# 2008 Elections

Throwback Thursday: Ed Fallon reflects on endorsing Ralph Nader for president

Before #BernieOrBust or any other hashtag existed to convey some activists’ feelings about the Democratic Party’s establishment candidate, there was Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign.

Iowa’s best-known politician to endorse Nader rather than Al Gore was State Representative Ed Fallon. The Des Moines Democrat had found himself at odds with the rest of his Iowa House colleagues before. Some of his politically inexpedient decisions have aged well, most famously his heartfelt speech before voting against our state’s Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

Supporting Nader caused more intense fallout.

Though Fallon no longer considers himself a Democrat and has devoted most of his energy lately to environmental activism, he still endorses some Democratic candidates, including Bernie Sanders before this year’s Iowa caucuses.

Fallon spoke with Bleeding Heartland recently about his decision to back Nader, how that choice affected his subsequent bids for public office, and his advice for activists drawn to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein instead of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Continue Reading...

A closer look at the Iowa counties Obama and Romney won

Preliminary results from the Iowa Secretary of State’s website show that President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa by 807,146 votes to 720,323 (51.89 percent to 46.31 percent) amid record participation of 1,555,570 voters statewide.

As expected, the president won a plurality of the vote in fewer Iowa counties this year than in 2008, but he did pick up one county that was a big surprise for me. Some thoughts about the presidential vote in Iowa are after the jump, along with maps showing which counties Obama, Romney, and John McCain carried. You can find vote totals for every county on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website.

Continue Reading...

Rest in peace, Geraldine Ferraro

Geraldine Ferraro died today at age 75, after battling multiple myeloma for 13 years, far longer than she was expected to survive when diagnosed. She became the first woman named to a major-party national ticket in the U.S. when Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate in 1984. Ferraro acknowledged that she would not have been Mondale’s choice for vice president had she been a man. The Democratic nominee was trailing President Ronald Reagan badly in the polls and needed something to shake up the campaign. Ferraro was supposed to turn the emerging “gender gap” in American politics to the Democrats’ favor.

I remember discounting the rumors that a woman might be nominated for vice president. The Reagan years had rapidly developed my cynicism. It was a big deal just to have a woman on the “short list,” so I figured that talking Ferraro was going to be the Mondale camp’s gesture toward women, and we’d have to wait another cycle or two to see a woman on a ticket. But after watching Ferraro’s speech at the national convention, this liberal teenage girl was so excited and inspired that I briefly forgot what I knew about Mondale having no chance to be elected.

Journalists covering the campaign picked Ferraro apart; you can read the gory details in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times obituaries. She wasn’t very experienced in terms of media relations, and she was a strong woman, so she was an easy target. One manufactured controversy after another dominated stories about her campaign, and I remember lots of speculation about her Italian-American husband’s possible mob ties. Meanwhile, media provided scant coverage when Reagan’s Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan was indicted in September 1984, six weeks before the presidential election. You’d think the first-ever indictment of a sitting cabinet secretary would be a bigger news story than some of the garbage being thrown at Ferraro, but you would be wrong. (Donovan was later acquitted.)

Bleeding Heartland readers too young to remember the 1984 campaign may know of Ferraro mainly because in March 2008, she asserted that Barack Obama’s race gave him an advantage in the presidential primaries against Hillary Clinton: “Sexism is a bigger problem [than racism in the United States] […] It’s OK to be sexist in some people’s minds. It’s not OK to be racist.” The ensuing furor prompted Ferraro to resign from Clinton’s presidential campaign fundraising committee, though she stood by her remarks. At the time, I felt many Obama supporters blew Ferraro’s comments way out of proportion. Her perspective was shaped by decades of personal experience with sexism, like law school professors who felt she had taken “a man’s rightful place.”

Representative Bruce Braley said in a statement today, “Geraldine Ferraro was a great leader and a remarkable woman. She not only made history, she inspired generations of women to do the same. She will be greatly missed, but her influence will live on.”  I will update this post with further Iowa reaction to Ferraro’s passing.

Share your own memories of Ferraro and her political career in this thread.

UPDATE: Senator Chuck Grassley posted to Twitter, “Geraldine Ferraro was an xtraordinary M of Cong. A person easy get along w. True abt my working w her”

Ferraro’s father died when she was eight years old. Here’s a reflection she wrote on how losing a parent so young affected her life.

LATE UPDATE: Joan Walsh’s reflection on Ferraro’s life and career is worth reading.

Year in review: Iowa politics in 2009 (part 1)

I expected 2009 to be a relatively quiet year in Iowa politics, but was I ever wrong.

The governor’s race heated up, state revenues melted down, key bills lived and died during the legislative session, and the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v Brien became one of this state’s major events of the decade.

After the jump I’ve posted links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of Iowa politics from January through June 2009. Any comments about the year that passed are welcome in this thread.

Although I wrote a lot of posts last year, there were many important stories I didn’t manage to cover. I recommend reading Iowa Independent’s compilation of “Iowa’s most overlooked and under reported stories of 2009,” as well as that blog’s review of “stories that will continue to impact Iowa in 2010.”

Continue Reading...

Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

Continue Reading...

Question for Iowa journalists and poll-watchers

UPDATE: Nate Silver followed up here, comparing patterns in Strategic Vision poll findings to those from Quinnipac.

Strategic Vision released a number of Iowa polls during 2007, sampling Democratic and Republican would-be caucus-goers on the presidential candidates.

Did any Iowa journalist or political analyst receive cross-tabs or any details about the methodology from these polls? Does anyone remember talking to any Iowan who had been surveyed by Strategic Vision?

I’m asking because incredibly, polling experts are now questioning whether Strategic Vision has been conducting polls at all. More on that story is after the jump.  

Continue Reading...

Congratulations, Senator Al Franken

UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reports that Franken will headline Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry on September 13.

The 2008 elections finally ended today. Norm Coleman conceded the U.S. race in Minnesota following a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling in Al Franken’s favor.

Talking Points Memo posted their Top 10 moments from the mostly infuriating, sometimes comical Franken-Coleman saga.

We can laugh at Coleman’s pretzel logic during the legal proceedings, but unfortunately, his gamesmanship deprived Minnesota of full representation in the Senate for half a year. In all likelihood Franken will be stuck with less-than-stellar committee assignments. Also, the delay did lasting damage to Franken’s seniority. Had he been sworn in on time, he would have outranked several fellow Senate Democrats, which could become important one or two terms down the road.

Nevertheless, I have high hopes for Senator Franken and look forward to his work in Washington.

P.S.- I still don’t understand why so many Minnesotans voted for Dean Barkley.

P.P.S.- Rush Limbaugh is still a big fat idiot.  

It's the least they could do

The White House is apparently not responding to Gordon Fischer’s requests for a meeting with an official in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, Radio Iowa reported today, citing Fischer’s Facebook page.

Any citizen who asks several times to meet with a White House official should at the very least get an answer, even if it’s just, “I’m sorry, so-and-so’s schedule doesn’t permit that meeting.” Ideally, a junior staffer or receptionist should seek further information about why the citizen wants the meeting before rejecting the request.

The lack of common courtesy is even more baffling when you consider all the volunteer hours Fischer put in for Barack Obama’s campaign, before and after the Iowa caucuses. He deserves a meeting with this official, or some reply with a explanation for why his request is being denied.

LATE UDPATE: Fischer says he is permanently “retiring” from politics.

Next cycle, donate strategically--not emotionally

Last October, Representative Michele “Crazy as Steve King” Bachmann (MN-06) disgraced herself on “Hardball” and sparked a ridiculously successful fundraising drive for her Democratic opponent, El Tinklenberg. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and kicked in a few bucks for Tinklenberg myself, but I was dismayed to see bloggers continue to help him raise money even after he’d raised more than $750,000 and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had promised to spend an additional $1 million in his district. Within a few days of Bachmann’s notorious comments, Tinklenberg had more money than he needed to run a solid media and GOTV campaign during the final two weeks before the election.

Since most Congressional races against incumbents are longshots, I wanted to see the netroots expand the field by raising $50,000 or more for a large number of unheralded challengers.

A fellow Iowa blogger sent me this piece from CQ Politics about how Tinklenberg’s campaign committee was the largest donor to the DCCC in March, giving a total of $250,000:

You may recall that his Republican opponent was Rep. Michele Bachmann, whose mid-October comment that Obama “may have anti-American views” angered Democrats nationwide and spawned an avalanche of contributions to Tinklenberg in the waning days of a campaign that Bachmann won by 46 percent to 43 percent, with a third-party candidate taking 10 percent.

Apparently the money was coming in too fast for Tinklenberg to spend completely: he raised $3 million for his campaign, of which $1.9 million came in after October 15, and had $453,000 in leftover campaign funds at the end of 2008 and $184,000 at the end of March.

I’m not saying it wasn’t worth getting behind Tinklenberg. Bachmann is among the worst Republicans in Congress, and this district rightly seemed winnable. However, the netroots clearly funneled way more money to Tinklenberg than he could spend effectively.

What if a million of the dollars we sent to the MN-06 race had been spread around 10 or 20 other districts? A bunch of the candidates I wanted to support as part of an expanded field got blown out by large margins, but an extra $50,000 could have made the difference for Josh Segall in AL-03, or for several candidates who weren’t on my radar, such as Bill Hedrick in CA-44.

The netroots rally for Tinklenberg started out as a good cause but took on a momentum of its own. It didn’t help that Tinklenberg sent fundraising e-mails to his new donors every day or two during the home stretch, even after he had more than enough money to close out the campaign.

Maybe the majority of blog readers who gave $10 or $20 or $50 to Tinklenberg wouldn’t have given to some other longshot Congressional challenger. Maybe people need an emotional trigger before they are willing to open their wallets. But in future election cycles, we need to be smarter about how we focus our energy and our fundraising efforts during the final weeks of a campaign. There’s no shortage of wingnuts worth targeting. Also, a fair number of good incumbent Democrats will probably need our help in 2010, depending on how the economy looks 18 months from now.

Any ideas or suggestions on how to raise money effectively during the next cycle would be welcome in this thread.

Continue Reading...

Sore loser Coleman has done lasting harm to Minnesota

For at least the last three months, Norm Coleman has had no realistic hope of winning Minnesota’s U.S. Senate election, but that hasn’t stopped him from fighting the inevitable in court. It’s obvious that Coleman’s legal maneuvering has no goal other than to keep Al Franken out of the Senate for as long as possible.

That has collateral benefits for Republicans on a national scale, making it harder for Senate Democrats to win 60 votes to break a filibuster. Barack Obama may have been able to get his economic stimulus bill through the Senate with fewer concessions if he had needed only two Republicans to sign on (instead of three).

