Archive for the ‘Election 2008’ Category

It’s Official: 52% of Republicans Are Unbelievable Morons

November 21st, 2009 8 comments

Why? Because 52%, according to a recent poll, think that ACORN stole the election for Obama. ACORN, of course, is the right wing’s favorite new smear target.

The thing is, even if you do believe that ACORN is so corrupt that its goal is to steal elections, and so effective that it is successful at it, believing that it stole the election for Obama is so ludicrously insane as to be beyond imagination–which I will mathematically prove below.

In 2000, all it took to steal the election for Bush was a few hundred votes–and there is documented proof that Katherine Harris alone did that, by generating that intentionally fake “felon’s list” which wound up disenfranchising thousands of legitimate Democrats. Add the thousands more Republicans from Seminole and other counties who should have been disqualified but were allowed to vote by illegal means, and you’re way over the top.

But in 2008? Obama won by nine and a half million votes, and by 192 electoral votes, 365 to 173. That means ACORN would have to have stolen at least 87 electoral votes for Obama to win, assuming that in a fair vote, McCain would have won by the slimmest of margins while losing the popular vote by a few million.

If you take the states where Obama won by the fewest number of votes and assume that only the barest number necessary to put Obama over the top were stolen, that would still require ACORN to have stolen at least 935,000 votes in 14 states–and that’s assuming that the people at ACORN were criminal masterminds of unbelievable precision, knowing exactly where to steal just the right number of votes to tip the scales. (Additionally, since ACORN only operated in 21 states, it is unlikely that they were active in the 14 necessary to achieve theft by the smallest number of stolen votes.) Assuming less miraculous precision, one would have to assume that ACORN stole anywhere on the order of four or five million votes.

In the 2008 election season, however, ACORN collected a total of 1.3 million registration forms–and rejected 400,000 as incomplete or fraudulent. Which means that only 900,000 people were registered by ACORN for the election, only half of those being new voters (the other half were address changes).

Which means that even if you assume that every single last registration that ACORN filed represented a stolen vote, then you’re still 35,000 votes short of stealing the election, even with the criminal-mastermind precision.

Which is where we get the “unbelievable morons” part. But you don’t have to crunch the numbers like I did to figure that out–fact is, the idea that ACORN stole the 2008 elections is ludicrous on its very face. More than that, it is literally mathematically impossible.

What’s even more amazing to me than the fact that 52% of Republicans believing that ACORN stole the elections is that 9% of Democrats also believe that, which makes them even more unbelievable morons, albeit in a non-partisan fashion. In addition to 52% of Republicans believing that ACORN stole the election, 21% of Republicans weren’t sure–meaning that 73% of Republicans thought that it might have been possible, and only 23% reject the idea outright.

ACORN has simply become the scapegoat mechanism which is now being blamed for any loss by Republicans; unsurprisingly, Conservative candidate from NY-23, Doug Hoffman, is claiming that the only reason he lost is because ACORN “schem[ed] behind closed doors, twist[ed] arms and st[ole the] election.” He also blamed unions, but ACORN was the alleged mastermind.

Expect more of this: if a right-winger loses, that must mean that ACORN stole the vote. No matter that there is zero documented evidence, no matter that it is mathematically impossible. If a Republican lost, it simply couldn’t have happened that way honestly, so the only possible explanation is that liberals stole it, and ACORN is the scapegoat of the hour.

And their party faithful are just the unbelievable morons to buy it.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Franken

January 4th, 2009 Comments off

The official portion of the Minnesota recount has finished, and now Franken is ahead by 225 votes. Sucks for Republicans when all the votes are counted. Coleman is still trying to fight it, however; on the counting side, he’s asking for more rejected absentee ballots to be counted, but that looks like a Hail Mary play as it’s doubtful that any such ballots would favor him enough to matter. On the legal side, he’s going forward with a full frontal assault in the courts, calling the vote count in favor of Franken an “artificial lead” which must be remedied by whatever legal action they can dream up. And since Minnesota state law precludes an official assignment until all legal battles have been cleared up, and since the Senate Republicans have vowed to fight a battle to the death to prevent Franken from being seated before then, we’re just going to have to wait a while, it seems.

One possible outcome is for Coleman to demand another recount. Not that there’s any reason to doubt the results of the last recount, other than that Coleman didn’t win it. While this would fly in the face of almost a decade of Republican derision of “counting and recounting the votes until you win,” Republicans have never been known for their keen sense of consistency where winning matters. This article does a good job of outlining Coleman’s own twists and turns.

