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Senate Races:

Democrats have fifty-six seats, Republicans forty. With all or almost all (99% in Alaska) the votes counted, if current totals hold after recounts and whatnot, the Republicans get three more (Georgia, Minnesota, and believe it or not, Ted Stevens's seat in Alaska). Oregon only has about 3/4 reporting, with the Republican ahead slightly, and Portland results in.

More generally, the picture is of a solid Democratic win, but not the tsunami some had expected. Obama won the popular vote by a solid, but not crushing, margin of slightly less than six percent (52.4-46.5). Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by a significantly greater margin and even greater relative percentage (49.25-40.71), and George Bush by a slightly lower margin, but higher relative percentage (43.01-37.45). Bush, meanwhile, beat Dukakis by a larger margin, 53.4 to 45.6. The Democrats picked up about twenty House seats, on the low end of the expected range. And, as noted above, they seem likely to pick up five or six Senate seats,which would make the Senate races either 18-16 in favor of the Democrats, or tied at 17-17, again on the low end of the expected range.

UPDATE: BTW, of course I'm aware that presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College, not the popular vote. But comparing electoral college results gives the same picture, and I think looking at the popular vote gives one a better idea of how much national sentiment has shifted to the Democrats.

Big E:
The Alaska race should tell you everything you need to know about what's wrong with politics in America today.
11.5.2008 7:19am
corneille1640 (mail):
I was under the impression that Mr. Clinton did not even get 50% of the popular vote in 1996. Was his margin of victory really that much greater than Mr. Obama's? (I really don't know...I'm just curious and, apparently, too lazy to look up the answer myself.)
11.5.2008 7:20am
devil's advocate (mail):

and believe it or not, Ted Stevens's seat in Alaska).


That is pretty easy to believe. Look at Palin's approval numbers and she appoints his replacement. In a way Steven's stinks over this but fleecing the taxpayers to pay for goodies for your constituents is a much more costly problem.Not that Stevens is innocent in this regard -- Alaskan's have a love hate relationship with federal money. I wish they would just drill more oil and natural gas and get off the federal teet, and maybe if Palin can actually make that happen it will raise her stock nationally. If Stevens loses appeal and resigns and she appoints herself to the senate, my estimation would sink. (Conflict note: I'm sending my 50 bucks to Jindal for 2012 anyway)

Brian
11.5.2008 7:30am
Big E:
DA: Palin doesn't appoint Steven's replacement. There will be a special election.
11.5.2008 7:36am
Hoosier:
I hope that my liberal friends will join me in hoping that Coleman holds the Senate seat in Minnesota. If the GOP runs Dennis Miller in two years, I promise to repay the favor.
11.5.2008 7:49am
smitty1e:
@Big E:
What, that Alaskans would prefer not to see a Democratic super-majority, and did what they could?
Will Bush pardon Stevens, as a parting 'FTW'?
11.5.2008 7:54am
Big E:
So they're willing to vote for a criminal? That makes sense. People putting party before country is stupid.
11.5.2008 8:02am
neurodoc:
corneille1640, have you forgotten that a guy named Ross Perot ran in 1992, garnering more votes than any independent candidate since Teddy Roosevelt ran 80 years before him? Because of Perot, no one made it past 50% of all the votes cast that year. Perot did Clinton an enormous favor by running, though, probably tipping the election to Clinton, and changing the course of history in a way not entirely unlike Nader (and Buchanan?) in 2000.
11.5.2008 8:05am
corneille1640 (mail):

have you forgotten that a guy named Ross Perot ran in 1992, garnering more votes than any independent candidate since Teddy Roosevelt ran 80 years before him? Because of Perot, no one made it past 50% of all the votes cast that year. Perot did Clinton an enormous favor by running, though, probably tipping the election to Clinton, and changing the course of history in a way not entirely unlike Nader (and Buchanan?) in 2000.

I haven't forgotten, but my question was about the election of 1996, Clinton v. Dole. Of course, your point applies, since Mr. Perot ran in 1996 as well, although, as I'm sure you know, he got fewer votes than in 1996.

I was simply curious to know if the exact breakdown conforms to Mr. Bernstein's analysis, all the while being too lazy to look up the answer. (But apparently I'm not too lazy to keep posting comments on a blog when I should be working.....shame.)
11.5.2008 8:11am
Jonathan W (mail) (www):
There is little choice out there. To say that voter sentiment has shifted towards the Democrats sounds strange. I guess it is a matter of linguistics, but where else would it go?
11.5.2008 8:12am
corneille1640 (mail):
Yikes! First mistake (of many) for this day: Perot got fewer votes in 1996 than in 1992.
11.5.2008 8:12am
blabla:
One weird thing about the Senate races: Intrade shows a very large probability that the number of Democratic Senators will be between 51 and 55. Right now the bid/ask for that possibility is 60/79. (Note that the bid/ask for 56 to 60 Democratic Senators is 16.5/60--that's a huge ask-bid spread!) Anyone know how this is possible? I can't figure it out.
11.5.2008 8:12am
neurodoc:
What happens next with Stevens and his Senate seat? Does he get tossed now or does he keep it pending the outcome of his appeal? How about sentencing, when would that come?

