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Why Elections Matter

The plight of more than a million uninsured people in five red states hangs in the balance in November. Each state has refused to expand Medicaid through Obamacare under a Republican governor. Each is facing a stiff challenge from a Democratic opponent who supports Medicaid expansion. So much is riding on the outcome of those races that in two of the states Republican legislatures fearful of Democratic victory have passed laws reining in the power of the governor to unilaterally expand Medicaid. Dylan Scott reports.

Dying Russia

In the seventeen years between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people, or nearly 5 percent—a rate of loss unheard of in Europe since World War II. Moreover, much of this appears to be caused by rising mortality. By the mid-1990s, the average St. Petersburg man lived for seven fewer years than he did at the end of the Communist period; in Moscow, the dip was even greater, with death coming nearly eight years sooner.

This is one paragraph from Masha Gessen's story in The New York Review of Books on 'The Dying Russians'. I knew that in the bleak years just after the collapse of the Soviet Union that Russian mortality rates had spiked dramatically - a mix of profound economic dislocation, hopelessness about the future, poor health both driving and being driven by these factors. What I did realize is that this pattern has continued unabated ever since.

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GOP's New Bid For Women

During the North Carolina debate tonight, Republican nominee Thom Tillis trotted out a new line of attack that his fellow Republican Senate candidate in Colorado, Cory Gardner, tried out this week too: Win over women voters by trying to seem in favor of greater access to contraception by pushing for over-the-counter access.

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Kansas Just Got Interesting

Some weird and very big news out of Kansas: Democratic Senate candidate Chad Taylor just dropped out of the race. Why? It seems that even though Taylor was getting within spitting distance of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who just fended off a tea party challenger in the primaries, faced a very big spoiler in the race.

Independent candidate Greg Orman, who Democrats clearly hope will be an Angus King-type Independent who would caucus with their kind in the Senate, has been polling ahead of Roberts in the race. Roberts' campaign manager is already calling the news a "corrupt bargain."

Did Democrats counter-intuitively just put Kansas in play by dropping out?