Good thing that Republicans aren’t sore losers.

Categories: Election 2008, GOP & The Election Tags:

An Endorsement for John McCain

December 10th, 2008 1 comment

Joe the Plumber is turning on John McCain:

Recalling a conversation he had with McCain about the $700 billion financial industry bailout in September, Wurzelbacher said: “When I was on the bus with him, I asked him a lot of questions about the bailout because most Americans did not want that to happen.”

“I asked him some pretty direct questions,” he continued. “Some of the answers you guys are gonna receive — they appalled me, absolutely. I was angry. In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him.”

Even worse, in fact:

“I honestly felt even more dirty after I had been on the campaign trail and seen some things that take place,” said Wurzelbacher, “It was scary, man.”

Right off the bat, that sounds credible–a regular American citizen getting an inside look to a politician, the politician forgetting he’s not talking to an insider, and the citizen being outraged at the answers.

But then you remember that we’re talking about Joe the Plumber, a guy who came to fame via an intentional lie designed to act as a “gotcha” moment for Barack Obama; the guy who then rode that opportunistic horse into town, acquiring an agent, a book deal, and all the accoutrements of sudden fame as experienced by someone immediately ready to cash in, as political as they come and as ready to milk the system as anyone.

So, keeping in mind that he’s selling something and controversy will help his bottom line, that makes one less inclined to take his report of the foulness of the Real McCain seriously. And believe me, I would like to take it seriously, as it fits perfectly my expectations of how it was in McCain’s camp.

But then Joe kills off his own credibility:

Asked why he didn’t leave McCain’s campaign if he was “appalled” by the candidate, Wurzelbacher said, “honestly, because the thought of Barack Obama as president scares me even more.”

While Wurzelbacher was critical of McCain during the interview, he had nothing but praise for his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “Sarah Palin is absolutely the real deal,” he said.

So much for Joe the Plumber. But hey, with all his cashing in, he might actually get enough money to buy that plumbing business after all. And it never would have happened if Obama hadn’t walked down his street. I think you owe Barack at least a warm thanks there, Joe. You betcha.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Not the Big Win It Seems to Be

December 5th, 2008 Comments off

While Democrats hoped for the Democrat to unseat the rather vile Senator Saxby “Politics Is a Contact Sport” Chambliss in Georgia, we always knew it was a long-shot. Simply the fact that Chambliss was forced into a run-off was rather amazing, considering that the state went for Bush 58% – 42% in 2004, and for McCain 53% – 47% this year. Even powerful turnout for Obama could not win this for Democrat Jim Martin. There was hope for an upset, but it was pretty clear that this was the long-shot for Dems to pick up another seat.

But now, Republicans are basking in the glory of their win, despite it being less of a “win” and more of a meeting of expectations. That there even had to be a run-off in the first place was a big blow for Republicans here–Georgia is a stronghold, and for Democrats to make this kind of a showing is unusual. This should not have been a run-off, it should have been a cake walk in the general election.

But I suppose the Republicans have to run with what they’re got, especially with Al Franken closing in on Norm Coleman in Minnesota–Franken seems to be the favorite there, though it is still far from decided. But after losing Stevens’ seat in Alaska and likely losing Coleman’s in Minnesota, they needed some kind of victory so they could claim the beginnings of a comeback.

In the runoff, Chambliss defeated Martin 57% to 43%–a bit less than what Bush won the state by in ’04. In large part, it was a less close race because black voters were not coming out in as strong numbers for this one. This election, if anything, shows the breadth of Obama’s coattails, giving Martin four extra points and perhaps shaving one or two more off of Chambliss’.

So, why didn’t Obama campaign here? After all, Republicans came out like an all-star line-up, with McCain, Romney, Huckabee, and Palin all stumping for Chambliss. Chambliss even gushed over Palin (he knows the future of the party when he sees it), claiming that she made all the difference. (If that’s so, then the Republicans are in trouble in Georgia, because even with the all-star line-up, they’re still doing worse there than in ’04.) So, where was the president-elect?