If Stevens does get tossed and Big E is correct that the governor (Palin) doesn't get to appoint someone to fill it, but instead there would be a special election (how far off?), then is it likely that another Republican would be elected to it (possibly Palin?), or would a Democrat be more likely?

(I haven't looked this morning to see whether any news about the other crook Alaska has been sending to Washington year after year, that is Congressman Young. Will we be afflicted with him until he is indicted and convicted for selling his office?)
11.5.2008 8:14am
merevaudevillian:
When Clinton took office, he had slightly larger margins in both the Senate and the House (if current projections hold).
11.5.2008 8:16am
Brian Mac:

Anyone know how this is possible? I can't figure it out.

They're not counting Lieberman and Sanders.
11.5.2008 8:17am
Angus:
My guess is that the Dems will put up Tony Knowles (former governor) for the special Senate election. Though he recently lost a U.S. Senate election and gubernatorial election (to Palin), they were both close in an overwhelmingly Republican state.
11.5.2008 8:22am
Rock On (www):
I gotta be honest, David, and not to gloat, but... the Democrats pick up Senate seats, win both the electoral and popular votes by a larger margin than GWB ever managed and break 50% of the popular vote for their first time since LBJ. I would say they did extremely well.
11.5.2008 8:49am
JosephSlater (mail):
David:

You also might want to check when the last time a non-incumbent won by as large a margine in the popular vote as Obama did last night.
11.5.2008 9:07am
devil's advocate (mail):

UPDATE: BTW, of course I'm aware that presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College, not the popular vote.


If I'm not smoking something, the big story on the popular vote is not the margin.

2004
Bush 62,040,610

Kerry 59,028,444

2008
Obama62,443,218

McCain 55,386,310

Now I can't say how many votes are not reported yet, but I tend to doubt it could be more than the 3 million that separate the total vote from 2004.

Where is the turnout factor, the historic election and all the hype - that is still going on on TV this morning. It looks to me like a few folks changed sides and some conservatives sat on their hands.

I concede, I haven't incorporated 3rd party votes in my analysis, but I don't see how this isn't a big story.
11.5.2008 9:16am
A reader (mail):
Actually, Oregon is in a dead heat, with votes in Multnomah County - the state's liberal stronghold - largely still outstanding. So that's still likely to be another senate seat for the dems.
11.5.2008 9:17am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Joe, relative percentage-wise, Bill Clinton in 1992 did much better, and he was running against an incumbent. And then Bush in 1988, and Reagan in 1980. Obama gets credit where it's due, but this was hardly a historical margin of victory.
11.5.2008 9:17am
devil's advocate (mail):
Big E


DA: Palin doesn't appoint Steven's replacement. There will be a special election.


Is that because of the length of the length of time to the next general. Alaska law or federal. I thought the time to the next election only applied to the House.

Would the repleacement mechanism change if stevens hangs on for a certain amount of time?
Brian

in which case I amend my post to agree with the ambivalent view of stevens as possibly treated unfairly, he's the one who made the whole thing so much in the news and timely and did manage to get out his sense of objection to conduct of prosecutors.

I'm not jumping on or off that bandwagong, but maybe Alsakan's were additionally convinced they didn't like ththe alternative -- if it had been Knowles again would he have been elected.

And for folks who get oil checks they no doubt understand they would be smaller with a filibuster proof senate (obviously that characterization changes on the issues, but it is useful semantic.)
11.5.2008 9:24am
B Dubya (mail):
How would the numbers have played out for Obama if, as has been suggested eolsewhere, as many as 7,000,000 of the 137,000,000 votes cast were either fraudulent or otherwise ineligible "voters"? (such as all those pesky dead people).
Looks like 49.8% for Obama,and almost exactly 49% for McCain on the popular vote. Depending on where these votes were cast, that could be the difference in the electoral college and the election!
Whatever else you can take away from this, provided the fraud was that high, Obama is about to preside on a completely polarized electorate, and ACORN is everything we feared it was.
Don't expect DOJ to do anything like investigate this.
Welcome to 3rd world elections, my fellow Americans.
11.5.2008 9:29am
Cregist:
The Georgia Senate race is still undecided.

Late returns push Chambliss slightly under 50% opening the possibility of a runoff.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitiution and The Secretary of State website reoprts:

At 9:20 EST, with 96% of precincts reporting:

Chambliss(R) 49.8%
Martin(D) 46.8%
Buckley(L) 3.4%

CNN is reporting 99% of the vote in and Chambliss with 50%, although less total votes than the SoS.

Libertarian/Conservative types are especially upset with Chambliss about the bailout along with other "Big Government Conservative" issues. Martin polled about the same as Obama.

I voted for the runoff ...
11.5.2008 9:31am
A Law Dawg:
You also might want to check when the last time a non-incumbent won by as large a margine in the popular vote as Obama did last night.


You have to go back to Ike in '52 to find a greater margin with no meaningful 3rd party. And yet I wonder if McCain could have won had he picked Economics Expert Mitt Romney as his VP instead of Palin.
11.5.2008 9:34am
PC:
How would the numbers have played out for Obama if

That's President-elect Hussein Obama, but keep grasping. The narrative is strong, but it doesn't mean the narrative is right.