Unfortunately for our neighbors to the north, Coleman’s obstruction has done significant and lasting harm to Minnesota. John Deeth explains why in this great post about seniority rules in the U.S. Senate. Had Franken been sworn in with the rest of the class elected last November, he would now rank 94th in seniority, but instead he’s going to rank 100th (click the link for the full explanation, which is worth your time).

Making matters worse for Minnesota: all six of the senators Franken should outrank, but doesn’t, are fellow Democrats.

How much this matters in the long run depends on the longevity of the six senators who leapfrogged over Franken. […]

Michael Bennet and Kirsten Gillibrand will probably face primaries, too, but after a first electoral test they, and Merkley and Begich, could last awhile (particularly Gillibrand, who at 42 is the youngest Senator). Franken, at age 57, could be around long enough that those lost months of seniority will make a difference between him and let’s say Gillibrand getting a chairmanship sometime around 2018.

If you want to make Republicans pay for Coleman’s sore-loserdom, support the campaign Senate Guru wrote about over the weekend: “A Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away.”  

Continue Reading...

Could Clinton or Edwards have beaten Obama in Iowa?

On January 3, 2008, roughly 240,000 Iowans attended Democratic precinct caucuses, and at least 90,000 of them ended up in Barack Obama’s corner.

However we felt about Obama during the primaries or the general election campaign, whatever we think about his substantive and symbolic actions since the election, we can all agree that he would not be taking the oath of office tomorrow if Iowa caucus-goers had put him in third place, or even a distant second.

I started writing this diary several times last year. I kept abandoning it because emotions were so raw on Democratic blogs that I felt the piece would only ignite a flamewar. Since more than a year has passed, I decided to try one more time.

I do not mean to start an argument or pretend that I have all the answers. I just enjoy thinking about counterfactual history (such as this or this).

After the jump I will try to figure out whether Hillary Clinton or John Edwards could have beaten Obama in Iowa.

Continue Reading...

Study shows how early voting helped Democrats

A new report by Democracy Corps examines the trend toward early voting in the 2008 election and confirms that Barack Obama greatly benefited from banking so many votes before election day.

Democratic Congressional candidates also did better among early voters than among non-early voters.

The study did not analyze the effects of early voting on races further down the ticket, but several Democratic legislative candidates lost the election-day vote but were saved by a strong early vote.

The Republican Party of Iowa will try to match the Iowa Democratic Party’s early-voting efforts in 2010, so we would do well to keep improving on the model. Early voting is insurance against bad weather on election day as well as last-minute smear campaigns against our candidates.

Iowa caucus memories open thread

A year ago tonight, nearly 240,000 Iowans spent a couple of hours in overcrowded rooms during the Democratic precinct caucuses.

Thousands of others came to freezing cold Iowa to knock on doors or make phone calls for their presidential candidate in late December and early January.

Share any memories you have about caucusing or volunteering in this thread.

After the jump I re-posted my account of what happened at my own caucus. I was a precinct captain for Edwards.

Continue Reading...

Bleeding Heartland Year in Review: Iowa politics in 2008

Last year at this time I was scrambling to make as many phone calls and knock on as many doors as I could before the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

This week I had a little more time to reflect on the year that just ended.

After the jump I’ve linked to Bleeding Heartland highlights in 2008. Most of the links relate to Iowa politics, but some also covered issues or strategy of national importance.

I only linked to a few posts about the presidential race. I’ll do a review of Bleeding Heartland’s 2008 presidential election coverage later this month.

You can use the search engine on the left side of the screen to look for past Bleeding Heartland diaries about any person or issue.

Continue Reading...

Bleeding Heartland election prediction contest results

Swing State Project finally got around to posting the results from its election prediction contest, which reminded me that I need to do the same. For weeks I’d been waiting for the results of recounts and runoffs in Iowa and national races. Although the results of the Minnesota Senate race may still be contested in court, it appears very likely that Al Franken will be the new junior senator from that state.

Swing State Project disqualified all entries that did not include answers to every question, but I wasn’t so strict here. You can view everyone’s predictions in this thread.

1. What percentage of the national popular vote with Barack Obama and John McCain receive?

Populista hit that one almost exactly with a prediction of Obama 52.9, McCain 46.0. Very close behind was jdunph1 with a prediction of Obama 53.6 percent, McCain – 45.9 percent.

2. How many electoral votes will Obama and McCain win?

American007 made the best guess, with 367 electoral votes for Obama and 171 for McCain. In second place was oregoniowan, who guessed that Obama would win 356 electoral votes. (Obama actually won 365.)

3. What percentage of the vote will Obama and McCain win in Iowa?

American007 nailed it with a prediction of Obama 54, McCain 45. jackwilliamr and oregoniowan tied for second place; both predicted Obama 54, McCain 44.

4. What percentage of the vote will Bruce Braley and Dave Hartsuch receive in the 1st district?

jackwilliamr predicted Braley 62, Hartsuch 37, which was closest to the final 64-36 result. I placed second by predicting Braley 62, Hartsuch 38.

5. What percentage of the vote will Dave Loebsack and Mariannette Miller-Meeks receive in the 2nd district?

My prediction of Loebsack 57, Miller-Meeks 40 was closest to the final 57-39 result. secondtonone had the next-best prediction of Loebsack 55, Miller-Meeks 44.

6. What percentage of the vote will Leonard Boswell and Kim Schmett receive in the 3rd district?

As a group, we did well on this question, with almost everyone getting pretty close to Boswell’s vote share (most guesses put him in the 54 to 58 percent range).

American007’s guess of Boswell 56, Schmett 43 was closest to the final 56-42 result. Populista was also close with Boswell 57 Schmett 43.

7. What percentage of the vote will Tom Latham and Becky Greenwald receive in the 4th district?

As a group, we did badly on this question, with no one predicting that Latham would crack 60 percent.

Bill Spencer predicted Latham 58, Greenwald 42, which was closest to the final 61-39 margin. Populista and American007 both thought Latham would win 53 percent of the vote, which was the next-closest guess.

8. What percentage of the vote will Steve King and Rob Hubler receive in the 5th district?

Again, no one here predicted King would crack 60 percent. Bill Spencer had the best guess of King 58, Hubler 42 (the final result was 60-37). American007 had the next-closest prediction of King 56, Hubler 43.

9. How many seats will the Democrats and Republicans have in the Iowa House after the election (currently 53-47 Dem)?

American007 and I were right on the nose, predicting a 56-44 Democratic majority in the Iowa House. There was a tie for second place: lorih predicted a 57-43 advantage for Democrats, while Populista predicted a 55-45 edge.

10. How many seats will the Democrats and Republicans have in the Iowa Senate after the election (currently 30-20 Dem)?

There was a four-way tie for first place, with secondtonone, Populista, oregoniowan and American007 all correctly predicting that there would be 32 Democrats and 18 Republicans in the new Iowa Senate. Bill Spencer and I both guessed that Democrats would end up with a 33-17 advantage in the upper chamber.

11. Which Congressional race in Iowa will be the closest (in terms of percentage of vote difference between winner and loser)?

Although most of us guessed that Boswell would finish in the mid-50s, no one correctly predicted that the Boswell-Schmett contest would be the closest Congressional race in Iowa. Most of us guessed Greenwald-Latham, two people predicted Loebsack v. Miller-Meeks, and two people predicted King v. Hubler.

12. Which Iowa House or Senate race will be the closest (in terms of percentage of vote difference between winner and loser)?

Iowa had a lot of close statehouse races this year. The two decided by the narrowest margin were Jeff Danielson’s defeat of Walt Rogers in Senate district 10 and Renee Schulte’s defeat of Art Staed in House district 37 (both decided by less than 0.1 percent of the vote). No one guessed either of those races as the answer to this question.

I’m giving the win on this one to American007, who guessed Larry Marek and Jarad Klein’s race in House district 89. That was among the close races; I think it was decided by the seventh-smallest margin, just over 1 percent.

13. Nationally, which U.S. Senate race will be decided by the narrowest margin (in terms of percentage of the vote difference, not raw votes)?

There was a five-way tie on this question, with audiored, lorih, American007, Populista and oregoniowan all correctly predicting that the Minnesota Senate race would be the closest. Franken looks like he will win by less than 0.01 percent of the vote, depending on how many improperly rejected absentee ballots are counted.

14. In the presidential race, which state will be decided by the narrowest margin (again, in terms of percentage of the vote)?

We had a three-way tie for first here, with lorih, Populista and jackwilliamr all predicting that Missouri would be the closest state in the presidential race. McCain won there by a little over 0.1 percent of the vote.

The next-closest state was North Carolina, which was my guess on this question.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. Taking all the results into account, it’s clear that American007 is this year’s champion of election predictions at Bleeding Heartland.

I can’t promise a chocolate babka, which the Swing State Project team is sending to the winner of their contest, but I would be happy to treat American007 to lunch or coffee anywhere in the Des Moines area at a mutually convenient time.

Thank heaven for paper ballots

The recount to determine the winner of Minnesota’s Senate race has been going on for six weeks, with a court challenge likely if Al Franken, who leads narrowly, is declared the winner. (WineRev’s diaries tell you everything you need to know about what’s going on in that race.)

Imagine how much more contentious this process would be if Minnesota did not use paper ballots in every county. Less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the vote separates Franken from Republican incumbent Norm Coleman. If touchscreen voting machines had been involved in any way, large numbers of people would surely believe the election had been rigged in favor of whoever came out ahead.

Mark Halvorson of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota published this piece on what has worked well during the Minnesota recount, and how the system could still be improved.

Iowa had more state legislative races decided by less than 1 percent of the vote this year than in any other election I can remember. Fortunately, the state legislature heeded Secretary of State Mike Mauro’s call to require optical scanner machines with paper ballots in every county, and Governor Chet Culver signed that bill into law this spring. Otherwise the legitimacy of these extremely close races could have been questioned.

If you run into Mauro, thank him for his efforts to improve Iowa’s voting system, and encourage him to ask the legislature to take the next step toward “verified voting” (mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records). That would allay fears about malfunctions or tampering with the optical scanners as they count the votes.

As this map at VerifiedVoting.org shows, Minnesota is one of 18 states that has mandatory manual audits of voter-verified paper records. Iowa is one of 13 states that require paper ballots, but without mandatory audits to make sure the scanners are producing accurate counts.

Keep your eye on the Iowa Voters blog for updates on election integrity news and activism in Iowa.

Congratulations to Swati Dandekar

I saw at Iowa Independent that the Asian-American newspaper AsianWeek named Swati Dandekar the Asian Pacific American person of the year for 2008:

[I]t was hard to decide who should be the APA Person of the Year in 2008. When looking at the future of Asian Pacific America, however, and thinking about the community’s growth out of the comfort of urban enclaves and into suburban and even rural America, the answer became clear: Swati Dandekar.

