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Balance of Power 2010: Truthout’s Live Election Blog
Welcome to Truthout's Election Day blog

Balance of Power 2010: Truthout’s Live Election Blog

Welcome to Truthout's Election Day blog

Welcome to Truthout’s Election Day blog, Balance of Power 2010. Here we’ll document the details of this historic election as it unfolds. Stay with us for up-to-the minute coverage and state-by-state analyses, problems at the polls, voter turnout updates, commentary on the voter climate in various parts of the country, candidate faux pas and finally, tonight – results!

Brown, Boxer Projected winners in California

The Los Angeles Times has called the California Senate race for incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer and declared Democrat Jerry Brown the next Governor of California.

Boxer defeated her Republican opponent Carly Fiorina in the race for Senate, while Brown was elected governor over Republican Meg Whitman. The former Hewlett Packard chief executive, Fiorina attempted to win over California voters by highlighting her business credentials as the only woman to run a Fortune 20 company, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But Boxer turned Fiorina’s supposed business savvy against her by pointing out that she had laid of 30,000 employees.Brown defeated Whitman through shrewd advertising and a much more frugal campaign, spending $25.5 million to Whitman’s $163 million. Whitman also faltered late in the election season with the revelation that she had employed an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper.

– Nadia Prupis, 11/2/2010, 11:52 pm, EST

Not so fast

This just in from Feingold’s camp:

Feingold’s campaign manager George Aldrich told the crowd in Middleton that only 40 percent of the vote has been reported.

“Russ is down by 80,000 votes, but…up to 1.4 million votes haven’t been counted,” he told the crowd.

Among those votes that have been counted, there is “not a single vote” from the city of Madison, he said.

“We are confident that this race is going to tighten, it is going to tighten quickly, and we may be in for a long night here,” he said.

Cheers erupted from the crowd and Feingold’s supporters have become buoyant and upbeat.

Aldrich, interviewing with WMTV in Madison, says they’re not throwing in the towel despite media outlets calling the race for Johnson.

“There’s reason for optimism,” he said.

He said there remain 300,000 votes to be counted in Milwaukee County, and another 200,000 in Dane County.

– William Rivers Pitt, 11:35 p.m. EST

Feingold defeated

Both NBC and MSNBC just reported that Russ Feingold has gone down to defeat in Wisconsin. This is, quite simply, a tragedy for this nation. Mr. Feingold was one of the strongest progressive voices we have ever seen, a man of integrity and vision. We are a lesser people with his loss, along with Alan Grayson’s.

A hard night.

– William Rivers Pitt, 10:45 p.m. EST

Mccain wins another term

Four-term Republican Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) won his fifth re-election, defeating Democratic candidate Rodney Glassman, a 32-year old former Tucson city councilman.

According to the Houston Chronicle, McCain quickly sailed to victory over Glassman despite having been labeled a “vulnerable incumbent” during the beginning of his campaign.

– Nadia Prupis, 11/2/2010, 10:25 pm, EST

Calls of Voter Intimidation and Ballot Issues Surface

With calls ranging from reports of voter intimidation to ballot machine errors, The New York Times reports:

Officials from the Election Protection Coalition, an association of voting rights groups that operated a national hot line for voting-related complaints, said that by early Tuesday evening their hot line had received more than 15,000 calls, with the most coming from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Georgia.

-James Russell, 11/2/10, 8:52 pm, CST

Texas Governor Called for Perry

Incumbent Republican governor Rick Perry won his re-election bid for Texas’s governor’s seat, beating former Houston mayor and Democrat Bill White.

-James Russell, 11/2/10, 8:24 pm, CST

O’Malley Wins In Maryland

Incumbent Democratic governor Martin O’Malley won his re-election bid for Maryland’s governor’s seat.

-James Russell, 11/2/10, 8:20 pm, CST

Grayson Concedes

A major loss for Democrats and progressives. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida), a vocal critic of Republicans, who represented the states 8th District, conceded to Republican Daniel Webster.

According to local news reports, Grayson’s campaign said they needed a “massive Democratic turnout” to secure a victory but that was not possible due to inclement weather.

Last year, during fierce debate over the healthcare reform bill, which was opposed by all Republican members of Congress, Grayson took to the House floor and said the GOP healthcare plan amounted to: “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 8:58 pm, EST

Boucher Loses to Republican Griffith in Virginia; Manchin Wins in West Virginia

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) was bested by Republican Morgan Griffith while Democrat Joe Manchin III, Governor of West Virginia, won the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s seat, defeating John Raese, an industrialist who was endorsed by Sarah Palin.

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 8:45 pm, EST

Blumenthal Defeats McMahon

Democrats secured a victory in Connecticut as Richard Blumenthal, the state’s attorney general there beat Republican challenger Linda McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who spent $40 million of her fortune to fund her campaign.

The seat was vacated by Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd who announced his retirement earlier this year. Reuters noted that the win for Blumenthal improved Democrats’ chances of retaining control of the Senate.

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 8:36 pm, EST

nazi impersonator Iott loses to kaptur

In Ohio’s 9th District House race, Rich Iott – who famously enjoys dressing up as a Nazi on the weekends – has lost to Democrat Marcy Kaptur. The race was tight, but the incumbent pulled through in the end.

