Tuesday, November 7, 2006

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Open midterms thread

Comment away on the election results here. AP reporting on the exit polls is suggestive of a big Democratic night:

In surveys at polling places, about six in 10 voters said they disapproved of the way President Bush is handling his job, and roughly the same percentage opposed the war in Iraq. They were more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates than for Republicans.

In even larger numbers, about three-quarters of voters said scandals mattered to them in deciding how to vote, and they, too, were more likely to side with Democrats. The surveys were taken by The Associated Press and the networks.

Over at the US News and World Report blog, Kenneth Walsh notes a statement against interest:
More evidence of a big Democratic surge. Fox News's commentator panel led by Brit Hume, which is considered mostly right of center, has reason to be skeptical of this perception of Democratic gains. But the Fox panel, which includes Fred Barnes, Bill Kristol, Mort Kondracke, Juan Williams, and Hume, is now saying the exit polls and their analysis suggest what Barnes calls "a good Democratic night."

The conservative commentators warned viewers to beware of a Democratic bias in exit polls, but they conceded that things look very good for the Dems.

Fifty-seven percent of late deciders, the Fox exit polls show, are breaking for the Democrats, and 39 percent for Republicans. This is a very important harbinger.

I have mixed feelings on this evening. I only hope that Question 1 is approved in Massachusetts, and that there be as few disputed results as possible.

UPDATE, 10:30 PM: Question 1 goes down. Grrrr.......

UPDATE, 10:34 PM: Just when I think John Kerry can't say something dumber, he pulls it off. CNN showed him at the Deval Patrick headquarters saying the following:

We have made history tonight, because we have elected, for an unprecedented ninth time, the greatest Senator in the history of the United States Senate, Ted Kennedy!!

And we have made history, not just here but across the country, because it is clear, from those who are winning in America, that Americans are not just voting for Democrats and for Republicans, they are voting against the politics of smear and fear. They want a change.

That's how I'd interpret Kennedy's re-election as well.

UPDATE, 10:52 PM: I'm not going to stay up late, but glancing at the results so far, I can't imagine the Democrats will be overjoyed. If the numbers hold, the GOP will hold onto Senate seats in Virginia, Missouri, and Tennessee. Some of the vulnerable Republicans have held onto their House seats. If the Dems retake the House, it's impressive, but this doesn't look like 1994 at this point in the evening (see final update below)

We'll see how long it will be before the "blame Britney" crowd becomes a mob.

UPDATE, 12:17 AM: So I stayed up late -- so sue me. The Dems have retaken the house, and have a slim chance at the Senate since Jim Webb looks like he's barely going to beat George Allen. More impressive, but as Jeff Greenfield observed, this would be the first time in quite a while that the House flipped but the Senate did not.

Over at The Corner, Ramesh Ponnuru suggests the GOP will actually have to suck up to libertarians now:

If Sodrel loses in Indiana, as looks likely, it may be because a libertarian candidate took votes from him.... So far, losing because of libertarians hasn't caused Republicans to move toward the libertarians ideologically. But maybe things will change this time.
Good night.

UPDATE, 7:10 AM: Well, it seems like there are shades of 1994 in the election. If Jim Leach went down in Iowa, and the Democrats win the Senate and they win a majority of governorships, then it's fair to describe this as a tidal wave.

posted by Dan on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM


Mixed feelings are deserved. Exit polls were mostly incorrect in 2004.

Either everyone lied, or something happened between casting votes and counting votes.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

Too early for conclusions right now. But a thought as it occurs to me: can there be anything more pathetic than a politician or party spokesman still furiously spinning on CNN or MSNBC after the polls in his state have already closed? I mean, this Federline fellow is pretty pathetic, but at least he'll make out in the divorce settlement.

posted by: Zathras on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

No one lied, it is just a matter of getting accurate data, which is just very hard to do. A very good night for Democrats overall. I am hoping that Allen takes it though as I thought he was treated really unfairly by the media in spite some idiotic comments he made.

Dan, what is with that seductive Brittney photo? Federline was my idol:) as who else with no talent can be married to a really good looking wife and live exceedingly well (except those with trust funds). I guess I will have to rethink things:)

posted by: Ian on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

Strange business all around.

First: Q 1. I've lived in MA for about five years, and assumed the Sunday/10 PM liquor laws were some quaint relic of rural NE society, or the great great grandchild of puritanism. In other words, an historical artifact. But, apparently not. I had thought we live among regular folks, perhaps more liberal and educated than most, but fundamentally human. It would appear however that we are surrounded by a race of joyless aliens who do not like wine.

Second: Dems not overjoyed? The Senate was always a long shot, but we have the House by 3 at least at this point. Why I am not supposed to be overjoyed? Subpoenas, m/f, subpoenas. The dems don't have enough power to do any damage, yet still can perform oversight. How is this suboptimal?

posted by: foolishmortal on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

Trust me, Democrats are doing cartwheels.

We've got the House, and we've gained a hella lot of Governorships. That's important if for no other reason than as a training ground for future Presidential candidates.

Getting the Senate would be nice, but it was never something we counted on. I'm happy with the 3 Senate seats we've gained and will be ecstatic if we pick up any one of MO, MT or VA. Filibustering RW whacko judicial nominees just got easier.

posted by: CaseyL on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

- No sitting Democratic House Representative has lost. Same for Democratic Senator and Democratic Governor.

- At State levels too, no Democratic controlled house is lost.

- There are significant gains to Dems in House; in all probability gain of 4+ Senate seats and around 6 wins of Governor Offices from GOP.

