Nov. 13 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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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

PW logo Begich Takes Lead Over Stevens Lieberman Likely Saved By Obama
Biden Picks Klain for Chief of Staff Begich Closes Gap with Stevens
The First Family Palin Matters

News from the Votemaster

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 leads 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 somewhat.

The Public Expects a Lot from Obama

Gallup ran a poll 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.

Item Yes No
Improve conditions for minorities and the poor 80% 19%
Increase respect for the U.S. abroad 76% 22%
Improve education 71% 27%
Improve the quality of the environment 70% 28%
Reduce unemployment 67% 32%
Bring U.S. troops home from Iraq 66% 33%
Improve the health care system 64% 34%
Create a strong economic recovery 64% 34%
Keep the U.S. safe from terrorism 62% 36%
Bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan 58% 40%
Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil 57% 41%
Heal political divisions in this country 54% 44%
Control federal spending 52% 46%
Substantially reduce the federal budget deficit 42% 56%
Avoid raising your taxes 36% 61%
Control illegal immigration 35% 62%

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 and pro-choice. David Brooks, a respected, long-time conservative commentator, has a good column 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 said 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, appearing 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 online. 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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-- The Votemaster