Well, he was busy not being stupid. The worst thing for him to do after winning the election as cleanly and as clearly as he did would be for him to go all-out and campaign for someone who was bound to lose. Remember, even with Obama on the ticket, Martin still was 3 points behind Chambliss. The chances for Obama having enough of an effect were virtually nil. No way Obama could have moved 15% of the vote for Martin. And despite the heavy odds against him, a loss would be widely interpreted as a loss of mandate, effectively neutralizing the power he gained by beating McCain so soundly. Obama would be hobbled a month and a half before he could even wield the influence he stood to lose.

Which was also why Republicans flocked to Chambliss: they were pretty sure he would win, and they wanted to be seen as part of that victory.

So now Republicans are doing a victory dance in Georgia, as if winning a Senate seat which should have been safe in a solid-red state is somehow an indication that the GOP is on the rise. It’s all about creating perception, nothing more. They want to put the shellacking they got this November behind them and come away looking like winners.

In the meantime, if Franken wins Minnesota, Obama and the Democrats will still have 59 senators behind them, and will only need to win one or two Republicans to shut down the expected flood of Republican filibusters. That will probably not be a problem.

Meanwhile, a lot of right-wingers are calling for the GOP to turn even further to the right to regain party “purity” (“purity of essence”?), while Sarah Palin–wildly popular with the hardcore right, laughably scary to everyone else–is making the rounds for a future run for something big.

If their aim is to cement the Democratic majority, they’re doing a kick-ass job.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

In the Tank… for Whom?

November 26th, 2008 2 comments

The liberal bloggers are buzzing about a rather sensationalist claim being made by TIME Magazine’s Mark Halperin about the election:

“It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war. It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”

When asked for examples of this bias, he pointed to two pieces on the wives of the candidates, citing one piece blasting Cindy McCain and another piece admiring Michelle Obama. (Just a note as a writer–if you make a charge, best to back it up with direct evidence–stories about wives is about as weak as you can get in this case.) When asked why the media was so biased, he replied that they wanted to see Obama simultaneously “etched in glass” and “on Mount Rushmore.” Uh huh.

Now, E&P did a pretty good job pointing out multiple pieces of direct evidence that Halperin has been pretty right-wing this election, and normally I would simply let this kind of thing pass. But that’s what I thought about the whole “center-right” thing, and yet it seems that the media–er, the “Liberal Media™”–is picking up the meme and running with it. It’s certainly a natural theme for right-wingers to try to inflate for the next four to eight years; it has worked very well for them for the past fifteen or so years, they might as well pump it up even more, now that the Democrats will be in charge.

The basic idea, of course, is to “work the refs.” If you complain that the media is too leftist, this benefits you in at least two ways. First, the media, wishing to avoid the appearance of favoring the left, will create false equivalencies–in effect, creating positive news for the right if the news is good for the left, or negative news for the left if the news for the right is bad. They do not do this in reverse, as they do not fear being labeled a ‘conservative media.’ As a result, in general, media coverage favors the right, even with news organizations that are not overtly right-wing.

The second benefit is to create the impression among the public that whatever they see in the media is tilted to the left. Combined with the first benefit, this creates an enhanced effect: the public gets news that leans to the right, but believes that it leans too far to the left, and so has the impression that the truth is even farther to the right.

But what about the basic charge? Is it possible, in fact, that Obama got better coverage? Halperin is not alone; Deborah Howell wrote such a story in the WaPo a few weeks back claiming bias in favor of Obama; the right-wing blogs jumped all over that one. E&P again, however, competently debunks the claims Howell made.

One basis for the general claims of a tilt toward Obama is the fact that there were more headlines about Obama than there were about McCain. A few problems there. First, many of these tallies start long before Obama’s protracted fight with Hillary Clinton ended, so of course there was more coverage of Obama. Second, more news is not necessarily good news: a lot of those stories about Obama were on topics like Jeremiah Wright or William Ayers; the press did not similarly focus as much on McCain’s negative associations. In fact, studies found that the media ran more negative stories about Obama in terms of percentages–which means that more coverage about Obama meant even more media coverage showing him in a bad light. Finally, there was the source of the focus itself. A study found that while the most common word used on Obama’s web site was “Obama,” it also found that the most common word used on McCain’s site was… “Obama.” The media covered Obama more in part because McCain directed them to; while Obama was focusing more on the issues, McCain was focusing far more on Obama. You can’t call the media biased for Obama if they are following McCain’s lead and focusing more on Obama’s negatives.