Dandekar, a Democrat born and educated in India, has been living in Iowa for over thirty years and has served three terms as a member in the Iowa House of Representatives. In 2008, she threw her hat in the ring to run for an Iowa state Senate seat that had voted Republican for almost 20 years. Reaching out to many rural Iowans with a platform based on education, quality health care, renewable energy and economic growth, she won 54.3 percent of the vote and is seen as a rising star of Iowa politics.

Swati Dandekar could have played it safe and stayed in her House seat because most incumbents are re-elected. Instead, she chose to reach for a higher office that required her to knock on doors in areas where she had not represented the people and where knowledge of Asian Indian Americans may not have been high. As a result of her successful gamble, however, she now has added clout as she battles for educational opportunity and other key concerns. And APAs now have a state Senate-level standard-bearer in a state not know for its high percentage of APAs.

I echo the newspaper’s statement that Dandekar took a big risk in running for Senate district 18. Even though she has attracted a lot of cross-over Republican voters while representing Iowa House district 36, seeking the Senate seat long held by Mary Lundby (who retired) was no sure thing.

Congratulations to Dandekar for picking up a Senate seat for Iowa Democrats while making Asian Pacific Americans across the country proud.

Continue Reading...

Where the ticket-splitters are

Over at Swing State Project, Shinigami wrote a great diary about Congressional districts where voters split their tickets.

The big picture is that Barack Obama carried 240 Congressional districts, of which 32 sent Republicans to the U.S. House. John McCain carried 195 Congressional districts, of which 49 sent a Democrat to the U.S. House.

McCain’s advantage on this metric may surprise you, given how badly he was beaten in the electoral college, but Shinigami notes that

As has been the case since 1968, but with the exception of Bill Clinton in 1996, the GOP Presidential nominee, win or lose, has won more ticket-splitting districts than the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Click the link for the list of all the districts and some analysis of trends. The Obama/R districts are mostly in the midwest and the middle part of the east (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia), except for four in California, one in Washington, and two in Florida.

The McCain/D districts are mostly in the south, midwest and plains states, plus a few in the mountain west, two in New York and four in Pennsylvania.

Overall, just under 19 percent of House districts went for a presidential candidate from one party and a member of Congress from the other party. One of Iowa’s five districts (IA-04) fell into this category.

Really, do click over to read the whole piece. It is worth your time.

UPDATE: In the comments, Pistachio thinks it’s “crazy” that Republican Tom Latham was able to win by 21 points, even though Obama carried his district by 11 (actually, I think Obama’s margin in the district was less than that). SECOND UPDATE: Thanks to Bleeding Heartland user Johannes for linking to this spreadsheet he compiled on the presidential voting in Iowa’s Congressional districts. Obama won IA-04 by about 7.5 percent.

When the presidential votes by Congressional district have been tallied across the country (Swing State Project has these for the 2000 and 2004 elections and is working on compiling the same numbers for this year’s election), it would be interesting to see which districts had the most ticket-splitting voters. LA-02 is a special case, because if not for the corruption allegations surrounding Democrat Bill Jefferson he surely would not have lost the runoff by three in a district Obama carried by 50 points. But there are other districts with disparities as large or larger than that in IA-04. For instance, Obama carried Delaware by 25 points, but Republican Mike Castle retained that state’s at-large House seat by 23 points.

Continue Reading...

Update on U.S. House and Senate races

Yesterday runoff elections were held in Louisiana’s second and fourth Congressional districts.

In the biggest Congressional upset of the year, Democratic incumbent “Dollar Bill” Jefferson lost to Republican Joseph Cao in LA-02. You may remember Jefferson as the guy who kept $90,000 in cash in his freezer and used the National Guard to visit his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I’m normally a yellow-dog Democrat, but Jefferson is one Democrat I’m happy to see go.

No need to worry about winning back this seat in 2010, as David from Swing State Project explains:

So LA-02 is D+28 (old PVI). There is no district that is as red as this one is blue – UT-03 tops out at R+26. This reminds me of IL-05 in 1994 (1990s PVI: D+11) – corrupt Dan Rostenkowski got beaten by the unknown Michael Flanagan, who got soundly thumped by Rod Blagojevich two years later.

Remember, there are only nine other Republicans in Congress representing House districts with any kind of Democratic lean, and the most Democratic of those districts is D+6.5. Assuming Louisiana Democrats come up with a credible candidate in 2010, LA-02 should be an easy pickup.

The result in LA-04 yesterday was more disappointing. Democrat Paul Carmouche appears to be just 350 votes (less than 0.5 percent) behind Republican John Fleming. Carmouche is not conceding yet, but I doubt there are enough outstanding provisional and absentee ballots to put him over the top here. On the other hand, keeping it this close represents a kind of moral victory for Democrats, since John McCain carried LA-04 by 19 points on November 4. A Democrat “should” not even be competitive in a district like this.

Within the past week Democratic candidates conceded in California’s fourth and forty-fourth districts, which were both unexpectedly close despite having strong Republican partisan voting index numbers.

Provisional ballots are still being counted in Ohio’s fifteenth district. It looks like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance at beating Republican incumbent Steve Stivers, because the 26,000 provisional ballots are in her stronghold (see this post by brownsox for more details). Am I the only one who finds it suspicious that so many voters had to fill out provisional ballots? That’s almost 10 percent of all the voters in the district on November 4.

UPDATE: Kilroy has won OH-15 by about 2,000 votes. Her margin of victory is large enough not to trigger an automatic recount. Assuming the recount in LA-04 does not change last night’s result, the next Congress will have 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans. I’ll take it!

Moving to the Senate races, the Minnesota contest is sure to end up in the courts and perhaps resolved by the U.S. Senate. The state canvassing board has delayed its meeting to review thousands of challenged ballots until December 16, because one precinct that favored Al Franken appears to have lost about 130 ballots that were counted on election night. If the ballots are not found, he could lose several dozen votes, which could make the difference in this ridiculously close race. It’s still unclear whether absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors will be counted in Minnesota.

Click here to find a bunch of recent (and more detailed) accounts of what’s going on in Minnesota. Whoever ends up getting seated in the Senate is going to be viewed as illegitimate by many on the other side. I still can’t believe more than 400,000 Minnesotans voted for independent candidate Dean Barkley.

The presidential election results created a few Senate vacancies. The governor of Delaware appointed Ted Kaufman, a former chief of staff to Joe Biden, to take Biden’s place. The consensus seems to be that Biden set this up to leave the path clear for his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, to run in 2010 when there is a special election to determine who will serve out Joe Biden’s term (which ends in 2014). The younger Biden cannot serve in the Senate now because he has been deployed in Iraq.

In New York, Caroline Kennedy (the daughter of President John F. Kennedy) has become the surprise favorite to be appointed to take Hillary Clinton’s place. It strikes me as an odd choice in a state with many capable Democrats in the U.S. House. Nothing against Kennedy, who seems very smart and principled, but I think Governor David Paterson should pick someone with more relevant political experience for this job. More speculation on the New York Senate seat is here. As in Delaware, there will be a special election in 2010 to determine who will serve out Clinton’s term (which ends in 2012).

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich still has not announced his choice to replace Barack Obama in the Senate. Many people still expect Tammy Duckworth to have the inside track, especially since Obama is going with retired General Eric Shinseki for Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. On the other hand, Fox News says Illinois Senate President Emil Jones will be picked to serve out Obama’s term (which ends in 2010). Jones is considered a “safe” choice because he is both black and an “elder statesman” placeholder. If he is the pick, expect a very competitive Democratic Senate primary in Illinois in 2010.

Continue Reading...

Georgia runoff leaves no chance of 60-seat majority

We’re destined to find out whether the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate can break the record number of filibusters they set in 2007 and 2008.

Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss dramatically improved on his November 4 showing to win the runoff Senate election in Georgia by at least 10 points. The result doomed Democratic hopes of a 60-seat majority in the upper chamber.

It’s disappointing but not too surprising. Chambliss would have won outright on November 4 if not for Georgia’s unusual state law requiring the winner to receive 50 percent of the vote. Furthermore, Chambliss would have received 50 percent if not for extremely high black turnout with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, which benefited Democratic Senate candidate Jim Martin. Also, a Libertarian candidate won enough votes from Georgia conservatives last month to keep Chambliss from winning a majority.

I appreciate the tremendous campaign that Martin ran, which made a race out of what was supposed to be a Kansas or Oklahoma-style romp for the incumbent in this very red state. Unfortunately for Martin, turnout was light today, especially among black voters any Georgia Democrat needs to have a chance of winning a statewide election.

Democrats still have a chance to gain a 59th seat in the Senate, depending on what happens this month in Minnesota. The state canvassing board will consider thousands of challenged ballots, and the margin between Al Franken and Norm Coleman appears to be very slim. The outcome may depend on whether more than 1,000 absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors are counted. Many observers expect this contest to end up in court. It’s also possible that the U.S. Senate could get involved, as it did following an extremely close and disputed Senate race in New Hampshire in 1974.

Don’t despair, Democrats: we still have a decent number of Senate pickup opportunities in 2010. Just today, Florida Republican Mel Martinez announced that he does not plan to run for re-election.

Democrats to hold 56-44 advantage in Iowa House

A recount in Iowa House district 37 left Democratic incumbent Art Staed an agonizing 13 votes behind Republican challenger Renee Schulte. In many ways it’s worse to lose a close race than to get blown out, because you can’t help thinking about what might have happened if you’d just made a few more phone calls or knocked on a few more doors.

The result means that Democrats will hold 56 of the 100 seats in the Iowa House for the next two years (assuming no one switches parties).

That’s larger than the 53-47 edge Democrats had last session, but in this presidential year I had hoped for more Democratic gains in the statehouse.

Staed was a first-term incumbent and always among the top targets for Iowa Republicans. The corporate-backed Iowa Leadership Council and the American Future Fund were among conservative interest groups that ran television ads attacking Staed.

The difference between the Staed and Schulte was the smallest margin of victory in terms of raw votes for an Iowa legislative race this year. However, Jeff Danielson’s 22-vote victory in Senate district 10 was an even narrower margin in terms of the percentage of votes cast.

Can anyone remember a year with so many Iowa statehouse races decided by so few votes? Democratic incumbent Wes Whitead held on in House district 1 by only 60 votes, while Democrat Jerry Sullivan lost his bid for the open House district 59 by 93 votes. Democrat Kerry Burt beat Republican incumbent Tami Wiencek by fewer than 150 votes in House district 21.

UPDATE: I forgot that Democrat Dolores Mertz hung on to her seat in House district 8 by fewer than 50 votes as well.

VERY LATE UPDATE ON DECEMBER 22: Bleeding Heartland user rgiertz did some calculations:

Here are some final votes (according to Iowa SOS website) that I tabulated, some are a little different than your previous entry and there are a few that were close that were not mentioned.