-Maya Schenwar, 7:25 p.m. CST

CNN: Florida senate seat goes to rubio

Republican Marco Rubio has easily defeated opponents Democrat Kendrick Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist.

-Maya Schenwar, 7:25 p.m. CST

After all that, o’donnell defeated in delaware

Despite the copious amounts of publicity generated by the Delaware Senate race, Democrat Chris Coons has securely carried the contest. Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell – who is NOT a witch – was soundly defeated. Voters seem to have noticed that her history of crusading against masturbation and premarital sex conspicuously lacked political experience … and sane judgment.

Delaware’s open house seat was also won by a Democrat: John Carney.

-Maya Schenwar, 7:14 p.m. CST

Democrat Yarmuth Winner in Kentucky’s 3rd district

Democrat John Yarmuth defeated Todd Lally in the race for Kentucky’s 3rd district, according to the Associated Press.

Yarmuth has served two terms as Kentucky’s Third District Representative, the AP noted, adding that the congressman is best known “for founding the Louisville Eccentric Observer, which most people know as LEO, in 1990.”

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 8:06 pm, EST

Portman, DeMint Victorious

Former Congressman Rob Portman (R) defeate Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher for the open Senate seat in that state, the Associated Press reports.

Portman was George W. Bush’s budget director.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) was reelected to a second term, beating Democrat Alvin Green, a military veteran AP reported.

– Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 7:55 pm, EST

Democrats file Legal Challenges in Illinois, Connecticut

Democrats went to court Tuesday to seek an extension of voting hours in Connecticut and challenged the denial of provisional ballots in Illinois, The Hill reports.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCCC), told reporters at party headquarters that officials had gone to court in two states. In Connecticut, the party has asked for a one-hour extension of voting in Bridgeport, a Democratic stronghold where turnout was reported so high that officials ran out of ballots, Menendez said.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, is challenging Republican McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. McMahon, who spent $40 million of her own funds on her campaign, was behind Blumenthal by 10 points as of late Monday.

In Illinois, Menendez said the Democratic Party filed a Freedom of Infomration Act request “for provisional ballots after learning voters who had not filled out the absentee ballot requests they submitted were denied provisional ballots in violation of election law.”

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 7:38 pm, EST

food for thought

The Democrats won a whole slew of House seats in 2006 and 2008 that, based on prior electoral history, they had no business winning. The GOP and Bush White House were so outrageously disastrous that the Democrats picked up a ton of seats in those two cycles in places where Democratic support is scant.

Fact: there were 44 House districts in 2008 that elected a Democrat to the House while *simultaneously* going for McCain.

This GOP wave has a lot to do with the economy and other current factors, but it’s also a big fat snap-back. The GOP is taking back seats they wouldn’t have lost in the first place had Bush and the GOP congress not been such total disasters.

Ergo, whatever happens in the House tonight should not be considered wildly out of sorts, especially if the GOP takes majority control.

P.S. Polls in Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina close at 7:30 p.m. EST. West Virginia will be key.

– William Rivers Pitt, 7:25 p.m. EST

Lexington, Kentucky Elects Gay Mayor

While Kentucky has elected Rand Paul to the Senate, Lexington, Kentucky has elected a gay mayor, according to Gay City News.

– James Russell, 6:20 PM CST

paul wins

Rand Paul has been declared the winner in Kentucky. Coats has won in Indiana. Patrick Leahy holds on.

– William Rivers Pitt, 7:05 p.m. EST

It Begins

Polls are closing in Kentucky and Indiana.

Here we go.

– William Rivers Pitt, 6:45 p.m. EST

Economy Top Issue Among Voters, According to Exit Poll Data

At 62 pecent, the economy ranked as the top issue voters are most concerned about, according to real-time exit poll data collected by ElectionConnect.

Healthcare was the second most important issue among voters at 19 percent, followed by illegal immigration (9 percent) and the Afghanistan war (7 percent).

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 6:12 pm, EST

Pelosi: Democrats to keep majority in house

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told reporters earlier this afternoon that the pundits are “wrong”: Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives.

“We’re on pace to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said during a briefing with reporters at the Democrats’ Washington DC headquarters, challenging predictions by pollsters that Republicans are expected to become the majority party.

Van Hollen, who is also Pelosi’s assistant, said voters are turning out in record numbers, particularly urban areas, to vote for Democrats “proving the Washington pundits absolutely wrong.”

“This thing is not over,” Van Hollen said.

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 6:00 pm, EST

Perry on track to capture third term in Texas Governor’s race

Recent polls show Texas voters in support of Republican Governor candidate Rick Perry, who has recently maintained a relatively solid lead over Democratic opponent Bill White.

According to Reuters, a poll released on October 29 showed Perry with a 12-point lead among 673 likely Texas voters, with 49-37 percent. Perry is already the longest-serving governor in Texas history and is seeking his third term.

Rather than criticizing White, Reuters said, Perry has focused on knocking Obama and using radical Tea Party tropes to influence voters, even suggesting that Texas should secede from the US.

“Perry astutely jumped early on the bandwagon of the conservative Tea Party movement, which is seen having a big impact on races across the country,” Reuters noted.

