Nov. 17 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 365   McCain 162   Ties 11
Senate Dem 57   GOP 40   Ties 3
House Dem 255   GOP 174   Ties 6

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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (258)
weak Dem Weak Dem (33)
barely Dem Barely Dem (74)
tied Exactly tied (11)
barely GOP Barely GOP (3)
weak GOP Weak GOP (39)
strong GOP Strong GOP (120)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
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

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Just Like Lincoln Huckabee Lashes Back, Settles Scores

News from the Votemaster

State of the Count

In Missouri, no absentee ballots or provisional ballots were counted during the weekend. Counting will resume today. It is taking a long time because every provisional ballot has to be verified before it is counted. In Alaska, 24,000 remaining ballots will be counted tomorrow in the Senate race. There is a good chance of having a result by Wednesday, although a recount is possible. In Minnesota, certification of the results will occur tomorrow. It is expected that Norm Coleman will win by 206 votes. Then a recount will begin Wednesday. There were 25,000 ballots in which no vote for senator was cast, largely in Democratic counties. In a manual recount, some of these may show votes that the optical scanner missed. In Georgia, there will be a runoff on Dec. 2 for the Senate race. No progress has been reported on the six House races still up in the air.

Obama Resigns His Senate Seat

Barack Obama has resigned from the United States Senate because he was not planning to go back to Washington in December anyway. This means there are now 48 Democrats, 49 Republicans, 1 Independent who is as loyal a Democrat as they come (Bernie Sanders) and Joe Lieberman, whose future is on the line Tuesday. If there is a lame-duck session of Congress, the Democrats will lose one vote on account of Obama's resignation. His replacement, who Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) has not yet named, will take office Jan. 5, 2009. Joe Biden has not resigned from the Senate yet, so he can vote in a lame-duck session.

Dueling Visions of What Went Wrong for the Republicans

'Tis the season for post-election analysis and it is all over the map. Ronald Reagan's son Michael thinks the problem is that the GOP was much too moderate and now freed of centrist tendencies can move hard to the right and get back on track. On the other hand, former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman thinks that moving to the right will completely marginalize the party.

Election Mythology is Starting Already

The election is only two weeks past and already some ideas that are probably not true are starting to become part of the conventional wisdom. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has come up with a list of five myths that don't hold much water:

  1. The Republican Party has suffered a death blow
    (The disaster was worse in 1964 and it came back in 1968).
  2. A wave of black voters and young voters was the key to Obama's victory
    (There was no significant increase in turnout by either group, although they did vote for Obama).
  3. The Democrats will now usher in a new progressive era
    (About a third of the House Democrats are from Republican districts and they will be very cautious).
  4. A Republican could have won the presidency this year
    (So many people hate George Bush that probably nothing could have saved the GOP).
  5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin
    (While she cost him independents, without her he would have lost his base, which is worse).

Senate Races in 2010

Since it looks like the Democrats will not get to 60 seats in the Senate this year, a logical question is: "What about 2010?" In that year 16 Democratic seats and 19 Republican seats will be up for reelection. A usual, some of them are a lot more vulnerable than others, so let's see who's who in 2010. As a first cut, here is the list sorted by the percentage of the vote the senator got in 2004. Column 4 shows which party won the presidential election in 2008, column 5 shows when the senator joined the Senate, and column 6 shows the senator's age on election day 2010. The data are also available in .csv format.

