Election 2006

Moving To The Right, McCain Lost The Center

This graphic in the New York Times, slightly modified by Kevin Drum, speaks volumes:

Blog_NYT_McCain_Poll_Indpendents 

By selecting Sarah Palin as VP, and my constantly speaking the rhetoric of the far right, McCain has lost what he needed to win this thing: the votes of the independents.

Kevin Drum suggests that McCain was in a no-win situtation from the get-go; that if he courted independents, he would lose conservatives, but if he courted conservatives (as he did), he would lose independents (as he did).

I disagree.  First of all, conservatives would never go for Obama; they would, at worst, stay home and not vote.  But McCain could have courted independents while still inspiring the conservatives to go to the polls.  Selecting Romney as VP, for example, would have been fine with most conservatives, even though Romney is not as pro-life (for example) as they might like.

But the selection of Palin and the use of harsh demagogery (i.e., "liberals aren't 'real Americans'") turned off a lot of the political middle.  Had McCain picked Romney, or even Thompson, as VP, and then run a campaign on issues rather than attacks on character, he would have pulled enough independents AND conservatives to make the race a lot closer than it is.

UPDATE:  Poor Cindy McCain doesn't get it, and blames the media….

In an interview with Fox news that aired Monday night, Mrs. McCain said she thought the biggest difference between her husband's first presidential run eight years ago and his campaign this year was the media's attitude toward the Arizona senator's candidacy.

"What has really stunned me is the — quite honestly, is the kind of viciousness of the media on occasion," Mrs. McCain said. "In 2000 — there's certainly always been, you know, differences, and the — you know, the things that occur. But this has taken on a different tenor. And I don't know why and what's caused that, and I'm sorry for it because I think it turns a lot of young people off."

Oh, *I* know why, Cyndy.  I just explained why.

Vote For McCain — He’ll Help With Your Groceries

I can’t believe this is their nominee:

By the way, not only will he help you with groceries, but he’ll actually get the mandarin oranges FOR you, as you explain to him (with the patience one would emply for one’s senile grandfather) why bigger jars mean economy-size, and name brands tend to be more expensive than generic brands.

And if that’s not enough, McCain will cause a "clean-up on aisle nine" incident. 

Seriously, if I were the woman in this video, I would just turn to McCain and say, "Look, can you just GO AWAY?"

This is from a few days ago.  Sadly, McCain looks so out of place in a grocery story — like he’s never been in one before.  Not sure that helps the whole "regular guy" image.  But I’m past the point of trying to understand what McCain’s campaign team is thinking.

Wright? Riiiiight.

So it seems that black pastor Jeremiah Wright gave a speech at the NAACP and to the National Press Club this morning, and said some controversial stuff.

So I’ve decided I’m not going to vote for him if he runs for President.

Now can we get back to the issues?

“Bitter”

I haven’t been paying attention to politics, but I can’t seem to get my head around this whole Obama ‘bitter" thing.

For those of you who (like me) don’t have a program to the latest controversy, apparently Obama was speaking at a San Fran fundraiser a few days ago, and opined that "bitterness" is the reason small town voters in Pennsylvania "cling" to their religion, guns, and anti-immigrant/anti-trade sentiments.

This caused both the Clinton and McCain campaigns to assert that Obama was being "elitist", and Clinton also took the opportunity to peddle her pro-gun bona fides (of which she has none).

I think Obama probably made a poor choice of words, something he readily admitted to the Winston-Salem Journal:

“What I meant was something that I don’t think any of us can argue with, which is that people feel abandoned, after 20 or 25 years of plants closing, jobs not coming back. People feel like Washington’s not listening to them, and as a consequence, they find that they can only rely on the traditions and the things that have been important to them for generation after generation. Faith. Family. Traditions like hunting. And they get frustrated.”

O.K.  Sounds right to me.  Don’t know how that is an insult, or even "elitist".  In fact, it’s been said before (just using better words).

Here’s Bill Clinton in his book.

"If [Republicans] could cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment, middle-class Americans would see fewer benefits from their tax dollars, feel more resentful paying taxes, and become even more receptive to their appeals for tax cuts and their strategy of waging campaigns on divisive social and cultural issues like abortion, gay rights, and guns."

And here’s Jim Webb in the WSJ Op-Ed.

The politics of the Karl Rove era were designed to distract and divide the very people who would ordinarily be rebelling against the deterioration of their way of life. Working Americans have been repeatedly seduced at the polls by emotional issues such as the predictable mantra of "God, guns, gays, abortion and the flag" while their way of life shifted ineluctably beneath their feet.

What was Obama saying that was so different?

Obama Girl

I confess: I don’t get all the hub-bub and titters regarding the fact that Giuliani’s daughter, age 17, has declared herself (in her Facebook profile) to be a "liberal" and a supporter of Barack Obama.

Both Rudy’s kids from his second wife are estranged from him.  Are they somehow still obligated to adopt the same political philsophies as him?

The Bloomberg Effect

So NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was a lifelong Democrat before he ran (and won) as a Republican in 2001, is now leaving the GOP to start a bid as the "independent" candidate for President.  As a man literally made of money, he can mount a huge campaign.  No, he’ll never be president, but he can become a Naderesque spoiler.

But a spoiler for who?  Will Bloomberg take votes away from the Dems of the GOP?

This Pollster.com poll is illuminating, looking at a Clinton-Guiliani matchup both with, and without, a Bloomberg third party candidate:

State Clinton Giuliani Spread Clinton Giuliani Bloomberg Spread Difference
Alabama 41 53 R+12 39 46 11 R+7 D+5
California 49 44 D+5 45 40 10 D+5 0
Iowa 47 41 D+6 42 37 11 D+5 R+1
Kansas 41 53 R+12 36 47 8 R+11 D+1
Kentucky 44 47 R+3 41 42 10 R+1 D+2
Massachusetts 52 42 D+10 47 37 9 D+10 0
Minnesota 50 41 D+9 48 37 7 D+11 D+2
Missouri 46 47 R+1 44 39 10 D+5 D+6
New Mexico 50 44 D+6 45 41 8 D+4 R+2
New York 56 38 D+18 49 32 15 D+17 R+1
Ohio 49 46 D+3 47 41 8 D+6 D+3
Oregon 48 44 D+4 44 38 11 D+6 D+2
Texas 37 54 R+17 34 48 10 R+14 D+3
Virginia 44 48 R+4 40 45 9 R+5 R+1
Washington 44 47 R+3 42 41 11 D+1 D+4
Wisconsin 47 46 D+1 44 40 10 D+4 D+3
Average D+1.73

Obviously, while there is a slight overall effect which favors Democrats (i.e., Bloomberg will pull votes from Republicans overall), the breakdown is a little more complicated on a state-by-state basis.  For example, Virginia carries with it many electoral votes, enough to swing an election, and the Bloomberg effect might make it swong Republican (just as the Nader effect theoretically gave Florida to Bush in 2001).

It’s early in the season, but this could become a major factor in the 2008 elections.

Let’s Compare

Paul at Powerline:

"Feeling the wind at his back," as Fox News puts it, Barack Obama announced today that he is filing papers for a presidential exploratory committee. Unless one counts his good looks, good speaking, and bi-racial status, it’s difficult to discern Obama’s qualifications for the presidency. Obama has never run anything of substance. His experience in national politics consists of two years as a Senate back-bencher. And he’s only 45 years old.

In my lifetime, neither party has ever nominated a candidate for president with credentials this thin

Let’s see.  In 2000, what had George W. Bush run "of substance"?  Several failed oil ventures?

And as Governor of Texas, what was his "experience in national politics"?

Come to think of it, I can think of another Senator from Illinois who ran for President, having had the same amount of experience as Barack Obama.

His name?  Abraham Lincoln.

Dems In New England

(1)  The recounting is done in Connecticut’s 2nd District, and Democrat Joe Courtney won — by 97 votes.  97.  Wow.  This means that there is only one Republican Congressman from all of New England (Chris Shays of Connecticut)

(2)  Carol Shea-Porter is the new Democratic congressman from NH (who supposedly never stood a chance to win).  Her victory is explained on Daily Kos by one of her campaign coordinators.

The Shift

Who voted Democratic this year?  Seems like everybody.  Below is a chart listing the shifts in all sorts of demographic groups (compared to how those groups voted in 2004):

Gender
Women: +15
Men: +11

Ethnicity
Whites: +14
African-Americans: +1
Latinos: +30
Asian: +13
Other: -1

Age
18-29: +13
30-44: +15
45-59: +10
60 and over: +10

Income
Under $15K: +10
$15K-$30K: +10
$30K-$50K: +12
$50K-$75K: +15
$75K-$100K: +10
$100K-$150K: +10
$150K-$200K: +12
$200K and over: +20

Union membership
Union members: +15
Non-union: +11

Education
No high school: +28
High school: +16
Some college: +12
College Graduate: +6
Post-graduate degree: +6

Religion
Protestant: +9
Catholic: +16
Jewish: +26
Other: -5
None: +16
White Evangelical / Born Again: +15

Religious attendance
More than weekly: +5
Weekly: +10
Monthly: +17
A few times a year: +13
Never: +11

Ideology
Liberal: +4
Moderate: +13
Conservative: +11

Party ID
Democrat: +8
Independent: +17
Republican: +4

Marital Status
Not Married: +12
Married: +12
Married with children: +16

Now, you have to ignore shifts of 10% or so, because it seems that almost every demographic group experienced a shift of that magnitude.

What stands out?

Well, Latinos for one.  Obviously, the whole immigration issue raised by Republicans — along with its not-so-subtle gringo-bashing turned off Latino voters in a big way.  Such a shame, especially since it was one of Karl Rove’s strategies to woo and keep Latino voters.

Then there’s the wealthy.  A bit perplexing that, since they were the ones who benefitted most from Bush’s tax cuts.  Apparently, there was a bit of guilt there, or perhaps complacency.  Perhaps, because they were so comfortable with their wallet, they could focus on Iraq or corruption or something other than economics.

The under-educated also shifted dramatically toward Democrats.  As did the Jewish vote.  I think both those were inevitable at some point.

I find it interesting that the religious vote, especially for part-time religious people, swung so heavily to the Democrats.  No doubt, this was due to the overreaching of the GOP’s bed-partners — people like Falwell and Dobson, as well as the purveyors of phony wars like the "War on Christmas".  People of faith said "enough already" to all that.

And finally, you have moderates and independents.  Well, no surprise there.  I suspect, for those people, it was less of a swing to Democrats and more of a swing away from Republicans.

Anyway, there’s the numbers.

Election 2006: A Victory For Conservatives?

That’s the spin.  Conservatives are trying to argue that the election results point to a victory for conservatism.  This morning, for example, George Will writes that "conservatism continued its advance Tuesday."

What’s the basis for this argument?  Apparently, it’s because some of the Democrats who won were not actual socialists*.

They point to people like Lieberman, who won out over the more progressive Ned Lamont.

Well, that’s true, but it’s also true that the conservative Democrat Harold Ford failed to win in Tennessee.  South Dakota, a very red state, rejected an abortion ban.  And on and on. For every example of a so-called "blue dog" Democrat, there’s a dozen or so counter-examples of Democrats-acting-like-Republicans who got ousted

And when you look at the map, you’ll see lots of blue in formerly red states, like Kansas and Montana, compared to two years ago.

Ezra Klein has the takedown of the meme:

The ideological spectrum is a tricky thing. Take Heath Schuler, exhibit A in the rightwing Democrats meme. He’s a cultural conservative, no doubt. But however far right he drifts on those issues — which, under a Democratic Congress, he won’t be voting on because they won’t be brought to floor — he’s notably left on economic issues. Today, for instance, he’s giving a press conference under the auspices of the United Steelworkers with Great Liberal Hope Sherrod Brown, where they’ll discuss the need for new trade policies and their success in making active opposition to NAFTA a winning issue. That’s not centrist Democrat. It’s not moderate liberal. That’s populism, kids, and it’s leftier than polite company has allowed for quite some time.

So is Shuler rightwing? Seems like a tough case to me. Sherrod Brown? Liberal as they come. Defeating South Dakota’s abortion ban initiative? Passing Missouri’s stem cell initiative? All those progressives who toppled liberal Republicans in the Northeast? Somebody think they won in the blue bastions with roaring conservatism? Meanwhile, the most conservative of the serious Democratic challengers this cycle, Harold Ford, went down to defeat. Bravely fought race, tough environs, etc. But with an out-and-out liberal winning Ohio and a right-of-center Democrat losing Tennessee, we’re really going to call this election for conservatism?

I don’t think so. That distorted interpretation is being promoted by an array of rightwingers and self-styled centrists anxious to constrain the new majority’s perceived range of motion. Some of them are conservatives trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Others are "centrist" Democrats look to grad defeat from the jaws of victory. Both are, for ideological reasons, afraid that a Democratic majority will govern like…Democrats. And make no mistake: They’ll convince no small number of Democrats to eschew any such legislative style. But if the country had wanted a continuation of conservative rule, they would have voted for it. Instead, they voted Democratic. And their elects should give them what they asked for.