Prof. Bernstein, if Bush had a mandate in 2004 with half the numbers that Obama has, does that mean Obama has twice the mandate?
11.5.2008 9:37am
hawkins:

as many as 7,000,000 of the 137,000,000 votes cast were either fraudulent or otherwise ineli


More than 5% of the votes cast were fraudulent?!? Where do these numbers come from?
11.5.2008 9:39am
AK (mail):
A win is a win, regardless of the size. To the extent that a mandate matters, the real measure of the strength of the victory is how the Democrat senators up for re-election in 2010 vote. Obama will get whatever he wants in the House (sorta, unless Pelosi, Frank et al decide that they're calling the shots), but Democrat senators from red states might not have the stones to break a filibuster.
11.5.2008 9:40am
Kevin P. (mail):
CNN's web page says that Multnomah County has reported 100% already. However, Lane County with Eugene has reported only 33%.
11.5.2008 9:40am
DavidBernstein (mail):
When did I say Bush had a mandate in '04? And when did any Democrats concede that Bush had a mandate? Obama does have something of a mandate: for "change", "to solve our problems", to "move us away from the disastrous policies of the Bush Administration" and to "restore our image abroad." Incremental liberal policies will be politically successful. If he makes the mistakes the Republicans made in 1994, and confuse a relatively narrow rejection of the dominant party with a sweeping mandate for radical ideological change, it's not going to be pretty.
11.5.2008 9:41am
A Law Dawg:
If he makes the mistakes the Republicans made in 1994, and confuse a relatively narrow rejection of the dominant party with a sweeping mandate for radical ideological change, it's not going to be pretty.


I was always under the impression that the Contract Republicans *under*played their hand by caving during the government shutdown. Or is that revisionist Republican history?
11.5.2008 9:48am
Dave N (mail):
If there is a special election in Alaska, then I suspect that Palin's lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, will be the Republican nominee and likely winner.

As for Georgia, I am trying to imagine a scenario where a Chambliss does not win a runoff. I suspect Republicans will be more eager to vote in that election than Democrats.

The Coleman-Franken race is headed for a recount, but recounts very seldom change the outcome.

As for Oregon, I have no idea where the uncounted votes.
11.5.2008 9:55am
DavidBernstein (mail):
They got played by Clinton, who was able to portray THEM as shutting down the government, when it was HE who vetoed the relevant appropriations bill. But if you go back to early '05, Gingrich was acting like he was president, the Republicans were holding hearings on privatizing national parks, and so forth. Part of the problem was, I think that Gingrich had no real strategy for what to do after passing almost all of the "Contract with America."

In any event, I think the GOP lost that one on style, not substance. They acted as if the U.S. had suddenly shifted radically to the right; what they should have done is what the Democrats always did in the House: moderate rhetoric, while silently slipping ideologically controversial things into legislation. Instead, the opposite: they spoke loudly, and carried a small stick.
11.5.2008 9:56am
Hoosier:
Big E:
So they're willing to vote for a criminal? That makes sense. People putting party before country is stupid.

But what do you expect from those damned Republicans? Look how many of them voted for McCain. And he spent five and a half years in prison!
11.5.2008 10:06am
Guesty McGuesterson (mail):
The numbers in Georgia don't add up. It's unclear whether all the early votes were counted as the numbers are low. There's some consternation down here and nobody knows which candidate is helped, although Chambliss has long been dogged by rumors that he got a "bump" from Diebold in 2002. Keep your eye on this one.
11.5.2008 10:08am
Art Eclectic:
Big E - Alaskans have a serious addiction to taxpayer funded goodies. Keeps them from having a state income tax or state sales tax to pay for their government. They vote with their wallets.
11.5.2008 10:10am
Zed:
So Ted Stevens is kinda like the white man's Marion "Bitch set me up" Barry.
11.5.2008 10:12am
corneille1640 (mail):

Obama does have something of a mandate: for "change", "to solve our problems", to "move us away from the disastrous policies of the Bush Administration" and to "restore our image abroad." Incremental liberal policies will be politically successful.

Mr. Bernstein: I suspect you're correct in stating that Mr. Obama's mandate is not for sweeping reform. However, he was in the campaign quite open about what he intends to do if elected (even if he had little plausible explanation about how to pay for it). I think your comment about the Republican majority in the 1990s is spot on, and if the Obama-ites take a cue from their mistakes, they'll be successful.
11.5.2008 10:17am
Jonathan David:
" gotta be honest, David, and not to gloat, but... the Democrats pick up Senate seats, win both the electoral and popular votes by a larger margin than GWB ever managed and break 50% of the popular vote for their first time since LBJ. I would say they did extremely well."

I thought Carter got 50.1% of the popular vote? He also had 61 D Senators and 292 D representatives. Let's hope it works out better this time.....
11.5.2008 10:25am
AK (mail):
Gingrich was a better insurgent than governor, which might also be the Democrats' fate. It's been fun slinging feces like agitated spider monkeys for eight years, but now the Democrats actually have to do something.

The "Contract" Republicans also had the misfortune of forcing Clinton to fight from behind. He was always at his best as the underdog.