On the same day that the poll was released, the Associated Press reported that Texas is the only state in the country that has refused to meet new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, exemplifying Perry’s anti-Washington sentiment.

Texas will likely gain four congressional seats in a redistricting process to begin next year. Whichever party controls redistricting will be privy to the largest seat gain in the country.

Nadia Prupis, 11/2/2010, 5:35 pm, EST


Here’s a re-post of a map from Burnt Orange Report, a Texas-based blog, showing when the polls close around the country.

Click to see full-size.

– Jared Rodriguez, 11/2/2010, 5:29, CST

The myth of massive voter fraud

Like clockwork in an election year, the GOP and its allies beat the drums of outrage over massive voter fraud, allegedly occurring in black voting precincts around the nation. But, in reality, there is no massive voter fraud. It is a fiction used to justify the suppression of minority voters in order to dampen down the Democratic vote count.

As Chris Kromm of Southern Studies documents:

Most serious political experts know that real, documented voter fraud is an extremely small problem.

When the Department of Justice under President Bush launched a crackdown on fraud in 2002, five years later it only had 86 convictions to show for the effort. That’s .00007 percent of the 122 million people who voted for president in the 2004 elections.

Even if the DOJ’s aggressive efforts only caught 1 percent of the actual fraud going on, it would still be one of the smallest problems facing our electoral system. For example, an MIT study last year found that cracks in our country’s patchwork voter registration system kept up to 3 million registered and fully-qualified voters from casting a ballot.

So why isn’t the Republican Party drawing attention to the problems with our voter registration system? Because the goal of creating a myth of widespread vote fraud is to reduce the number of minority ballots, not to increase them.

Minorities in urban areas are disproportionately poor and face more obstacles to voting, such as transportation, than whites who are better off and more likely to vote Republican. The effort to holler “voter fraud” and then disqualify eligible non-white voters harkens back to the days of the Civil Rights movement and coordinated efforts by the GOP to suppress the Democratic vote.

According to Chris Kromm, “In 1964, the Republican National Committee launched ‘Operation Eagle Eye,’ which appointed a ‘ballot security’ official in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Sidenote: This is also where future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, an aid to Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign, cut his political teeth.)”

It’s really two different visions of democracy. In one vision, American citizens all have an equal vote in the future of the nation. In the other vision, only certain Americans have the privilege of voting.

– Mark Karlin, 4:16 pm CST

this could get pretty interesting

If the anticipated big GOP night actually comes to pass and majority power in the House flips to the right, one of the more interesting storylines to follow will be the degree to which the Republican Party will be able to absorb their newly-elected Tea Party brethren.

Some believe these newly-minted far-right House members will refuse to toe the party line and tear the joint up. Others (myself included) believe most of these Tea Party types – from the candidates to the rank-and-file voters – are nothing more or less than straight-from-central-casting GOP base people who will, in all likelihood, fall right into line with the Republican Party stalwarts and do the whole standard-issue GOP thing without missing a beat.

Well, except for Michele Bachmann, I mean.

Major Republican gains today are likely to produce some entertaining leadership and policy battles down the road, as the conservative wing — emboldened by the election results — asserts its thumbprint on the party’s image.

How much intransigence there will be among the Tea Party sect will ultimately be determined by the ability of GOP leadership to satisfy their demands. But already, the possibility for friction is emerging. On Tuesday, Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the more eccentric members of the Republican Party, put out feelers that she would like to assume the leadership role likely to be vacated by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.)

Get’cha popcorn, folks.

– William Rivers Pitt, 5:00 p.m. EST

TEA PARTY voter intimidation reported in south carolina

You knew this was coming.

For the last couple of weeks, a crowd of voices on the right – Fox News most prominently – have been yowling about the potential for “vote fraud” perpetrated by Democrats and the left. Some have even been coughing up the old, discredited chestnut about the “threat” to democracy posed by the “New Black Panthers.”

Straight out of the Rove playbook: accuse others of doing what you are doing yourself. Alternet reports:

Tea party activists in South Carolina are allegedly intimidating black college students and other black voters at the polls, according to the South Carolina Democratic Party. Early this morning, self-identified tea party activists showed up at a polling station near Benedict College in Columbia, “basically harassing students-telling people not to vote and generally making voters feel uncomfortable,” says Keiana Page, press secretary for the state Democratic Party, who said that the party’s legal team is currently investigating the reported incident at the historically black college.

A writer for, a site run by black bloggers, also said that she had gotten a call this morning from a local resident that tea party activists were harassing students. “They are protesting student votes and making them vote with provisional ballots,” Cheryl Contee reports. “Benedict is one of our proudest HCBUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and these kids don’t deserve this as one of their first experiences voting in America.” Page tells Mother Jones that Benedict College has been “a favorite harassment spot for Republicans in 2006 and 2004,” claiming that Republicans have a history of challenging student voters who registered using their college address. It’s unclear whether any student voters were kept from voting due to the alleged intimidation or how many were forced to fill out provisional ballots.

The South Carolina Democrats are also investigating a separate series of incidents in the North Hope Center precinct in Sumter, South Carolina, where tea party activists have also allegedly been harassing black voters. They have been “shouting at the hard working people who have taken time from work or school and are telling them not to vote. Apparently this is happening at more than one location in Sumter,” writes Tubman.

