Nov. 10 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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News from the Votemaster

Update on the Undecided Races

Yesterday there was a posting here on the races that are still open. Nothing has happened since then. If you missed it yesterday, you might want to check it out.

Suppose the "Nebraska Algorithm" Applied Everywhere

In case you missed it, Barack Obama picked up one electoral vote by winning NE-02. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states that split their electoral votes by congressional district. Many people have asked: "What would have happened if all states used this rule?" To answer that question, one would need the popular vote for each congressional district, data that do not appear to be available at this time (but if you find them, send them over). As a proxy for the presidential vote per CD we can use the House vote. In other words, if a CD voted for a Democrat for the House, to a first approximation we can assume it voted for Obama, too. Currently we show 256 Democrats and 173 Republicans in the House, with six undecided races. Let's assume the six undecided races split evenly. That gives Obama 259 electoral votes and McCain 176. Obama won 28 states plus D.C., good for 58 electoral votes and McCain won 21 states, good for 42 electoral votes (they are still counting in Missouri). So using this model, Obama gets 317 electoral votes to McCain's 218.

Another way to estimate the vote per CD is to look at the PVI. Let's assume Obama won all the D+ CDs and McCain won all the R+ CDs. There are 200 D+ CDs and 235 R+ CDs. Using this formula Obama gets 258 electoral votes and McCain gets 277. Under the actual system, Obama outperformed both of these metrics. We know from other data that he won a large majority of the independents as well as quite a few Republicans disgusted with George Bush and John McCain for abandoning traditional Republican principles like balanced budgets and keeping the government out of people's private lives. Clearly Obama won because he not only held his base but made serious inroads in Republican CDs.

GOP Senate Caucus Will be More Conservative

One of the effects of the election is to move the center of gravity of the Republican senatorial caucus sharply to the right. Six Republican senators won't be in the new Senate, either due to retirements or defeats and three more are threatened. On the whole, they were a moderate bunch according to the ratings of conservative interest groups. Here are the nine names, with the rank being where they lie among the 49 Republican senators, with 1 being the most conservative (Jim De Mint) and 49 being the least conservative (Olympia Snowe). Thus numbers in the 30s and 40s mean a poor rating from the conservative groups. The last column is how often the senator voted for the conservative position on bills in the Senate.

Rank Senator State Rating
5 Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) 95%
10 John Sununu (R-NH) 93%
18 Wayne Allard (R-CO) 90%
19 Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) 90%
34 Pete Domenici (R-NM) 77%
35 Norm Coleman (R-MN) 75%
42 Gordon Smith (R-OR) 67%
45 Ted Stevens (R-AK) 59%
46 John Warner (R-VA) 59%

As a result of the election, three moderates, Domenici, Smith, and Warner are gone. Also, Mike Johanns (R-NE) is probably more conservative than his predecessor Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE). Jim Risch (R-ID) is probably comparable to Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID). If Coleman is defeated and Stevens is either defeated or expelled, the Republican caucus could lose up to 5 moderates, propelling the party to the right. Even the loss of Elizabeth Dole could move the caucus to the right since although she voted with the conservatives most of the time, she was no firebrand like De Mint or Chambliss. The consequences of this shift for the party's positions, for its cooperation (or lack thereof) with Obama, and for the 2012 race remain to be seen, but they could be substantial.

2012 Race Has Started

Speaking of 2012, they haven't even finished counting the votes for 2008 and speculation is already starting about 2012. The Marist Poll already sent out its first message. Politico also has a story about the 2012 race. But PLEASE keep in mind that nearly all the TV talking heads as late as the summer of the 2007 were convinced that Rudy Giuliani would be the Republican nominee and would decisively defeat the inevitable Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Names of potential Repubican candidates are easy to think of, however. Mitt Romney is still worth $200 million (unless it was all in the stock market) and has nothing else to do all day than talk to hog farmers in Iowa. Mike Huckabee has a talk show in Fox and might stay in the limelight for a while. Sarah Palin actually has a day job, which will inhibit her campaigning a bit, but it will be very hard for her to get rid of her image as a shopaholic who doesn't know Africa isn't a country. If you think it is easy to erase your image, here is a quick test.

  1. Name George Allen's favorite species of monkey
  2. How does Dan Quayle spell the plant they make French fries out of?

The former came up in 2006. The latter goes back to 1992. Once there is a public image of a politician, it is hard to erase it. Joe Biden has a reputation for gaffes. He didn't really make any this year, but somehow the reputation endures, pushed by the media. In 2012 we are likely to see new candidates who aren't on the radar now.

