1. Ted Cruz had some advantages in his Texas Senate runoff against David Dewhurst: the mood of the Republican primary electorate, the smaller and more conservative group of voters likely to turn out for the second round, Cruz's mastery of social media, and the two months between the first round of voting and the second.
But Cruz was still outspent 3-1 by the sitting lieutenant governor in his state. More strikingly, Cruz went from losing the first round by 11 points, with a candidate to Dewhurst's left taking 13 percent of the vote (support that was presumably more likely to go to Dewhurst than Cruz) while the other major conservative got just 4 percent, to winning the runoff by 14 points. To put it another way, Cruz went from winning a little more than a third of the Republican primary vote to a little less than three-fifths. That's got to rank as the biggest Tea Party upset of 2012.
2. Last week, on August 1, the HHS contraception mandate took effect for businesses hiring more than 50 employees. The Newlands of Colorado, the family that owns Hercules Industries, are among those suing the federal government. They do not want to pay for coverage that violates their religious convictions. The Justice Department essentially retorted that God didn't tell them they had to have a business.
"Hercules Industries has ‘made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business,” the DOJ replied in a formal filing in district court. Welcome to America.
3. On the same day, there was an outpouring of support for Chick-fil-A. Politicians in New York City, Boston, and Chicago -- including the mayors of two of those three cities -- had suggested the government should try to keep out the fast food chain because of its president's position on same-sex marriage and the company's financial support for socially conservative groups. Who knew that either of those things were illegal?
Ordinary Americans tend to gravitate toward social liberalism out of tolerance. Showing social liberalism's intolerant side seems like a good way to ensure a backlash -- and that's the early result of the Chick-fil-A flap.
4. Sean Trende has another great piece on the state of the presidential race, this time focusing on an apparent disparity between the state and national polls. The data suggests that Barack Obama's campaign spending has arrested his decline in the major swing states, while there has been no movement in the states that haven't witnessed a Democratic ad blitz. This could suggest either that Mitt Romney will be in trouble as Obama takes this show on the road -- or that Obama will be in trouble once he's already taken his best shot and Romney starts firing back.
5. I've seen only one public poll in the Indiana Senate race since Richard Mourdock dispatched Richard Lugar in the Republican primary, and it's a Rasmussen survey that shows Mourdock leading Democrat Joe Donnelly by just two points. Lugar's lead would presumably be larger and another poll shows Romney beating Obama in Indiana -- a state the president carried in 2008 -- by 16 points.
I expect Mourdock to pull it out in November, but if he somehow doesn't -- or if he requires substantial national help to cross the finish line -- expect anti-Tea Party Republicans and their liberal media enablers to make a great deal of hay.
6. One hopes that the tragic shootings at Sikh community in Wisconsin won't be politicized. Is that too much to hope for?