Nov. 09 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 365   McCain 162   Ties 11
Senate Dem 57   GOP 40   Ties 3
House Dem 256   GOP 173   Ties 6

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strong Dem Strong Dem (262)
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barely Dem Barely Dem (74)
tied Exactly tied (11)
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strong GOP Strong GOP (120)
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Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IN IA NV NM NC OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo Breakdown of the Committees What's Next for Palin?
How Obama Won McCain, Palin to Campaign for Chambliss
Franken Closing In On Coleman Alaska Senate Seat Still Undecided

News from the Votemaster

Obama Picks Up Another Electoral Vote

Nebraska is one of the two states (along with Maine) that awards one electoral vote for each congressional district carried plus two for the statewide winner. It now appears that Obama won NE-02 (Omaha) and picks up another electoral vote. This is the first time since 1828 that either state has split its EVs. The mapping software wasn't set up to color in Omaha separately, so the state will be marked in purple to indicate the red+blue split.

Nebraska Republicans have reacted to this development with dismay and intend to introduce legislation in 2009 to go to a winner-take-all system like 48 other states. Although technically the (unicameral) legislature is nonpartisan, de facto, the Republicans control it and also the governor's mansion, so they will probably succeed.

An indirect effect of Obama winning the electoral vote is to provide a solid precedent for allowing a state to allocate its electoral votes as its state legislature determines by state law. This issue could come up again if the Interstate Compact is adopted by states with 270 electoral votes. If this happens, then those states will cast all their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote (not the state popular vote), de facto eliminating the electoral college without a constitutional amendment. Currently four states (Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey) have passed it. If another dozen or so blue states were to pass it, it would come into being and there would surely be court fights about the right of a state legislature to determine how its electoral votes were cast (even though the constitution is pretty clear it is up to the states to choose their electors as they wish). Having a precedent for something other than winner-take-all would strengthen that court case.

Reichert Wins in WA-08

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) won a close House election against Darcy Burner in WA-08. Burner has conceded. This is the second straight time Reichert has edged out Burner in a very close election in this swing district.

With Frank Kratovil's victory in MD-01 yesterday, the number of House races still undecided has declined to six. They are: AK-AL, CA-04, OH-15, and VA-05 plus two seats in Louisiana (LA-02 and LA-04) where there will be runoffs in December.

Of these undecided races, VA-05 is the closest to being resolved. Tom Perriello (D) now holds a 745-vote lead over Rep. Virgil Goode (R) with all the votes counted. Perriello has claimed victory but Goode (rhymes with food), who has represented this district (which includes the fairly liberal Charlottesville) in Congress for six terms has not conceded defeat yet. Goode is nothing if not flexible. He used to be a Democrat, then he was an independent and is now a Republican. He also switched from being a Presbyterian to a being a Baptist. Goode has been in the news repeatedly due to his "anchor babies," his term for the babies of illegal immigrants who are born on U.S. soil and are thus automatically U.S. citizens. While theoretically a court could deport a woman in the country illegally and tell her to either take her baby with her or give it up for adoption, most judges are very hesitant to separate a mother from her baby, even if the law allows this. Goode has argued against providing government services (such as health care) for illegals (such as the mother of the anchor baby). As Virginia has become more Democratic over the past three election cycles, these views have become less popular and this may be the end of the road for Goode.

State of the Senate Races

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) has conceded, so Jeff Merkley (D) will be the new senator from Oregon. However, three Senate races are still up in the air. The most contentious one is in Minnesota where Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) currently leads Al Franken (D) by 221 votes. Coleman has asked Franken to waive the automatic recount to save the taxpayers $90,000, but Franken declined to take up his kind offer. One peculiarity of this race is the presence of 25,000 undervotes, that is ballots in which someone voted for President but not for senator. Such ballots are perfectly legal, but it seems unusual that someone would stand in line for a long time to vote for President but skip the extremely visible and contentious Senate race. Some observers think that these voters may not have marked their Senate choice darkly enough on the ballot so the optical scanners missed them. In a hand recount, some of these votes will be picked up. Of great concern to Coleman is that 18,000 of the undervotes came from counties that Obama carried. Probably a large fraction of these voters support the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, as the Democratic party is called in Minnesota) and intended to vote for Franken. A bitter fight here is likely.

In the presidential race, McCain led Obama in Missouri by 6000 votes when the regular votes were counted, but now they are counting the provisional ballots and absentee ballots.

The Alaska Senate race is still open, with convicted felon Ted Stevens (R-AK) leading by 4000 votes with 70,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted. If Stevens wins, Sen. Jim De Mint (R-SC) wants to expel Stevens from the Senate, saying he does want any convicted felons in the GOP caucus. If Stevens wins and is expelled, there will be a special election to fill the vacancy. The most likely candidates would be Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Anchorage mayor Mark Begich (D). Given how popular Palin still is in Alaska, she could probably win that one, giving her a national platform for four years. The whole thing is like a big chess game.

Speaking of big chess games, another one is going on in the Senate race in Georgia. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) beat Jim Martin (D) but apparently failed to get 50% so there will be a runoff. Chambliss has already enlisted John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and every other big Republican gun in sight to campaign for him. He has also started to smear Martin, as he did to Max Cleland in 2002. Barack Obama is in a bit of a bind here. He would like an extra vote in the Senate, but if he campaigns for Martin, the press will see this as a proxy fight between Obama and McCain. If Chambliss wins, as expected, the headlines will read: "McCain Wins Round 2." For this reason, Obama probably won't campaign for Martin. However, Martin might be able to get one or more Clintons to help out. And since Bill Clinton is a fellow Southerner, that might carry some weight. Still, Chambliss is the favorite.

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-- The Votemaster