Senate Chairmen Play Musical Chairs

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest server senator in history, has stepped down as chairman of the appropriations committee and Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) will step down as chairman of the foreign relations committee. Furthermore, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is likely to be stripped of his chairmanship of the homeland security committee and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) may not be able to continue running the heath, education, and labor committee due to ill health. As a consequence, many other senators will move up, leaving vacancies behind, and causing many chairmanships to change hands. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is likely to give up her chairwomanship on the rules committee to take over intelligence. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is in line to take over foreign relations, but his name has been bandied about for secretary of state. Next in line is Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), who has opposed the war in Iraq from the start. If Lieberman is booted at homeland security, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) is next in line, but Akaka, a World War II veteran, is said to prefer veterans affairs. All in all, many key positions will change. While there will be lots of attention on what Obama wants, the truth is that Obama is no Lyndon Johnson. He can propose whatever he wants to, but the devil is in the details, and it is the Senate committee chairman who tend to dominate when it comes to the details.

Military Heroes Make Poor Candidates for President

In the past five elections, one of the candidates has had a sterling military record and the other has either not served or barely served. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton never served in the armed forces. George W. Bush was in the Texas Air National Guard, largely stationed in Alabama, and he left his unit before serving his full tour of duty to help in the campaign of a friend of his father's. So how did the military heroes do? Baseball fans would describe their track record as .000.

Year Democrat Military Experience Republican Military Experience Winner
2008 Obama (none) John McCain Navy pilot; P.O.W. in Vietnam Obama
2004 Kerry Volunteered for Vietnam George W. Bush National Guard in U.S.A. Bush
2000 Gore Volunteered for Vietnam George W. Bush National Guard in U.S.A. Bush
1996 Clinton (none) Bob Dole World War II hero Clinton
1992 Clinton (none) George H.W. Bush Navy pilot in WW II Clinton

So while nearly all Americans greatly honor the men and women who have worn their country's uniform, that doesn't mean they will vote for them for President. Being a good soldier requires personal bravery and a willingness to follow orders. These aren't the skills needed to be a good President. (Thanks to Robbert van Renesse for the tip.)

House Races Up Close

Let us take a look at some of the more noteworthy House races. First, there were 47 races in which the 2006 winner was not on the ballot, either due to death, retirement, or resignation to run for a different office. Here is the list and what happened there. Note that in every district with a Democratic PVI, the Democrat won. Republicans weren't even able to take a single Democratic district that was open or was occupied by the winner of a special election. In contrast, Democrats took at least 12 of the 32 Republican districts, with two still undecided.

CD PVI Democrat Pct Republican Pct 2006 Winner
MD-04 D+30 Donna Edwards 86% Peter James 13% Albert Wynn (D)
CA-37 D+27 Laura Richardson 100% (Unopposed) 0% Juanita McDonald (D)
CA-12 D+22 Jackie Speier 75% Greg Conlon 19% Tom Lantos (D)
NY-21 D+9 Paul Tonko 62% Jim Nuhrmaster 35% Michael McNulty (D)
MA-05 D+9 Niki Tsongas 100% (unopposed) 0% Marty Meehan (D)
IN-07 D+9 Andre Carson 65% Gabrielle Campo 35% Julia Carson (D)
CO-02 D+8 Jared Polis 62% Scott Starin 34% Mark Udall (D)
ME-01 D+6 Chellie Pingree 55% Charles Summers 45% Tom Allen (D)
NM-03 D+6 Ben Lujan 56% Daniel East 31% Tom Udall (D)
NJ-03 D+3 John Adler 52% Chris Myers 48% James Saxton (R)
NY-25 D+3 Dan Maffei 55% Dale Sweetland 42% James Walsh (R)
NM-01 D+2 Martin Heinrich 55% Darren White 45% Heather Wilson (R)
NY-13 D+1 Mike McMahon 61% Robert Straniere 33% Vito Fossella (R)
OR-05 D+1 Kurt Schrader 55% Mike Erickson 38% Darlene Hooley (D)
MN-03 R+1 Ashwin Madia 41% Erik Paulsen 48% Jim Ramstad (R)
IL-11 R+1 Debbie Halvorson 58% Martin Ozinga 35% Jerry Weller (R)
VA-11 R+1 Gerald Connolly 55% Keith Fimian 43% Tom Davis (R)
NJ-07 R+1 Linda Stender 41% Leonard Lance 51% Mike Ferguson (R)
OH-15 R+1 Mary Jo Kilroy ? Steve Stivers ? Deborah Pryce (R)
AZ-01 R+2 Ann Kirkpatrick 56% Sydney Hay 40% Rick Renzi (R)
OH-16 R+4 John Boccieri 54% Kirk Schuring 46% Ralph Regula (R)
FL-15 R+4 Stephen Bythe 42% Bill Posey 53% Dave Weldon (R)
IL-14 R+5 Bill Foster 57% Jim Oberweis 43% Dennis Hastert (R)
IL-18 R+5 Colleen Callahan 38% Aaron Schock 59% Ray LaHood (R)
NY-26 R+3 Alice Kryzan 40% Chris Lee 55% Tom Reynolds (R)
NM-02 R+6 Harry Teague 56% Edward Tinsley 44% Steve Pearce (R)
AL-05 R+6 Parker Griffith 52% Wayne Parker 48% Bud Cramer (D)
OH-07 R+6 Sharen Neuhardt 42% Steve Austria 58% David Hobson (R)
LA-06 R+7 Don Cazayoux 40% Bill Cassidy 48% Richard Baker (R)
MO-09 R+7 Judy Baker 47% Blaine Luetkemeyer 50% Kenny Hulshof (R)
LA-04 R+7 Paul Carmouche ? John Fleming ? Jim McCrery (R)
VA-01 R+9 Keith Hummel 42% Rob Wittman 57% Jo Ann Davis (R)
CA-52 R+9 Mike Lumpkin 39% Duncan Hunter 57% Duncan Hunter (R)
MD-01 R+10 Frank Kratovil 50% Andy Harris 49% Wayne Gilchrest (R)
OH-05 R+10 George Mays 36% Bob Latta 64% Paul Gillmor (R)
CO-06 R+10 Hank Eng 40% Mike Coffman 60% Tom Tancredo (R)
PA-05 R+10 Mark McCracken 41% Glenn Thompson 57% John Peterson (R)
MS-01 R+10 Travis Childers 54% Greg Davis 44% Roger Wicker (R)
CA-04 R+11 Charlie Brown ? Tom McClintock ? John Doolittle (R)
AL-02 R+13 Bobby Bright 50% Jay Love 49% Terry Everett (R)
KY-02 R+13 David Boswell 47% Brett Gurthrie 53% Ron Lewis (R)
MS-03 R+13 Joel Gill 37% Gregg Harper 63% Chip Pickering (R)
LA-01 R+18 Jim Harlan 34% Steve Scalise 66% Bobby Jindal (R)
WY-AL R+19 Gary Trauner 43% Cynthia Lummis 53% Barbara Cubin (R)
UT-03 R+22 Bennion Spencer 28% Jason Chaffetz 66% Chris Cannon (R)
GA-10 R+23 Bobby Saxon 39% Paul Broun Jr 61% Charlie Norwood (R)

