Dec. 18 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 365   McCain 173  
Senate Dem 58   GOP 41   Ties 1
House Dem 257   GOP 178  

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strong Dem Strong Dem (258)
weak Dem Weak Dem (33)
barely Dem Barely Dem (74)
tied Exactly tied (0)
barely GOP Barely GOP (14)
weak GOP Weak GOP (39)
strong GOP Strong GOP (120)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
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Presidential polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IN IA NV NM NC OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo Coleman's Lead Now Single Digits Blair Tapped as Intelligence Czar
Obama Will Finalize Cabinet Tomorrow Todd Named White House Correspondent
Obama Will Name Solis as Labor Secretary Obama Ready to Pick Science Adviser

News from the Votemaster

Goode Concedes Defeat in VA-05

Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), has conceded defeat after the recount in VA-05 was finished. The new congressman from the Charlottesville district will be Tom Perriello (D). Goode seemed like a perfectly safe occupant of the seat until he denounced Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim member of Congress. The resulting storm of protest ended his career.

All House races have now concluded. The Democrats won 257 seats to the Republicans' 178. After the 2004 elections, the Democrats had 203 seats in the House, so they have picked up 54 seats in the past two cycles. This puts the Democrats almost back to where they were before the 1994 Republican wave (258 seats). Maybe the Republicans can repeat 1994 in 2010, but Charlie Cook thinks this is very unlikely unless the Democrats mess up big time, which is unlikely since many of them remember the 1994 debacle very well.

Minnesota Recount Continues

The canvassing board is continuing to count the challenged ballots one by one in the Minnesota Senate race. In the past two days, 420 of the ballots challenged by Al Franken have been examined. During this process, Coleman gained about 100 votes. This is normal as Franken challenged many ballots that looked like they were for Coleman but had an outside chance of being invalidated or even ruled as Franken votes. When the board starts examining the Coleman challenges, Franken will gain votes. The Star Tribune puts Coleman's lead at 358 votes as of the end of counting Wednesday.

A new wrinkle in the process is that Coleman is now claiming that as many as 150 votes were double counted by local elections boards. Franken dismissed the claim as "just a theory." Such claims could provide the basis for a later court challenge if Franken is certified the winner.

Shoe-icide Parodies Proliferate

The incident in which an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at George Bush has generated many parodies. See here and here for some of them.

Obama's Cabinet Almost Complete Now

President-elect Barack Obama has almost completed naming his cabinet. It is quite a brainy bunch, with most members having graduate degrees as shown in the table below. The noncabinet economic team all have graduate degrees: (Melody Barnes: J.D. Michigan, Ben Bernanke: Ph.D. M.I.T., Christina Romer: Ph.D. M.I.T., and Larry Summers: Ph.D. Harvard). Not since the Kennedy administration have we seen so many appointees with multiple degrees from the nation's top universities.

Position Cabinet officer Bachelors Degree Graduate School
Attorney General Eric Holder Columbia Univ. J.D. Columbia Law School
Secretary of Agriculture former Gov. Tom Vilsack Hamilton Coll. J.D. Albany Law School
Secretary of Commerce Gov. Bill Richardson Tufts Univ. M.A. Tufts Univ.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Coll. of William & Mary Ph.D. Georgetown
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Harvard Univ. -
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Univ. of Rochester Ph.D. Univ. of California at Berkeley
Secretary of Health and Human Services former Sen. Tom Daschle South Dakota State Univ. -
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan Harvard Univ. M.A. Harvard Univ.
Secretary of Homeland Security Gov. Janet Napolitano Santa Clara Univ. J.D. Univ. of Virginia Law School
Secretary of the Interior Sen. Ken Salazar Colorado Coll. J.D. Univ. of Michigan Law School
Secretary of Labor ?    
Secretary of State Sen. Hillary Clinton Wellesley College J.D. Yale Univ. Law School
Secretary of Transportation Rep. Ray LaHood Bradley Univ. -
Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner Dartmouth Coll. M.A. Johns Hopkins Univ.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki USMA West Point M.A. Duke Univ.

With the meltdown on Wall St. fresh in everyone's mind, a key appointment is the head of the SEC. Yesterday, Obama named former SEC commissioner Mary Schapiro to the position.

Obama Chooses Rick Warren to Deliver Inaugural Invocation

Obama has chosen pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inaugural. Liberal groups are already up in arms over this choice. It was a brilliant move on Obama's part. By reaching out to a relatively moderate evangelical who has focused on AIDS and world poverty and getting liberals to react angrily (because Warren is antichoice and antigay) Obama has accomplished two things. First, a lot of evangelicals will come to regard Obama as not so bad after all, which will surely help him when he actually starts to govern. Second, by getting liberals visibly furious with him before he is even inaugurated, he will be much better able to defend himself against right-wing cries that he is a "liberal" (a pejorative in some circles). The move costs him no political capital at all. Warren gets a few minutes to speak on national TV. He's not going to use it to bash gays if he has any expectation of becoming the new Billy Graham. But later when Obama does controversial things--like pushing for some kind of national health insurance--he can claim to be balanced by saying: "I am a centrist, look, I let Warren speak and I support national health insurance, something for everyone." That is hardly an even trade but it will get him a lot of mileage in the media. Despite what some people may think, Obama is a very clever politician and fully understands that making small gestures to the right, however meaningless, generate good will he will need later. The incident brings to mind the comment of John Mitchell (Richard Nixon's attorney general): "Watch what we do, not what we say."

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-- The Votemaster