Kos does a breakdown:

In the Senate:

Bernie Sanders, VT: So conservative that he’s a "socialist". His National Journal "liberal" rating is 89.7 (out of 100).

Sherrod Brown, OH: NJ liberal rating is 84.2. For comparison’s sake, Harold Ford — a real conservative Democrat — had a 58.3 rating.

Sheldon Whitehouse, RI: An unabashed liberal in every definition of the word. I mean, he defeated a liberal Republican.

Claire McCaskill, MO: She’s a progressive on every major issue. In fact, it was one of the GOP’s lines of attacks against her. As the conservative Real Clear Politics wrote in its race summary:

State Auditor Claire McCaskill lost a close governor’s race two years ago to Gov. Matt Blunt 51% – 48% and thus starts out of the gate with a high level of name recognition and a solid base of support. However, McCaskill lost 90 out of 97 counties statewide and has a problem of being perceived as too liberal outside of metro St. Louis and Kansas City. Missouri is a relatively, culturally conservative state that President Bush won by 3% in 2000 and 7% in 2004 and running the standard Republican playbook hitting McCaskill as too liberal on judges, the war, and taxes should be enough for Talent to carry the day.

Amy Klobuchar, MN: There’s nothing "conservative" about our newest senator from one of the bluest states in the union.

Jon Tester, MT: One of the people accused of being a "conservative" Dem, yet he’s against flag burning amendment, against an amendment banning gay marriage, against the Patriot Act, and against the war. He’s an economic populist, social libertarian, pro-choice Democrat. He may be one of the very few senators who actually lives paycheck to paycheck. He’s an organic farmer.

He’s not Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown, but a "conservative" Dem? Ridiculous.

Jim Webb, VA: Politically very similar to Tester. He’s libertarian on social issues, an economic populist. He wants out of Iraq and he has a personal stake in the war — his son is actually deployed to Iraq. Sure, he served in the Reagan Administration, and sure, he can be classified as a "moderate" (whatever that means), but he’s no "conservative".

In the House:

Yarmuth in KY-03? An unabashed liberal. The kind, in fact, that Rahm said couldn’t win in the South.

We picked up two seats in blue country in Connecticut, four in Pennsylvania (two in blue territory, and the other two not "conservative" by any real definition of the word). KS-02? Boyda is no conservative. The two Florida seats (16, 22)? Not conservative. The three New York seats? Not conservatives. The two in New Hampshire? True progressives.

I mean, going down the list, the only Democrats out of 28 officially confirmed
victories that could be called "conservative" are Shuler in NC-08, Lampson in TX-22, and the three Indiana Dems,

That’s it.

Are there moderates? Yes. Is the country moving to the center? Of course. The Democrats will push it there from the far right. If you define the "center" by where the American people reside, we are the center party.

But the notion that it’s "conservative" Democrats who won last night is utter hogwash, a desperate gambit by Republicans to try and spin something good from the election.

But they’re wrong. What we saw last night is that despite the institutional advantages the GOP had — more money, incumbency, redistricting, the VRWC, and the bully pulpit of the White House, the Speaker’s Gavel, and the Senate Majority Leader’s office — Republicans still suffered epic loses.

This was a progressive victory.

*  Actually, all kidding aside, one winner is a socialist — Bernie Sanders, the new senator from Vermont.

Wait For It

At 12:19 p.m. yesterday, conservative blog Wizbang posted the following:

Right now, the Dow is down by about 29 points, one day after the Democrats win back the House and probably the Senate.

Later that day, from no less than Fox News:

Stocks Rise on Election Results

Wall Street rose for a third straight session Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrials reaching another record close as investors grew more confident that a huge victory by Democrats in congressional elections would result in gridlock and keep lawmakers out of the way of business interests.

Dear Dismayed Conservatives

Dear Dismayed Conservatives:

I hereby make these promises to you.

We will protect your lives and livelihoods.

We will listen to and respect your beliefs.

We will never try to force you to change your religion, sexual orientation, or first language.

We will do our best to reduce the number of abortions in our country.

We will have no tolerance for corruption and cronyism, even in our own party.

ESPECIALLY in our own party.

We will never tell you that you are unpatriotic.

We will never tell you that your opinion doesn’t count.

We will never waste your lives for power.

We will hold our leaders to a high ethical standard and when they succumb to lust for power, WE WILL HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.

If we forget this, please, please, please, remind us.

We need you to do this. You are America as much as we are.
Let’s go.

— Written by this guy

Election Post-Mortem

Well, my predictions were pretty close.

I predicted a Democratic gain in the House of 24 seats — it’s 28 right now.

In the Senate, I predicted a Dem gain of five seats (meaning that they don’t take the majority).  They have four in the pocket, and have all but "won" in Montana and Virginia.  Those states will probably be subject to a recount, so it’ll be some time before anybody knows if Dems took control of the Senate.

I think the most interesting thing about this election is this: while many offices changed from one party to another, no sitting Democrat lost his/her seat to a Republican.  That includes raises in the House, Senate and governors.  That has NEVER happened before; even in the great Republican victory of 1994, some incumbent Republicans still lost their seats to Democrats. 

What does this mean for Bush?  The New York Times knows:

Everything is different now for President Bush. The era of one-party Republican rule in Washington ended with a crash in yesterday’s midterm elections, putting a proudly unyielding president on notice that the voters want change, especially on the war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush now confronts the first Democratic majority in the House in 12 years and a significantly bigger Democratic caucus in the Senate that were largely elected on the promise to act as a strong check on his administration. Almost any major initiative in his final two years in office will now, like it or not, have to be bipartisan to some degree.

For six years, Mr. Bush has often governed, and almost always campaigned, with his attention focused on his conservative base. But yesterday’s voting showed the limits of those politics, as practiced — and many thought perfected — by Mr. Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

Somehow, I don’t think Bush has it in him to act in a bipartisan manner.  He’ll do the tough cowboy swagger, stick to his guns, and essentially ignore the voters’ demand for a new direction.  The LA Times agrees:

White House allies suggest there is little reason to think Bush and the Democrats will work together. Bush has tied himself closely to conservative movement leaders who bitterly disagree with Democrats for their opposition to tax cuts and to privatizing Social Security — two of the administration’s top goals.

"When we want to go up and they want to go down, we want to go right and they want to go left, there’s no compromise," said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a close advisor to the White House.

Norquist said the Republicans’ primary goal for the next two years should be making the case for GOP control — not bipartisanship.

Can we stop calling Karl Rove a "genius" now?  This is the biggest defeat for ANY party in any midterm elections.  And he was the GOP "architect".

Chris Bowers bullet points this election:

  • National Sweep. Democrats take the national majority in the House, Senate, Governors, and State Legislatures. The only thing Republicans have left–Bush–still sports a sub-40% approval rating.
  • We won bigger than they ever did. Democrats look set to take the House, and with a larger majority than Republicans ever had during their 1994-2006 "revolution." We also won more Senate campaigns in a single cycle, 23-24, than either party has won since at least 1980.
  • Republicans shut out: No House, Senate, or Governor pickups for Republicans. That breaks every record for futility. No one can ever do worse than they did this year.
  • Geographic shift. This is the first time in 54 years that the party without a southern majority now has the House majority. Power flows to coasts. Tom Schaller utterly vindicated.
  • Progressive Caucus Rising. Make no mistake about it–a member of the Progressive Caucus is now speaker of the House. Further, both Progressive caucus members who ran for Senate won easily, Sanders in Vermont and Brown in Ohio. And now, the Progressive Caucus will control half of all House committees.
  • Blue District Victories. Wave of new conservative Democrats, my ass. Mark down House victories in NH-01, NH-02, NY-24, FL-22, PA-07, PA-08, IA-01, IA-02, CO-07, AZ-08, KY-03, CT-05, CA-11, MN-01, and NY-19. Now someone tell me again how the new wave of Democrats is overwhelmingly conservative with these districts and reps making up the majority of the new class.
  • Republicans beaten at the top of their game. Republicans broke all of their fundraising and voter contact records this year. They had better maps than ever before. They had a better opportunity to pass whatever legislation they liked than every before. And they were still crushed.
  • We are just getting started. This is a big step, and much need vindication for our efforts. But it is still just a step. This is no time to start being risk-averse. We must continue to pursue the strategies that brought us here: silent revolution, fifty-state strategy, small donor explosion, progressive movement, we are all in this together.
  • Lots of recounts and runoffs to go.
  • Also, AmericaBlog points out that Democrats now have a majority in state legislatures too.

    And now, the worst prediction ever, from law "professor" Dean Barnett on 11/4/06:

    Lest you think I’m whistling Dixie, we’re already seeing the results of the Republican efforts. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that early voting and absentee ballot results suggest Republicans are indeed voting in greater numbers than in 2004. (Sorry, no link, but you can trust me, right?)

    ***

    So what’s it all mean? In the tied races, the Republican will win. In the close races, the Republican will win. It adds up to Republicans running the table in the Senate. That’s right – running the table. Montana, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, New Jersey, Rhode Island (whoopee), and Maryland will all send or re-send Republicans to the Senate. But wait, there’s more! Michigan will send Sheriff Michael Bouchard to the Senate. And in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum is in striking distance.

    In the House, the same holds true. Republican Joe Negron will take Foley’s seat. New Mexico’s Heather Wilson will return to Congress. So, too, will Connecticut’s Chris Shays. We’ll lose a handful of seats for the individual failures of certain Congressmen (hello, Curt Weldon), but we will retain control of the House.

    Okay, I’m officially out on the limb. But I’m comfortable here. The paradigm has shifted. People like Stu Rothenberg are like old generals re-fighting the last war; they’re re-analyzing the last election without realizing that certain key facts on the ground have changed.

    This will all be much more obvious on Wednesday in retrospect than it is today.

    Ooooo-kay.

    Jonestownkoolaid

    UPDATE:  This morning, Dean Barnett says the Kool-Aid doesn’t taste that bad.

    Runner-up for the stupidest comentary is Michelle Malkin’s article dated today (although she clearly wrote it yesterday or the day before) about how Democrats are planning to "call into question the results of the midterms".  No, I don’t think so, Michelle.  Always three steps behind everybody else, aren’t you?

    INTERESTING:  According to AmericaBlog, some conservatives are saying that conservatives need to move away from the Republican Party.  Sounds like a good idea.  Of course, where does that leave the Republican Party?  Come to think of it, where does that leave conservatives?

    GOOD RESULT IN S. DAKOTA:  They rejected the ban on abortions (which was probably unconstitutional anyway).

    OTHER GOOD ISSUE RESULTS:  Arizona became the first state to reject a gay marriage ban amendment, and the stem cell research issue (which spawned the Michael J. Fox ad) won in Missouri.

    ON EXIT POLLS:  Looks like they’ve got the bugs out.  They were fairly accurate this year.

    ELECTION 2006 FUN FACT:  John Hall, leader of the rock group Orleans, won a stunning upset in his race for Congress in upstate New York, narrowly defeating Republican incumbent Sue Kelly 51%-49%.  Orleans’ hits include "Still The One" and "Dance With Me".

    Live-blogging the Election Results

    Apparently, CNN’s invitation to me got lost in the snail mail, so I’ll be liveblogging solo.

    Don’t get the impression that I’m sitting here at my computer doing this all evening.  It’s a long night and the results will be trickling in.  So I’m doing this and other things (like reading scripts).

    6:00 p.m. – Canary in the coalmines.  Polls in Indiana and Kentucky close at 6pm EST.

    While these states don’t necessarily contain important races, they may provide an early prediction as to whether there is a Democratic "wave" or something less.

    I’m putting forward the key House races in those states — they can give us a clue about how the rest of the evening will go.  If Dems win a couple of these races, then it’s probably going to be a big Dem night all across the country, because in each of these races, they are up against a Republican incumbent (incumbents are in italics).

    IN-8, John Hostettler (R) vs. Brad Ellsworth (D)

    IN-2, Chris Chocola (R) vs. Joe Donnelly (D)

    IN-9, Michael Sodrel (R) vs. Baron Hill (D)

    In other words …

    IF Hostettler loses BUT NOT Chocola or Sodrel, things aren’t looking as good for Dems as hoped.
    IF Hostettler loses AND Chocola OR Sodrel loses, keep on your toes.
    IF Hostettler loses AND Chocola AND Sodrel loses, celebrate.  It’s going to be a Dem sweep.

    In Kentucky, the races to watch are:

    KY-3: Northrup (R) v. Yarmouth (D)

    KY-4: Davis (R) v. Lucas (D)

    Same situation here.  If Dems take these seats, it’s going to be a baaaaad night for the GOP.  Especially if Northrup loses.

    7:00 p.m. – Votes close in Florida and Virginia.  Virginia is a key state regarding the very tight Senate race of Allen.  Results for that probably won’t be until late.

    Still nothing on Indiana/Kentucky races above.

    7:05 p.m. – Virginia supports ban against gay marriage.  Guess Virginia is only for straight lovers.