District 1 Whithead (D) / Taylor (R) 55 votes (0.43%)

District 59 Sullivan (D) / Hagenow (R) 93 votes (0.54%)

District 21 Burt (D) / Wiencek (R) 219 votes (1.6%)

District 8 Mertz (D) / Richards (R)  43 votes (0.29%)

None of these were mentioned but I felt were worth noting (even though two did not result in Democrats’ victories, my apologies!)

District 37 Staed (D) / Schulte (R)  13 votes (0.07%)

District 74 Davitt (D) / Sorenson (R) 163 votes (0.93%)

District 89 Marek (D) / Klein (R) 157 votes (1.01%)

Continue Reading...

The Democratic edge in the Iowa Senate will be 32-18

A recount resolved the last Iowa Senate race to be called. In Senate district 10, Democratic incumbent Jeff Danielson defeated Walt Rogers by 22 votes. This was one of the surprisingly close races on election night, as Danielson was not considered a top-tier target of Republicans.

Iowa Democrats will have the largest advantage they have ever enjoyed in the Iowa Senate: 32-18.

One Iowa House race is still unresolved. Democratic incumbent Art Staed asked for a recount in House district 37, where the certified vote count showed him trailing Carolyn Renee Shulte by 14 votes. Staed was targeted not only by the Republican Party of Iowa but also by conservative interest groups such as the corporate-backed Iowa Leadership Council and the American Future Fund.

Depending on the outcome of the recount, the Democratic advantage in the Iowa House will be either 56-44 or 57-43.

Jackie Norris on Iowa Democrats' down-ticket disappointment

Iowa Independent’s Jason Hancock recently interviewed Jackie Norris, who ran Barack Obama’s Iowa campaign during the general election. (She conducted the interview before Norris accepted her new job as First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff.)

I found this exchange particularly interesting:

II: What effect do you think the Obama campaign will have on future campaigns, especially here in Iowa?

JN: I think Iowa is disappointed that more legislative candidates and candidates like Becky Greenwald didn’t win, that we didn’t see more of a coattail effect for down ballot candidates. The lesson learned is that in the counties where the Democrats weren’t organized before they realized that when they pool their efforts and work together they could actually get something done. I think what we’ve done is come in and be the catalyst for local political organizations. My hope is that once we leave they will still be energized and motivated for the next thing, whether that is a school board, a county auditor or a statehouse candidate.

II: But why weren’t the Obama coattails longer in Iowa?

JN: Iowans are notoriously independent. I also think that a lot of the people who voted were new voters and while we educated them enough to get them out to support the president they need to now be educated about the down ballot races. Not to say we didn’t do that, because I think we did see gains. But I think no one should assume voters would vote straight-ticket Democrat just because they turned out for a Democratic presidential candidate. The state and local parties need to continue to reach out to those voters in the future.

Before the election I often urged volunteers to remind voters to fill out the whole ballot and not just the oval next to Obama’s name. Every once in a while someone would ask why I was so worried about the potential “drop-off” (that is, the people who vote Democrat for president but don’t cast a vote in the down-ticket races).

Jackie Norris’s comments to Iowa Independent suggest that she thinks drop-off was the biggest problem for our statehouse candidates. That is consistent with what I’ve been hearing from staff and volunteers around the state. It is also possible, though, that the Republican scare-mongering about one-party socialist rule drove some Obama supporters away from down-ticket Democrats.

I still want to see more thorough analysis of the close statehouse races in Iowa, both the ones we lost and the ones we won.

Did the races we lost have a larger proportion of “drop-off” ballots? Or was the problem more likely to be related to ticket-splitting?

Several of our incumbents appeared to lose on election night but won once the early votes were counted. In the districts where we fell short, was the proportion of early votes lower than in the districts we held?

If you are willing to volunteer to look closely at the precinct-level results in one or more Iowa House or Senate districts, please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

Although further analysis needs to be done, the disappointing down-ticket results suggest to me that Iowa Democrats need more of a coordinated GOTV campaign in 2010 and 2012 than we had this year.

Continue Reading...

What does a challenged ballot look like?

In December the Minnesota State Canvassing Board will review hundreds of challenged ballots to see whether voter intent can be discerned. Their rulings could determine the outcome of the Minnesota Senate race, where fewer than 200 votes separate Al Franken and Norm Coleman. Many votes remain to be recounted before the canvassing board meets.

Minnesota Public Radio has posted photos of 11 ballots that have been challenged for different reasons. Click the link to view these ballots and vote on whether they should be accepted or rejected, and if accepted, for whom the vote should count.

Of the 11 ballots, I would only put one in the reject pile. Another was questionable, in my opinion. The other nine clearly showed a voter preference for Coleman, Franken or independent candidate Dean Barkley.

Update on Congressional races still to be decided

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Mark Begich took the lead as the early votes were counted, and seven-times-indicted Ted Stevens has conceded the Alaska Senate race. That makes seven Democratic pickups, with Georgia and Minnesota yet to be determined. The Democrats hold 56 Senate seats, and two independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders) also caucus with Democrats.

The polls in Georgia have shown Republican Saxby Chambliss ahead of Jim Martin by three or four points. It’s all going to come down to turnout–I doubt much voter persuasion will occur between now and December 2. Barack Obama moved his field staff from Ohio down to Georgia, and many other groups, like Democracy for America, are helping Martin too. The state’s largest newspaper has endorsed Martin.

Chambliss has to be favored in this red state, but if the Democrats have a superior GOTV effort, Martin could pull off an upset.

The Minnesota recount has begun. Al Franken went into it 215 votes behind Norm Coleman (out of more than 2.5 million cast, or 0.008 percent). As of Wednesday evening, he had narrowed the gap to 181 votes. The state has a good “voter intent” law, meaning that if a person can determine the voter’s intent, the vote will count even if an optical scanner did not record it.

I can’t say I feel overly confident, but this study suggests Franken may have a good chance of taking the lead during the recount.

One wrinkle is that Franken successfully sued to get information about voters whose absentee ballots were rejected in one county. His campaign wants that information for all of the counties so that wrongfully excluded absentee ballots can be counted. However, it’s not clear whether those votes will ever be counted, even if the ballots were rejected because of clerical error.

As for the House races, we narrowly lost in CA-44, a district we did not target that was not considered competitive.

CA-04 has still not been called, but Democrat Charlie Brown trails carpet-bagger Tom McClintock by about 600 votes, and it seems unlikely he will be able to make up that margin.

It looks like we will pick up VA-05, which was viewed as quite a longshot before the election.

Louisiana will hold two runoff elections in December. Corrupt Democrat “Dollar Bill” Jefferson will most likely hold the second district. The fourth district is competitive, and Dick Cheney recently headed to Shreveport to campaign for the Republican.

UPDATE: I forgot Ohio’s 15th district, which is going to count provisional ballots. It seems like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance of beating Republican Steve Stivers.

Democrats will end up with something between 255 and 259 House seats out of 438. Not bad at all.

Iowa now the best bellwether state

Josh Goodman alerted me to this piece he wrote for Governing.com: “Move Over Missouri, Iowa Is the New Bellwether State.”

John McCain appears likely to take Missouri’s 11 electoral votes, which would be the first time since 1956 that the state did not vote for the winner of the presidential election.

However, Goodman argues that Missouri has not been the best bellwether for the last few cycles. Even though it voted for the winner each time through 2004, Missouri has steadily trended more Republican in relation to the national popular vote.

Goodman then lists “the five states that have come closest to matching the national popular vote in each election since 1988.” (Click here to see which other states made these lists.) Guess what he found?

Iowa is the only state that has been one of the top five bellwethers in four of the last five elections. The only year that it doesn’t make the list is 1996, when it was sixth — and only off by 1.82 points.

So, in every presidential election from 1992 through 2008, Iowa’s popular vote margin was within 2.55 percentage points of the national popular vote result. That is an impressive performance as a bellwether. […]

None of that guarantees that “as Iowa goes, so goes the nation” in 2012. Four years out, elections are never that predictable. But, just from the numbers, if there’s one state that we can expect to be a microcosm of the nation in 2012, it’s Iowa.

It’s interesting that Iowa’s vote has tracked so closely to the national popular vote, even though Iowa’s population is relatively unrepresentative demographically (96 percent white and with a higher proportion of senior citizens than most states).

Anyone have a theory to explain this phenomenon?

Continue Reading...

Five ways to help win a Senate seat in Georgia

This is a quick reminder that the runoff election for U.S. Senate in Georgia will be on December 2, and there are many ways you can help Democrat Jim Martin beat Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss.

Depending on how the recount in Minnesota turns out, which won’t be resolved for a few weeks, Martin could be the key to getting Democrats to that magic filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

1. Go donate to Martin’s campaign. It will only take a minute of your time.

2. Help google-bomb Saxby Chambliss. This is easy, and Chris Bowers explains why it is helpful:

Have you started linking to Saxby Chambliss yet? The more people who do, the higher it will appear in search engine rankings. If we can push it into the first ten results for Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, then it will result in a lot of excellent voter contacts. Everyone who encounters the site will be a voter looking for more information on Saxby Chambliss, and we can show them this great website made by an enterprising activist.

Log on to the various blogs where you comment, and click on your user page. Then click “profile.” There should be an area where you can write text that will be your “signature,” attached to all comments you make.

You want to embed a link to the Saxby Chambliss website. Here is what I did:

See if Saxby Chambliss is helping you.

If you don’t know how to embed a link, write this all on one line with no spaces in between:


a href




Saxby Chambliss




3. Kick in a few more bucks to Martin’s campaign.

4. If you live in Georgia or close enough to travel there (not every Bleeding Heartland reader lives in Iowa!), sign up to volunteer for Martin’s campaign during the next few weeks. You were planning to take some time off for Thanksgiving anyway, right? Set aside extra time to volunteer.

Remember that there are many ways to volunteer besides knocking on strangers’ doors and calling strangers on the phone. You can help sort literature for the canvassers. You can help stuff envelopes. You can bring a home-made meal to the campaign office for the staff and other volunteers. I heard of one woman in Iowa who used to do laundry for field organizers renting apartments without washing machines. Every hour that staffer doesn’t have to spend in a laundromat is an hour he or she can be getting out the vote for Jim Martin.

5. Ask some friends or relatives to make a campaign contribution. Explain to them that this race will affect the Republicans’ ability to obstruct the change we need.

Please feel free to suggest other ways activists can help Martin bring this race home.

UPDATE: MyDD commenter ATL Dem made a fantastic suggestion:

In the meantime, I’m also running this Google ad to assist in desmoinesdem’s project No. 2:

Hi from Saxby Chambliss

Read about my work in D.C.

Too bad it’s not for you!