You have to wonder how much of this kind of thing is happening around the country.

– William Rivers Pitt, 4:40 p.m. EST

Alaska Senate Race Still Anyone’s Game

With support for Tea Party candidate Joe Miller slipping in Alaska, a write-in campaign for Lisa Murkowski may be the GOP’s best chance at keeping its seat in the Senate, according to the New York Times.

If either McAdams or Miller get a big enough lead to call a win on election night, write-in ballots will not be counted. But if write-in votes come within half a percent of the lead, election officials will have to count all of them – and it could take up two weeks after November 2 to receive all absentee ballots. If Murkowski wins, she will become the second write-in candidate to get elected to the Senate, following Strom Thurmond in 1954.

Murkowski lost her base support when Miller won the primary in June, but she started to regain some popularity as Miller’s star began to fade. Miller, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin, was forced to admit last week that he hacked into his coworkers’ emails while working for the state and then lied about it.

A Public Policy Polling report of 1,539 Alaska voters released on October 31 gave Miller 37 percent of the vote and 30 percent each to McAdams and Murkowski. But PPP president Dean Debnam concluded, “This race has been so unpredictable I wouldn’t write off any of the candidates yet. Joe Miller certainly looks like the favoriet but the biggest surprise in Alaska this year would be if there wasn’t a surprise.”

Nadia Prupis, 11/2/2010, 4:34 pm, EST

Kansas Democratic Rep’s Campaign: “This race is going to be a squeaker”

Rep. Steve Kagen’s (D-Wisconsin) campaign manager is concerned that low voter turnout in some areas of the state could seriously hurt Kagen’s effort to win another term.

According to an email Kagen’s campaign manager Julie Heun wrote:

We have just been going over the morning voting numbers — and turnout isn’t where we need it to be in our strong areas. This race is going to be a squeaker — and every vote will count.

Kagen and his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Russ Feingold, are both facing fierce competition from their Republican challengers. The Hill noted that Republicans need Kagen’s seat “if they want to pick up the net gain of 39 or more seats they need to win back the House.”



18 pt
18 pt


Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 4:08 pm, EST

Notes from arizona

The Arizona Republican Party claims there is nothing racist about this “Frito Bandito” image of Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva on the ARP’s official flier for his opponent in Arizona’s Seventh Congressional District, while Professor Roberto Rodriquez points out that “‘illegal aliens’ have become this year’s election year political piñatas.” Robocalls supporting the infamous SB1070 to this Arizona household by (to name only a few) Goldwater scions, Senator John Kyl, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who gave Sarah Palin some pink underwear last week when she was in Phoenix, presumably so she could feel right at home with the prisoners in Arpaio-run jails) support his contention.

Grijalva may be almost the only candidate for federal office in the state a progressive can vote for without the use of the proverbial clothespin, while Arizonans also have the opportunity to vote on a raft of misleadingly drafted propositions from the State Legislature. Some , for example, allow the state to opt out of the health care bill’s insurance mandate, affirmative action and wildlife protection (in defense of the “constitutional right” to hunt and fish”), while others permit the legislature to raid funds previously designated for education and land conservation to cover the budget deficit. We can also approve the medical use of marijuana AGAIN – for all the good that’s done up til now.

– Leslie Thatcher and John Hanson, 12:48 pm PST

Chicago democrats blame blago for tough races

If Illinois Democrats lose the governorship and Obama’s Senate seat, everyone will know who to blame. After all, the Dems are the party of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now heralded across the country for his celebrity antics … and his conviction on charges of lying to federal agents, and his upcoming corruption trial for allegedly attempting to sell the very Senate seat that is now up for grabs. It’s a wonder that Democrats in this sometimes-swingish state still stand a chance.

Columnists and bloggers across the Chicago area are lamenting Blago’s misdeeds (and Team Obama’s resulting reluctance to get too involved in Illinois politics) all over again, as they bite their nails today. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet lists a few “what ifs”:

If Blagojevich had not tried to finagle with the Senate seat – and made a blue-chip appointment – Illinois Democrats would be running a strong incumbent. Instead, the politically untenable Sen. Roland Burris ended up in the seat.

And if the White House early on had recruited Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, then Kirk – always the best hope for the Illinois GOP – might not have jumped in the race.

A big part of the reason Madigan never seriously considered making the run is that the Obama White House declined to clear the field for her. The Chicagoans then in the White House – senior advisers David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and former chief of staff and now mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel – argued that Team Obama was not in a position to clear the field in Illinois, the way they did in New York and tried to do in Pennsylvania.

– Maya Schenwar, 1:55 pm CST

Leaked Democratic talking points outline response to losses

Greg Sargent over at ThePlumLine got a hold of Democratic National Committee talking points that details how Democrats intend to respond to the likelihood they will lose dozens of seats in the House and Senate.

A few highlights:

Democrats knew that 2010 would be an uphill battle for three reasons: 1) the party of the President historically loses seats in midterm elections; 2) too many people are looking for work or struggling to get by as a result of 8 years of irresponsible economic policies (and despite creating more private sector jobs in the last 8 months than President Bush did in 8 years); and 3) the sheer number of seats we’re defending this year as a result of the successes of 2006 and 2008, including 49 Democratic Representatives on the ballot this year whose districts John McCain won in 2008.