    Early returns for key Indiana races show Dem lead, i.e., IN-8, John Hostettler (R) [30%] vs. Brad Ellsworth (D) [70%] with 13% reporting

    8:00 p.m. – Nothing yet with heavily contested seats, but the Indiana "canary" races look good for Dems:

    IN-8, John Hostettler (R) [38%] vs. Brad Ellsworth (D) [62%] with 32% reporting

    IN-2, Chris Chocola (R) [41%] vs. Joe Donnelly (D) [59%] with 26% reporting

    IN-9, Michael Sodrel (R) [48%] vs. Baron Hill (D) [48%] with 23% reporting

    Virginia Senate is nailbiter:

    Allen (R) [49%] v. Webb (D) [50%] with 24% reporting

    and, although it was expected, Katherine Harris loses her Senate bid in Florida.  Heh.

    So the Senate looks like this….

    PARTY NOT UP TOTAL GAIN/LOSS
    Republican
    40 seats 42 0
    Democrat
    27 seats 30 0
    Independent
    0 seats 1 0

    and the House looks like this:

    PARTY TOTAL GAIN/LOSS
    Republican
    11 0
    Democrat
    27 1
    Independent
    0 -1

    8:18 p.m.  Hostettler (R) in Indiana loses.  The seat changes party control in the first close "key race".  So far, so good.

    Also, Massachusetts overthrew its Republican governor for a Democratic one.

    8:30 p.m.  1,000,000 votes counted in VA Senate race; Allan ahead by 200.  That’s right, 200.  Told you it would be close.

    8:37 p.m.  New Jersey Senate race: Dem. Menendez retains his seat.  This was one of the "key races", but the result is not terribly surprising.  One thing is for sure: it’s not a Republican wave.

    8:53 p.m.  Dem Brown beats incumbent GOP Cherrod in Ohio Senate race.  That’s the first Senate pickup for Dems.  Again, somewhat expected, but it’s still good.

    9:02 p.m.  Dem Casey beats incumbent sleazebag uber-conservative GOP Santorum in Pennsylvania.  That’s another Senate pickup for Dems.  Dems need to pick up six to take a majority (and not lose any they already have).

    9:11 p.m.  Foxx (R) beats Sharpe (D) in my congressional district.  Liebermann beats Lamont, too.  Ugh on both counts.

    9:24 p.m.  Yarmouth (D) beats incumbent Northrup (R) , in Kentucky, for a third Dem pickup in the House.  One of the "canary in the cave" races I highlighted up top.

    9:30 p.m.  For what it’s worth, exit polling (which has had questionable reliability in the past few elections) look good for Senate:

    Democrats leading:

    Virginia (52-47)

    Rhode Island (53-46)

    Pennsylvania (57-42)

    Ohio (57-43)

    New Jersey (52-45)

    Montana (53-46)

    Missouri (50-48)

    Maryland (53-46)

    Republicans leading:

    Tennessee (51-48)

    Arizona (50-46)

    9:31 p.m.  A few days ago, I was a little worried about Rhose Island.  I didn’t need to.  The Dem Whitehouse stole it from incumbent GOP Chaffee.  That’s THREE of the SIX needed for Dems to take Senate control.  Sadly, the next three are going to be harder to come by.

    9:36 p.m.  The second of the three Indiana "canary" races has gone Democrat (see above): Donnelly beats Chicoola.

    9:54 p.m.  Virginia Senate, from the official Virginia Election website:

    Candidates Party Vote Totals Percentage
      G F Allen Republican 973,322 49.48%
      J H Webb Jr Democratic 969,980 49.31%
      G G Parker Independent Green 21,839 1.11%
      Write Ins   1,855 0.09%
    View Results by  District   Locality Total:    1,966,996

    Now that’s close.

    10:22 p.m.  Hodes (D) beats Bass (R) in NH, making a fifth House pickup for Dems.

    10:35 p.m.  Dems have picked up six eight of a needed 15 seats for the House, and 3 of a needed 6 seats for the Senate.

    10:45 p.m.  The first Muslim in America’s history has been elected to Congress.

    11:00 p.m.  With more polls closing this hour, NBC is projecting a Democratic takeover of the House.  Again, this is not really surprising.  I said Dems would take 24 seats (out of a needed 15); NBC is projecting 29.  So, there it is.

    All that matters now is the Senate.  And Dems need to win 3 out of these four: TN, VA, MO, and MT.

    Tennessee looks bad, as I thought it would.

    The squeaker is still Virginia.  Here’s what it looks like with %95.83 of precincts reporting:

    Registered Voters: 4,555,683   Total Voting: 2,212,075   Voter Turnout: 48.56 %
    Candidates Party Vote Totals Percentage
      G F Allen Republican 1,098,659 49.67%
      J H Webb Jr Democratic 1,086,778 49.13%
      G G Parker Independent Green 24,441 1.10%
      Write Ins   2,197 0.10%
    View Results by  District   Locality Total:    2,212,075

    11:28 p.m.  I’m pleased to see that NH dumped its two GOP Congressmen and replaced them with two Democratic Congressmen (while keeping its Democratic governor).  Also glad to see corrupt Charles Taylor go down here in NC.

    11:40 p.m.  Looks like I’ll have to wait until morning…..

    Why Vote-By-Mail Is Better

  • No waiting for hours in line
  • No polling place intimidation
  • No confusion about where to go to vote
  • No need to make arrangements for childcare or time off from work
  • No malfunctioning voting equipment
  • No need to hire and train poll workers
  • Increased election process integrity through signature verification
  • Lower election administration costs
  • Increased voter turnout
  • Any arguments to any of that?

    By the way, it’s working in Oregon:

    For more than a decade Oregonians have been successfully voting by mail. Up to three weeks before Election Day, ballots are sent to all registered voters, giving busy families time to research their votes and carefully mark their ballots, which are then either dropped in the mailbox or delivered to secure drop boxes at libraries, county offices and other convenient locations. Trained election officials then match the signature on each ballot against the signature on each voter’s registration card, before processing the vote. 

    The transparency of Vote by Mail eliminates virtually all fraud, while addressing many traditional voting challenges…

    Election Day Potpourri

    Vote748400I HOPE TO LIVE-BLOG THE ELECTION RETURNS TONIGHT, SO STAY TUNED….

    But if you want to follow the returns yourself, the WSJ has a great checklist (PDF format) with tips on what to look for.

    I know.  I usually don’t get revved up about midterm elections either.  But this one is important, because we need people in Congress to act as a impediment to the Bush spending-and-war-run-amok government. 

    This is a vote for OVERSIGHT.  For ACCOUNTABILITY.  Right now, we have an out-of-control White House and a compliant Congress content to rubberstamp anything — from invasion of privacy to torture.

    And if you have the opinion that they’re "all" corrupt liars, then you get the government you deserve.  In fact, that’s why we have the government we have now.

    So find your polling place and vote.

    Need some more reasons?  How about Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unprecedented presidential powers, unmatched incompetence, unparalleled corruption, unwarranted eavesdropping, Katrina, Enron, Halliburton, global warming, Cheney’s secret energy task force, record oil company profits, $3 gasoline, FEMA, the Supreme Court, Diebold, Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, Terri Schiavo, stem cell research, golden parachutes, shrunken pensions, unavailable and expensive health care, habeas corpus, no weapons of mass destruction, sacrificed soldiers and Iraqi civilians, wasted billions, Taliban resurgence, expiration of the assault weapons ban, North Korea, Iran, intelligent design, swift boat hit squads, and on and on.

    How about 19 troops killed in November so far?

    It takes a few minutes.  You’ll feel better.  You could be doing worse things today, like going hunting with this guy.

    HOW’S IT GOING SO FAR:  Hmmmm.  Problems….

    — Programming errors and inexperience with electronic voting machines frustrated poll workers in hundreds of precincts early Tuesday, delaying voters in Indiana and Ohio and leaving some in Florida with little choice but use paper ballots instead.

    In Cleveland, voters rolled their eyes as election workers fumbled with new touchscreen machines that they couldn’t get to start properly.

    We got five machines _ one of them’s got to work," said Willette Scullank, a trouble shooter from the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, elections board.

    In Indiana’s Marion County, about 175 of 914 precincts turned to paper because poll workers didn’t know how to run the machines, said Marion County Clerk Doris Ann Sadler. She said it could take most of the day to fix all of the machine-related issues.

    Election officials in Delaware County, Ind., planned to seek a court order to extend voting after an apparent computer error prevented voters from casting ballots in 75 precincts there. Delaware County Clerk Karen Wenger said the cards that activate the machines were programmed incorrectly.

    Josh Marshall is all over this.  Better than the mainstream media.

    BUT WAIT — THERE’S MORE:  MSNBC is reporting that the FBI is investigating GOP voter intimidation in Virginia. Man, how low will these guys go to win?  Here’s how they’re doing it:

    HOW BAD ARE VOTING PROBLEMS SO FAR?  The website that tracks voting complaints has crashed.

    TBOGG’S PREDICTIONS are the best I’ve read:

    Here are some things that will happen:

    • No matter how many seats the Democrats take in the House it won’t be enough to keep the Republican echo chamber from pointing out that it most certainly is not a mandate, while all the time whining about the loss of control of the commitees.
    • Joe Lieberman is going to win and it will somehow translate as support for the war and civility and common sense…and nobody in the media will point out what a sleazy campaign he ran.
    • There will be at least one upset that the polls didn’t predict and that will be held up as evidence that all polls are always wrong…except when they side with your candidate.
    • There will be reports of brown people voting which will cause Michelle Malkin to go off the rails. Okay. Farther off the rails.
    • Several Republican congressmen with ethical clouds hanging over them will be re-elected only to have to step down later when indictments are handed down.
    • Matt Drudge will hype something completely trivial unless Madonna does something to distract him which makes him take his eye off of the ball.
    • Within a week, embargoed news about the war will be released and people will find out things in Iraq are even worse then we suspect.
    • Lots of recounts.
    • Michael Steele will lose..but that won’t stop Republicans from touting him to run with McCain in 2008 because they believe that they are just one Negro away from perpetual electoral domination.
    • Harold Ford will lose because he is a lousy candidate who is transparently phony.
    • If either Marilyn Musgrave or JD Hayworth loses I will be one happy boy.
    • You will see one politician elected who does not represent your district or state and you will wonder what the hell is wrong with the people of that district or state. That politician will probably be Tom Tancredo.
    • You should probably TIVO Katherine Harris’ concession speech so you can play it later at parties.
    • Pelosi fever! Catch it!
    • The most banal no-content election blogging will come from Mary Katharine Ham who, while under the delusion that she is teh hot, will provide the kind of political insights one might expect from the assistant night manager down at Wet Seal.
    • Your best source for a sense of what is happening will still be at Kos and MyDD. The best post-mortem will come from Digby. As usual.
    • Dick Cheney will be spending election day hunting with his daughter who will not get shot in the face because she is quicker on her feet than a 78-year old man. Besides , it’s not lesbian season in South Dakota …yet.
    • Blogger will go down throughout the day.
    • I will be around, Blogger permiting.

    Meanwhile, I present the graphic of the day.  Fox News ran a poll which showed that people favor Democrats over Republicans this election.  But if you look at the screen capture below, they just can’t bring themselves to admit that Dems are more popular the Repubs.

    Oneparty

    "One Party"?  Which party would that be, Fox?

    The State Of The Race, Part II: My Predictions

    Senate

    50-50, which means Republicans retain majority.  We’ll ultimately win Missouri (it’ll take more than a day to get the official results), but it ultimately won’t matter because we’ll lose Virginia.  See my prediction map here.

    House

    Democrat pickup of 24 seats, meaning they’ll take majority control.

    RELATED:  A good cheat sheet for tomorrow.