Then we get to the fact that there was a lot more negative material about McCain out there than there was about Obama–and yet the media covered most of Obama’s and very little of McCain’s. A few examples: first, campaign financing. Early in the year, McCain clearly violated campaign finance law by using public financing as collateral on a loan, using the loaned money, then claiming they were no longer participating in public financing, exceeding legal limits on spending. Even the Republican FEC chief balked at that–and was rewarded with a pink slip, as a more pliant FEC head was appointed by Bush before the FEC could take any action. This was one of the big under-reported stories of the year: a candidate who touted himself as a campaign finance champion committing a federal felony with campaign finance evasions. And there was virtually zero coverage in the news. In contrast, when Obama, who had promised only to discuss public financing, decided to take the wholly legal route of private financing, there was an avalanche of bad press about him for a while.

Another example was religious connections. While Obama’s relation to Jeremiah Wright was front-and-center for months, McCain’s association with right-wing religious figures, people he pursued for their endorsements, were not covered except briefly when they made similarly outrageous comments. There was even video of Sarah Palin herself being blessed by a priest who talked of witchcraft, and had persecuted innocent women in Africa as witches. That got almost no coverage as well.

Yet another example is flip-flops; McCain had significantly altered or even reversed his stands on almost every single issue of importance, and yet not only did the media ignore this, it often claimed that he did not flip-flop on the issues. Even though McCain changed from “more drilling won’t help” to “drilling is absolutely vital” within just a few months, with video to mark both the flip and the flop–the media virtually ignored it. Contrast that with Obama reiterating his Iraq policy–with no changes or reversals–leading to a week of media coverage on how he was flip-flopping.

And one more example was McCain’s being neck-deep in lobbyists. Whenever some big story broke, it had links to lobbyists on McCain’s campaign staff, usually people high up. When the whole Georgia crisis erupted, it was learned that McCain’s foreign policy advisor was still being paid to lobby for Georgia. When the Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae scandal broke, it was learned that McCain’s campaign manager was still receiving lobbyist paychecks from both firms. And yet somehow, the media never picked up on this story–they instead created false equivalencies, saying that “both” campaigns had lobbyist ties, as if that meant both were equally corrupt.

So the media was often absent when McCain had bad news surrounding him, but almost never passed up a chance to report on bad news about Obama. In fact, there was that one time when CNN had video of McCain making a rather notable gaffe–and they re-edited the video to cover up the gaffe. They later claimed it was a “mistake,” as if it were accidental–I mean, what, did they trip over something?

Similarly, the media took very seriously the idea that one could not criticize McCain on a variety of issues because he was a veteran and a former POW. Bob Schieffer, on more than one occasion, became visibly angry when people suggested that McCain might not be presidential material; Tom Brokaw had similar man-crush moments regarding McCain.

Then there is the fact that all too often, there simply was no equivalent news to be covered. Take the day when Obama was delivering a stirring speech to 200,000 Germans in Europe, while McCain was giving a lame photo op outside the “Fudge Haus.” The media cannot be blamed for covering grand events as grand events and lame ones as lame ones. If Obama drew crowds of tens of thousands and McCain couldn’t fill a medium-sized room, if Obama gave brilliant oratory and McCain laughed with hideous awkwardness in front of an appalling green screen… there is no media bias if they simply cover what happened.

And finally, there were McCain’s atrocious decisions and performance. It was bad enough early on, but Sarah Palin was the turning point. Choosing someone who was so clearly unqualified and even disastrously unprepared after having gone on for months about Obama not being “experienced” enough, choosing such a blatantly political running mate who only jeopardized the nation’s future leadership while running under a “country first” banner, going before reporters and claiming himself that living near the outer reaches of Russia’s tundra really did qualify Palin in terms of foreign affairs and national security… these were not just gaffes, these were intended actions which demonstrated catastrophically bad judgment.

Add to that the fact that McCain refused to allow media access to Palin, held back medical records and other documents considered necessary for public review, and kept pulling badly managed and even bizarre publicity stunts, and you begin to realize that, if anything, the media’s coverage of McCain in the final month of the election was actually far better than McCain deserved from an objective standpoint.

Not only was there not a media bias for Obama, there was a demonstrable and sharply noticeable media bias in favor of McCain. And if you hear anyone say differently, shut them down. There’s a wealth of examples, only a few of which I have outlined above, to prove the case beyond any doubt. Let’s not let this meme go unchallenged.