The American people remain frustrated with the state of the economy and that makes things even more difficult for Democrats, who would have faced electoral challenges even in the best of times.

The party of the President tends to lose seats during midterm elections. But that trend should not be confused with a surge in popularity for Republicans. After all, Republicans favorability continues to lag behind Democrats and Republicans are less popular today than Democrats were when they took control of Congress in 2006 or when GOP took control in 1994.

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 2:43 pm, EST


I’m hearing from a variety of sources that turnout across the country is huge by midterm election standards. Here in Boston, they’re expecting the largest non-presidential turnout since 1990. MSNBC just reported that turnout in Pennsylvania’s 15th district is three times higher than normal. Stories like this are coming in from everywhere.

Which makes for an interesting question: what does that mean, exactly? The “mainstream” news narrative for weeks has been about Republicans being so fired up to vote that they’ll pack the polling places even if it’s raining live jaguars outside, and that Democrats are so demoralized that they’re all turning into puddings.

It may be true, but you have to wonder a bit. The “enthusiasm” thing ticked up dramatically for the Democrats recently, unions and other traditional Democratic allies are working hard to get the vote out, and then there’s the question of polling accuracy when it comes to young people. Pollsters have been ignoring people who only have cell phones, which basically means that young people (who are by far the biggest cell-only group out there) have been sampled right out of the results. If there’s a big youth turnout, along with larger than normal turnout for Democrats in general, well…a lot of pollsters are going to have some serious egg on their faces.

I’m just sayin’. Stranger things have happened.

– William Rivers Pitt, 2:15 p.m. EST

Obama to hold post-election news conference wednesday

The White House said Tuesday that President Obama will hold a post-election news conference tomorrow afternoon to discuss the results of the midterm election.

CBS News reports:

It’ll be the first chance for Mr. Obama to react to what are widely forecast to be major Democratic losses in the midterm elections, including the possible Republican capture of one or both houses of Congress.

The announcement came as Mr. Obama continued a round of radio station interviews, phoning in from the Oval Office to talk shows in Los Angeles, Chicago, Jacksonville and Las Vegas.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 pm EST.

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 1:17 pm, EST


Something to consider: if the Senate races break 50-50, or even 51-49, Joe Lieberman will pretty much become the most powerful Democrat in the chamber. History has shown many times over that Mr. Lieberman is not reluctant about throwing his weight around in the caucus, and has never been shy about holding the party hostage to get what he wants.

The Doomsday Scenario for the Democrats, of course, is a 50-50 tie that allows Lieberman to hold a gun to the party’s head, said gun being a threat to switch parties and join the GOP. The Super Epic Doomsday Scenario would be Lieberman following through on such a threat and actually switching over to the GOP. Joe is still nettled at his former fellow Democrats after his last campaign, so it would not be a galloping shock to see something like this happen before too much time passes. It would be the Jim Jeffords scenario in reverse, and would hand all of Congress to the GOP (presuming the polls are right about the GOP taking the House today, that is).

So, yeah, watch the Senate races closely today. The smaller the majority margin becomes, the bigger Joe Lieberman gets.

– William Rivers Pitt, 1:15 p.m. EST


There has already been an ocean of jabber from the network news people about “What this election means,” and there will be a whole lot more tomorrow, especially if the GOP has a big day (be prepared to hear a lot of “This proves we’re a center-right country/This proves the people have rejected Obama/This proves bla bla bla,” as was astutely noted by Josh Marshall of TPM yesterday).

One thing to be well aware of that has not been widely discussed, however, is the issue of redistricting. Gaining the power to re-draw the electoral map is the real prize at stake today. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones makes the point:

Forget the Senate and House. That’s short-term thinking. The real prize in Tuesday’s midterm elections is the power to draw congressional seats and determine the country’s balance of power for the next decade.

If either party can achieve what politicos call the “trifecta”-control of the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature-in a given state, it will be able to draw congressional districts within that state unencumbered by any need to compromise with the other party. That’s the kind of power that creates electoral maps like the one former GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay helped bring to Texas in 2003-a map that pushed four of the state’s Democrats out of their seats.

Five states bordering the Great Lakes-Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin-are the central battleground in the fight to control redistricting. Sure, the Republicans might take back the House of Representatives on election night. But winning gubernatorial and state legislative races in these five states could allow the GOP to dominate the House for much longer than the next few years.

So if you are scratching your head today looking for a reason to vote, that’s a big one right there.

– William Rivers Pitt, 12:35 p.m. EST

Don’t Blame the Weather

If you don’t make it out to vote today (and you know you should), you will most likely not be able to blame the weather. With mostly calm weather today, except for a potential storm near coastal Texas, going to the polls should be easy. In the thick of anticipation and lack of any developments to report, the weather is most always a major story in the media on election day. While this story is predictable (unlike the weather), a 2007 joint study released by political scientists at the University of Georgia, the University of California, Merced, and the University of Pittsburgh found that that there is indeed a strong correlation between weather and voter turnout. Meteorologist Tim Ballisty sums up the survey:

“The researchers analyzed the affects of precipitation and temperature on voter turnout in more than 3,000 US counties for 14 US presidential elections from 1948 – 2000, which they say is the most comprehensive test of the weather-turnout thesis ever done. The evidence they uncovered does indeed support the claim; rain and/or snow significantly decreases the level of voter turnout within a county.”