- In the House, this is of the order of 1994 victory of GOP. Only because of gerrymandering of districts, the final number many not be of the order of 40+ seats transferred from one party to the other. No Democrats loosing (even some who are ‘tinted’) is a big statement here.

- It will be a significant event that Nancy Pelosi be the first female House Speaker.

Politically, surely it is a vote against Pres. Bush, his obdurate style of governance, tone deaf attitude of his administration and overall incompetence including mismanagement of Iraq war. Along with the war, corruption and incompetence of elected officials seem to have played too. Typical wedge issue campaign of Karl Rove style did not make any impact. So did so called flap of Sen. Kerry or Sen. Kerry’s gift to GOP. It turns out to be a non issue. But Rep. Foley scandal seems to have enforced people’s opinion about GOP House Leadership – always pushing bad habits or deeds under the carpet.

Will Pres. Bush alter his course? Some course change will be surely there. But it is not clear whether this Administration will undertake enough ‘change’ as needed. It is used to ‘pretend’ to make compromises where in reality it hardly budges from its policy. Case in study is the ‘torture policy’. (Sen. McCain played the ‘con boy’ there to deceive public is a different matter.)

The big fear is Pres. Bush, in the vain act of emulating late British PM Churchill, would continue his ‘adamant’ policy about Iraq and Congress would have no other means apart from holding ‘the purse tight’ to force change President his policy. That will be a bad spectacle, kind of equivalent to how Pres. Clinton force closed down the Government in his dog fight with Congress. One hopes that similar situation does not arise.

Apart from Pres. Bush as the big looser, on other side of the ledger we have Sen. Clinton as a big winner. Her own landslide victory in the New York Senate election and election of a compatriot female House Speaker will ignite dreams of the first female President among many. Besides, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner is out and Sen. John Kerry is effectively out from presidential primaries of Democratic Party.
The other big winner is Rahm Emmanuel, the House Election Committee Leader for Dems. He has delivered and he will build his political career on that. Another rising politician is the newly elected, again with landslide, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer. This victory parade of Dems in Empire State means, Rudy Gulliani’s Presidential ambitions may be curtailed. On the other hand former GOP Governor of Massachusetts – Romney – may start to look as more viable candidacy from GOP side. In all, GOP politicians in drove will start to run away from Bush – Rove style politics.

The only star on GOP side seems to be California Governor Schwarzenagger who does not practice Rove-Bush art of politics anyways. In general California is unusually calm in this big political change – only one House seat may change, Senate was never in play and Governorship is intact with the incumbent. Quite a surprise.

Overall America needed this big change in order to go away from the divisive politics of Pres. Bush. Now, America can start the ‘healing’ process and Dems win is a good start.

posted by: Umesh Patil on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

If Gov. Romney does not get the Republican nomination will he run against John Kerry in 2008?

Second, will someone take on Kerry in the Primary?

It is hard to believe question 1 went down.


posted by: spencer on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

If Gov. Romney does not get the Republican nomination will he run against John Kerry in 2008?

No. Romney is deeply unpopular in MA right now - recent polls show he would have lost to Patrick by the same 55-35 margin that Healey took. Romney has spent the last few months badmouthing Massachusetts to get primary votes, and the Massachusetts Republican Party just got cut off at hte knees yesterday. There won't be a Republican senator from MA for decades, at least.

posted by: DivGuy on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

The DFL must be hungry for some revenge. But I don't see any publicly explicit attacks - no impeachments and no 'cut & run'. Such moves will only hurt them for '08, and the people have just given their verdict on Bush's wartime skills.

My guess is the DFL will do whatever damage they can to Bush's domestic agenda instead. His only goal now is his legacy, so they'll aim for that.

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

I just saw your final update and gasped. I have moved to California since the last time Jim Leach was up for re-election. But whoa. Leach is a moderate Republican and all-around impossible-to-dislike guy with a long-standing political career in Iowa, and when I lived there he was so unbeatable, according to conventional wisdom, that the Dems didn't "waste" plausible candidates against him. This, to me, is the clearest sign that something has definitely happened.

posted by: Rachel on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

I still think the phrase "over the top" is still a tramendous understatement in describing Juan Cole's jubilations... Here it is:
The fourth popular revolution of the twenty-first century (after the Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan) swept America on Tuesday, as voters engaged in the moral equivalent of storming the Bastille. The United States of America has roundly repudiated the Bush Administration and Republican Party dominance of all three branches of the Federal government and its dominance of many state offices, as well. Corruption and war drove this slap in the face to the Old Regime crafted by Newt Gingrich and Traitor Rove.

REVOLUTION?? My lord...

posted by: Matan on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

Check it out...The real question, now that the Democrats have gained control of Congress by focusing on foreign policy, is "what now?" And that's going to be tough, because opinion surveys show the public doesn't have a lot of confidence in any of the strategies on the table. This Public Agenda survey found only two options, better intelligence gathering and reducing dependence on foreign energy, get any real support from the public.

posted by: W Hallowell on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

Yay! for Pelosi and Reid. But as a Brit living in
the USA, I continue to be amazed by the poor
election-night coverage. In the UK they use a
"swing-o-meter" to calculate the likely final seat
counts. As each new result comes in, they compare
the vote counts against the numbers in that seat
for the previous cycle and thus estimate the vote
swing from Conservative to Labour (or vice versa).
Then that estimate of the national swing can be
applied to the previous results of all other seats
to make an estimate of probable overall seat
counts. Instead here, we get the
completely irrelevant partial vote counts, which
would only mean something if you knew the past
figures for each precinct *and* you knew which
precincts had reported.

posted by: Richard Cownie on 11.07.06 at 07:07 PM [permalink]

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