    The State Of The Race, Part I: Latest (And Last) Polls – Senate

    Chris Bowers is smarter than me, and he’s been watching the Senate polls:

    Adding in the new Gallup senate polls, which should nearly round out all new Senate polling for this cycle, here are the latest, and nearly final, Senate polling averages for all of races I have followed this cycle. Big assist, as always, to Pollster.com:

    • Vermont: Sanders (D / I) 60.0%–33.6% Tarrent (R). Sanders won the Democratic nomination here, but turned it down. But he will caucus with Democrats anyway. In both of those aspects, he is more of a Democrat than Lieberman.
    • Florida: Neslon (D) 58.4%–34.4% Harris (R). At least one high profile member of the evil empire is destined to go down in flames this year.
    • Nebraska: Nelson (D) 55.0%–32.8% Ricketts (R). Note: This just never really turned into, well, anything except a blowout. Dems can win in Nebraska. I hope Nelson isn’t the only one who does so in 2006.
    • Minnesota: Klobuchar (DFL) 53.8%–36.8% Kennedy (R). Hahahahahahahahahaha. Mark Kennedy: Greatest. Candidate. Ever.
    • Michigan: Stabenow (D) 51.4%–39.4% Bouchard (R). Could Stabenow become a Michigan fixture, ala Levin? Sure looks like she is here to stay.
    • Ohio: Brown (D) 53.2%–42.2% DeWine (R). Everyone knows that Brown will win here, including Republicans. Whatever people thought about his torture vote, Sherrod Brown will now join his Progressive Caucus colleague, Bernie Sanders, in the Senate. It is nice to see a first immediately coupled with a second. A big, big gain.
    • Pennsylvania: Casey (D) 50.8%–40.2% Santorum (R). I fully expect Alex to pay me the $20 we bet on the 6-point Casey over under. Although that does feel wrong, since Alex has probably done more to beat Santorum than I have.
    • Washington: Cantwell (D) 52.6%–43.2% McGavick (R). Will Washington Republicans still be around to pose a serious challenge to Cantwell in 2012? Debetable.
    • New Jersey: Menendez (D) 48.2%–41.6% Kean (R). Menendez clearly has the edge here, and there just isn’t much to worry about in this state anymore. In case anyone was counting, there have now been twenty-one polls, including internal Republican polls, released to the public since Kean last led here. Disaster averted. Well done, Scott Shields, well done indeed. New Jersey really owes MyDD.
    • Rhode Island: Whitehouse (D) 47.3%–41.3% Chafee (R). I have only included the last four polls here, leaving out the 10/20 Mason-Dixon because the poll is both old and repetitious. For reasons that generally escaped me, this campaign quickly turned into a Whitehouse rout after being close seemingly forever. Now, once again, it shows a closer campaign. But Whitehouse still clearly has the edge–just look at the polling average.
    • Maryland: Cardin (D) 48.4%–44.6% Steele (R). No poll has ever shown Steele ahead in this campaign, ever, at least against Cardin. It is way, way closer than it should have been, and Democrats need to do a much better job supporting African-Americans than they have done while in the opposition. But still, even thought the trend is not favorable, Cardin maintains the edge here. And where will the 7% of undecideds break in a state like Maryland? I have to favor Cardin. Otherwise, I would be betting against the odds.
    • Montana: Tester (D) 48.8%–45.6% Burns (R). No poll has shown Burns ahead in this race, ever, at least since it has been a race. The latest Gallup shows Tester more or less cruising. I favor Tester, without any reservations. The trendline is now either static or pro-Tester, not pro Burns. And remember–Tester won his primary by 30% when the polls showed it tied going in.
    • Missouri: McCaskill: (D) 48.2%–46.2% Talent (R). I really like McCaskill’s chances here now. That’s seven polls in a row that do not show Talent in front. If McCaskill wins, I’ll spend a week in Missouri as gratitude. I’m not kidding. But she really should have it now.
    • Virginia: Webb (D) 47.0%–45.8% Allen (R). This is an eight-poll average that includes all four polls that were completed on October 29th. This should be good enough for Webb to win. It is basically what Kaine led by last year heading into the election.
    • Tennessee: Corker (R) 48.6%–45.0% Ford (D). I used the most recent polls from the last five polling firms for this one, because Rasmussen ahs been polling it like crazy. It sure doesn’t look good for Ford, although it doesn’t look as bad as some have made it out to be. I don’t think he will get blown out anymore, but racism was the key here. I don’t care how many Tennessee residents think the racist ads were offensive. They ended up falling for it. If Republicans keep the Senate, they will have done so on pretty much straight-up racism.
    • Arizona: Kyl (R) 49.4%–41.4% Pederson (D). I still don’t think e wasted our money here. I like the idea of pushing the field right at the end, even if it doesn’t result in a win. But I now think I was wrong to move this race ahead of Tennessee. Pederson probably should have done better than this.
    • Connecticut: Lieberman (CfL) 49.2%–38.2% Lamont (D). It will be a lot closer than this. And Lieberman’s corruption troubles are not over when the election is.
    • Nevada: Ensign (R) 54.2%–39.4% (D) Carter. This is a four poll average, not fie. Sadly, it just never came together here. There were indications that it could, but for one reason or another, it didn’t. I’m not really sure why.

    And so, fifteen months after my first Senate outlook (parts one and two), that is your nearly final Senate polling picture (there are no polls out of North Dakota, but that doesn’t matter). If everything goes according to the polls, and if Lieberman really does caucus with Democrats, then Democrats will win the Senate 51-49 (or 49-49-2, however you want to call it).

    I’m not as optimistic as Bowers.  I’ve thought for some time that Tennessee is out of play, and Democrat Ford will lose.  That means that Democrats have to pick up ALL of the following: RI, MT, MO, and VA.

    Rhode Island, I think, is safe, but only barely.  And while the latest polls show a Dem lead in Montana and Missouri and Virginia, they are inside the margin of error — making those three states statistical dead heats.

    The real bug-aboo is Virginia.  This really is a "tie" going into Tuesday.  And I think Allen (ugh!) has the momentum.  If Democrats lose any of those four must-haves, it’ll be Virginia.

    GOP Dirty Tricks

    As we come down to the wire on Election Day, reports are popping up of widespread Repubican dirty tricks.  It’s called robo-calling:

    What we’re talking about is something a bit different. What we’re seeing is an apparent coordinated effort from the NRCC — the House GOP committee — to place calls that appear to be from the local Democratic candidate and then automatically call the same number back as many as seven or eight times each time the caller hang-ups. If the caller listens to the whole message it goes on to bash the Democratic candidate. But if the caller hangs up prematurely, the computer calls right back. Hang-ups are the achilles heal of robo-calls. So this seems to be an attempt to cover for that weakness by making those who hang up think the Democratic candidate is basically harassing them with phone calls. The GOP wins either way.

    What is there to do about it. As described, the calls appear to be in violation of federal regulations which mandate that these calls clearly identify their origin. The repetitive call back may also be a violation in different states. The New Hampshire AG apparently just intervened to force the NRCC to stop the calls in that state. But frankly, none of that matters. Because the folks placing the calls factor in the price of whatever fines might be meted out after the election when the damage is already done.

    Dem Senate Takeover Prospects

    Here’s all you need to know.

    The Democrats will take over the House.  Nobody doubts that anymore.

    As for the Senate, the Democrats will make gains, but in order to take over and get a majority, they need to win in three of these four closely contested states: Montana, Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee.

    Now check out this chart (click to enlarge), showing the trend lines for Democrats, compiling all recent polling.  (The red line represents 50%, so being above that line means a Democratic win):

    Tnrsenate1102large_1

    As you can see, Tennessee looks bleak.  Which means that everything rests on Montana, Missouri, and Virginia.  Right now, Dems are slightly ahead, but there has been a bit of a downword trend in Montana.  (Maryland, once considered safe, is making me nervous too).

    Anyway, a lot can happen in the next few days, but it’s going to be a nail-biter.

    UPDATE:  Here’s another way of breaking down this information…

    DEMOCRATS
    GOP

    TOTALS

    49
    48
    TOSS-UP
    3
    LEANERS
    5
    0
    TOTALS – WITHOUT LEANERS
    44
    48
    NOT UP FOR RE-ELECTION
    27
    40
    FAVORED
    17
    8

    ELECTION 2006: SEATS CURRENTLY HELD BY REPUBLICANS
    DEMOCRAT
    LEAN DEMOCRAT
    TOSS-UP
    LEAN GOP
    GOP
    Lugar – IN
    Lott – MS
    Hatch – UT

    * – Denotes Independent Candidate

    GOP Message Not Sinking In

    Good news from today’s New York Times poll.  It looks like America isn’t the bastion of conservatism that Fox News likes to think it is…

    On Bush’s handling of Iraq:

    29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the war, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70 percent said Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and 80 percent said Mr. Bush’s latest effort to rally public support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy.

    On Congress:

    Among registered voters, 33 percent said they planned to support Republicans, and 52 percent said they would vote for Democrats

    That’s a 19 point advantage — one of the highest for either party in recent history.

    On terrorism:

    By a slight margin, more respondents said the threat of terrorism would increase under Republicans than said it would increase under Democrats.

    And by a two-to-one margin, more people thought our involvement in Iraq made the threat of terrorism worse.

    Other poll bites:

    * Economy — By a 22% margin, Americans believe the economy is getting worse, not better.

    * Same-sex marriage — A surprisingly-high majority now believe same-sex relationships should be made legal. According to the poll, 28% of Americans support gay marriage, while 29% support civil unions. Combined, that’s 57% of the country.

    * Political independents — Unaffiliated voters are breaking the Dems’ way big time. 23% of independents said they plan to vote for Republicans on Tuesday, while 50% prefer Dems.  [This dovetails nicely with a Rasmusson Reports poll, which says that "the number of people identifying themselves as Republicans has fallen to its lowest level since we began reporting this measure of partisan trends in January 2004."]

    * Issues — Poll respondents said they thought a Democratic-led Congress would be more likely to increase the minimum wage, hold down rapidly rising health and prescription drug costs, and improve the economy.

    There’s also more good poll news from Reuters:

    Democrats must gain six seats in Tuesday’s election to win U.S. Senate control, and they lead in six of the seven most vulnerable Republican-held states, according to Reuters/Zogby polls released on Thursday.

    Democrats lead Republican incumbents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Virginia and Rhode Island, but only the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania races are outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

    Zogby’s latest poll provides further confirmation that Missouri and Virginia have been trending in the right direction.

    The Democrats taking the Senate was a pie-in-the-sky dream just four weeks ago.  Now, it is clearly within reach.  And Democrats taking over the House — well, that’s all but a done deal.

    With these figures in mind, I think I might vote today.

    UPDATE:  The Crystal Ball is a website operated by Prof. Larry Sabato of the U.Va Center for Politics.

    He finds the following:

    Just how Democratic a year is 2006?

    Five days out, let’s rephrase the question this way: when’s the last time a major political party has failed to capture a single House seat, Senate seat, or governorship of the opposing party in a federal election year?

    We bet it’s never happened before, and it certainly hasn’t happened in the post-World War II era. After all, even when a party suffers miserable net losses, it usually picks up at least several consolation prizes in the form of open seat pickups or an against-the-tide incumbent defeat.

    Yet look at our 2006 predictions: at this moment, the Crystal Ball cannot identify a single election for Senate, House or Governor in which a Republican is likely to succeed a Democrat in office. Just imagine how devastating an absolute shutout would be in the eyes of history if this proves to be true!

    Sure, we could easily be fooled by more than a few outcomes in this regard on Election Night, and we would probably place the odds of this historical unlikelihood’s occurrence at no better than 50/50. But the very notion such a scenario is within the realm of possibilities is a testament to the lopsidedness of this year’s theaters of battle.

    If little changes between now and Tuesday, there remains little question that the GOP is headed towards devastating losses. And though candidates continue to stress various issues, only one has truly come to define our politics this year: war. Future historians may well look back on this wave election as "The Iraq Midterm," much we look back on the 1966 and 1974 elections as "The Vietnam Midterm" and "The Watergate Midterm" respectively.

    …if history is any guide, a handful will have scored fluke victories with under-the-radar, last-minute momentum. Wave elections are volatile, and in our years of publishing, we have never gazed into a stormier Crystal Ball.

    About Kerry’s Botched Joke

    My goodness!  Such a fuss.

    But conservative/evangelical blogger La Shawn Barber gets it:

    I don’t like John Kerry….

    I mocked him for his condescending attitude toward “the poor”…

    I made fun of him for hanging out at black churches at election time…

    I called Kerry a racist for trying to appeal to blacks…

    …I’d curse him to his face.

    [But] according to a “Kerry aide,” he was supposed to say this:

    “I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.”

    That’s a clear reference to Bush, who Kerry implies is dumb. But it came out like this:

    “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

    I’m trying to figure out why Kerry has not released his prepared speech to the press. It would clear up this whole mess (I contacted his office yesterday and requested a copy – still waiting). Instead, Republicans and conservatives have jumped all over this. As a conservative, I’m embarrassed that my “brethren” are willing to use our troops to score points for the mid-term elections. It was a botched joke, for crying out loud. Let it go!

    Military men and women and their families are up in arms. Democratic candidates are canceling Kerry’s appearances. The White House is playing hard-ball instigator. The conservative blogosphere has lost its collective mind.

    Think about it, people. Do you really believe that John Kerry, a war veteran, thinks American troops are dumb or would say so publicly during a war in the midst of an election cycle? When I first heard about his remarks, I knew instinctively that he couldn’t have meant that. And I can’t stand the man!

    UPDATE:  Wow.  Even "The Derb" at The Corner has enough integrity to see through the fuming of his fellow conservatives:

    John Kerry is awful, and anything we can do further to degrade his political prospects is worth doing.  But really, I saw a clip of him making the much-deplored remark, and it was obvious that the dimwit in Iraq that he referred to was George W. Bush, not the American soldier.  It was a dumb joke badly delivered, but his meaning was plain.  My pleasure in watching JK squirm is just as great as any other conservative’s, but something is owed to honesty.  There’s a lot of fake outrage going round here.

    MORE:  I agree with this

    Jeez, this Republican crybaby crap over John Kerry’s comments is just pathetic. It’s amazing to me that the GOP has a reputation for toughness when they throw temper tantrums over meaningless shit. Watching the President of the United States use his bully pulpit to shed crocodile tears is just embarrassing. Maybe the Democrats should just go silent in this last week before the election, lest we bruise the feelings of those delicate little flowers in the Republican party.

