Nov. 18 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
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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

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News from the Votemaster

Coleman and Franken Gear Up for a Date in Court

The Minnesota Senate race is so close (Coleman is ahead by 206 votes) that a recount is required by law. Back in the old days, a recount meant that county officials went and counted the votes again. Nowadays it means it's lawyer time. Both Al Franken (D) and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) are preparing for court fights over absentee ballots where the voter or a county official made some clerical error on the envelope. The election could hinge on how these court cases turn out. On the one hand, the law says that a vote lacking a full address is invalid, so an absentee ballot without a zip code is invalid. On the other hand, Minnesota law is designed to count every vote if the intent of the voter can be determied, which argues against discarding ballots on minor technical grounds (no zip code, signed on the wrong line, etc.), when everything else is perfectly in order. Hundreds of absentee ballots have been voided for reasons like this and what happens to them may determine the outcome of the election.

Republicans Nervous about Ejecting Stevens from the Caucus

Senate Republicans are meeting to choose their leaders today and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is going to introduce a motion to eject convicted felon Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) from the caucus and deny him a vote on the leadership positions. Other Republicans would prefer that the Stevens' problem just goes away by itself so they don't have to vote on it. (English translation: they are hoping he loses his reelection battle to Anchorage mayor Mark Begich). Unfortunately, the results of the election won't be known until tomorrow at the earliest, so the Republicans may be forced to decide whether they want to allow Stevens to vote today.

Democrats Nervous about Ejecting Lieberman from the Caucus

Republicans aren't the only ones facing an uncomfortable vote today. Senate Democrats are going to meet today to decide the fate of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who caucuses with the Democrats (and holds committee positions as though he were a Democrat) but who supported John McCain's presidential run. Since the Democrats are within hailing distance of 60 seats, some of them want to keep Lieberman inside the tent and give him a slap on the wrist by taking away his subcommittee chairmanships but allowing him to remain chairman of the homeland security committee. Others want to strip him of his powerful chairmanship and the subpoena power that goes with it.

Waxman (69) Woos the Youth Vote in House Battle

Rep. Henry Waxman, a mere stripling by House standards at 69, is challenging one of the old bulls, John Dingell (82), for the chairmanship of the House energy and commerce committee. He is lobbying among newly elected members who haven't even been sworn in yet and who don't remember the days when chairmen like Dingell ruled with an iron fist. Waxman is a strong environmentalist and reformer and is popular with younger members; older ones fear Dingell and know that he is not someone you want as an enemy. The vote is tomorrow. The lobbying is today.

Fault Lines within the GOP Fall along a Generational Divide

At Republican meetings last week the opinions differed sharply as to what went wrong and how to fix it according to a story in Politico. Older Republicans, like Mississippi governor (and former RNC chairman) Haley Barbour, think the problem was that John McCain didn't do his best (English translation: if he had talked about Rev. Jeremiah Wright 24/7 we would have won). Other leaders said it was 90-10 wrong track, so it wasn't really their fault (although he didn't mention whose fault it was that it was 90-10 wrong track). Younger leaders, like Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) pointed out what is obvious to everyone else--that Republicans can't compete at all in the Northeast or on the West Coast, are in big trouble in the Midwest and are having increasing problems in the Mountain West. Throw in serious difficulties with women, younger voters, Latinos, and African Americans, and a comb-over is not going to solve the problem. Republican pollster Frank Luntz argued that the party's problems were real and urgent. Nobody thought there was a problem with the underlying philosophy, but there was a lot of disagreement about what steps needed to be taken, especially with the Democrats controlling 29 governorships and twice as many state legislatures as the Republicans, what with the 2010 redistricting looming.

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-- The Votemaster