January to early March 2012 … suggests that Romney’s religion is not the main reason why he has not won over these voters. … The answer most likely resides in moral issues like abortion and gay marriage. For, unlike attitudes about Mormons, Evangelical Republicans are much more conservative on these issues than their fellow partisans.

(Tesler h/t: Daily Dish)

2.24pm: So who’s going to win tonight? It depends which poll you believe.

Amy Walter of ABC News observes:

We like this idea a lot. Covering the GOP primaries without having to come into direct contact with the candidates, but instead focusing on the horse race among pollsters.

Here’s a table created by HuffPollster of Alabama and Mississippi polling:

A big disagreement in MS: ARG sees a slim 2-point lead for Romney in Mississippi, while Rasmussen sees a whopping 8-point lead.
A big disagreement in AL: ARG sees a 3-point lead for Gingrich in Alabama, while Rasmussen sees Gingrich-Santorum-Romney all within 2 points of one another.

Ryan Lizza sees potential hidden strength for Santorum and Gingrich:

2.11pm: Titters spread across the Twittersphere awhile ago over a Santorum campaign typo.

2.08pm: Hello there – Tom McCarthy in New York here, pitching in on the live blog this afternoon. Richard Adams will be back this evening as the returns from Alabama and Mississippi (and Hawaii and Samoa) start rolling in.

Some fightin’ words moments ago from Axelrod:

1.45pm: Some good news for Rick Santorum in Alabama: the state’s governor voted for him. The NYT’s Caucus blog reports:

A spokesman for Governor Bentley, Jeremy King, confirmed the vote, saying that Mr Bentley viewed Mr. Santorum “as the most conservative candidate” in the field.

But Mr Bentley chose not to issue a public endorsement or make a statement himself, Mr King said, because “he believes a vote is a personal decision that should be based on a voter’s values and principles, not on someone else’s opinion.”

1.30pm: Rush Limbaugh‘s apology to Sandra Fluke hasn’t gone down well with advertisers or the general public, it would appear.

Rasmussen polls potential voters:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that only 29% believe Limbaugh’s apology for his recent comments was sincere. Fifty-three percent (53%) do not think his apology was sincere, and another 18% are undecided.

1.10pm: The New York Post wins the battle of the headlines today with its effort “It’s redneck-and-neck” on the southern primaries today, in a piece that includes another bout of Mitt Romney shooting himself in the silver spoon:

While Romney tried to press his down-home credentials, he couldn’t help another bout of embarrassing name-dropping when he was asked about quarterback Peyton Manning during an Alabama radio interview.

“I’ve got a lot of good friends – the owner of the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets – both owners are friends of mine,” Romney said.

The gaffe is similar to when Romney earlier said he didn’t follow Nascar closely but knew team owners.

Does Mitt Romney have any friends who don’t own a Nascar team or NFL franchise? George Bush was an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team but he managed not to make a big deal of it.

12.45pm: When we get the results tonight from Mississippi and Alabama we may have a better idea of how long and how far the Rwpublican presidential race has got left to run.

But it may yet be a long slog, which is the the mildly depressing calculation made by Sean Trende, the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He argues that the race so far has been remarkably stable in terms of who has what what:

So we don’t see much evidence of momentum in the primaries thus far. This, of course, could change in the future, and perhaps once Romney passes a certain threshold, it will. Certainly if he were to win Mississippi or Alabama, we would expect it to be a declared a very good night for him. The model suggests that he should pull in about 32% of the three-way vote in Alabama, and about 31% in Mississippi. But with Santorum and Gingrich now splitting the non-Romney vote in the Deep South, Romney might actually pull off the upset in Alabama (assuming the model underestimates him a touch there).

So until Romney shows signs of going on a roll, this thing could run and run.

12.30pm: Will Barack Obama be serving David Cameron wine out of a box? Maybe some cheaper plonk that the White House picked up from Trader Joe’s? We just don’t know, although Bloomberg News tries hard to find out:

The White House declined to comment for this article or to make available Daniel Shanks, the usher who has managed wine selection since the Clinton administration, or social secretary Jeremy Bernard. First Lady Michelle Obama’s office referred questions to the White House press office.

White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest declined to disclose which wines were served at the German or Korean state dinners, identify wines from non-state dinners, make menus of past meals available for inspection or answer questions about the shift in practice.

Earnest also declined to say whether the White House would release the names of wines at the Cameron dinner.

Apparently the White House doesn’t want to be embarrassed about the serving of fancy, expensive wines at state dinners.