    Will Voting Machines Work?

    Good article in Time:

    A woman walked into a polling place in Peoria, Ill. last week and proceeded to use one of the new electronic voting machines set up for early voting. She logged on, went through each contest and seemed to be making her choices. After reviewing each race, the machine checked to see if she was satisfied with her selections and wanted to move on. Each time, she pressed YES, and the machine progressed to the next race. When she was done, a waving American flag appeared on the screen, indicating that her votes had been cast and recorded.

    But there was a problem. The woman had not made any choices at all. She had only browsed. Now when she told the election judges she was ready to do it again–but this time actually vote–they told her it was too late. Pressing the last button, they said, is like dropping your ballot in an old-fashioned ballot box. There’s no getting it back.

    So what?

    So this: In one week, more than 80 million Americans will go to the polls, and a record number of them–90%–will either cast their vote on a computer or have it tabulated that way. When that many people collide with that many high-tech devices, there are going to be problems.

    Read the whole thing.

    Voting Machines Already Changing Votes From Democrat To Republican

    This doesn’t make me very confident about our democratic process.  From Miami:

    Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

    That’s exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear — especially in South Florida, where a history of problems at the polls have made voters particularly skittish.

    A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said.

    ”I’m shocked because I really want . . . to trust that the issues with irregularities with voting machines have been resolved,” said Reed, a paralegal. “It worries me because the races are so close.”

    The Swiftboating Of Michael J. Fox, Day 3

    GopkeatonWell, it’s still a story, for some reason.

    And the right is still attacking Fox. I think it has something to do with the fact that Alex Keaton isn’t the Alex Keaton of the 1980’s (for a refresher, see photo at right).

    But I wanted to note that some of the media got it wrong yesterday — Rush did not apologize for saying that Fox was "acting" his symptoms.  In fact, he’s unrepentant:

    I stand by what I said. I take back none of what I said. I wouldn’t rephrase it any differently. It is what I believe; it is what I think. It is what I have found to be true.

    What’s worse, Rush was caught on video MOCKING Fox’s handicap, prompting this response from a TPM reader:

    Have you seen the video of Limbaugh talking about Fox on his show? Scarborough played it over and over and over again this evening, and it’s absolutely grotesque because as he’s talking, Limbaugh is jerkily waving his arms and head around and mocking — yes, mocking — Fox’s jerky Parkinson movements for all he’s worth.

    I think it may be the most repellent piece of political video I’ve ever seen. If that gets a little more play, I’d say both Limbaugh and Talent are toast.

    By the way, Rush is faaaaaat again.  Heh.

    It’s interesting that the GOP "response" ad features Jim Caviezel, an actor who Jesus in Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ.  And (like the Jesus character in the film), he speaks in Aramaic!  So let me get the rightwing playbook straight:

    (1) It’s an outrage when Michael J. Fox, an actual Parkinson’s sufferer, speaks for himself and films a political ad supporting a measure allowing stem cell research, …BUT

    (2) Stem cell research opponents create an ad using a fake Jesus speaking in Jesus’ language, and that’s okay.

    #1 is manipulative; #2 is not — according to the right wingnuts.  Go figure.

    There are other things about the anti-stem cell research rebuttal ad that are — well — bizarre.  Apart from Caviezel, the ad features other big "star power" to counteract that of Michael J. Fox.  They are Jeff Suppan (a baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals), Kurt Warner (a professional quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals), Mike Sweeny (another pitcher, this time from the Kansas City Royals) and Patricia Heaton (from Everybody Loves Raymond).  They all say that the an amendment proposed in Missouri would allow human cloning, although the amendment says "(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being".  [You can read it here — it’s in plain English]. 

    And none of them are even originally from Missouri, or have Parkinson’s or Alzeheimer’s, or are victims of spinal cord injuries.  Why exactly should they be listened to?

    Any port in a storm, I guess.

    THE MICHAEL J. FOX EFFECT:  A national study conducted on the Michael J. Fox ad (wow, that was quick!) revealed the following:

    • Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.
    • The level of concern regarding a candidate’s view on stem cell research increased among all respondents from 57% prior to viewing the ad to 70% after viewing the ad. Among Democrats, the level of concern increased from 66% to 83% and Republicans’ level of concern increased from 50% to 60%. Independents’ level of concern increased from 58% to 69%.
    • The perception that the November election is relevant to the U.S. policy on stem cell research increased across all voter segments, with an increase of 9% among all respondents pre- and post-viewing from 62% to 71%. The Democrats’ perception increased from 75% to 83%, Republicans’ perception increased from 55% to 62% and Independents’ perception increased from 60% to 68% pre- and post-viewing.
    • The advertisement elicited similar emotional responses from all responders with all voter segments indicating that they were "not bored and attentive" followed by "sorrowful, thankful, afraid and regretful."
    • The vast majority of responders indicated that the advertisement was believable with 76% of all responders reporting that it was "extremely believable" or "believable." Among party affiliation, 93% of Democrats 57% of Republicans and 78% of Independents indicated it "extremely believable" or "believable."
    • Republicans who indicated that they were voting for a Republican candidate decreased by 10% after viewing the ad (77% to 67%). Independents planning to vote for Democrats increased by 10%, from 39% to 49%.

    I guess that accounts for the attacks on Michael Fox’s ad — it works.

    Don’t Know Lewis v. Harris?

    Well, you’re about to.

    The New Jersey Supreme Court is announcing its decision on Lewis v. Harris today at 3 pm.

    It’s a same-sex marriage case, and conventional wisdom suggests that the NJSC will come out in favor of gay marriages (New Jersey, unlike most states, has no law or state constitution provision which defines marriages as strictly between a man and woman).

    This could be the "October Surprise" that Rove is hoping for — causing everyone to turn away from issues like Iraq or health care or the economy, and rallying the GOP base just in time for the upcoming elections.  Hey — fanning the flames of the gay marriage issue worked in 2004, right?

    But hopefully, America has woken up and learned how to prioritize issues that are life-and-death over those that just irritate them personally.

    [3:00 p.m. UPDATE:  The decision was basically this:

    Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this State, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution….

    To bring the State into compliance with Article I, Paragraph 1 so that plaintiffs can exercise their full constitutional rights, the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes or enact an appropriate statutory structure within 180 days of the date of this decision….

    We will not presume that a separate statutory scheme, which uses a title other than marriage, contravenes equal protection principles, so long as the rights and benefits of civil marriage are made equally available to same-sex couples. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

    Ruling is here (PDF format).  Essentially, it means that gays are entitled to all the benefits of marriage, but New Jersey has to decide if it wants to call it "marriage" or "civil unions" or whatever.  Certainly a victory for progress, and I’m sure the religious right (what remains of it) will.]

    Everybody Picks Up Limbaugh/Michael J. Fox Story

    UPDATE:  For those late to the game, The Carpetbagger Report will catch you up.

    USA Today:

    WASHINGTON — Rush Limbaugh has accused actor Michael J. Fox of exaggerating the physical effects of his Parkinson’s disease in political ads urging viewers to vote for Democrats in next month’s election.

    The conservative radio host told listeners Monday that Fox’s lurching, palsied movements in a TV ad for Missouri Senate challenger Claire McCaskill were "an act." Limbaugh noted that Fox, a longtime advocate for research on embryonic stem cells, has said he sometimes does not take his medication in order to illustrate Parkinson’s severe physical effects. Uncontrolled shaking and stiffness are among the symptoms of the nerve disease.

    "If this was not an act," Limbaugh said later on the show, "then I apologize."

    Of course, since nobody can prove (to Rush’s satisfaction) that Fox wasn’t acting, Rush is never going to have to apologize.

    Still, one wonders from what center of depravity Mr. Rush "I Can’t Get An Erection" Limbaugh summons the gall to comment on how people self-medicate.

    UPDATE:  WaPo covers it, too.  Apparently, Rush did apologize sort of, but that didn’t stop his attacks:

    Later Monday, still on the air, Limbaugh would apologize, but reaction to his statements from Parkinson’s experts and Fox’s supporters was swift and angry.

    After his apology, Limbaugh shifted his ground and renewed his attack on Fox.

    "Now people are telling me they have seen Michael J. Fox in interviews and he does appear the same way in the interviews as he does in this commercial," Limbaugh said, according to a transcript on his Web site. "All right then, I stand corrected. . . . So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act."

    ***

    Fox has appeared in ABC’s "Boston Legal" this season. In his scenes, taped over the summer, Fox does not shake or loll his head as he does in the Cardin commercial, but does appear to be restraining himself, appearing almost rigid at times.

    A source with direct knowledge of Fox’s illness who viewed the Cardin ad said Fox is not acting to exaggerate the effects of the disease. The source said Fox’s scenes in "Boston Legal" had to be taped around his illness, as he worked to control the tremors associated with Parkinson’s for limited periods of time.

    Then Limbaugh pivoted to a different critique: "Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

    Rush is a wanker.  There’s nothing more to say about that.

    RELATED LINKS:  The Michael J Fox Foundation

    MORE:  World O’Crap does some fine skewering

    UPDATE:  Fox responds.  Think Progress has the video.

    And Tbogg provides the Shorter Dean Barnett:

    When Michael J. Fox uses his Parkinson’s Disease to address an issue, he’s being manipulative. When I use my lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis to address Michael J. Fox, I’m just being honest.

    And The Rude Pundit responds, well, rudely:

    Why Rush Limbaugh Ought to Be Force-Fed His Own Liposuctioned Fat, Part 979:
    Alas for Alex Keaton. Sigh for Marty McFly. Cry for whatever his Spin City character was named. Anyone with a heart, and a memory that goes back more than a couple of years, who watches the Michael J. Fox ad that supports Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill for Senate will have that heart broken by the end. Through his rocking and shaking, Fox makes a simple plea to support McCaskill against Jim Talent, a proud member of Bush’s ass harem, so that stem cell research might progress. Yeah, for the vast majority of of us, by dint of our humanity, no matter what our political stripes, no matter how we agree or disagree with the message, probably can’t help but be moved by the ad.

    Which, of course, leaves out Rush Limbaugh, whose only purpose on earth seems to be keeping big pharma in business, providing three hours of masturbation material for shut-in nutzoid conservatives – the kind who yank their scabby peckers and yowl in pain and glee whenever Rush farts his disgust at those who would stop the killing in Iraq, and making sure that Dominican child prostitutes get slapped in the thighs for a couple of seconds by his demi-erect Viagra-ed cock before he dribbles out a bit of spooge and screeches for drug mules to bring him more hillbilly heroin for his "back pain." And, of course, to eat heapin’ bowls of ‘nana pudding while sucking his cigar like it’s Dick Cheney’s, well, shit, dick.

    Limbaugh said this about Fox: "[H]e was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all." Strangely, Limbaugh didn’t address the fact that whether Fox was on his meds or not, the actor still has Parkinson’s, the disease that forced him to retire from being in front of the camera. But then again, if you down enough oxycontin, you generally are numb to everyone’s pain, yours, Michael J. Fox’s, or the pre-pubescent slave whores’ of Santo Domingo.

    And, oh, yeah, here’s another political ad which is sure to send Rush into a tizzy:

    Dirty Tricks

    Approximately 14,000 Hispanic Democratic voters in Orange County, CA recently received a Spanish-language letter warning them to stay away from the polls:

    Be advised that if your residence in the United States is illegal or if you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration, and possible deportation for voting without the right to do so. …

    Not like in Mexico, here there is no benefit to voting. In the United States there is no registration card to vote. Therefore, it is useless and dangerous to vote in any election if you are not a citizen of the United States.

    Do not pay attention to a politician who may try to tell you otherwise. They only care about their own interests.

    This letter is a deceptive ploy to suppress Hispanic voter turn-out. Immigrants who are naturalized U.S. citizens can legally vote. The letter has now been traced back to the campaign of Tan D. Nguyen, a Republican challenger to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

    Bad Days To Be A GOP

    This is how bad things are for the lower-than-whale-dung GOP.

    The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll spells bad news for the GOP next month — public approval of the Republican Party is at an alltime low.

    Charlie Cook now says that 50 GOP seats are in jeopardy.

    Dick Morris says the GOP base is heading out the door and the result will be a two-house pickup for the Democrats.

    Chris Shays continues to campaign for a straightjacket and a padded room.

    Bush celebrated “National Character Counts Week” with a GOP representative who strangled his mistress.

    The DCCC will borrow money to finish off 30 GOP incumbents, all in districts where the Democrat already leads, and the NRCC is pulling out of races in Texas, Ohio, South Carolina, and West Virginia. And the Dems are on the verge of winning a key seat in Pennsylvania as well.

    Democrats are going to spend $20 million on GOTV and voter targeting efforts in key Senate races.

    The Post endorses Jim Webb over George “N-Word” Allen.

    A record 22 Democratic challengers have raised at least $1 million each to defeat GOP incumbents.