The researchers also found a link between foul weather conditions and a noticeable advantage for Republicans. At least we know the weather will be fair today.

– Sari Gelzer, 9:15 a.m. PST

for reid-angle race, Most votes are in

All eyes are on Nevada today – the close race between tea-partier Sharron Angle and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is perhaps the most high-profile contest in the election. And depending on how tight the numbers are, we may get results sooner than expected, due to the fact that most Nevadan “likely voters” seem to have already voted. From the Las Vegas Sun:

Nearly 380,000 Nevadans voted during in-person early voting, which ended Friday night – about 65% of the expected turnout, according to Nevada Secretary of State.

Those ballots — and the mail-in absentee ballots – will be counted as soon as polls close at 7:00 pm PST. Because they’re all collected and ready to go, and because the vast majority of them are counted and reported electronically, telling numbers could be available about an hour after poll closings.

– Maya Schenwar, 10:16 a.m. CST

Will California Voters Spring Pot from Jail?

Among this year’s voter initiatives in California is Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana in the Golden State. The backers of Prop 19 are emphasizing the financial benefits of taxing pot at a time when the nation’s largest state is in a severe financial crisis.

The last poll released before the election indicates that the initiative has not reached the 50% threshold required for approval, in a campaign that has seen support shift back and forth over the weeks.

Even if Proposition 19 doesn’t pass, it may have the side effect of helping statewide Democrats running for office – such as Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer – because it will likely draw young people and more liberal voters to the polls.

One of the legacies of Prop 19, no matter what the outcome, has been in the “strange bedfellows department.” The opponents of legalizing marijuana have included: some law enforcement officers (some support it); persons who financially benefit from the legal medical marijuana industry in California; the liquor industry; and illegal growers of pot who are concerned about the price of their product dropping in a legalized environment.

– Mark Karlin, 9:25 a.m. CST

The Party of non-voters – why our election day volunteering matters more than ever

The Pew Research Center just released an immensely valuable poll, contrasting those who intend to vote this round, with those who will likely stay home. Among all adults the Democrats or those who leaned Democrat had a 50 to 39 margin, and Obama had a three point plus in job approval. But among those likely to head to the polls, Republicans were up four points. The difference was among non-voters, where the Democrats led by a staggering 24 points, except that these people were likely to stay home. They were overwhelmingly younger and poorer, less white, the core of the base that carried Obama and the Democrats to victory just two year ago. They approved of the job Obama was doing by 16 points, so this wasn’t a progressive backlash. They just didn’t feel the urgency of turning out, or they hadn’t been asked enough to do so. Another Pew survey documented what was actually a one point Democratic preference among voters overall. But this was dwarfed by exceptionally high rates of Republican participation, and Democrats who were far more disengaged.

That’s the picture. It’s bad news for the Democrats and bad news for the country, given the degree of the current Republican detachment from reality. But it doesn’t have to be the final verdict, precisely because these are people who would vote Democrat if they only got to the polls, which means it’s up to the rest of us to convince them. We don’t have to change their minds. We just have to get them to participate. Thirty percent of voters who lean Democratic have received live phone calls, which means seventy percent have not. The Democratic campaigns have the coordinated voter files, so reaching most people is doable. The question is whether there will be enough volunteers to complete the task. That’s where we come in, whether we can spend an hour or all day. You can call from anywhere, simply by registering and logging in. You don’t need to even leave your home. Or if you do want to participate in the final door-to-door push, that can be even more helpful. But the challenge is do to something, knowing that it could tip the difference in race after vulnerable race.

Six years ago, as I’ve written, I spent election day knocking on doors in Washington State and turned out three additional voters. One had forgotten about the election. Another needed a ride. A third didn’t know how to submit his absentee ballot. My candidate won the governor’s race by 133 votes, over a right-wing Republican who’s now running neck and neck with the once seemingly unbeatable Senator Patty Murray. I didn’t get those votes by any particular eloquence or skill, just by showing up. Any other volunteer would have had the same results. But had I and 50 other volunteers stayed home that day, we’d have lost. The stakes are as high or higher today, and the outcome in race after close race could still depend on what we do. Whether we step up or not is up to us.

– Paul Rogat Loeb, 11/2/2010, 8:55 a.m. CST

So, When Do the Polls Close?

Kudos to Burnt Orange Report, a Texas-based blog, for posting the following map that gives the times of when the polls close around the country. While I expect it to be a long night regardless of when the polls close (and a long few weeks because of impending legal battles over votes), this helps me know when I can at least take a nap.

Click to see full-size.

– James Russell, 11/2/2010, 8:40 am, CST

Cell-phone Only voters a big question mark

Roughly a quarter of Americans are “cell-phone only users,” known as CPOs. This makes them difficult and expensive to count in polls, harder to call to remind them to go vote and a big question mark hovering over today’s election.