Senator State Party 2008 Since Age Pct Safe? Challenger?
Mike Crapo ID R R 1998 59 99% Yes  
Daniel Inouye HI D D 1962 86 76% Yes  
John McCain AZ R R 1986 74 76% No Janet Napolitano?
Patrick Leahy VT D D 1974 70 71% Yes  
Chuck Schumer NY D D 1998 59 71% Yes  
Chuck Grassley IA R D 1980 77 70% No Tom Vilsack?
Robert Bennett UT R R 1992 77 69% Yes  
Sam Brownback KS R R 1996 54 69% No Kathleen Sebelius?
Richard Shelby AL R R 1986 76 68% Yes  
Byron Dorgan ND D R 1992 68 68% Probably  
Chris Dodd CT D D 1980 66 66% Yes  
Judd Gregg NH R D 1992 63 66% No John Lynch?
Barbara Mikulski MD D D 1986 74 65% Yes  
George Voinovich OH R D 1998 74 64% No Many
Ron Wyden OR D D 1996 61 63% Yes  
Evan Bayh IN D D 1998 54 62% Yes  
Harry Reid NV D D 1986 70 61% Yes Brian Krolicki?
Barbara Boxer CA D D 1992 69 58% No Arnold Schwarzenegger?
Johnny Isakson GA R R 2004 65 58% No Jim Martin?
Kit Bond MO R R 1986 71 56% No  
Russ Feingold WI D D 1992 57 56% Yes  
Blanche Lincoln AR D R 1998 50 56% No  
Patty Murray WA D D 1992 60 55% Yes  
Jim DeMint SC R R 2004 59 54% Yes  
Arlen Specter PA R D 1980 80 53% No Ed Rendell? Chris Matthews?
Tom Coburn OK R R 2004 62 53% Yes  
Richard Burr NC R D 2004 54 52% No  
Jim Bunning KY R R 1998 79 51% No Ben Chandler?
Ken Salazar CO D D 2004 55 51% No  
John Thune SD R R 2004 49 51% No  
David Vitter LA R R 2004 49 51% No  
Mel Martinez FL R D 2004 64 49% No Debbie Wasserman-Schultz?
Lisa Murkowski AK R R 2002 53 49% No  
(Biden's seat) DE D D 2008   app'ted Yes  
(Obama's seat) IL D D 2008   app'ted Yes  

Another factor is which presidential candidate won the state in 2008. Democrats in red states and Republicans in blue states run a special risk. To start with, anyone who got more than 60% of the vote last time and belongs to the majority party in the state is probably safe absent special circumstances. Of the 17 senators who got over 60%, 13 belong to the majority party in their states and in theory should be safe.

However, there are two exceptions. If John McCain (R-AZ) were to face popular governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), he would have a real fight on his hands. Polls taken this fall show her beating him. If she doesn't run, he is safe. Chuck Grassley got 70% last time and will have been in the Senate for 30 years in 2010. If he decides to run, he will be very tough to dislodge unless former governor Tom Vilsack challenges him, in which case it could be a real horse race.

Sam Brownback's seat is an interesting one. He is not running for reelection in 2010. Normally all a Republican has to do in Kansas to win is show up. However, the governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius (D), is very popular. If she runs for the open seat, she has a real chance.

In principle Byron Dorgan (D-ND) should be worried since his state is so red, but he has been elected three times and got such a large vote last time (68%), that unless he is challenged by Gov. John Hoeven (R-ND) he is probably safe and even if he is challenged by Hoeven, he's probably safe since his argument will be: "Do you want to replace a senior guy with a lot of clout in the majority by a powerless freshman in the minority?"

Now we come to Judd Gregg. If I were Gregg, I'd be scared witless. In the four years since Gregg was elected, the state has gone from being reddish to deep blue. In 2006, the Democrats won all the marbles and in 2008, former governor Jeanne Shaheen (D) knocked off a sitting Republican senator (John Sununu) and Obama took the state by 9 points. If the Democrats can line up a good candidate, Gregg is in deep doodoo. The most promising candidate is Gov. John Lynch, who won in 2006 with 74%, the biggest margin in a gubernatorial race in the state's history. In 2008 he got 72% (governors have to run every 2 years in New Hampshire--the locals don't trust politicians much). Against Lynch, Gregg will probably be toast. If Lynch declines to run and one of the state's two representatives runs, he at least has a chance of surviving. Either way, he is target #1 in 2010.

