Nov. 14 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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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: MO 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

The State of Missouri

The election is mostly over, but not entirely. Let's review where we are. In Missouri, John McCain leads by 4986 votes out of almost 3 million cast. The absentee and provisional ballots are still being tallied, but it is unlikely that Barack Obama can turn this one around. State law requires a final count by Nov. 18. On the other hand, it is now definite that Obama picked up one electoral vote in NE-02, which will most like cause the Nebraska legislature to change the law and make the state winner-take-all in 2012 to deny Obama NE-02 agan. The final electoral vote score nationally will probably be 365 to 173.

Three Senate Races Still Undecided

The Senate race in Minnesota between Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Democrat Al Franken (D) is currently frozen with Coleman 206 votes ahead. A recount will start after Nov. 19 at about 120 locations throughout the state. Each side will have a lawyer present at each location. Actually, given the nature of the activity to occur, it might have been better for each side to have a mathematician present, but such is life in modern America. If you are really into the nitty gritty details of recounts, check out this posting at Daily Kos.

In Alaska, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich (D) is currently 841 votes ahead of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who if he wins would be the only convicted felon ever to be elected to the United States Senate. However, there are about 25,000 absentee ballots yet to be counted, many from the Anchorage area, where Begich is well known. In addition, 15,000 provisional ballots are still uncounted. Typically half of all provisional ballots are rejected, but since they are more likely to come from low-income voters who don't have proper ID or people with transient housing, they tend to skew Democratic. Some, but not all, of the remaining votes will be counted today. Stevens own pollster, David Dittman, has said that the race is over and Begich will win. All in all, this is the Democrats best shot at another Senate seat. If Stevens does somehow win, he will probably be expelled from the Senate, but in a special election, any Republican (and especially Sarah Palin) will be able to hold the seat.

If Begich does win, Palin will be stuck in Alaska, which will make it much harder for her to campaign for President. Just the logistics will be daunting. Although the state capital is Juneau, she actually lives in Wasilla, which is 45 minutes north of Anchorage, AK. The states she would want to campaign in are Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. There are two reasonable ways to get to New Hampshire from Anchorage. First, she could fly to Chicago and then get a flight to Manchester, NH (total time: 10:35). Or second, she could fly to Minneapolis and then catch a flight to Logan in Boston (total time: 9:35) and then drive an hour to Manchester or 75 minutes to Concord. To campaign in Iowa, she could fly to Minneapolis and then catch a flight to Des Moines (total time: 7:53). To campaign in Charleston, she could go via Chicago and get to Charleston in 10:01. No matter how she does it, it takes a day to get there and a day to get back. Going to any of the states to give a speech at some event in the middle of the day will cost her three days. In contrast, Mitt Romney lives in Massachusetts, so New Hampshire is just a short drive away and Charleston and Des Moines are reachable in under 5 hours.

The third undecided Senate seat is Georgia, where a runoff will take place on Dec. 2 between Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Jim Martin (D). Both sides are gearing up for a real battle, but turnout in runoffs is typically half of turnout in general elections and Democrats can win there only with massive turnout. Besides, Chambliss actually won the election; he just failed to make the 50% threshold due to the presence of a Libertarian candidate. Barring something very unexpected, Chambliss will be reelected.

Thus the final score seems to be one for the Democrats (Alaska), one for the Republicans (Georgia), and one true tossup (Minnesota). The conclusion is that the Democrats are likely to have 58 or 59 seats in the new Senate. More here.

Six House Races Still Undecided

Six House races are still open. In AK-AL, the dogs are pulling in the sleds full of votes as fast as they can, but many absentee and provisional ballots still remain to be counted. Still, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is leading Ethan Berkowitz (D) by 15,000 votes and it seems very unlikely that Berkowitz can win this one. In CA-04, state senator Tom McClintock (R) holds a 928-vote lead over retired Air Force colonel Charlie Brown (D). A recount is likely there, but it looks good for McClintock. In OH-15, Steve Stivers (R) has a lead of 149 votes over Mary Jo Kilroy (D) for this open seat being vacated by Deborah Pryce. There are thousands of provisional ballots still being counted. In 2006, Kilroy picked up about 2400 votes from the provisional ballots, so this one is not over yet.

VA-05 is less of a nailbiter. In fact, Tom Perriello (D) has already claimed victory over incumbent Virgil Goode (R) but Goode has not conceded. Perriello leads by 745 votes pending a recount.

Finally, there are runoffs scheduled for Dec. 7 in LA-02 and LA-04. The former is the district where William Jefferson (D) was discovered to have a freezer full of cold cash. Jefferson will surely win the runoff in this majority black district, but after he is in jail, there will be a special election that will be won by another Democrat. LA-04 is R+7, so in theory the Republican, John Fleming (R), should be able to win this, but competing partisan poll give conflicting results. Democrat Paul Carmouche might possibly win this one. It's too close to call.

So, what's the bottom line in the House. Let's give the Republicans AK-AL, CA-04 and the Democrats LA-02 and VA-05, with OH-15 and LA-04 being true tossups. Most likely the Democrats will end up with 258-260 seats in the House. Consequently, whatever Nancy wants, Nancy gets.

Did Palin Do Her Job?

Politico has an interesting piece on whether Sarah Palin accomplished what she was supposed to accomplish. She was picked for basically three reasons: (1) to excite the base and drive up turnout, (2) to attract independent voters, and (3) to pull the disgruntled (PUMA) women away from the Democrats as a punishment for not nominating Hillary Clinton. How did she do? First, as to driving up core Republican turnout, she didn't. Core Republican turnout was 1.3% lower than what the embattled George Bush got in 2004. In fact, the reason Obama won Ohio was not that Democrats turned out in great numbers (Obama actually got fewer votes in Ohio than Kerry) but that Republicans stayed home in droves (300,000 fewer Republican votes than in 2004). Second, Palin didn't help much with independents; they went for Obama by 8% and in numerous polls many of them cited her specifically as their reason for voting for Obama. Probably the biggest disappointment was her lack of support among women; Obama won among women by 13%. The idea that Hillary Clinton's supporters would vote for any woman, even one who opposes everything Clinton stands for, proved completely false. Many people have written that just thinking this ploy would work is by itelf an insult to women's intelligence and quite sexist. Clearly it backfired.

The Pollsters Did A Good Job in 2008

As we discussed here Nov. 5, the pollsters were pretty good this cycle. Almost all final state polls were within the margin of error. Even the average of the national polls was spot on. The only black spot was Alaska, where the polls showed the Democrats winning both the Senate and House seats in landslides. The Senate seat turned out to be very close and Don Young (R) will probably hang onto his House seat. Mark Blumenthal has a column in the National Journal scoring the pollsters. His conclusion was also that they did pretty well.

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-- The Votemaster