It’s getting monster response — over 15 percent of people searching for “Saxby Chambliss” are clicking it. The bad thing about that is that my $10 a day budget gets used up pretty fast, so if you’re of a mind to, go to Google and click on “Advertising Programs” and set up another ad.

Please feel free to steal this idea!

Continue Reading...

What did you get wrong? What did you get right?

We’ve had ten days to decompress from the election. It’s time for a little self-promotion and self-criticism.

What did you predict accurately during the past presidential campaign, and what did you get completely wrong?

The ground rules for this thread are as follows:

1. This is about your own forecasting skills. Do not post a comment solely to mock someone else’s idiocy.

2. You are not allowed to boast about something you got right without owning up to at least one thing you got wrong.

3. For maximum bragging rights, include a link to a comment or diary containing your accurate prediction. Links are not required, though.

I’ll get the ball rolling. Here are some of the more significant things I got wrong during the presidential campaign that just ended.

I thought that since John Edwards had been in the spotlight for years, the Republicans would probably not be able to spring an “October surprise” on us if he were the Democratic nominee. Oops.

In 2006 I thought Hillary’s strong poll numbers among Democrats were

inflated by the fact that she has a lot of name recognition. I think once the campaign begins, her numbers will sink like Lieberman’s did in 2003.

Then when her poll numbers held up in most states throughout 2007, I thought Hillary’s coalition would collapse if she lost a few early primaries. Um, not quite.

I thought Barack Obama would fail to be viable in a lot of Iowa precincts dominated by voters over age 50.

I thought Obama had zero chance of beating John McCain in Florida.

Here are a few things I got right:

I consistently predicted that Hillary would finish no better than third in the Iowa caucuses. For that I was sometimes ridiculed in MyDD comment threads during the summer and fall of 2007.

I knew right away that choosing Sarah Palin was McCain’s gift to Democrats on his own birthday, because it undercut his best argument against Obama: lack of experience.

I immediately sensed that letting the Obama campaign take over the GOTV effort in Iowa might lead to a convincing victory for Obama here without maximizing the gains for our down-ticket candidates. In fact, Iowa Democrats did lose a number of statehouse races we should have won last week.

By the way, please consider helping Bleeding Heartland analyze what went wrong and what went right for Democrats in some of the state House and Senate races.

Continue Reading...

Update on U.S. Senate seats still up for grabs

The Democrat challenging seven-time convicted felon Ted Stevens has taken a lead in the Alaska Senate race. OK, it’s only a three-vote lead among some 250,000 votes counted so far, but if I’m Mark Begich, I’ll take it. (UPDATE: Begich now leads by 814 votes out of some 263,000 counted.)

There are lots more early votes to be counted in the coming days, and no one seems to know exactly where they will come from. However, speculation in this thread at Swing State Project indicates that Democrats have reason to be optimistic about picking up the Senate seat from Alaska. That would bring the Democratic caucus to 58 (counting independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who votes with Democrats).

The Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman will go to a recount and may not be decided before the middle of December. According to the latest count, Coleman leads by 206 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast. Nate Silver examines Franken’s prospects from several different angles, and concludes:

The more that I examine this data, the more I’m beginning to believe that the number of reclassifiable ballots may be relatively low, but that the proportion of such ballots that are resolved in Franken’s favor may be relatively high. How these two factors will ultimately reconcile themselves, I don’t know.

The runoff Senate election in Georgia between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin will take place on December 2. There have not been any public polls yet in this race since the general election. A lot of Barack Obama’s field staff have reportedly moved to Georgia to work this race for Martin. The Republican playbook is to link Martin to Democratic leaders in Congress. Will that be enough for Chambliss in this red state?

At Swing State Project, Crisitunity published this overview of likely candidates to replace Joe Biden as U.S. Senator from Delaware. Biden’s son Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, is ineligible because of his current deployment. The most likely options are either Lieutenant Governor Jack Carney, or a seat-warmer who would let Beau Biden run for the seat in 2010, after his deployment has ended.

Speculation about Barack Obama’s replacement continues, with the first Illinois poll on the topic showing Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. as the most popular choice.

Six U.S. House races are still uncalled: Alaska’s at-large seat, California’s fourth district, California’s 44th district, Ohio’s 15th district, Louisiana’s second district, and Louisiana’s fourth district. The first four are Republican-held seats where the Republican candidate leads. LA-04 and LA-02 will hold runoff elections in December. Probably our best chance to pick up another seat is in OH-15.

Continue Reading...

Surprising results for minor-party presidential candidates

On the whole, Americans rejected minor presidential candidates. The nationwide popular vote stands at 66.3 million for Barack Obama (52.7 percent) and 58.0 million for John McCain (46.0 percent).

Out of curiosity, tremayne at Open Left reviewed the vote tallies for other presidential candidates:

530,200 votes: Ralph Nader

519,800 votes: Bob Barr

179,900 votes: Chuck Baldwin

147,600 votes: Cynthia McKinney

 30,800 votes: Alan Keyes (in CA)

 28,300 votes: Write-in/other

 10,500 votes: Ron Paul (in MT)

The Iowa Secretary of State’s office does not yet have the general election results on its website, and the Des Moines Register’s election results page only gives the numbers for Obama and McCain, but wikipedia gives these vote counts for Iowa:

818,240: Barack Obama

677,508: John McCain

7,963: Ralph Nader

4,608: Bob Barr

4,403: Chuck Baldwin

1,495: Cynthia McKinney

I am surprised that Nader got so many votes. That’s a lot less than he received in 2000 but at least 60,000 more votes nationwide than he received in 2004.

I also find it interesting that nationally, Bob Barr got three times as many votes as Chuck Baldwin, even though Ron Paul endorsed Baldwin. Maybe the “brand name” of the Libertarian Party is stronger than that of the Constitution Party, or maybe Barr just has more name recognition because of his prominent role in the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings.

In Iowa, Baldwin and Barr received approximately the same number of votes.

If any Bleeding Heartland readers have contacts in the Ron Paul for president crowd, please post a comment and let us know how the activists split among McCain, Barr and Baldwin.

UPDATE: A Bleeding Heartland reader compiled all the county results from Iowa and noticed something strange about Dubuque County. As he commented at Swing State Project, Dubuque County showed

quite a few votes for third party candidates and in some instances (La Riva/Moses) more than in the whole rest of Iowa.

I suspect there’s either something wrong with those numbers or they had some strange butterfly ballot.

Did anyone out there vote in Dubuque County, and if so, was the ballot design strange in some way that would produce an unusually high number of minor-party votes for president?

Continue Reading...

Obama victory pressures white Europe to confront race

Not to be immodest about the US progressive movement’s efficacy, but we apparently didn’t just win this for America’s sake. That’s some powerful good we worked in the world. 🙂

I realize that this is topically a bit bigger than the state blog beat, but we ought to take ownership of the meta/civilizational changes we helped create too.

Obama’s victory stirs Europe to confront race issue

LONDON – For months before Barack Obama’s election last week, his popularity ratings in Europe soared to levels never matched in America. Now that Obama is headed to the Oval Office as the first African-American president, his victory is prompting Europeans to confront some uncomfortable questions about race within their own countries.

In Britain, the head of the government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission sparked a public debate for saying that a minority politician as “brilliant” as Obama would struggle to “break through the institutional stranglehold on power within the Labor Party.”

“The problem is not the electorate, the problem is the machine,” Trevor Phillips, who is black, told The Times of London. “It’s institutional racism” that extends beyond a single political party, he said.

In France, meanwhile, the wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy has thrown her support behind a new campaign that seeks to wipe out racism and end the white stranglehold on France’s elite political and social institutions. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, a musician and former model, is backing a manifesto published over the weekend that is subtitled “Oui, nous pouvons!” (French for “Yes, we can!”).

Story here.

Will new leadership help Iowa Republicans? (updated)

I am disappointed that the Democrats did not gain as many seats in the Iowa legislature as I’d hoped. With Barack Obama winning this state by 9 percent and Democrats enjoying a big voter registration advantage, we should have done better in the statehouse races. We need to analyze what sank some of our down-ticket candidates so we can do better in 2010.

None of that should obscure the much bigger problems currently facing the Republican Party of Iowa.

Six days after the fourth straight election in which Republicans have lost seats in both the Iowa House and Senate, the Republicans House caucus voted to replace Christopher Rants of Sioux City as their leader. Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha (a suburb of Cedar Rapids) will take on the job. According to the Des Moines Register,

Rants and Paulsen have starkly different governing styles. Rants is known at the Capitol as a fighter, often using sharp language to rally for his party. For years, he has been the main go-to guy for his party, advising them on nearly every issue.

Paulsen has been described by his peers as being rather mellow. He’s also got a reputation of being able to work well with Democrats. This summer, for example, he was seen frequently working with other legislators such as Sen. Robert Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, on flood-related issues.

With two House races yet to be decided, Republicans are likely to end up with only 44 of the 100 seats in the lower chamber. Eight years ago they had 56 seats. The delegation is not only smaller, but also more conservative than it was in the past. For instance, my own House distict 59 has traditionally been represented by moderates (Janet Metcalf, Gene Maddox, Dan Clute), but incoming representative Chris Hagenow was backed by right-wing interest groups.

Speaking of those two House seats that are still too close to call, let this be a lesson to voters about the importance of filling out the whole ballot. Democratic incumbent Wes Whitead leads by six (!) votes in House district 1, and some ballots are being challenged because an estimated 100 to 120 Woodbury County voters received absentee ballots listing candidates in the wrong state House district.

In House district 37, highly targeted Democratic incumbent Art Staed trailed Republican Renee Schulte by less than 50 votes on election night and by only 14 votes as of Friday. If Whitead’s lead holds and a recount changes the outcome of Staed’s race, House Republicans would end up with with only 43 seats for the next two legislative sessions.

Speaking of contested ballots, the votes of 50 Grinnell students who listed the address where they receive mail, rather than the address of the dorm they live in, will be counted in House district 75. As I predicted, that race turned out not to be close enough for the challenged votes to be decisive. Targeted Democratic incumbent Eric Palmer beat former state representative Danny Carroll by about 1,200 votes (54 percent to 46 percent).

About those close races: the Republicans might have picked up more seats if the Democrats had not banked so many early votes. Rants announced after being ousted as House Republican leader that “he’ll now take on a personal crusade to spark Republican voter registration drives and early voting as a way to help his party rebound.” Building an effective early-voting campaign will not happen overnight, though.

Republicans in the Iowa Senate are considering changing their leadership as well, now that their Senate caucus will be the smallest in history. Depending on the outcome of the extremely close race in Senate district 10, Republicans will hold just 18 or 19 seats out of 50.