    The Post today mentions the words “lame duck” and “Bush” in the same sentence.

    The American Taliban base of the GOP wants to target gay Republicans on the Hill for a “pink purge” after the election in what would be the opening salvo in the unraveling of the modern GOP.

    The New York Times says the GOP is facing alarm bells in Ohio.

    Democrats are effectively using the minimum wage issue against the GOP.

    Duke Cunningham used the Intelligence Committee and its staff to enrich himself. Curt Weldon dealt with some very unsavory characters to enrich himself.

    Gay Outings

    If you’re not following the "gay outing" controversy, you should be.

    A gay activist blogger has released the names of GOP Congressman including social conservative Larry Craig (R-Idaho), GOP governors, other GOP politicians and their staff who, it is alleged, are closet homosexuals.  This is apparently not errant name-calling, and there is (supposedly) proof to back up his claims.

    Now, why would he do such a thing?

    That’s the question right wing bloggers are asking themselves.  I mean, if this guy is gay, then why should he CARE if there are gays in the GOP?  Why is he trying to expose them?  And the rightosphere is shocked — shocked — that the left is using sex in a political way.

    TBogg mimics the right wing reaction and reduces it to this:

    "Larry Craig is not gay and even if he was, which he isn’t, it’s wrong for liberals to point out that he might be gay (BUT HE’S NOT!) because there is nothing wrong with being gay (which Larry Craig isn’t) and it’s a dirty trick because it might cause conservatives who actually love gays (a group that doesn’t include Larry Craig..the gay group I mean) but have a hard time showing it, to not vote for him because they think he might be gay (not that he is) and we loves us some gays…and Larry Craig!"

    The answer of course is this: the object here is not to expose gays, but to expose hypocrisy.  The names on the list are people who, like Mark Foley, cater to the anti-homosexual "values" voters while themselves being, or employing, homosexuals.  Will it cause a rift in the GOP?  Of course.  But the rift was already there.  This just brings it into the bright light of public scrutiny.

    Greenwald explains:

    Why does it even need to be pointed out that the issue isn’t the sexual morality of Larry Craig, Rush Limabugh and Newt Gingrich, but their vile hypocrisy, equally embodied by the anger being expressed by Bush followers over the use of sexual issues for political gain?

    While many Bush followers are aware of this fact and cynically pretend not to understand it, others (I think the majority) are genuinely incapable of understanding that point because they block out the reality that the political movement to which they pledge their loyalty has made private sexual morality and exploitation of people’s private lives a central political weapon. Just as they spent three years blocking out the extreme violence, chaos and civil war they brought to Iraq (and some still do), they just refuse to recognize facts that undermine their desires.

    Watching Bush followers angrily objecting to the use of sexual behavior and homosexuality for political gain — or listening them oh-so-solemnly lament how the Good People are being driven away from politics because of the personal, invasive treatment to which they are subjected — is about as jaw-droppingly astonishing as any spectacle one can fathom. This is a political movement built upon claims of moral superiority in the sexual and private realms. It is truly difficult to express the level of contempt and scorn that is merited when the most fervent supporters of that same political movement pretend to be offended and angry when it is revealed that the lives being led by their political leaders are grossly inconsistent with the sexual and moral values they claim to monopolize.

    Vernon Robinson Goes Off The Deep End

    North Carolina Congressman Vernon "The Black Jesse Helsm" Robinson has always been weird and corrupt.  But this is just plain bizarre:

    Vernon Robinson, who has run a series of brash advertisements about the two-term Democratic congressman, charged that Miller wants to import homosexuals to the United States and supported scientific studies that would pay teenage girls to watch pornography.

    "Those are San Francisco values, not North Carolina values," said Robinson, repeating a common theme of his campaign.

    Does anybody buy that crap?  I mean, does anybody really think that Brad Miller wants to "import homosexuals" to the United States?  And if not, doesn’t that make Robinson a liar unfit for office?

    Look At The Shiny Object

    Billmon:

    QUESTION: Do you believe that the biggest drag on the Republican Party is the situation in Iraq?

    THE PRESIDENT: I believe that the situation in Iraq is, no question, tough on the American psyche . . . no question this is an issue, but so is the economy. And I believe there’ll be — I still stand by my prediction, we’ll have a Republican Speaker and a Republican leader of the Senate. And the reason I say that is because I believe the two biggest issues in this campaign are, one, the economy. And the economy is growing.

    George W. Bush
    Press Conference
    October 11, 2006

    Translation: "Iraq is the central front in the global war to save civilization from the Islamic Caliphate, but you, the voter, should focus your attention on the fact that the civilian unemployment rate is one tenth of a percentage point lower than it was a month ago. God bless America."

    The Ad

    Anonymous Liberal scrawls a good one:

    Opens with an image of a world map; North Korea, Iran, and Iraq are highlighted.

    Narrator’s voice: Almost five years ago, President Bush warned Americans that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq "constituted an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

    Cut to audio of Bush’s January 2002 State of the Union speech:

    President Bush: I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.

    Cut to footage of 2006: North Korea testing its nukes, Ahmadinejad defiantly rebuking America, scenes of ongoing violence and chaos in Iraq, etc.

    Narrator’s voice: But under Bush and the Republican Party’s watch, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, Iran has grown stronger, bolder, and more determined than ever to seek nuclear weapons of its own, and Iraq has become a violent quagmire and breeding ground for terrorists. It’s time for some competent leadership. It’s time to change course. Vote Democratic.

    It’s good ad copy, sure to resonate.  Alsmost as good as this bumpersticker: "The Republican Party — Come For The Torture; Stay For The Pedophilia!"

    And the thing is, people will listen.  That’s right, friends.  According to the latest polls (and there were a slew of them that came out today), people favor Democrats over Republicans on EVERY MAJOR ISSUE — not just things like education and health care — but the big Republicans issue, like Iraq and terrorism.  For the first time sine 9/11, people now favor Democrats when it comes to national security issues.

    What’s more, according to the latest NY Times/CBS polls Bush’s approval rating is down to 34% and (I love this)….

    Mr. Bush clearly faces constraints as he seeks to address the public concerns about Iraq that have shrouded this midterm election: 83 percent of respondents thought that Mr. Bush was either hiding something or mostly lying when he discussed how the war in Iraq was going.

    83% is an astounding number.  Think about it — on the MAJOR issue of his Presidency (the Iraq War), 83% think the President was full (or partially full) of shit.

    Here are the headlines of the day:

    Poll Shows Strong Shift of Support for Democrats (WaPo)

    GOP Officials Brace For Loss of  Seven to 30 House Seats  (WaPo)

    A Political Limbo:  How Low Can Republicans Go?  (Newsweek)

    Time Poll:  The Foley Scandal Has Hurt the GOP  (Time)

    Foley & The Polls:  Americans Taking Aim At GOP Sex-Chat Scandal  (NYDailyNews)

    GOP Losing Christian Right

    Wow.  That title felt really good to type.

    But it’s true.

    The evangelical base that Karl and Ken have worked so hard to feed and care for is deserting the Republican party:

    A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.

    Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a "favorable" impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent, according to Pew polls.

    In the latest survey, taken in the last 10 days of September and the first four days of October, the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern "in a more honest and ethical way" than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

    Foley Blame Game & The Foley Effect

    I wish I had kept this list earlier, because then I could hyperlink to examples.

    But off the top of my head, this is a short list of all the entities named by the right wing pundits on AM radio and the right blogistan who are actually responsible for Foley’s malfeasance:

    1. Demon alcohol
    2. Catholic priests
    3. Gay GOP staffers
    4. ABC’s Brian Ross
    5. Gay Democrats
    6. The culture of pedophilia (sanctioned by Democrats, especially Bill Clinton)
    7. The Internet (invented by Democrat Al Gore)
    8. The pages themselves, playing a "prank"

    Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge are advancing the latest meme, even though other pages are coming forward.

    Seriously, blaming anybody other that Foley for Foley is just as stupid as blaming recent school shootings on Harry Potter books.

    Now, the CW spread by the media is that the Foley sex scandal is dragging the GOP down and will hurt them at the polls.  Time says so.

    Well, maybe not.  Time looked at registered voters, not likely voters.

    Besides, the GOP was in a freefall before the Foley scandal broke, and it was due to Iraq.  Check out the latest from Pew Research:

    2901

    The big issue remains Iraq:

    2902

    And here’s my favorite poll result:

    2908_1

    I must say, I like the way things are looking.

    GOP Is Soft on Terrorism

    Look at this list.  It is funding needed to protect ourselves from terrorists.  What’s your reaction to the items on this list —  A waste of money, or worthwhile spending?

    Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million

    Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million

    Passenger Profiling: $10 million

    Screener Training: $5.3 million

    Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million

    Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4
    million

    Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million

    Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million

    Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million

    Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million

    Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million

    Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million

    Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million

    Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million

    Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million

    Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million

    Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million

    Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million

    Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million

    Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million

    Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million

    Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million

    Now comes the "reveal": this list comes from President Clinton’s 1996 Omnibus Anti-Terror Legislation.

    The Republican-controlled Congress killed the legislation.  At the time, they were more interested in stained blue dresses.

    Wait, there’s more.

    On April 6, 2000, then-Attorney General Janet Reno wrote the following words in a budget goals memo, detaling how counterterrorism was the top priority for the Department of Justice.  (The FBI had declared couternterrorism its top priority several years earlier).  She wrote:

    "In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical."

    Contrast this with the official annual budget goals memo — the same annual memo — from Attorney General John Ashcroft (under Bush), dated May 10, 2001. Out of seven strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism.

    As the 2006 election heats up, you’re going to be hearing a lot about how the Democrats, when they were in power, failed to address the growing threat of terrorism.  This is demonstrably false, and you shouldn’t buy it (click on the link for more examples of what the Clinton Administration tried to do to thwart terrorism).

    The Lamont Victory

    It wasn’t so much a Lamont victory as a Lieberman loss.  I’m sure the political blogosphere will have a lot of post-game analysis about why Lieberman lost.  Much of it will no doubt suggest that Lamont won only because of the blogs (even the mainstream media has reported that angle). 

    The "bloggers did it" meme is silly.  They may have helped raise money (although Lamont funded a huge majority of his own campaign).  The reason Lieberman lost the primaries is because of his steadfast support of the Iraq War, and the Connecticut voters (most of whom, I assume, or at best tangentially aware of the political blogosphere) rejected Lieberman for that.  It’s that simple. 

    Okay, not quite that simple.  Lieberman did far worse than just support the Iraq War.  He reiterated the tried GOP talking point that disagreeing with the Commander in Chief about the Iraq War means you are "weak on national security".  That’s utterly absurd, and he should know better.  Being strong on national defense doesn’t mean starting senseless and unproductive wars in countries that never attacked us and that posed no threat to us.

    But, to me, this headline says it all:

    Sixty percent Americans oppose Iraq war: CNN

    …that’s all you need to know as to why Lamont prevailed.

    UPDATE:  Yes, I’m aware that Joe hasn’t given up yet.

    ANOTHER UPDATE:  I agree with what Josh Marshall writes in Time:

    So who brought Joe Lieberman down? Was it the liberal blogs? Was Lieberman the first political casualty of the Iraq War?

    Both. But neither.

    Yes, Iraq was the issue that crushed Lieberman in the Democratic party. And the blogs were the vehicle that helped that latent but pervasive disgruntlement among Connecticut Democrats become aware of itself. But Joe Lieberman succumbed to a political ailment (common to long-serving senators) that would have been as recognizable to Daniel Webster and Henry Clay as it was to so many 21st century bloggers: He got his head lost in the clouds of national politics and lost touch with his constituents.

    ***

    Many pundits claim that Lieberman’s defeat is a replay of the way Democrats tore themselves apart over Vietnam. It’s an appealing thought for Republicans. And it has got nice drama. But those pundits are either being disingenuous or are caught in a time warp. Democrats are actually fairly united on the Iraq War in their opposition to it — which is actually where most Americans are right now. And though many senators are not as full—throated in their opposition as the base of the party, you don’t see any successful challenges being made against other senators who aren’t ready to bring the troops home.

    With Lieberman, there’s something different. It’s not just that he wouldn’t wash his hands of the Iraq War. Lots of Democrats won’t. It’s more than that. He’s seemed almost militantly indifferent to the disaster Iraq has become. And his passion about the war seemed reserved exclusively for those who questioned it rather than those who had so clearly botched the enterprise. His continual embrace of President Bush — both literal and figurative — was an insult to Democrats, the great majority of whom believe Bush has governed as one of the most destructive Presidents in modern American history. It’s almost as though Lieberman has gone out of his way to provoke and offend Democrats on every point possible, often, seemingly, purely for the reason of provoking. Is it any wonder the guy got whacked in a party primary?

    All Eyes On Connecticut

    I’ve been following the CT primaries closely, and despite an apparent surge from the incumbent this weekend, it looks like progressive newcomer Ned Lamont is going to the Dem primary over former VP candidate and Bush appeaser Joe Lieberman.