12 noon: It’s true: Dick Cheney won’t visit Canada because it is …. too dangerous?

And as is usually the case when Dick Cheney thinks a place is too dangerous – Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – he gets younger men to go. In this case it is noted Canadian Mark Steyn.

11.55am: This is slightly old but finally an appreciation of the discreet wit of Mitt Romney, via the Atlantic’s excellent Molly Ball:

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to question or distrust Mitt Romney. But the fact that he went to Mississippi and said “y’all” doesn’t make him a phony – it makes him that rare thing in politics, a guy with a sense of humor.

The problem with Romney’s humour, I’d suggest, is in his delivery. A Mitt Romney speech is where jokes go to die.

11.40am: Obama now moves on to the trade case the administration is taking against China over rare earth materials used in electronics manufacturing such as advanced batteries used in hybrid cars and Blackberrys.

“If China would simply let the market work on its own, we would have no objections,” says Obama, outlining the case the US is taking alongside Japan and others through the WTO.

China produces more than 90% of the world’s output of such materials but has recently squeezed exports, hurting manufacturers elsewhere. Last year the price of rare earth materials rose sharply after Chinese traders started stockpiling rare earth reserves.

Chinese exports restrictions are said to force manufacturers to pay double the price of their Chinese competitors for rare earth materials.

The Financial Times reports:

Beijing on Tuesday rejected the claims by the US, EU and Japan, saying China would “continue to implement effective management of rare earths exports in accordance with WTO regulations”. The foreign ministry said China hoped that “other countries with rare earths will also actively develop their rare earths resources to share the burden of global rare earths supply”.

In more pointed comments, Xinhua, the state press agency, said the move was “rash and unfair”, adding that it “may hurt economic relations between the world’s largest and second-largest economies”.

“A better choice for the United States would be sitting down with China face to face and solve the problem through negotiations instead of making it an internationalised issue,” Xinhua said in an opinion piece.

11.35am: Slightly late, President Obama appears in the Rose Garden.

Although the announcement is meant to be about prosecuting a trade case via the World Trade Organisation against China, Obama begins by discussing the recent killings in Afghanistan and vowing to hold a full investigation.

“America takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered,” Obama says, in reference to the 16 Afghan civilians killed in a shooting spree by a US soldier on Sunday.

11.04am: What are the Republican voters of Alabama thinking before today’s primary in the Yellowhammer State? Film-maker Kat Keene Hogue travels to Alabama to ask them, the latest in our Primary Voices series.

10.45am: One event that really was taking place was to be Newt Gingrich‘s visit to the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama. But it has been cancelled. (Apparently the animals objected because they didn’t want to be cast in a bad light.)

10.25am: Here’s a brief timeline of events* that are happening today.

11.10am: President Obama declares war on China. Trade war, that is. Well, officially the president “delivers a statement announcing ‘new efforts to enforce our trade rights with China and level the playing field for America’s businesses and workers’.”

11.11am: Mitt Romney denounces whatever President Obama does regarding trade with China as inadequate.

11.50am: Mitt Romney meets voters in Missouri, which holds caucuses on Saturday. At 11.56am Romney will say something silly about eating a regional speciality and mis-pronounce the name of the city as “St Louie”.

12.45pm: Newt Gingrich addresses the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce. in Birmingham, Alabama. No one cares.

6.30pm: President Obama and British premier David Cameron attend a NCAA basketball game in Dayton, Ohio.

6.39pm: President Obama suddenly realises that David Cameron has never watched a basketball game before and is sick of explaining what a three pointer is.

8pm: Polls close in Alabama and Mississippi.

10pm: Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum gracefully withdraw from the GOP primaries and endorse Mitt Romney in a stirring call for party unity. Romney appears and hugs both men, saying “I love you guys.” Then, a unicorn appears on stage.

*Note: events listed here may not match reality as currently understood.

10am: Well here’s some good news. Despite some rumbling to the contrary, it appears there will not be yet another Republican presidential debate next week.

I think I speak on behalf of a grateful nation and possibly the GOP when I say: awesome.

The Oregonian reports that Mitt Romney has turned down his invitation to the debate scheduled for next Monday – hardly a surprise but likely to be the death knell for any hopes of recycling some Portlandia jokes.

9.30am: Another Tuesday, another set of primaries, and this time the focus is on the Deep South – Mississippi and Alabama, to be precise – where Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are running neck-and-neck in the polls.

Polls are open in both states and will close tonight at 7pm EST – when we will be live blogging the results. Much later are caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa but because of the time differences we’ll be covering them tomorrow.