The national economic and political climate could be very different in 2010, which may give some Republicans hope. But don’t imagine it will be easy for them to defeat Governor Chet Culver and win back a net six or seven seats in the House and the Senate. A few years ago, Republicans and Democrats had about the same number of registered voters in Iowa. Yet Culver beat Congressman Jim Nussle (who was considered a strong candidate) by about 100,000 votes in 2006. Culver goes into the next campaign with the advantages of incumbency as well as a Democratic lead in voter registration.

The Republican Party of Iowa also faces divisive battles between social conservatives and moderates. Stewart Iverson announced last week that he will not seek another term as state party chairman. Polk County Republican Chairman Ted Sporer wants the job and wants to make the party more confrontational:

“We need to fight with the Democrats. I want to fight with the Democrats every day,” he said. “I want our party leadership to join me in that.”

The current GOP leadership has led the party to the bottom, he said.

“If 2009 doesn’t look like the bottom has dropped out, I mean if this isn’t truly where you bottom out, what’s it going to look like?” he said. “We have to turn around and start fighting back.”

Sporer said the party must return to its conservative values, from fiscal to social and everywhere in between.

“We were so not conservative in the last election cycle,” he said, adding: “[Republicans] are so afraid of losing power that they pander to the middle instead of running hard and proud as who they are.”

But even before the election, moderate Iowa Republicans were planning to “fight back against the evangelicals and goofballs who have taken over the party.” Goofballs such as U.S. Senate candidate Christopher Reed and Kim Lehman, who was elected Republican national committeewoman this summer at the GOP state convention (replacing Sandy Greiner). Steve Roberts, another moderate Republican who lost his RNC slot to a social conservative, suggested before the election that Lehman should choose between leading Iowa Right to Life and serving on the RNC.

The moderates (including 2002 gubernatorial nominee Doug Gross according to Cityview) think Republicans should not take such a hard line on social issues. Former Republican lieutenant governor Joy Corning, who is pro-choice, took issue with Lehman in this letter to the Des Moines Register:

Pro-life can and does mean pro-choice to great numbers of Republicans. It means they want government to let individual citizens decide on matters best left to each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility.

If Kim Lehman, one of two Iowa representatives on the Republican National Committee, makes being anti-choice a litmus test, it only further divides the Republican Party.

We are defined by principles that have been our foundation since the time of Lincoln – limited government, strong defense, fiscal responsibility, self-determination and opportunity. We are not defined by a National Right to Life survey.

Last week’s election results strengthen the moderate Republicans’ argument, in my opinion. Lynda Waddington of Iowa Independent showed in this piece that Republican statehouse candidates who emphasized abortion as a campaign issue did not do very well.

But who will take on and defeat Sporer in a campaign to lead the state party? His belief that the GOP has been losing because it’s not conservative enough is shared by most Republicans, even if the overall electorate disagrees.

I don’t give the moderates much chance against the “goofballs” if Republican activists are doing the choosing.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that as a rule, the party out of power sees more of its members retire from the state legislature. It’s not much fun being in the minority during the legislative session. In all likelihood, Republicans will go into the 2010 cycle with more open seats to defend in the Iowa House and Senate.

I also want to link to a few conservative bloggers’ commentaries on the situation facing the Republican Party of Iowa.

At his own blog, Ted Sporer lays out his vision for a “Republican Rebirth” in Iowa. Many of his ideas are grounded in the Republican mainstream, but make no mistake: Sporer is more closely aligned with the “goofballs” than with the moderates.

After Christopher Reed went way over the top in his debate with Tom Harkin last month, Sporer defended Reed’s description of the four-term incumbent as the “Tokyo Rose of al-Qaeda.” To hear Sporer tell it, this phrase was “accurate,” and “we need more discussion of objective factual truths in politics.” Furthermore, he argued that Reed’s line of attack against Harkin could have been a winning message if only Reed had had “more money, a staff and some TV advertising.” This tells me that if Sporer does become Iowa GOP chairman, we’re in for a lot of Newt Gingrich-style rhetorical bomb-throwing in 2010.

The well-connected Krusty Konservative notes that groups of Republican moderates and conservatives have met in recent days to discuss the way forward:

While I’m glad that both the establishment crowd and conservative activists are meeting, I just wish they would sit down and meet together. If this turns out to be a battle between the two groups only one thing will come of it; defeat.

Krusty also wants social conservatives to be “more inclusive and tolerant of people and candidates who don’t comply with a strict anti-abortion litmus test.” But he had this to say to the Republicans who blame the religious right for losing elections:

It amazes me that the social conservatives are being blamed for the lack of message within the Republican Party. This couldn’t me farther from the truth. The liberal media would lead you to believe that our candidates only talk about gay marriage and abortion. […]

When you look at the message breakdown on economic/kitchen table issues it’s been the establishment candidates who have failed us. In this last presidential campaign we saw John McCain lose the kitchen table issues to Obama, but we shouldn’t have been surprised, our Republican standard barers [sic] have not been able to win the debate on economic issues vs. their Democrat challengers for more than a decade.

Commenting on my post about the problems facing Republicans nationally, Bleeding Heartland user dbrog recommended watching the latest Iowa Press program on Iowa Public Television. The video is here, and you can download the transcript at the same page on the IPTV website.

Krusty Konservative wasn’t optimistic after watching:

Interestingly enough both National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Doug Gross discussed the future of the Republican Party in Iowa on Iowa Press this past weekend. The interview didn’t generate any real fireworks, but it also lacked any specific ideas to move our party forward. All I took out of it was to expect more of the same, which means we should prepare to lose more legislative seats in 2010 and maybe a statewide elected Republican unless we can rally around the cause of winning elections.

Blogger abregar of the Iowa Defense Alliance describes what he wants to see in a party chairman:

The Republican Party of Iowa is in crisis. As a party we have just come off another losing election cycle. There were a few areas that provided a sense of optimism, but they are few and far between. It has become obvious that the current party leadership does not know how to win. Their strategy has led us down the road to defeat yet again.  The party is fractured and in need of healing yet our leadership has not attempted to do just that. The next RPI Chair needs to be someone that understands and supports all the values and ideals that our party stands for. Essentially the next Chair should eat, sleep, and drink the party platform. The next RPI Chair must unite our crippled and fractured party. There are deep divisions in the party right now that current leadership has done little to heal.

To my mind, a GOP chair who “eats, sleeps and drinks the party platform” will be unable to heal the party’s divisions, because social conservatives have been so dominant in crafting that platform. But that’s not the most interesting part of abregar’s analysis:

I cannot deny that under normal circumstances I think that [Sporer] would excel as Chair of RPI. Ted is solid on all the issues that represent the Republican Party here in Iowa. He most definitely is outspoken and has great ideas. At this point in time, Ted may not be the right person for the job. Far too many people across the state Ted is a symbol of the Polk County political machine and they resent that. […] Other party members across the state see the influence that Polk County has and they resent it. I hate to say this, but I don’t think that Ted would bring the party together like we need.

Right now RPI needs a leader that can reach across the state to bring Republicans together. We need someone that is going to be a strong leader that will promote our issues and values. We need a strong leader that will loudly and vocally support all of our candidates, not just one or two. We need someone that is going to be solid on all Republican issues. In order to do this RPI is going to need to look outside of Polk County.

Not surprisingly, the most influential Republican moderates in this state are based in Polk County, which contains Des Moines and most of its suburbs. Polk County is also where a lot of the heavy-hitter Republican donors live (both moderate and conservative). If the state GOP takes abregar’s advice and looks outside Polk County, will unifying the party become any easier?

The bottom line is that there is no easy path forward for the Republican Party of Iowa.

Continue Reading...

Hubler criticizes GOTV effort

Rob Hubler sent this e-mail to his supporters today:

Dear [desmoinesdem],

The highest appreciation that can be given a person in the Navy is “Well done!” To all of you I give my sincerest “WELL DONE!”  I cannot be prouder of all your efforts and your response to this campaign. Everyone went above and beyond their capabilities.

I want to share my thoughts about what went right, and what went wrong, so we can learn from events and continue to build a progressive force in the Fifth District, and I need to ask you for a little extra help to close out this chapter.  But first I offer some words from an essay by Tim Wise, that describe the work that has just begun with the election: http://www.redroom.com/blog/ti…

   “…And so it is back to work. Oh yes, we can savor the moment for a while, for a few days, perhaps a week. But well before inauguration day we will need to be back on the job, in the community, in the streets, where democracy is made, demanding equity and justice in places where it hasn’t been seen in decades, if ever. Because for all the talk of hope and change, there is nothing–absolutely, positively nothing–about real change that is inevitable. And hope, absent real pressure and forward motion to actualize one’s dreams, is sterile and even dangerous. Hope, absent commitment is the enemy of change, capable of translating to a giving away of one’s agency, to a relinquishing of the need to do more than just show up every few years and push a button or pull a lever.

   This means hooking up now with the grass roots organizations in the communities where we live, prioritizing their struggles, joining and serving with their constituents, following leaders grounded in the community who are accountable not to Barack Obama, but the people who helped elect him. Let Obama follow, while the people lead, in other words…”

We all know things did not go as we had all wanted and anticipated. It is far too early to get a complete handle on what happened. With the effort you put into our campaign the results should have been better.  We did receive more votes then any 5th district candidate has in the past, but the percentage was about the same as in previous races. We had considerable impact with Republican and independent voters–a tribute to your efforts. This was always a major effort of our campaign and we succeeded.

The early indication is that we did not do as well as we should have with Democrats.   Anecdotal evidence suggests that the GOTV effort we all worked so hard on was not directed to the folks that would have boosted our Democratic total and helped the down ticket.  Democrats across the district and the state did not win where we should have.  Kurt is one example of a Democrat who should have won, given the demographics of his district, but lost by fewer than 400 votes.  A better GOTV effort would have helped him.

The good news is that our campaign leaves a greatly improved Democratic organization in the 5th. There is a new sense of identity and a new willingness to improve on the infrastructure you all built. We have the foundation of a viable two-party system in our district. We can build and be competitive at the local and state level. Clearly we will throw away an opportunity if we do not unite behind our newly-energized party, and position ourselves to do even better than we did this year. These gains can be expanded and I will be working toward making this happen.

The bad news is that we must pay off a remaining debt of $10,000. You were one of those who were so generous and helped our campaign. I am asking you to contribute once again to eliminate the debt I have incurred, which is mostly owed to the staff. You all saw a staff that was totally dedicated to the campaign, and devoted great energy and sleep time to our effort.  As a past campaign staffer, I know how many times campaigns close without paying what is owed to staff members. I know it is my personal responsibility to fulfill my agreements with them, but I have expended all of my personal resources already and must depend upon you to help. A $25 or more contribution by you would be very much appreciated.