    The punditry on this issue is overwhelming, so I can add little to the mix.  Clearly, Joe Lieberman is the first to pay for his support of the Iraq War, and this bodes badly for Republicans in the upcoming congressional elections.

    But it is even more than Lieberman’s support for the Iraq War.  He, like his Republicans buddies across the aisle, suggested that to go against Bush during a time of war is, yup, unpatriotic:

    "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril." – Lieberman, 12/06/05

    Now that he’s running, however, Lieberman’s singing a new tune — he welcomes criticism of the President and the President’s war policy:

    "I understand that many Democrats in Connecticut disagree with me and are very angry about the war… What I will say is this: I not only respect your right to disagree or question the President, I value it."

    Connecticut voters are not fooled by this hypocrisy.

    But is Lieberman’s loss a "watershed moment", as this WaPo article suggests?  Probably not.  Conventional wisdom says that whenever Democrats move too far to the left, they lose — which is why Clinton (a moderate) succeeded, and McGovern didn’t.

    On the other hand, conventional wisdom in politics changes over spans of decades.  Conservatism was all but dead until Ronald Reagan took office.  Perhaps it has reached its high water mark, and the pendulum is swinging back. 

    But it will take a while.  Politics, like geology, is pressure over time.  Just as a generation grew up hearing Rush Limbaugh and the "virtues" of conservatism, a newer generation is becoming politically aware under the follies of the Iraq War, and they don’t like this whole conservative thing.  This shows up in polls: while Bush has an approval rating of 40% nationwide, it is only 20% among Americans aged 18 to 24.  In another poll of Harvard students:

    In the 2003 poll, 31 percent identified themselves as Republicans and 27 percent as Democrats. By 2006, 32 percent of college students said they were Democrats and 24 percent Republicans.

    So I see the Lamont victory not as a catalyst for change, but a by-product of change.  The country, to put it bluntly, is moving left.

    Anyway, there’s a good discussion of the Lamont-Lieberman fallout here.

    Primary Day 2006 (Updated and Bumped)

    UPDATE:  Well, dear Nathan lost, getting roughly 32% of the vote, compared to Brunstetter’s 44%.  He’s a two-time loser now, having lost his bid for NC Congress in 2004 (Note to Nathan: you can take down these websites after a couple of years).

    Name on Ballot Party Statewide
    Ballot Count
    Peter Samuel (Pete) Brunstetter REP 4,423
    Nathan Tabor REP 3,167
    Gloria D. Whisenhunt REP 2,354

    Now he can go back to preachy moralizing in the rightwing press, which is his natural calling anyway.

    UPDATE TO THE UPDATE:  As I wrote below, Nathan got himself into trouble when he made a campaign promise that he would "never, ever help elect a Democrat."  Nathan’s blind partisanship turned off Republican voters who, even in rural NC, are adult enough to recognize that ideas are what matter, not unrelenting faith to one political party over another.

    Sore loser Nathan didn’t get the message.  His Nathan Tabor for Senate website carries this terse message: "I look forward to working with conservatives and Republicans to advance our agenda." (emphasis mine).

    Sadly Nathan, the voters have spoken and you’re not going to be working with anybody.  But I think you need to listen to what they are saying — they need someone who can work with everybody.  Partisanship was your downfall.

    *********************************************************************

    Today is primary day in NC.  In my district, three Republicans are vying for an open State Senate seat — one of them being nationally syndicated columnist and religious conservative Nathan Tabor (who we often satirize on this site).  There is no Democrat running, so whoever wins here, goes to Raleigh.

    Nathan reportedly used $38,000 of his own (and family’s) money, and his yard signs are plastered everywhere on my way to/from work.  It would be a shame if he lost his bid — again.  Heh.

    Sadly (no, not really), Nathan seems to have put his foot in it when he was quoted recently as saying:

    "I give you my word: I will never, ever help elect a Democrat."

    The responses in the local letters-to-the-editor, mostly from Republicans and Independents, say it all:

    The Catholic Vote

    Glenn Greenwald notes that part of Rove’s tactics for winning the 2004 election against Kerry was to take the Catholic vote.  Rove did this in part by impugning Kerry’s catholicism, i.e., Kerry wasn’t a "good" Catholic.  Part of the reprehensible tactics included parading Catholic Republicans in front of the microphones to suggest that Kerry shouldn’t receive communion because of his stance on abortion.

    And it seemed to work.  Bush (a Methodist) won 52% of the Catholic vote to Kerry’s 47%.

    But, as Glenn suggests, there is no earthly reason why such a tactic should work…

    …because scores of Republican policies, including their most prominent ones, are plainly contrary to Catholic doctrine and have been vigorously condemned both by John Paul II and by the current Pope. Those policies could not be any more anti-Catholic.

    Think about it:  The war in Iraq and the pre-emptive war doctrine?  Vehemently opposed by the Vatican.

    The death penalty?  The Catholic church opposes that.

    If, as Glenn prediects, the "Catholic strategy" is going to be deployed by Republicans in the 2006 elections, Democrats should be prepared to fight, because it is a fight we can win:

    The reality is that Catholicism translates politically into support for liberal views at least as much as it does for conservative views. Large majorities of Catholics support abortion rights generally, stem cell research, and oppose further tax cuts. There are also dormant and lurking religious tensions between evangelicals and Catholics which Bush opponents allow to remain hidden and unexamined, while Republicans exploit every cultural and religious division they can find. There is no virtue in continuing to win policy debates while losing elections due to a ceding of these submerged and ugly battlefields.

    Republicans have all sorts of vulnerabilities on these issues. So many of their leading pundits and political figures have personal lives filled with private moral atrocities or activities which so plainly violate the religious and cultural principles they claim to embody. Their flagship policies are squarely prohibited by core Catholic principles and have been condemned as immoral and unjust by the Vatican. How can that same party parade around as the true party of Catholicism?

    Exactly.   Maybe the sex scandals within the Catholic Church have cowed many Catholics into silence, or shamed them  into pulling the lever for the "Daddy" party.  But it’s time the raised their voice, and held to principle and returned to the Democratic Party.

    Whose Government?: The Politics of “Portgate”

    Bluememe, via Glenn Greenwald, deconstructs Bush’s language:

    Bush took the rare step of calling reporters to his conference room on Air Force One after returning from a speech in Colorado. He also stopped to talk before television cameras after he returned to the White House."I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction," the president said. "But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully."

    Got that? There’s Congress on the one hand. And what Bush considers "our Government" on the other. And never the twain shall meet.

    Greenwald also points out (along with Atrios) that the GOP-dominated Congress is unabashedly hypocritical.  When it comes to the NSA wiretapping, many Republicans stand by the notion that Article II of the Constitution gives the President unitary power in the area of national security.  But many of these same Republicans are now seeking emergency legislation to block the Bush’s UAE port deal . . . in the name of national security.  Go figure.

    I’m still largely on the fence about this.  It seems clear that port maintenance is often outsourced to foreign companies, so this isn’t a biggie unless you take the xenophobic position that all Arab companies are inherently bad.  It should be noted that the UAE is within the "coalition of the willing" and has sent troops to aid us in Iraq.  Furthermore, as Kevin Drum points out, the workers will be American union members, and security matters gets handled by the people you would expect to be doing it (Coast Guard, etc.)

    On the other hand, this particular company is owned by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, a family that has met with bin Laden himself, as late as 1999.   They refuse to recognize Israel, but they recognized the Taliban. 

    Even more troubling to me is the apparent ease with which this contract was granted.  The law requires a 45-day investigation into deals of this kind, a review which apparently never took place.  Then, there are allegations of quid-pro-quos, and the undeniable argument echoed everywhere about "why American companies can’t do this".  And also, is the UAE even good at this?  (See, e.g., Washington Post – 2/17/2002: "Al Qaeda’s Road Paved With Gold — Secret Shipments Traced Through a Lax System In United Arab Emirates")

    One thing is for sure: while the deal may or may not be unsafe, the cause for concern certainly is understandable.   The Rude Pundit illustrates his concern in this crass, yet logical, way:

    Let’s say, and why not, that you’re a victim of a crime, where a guy breaks down the doors to your house, wrecks the fuck out of your living room, strangles your cockatiel, and shits on the floor. You know who did it. It’s your neighbor who hated hearing your goddamn cockatiel start chirpin’ at sunrise everyday. But the cops can’t find your neighbor. Now let’s say you hire a decorator to come in to refurbish your shat on, fucked up living room. Let’s say you discover that the decorator’s assistant is your neighbor’s cousin. Sure, you can be assured over and over that he only saw your neighbor at large family gatherings and that he doesn’t know where the fucker is, but, c’mon, you gonna feel comfortable with that dude in your house every day? Would you be wrong to fire him?

    My concern is the same as that of Publius:

    I’m more afraid of the rogue actor. My fear is that giving Dubai control of the ports will give the company access to a host of extremely valuable information about our security procedures even if that information is just basic shipping logistics (where stuff comes in, when it’s inspected, what isn’t inspected, etc.). If the company has ready access to all this information, it only takes one disgruntled employee to share information in a way that could be harmful.

    Conservative James Lileks says the same thing:

    I’m not worried that some evil emir is putting a pinky to his monocled eye, and saying Mwah! at last I have them where I want them! I’m worried about the guy who’s three steps down the management branch handing off a job to a brother who trusts some guys who have some sympathies with some guys who hang around some rather energetic fellows who attend that one mosque where the guy talks about jihad 24/7, and somehow someone gets a job somewhere that makes it easier for something to happen.

    Whether or not this is realistic concern is anybody’s guess.  But the politics of the "Portgate" "scandal" may be more important that determination of whether there actually is a bonafide scandal.  To that end, Greenwald makes another salient observation:

    [T]here is a sweet poetic justice in watching all of this unfold. Having spent the last four years squeezing enormous political benefits out of cynical fear-mongering over Arab terrorists and despicable accusations that his political opponents are aiding and abetting terrorists by opposing his foreign policies, Bush now finds himself crying victimhood over what he is depicting as these very tactics. One reaps what one sows, and all of that.

    True, but the real interesting thing is how this plays out politically.  Lileks again:

    It’s remarkably tone deaf. It’s possible that the Administration did some quiet polling, and asked the question “How much Arab control over American ports are you comfortable with,” and misinterpreted stunned silence as assent. It’s possible the Administration believed that this would be seen as outreach, an act of faith to solidify a Key Ally, and didn’t think there’d be much hubbub – but if that’s the case, it’s the best example of the Bubble Theory I’ve heard, and I’ve not heard much convincing evidence. Until now. The average American’s reaction to handing port control over to the UAE is instinctively negative, and for good reason. There are two basic reactions: We can’t do this ourselves? and We should trust them, why?

    Facing re-election challenges, the last thing that Republicans need is to be outflanked by Democrats on national security issues.  Therefore, they need to oppose Bush on this.   The UAE deal is the wedge issue that Democrats have been wanting to see for a long time.

    What, then, should be the Democrat’s move?  Should they exploit the scandal, even if (as more and more are arguing) the Dubai deal isn’t really a threat to national security?  Greenwald seems open to the question:

    If Democrats have an opportunity to inflict serious political harm on the Administration and its enablers in Congress through a scandal which may not be truly meritorious but can be a potent political weapon (and I’m not saying that’s the case for Portgate – I’m simply posing this question hypothetically), ought Democrats do what Bush followers have done for the last 5 years — namely, use whatever instruments they can to politically harm the Administration, even if there is some cynicism involved in doing so – or ought they maintain higher and more intellectually honest standards and forego political gain if it means cynically exploiting a scandal?

    As some have said, this may mean that we have to "become like Republicans" in order to defeat them.  Digby opines:

    Sometimes I get criticism from my readers for suggesting that the Democrats must play on the same playing field as the Republicans. They say, "we shouldn’t become them." But I never suggest that the Democrats should lie, cheat or play dirty as the Republicans do. I suggest that they wise up and stop pretending that Republicans are anything but ruthless adversaries and adjust accordingly. They can be beaten with smart strategies, but not unless the Democrats internalize the connection between the nice men and women they are working with on capitol hill every day with the thugs they hire to get elected. They are all cogs in the same cutthroat political machine.

    The UAE deal represents much more of a shake-up of the political landscape than a Harriet Miers  nomination.  It places both parties at crossroads.  On the whole, I think the shake-up bears well for Democrats.  There is no "win" in this for Democrats, but it seems clear that Bush can only lose, especially if he exercises his veto power and it gets overridden by the GOP-dominated Congress. 

    My sense is that Democrats will benefit from the GOP crack-up over this, and there is no need to exploit the GOP division.  Don’t look the gift horse in the mouth — just ride it.

    Church And Politics

    Oy.  They’re are it again.  And right down the street from me:

    The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.

    "Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.

    The tactic was roundly condemned by religious leaders across the political spectrum, including conservative evangelical Christians. Ten professors of ethics at major seminaries and universities wrote a letter to President Bush in August 2004 asking him to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign," and calling on both parties to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."

    Officials of the Republican National Committee maintained that the tactic did not violate federal tax laws that prohibit churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office, and they never formally renounced it. But Land said he thought the GOP had backed down.

