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What We Learned: Book Smart What We Learned: Book Smart

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What We Learned: Book Smart

--There is a reason Democrats have had very limited success statewide in Texas: it's very difficult for the party to win there. And when you can't raise any money and are not active on the trail it makes a difficult task near impossible. Democrat Ricardo Sanchez dropped out of the Senate race this week, following a stretch during which time he could do neither well. We've come a long way since his buzzy entrance into the race when the DSCC was pumping up the party's chances in the red state. -- This week saw some action in the Beehive state, and while Republican Gov. Gary Herbert may be feeling good after Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson decided to pass on a challenge against him, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, can't be too excited to hear state Sen. Dan Liljenquist resigned. Hatch got lucky when GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz passed on the race, but it looks like he won't be so lucky this time. The state lawmaker, widely expected to enter the Senate race early next year, is popular with tea partiers and also hoping to command some establishment support. -- For the GOP, the name of the redistricting game has been more about protecting vulnerable members than creating new opportunities to pick up more seats. That's why Republicans were celebrating over their early Christmas present, a map in Pennsylvania that could land the party as many as 13 of 18 seats. It's possible that GOPers will end up protecting more seats in the state (as many as six) than they'll end up gaining in North Carolina (as many as 4). That's all the more impressive, given that Pennsylvania is a Dem-leaning state. -- The Supreme Court, by choosing late last week to hear a case staying the court-drawn redistricting map in Texas, has guaranteed itself its biggest role in an election since 2000. If the voting is close, the particulars of Texas's map could swing control of the House. Plus, between Citizens United and the upcoming decisions on redistricting and the health care lawsuit, each party's presidential nominee will likely have a lot to say about the Court, and why he needs to be the one picking its next justice. -- Combined with Republicans winning a heated battle over new maps in Ohio, and the Supreme Court overturning a Dem-friendly map in Texas, it's been a very good week on the redistricting front for the GOP. It means that many of its once-vulnerable members are in a better position to withstand an electorate which views Congress and many of its members very unfavorably. -- Recall organizers in Wisconsin generated a lot of buzz on Thursday with the announcement that they have collected more than 500,000 signatures, making it very likely that Republican Gov. Scott Walker will face a recall election next year. But another equally important number also surfaced Thursday: Walker, who has already started running TV ads defending his record, has raised $5 million for his campaign since July. Recall organizers might not have any problem collecting enough signatures to force an election, but actually defeating the deep-pocketed Walker may not be so easy.

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