Stevens Concedes; Democrats Score #58

November 20th, 2008 1 comment

Convicted felon Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens has, apparently, recognized that Begich’s victory is now inevitable, and has officially conceded the race. Which means, one can presume, that Stevens will not shell out the $15,000 for a recount–which means the drama is over and the election decided. And the Democrats chalk up one more vote in the Senate to help Obama get the job done come January.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, as the official recount gets started, Al Franken scores a victory as a court gives him access to documentation of rejected absentee ballots, allowing his campaign to find ballots that might have been thrown out mistakenly and have them readmitted. With 18% of the recount done, Franken picked up about 40 votes, and now is behind by only 174.

Begich Breaks Out

November 19th, 2008 Comments off

We’re down to 8,000 votes left to be counted, and Democrat Mark Begich has now doubled his lead over convicted felon and Republican Ted Stevens. Stevens, who had a 3,000-vote lead before early and absentee ballots were counted, saw his lead dwindle and then disappear, and now Begich has almost as much a lead as Stevens had held–2,374 at the moment–and with so few votes left to count, it is virtually unthinkable that Stevens could pull ahead.

However, the game is not entirely over. While Begich’s lead is now safely outside the margin that would require a recount, Stevens could still ask for one, and it would only cost him $15,000–chump change that could easily be made up with a bribe or two. On the other hand, Alaska’s ballot system is said to be reliable enough that a recount would have little chance of changing the outcome, and there is likely to be a fair amount of pressure on Stevens to let it be, by Republicans who would rather not deal with the spotlight of a convicted felon who stands to be ejected from the Senate anyway clawing for the slightest chance to overturn the standing results.

Considering the unlikeliness of Stevens winning and the probability of him being thrown out of the Senate even if he wins, I am not sure that I agree with the Alaska Daily News when they say a recount is likely to happen.

It looks like one way or another, Alaska is pretty much a lock for the Democrats. Next up: Minnesota, where Franken stands a better-than-average chance of overturning Norm Coleman’s 215-vote lead in the state’s mandatory recount.

Update: With only 2500 absentee ballots left to count, Democrat Mark Begich now leads by 3,700 votes. The news agencies are calling this a “win” for Begich. So now we have to wait until Stevens decides whether he will concede or pay for a recount.

“Center-Right” Nation?

November 17th, 2008 1 comment

There’s been a lot of talk from the right that the United States today is a “center-right” nation; I noted this from Bay Buchanan about a week ago, and we’ve been hearing it a lot since–obviously it’s a widely-distributed talking point the right wing has created in order to give the impression that conservatives are still effectively, if not titularly, in control of things.

Of course, the idea is pretty silly, and falls apart under inspection–and not even close inspection at that. For the past two Congressional elections, Democratic candidates have been winning in large numbers–not just the Senators, where conservative seats have been coming up for challenge in larger numbers, but in the House as well, where everyone must be elected every two years. Obama–the recently elected Democratic president (with a bigger share of the popular vote than any president in the previous four elections), will have a near-super-majority in both houses this time, with more numbers on his side than any Republican president in the past, oh, who knows how long.

But then there is the fact that Americans self-identify as Republicans less and less, and as Independents and Democrats more; it’s hard to imagine a time when the right-wing brand name has been weaker.

Let’s put it this way: if the Republicans had the same thing the Democrats have now: super-majorities in both houses of Congress with the numbers promising to shift even more in their direction two years from now, a popular president in the White House who won by a very comfortable popular margin, and name-brand identification of the Democrats tanking–do you think they would accept claims that the nation was “center-left”? Hell no, they wouldn’t even accept the notion that the nation was center-right. They would claim that the nation had become solidly right-wing and would accept no argument about it, period.

The Dems are hardly that strident, but they do have one thing straight: whatever the nation is right now, it is certainly not on the right of the center line. How much to the left the country has tilted is yet to be seen, but it’s more than just a tiny bit, that’s for sure.

This latest “center-right” myth is simply yet another attempt to work the refs and create a myth that reality is much more right-wing than all the actual evidence says it is. In that sense, this is right in line with myths such as the “liberal media” canard we’ve been bombarded with for so long.

Categories: Election 2008, Political Ranting Tags:

Gun Rush

November 16th, 2008 1 comment

You’ve probably heard of the surge in gun sales after Obama got elected. This usually happens after a Democrat is elected president, but it strikes me as unusually short-sight and dim-witted.