    "I heard nothing further about it, so my assumption was that it stopped, at least at the national level," he said.

    Yesterday, the Greensboro News & Record reported that the North Carolina Republican Party was collecting church directories, and it quoted two local pastors as objecting to the practice. The Rev. Richard Byrd Jr. of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro said anyone who sent in a directory "would be betraying the trust of the membership," and the Rev. Ken Massey of the city’s First Baptist Church said the request was "encroaching on sacred territory."

    Chris Mears, the state party’s political director, made the request in a Feb. 15 memo titled "The pew and the ballot box" that was sent by e-mail to "Registered Republicans in North Carolina."

    Mears said the "Republican National Committee has completed a study on grass-roots activity that reveals that people who regularly attend church usually vote Republican when they vote."

    "In light of this study’s findings, it is imperative that we register, educate and get these potential voters from the pew to the ballot box. To do this we must know who these people are," the memo continued.

    "I am requesting that you collect as many church directories as you can and send them to me in an effort to fully register, educate and energize North Carolina’s congregations to vote in the 2006 elections," it said.

    It added that the "North Carolina Republican Party holds your church’s directory in strict confidence" and will not use it "to solicit church members for any other reason."

    Happily, it looks like the churches are displeased with the GOP efforts to lobby voters from the pulpit.

    From the GOP Playbook

    In Election 2004, Bush/Rove played the homophobia card.  Bush condemned gay marriage, and that ignited homophobia from "middle America".  So they voted Bush into office so that he could do nothing about gay marriage (but he did give tax cuts to upper-income American).

    Looks like we’re going to see the same thing again this election year.

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday he plans a vote in early June on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a move likely to fail but sure to spark a fiery election-year debate.

    Frist, a Tennessee Republican, told CNN he’s planning the vote for the week of June 5 because he wants to deal with the issue "as early as possible" before the Senate calendar fills up in a busy election year.

    Frist said he doesn’t know how many votes the ban will receive, but Republican and Democratic aides privately acknowledged the vote will probably fall far short of the 67-vote supermajority needed to advance a constitutional amendment.

    When the Senate last voted on the issue in July 2004, a procedural motion to consider the ban received 48 votes — well short of the number needed to send it on to the House of Representatives and then to all 50 states for ratification.

    A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, charged that Frist is wasting valuable time on the Senate floor in order to rally conservative voters in the midterm elections.

    "At a time when we have so many other pressing issues facing the country, I’m not sure where this falls in the list of priorities," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley.

    Frist has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2008, but a poll taken in December showed him trailing several other possible GOP nominees.

    Republican supporters of the constitutional ban insist they are not motivated by the politics of the issue and are solely focused on keeping the matter on the national agenda, hoping they can get closer to 67 votes over the next few years.

    Dems Looking Better To America

    The latest poll from the Pew Research Center (PDF) is out, and as always, it provides some interesting information.  Kevin Drum notes that the public is evenly split (at 48%) on the question of whether to keep troops in Iraq until it is stable vs. bringing them home as soon as possible.

    I, however, was struck by the advances that Democrats have made in public opinion with regard to their ability to handle a wide range of domestic and foreign problems.  Here’s the chart:

    Pewpoll_1

    Note that the Dem/Rep gap with regard to Iraq has increased from +5 (in January 2005) to +19 (in January 2006).

    More importantly, Republicans — always seen as better capable at handling national security and terrorism issues — are seeing that perceived strength erode.  Last year, they led Dem 58 to 19 (a gap of 39 points).  That gap has been narrowed to mere 18 points (Repubs are still seen as stronger, but only by 52 to 34).

    And one year ago, people saw Dems and Repubs just about the same with regard to handling social and domestic matters.  This is no longer so: people favor Dems by 22 points (44% to 22%, to be precise).  We’ll call this the "Katrina effect".

    All-in-all, this bodes well for elections later this year.  But that’s a loooong way away, so Dems still have plenty of time to bungle things up.

    Nathon Tabor Update

    John Plecnik writes a piece promoting Nathan Tabor, the wingnut running for State Senate in my district.  World O’Crap has some fun:

    Who is Nathan Tabor?

    We answered that on Friday.

    In his home state of North Carolina, Nathan is known as a self-made, small businessman who ran for congress.

    I believe that even in NC, Nathan is known as a wingnut (but I will defer to the North Carolinians out there). 

    But hey, how can Nathan possibly be called a "self-made, small businessman"?  He was given a VP position in the family business founded his brother, the doctor.  Nathan’s personal net worth has been estimated at between $1 million and $5.1 million.

    John, honey, I know that Nathan says that he’s a small businessman, but I don’t think that even he claims to be "self-made."  I expect better from somebody who was homeschooled from cradle to college.

    In an eight-way primary—one of the most expensive in American history—Nathan raised over $850,000 and received over 7,500 votes.

    Well, per Open Secrets, Nathan raised about $276,000 from individuals and PACs.  And he "raised" $482,000 of his own money for his campaign.  That makes him quite the fundraiser!

    In any case, if we use Nathan’s figures, it cost him about $113 a vote — is that considered good in political circles?

    Great reputation? Yes.

    Yes, he is known as one of our country’s finest wingnuts.

    Right for Senate? Yes.

    Some Senate, sure.  Maybe the Senate of Mrs. Johnson’s fourth grade class.

    But who is Nathan Tabor? Nathan is a Christian. Nathan is a conservative. And Nathan is a loving father and family man.

    He’s lived the American dream. And Nathan is fighting to ensure the same is possible for his daughter, and yours.

    Forget about my daughter (she’s on her own); I want Nathan to fight to get me the same American dream he’s lived.  You know, the one where your mother makes your brother give you a job in his food supplement business — and before you’re 30, you’re a millionaire with plenty of time on your hands to run wingnut sites and run for various offices! 

    If he will promise to get something comperable for me, then I will consider voting for him (sorry, Yosef), if I ever end up living in Kernersville.

    Election Night 2005

    First of all, am I prescient or what?

    Second of all, what The Talent Show says:

    This is a really weird election night. I’ve got this strange feeling that I can’t put my finger on. It’s not like envy, or even hungry. It sort of like funny, that’s not it because I never feel that way on election nights. For lack of a better term, let’s call it "happiness".

    Third of all, count me among those who say the results overall show bad news for Bush, as well as Republicans in 2006.

    Fourth of all, Fox News needs to grow up.

    Fifth of all, the only serious dark spot in the landscape of elections last night was in Texas, where they passed a ban on same-sex marriage. ("And me with a warehouse full of white leather chaps…" bemoans Tbogg).  I guess that the threat to heterosexual marriage in Texas has been neutralized.  Unlike the gay-marriage anti-family state Massachusetts.

    What’s that you say?

    The state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation is Massachusetts. At latest count it had a divorce rate of 2.4 per 1,000 population, while the rate for Texas was 4.1.

    Oh.

    UPDATE:  On the other hand, yea Maine for not being bigots!!  The right wing haters lost by a 10 point margin of 55%- 45%:

    "After 28 years, it’s over, you guys. We won," Pat Peard, a longtime champion of gay rights, told supporters in Portland at 11 p.m. She was referring to the initial introduction of a gay rights bill in the Legislature in the 1970s, launching a struggle that has continued ever since.

    The vote reversed a trend that dates back to 1998, when voters narrowly rejected a gay rights law in a special election. Voters again opposed a gay rights law in a follow-up referendum two years later.

    Tuesday’s referendum was held because opponents of the law used the so-called "people’s veto" provision in the state Constitution to give voters a chance to repeal the law.

    Election 2005 Predictions

    I haven’t been following this much, but I think today will be a good day for Democrats.  I suspect that Kaine (D) will beat Kilgore (R) for Virginia governor (despite — or perhaps because of — Bush’s last minute joint appearance with Kilgore)

    Corzine (D) will defeat Forrester (R) for New Jersey mayor. 

    And while Bloomberg (R) will remain mayor of New York, Detroit Democrat Hendrix will oust incumbant Republican Kilpartick.  San Diego and Buffalo will have Democratic mayors as well.

    In California, most of Ahnold’s props will get beaten.  Prop 74 (extending probationary period for teachers so that it will be easier to fire them) will not pass.  Prop 75 (barring public employee unions from contributing to political campaigns unless members approve) will not pass.  Prop 76 (giving governor power to unilaterally cut spending in certain "fiscal situations") will not pass.  Prop 77 (redistricting) will not pass.  The only one with a chance of passing is Prop 73 (48 hour physician notification of parents when a minor seeks abortion).

    And Mainesters will vote to keep a law which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

    All in all, a good harbinger for Election 2006.

    NEXT DAY UPDATE: Can I call them or what??

    Election 2006 Outlook

    This is encouraging:

    Republican politicians in multiple states have recently decided not to run for Senate next year, stirring anxiety among Washington operatives about the effectiveness of the party’s recruiting efforts and whether this signals a broader decline in GOP congressional prospects.

    Prominent Republicans have passed up races in North Dakota and West Virginia, both GOP-leaning states with potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents. Earlier, Republican recruiters on Capitol Hill and at the White House failed to lure their first choices to run in Florida, Michigan and Vermont.

    These setbacks have prompted grumbling. Some Republican operatives, including some who work closely with the White House, privately point to what they regard as a lackluster performance by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group that heads fundraising and candidate recruitment for GOP senators.

    However, I am on of those who think that Republican implosion doesn’t translate to Democratic victory.  The Dems need to get out front with a strong message and a plan.  In my view, it should be "fiscal responsibility".

    Republicans Screw The Pooch

    This news as huge ramifications for the upcoming elections.  From Political Wire:

    As the 2006 midterm election season approaches, Political Wire has seen a copy of a new Winston Group (R) poll that shows Americans turning away from the Republican party. (There’s no link yet on the firm’s website.)

    Those surveyed had less confidence in Republicans to handle a wide range of issues, including education, Social Security, health care, jobs and energy prices. Democrats beat Republicans by at least 9 percentage points in each category. In addition, Democrats were also viewed as better able to handle war in Iraq and the economy.

    In fact, the only bad news for Democrats is that they are viewed as overly partisan. In particular, Democrats were seen as more likely to instigate partisan attacks over two recent issues in the news — the federal government’s hurricane response and the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

    My, Oh My, Ohio

    The special election for Ohio’s Second District House seat was a real nail-biter.  A highly conservative area, it should have been a shoe-in for Republican nominee Jean Schmidt.  But her Democratic opponent was a Bush-bashing Iraqi War veteran named Paul Hackett.  He lost . . . barely, and there are lessons to learned.  From The Left Coaster:

    Major Paul Hackett (D-Fighting Democrat) reduced the winning margin of his Republican opponent (Jean Schmidt, R-Corruption) to 4%, in an extraordinarily strong, gerrymandered Republican district where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-1, and where the last Democrat who ran for Congress against a Republican (in 2004), lost by a whopping 44% margin.

    As Jerome Armstrong (MyDD) pointed out, even if you consider Bush’s 2000 and 2004 purported electoral margins in this district (averaging 26% – 63 to 37), Hackett’s showing was incredible (despite his very sharp, direct, repeated attacks on Bush) – enough to almost beat a candidate who presented herself largely as a Bush clone in her "safe" district. To think that a virtual nobody could pull this off in one of the reddest states in the country shows what can be achieved if you have good candidates with conviction and passion, who don’t hesitate to fight back and attack the culture of corruption, immorality and fraud that has become the hallmark of the BushDelay neocons.

    I imagine even Charlie Cook, who produced a laughably pro-GOP pre-analysis of this race – which Tim Tagaris appropriately responded to at Swing State Project (SSP) – will have to acknowledge the implications of Hackett’s performance. As Cook claimed, trying hard to set the bar as low as possible for Schmidt (emphasis mine):

    A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong…

    As the Cincinnati Enquirer said (emphasis mine):

    The win by Republican Jean Schmidt in Tuesday’s 2nd Congressional District election was in no way shocking, but the fact that Democrat Paul Hackett made it a very close election is nothing short of astounding.

    Seven weeks ago, when Schmidt won an 11-candidate primary, few on either side believed that – in a district where President Bush won 64 percent of the vote and no Democrat had come close to winning in decades – this would be much of a contest.

    This happened despite Jean Schmidt trying hard to paint Hackett as "a liberal Democrat who is out of step with the district." Sound familiar?

    The essence of this race, as Bob Brigham (who did an amazing job at Swing State Project and for the Hackett campaign), has pointed out on multiple occasions, is to take the fight to the corrupt opposition in every state, every district and every locality – something DNC Chairman Howard Dean has long advocated. In a nutshell:

    • Start with a good candidate
    • Campaign passionately and with unstinting conviction in order to build credibility
    • Aggressively take on the opposition particularly on their perceived (i.e., fake) strength(s) and define the terms of the fight in your terms, not theirs
    • Build grassroots power to get the votes out for the candidate and
    • Motivate large numbers of people (especially locals) to donate small amounts to make a good candidate almost invincible

    2006 elections are fast approaching.  We can win.