Begich Now Leads in Alaska Senate Race
The Alaska Division of Elections counted 60,000 absentee ballots and provisional
ballots yesterday and Sen. Ted Stevens' 3200-vote lead over Anchorage mayor Mark Begich
has been completely erased. Begich now
by 814 votes, with another 20,000 absentee
ballots that arrived after election day yet to be counted. In addition, 15,000
provisional ballots are still waiting to be verified and counted. Nationally, something
like half of all provisional ballots are rejected, but the ones that are counted
tend to skew Democatic. More ballots will be counted tomorrow, but Anchorage, where
Begich is well known, won't count until next week.
While no Republican has publicly expressed a desire to see Begich win, privately
many of them would be very happy to avoid having to cast a vote on whether to
expel Stevens from the Senate, a vote that will not be necessary if Begich wins.
On the other hand, if Begich wins, there will be no special election and Sarah Palin
will stay in Alaska as governor.
If Stevens wins and is expelled from the Senate, there will be a special election
which Palin might be able to win. Having 4 years in the Senate would give her
a national platform that could act as a springboard for a 2012 presidential race.
A Begich win eliminates that option.
If Begich wins, the Democrats will have 58 seats in the Senate and attention
will move to Minnesota, where Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Democrat Al Franken are
engaged in a high-stakes, bitter recount. Coleman currently leads by 200 votes.
However, there were 25,000 undervotes--ballots with a vote for President and no vote
for the Senate race. In a manual recount, some of these may yet count. If the
voter didn't press the pencil hard enough or made an X instead of filling in the oval,
the optical scanner might have missed the vote, but Minnesota law states that if the
intent of the voter can be determined, the vote is valid. About 18,000 of the
undervotes are in counties that Barack Obama won.
The final Senate race is the runoff in Georgia on Dec. 2.
If Begich and Franken win, then the runoff will determine whether or not the
Democrats get the magic 60 seats in the Senate. Suddenly, the race will take on
national proportions. Already many Republican big guns have promised to campaign
for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). It is not clear whether Barack Obama will campaign
for Jim Martin (D), since a loss there, which is likely, might tarnish his image
The Public Expects a Lot from Obama
Gallup ran a
asking people whether they thought Obama could do various things.
They thought he could on 13 items and couldn't on just three items. Here is the list.
| Improve conditions for minorities and the poor
| Increase respect for the U.S. abroad
| Improve education
| Improve the quality of the environment
| Reduce unemployment
| Bring U.S. troops home from Iraq
| Improve the health care system
| Create a strong economic recovery
| Keep the U.S. safe from terrorism
| Bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan
| Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil
| Heal political divisions in this country
| Control federal spending
| Substantially reduce the federal budget deficit
| Avoid raising your taxes
| Control illegal immigration
A Fork in the Road for the GOP
Where does the future of the Republican Party lie?
While it was winning, it was easy for the Republican Party to paper
over internal differences. After all, there was something for everyone.
In the wilderness, that is much harder, and a battle is developing for
the heart and soul of the party. On the one hand are the hard-right people
who are glad nearly all the remaining moderates have been purged from
Congress so the party can be an ideologically pure party devoted to
the culture wars, especially banning abortion and gay marriage. These
people see Sarah Palin as their savior: a young, good-looking, evangelical
who can fire the troops up. On the other hand are the big-business types
who want to see less government regulation of the private sector and lower
taxes for the rich. These people prefer folks like Mitt Romney and Rudy
Giuliani. They (and especially their wives) are generally libertarian
David Brooks, a respected, long-time conservative commentator, has a good
on this issue.
If Palin runs in 2012, she will discover, much to her chagrin, that Hillary Clinton
blazed the trail for her in a way she may not like. Clinton was viciously attacked from
the right during her abortive primary campaign. She knew this was going to happen and
was a walking data base of everything there is to know about politics and government.
The consequence of this run is that frontally attacking female candidates the same way
as male candidates are routinely attacked is now no longer behind the pale. If the Palin
wing wins out and she is the nominee is 2012, she'd better be able to defend herself
in terms of substance. People are going to compare her to Clinton, certainly in terms
of depth and knowledge.
Palin is in Florida now where she
that it would be a good thing for the Republicans to have a woman on the ticket in 2012.
She didn't name any names.
She is, however,
on just about every television show that will take her in an attempt to remake her image.
Meanwhile, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is already campaigning in Iowa
and Lousiana governor Bobby Jindal is planning to check out some floods in Cedar Rapids shortly.
Jindal would be the first Indian-American to run for the presidency.
If you don't like 2-year campaigns, you are in luck. For 2012 you won't have to put
up with a 2-year campaign.
It will be a 4-year campaign.
And it has already started.
Dozens of Electoral Maps Available
Here is a Website
displaying dozens of electoral maps from many sources (including ours).
List of Members of the 111th House is Now Available
A list of the members of the new House is now
That page also lists the PVI of each district and the 2008 and 2006 election
results. In addition, it has a link to a .csv file so you can download
the data and start thinking about the 2010 battleground races.
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