For one thing, Obama’s stands on gun control are pretty moderate (not too different from John McCain’s, in fact), and a recent Supreme Court decision has upheld gun ownership rights; the idea that gun bans are imminent is weak at best.

However, far more significantly, any new gun laws that come about would be foreseeable pretty far in advance, especially any laws that outlawed various types of guns–the NRA and the Republican Party would both see to it that everyone knew what was happening well before it got to a vote. Obama won’t even take office for another two months, and the new Democratic gains in Congress similarly won’t take effect until then.

So the rush of gun buyers–in some places, up as much as 60%–is panic-buying by people who, to be quite frank, are not too smart. It seems to speak to their paranoia–that they seem to think that Obama and/or the Democrats will stealthily craft gun bans overnight and will send jack-booted thugs to round them and their weapons up the next morning. I would not be surprised if many of these people bury their guns in their backyards or otherwise try to hide them somehow.

Alternately, one could consider this opportunistic buying–people who had their eyes on such guns anyway, and this simply gave them an excuse to go out and make the expenditure. I doubt, however, that this explains all or even most of it, especially given the nature of the rhetoric out there, and how gullibly many hard-core right-wingers bought into so much of what the McCain campaign fed them.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Senate Status

November 14th, 2008 Comments off

Things are looking pretty good for Democrats in Alaska and Minnesota. In Alaska, Democrat Mark Begich now actually holds the lead, as early votes and absentee ballots continue to come in. First, a report came out when Begich passed Stevens and led by three votes; at the end of the day, Begich led Stevens by 814 votes, a turn-around from Stevens’ initial 3,000-vote lead. Some 35,000 votes still remain to be counted, but they promise more of the same, and it is unlikely that Stevens will recover. Still, it’s not over till it’s over.

In Minnesota, things are looking good for Al Franken. How can you tell? Because his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, is so worried about the recount showing that Franken won that he has gone into full-fledged Florida-2000 mode, and is desperately screaming to everyone who will listen about how the recount is corrupt and invalid. Unfortunately, unlike Bush in 2000, Coleman faces a mandatory recount, does not have Katherine Harris skewing for him, cannot depend on the Supreme Court to select him, and cannot hold the whole country hostage by threatening to withhold the junior Senator from Minnesota from the people–it’s just not as urgent as not having a president.

Despite the right wing’s tinfoil-hat claims of election fraud, reports have been that the recount process has been strongly credible; even one Coleman staffer professed surprise at how transparent the process is, and the Republican governor confirmed that he sees no fraud or irregularities with the vote count. Meanwhile, Franken’s team has not been allowing Coleman’s legions of lawyers overrun them; Franken has sued for the release of voter lists which could reveal illicitly disqualified votes, citing one example of a woman who suffered a stroke being disenfranchised because her signature no longer matched.

With the recount, Coleman’s lead (already down to 206 from his initial lead of 725) stands to evaporate just like Stevens’ did. That would bring the Dems up to 59 votes, much closer to a bulletproof majority which could stifle Republican plans to obstruct progress and shut down Obama’s ability to carry out his promises.

Categories: Election 2008 Tags:

Democratic Wins in Congress, 2006-2008

November 10th, 2008 Comments off

Before the 2006 midterm election, this is what the balance of power looked like in Congress:


Democrats: 201
Republicans: 230


Democrats: 45
Republicans: 55

And what it looks like after the 2008 election, just two years later:


Democrats: 255
Republicans: 174


Democrats: 55~58
Republicans: 40~43

Now, look at those numbers and tell me that Democrats in Congress haven’t been given a big, fat mandate.

Mandates and Senate News

November 8th, 2008 3 comments

The presidential election is over, and we all know Obama won–but he won 365-173–more than two-thirds of the electoral college in his favor. That may sound like a landslide, but really, the only president to get fewer electoral votes in the past 30 years was George W. Bush; everyone from Reagan to Clinton got more electoral votes than Obama did this time.

On the other hand, let’s all remember that when Dubya won in 2004 (with a lot fewer popular and electoral votes than Obama got), he was awarded a “mandate” by many conservatives, especially Dick Cheney–a claim that the media echoed. Not just the conservative media, but it is notable what people like Bob Novak said that the time:

Q: Bob Novak, is 51 percent of the vote really a mandate?