But on policy matters, the Contract GOP was sucessful enough. IIRC, Clinton signed 80% of the Contract in one form or another, including welfare reform and the capital gains tax cut.
11.5.2008 10:27am
DCP:

The concept of a "mandate" is moot when your party controls virtually every facet of the government.

The phrase got tossed around in 2004 as a preemptive attack against strong and determined factions against Bush.

Unless I'm missing something, where is the opposition to Obama policies going to come from? The guy is a media darling, a savior in the eyes of his party (who now have big majorities in the House and Senate, etc. If he can't enact some portion of his agenda it's because it is too misguided, too controversial or he is simply sailing his own ship around in circles.
11.5.2008 10:27am
patrick joy:
The most striking thing about this election is how off base the turnout projection were. We were told it would be historic and up to 130 million. It now appears that there were less voters then in 2004.
11.5.2008 10:29am
arg11 (mail):
Don't hold your breath on Ted Stevens. He will get repealed when his conviction goes through.
11.5.2008 10:29am
Dave N (mail):
DCP,

One issue where there will be huge pushback--particularly with enough Senators to filibuster, is organized labor's demand for "card check" union elections.

Americans overwhelmingly oppose it. The Chamber of Commerce will fight it vigorously. And the Republicans have little downside in uniting against it.
11.5.2008 10:30am
Hoosier:
Zed:
So Ted Stevens is kinda like the white man's Marion "Bitch set me up" Barry.

Not until he gets out of prison and is re-elected.
11.5.2008 10:31am
Big E:
devil's advocate the Alaska system was a reaction to Murkowski appointing his daughter to the Senate.
11.5.2008 10:32am
David Drake:
Jonathan--

I think you're right about President Carter's numbers. Read someplace else that Senator Obama was the first Democrat with a majority since 1976.

But I hope it works out the same. Remember that President Carter, as a two-term Georgia governor, had eight years of executive experience. And four years later. . .
11.5.2008 10:33am
Dave N (mail):
David Drake,

Minor correction. Jimmy Carter was a one-term Governor of Georgia.
11.5.2008 10:38am
Ben P:

The concept of a "mandate" is moot when your party controls virtually every facet of the government.


I don't think it's quite that clear.

The Democrats from 2000-2006 and the Republicans from 06 to the present have made it abundantly clear that you need 60 votes in the Senate to pass anything substantial.

I full expect, and would encourage in a great many circumstances, the Republicans to use the legislative process to their own ends. That's what it's there for, and why I was strongly against Republicans talking about to change the rules over judicial nominations a few years back.

The question is whether any given measure can not only pull a couple of the moderate republicans onto the democratic side, but whether the Democrats can keep their own party in Check. I come from a very blue dog state, and support for democrats is not equal to support for the more liberal wings of the party.

In all honestly, I fee rather liberated by this. I'm inclined to be somewhat contrarian by nature, and a lot of Bush's policies have driven me towards the center because I couldn't convince myself to support them.

Because Obama is president I feel much more free to move back to the right, because, while I'm cautiously optimistic about Obama's likely governing style, most of his policies are going to be to my left, so I have no problem arguing against them.
11.5.2008 10:39am
devil's advocate (mail):

The most striking thing about this election is how off base the turnout projection were. We were told it would be historic and up to 130 million. It now appears that there were less voters then in 2004.


Said this above. It is the first thing that occured to me as not jibing with the MSM storyline for this election, and surprise, surpise they haven't said anything about it.

Given the counting discrepancies, I allowed that maybe another 3 million votes would trickle in and it would be the same as 2004.

Or is there someone who nows that it is not unusual for the last 10 million ballots to take a little time to filter in?
11.5.2008 10:44am
Ben P:

Said this above. It is the first thing that occured to me as not jibing with the MSM storyline for this election, and surprise, surpise they haven't said anything about it.

Given the counting discrepancies, I allowed that maybe another 3 million votes would trickle in and it would be the same as 2004.

Or is there someone who nows that it is not unusual for the last 10 million ballots to take a little time to filter in?


I'm not sure of the exact specifics of the vote counting, but the Christian Science Monitor put up actual numbers, which do seem to be records.

I generally consider the monitor to be a pretty accurate publication, and while still "mainstream," I don't think they really qualify as part of the usual media group.

They state there's an estimated turnout of 66% or 136 million voters. 2004 had roughly 64% with 125 million voters.

So, It seems based on this one source at least that turnout was higher by 2-3% at least.
11.5.2008 11:15am
Suzy (mail):
I was interested in the popular vote story too, but I think that a few of you are off on the figures. The difference in the vote for the two major candidates is only off by about 2.3 million. If we assume that even 2% of the vote remains unreported so far, then the 2004 numbers will be surpassed.

The question is why they weren't surpassed by MORE, and then you have several theories to choose from. Is it that the MSM just got this story wrong? Is it that the big sudden turnout was only among Democrats and other first-timers who went for Obama, while a lot of Republicans stayed home? Those are questions we won't be able to immediately answer, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
11.5.2008 11:17am
DCP:

They make these claims every election. I can't understand why people still take the bait.

"This is a historic election"

"This is the most important election of our lifetimes"

"The Supreme Court is at stake!"