In a very unscientific straw poll of friends who have been working on get out the vote (GOTV) efforts, they have been experiencing a similar trend: young people aren’t answering their phones or don’t have accurate phone numbers in the databases.

CPOs are more racially diverse, younger and less affluent than Americans with land-line phones, all factors that make them more likely to trend Democratic. Scott Keeter of the Pew Research Center pointed out that these same voters are typically less likely to turn out at the polls on election day. Their participation and motivation was key to many Democratic congressional victories and to the Obama campaign in 2008. Their voting today could be a decisive factor in many races which are too close to call or within the margin of error in late polling.

Matt Renner, 11/2/2010, 8:45 am, EST

Record voter turnout expected

The country’s top election turnout expert projects 90 million people will turn out to vote today, shattering the 2006 record for a midterm election when 86 million people went to the polls. That was the year the Democrats gained control of both houses of Congress.

Michael McDonald of George Mason University’s United States Election Project said his pre-election prediction is based on early voting data and “early voting and turnout rates for comparable past elections.”

The turnout rate is the number of votes divided by the voting-eligible population. The early vote rate is the number of early votes divided by all votes (NOT the voting-eligible population).

Please note that the national voting-eligible population includes an estimate of 4.9 million eligible overseas military and civilians, but the state numbers do not. Thus, the states’ voting-eligible populations do not sum to national voting-eligible population.

Here’s McDonald’s breakdown:

State Voting-Eligible Population Turnout Rate Estimate Early Vote Rate Estimate
United States 218,054,301 41.3% 28.9%
Alabama 3,457,019 40.0% 3.5%
Alaska 493,692 54.0% 27.0%
Arizona 4,331,851 40.0% 50.0%
Arkansas 2,079,647 42.0% 45.0%
California 22,882,532 44.0% 50.0%
Colorado 3,578,616 54.0% 70.0%
Connecticut 2,507,296 48.0% 6.5%
Delaware 631,634 44.0% 3.5%
District of Columbia 470,144 30.0% 6.0%
Florida 12,812,802 46.0% 42.5%
Georgia 6,596,556 35.0% 32.0%
Hawaii 930,624 44.0% 40.0%
Idaho 1,051,978 46.0% 20.0%
Illinois 8,934,072 43.0% 14.0%
Indiana 4,678,739 37.0% 15.0%
Iowa 2,220,718 50.0% 33.0%
Kansas 1,995,927 44.0% 22.0%
Kentucky 3,197,471 44.0% 5.0%
Louisiana 3,256,637 39.0% 12.0%
Maine 1,032,820 55.0% 22.0%
Maryland 3,944,006 48.0% 16.0%
Massachusetts 4,783,819 49.0% 5.0%
Michigan 7,288,055 49.0% 20.0%
Minnesota 3,799,328 60.0% 7.0%
Mississippi 2,129,092 28.0% 4.0%
Missouri 4,433,443 49.0% 7.0%
Montana 753,666 50.0% 40.0%
Nebraska 1,271,875 42.0% 20.0%
Nevada 1,692,499 43.0% 65.0%
New Hampshire 1,011,125 47.0% 7.0%
New Jersey 5,811,886 36.0% 8.0%
New Mexico 1,400,217 44.0% 50.0%
New York 13,355,984 36.0% 5.0%
North Carolina 6,760,227 32.0% 45.0%
North Dakota 496,664 45.0% 35.0%
Ohio 8,637,282 49.0% 25.0%
Oklahoma 2,653,821 39.0% 8.0%
Oregon 2,780,456 52.0% 100.0%
Pennsylvania 9,565,259 45.0% 4.0%
Rhode Island 755,179 51.0% 4.0%
South Carolina 3,375,958 38.0% 11.0%
South Dakota 600,029 58.0% 27.0%
Tennessee 4,659,865 37.0% 42.0%
Texas 15,407,666 31.0% 48.0%
Utah 1,843,282 34.0% 25.0%
Vermont 493,696 55.0% 20.0%
Virginia 5,689,910 33.0% 7.0%
Washington 4,728,332 47.0% 100.0%
West Virginia 1,418,691 36.0% 25.0%
Wisconsin 4,203,366 53.0% 10.0%
Wyoming 405,861 50.0% 22.0%

Jason Leopold, 11/2/2010, 2:23 am, EST

In delaware, it is the “i am not a witch” senate election

There is one state where the tea party is not faring well, the state of Delaware.

Christine O’Donnell – an abstinence proponent turned Bill Maher “Politically Incorrect” guest turned candidate – beat out Mike Castle, the popular former Republican Congressman and Governor, for the GOP senate nomination. She received just around 30,000 votes, which were enough for a small turnout in a small state to garner the nomination. With backing from the tea party, she upended expectations of what was seen as a likely senate pick-up for the Republicans.

Tomorrow, O’Donnell will face Democrat Chris Coons for the senate seat vacated by Joe Biden, when he became the vice-president. O’Donnell, beset by financial mishaps and questions about her educational claims, wasn’t prepared when Bill Maher released a taped segment from the 1990’s in which O’Donnell talked about a date with someone who dabbled in the occult.

In an effort to stamp down the Halloween jokes before they got out of hand, O’Donnell became, in all likelihood, the first senate candidate to air an ad proclaiming, “I am not a witch.” It was all downhill from there in a state that likes its politicians moderate and not too flashy.