NOVAK: Of course it is. It’s a 3.5 million vote margin. But the people who are saying that it isn’t a mandate are the same people who were predicting that John Kerry would win. … So the people who say there’s not a mandate want the president, now that he’s won, to say, Oh, we’re going to accept the liberalism that the — that the voters rejected. But Mark, this is a conservative country, and it showed it on last Tuesday. [11/06/04]

And now, with Obama winning over McCain by 7.4 million votes, double the “mandate” margin that Bush got? Novak writes:

But Obama’s win was nothing like that. He may have opened the door to enactment of the long-deferred liberal agenda, but he neither received a broad mandate from the public nor the needed large congressional majorities.

Another argument that Bush supporters pushed in 2004 was that Bush was voted for by the largest number of Americans in history; what they didn’t note was that he was also voted against by the largest number of people in history. Obama was voted for by what is now the largest number of people ever–and the number who voted against him is less than those who voted against Bush in ’04. So he has a mandate then? Of course not–only Republicans get mandates.

But it’s OK–Obama’s not trying to claim any mandates. Instead, he claimed humility, and asked to be everyone’s president, promising to give both right and left his attention and respect.

What’s still interesting, though, is the Senate. The Dems now have 55 seats, a 7-seat pickup; Jim Jeffords and Joe Leiberman constitute two other seats that are “independent,” but currently caucus with the Democrats If they are both counted on the Dems’ side, that gives them 57 seats. Not a filibuster-proof majority.

But wait, three races are still undecided.

In Alaska, Republican (and convicted felon) Ted Stevens has a 3257-vote lead over Democratic challenger Mark Begich, out of a total 221,713 votes–but something is definitely suspicious. In an election where voter turnout was the highest in generations, the Alaskan election showed a decrease in turnout, suggesting that not all the votes were counted. In fact, 9500 early votes and more than 50,000 absentee votes–which so far have favored the Democrat–have yet to be counted. That’s about one-fifth of the total vote–so Stevens may yet be defeated, and the Dems could pick up another seat.

In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss (you know, the guy who ran a despicable campaign where he compared triple-amputee war hero Mac Cleland to Osama bin Laden) seemed to win, but undercounts there also corrected that impression–and while Chambliss still got more votes, he failed to clear the 50% hurdle, so there will be a special runoff election which he still could lose.

But the closest race as of the moment is in Minnesota, where Norm Coleman claimed victory over Al Franken. But hold on, Norm–you only won by about 700 votes, close enough to trigger an automatic recount. Coleman did not show much class or cool–in addition to claiming premature victory, he also criticized Franken for not fighting against a recount. A recount mandated by law.

And Franken would have good reason to demand a recount, even if it were not required by law: he is quickly gaining on Coleman. First Coleman was ahead by more than 700 votes, then that fell to 450, and now he’s ahead by only a few hundred votes. And a recount will probably turn up a lot more votes for Franken: most of the “undervotes” (votes made but not counted due to errors or omissions) come from Democratic districts. Some may simply not have voted for a Senator, but many probably did but the machines failed to recognize them. That will be cleared up upon manual inspection of the ballots. Franken may yet win this thing.

And if the Dems win all three of those seats, then they will have a total of 58–and here’s where Leiberman apparently thinks he’ll have the most traction, as he’s the 60th filibuster-breaking vote. Not that he’d still vote with the Democrats.

So, should the Dems tell Leiberman to get lost? Leiberman did all but literally stab the Dems in the back, not just by siding with McCain, not just by speaking at the Republican convention and attacking Obama, but by actually campaigning for Republicans in the House and Senate. Unless Leiberman is a complete hypocrite who acts whatever way benefits him most in any given week, it is hard to see him breaking Republican filibusters anyway. But Leiberman is a scumball, and the Dems should simply do without him.

Whether it’s going to be 56 or 59, or even 60, the Democrats now have a lot more influence and sway than they did before. If Obama can influence Republicans who may cooperate–like moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine, they won’t need to sway too many votes.

Whatever the case, Obama has more of a chance than believed to avoid the massive tidal wave of obstructionism that the Republicans have been dishing out over the past two years.

Who knows, maybe we’ll actually get some stuff done.

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Relief Amidst Scrambling

November 6th, 2008 1 comment


This really wasn’t the best week for the election to happen for me. What should have been a milestone event in my life in which I could revel, ponder, luxuriate, and (of course) blog my little heart out, just happened to fall at a time in which I have been more busy than I have in months. And I just got married twice on two continents and led my branch campus through an accreditation process. This week–and, in particular, since the morning of the election–has been the worst. I have literally not had more than 20 minutes to myself without having work to do. I am looking at staying up until 5am tonight working on the school’s Arts Day video.