"The youth and minority vote whill be key. This time we expect record turnout!"

It's the same nonsense spouted by the liberal media every election cycle. No surprises here. McCain was saddled with a nightmare economy, record deficits, a 5 year military quagmire in the Middle East and the gigantic failure of Bush. On top of that he's an old, repeat cancer survivor who looks like death warmed over. When you step back and look at the big picture, it was pretty obvious which way the center was going to break.

In other words, don't read too much into this.
11.5.2008 11:25am
Calderon:
It's enough of a tsunami. Interesting (to me at least) that now that Obama has won a lot of left-wing bloggers are portraying this as a mandate for strongly progressive policies, even though a lot of the mainstream media and Obama's campaign all tried to tamp down any idea that he was a left wing radical.

Oh well, anyone know of a good guide to immigrating to the Cayman Islands?
11.5.2008 11:40am
DangerMouse:
Unless I'm missing something, where is the opposition to Obama policies going to come from?

Oh, don't doubt that there'll be plenty of opposition to the Infanticide President. After all, dissent is patriotic.

If Obama actually is stupid enough to sign as his first law the Freedom of Choice Act, then he'll guarantee that abortion politics, always feverish, will taint his administration from day 1. I really have to wonder if he IS dumb enough to do it, or if it was just another lie to the murderers at planned parenthood.
11.5.2008 11:42am
gab:
No thread is complete without DangerMouse running around in circles with his fingers in his ears yelling "la la la la infanticide, infanticide."

Nice to see nothing's changed here...
11.5.2008 12:00pm
Dave N (mail):
Calderon,

Markos Moulitsas was interviewed on the Today Show and he was proclaiming Obama a product of the Internet. You know he will be leading the screams for a "progressive agenda" now that Democrats control both Congress and the White House.

I suspect some time in the next 6-12 months the nut-roots will be screaming in outrage because, in their world view, Obama has "sold out."
11.5.2008 12:11pm
DUrhamDave:
With respect to the question of why Governor Palin does not appoint the Senator to replace Stevens: We have the inbred/corrupt nature of Republican politics in Alaska to blame (or thank — you decide). Lisa Murkowski — the junior Senator from Alaska was appointed by her father Frank to succeed him in the Senate when he became Governor of the state. She was reelected in 2004. She is a "moderate" Republican and (in the mold of Daddy, and Stevens) certainly (ahem) 'tarnished', if not downright dirty. To wit:
in July 2007, Murkowski stated she would sell back land she bought from Anchorage businessman Bob Penney, a day after a Washington watchdog group filed a Senate ethics complaint against her, alleging that Penney sold the property well below market value. The Anchorage Daily News noted, "The transaction amounted to an illegal gift worth between $70,000 and $170,000, depending on how the property was valued, according to the complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center." According to the Associated Press, Murkowski bought the land from two developers tied to the Ted Stevens probe.

In 2008, Murkowski amended her Senate financial disclosures for 2004 through 2006, adding income of $60,000 per year from the sale of a property in 2003, and more than $40,000 a year from the sale of her "Alaska Pasta Company" in 2005.
(source: Wikipedia)


Hilarious ain't it? Before Sarah Palin (IMO) Alaska was a lot like Tammany Hall (or modern day Chicago?) only with caribou...
11.5.2008 12:21pm
Hoosier:
gab:
No thread is complete without DangerMouse running around in circles with his fingers in his ears yelling "la la la la infanticide, infanticide."

Nice to see nothing's changed here...


Are you implying that Obama did not support infanticide?
11.5.2008 12:31pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
"The youth and minority vote will be key. This time we expect record turnout!" It's the same nonsense spouted by the liberal media every election cycle.

Uh, since Obama's margin of victory was composed primarily of winning substantially higher margins in the youth and minority vote compared to Kerry, how is that "nonsense"?
11.5.2008 12:36pm
eyeball:

This is all clearly very good news for John McCain and the Republicans.
11.5.2008 12:51pm
JPLodine (mail):
No one is more saddened by Obama's election than I am, but I don't see any way of arguing the fact that the Democrats have secured some sort of mandate. And it's a moot point anyway -- as a previous poster pointed out, the concept of mandate is irrelevant when you control the levers of power. As I think JFK said: "mandate, shmandate; I'm here and they're not."
11.5.2008 12:56pm
Jestak (mail):
Just to reiterate a few items about not-yet-over Senate races: Minnesota will be going to a recount. Oregon could flip back to Merkley if the vote margins in Lane County (Eugene area) and the Portland suburbs, where most of the uncounted votes are from, remain near their current levels. Georgia looks to be a runoff, the outcome of which will likely depend on who can do a better GOTV operation.

And it is sad to see that over 100,000 Alaskans are willing to vote for Ted Stevens despite his proven corruption.
11.5.2008 1:09pm
Dirck the Noorman (mail) (www):
Consider the ratio of winners' votes to runners'-up votes in the last 25 Presidential elections.

Obama won a clear victor with a ratio of 1.13 over McCain. (63.0 / 55.8 = 1.13)

But by any reasonable historical standard, this election was actually fairly close.