Here’s all you need to know from our reporter Ryan Devereaux:

• Mitt Romney is hoping to clinch the nomination with wins in Mississippi and Alabama, where primary voters are heading to the polls today. Accomplishing the goal is easier said than done, however, as the candidates are locked in an exceedingly tight race. While Romney is regularly viewed as the candidate with the greatest potential to beat President Obama, the former Massachusetts governor has had a difficult time winning the hearts of southern conservatives. He is challenged by Rick Santorum, who is locked in a struggle to appear as socially conservative as possible, and Newt Gingrich, who was born in Georgia and has focused nearly all of his campaign energy on the region.

• Today’s contests come as new polls show President Obama’s approval rating has dropped substantially. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 41% of respondents approve of the job the president is doing, while 47% disapprove. The latest figures come just one month after the president managed a critical 50% approval rating. Rising gas prices, escalating tensions regarding war with Iran and major security setbacks in Afghanistan are believed to have contributed to the president’s sudden drop in popularity.

• Meanwhile, a new poll from Public Policy Polling adds a whole new dimension to the question of how some Americans view the president. According to PPP, 45% of Republican respondents in Alabama think President Obama is a Muslim, while in Mississippi that number is 52%. In Alabama, 60% of respondents don’t believe in evolution, and in Mississippi 66% don’t. It turns out Rick Santorum is the most popular candidate among evolution-deniers, while Newt Gingrich has the majority of the support from those who believe interracial marriage should be illegal.

• In his never-ending quest to seem like a regular guy, Mitt Romney toured Alabama with Southern comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Famous for his “You might be a redneck if …” jokes, Foxworthy tried to help Romney make light of himself. At one point on Monday, Romney quipped that he hoped to set out with an Alabama friend who “can actually show me which end of the rifle to point.” Ever his own worst enemy in efforts to seem normal, however, Romney managed to tell a radio show host that “good friends” of his own NFL teams. Last month the former governor caught flak for saying some of his friends own Nascar teams. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Powered by article titled “Alabama and Mississippi primary results – live” was written by Richard Adams, for on Tuesday 13th March 2012 23.00 UTC

7pm: Welcome to our live coverage of the Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, in which three men are struggling to see who will come out on top. The polls suggest any one of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich has a chance of winning either or both of the Deep South contests – and who wins what will determine the length of the GOP nomination race.

Polls close in both states at 8pm EST so it could be a mercifully short night compared to the marathons in Iowa and Ohio that the campaigns have had to endure so far this year.

We’ll be following the run-up to the count and then the results and reactions, so stayed tuned.

One thing we won’t be getting tonight is a speech from the Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, who is likely to be in the air when the results come in. That suggests his campaign is braced for bad news – especially as Romney spent the day campaigning in Missouri, which holds its vote on Saturday.

But don’t worry: Rick Santorum will speak to supporters in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he has been campaigning ahead of that state’s primary on 24 March, and Newt Gingrich is to address his fans in Birmingham, Alabama.

Given the two races and the range of outcomes, here’s a preview of how things may shake out when the votes have been counted:

• Romney wins both Alabama and Mississippi: that could suddenly increase the pressure on Santorum and Gingrich to end their campaigns, since it would kill off their argument that Romney fails to appeal to Southern Republicans. In any case it would be a big boost for Romney and probably all but end the contest, to the relief of many in the GOP and media.

• Split decision: a Romney win in one and a loss to either Gingrich or Santorum in the other would be a blessing for the frontrunner but would probably fail to settle the matter – and the long slog towards winning the delegate majority would continue. Similarly, a brace of second places by Mitt with Santorum and Gingrich taking one state apiece

• Clean sweep by Santorum: the worst possible outcome for Romney, since it may force Gingrich out of the race, ending the handy divide and conquer routine that has helped him to date and making Santorum the unchallenged “Anyone-but-Mitt” candidate.

• Clean sweep by Gingrich: a bloody nose for Santorum may actually help Romney, since Gingrich is a weaker national candidate and far less appealing to Romney’s Achilles heel alliance of evangelicals and conservatives.

In all these scenarios the size of the vote share is also important: narrow losses of a few percentage points by Romney and a bag of delegates wouldn’t cause him any panic. But deep, double-digit losses and third-place showings could knock his campaign off its march towards the nomination.

So there we have it: four (or five) potential scenarios. Now all we have to do is wait for the voters of Alabama and Mississippi to finish voting.

In the meantime, a themed joke from a three-year-old:

Q: How can you spell Mississippi with only one i?

A: Close one of your eyes. (It works better out loud.) © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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