Indeed, misfortunes plagued O’Donnell’s campaign to the last hours when a 30-minute campaign ad was booked too late for the large television stations in the Philadelphia and Delaware area, and then wasn’t aired twice on a public access cable station. According to the Washington Post, a source “who spoke only on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive campaign operations, said the station ‘forgot to air it.'” The station claims that the O’Donnell campaign did not get the ad to them in time to air it. Eventually, the station broadcast the ad, at 3 PM on Monday afternoon.

It was the final “misunderstanding” in a campaign hobbled by them.

O’Donnell is one of Sarah Palin’s endorsed “Grisly Bears,” but Delaware isn’t Alaska – and expect the Democrats to hold this senate seat.

– Mark Karlin, 11/1/2010, 9:20 pm CST

“slimy” kirk-giannoulias race lives up to Illinois politics’ reputation

Chicago – Here in Illinois, the competition for Sen. Obama’s Senate seat represents a classic Chicago-area challenge: Neither candidate seems to have inspired immense respect or enthusiasm among voters, and folks will be traipsing to the polls with metaphorical clothespins affixed to their noses.

Currently, Talking Points Memo polls show Republican Mark Kirk (of “no, seriously, I was under fire in Iraq” fame) with a slight lead. (Kirk later retracted his Iraq claim, telling The Chicago Sun-Times, “I simply misremembered it wrong.”) However, most pollsters acknowledge large margins of error, and say the race could easily go in either direction.

Also in true Chicago style, some critics are calling this battle “the nation’s slimiest Senate race.” From Politico:

It is Illinois politics at its most base and primal — and has resulted in a barn burner that is seen as the tightest Senate race in the country by one authoritative polling average. Kirk, who built a career as a rare GOP moderate in the House and became a favorite of New York Times columnist David Brooks, dresses one of his aides as a shark and sends him to Giannoulias press conferences to remind voters of the Democrat’s ties to mobster Michael “Jaws” Giorango. Giannoulias, who has adopted Obama’s style of speech, his mannerisms and a stated desire to “elevate” politics, is staking his hopes on convincing voters that Kirk is personally untrustworthy.

Some blame the flawed candidates for the almost ludicrously ugly contest. Others blame a national climate that has produced confrontation even in more demure states, like, well, anywhere. Senior Illinois Senator Dick Durbin — who has managed to stay largely out of the muck — told POLITICO that given the state’s “ethical climate,” voters are understandably easily convinced to think ill of their elected leaders.

“We’ve been battered pretty badly on the ethics front — we have one former governor in prison and another who’s been convicted of a felony,” he said. “You can understand there’s a lot of negative feelings and cynicism.”

– Maya Schenwar, 11/1/2010, 7:35 pm CST

Colorado democrats gear up to defend seats

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. (Photo: HickForCO / Flickr)

The past three elections have treated Coloradan Democrats kindly. Now, they’re biting their nails as several close races take center stage tomorrow.

The race for governor is the surest bet for the Dems – Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper seems to have it in the bag, thanks to Republican candidate Dan Maes and third-partier Tom Tancredo splitting the conservative vote.

Sitting Senator Michael Bennet (D) has more to worry about: polls predict an excrutiatingly tight race against tea party darling Ken Buck, who “disagree[s] strongly” with the separation of church and state.

Similarly anxiety-producing battles have emerged in three House races, according to The Washington Post:

Democrats are fighting to hold three House seats. Rep. Betsy Markey, elected two years ago, appears most in danger in her 4th District race against state Rep. Cory Gardner. In the 3rd District, Rep. John Salazar faces stiff competition from Scott Tipton, who got the endorsement of Sarah Palin in the GOP primary. In the 7th District, Rep. Ed Perlmutter is being pressed by Ryan Frazier but is in better shape than his two colleagues.

– Maya Schenwar, 11/1/2010, 3:01 pm, CST

Republican congress would threaten card check, other labor priorities

If Republicans make significant gains tomorrow, the shift could undermine basic union-related rights and even mean the prohibition of “card check,” according to The New York Times:

One bill that is popular among Republicans would prohibit employers from ever agreeing to unionization through “card check,” a process often used today in which an employer recognizes a union as soon as a majority of workers sign pro-union cards — without holding a secret-ballot election. Another bill would severely crimp labor’s campaign spending by barring unions from using any portion of a union member’s dues for political purposes unless the member first gives written permission.

A Republican-led House or Senate is expected to be more eager than a Democratic-controlled one to approve free trade agreements that unions oppose, and to be more reluctant to enact stimulus plans that unions have supported, like the recent bill that gave states $26 billion to help save the jobs of teachers, police officers and other government employees. A Republican-controlled House or Senate would probably block a labor-backed bill that would give firefighters and police officers in every state the right to unionize.

“We fear that the Republicans are on the march, and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to stop them,” said Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is spending $91 million in the two-year campaign cycle.

After Obama’s 2008 victory, many labor leaders were hoping for legislative progress, including the swift passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). However, EFCA remains stalled, and possibilities for future labor legislation will be guided largely by the results of tomorrow’s election.

– Maya Schenwar, 11/1/2010, 2:45 pm, CST

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