George Voinovich (R-OH) could be in for a challenge in 2010 since the state went for Obama. There are nine (maybe 10 depending on OH-15) Ohio Democrats in the House, one or more of whom might want to go after Voinovich. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Harry Reid (D-NV) are Democrats in Democratic states so they are probably safe. Evan Bayh is a Democrat in a state Obama barely won, but he served 8 years as governor and 12 years as senator and his father served 18 years as senator, so with 38 years in statewide office the Bayh family is pretty well respected in Indiana. It won't be easy to defeat him.

Next we get to Barbara Boxer (D-CA). If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) challenges her, she will have a real fight on her hands. Otherwise she is safe.

Johnny Isakson got 58% in 2004, but he rode on George Bush's coattails then and the state has many more Democrats now. If Jim Martin (D), who will probably lose this year's Senate race, runs again in 2010, it could be close.

Russ Feingold (D-WI) is very liberal and a bit quirky, but Wisconsin likes its senators that way, so he's safe.

In theory, Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) should be in trouble because she is from a red state, but in 2008, another Democratic senator from Arkansas, Mark Pryor, got a freebie because the Republicans couldn't even find a candidate. Besides, Arkansas is more Democratic than most outsiders imagine. The Democrats hold the governorship, both Senate seats, three of the four House seats, and both houses of the state legislature. Unless the Republicans can pull a candidate out of the hat, Lincoln will probably survive.

There have been rumors than Kit Bond (R-MO) might retire, but it is not certain. If he runs, he has a good chance of surviving. Patty Murray and Jim DeMint match their states well and are safe.

Now we come to Arlen Specter (R-PA). He will be 80 in 2010. He was diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkins' lymphoma in 2005 and received chemotherapy. The cancer came back in 2008 and he underwent chemotherapy again. With an elderly Republican with major health problems running for reelection in a blue state, the Democrats are not about to give him a free pass. This seat will be mightily contested. Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) is obviously a prime candidate, but if Rendell passes, there are a dozen Democratic representatives who would probably like his job. In addition, MSNBC's Hardball host, Chris Matthews, is said to be interested in running. Specter and Judd are definitely the Democrats top targets in 2010.

Tom Coburn (R-OK) has a habit of irritating his colleagues beyond belief and supports the death penalty for abortionists, but he is popular back home and will probably survive.

Until two weeks ago, most people assumed that Richard Burr (R-NC) would be safe because North Carolina is a Republican state. It isn't any more and Kay Hagan's surprise win over Elizabeth Dole will surely inspire a challenge to Burr. Gov. Mike Easley (D-NC) would give him a real run for his money.

Ken Salazar barely squeaked in last time, but that was in 2004 when he was swimming upstream against the George Bush wave. If he could win under those circumstances, he will be fairly hard to defeat in 2010, especially when Colorado has become bluer.

Jim Bunning (R-KY), a former major league baseball player, will be 79 and has some health issues. In 2004, he probably would have lost had it not been for Bush's coattails. He barely won against a weak, unknown, underfunded opponent. If the Democrats can come up with a solid candidate, for example, Rep. Ben Chandler, they have a chance to unseat him. He might also retire.

John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) all won by the slimmest of margins last time. If the Democrats can come up with strong candidates, they could make any of these races competitive, especially against Vitter (who was a client of the D.C. madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey) and Martinez (whose state has gone blue).

In short, the Democrats have good takeover possibilities in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and maybe Florida if they can field a strong candidate. If Kathleen Sebelius runs for the Senate, they will be competitive in Kansas and if Janet Napolitano runs in Arizona, they have a chance there, too. Maybe even in North Carolina again. The best case scenario at this moment appears to be another six seats, on top of the 12 to 14 they got in 2006 and 2008. For the Republicans, the only seat they have any chance of picking up is Boxer's and then only if Schwarzenegger runs, and even then knocking off a three-term senator in the majority won't be easy. Boxer is a prodigious fundraiser, having raised $19 million for her last run. She has $3.6 million in the bank right now and hasn't even really started her 2010 campaign yet.

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