The average over the last 25 elections has been 1.30. For the last 12 its 1.22.

In rank-order this election is adjacent Truman-Dewey in '48, and election famous for being close.

Consider all the tailwinds Obama had: little skeptical press coverage; very unpopular incumbent party; huge financial advantage; an electorate that largely did not understand the direct relationship between Dem corruption (Fannie, Freddie) and our current financial crisis. If anything, its incredible Obama didnt do better.


Winner RunnerUp Ratio Contest
2000 0.479 0.484 0.98 Bush - Gore
1960 0.497 0.496 1.00 Kennedy - Nixon
1968 0.434 0.427 1.01 Nixon - Humphrey
1976 0.501 0.48 1.04 Carter - Ford
2004 0.507 0.483 1.04 Bush - Kerry
1916 0.492 0.461 1.06 Wilson - Hughes
1948 0.496 0.451 1.09 Truman - Dewey
2008 0.52 0.46 1.13 Obama - McCain
1992 0.43 0.377 1.14 Clinton - Bush
1944 0.534 0.459 1.16 Roosevelt - Dewey
1988 0.534 0.456 1.17 Bush - Dukakis
1996 0.4924 0.4071 1.20 Clinton - Dole
1940 0.547 0.448 1.22 Roosevelt - Willkie
1980 0.507 0.41 1.23 Reagan - Carter
1952 0.552 0.443 1.24 Eisenhower - Stevenson
1956 0.574 0.42 1.36 Eisenhower - Stevenson
1928 0.582 0.408 1.42 Hoover - Smith
1932 0.574 0.397 1.44 Roosevelt - Hoover
1984 0.588 0.406 1.44 Reagan - Mondale
1912 0.418 0.274 1.52 Wilson - Roosevelt
1964 0.611 0.385 1.58 Johnson - Goldwater
1972 0.607 0.375 1.61 Nixon - McGovern
1936 0.608 0.365 1.66 Roosevelt - Landon
1920 0.603 0.341 1.76 Harding - Cox
1924 0.54 0.288 1.87 Coolidge - Davis
11.5.2008 1:22pm
KJN (mail):
I'm wondering if they actually know what they just got themselves into.

It's easy to look "transformational" when you get to choose your settings. Standing in front of well-designed backdrops, styrofoam Greek columns, etc. But the Oval Office is not quite so majestic. It's already designed. There are no fake Greek columns. Mr. Obama may find that it was a lot more fun (and easy) on the campaign trail when you have an unpopular president as an easy target and you can choose (or construct) the most majestic settings as your backdrop and you have the luxury of ginning up huge crowd counts with free rock concerts. There is no accountability on the campaign trail.

But the actual job of the presidency is a lot more mundane. He will actually be accountable now. He will own the economy that will be in recession. He will actually own the foreign policy now. You can't just blame it on the policies of someone else while standing in front of a faux backdrop on an over-sized stage while perfectly illuminated by the well-designed lighting. There will be no more beautifully lit, over-sized stages. There will be no more fake Greek columns. There will be no more teleprompters that display flowery speeches without much substance. There will be cramped White House press rooms. When crises arise, as they always do to some degree or another, you have to own the solutions that are proposed. Whether or not they work, they are yours. There will always be a core of sycophants in the media who will protect him and do their best to try to bring back the glow of the messianic days of the campaign and smooth out the rough edges of reality, but the density of this core will decrease over time.

There is no voting "present" in this job.
11.5.2008 1:22pm
Fedya (www):
Ben P et al:

I'm looking at the AP's numbers, and as of 1:15 PM ET, they're reporting about 121 million votes cast for President with 96% of precincts reporting. Even if that 96% is really just 95.5% rounded up, you'd need a lot of large precincts to get to 130 million votes. To get up the the 136 million the CSM claims, you'd need a lot of people who voted in other races, but not for President.

(The one other possibility is absentee/mail ballots, although I don't know how/when they'll all be counted, and how they fit in to the percent of precincts reporting. After all, I presume a fair portion of the precincts not reporting are in the predominantly vote-by-mail states of Oregon and Washington.)
11.5.2008 1:24pm
DUrhamDave:
Am I the only one who doesn't think that the election of Stevens was necessarily a "vote for corruption"? I know that on the face it seems so, but could we give voters a little more credit for knowing just what the heck is going on? Could it not be that Alaskans realize, just like us smarties down here in the lower 48 do, that electing Stevens ensures that there will be another chance to send a Republican (the favored party, apparently, in AK) to the Senate in 90 days? It's not exactly rocket science is it? To argue the contrary is something like positing that the people of Missouri didn't know that Mel Carnahan was dead when they reelected him to office (so that his wife could be appointed to the seat)in 2000. Must the explanation always be venality?
11.5.2008 1:29pm
hattio1:
Devil's Advocate says;

I wish they [Alaskans] would just drill more oil and natural gas and get off the federal teet, and maybe if Palin can actually make that happen it will raise her stock nationally


Alaskans, by and large, are all about drilling more oil. It's outside activists (again, by and large) who prevent further drilling. I say this as an Alaskan who is glad we arent' drilling ANWR, but considers it a mixed blessing given the control from outside.
11.5.2008 1:31pm
Former Oregonian (mail):
My money's on Merkley. Smith's only up by 10,000 votes. Most of the counties (especially the east of Cascades counties where Smith is strongest) are done. But Multnomah County (Portland) has only counted 47% (and Merkley's winning 66%-30%), and Lane County (Eugene) has only counted 55% (and Merkley's winning 58%-38%). There are more than enough votes in those two counties to make up a 10,000 vote gap.
11.5.2008 2:05pm
Oren:

Are you implying that Obama did not support infanticide?