* Sigh. *

Well, after Arts Day. And the post-wedding party we’ve planned for the past few weeks. Yeah. After that.

For now, though, just one comment: even discounting my being almost too busy to notice much, I think that my reaction to this election was far more muted than I expected. The strongest sensation was relief, something other people I know also reported. And with that, a bit of a light feeling, like a glow or a buzz, maybe how you feel after a hard workout almost.

I guess that’s what hope feels like. It’s been such a long time, I’d forgotten.

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Back Later

November 5th, 2008 1 comment

Work has avalanched–otherwise I would be comparing the tableau (such as I was able to observe) at the Obama acceptance speech vs. the McCain concession speech. Later, when I have a free three minutes….

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McCain Concedes

November 5th, 2008 4 comments

Not that we needed this to make it official.



Amazing–McCain’s supporters are heckling him for saying gracious things about Obama–not just regular heckling, but shouting, pained and angry, “NO!!!” for McCain’s appeal to support the president and the country. Stuff like that. It’s striking. This is not a crowd willing to make a gracious concession–they are bitter, and are making that clear in their reactions.

This is what McCain has left behind: a large core of Americans who more than just disapprove or disagree, but who violently reject the idea of cooperation and joining together. Obama did not engender this hatred: McCain is chiefly responsible for it.

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November 5th, 2008 1 comment


They are all calling it.

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Looking Better

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

Key races are tightening for Obama:

Colorado: Obama 56%, McCain 43%, 19% of precincts reporting. No change, with double the precincts reporting.

Florida: Obama 51%, McCain 48%, 81% of precincts reporting. Obama holding.

Virginia: Obama 51%, McCain 49%, 90% of precincts reporting. Obama pulling slightly ahead .

North Carolina: Obama 50%, McCain 49%, 84% of precincts reporting. Obama holding.

Indiana: McCain 50%, Obama 49%, 89% of precincts reporting.McCain holding.

TPM’s map is overloaded, so results are slow coming in to them. Elsewhere, NBC has Missouri tied, 49% to 49%, a good omen for Obama with 39% reporting.

Fox has called Virginia for Obama.

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Update: Looking Good

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

From Key States, latest numbers:

Everyone agrees on Ohio now. Like Pennsylvania, it’s not yet official; they could be wrong. But it doesn’t look like it. Other states:

Colorado: Obama 56%, McCain 43%, 9% of precincts reporting. Going for Obama; local news sources calling the state for him already.

Florida: Obama 51%, McCain 48%, 67% of precincts reporting. Obama holding.

Virginia: Obama 50%, McCain 49%, 85% of precincts reporting. Obama takes the lead.

North Carolina: Obama 50%, McCain 49%, 74% of precincts reporting. Tightening in favor of McCain.

Indiana: McCain 50%, Obama 49%, 85% of precincts reporting.Tightening in favor of Obama.

Missouri: McCain 52%, Obama 48%, 20% of precincts reporting. Tightening in favor of Obama.

…Wait for iiitt…

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November 5th, 2008 Comments off

Networks have called Georgia for McCain (I still swear that TPM’s map read the opposite for a while…) as well as West Virginia. West Virginia was a lock for McCain, and Georgia was an outside hope.

But Ohio is the big news, after Pennsylvania. Calls for Ohio are now solidifying; it looks like Obama will take it. And McCain’s chances just went from “slim” to “only if god intervenes.”

Of course, it’s not over yet. But Obama is looking very, very good.

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Other States

November 5th, 2008 Comments off

From Key States, latest numbers:

Correction: somehow, I got the numbers for Georgia flipped. I was wondering why it was so strong for Obama. I could swear TPM’s map said Obama had the lead, but I guess I mistook it.

Ohio: Obama 55%, McCain 43%, 14% of precincts reporting.

Florida: Obama 51%, McCain 48%, 54% of precincts reporting.

North Carolina: Obama 51%, McCain 48%, 45% of precincts reporting.

Indiana: McCain 51%, Obama 48%, 67% of precincts reporting.

Missouri: McCain 54%, Obama 45%, 7% of precincts reporting.

Georgia: McCain 59%, Obama 40%, 49% of precincts reporting.

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