Another way to look at the House election is to see where Democrats were elected and where Republicans were elected. The following table shows how many of each were elected for each PVI. Not surprisingly, there were more Democrats elected in D+ districts than in R+ districts. However, what is especially noteworthy is that while only nine Republicans managed to get elected to the House in Democratic territory, 65 Democrats won in Republican districts. In other words, there are many districts that vote Republican for President but vote Democratic for Congress.

Another consequence of this disparity is that many House Democrats are fairly conservative--they have to be to get elected in deep Republican territory. If Obama moves too far to the left, some of them may get antsy. Now with such a large majority, Nancy Pelosi can give dispensation to, say, 30 of them on any given bill if they need to vote against it, but it is a factor to keep in mind.

PVI Dem GOP Undecided
D+43 2 0 0
D+41 1 0 0
D+40 1 0 0
D+39 1 0 0
D+38 2 0 0
D+36 3 0 0
D+35 4 0 0
D+34 2 0 0
D+33 3 0 0
D+32 1 0 0
D+31 1 0 0
D+30 3 0 0
D+29 1 0 0
D+28 2 0 1
D+27 1 0 0
D+26 3 0 0
D+25 2 0 0
D+23 4 0 0
D+22 4 0 0
D+21 5 0 0
D+20 5 0 0
D+19 1 0 0
D+18 9 0 0
D+17 4 0 0
D+16 3 0 0
D+15 3 0 0
D+14 8 0 0
D+13 10 0 0
D+12 8 0 0
D+11 6 0 0
D+10 7 0 0
D+9 11 0 0
D+8 11 0 0
D+7 7 1 0
D+6 10 0 0
D+5 8 0 0
D+4 5 2 0
D+3 9 0 0
D+2 7 4 0
D+1 6 1 0
D+0 6 1 0
PVI Dem GOP Undecided
R+0 3 1 0
R+1 9 5 1
R+2 5 6 0
R+3 9 9 0
R+4 7 10 0
R+5 5 12 0
R+6 8 7 1
R+7 5 7 1
R+8 2 8 0
R+9 2 9 0
R+10 3 10 0
R+11 1 11 1
R+12 0 12 0
R+13 2 11 0
R+14 0 6 1
R+15 0 10 0
R+16 1 7 0
R+17 1 5 0
R+18 1 3 0
R+19 1 4 0
R+20 0 4 0
R+21 0 0 0
R+22 0 1 0
R+23 0 2 0
R+24 0 1 0
R+25 0 3 0
R+26 0 1 0

Chris Van Hollen Will Stay on as DCCC Chairman

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who engineered a Democratic pickup of more than 20 seats in the House, will stay on for a second term and chair the committee in 2010. In contrast, it is likely that DSCC chairman Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will not go for a third term. He is angling for a major committee chairmanship, probably the rules committee.

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-- The Votemaster