Yes, for reasons clearly delineated in every other post (in short, viability is the key issue here -- 99% of abortions are before 24 weeks and hence performed on fetuses that are not viable).
11.5.2008 2:15pm
Jestak (mail):
Am I the only one who doesn't think that the election of Stevens was necessarily a "vote for corruption"? I know that on the face it seems so, but could we give voters a little more credit for knowing just what the heck is going on? Could it not be that Alaskans realize, just like us smarties down here in the lower 48 do, that electing Stevens ensures that there will be another chance to send a Republican (the favored party, apparently, in AK) to the Senate in 90 days?



I'd be a lot more inclined to accept that rationale were it not for the fact that Alaskans also voted, in slightly greater numbers in fact, to reelect Don Young--essentially Ted Stevens minus the formality of trial and conviction--to the House. Because of that fact, I'm pretty strongly inclined to the "indifference to corruption" explanation.

If you are unfamiliar with why I would characterize Don Young as I did, you should go to TPMmuckraker and do a search on "Don Young."
11.5.2008 2:31pm
Dave N (mail):
Just did some napkin math on the Alaska and Oregon Senate races. According to the Associated Press, there are 40,000 uncounted absentee votes in Alaska. The current tally has Stevens ahead by 3300 votes. That means Begich will have to win more than 58% of the absentee vote in order to defeat Stevens. I sincerely doubt that will happen.

The current Oregon numbers have Smith up by approximately 6,000 votes. Assuming that 30% of precincts equal 30% of votes (it might or might not), then there are still approximately 360,000 votes to count. Merkley would have to win 52% of the uncounted vote to pass Smith. Depending on where the uncounted votes are, that could happen.

As for those who think a recount will change the Minnesota results, I would note that recounts almost never change the outcome, so don't hold your breath (I would be saying the exact same thing if Franken was ahead of Coleman by the same margin).

Finally, I still think it will be the Republicans who have the most incentive to get out and vote in the December runoff--and that Saxby will prevail there.

My take, the best the Democrats will do is 57-43, the worst (depending on Oregon) is 56-44.
11.5.2008 3:12pm
DUrhamDave:
Jestak,

Don't know enough about Don Young to make a judgment. In the absence of said knowledge I will accept your characterization of him. But I think comparing a vote for House Rep. to Senator is apples to oranges (mildly -- maybe apples to crab apples). At any rate look at Murtha (as just one rather egregious example) and various other "rotten borough" House members. "He brings home the bacon" is a common rationale for why House Seats tend to be so (sadly) safe. It may actually reinforce my earlier point and speak to a sort of Alaskan realpolitik that favors Republicans over Democrats regardless. Like the foreign policy 'realists' used to say about some of our ugly foreign head of state "friends" -- 'he may be an SOB but he is our SOB'. Not my cup of tea, but I think I understand it.

So, I still want to theorize (though perhaps not as strongly) that Alaskans would rather keep a shot at preserving the seat for an R than simply give it away to a D (and add to the already overweening majority). The only way to do that was to re-elect Stevens. In the short run (60-90 days) it's an ugly result, but in the longer view more closely aligns with the actual (Republican leaning) polity of the state...
11.5.2008 3:42pm
Jestak (mail):
The current Oregon numbers have Smith up by approximately 6,000 votes. Assuming that 30% of precincts equal 30% of votes (it might or might not), then there are still approximately 360,000 votes to count. Merkley would have to win 52% of the uncounted vote to pass Smith. Depending on where the uncounted votes are, that could happen.



According to the election map at MSNBC (can't get the one at CNN to work for me today), the areas with the largest proportions of uncounted precincts in OR are Lane County (Eugene area), with 45% of precincts reporting, and Multnomah County (Portland) with 46% of precincts reporting. Merkley currently leads by 67-29 in Multnomah and by 56-37 in Lane. Assuming that those numbers are accurate and up to the minute, Merkley has a decent chance of catching Smith.

Regarding MN, you're right that recounts seldom change the outcome, but we up here in Washington State know that "seldom" doesn't mean "never."
11.5.2008 3:46pm
JWG (mail):
Keep in mind that McCain was leading by 4-6% when he got the rug pulled from under him by Henry Paulson with his hare-brained bailout and screaming about financial institutions. This led to stock market crashes and plunging 401(k)s. I wonder how much of the credit for Obama's win belongs to Paulson and his timing of the bailouts.
11.5.2008 3:58pm
JosephSlater (mail):
JWG:

Maybe. Or you could say that the only time in this election McCain was ahead was briefly after his convention, when he was enjoying a "convention bounce" and a brief honeymoon period for Palin.