I look forward to the next two years of helping President Obama to answer the challenges we have been talking about in this campaign, and continuing our vigilant watch on Steve King. He is the only elected official who celebrated the election by being combative and disgraceful.  He is in stark contrast to John McCain’s gracious call for bipartisanship, and the need for cooperation in these trying times for our nation.  Whether King runs for reelection in 2010 or runs for Governor, we in the Fifth must continue to dog him and hold him accountable.  I know you will join me in this effort.

This is not an announcement of a campaign for 2010.  I am not going to even think about running again for a long time, if ever.  I am making this commitment to stay in the fight, however, no matter who is running for Congress in the election years to come.  This race was never about me, it was about real representation for the Fifth District, and it was about you.  My commitment to you will not waver.

We have a daunting task before us as a district, a state, and a nation. Barack Obama is a visionary who is up to the task. Senator Tom Harkin, Gov. Culver, Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, Leonard Boswell, our Democratic State House and Senate will all join with our new President to tackle the tasks at hand. We will bring real rural development to Iowa. We will stand with working families, family farmers and ranchers, the middle class and those who have no voice. And as we continue to do our part, collectively, we will bring back the respect the people of the 5th want and deserve.  It will not be easy but we have a good start. Let us continue what we have begun and work together to make our district a place of justice and not a national laughing stock.

I hope you will continue with me in our fight. The new page is turning even here. We have taken many steps and we must continue our journey until our job is complete.  We were not defeated. We have only been further challenged. We are up to the task. Let’s continue till we arrive at victory.

Thanks again for joining this campaign for Justice and peace. Step by step we will get there.

Peace and Justice,

Rob Hubler

(712) 352-2077

P.S. Your contribution of any amount helps us finish this campaign with the integrity from which we started it. I sincerely appreciate your assistance from the beginning to the end.

What Hubler says here about the GOTV effort is similar to what I am hearing from people all over this state. We lost statehouse races we should not have lost, races the House Democrats felt confident about going into the election. I have not crunched the numbers myself to confirm, but some are saying that the “drop-off” (that is, the number of people who cast a vote for president but not for state House or Senate candidates) was much greater this year than in 2004.

If anyone out there who worked in an Obama field office would like to give me your side of the story regarding the turnout effort or help provided to down-ticket Democrats, please contact me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

The “Kurt” referred to in this message is Rob Hubler’s son Kurt Hubler, Democratic candidate in House district 99 (Pottawattamie County). He lost narrowly to Doug Struyk, a former Democrat who switched parties and was one of the candidates supported by the American Future Fund during the final days of the campaign.

Looking at the election results, I noticed that only about 11,000 votes were cast in Kurt Hubler’s race, which is a lot less than the more than 16,000 votes cast in my own district 59. That’s one side effect of the generally lower turnout in Pottawattamie County, compared to 2004. Polk County, where district 59 is located, had higher turnout this year than in 2004.

I encourage you to help Hubler retire his campaign debt by donating one last time. He put tremendous effort into running a real campaign in a very tough district for Democrats.

Continue Reading...

Help Bleeding Heartland analyze the 2008 Iowa election results

There were so many extremely close races for the Iowa House and Senate that we don’t yet know how many seats Iowa Democrats will have in each chamber. Once again, several districts proved to be a lot more competitive than anyone expected before Tuesday. The strong early voting for Democrats saved a few of our incumbents.

There’s a lot of work to be done in figuring out why we won and lost some of the close races. I plan to look carefully at what happened in my own district 59, but I don’t have time to research and write up all of the stories about all of the districts.

I encourage Bleeding Heartland readers to write about what happened in Iowa’s down-ticket races this year. I will promote to the front page any good analysis you can provide about why we won this race or why we lost that race.

Some useful information would be:

What was the winner’s margin in the district (total votes and percentage)?

What kinds of ads did the Democratic and Republican candidates or outside interest groups like American Future Fund run in the district (if any)? Was most of the advertising positive or negative? Did the Democratic candidate respond to any negative advertising?

What issues did the candidates bring up in their direct-mail pieces or the fliers they left on doorsteps? Taxes? Unions? Education? Smoking ban? Abortion?

Did the Democratic candidate in the district underperform or overperform Barack Obama, in terms of a percentage of the vote?

What was the “drop-off” in the district? By that I mean how many votes were cast for president and how many for the state House or Senate race? How many raw votes did Obama receive in the district, and how many did our Democratic statehouse candidate receive?

What kind of GOTV did our Democratic candidate have in the district? Was his or her campaign handling it for the most part, or was it organized by the Iowa Democratic Party or the Obama campaign field office in the area?

If you like, you can look at more than one district that are close to each other and try to figure out why we won one but lost the other.

I would also appreciate it if someone would volunteer to closely examine the turnout in Iowa by county. Which counties showed more votes cast this year than in 2004? Which counties showed fewer votes cast than in 2004? What about the turnout percentages? Some counties may have had more votes cast but a lower turnout percentage if there were lots of new voter registrations.

I would also like to hear from more people who worked for an Obama field office in Iowa or for a statehouse campaign. If you don’t want to write about your experience but are willing to share some of your thoughts off the record, please e-mail me at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com so that we can arrange a time to talk.

Update on the Congressional races

It’s time for a new thread on the Congressional races across the country.

First, I need to make two corrections. I reported late Tuesday night that Tom Harkin had won all of Iowa’s 99 counties. That was based on a map on the election results page of the Des Moines Register’s website, which showed all of Iowa’s 99 counties in blue. However, the Daily Kos election scoreboard shows the true picture (click on “Senate,” then on Iowa). Harkin won “only” 94 Iowa counties. He lost Page County in southwest Iowa as well as Sioux, Lyon, O’Brien and Osceola in the northwest corner.

Second, I have reported that EMILY’s List provided no financial support to Becky Greenwald’s campaign in the fourth Congressional district. However, Bleeding Heartland commenter Bill Spencer pointed out that Greenwald’s third quarter FEC filing shows a $5,000 contribution from EMILY’s List on September 22 (a few days after the group endorsed Greenwald).

It’s worth noting that when EMILY’s List strongly commits to a race, they invest considerably more than $5,000 in the candidate.

Earlier this year, EMILY’s List backed Nikki Tinker in the Democratic primary in Tennessee’s ninth district against Steve Cohen, who had a perfect pro-choice voting record. I have not been able to confirm a number, but EMILY’s list was reported to have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advocating for Tinker.

James L. of Swing State Project compiled this comprehensive chart showing independent expenditures in House races across the country. Look at how much EMILY’s List spent in some other districts: more than $160,000 in IL-11, nearly $150,000 in CO-04, nearly $60,000 in OH-15, more than $30,000 in NH-01, $19,000 in FL-13, $16,500 in NY-26.

That only counts the money EMILY’s List itself spends on behalf of Congressional candidates. The group can also raise substantial funds for candidates through their mailing list. Donors to EMILY’s List receive direct-mail and e-mail appeals regularly, asking them to contribute directly to key candidates from around the country. These letters contain short bios of the candidates EMILY’s List is backing. I have confirmed from more than one source that EMILY’s List did not send out any direct-mail or e-amil appeals urging members to contribute to Greenwald’s campaign.

So, while I was wrong to write that EMILY’s List provided no financial support to Greenwald, it is accurate to say that they did little to help her beyond issuing a press release very late in the game.

Getting to the big picture, Democrats have picked up six U.S. Senate seats: Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Virginia. Three races have yet to be called. Norm Coleman leads Al Franken in Minnesota by 236 votes (out of more than 2.5 million cast) at the latest count. There will be a mandatory recount in this race once the initial count has been completed. I read last night that Franken can win if even one extra vote for him is found in every eight Minnesota precincts.

We may be headed for a recount in Alaska, although it seems unlikely that Mark Begich can overcome convicted felon Ted Stevens’ narrow lead. There is some speculation that Stevens will resign or be expelled from the Senate, in which case a different Republican (Sarah Palin?) could take the seat.

By the way, the election results in Alaska diverged from pre-election polling in an almost unprecedented way, not only in the Senate race but also in the presidential voting and in the race for Alaska’s at-large seat in the House. Further investigation is needed to figure out whether all polls in Alaska (and Alaska alone) were way off, or whether there was any tampering with the vote counting.

Georgia will hold a runoff in December between Jim Martin and the Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss. I don’t have high hopes for this one, since Georgia is a Republican state to begin with and I think the GOP base will be motivated to reduce President Obama’s working majority in the Senate. However, anything can happen. On a related note, there are some anomalies in the turnout figures in Georgia that will require further analysis.

As for the U.S. House, Democrats picked up 23 seats on Tuesday and lost four for a net gain of 19 and a total of 255. Seven races have not been called, all of them in Republican-held districts. Democratic candidates are leading in only two of those (MD-01 and VA-05). Republican leads are extremely small in OH-15 and CA-04, but the picture looks more discouraging for our side in CA-44 (a real under-the-radar race), WA-08 and Alaska’s at-large seat.

If all the candidates currently leading are eventually declared the winners, Democrats would hold 257 House seats and Republicans 181. Crisitunity posted these charts showing Republicans in blue districts and vice versa. Note that the partisan voting index for every Congressional district will have to be recalculated, tossing the 2000 presidential voting and adding the 2008 presidential voting. But using the current partisan voting index numbers (which are based on the 2000 and 2004 presidential voting), only nine Republicans in the whole country represent districts with any Democratic lean at all. One of them is Iowa’s own Tom Latham.

In contrast, at least nine Democrats represent deep-red Congressional districts with a partisan index of at least R+10 (for perspective, Iowa’s fifth district is R+8). Many more Democrats represent districts with only a slightly less Republican lean. We lost incumbent Nancy Boyda in KS-02 (R+7) but picked up Betsy Markey in CO-04 (R+9).

What does Crisitunity’s post mean for Iowans? I take away two lessons.

First, there’s no question that Latham will be tough to beat in 2010, but if he vacates the seat IA-04 becomes a top pickup opportunity for Democrats. I would be very surprised to see him run for governor, but if Chuck Grassley were to retire for any reason I think Latham would take a shot at the Senate race.

Second, looking at the nationwide picture, Democrats are far more competitive in red Congressional districts than Republicans are in blue districts. I am confident that the Republicans have very little chance of recapturing IA-01 and IA-02.

Also, a new Democratic candidate will be favored to hold IA-03 whenever Leonard Boswell retires, even if redistricting after the 2010 census somewhat reduces the Democratic lean in this district.

This is an open thread for any commentary on any of the U.S. House or Senate races.

I need to link to The Onion more often

Watch this video: Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

This is also worth a read:

Although polls going into the final weeks of October showed Sen. Obama in the lead, it remained unclear whether the failing economy, dilapidated housing market, crumbling national infrastructure, health care crisis, energy crisis, and five-year-long disastrous war in Iraq had made the nation crappy enough to rise above 300 years of racial prejudice and make lasting change.