Plus, Paulson didn't make McCain say, "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," and THEN faux-cancel the first debate because the crisis was so dire but then not actually cancel it even though the bailout wasn't done, and then make several proposals that, well, didn't sound all that convincing about what should be done.
11.5.2008 4:05pm
Hoosier:
Oren:

Are you implying that Obama did not support infanticide?


Yes, for reasons clearly delineated in every other post (in short, viability is the key issue here -- 99% of abortions are before 24 weeks and hence performed on fetuses that are not viable).


For Pete's sake, Oren. You know we are talking about what Obama would have allowed, not what the frequency of the action allowed would have been.

To support the "right" to allow a child born alive to die is to support . . . what? Not "infanticide"? In which case the practice of "death by exposure" was not infanticide either.

If this is how far one needs to go to justify Obama's position on this issue, then I would lose my moorings trying to cut him slack. What's wrong with "I was wrong about that matter, and I would no longer adopt the same position"?

This was a very unusual election. Democrats simply cannot count on Catholics to support their candidates in the future if they take the most radical positions possible on abortion. Many of us have concluded that abortion will have to be allowed in the US, absent a sea-change in the culture, which none of us sees on the horizon.

But the radically pro-abortion rights policies of national Democrats are going to harm the party, especially when one doesn't have a hugely incompetent GOP administration and a financial melt-dwon.

I am just telling you what you can expect. A large majority of Catholics--not just conservatives-- are very serious about limiting the most inhuman abortion practices, even if they are quite rare. I am afraid that Democrats are once again taking Catholic votes for granted. This is the way they lost to Reagan.
11.5.2008 4:52pm
Redlands (mail):
Apologies if this has already been asked, but . . ..
If Sen. Stevens is reelected but his conviction stands and he's booted from the Senate, could the Governor of Alaska name any person to replace him and serve out his term? Like, maybe, herself?
11.5.2008 5:28pm
Kazinski:
It would be hard to argue Obama doesn't have a mandate, he campaigned almost exclusively on "change", and he got increased majorities in both houses of congress to support him. To argue otherwise is to ignore the facts.

However, Bill Clinton came into office with just as much going for him, and for a while it looked like Hillary care was a foregone conclusion. Until that is Phil Gramm stood up and said it would pass over his political dead body, the drug companies spent a few million trashing it, and all the sudden it collapsed under its own weight.

If "change" means having a democrat in the whitehouse and tinkering with the tax code, then he'll be successful. If change means, taxing gas back up to $4, carbon taxes on coal and natural gas, and huge increases in social spending then his program will collapse of its own weight.
11.5.2008 6:29pm
Dave N (mail):
Redlands,

Alaska law requires a special election to fill vacancies in Senate seats. My understanding is that this law forbids the Governor from naming an interim appointment, though I suspect that portion of the law is unconstitutional.

As for Palin naming herself, that would be idiotic. She might well decide to RUN in a special election, but history shows that governors who appoint themselves usually not only lose the next election, but lose badly.

Additionally, Palin's predecessor as Governor, Frank Murkowski, evidently felt that being Governor of Alaska (a state where the only two state elected officials are Governor and Lieutenant) was more powerful than being a United States Senator (a job Murkowski undoubtedly would STILL hold had he not given it up to become Governor).
11.5.2008 7:15pm
JWG (mail):
JosephSlater:

Agreed that McCain did not react very well to the economic news and the stock market's dives. Bad economic news is always going to bite the incumbent party and will favor the challenger. But fundamentally, if Paulson had done his thing a couple of months earlier after realizing the failure of the Bear Stearns bailout, McCain would have had more time to react.
11.5.2008 7:16pm
DUrhamDave:
Redlands, see my post above if you want some history as to why the governor no longer appoints vacated Senate seats in AK. Dave N is right -- Stevens will be replaced through a special election --either in 60 or 90 days...
11.6.2008 12:16am
B Dubya (mail):
By the way, the 7,000,000 number was a toss out I saw on another blog. I was not using it to make a case that Obama stole the election. The election issue is moot.

I have always acted under the premise that I credit the other fellow to act honorably, lawfully, and respectfully until he demonstrates that he will not. Its what we do that counts, including what we say.

On the 20th of January, Mr. Obama will become the 44th President of the greatest nation ever to have existed in human history. He will be my President, just as Jimmy Carter was my President.

Words are important. The words President Obama will speak as he takes the oath of office are very important. As he serves to carry out that oath, he will have my full and unreserved support.

John Murtha, Chuck Schumer and Hillary the Carpetbagger? Not so much.
11.6.2008 9:44am
DUrhamDave:
I live in Durham NC (hence the moniker) and I want to second BDubya's sentiment. Mr. Obama is the President elect and will receive all the respect from me I believe is due to the Chief Executive of this great nation. That having been said I found it both ironic and not a little nauseating today to tune in to a local talk radio program and hear the station flooded with calls from Dems demanding that Republicans "respect the results" and treat the President elect with all the deference and honor due the holder of the office. Hmmm. Didn't hear a lot of that the last 8 years. Wonder how many of those folks spent part of Tuesday night scraping the (fake Jefferson quote) "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism" stickers off their bumpers. More than a few I'd wager.
11.6.2008 10:14am