“Today the American people have made their voices heard, and they have said, ‘Things are finally as terrible as we’re willing to tolerate,” said Obama, addressing a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters. “To elect a black man, in this country, and at this time-these last eight years must have really broken you.” […]

Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday’s election.

According to a CNN exit poll, 42 percent of voters said that the nation’s financial woes had finally become frightening enough to eclipse such concerns as gay marriage, while 30 percent said that the relentless body count in Iraq was at last harrowing enough to outweigh long ideological debates over abortion. In addition, 28 percent of voters were reportedly too busy paying off medical bills, desperately trying not to lose their homes, or watching their futures disappear to dismiss Obama any longer.

These short pieces made me laugh too:

McCain Gets Hammered at Local VFW

Republican Party, Average Working Joe Bid One Another Adieu Until 2012

Continue Reading...

New thread on national election results and fallout

Jeff Merkley pulled ahead in the Oregon Senate race, which brings the Democrats a sixth seat gained in the upper chamber. (The others were in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado.)

We are headed for a recount in Minnesota, where Norm Coleman leads Al Franken by 0.03 percent of the vote. What is wrong with the 400,000+ people who voted for independent candidate Dean Barkley?

Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted in Alaska, where seven-time convicted felon Ted Stevens has a narrow lead over Mark Begich. They sure like their Republicans in Alaska.

The Georgia Senate race will go to a runoff in December, but Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss has to be heavily favored over Jim Martin.

If I could choose only one of the late-to-be-determined races to win, I would pick Oregon. Merkley has been very effective in the Oregon legislature and is going to be a huge asset to progressives in the Senate. Also, he is likely to have an easier time holding this seat than our candidates would in AK, MN or GA.

There are still a few U.S. House races to be determined. It looks as if Democrats will end up with a net gain of about 19 or 20 seats, which gives them a solid majority of about 250 (there are 435 seats in the House of Representatives).

However, there’s no getting around the fact that many analysts were forecasting Democratic gains of 25 to 30 seats before the election. Republicans have to feel good about protecting most of their incumbents from the Obama wave. The Democrats did not make enough of a case for why a Democratic Congress would be a force for good, and the Republicans may have energized their base with warnings about one-party rule.

As for the presidential race, some of John McCain’s staffers and conservative talking heads are already trying to blame Sarah Palin for dragging down the Republican ticket. They are complaining about her clothes shopping spree and her refusal to accept preparation for her interview with Katie Couric. I agree that Palin hurt McCain, but get real: whose fault is it that such an uninformed, unprepared candidate was on the ticket?

If Fox News goes along with the effort to discredit Palin (and judging from this clip, they will), it will be interesting to see if the network’s ratings decline. Palin now has a loyal following among ideological conservatives who are the core viewers for Fox. If you watch Fox or listen to any right-wing talk radio, post a comment or write a diary about how the various hosts are explaining McCain’s loss. I am curious to see how many parts of the right-wing noise machine try to undermine Palin, and how many will keep encouraging her to run for president in 2012.

Also, if you know Republicans who were active in supporting a presidential candidate this past year, do you think they would stick with that candidate in 2012, or might they prefer Palin?

Looking to the future on the Democratic side, Clinton White House staffer Mike Lux explains what’s wrong with the conventional wisdom about Clinton’s so-called “overreaching” in 1993 and 1994.

Early analysis of the presidential voting is already appearing. Obama did better than Al Gore or John Kerry among protestants and evangelicals, including frequent church-goers.

At Swing State Project, Crisitunity has already calculated the new partisan voting indices for all 50 states, taking into account the 2008 election results. The partisan voting index looks at the popular vote in each state from the last two presidential elections, and compares that to the nationwide popular vote. So, in a state that is R+5, the share of the vote garnered by Bush in 2004 and McCain this year is about five percent higher than the share of the national popular vote Bush and McCain received.

Although Obama did substantially better than Al Gore and John Kerry in many states, he also outperformed those candidates in the national popular vote. The result is that the change in partisan voting index is minimal for most states. Crisitunity explains,

In most people’s minds, this was a sea change election, a total map-changer… but if you look closely at the underlying data and not just the colors on the TV screen, it wasn’t. Most of the states behaved exactly as you’d expect them to, coming in a few points more Democratic in a year where the Democratic candidate performed a few points better than the previous few Democratic candidates. In other words, most states’ boats were lifted the same amount by the one overall rising blue tide.

There were some big shifts and drops, though; where were they? The states where the PVI most notably shifted to the Democrats were Colorado (+3), Hawaii (+6), Indiana (+3), Montana (+4), Nevada (+3), New Mexico (+3), North Dakota (+3), South Dakota (+3), and Vermont (+5). With the exception of Hawaii (favorite son effect) and Vermont (large 2000 Nader effect falling out of the equation), the explanation for these states seems to be a combination of two factors: Obama’s greater appeal (maybe personality-wise more so than policy-wise) to midwestern and western states, and the fact that the Obama campaign actually put a lot of ground game effort into these states instead of treating them as an afterthought.

Based on the 2000 and 2004 presidential election results, Iowa had a partisan voting index of D+0, meaning the state as a whole closely mirrored nationwide popular voting for president. Dropping the 2000 numbers and adding the 2008 results, Crisitunity calculated a PVI of D+1 for Iowa, meaning our state has a very slight Democratic tilt compared to the national electorate.

This is an open thread for any thoughts you have about the election or anything interesting you’ve read lately about the results.

Continue Reading...

New thread on Iowa election results

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that overall turnout in Iowa in 2008 was lower than it was in 2004. That is surprising, given the well-documented surge in new voter registrations.

Which people who participated in 2004 stayed home yesterday, and how did that affect the results?

Tom Harkin won all 99 counties, which is remarkable considering that John McCain beat Barack Obama in 46 or 47 of Iowa’s counties. Even in Republican areas, they’re looking for more in a U.S. senator than trash talk and smackdowns. Does anyone remember whether Chuck Grassley carried all 99 counties in 2004?

(UPDATE: The Daily Kos election scoreboard shows Christopher Reed beating Harkin in Page County in the southwest part of the state and in the four counties in the northwest corner. There may be a mistake on the Des Moines Register’s map, which shows all 99 counties in blue for the Senate race.)

The words “idiot” and “insane person” will be removed from the Iowa Constitution.

Speaking of idiots, Steve King got away with barely campaigning in the fifth district, winning by at least 20 points. Politics can be cruel, and I feel for Rob Hubler, who worked so hard for so long to give fifth district residents a credible candidate.

Nationwide, many Democratic challengers in districts like IA-05 fell far short. Nancy Boyda, a surprise winner from 2006 in KS-02, was a surprise loser last night. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested millions of dollars in other similarly Republican districts like MN-06 and AZ-03, and our challengers lost those too.

After beating Kim Schmett by 57 percent to 42 percent (about double his margin of victory in 2006), third district Congressman Leonard Boswell immediately vowed to run for re-election in 2010. Can’t some Democratic heavy-hitters who are on good terms with Boswell encourage him to retire? Barring that, is there anyone willing to start fundraising for a 2010 primary challenge who would have some establishment support?

We may have to run against Tom Latham in a redrawn third district in 2012, and it would be helpful to have a new Democratic incumbent in place before that happens.

Bruce Braley was the incumbent re-elected by the largest margin, 64 percent to 36 percent. I agree with John Deeth that Republican moderates are going to challenge Dave Hartsuch in his 2010 state senate primary.

Dave Loebsack won big in the second district, by 57 percent to 39 percent. The hill in this D+7 district is just too steep for a Republican candidate to climb. Mariannette Miller-Meeks would be better off seeking a different political office in the future, although the Iowa GOP may encourage her to run for Congress again in 2010. Loebsack won’t have the Barack Obama turnout machine cranking in Johnson and Linn counties two years from now.

Iowa Democrats are looking at small net gains in the House and Senate. Dawn Pettengill got away with switching to the GOP after the Iowa Democratic Party worked hard to elect her. A couple of races may have a different result once the absentee and provisional ballots are counted. Deeth has more details.

Jerry Sullivan has not ruled out requesting a recount in House district 59, although it seems unlikely to me that there are enough provisional and absentee ballots outstanding for him to reverse Chris Hagenow’s 141-vote lead (out of more than 16,000 votes cast).

UPDATE: Johnson County voters narrowly approved a controversial bond measure. The proposal was designed to generate

$20 million in a 20-year period to conserve open space.

By collecting taxes for two decades, the Johnson County Conservation Board will have the funds to buy and preserve remnant areas of land scattered throughout the county from willing sellers.

Continue Reading...

Why didn't the wave bring along more Democrats?

Barack Obama had an incredible showing last night. Not only did he win just about every “swing state” from 2004, he won several states that have long been considered safe for Republicans.

Who seriously thought Indiana, which last voted for a Democrat for president in 1964, would go for Obama? He flipped Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina, and may yet win Missouri.

But the down-ticket races have been disappointing in many states. Becky Greenwald and Rob Hubler underperformed Obama and Tom Harkin in Iowa’s fourth and fifth Congressional districts.

Minnesota Democrats failed to pick up any Congressional seats and may not win the U.S. Senate race either, even though Obama won the state by double-digits.

Oregon’s U.S. Senate race is too close to call, despite a huge Obama victory in that state. Democrat Jeff Merkley has led all the recent polls in that race.

We didn’t win as many down-ticket races in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida as many people expected.

Republican incumbents in Alaska who trailed in all the recent polls may keep their jobs.

A lot of analysis needs to be done to figure out what has happened. Perhaps the Republican scare-mongering about “socialism” failed to turn voters off from Obama, but helped convince them to vote for divided rule in Washington. Maybe with so much media commentary about the presidential race being a foregone conclusion, Americans wanted some checks and balances on Obama.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Swing State Project runs through what Democrats won and lost in the U.S. House races. With some districts still too close to call, we have picked up 21 Republican-held seats while four of our own incumbents lost (two who captured heavily Republican districts in 2006 wave). We lost a lot of seats that had seemed to be trending our way, as well as some districts where we outspent the Republican candidate in the final weeks (MN-03, MN-06).

Jerome Armstrong has some thoughts about the apparent swing against Democrats in a lot of the close U.S. Senate races.

Having slept on it, I realize that one wrong assumption I made was that the universal commentary about McCain being toast would depress the Republican vote.

Instead Republicans seem to have turned out in large numbers to prevent one-party “socialist” rule in Washington. Perhaps also a lot of independents voted for gridlock (Obama plus GOP down-ticket).

Of course the presidential landslide is the most important result from yesterday, but I can’t help feeling like wise-beyond-his-years Populista:

Couldn’t this election have nicer frosting? The cake is great but this frosting makes me sick.

Continue Reading...
Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 72