• Republicans Got Fu**ed
• What Will Trump Do?
• What Will McCarthy Do?
• Bad News, Good News for Biden
• This Week in Schadenfreude: Twitter in the Shi**er
• This Week in Freudenfreude: Cold as Ice (Water)
To our veteran readers: Happy Veterans Day!
Why is it taking the states out West so damn long to figure out the winners of their various electoral contests? Well, in part, it's because the remaining contests are very close. And in part it's because those pinko Westerners try to make sure as many people get to vote as is possible. And so, mail-in ballots are still being processed and, in some cases, are still being received. That latter fact is due in part to somewhat forgiving deadlines, but it's also due to slow USPS service. So if you're really irritated about all of this, feel free to blame Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Anyhow, let's do a rundown of where things stand as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Friday. First up, the three unresolved gubernatorial races:
- Arizona: This is the biggie, since Republicans control the Arizona legislature. So, if
Kari Lake (R) gets elected, then the Grand Canyon State could become a "democracy" in the way that many Deep South
states are "democracies." At the moment, Katie Hobbs (D) is up 50.7% (1,031,816 votes) to 49.3% for Lake (1,004,837)
with 82% reporting. There are roughly 570,000 ballots
left to count;
most of them are from Maricopa County, which leans blue and has broken for Hobbs by 4% thus far. And about 290,000 of
those Maricopa votes are mail-in ballots that the USPS failed to deliver in a timely manner. Since mail-in votes tend to
favor Democrats, the odds are that there isn't going to be a sharp break in favor of Lake. Put another way, Lake would
have to get about 53% of the remaining ballots. She does not seem likely to outperform her current numbers with mostly
mail-in ballots and mostly ballots from Maricopa. Certainly, Lake herself seems to think so; she's already
- Nevada: We wrote yesterday that this one was resolved, but that was an error. In fact,
Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) is trailing right now; he has 46.6% of the vote (427,853) to 49.7% (456,396) for Republican Joe
Lombardo, with 90% reporting. Note that the 90% number is a crude estimate; there are still several days for ballots to be
delivered and be legal. Still, even though the outstanding ballots are virtually all mail-in, Sisolak has a tall hill to
climb. He would need something like two-thirds of the remaining mail-in ballots, which is... a lot.
- Alaska: This is only unresolved in a technical sense. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) is going to be reelected, and he might pull it off without the need for multiple rounds of ranked-choice voting. He's got 52.1% of the vote right now, with 80% reporting. We would assume that, as RCV gets more common, outlets will be more comfortable calling races like this one.
And the Senate races:
- Arizona: Sen. Mark Kelly (D) has 51.7% of the vote (1,059,387) vs. 46.1% (944,350) for
Blake Masters (R). The same circumstances apply here as in the gubernatorial race—a little more than half a
million votes left, most of them from blue-leaning Maricopa, or blue-leaning mail-in voters, or both. However, while
Lake would need 53% of them, Masters would have to take 60%. That seems highly implausible, and we're kind of surprised
that this race hasn't already been called.
- Nevada: Adam Laxalt (R) is up 48.9% (450,534) to 48.0% (441,546) for Sen. Catherine Cortez
Masto (D) with 90% reporting. Again, the remaining 100,000 or so votes are mail-in; it's certainly plausible that Cortez
Masto could win those 55-45 and pull this out. That said, even when the final tally is announced, there's likely to be
- Georgia: Nobody has "found" a bunch of votes for one candidate or the other, so this one
is definitely headed to a runoff on December 6.
- Alaska: This one is more unresolved than the gubernatorial race, as the identity of the winner isn't known. It's likely to be Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who has 42.8% of the vote with 80% reporting, and is probably the second choice of another 20% of voters or so. It could be Kelly Tshibaka (R), who currently leads with 44.2%. Either way, it's going to be an (R), so everyone has put this one in the red column, even if we don't know for sure which (R) it is.
As to the House, the general consensus is that the Republicans have locked down 211 seats, the Democrats have secured 194, and that control of the chamber is down to 30 seats. That would seem to be grim for the blue team, since the red team is just 7 seats away from the promised land, and 7 out of 30 is a mere 23.3%. However, a sizable number of the outstanding seats are in those namby-pamby Western states, particularly California. Many of those, in turn, are un-called because less than 50% of the vote has been counted. To take one example, CA-09, a D+8 district where Rep. Josh Harder (D) has 56.3% of the vote, is not very likely to flip. But because only 47% of the vote has been counted, it hasn't been called yet.
The New York Times has a very good rundown of where the remaining races stand. What it amounts to is that the Democrats are still underdogs to hold the House, but not quite as much as "win 23 of 30" would seem to suggest. About two-thirds of the remaining seats lean Democratic. If the blue team can hold those, then they just need a handful of upsets among the Republican-leaning and toss-up seats. And if the Republicans do take control, it will almost certainly be with a razor-thin margin. Of course, we won't have a complete answer for several weeks, as some of the close races are sure to end up in recounts.
That's where things stand, then. Our guess is that the next big news will be "Kelly wins," followed by "Dunleavy wins," then "Hobbs wins," then "Murkowski wins." That means that we are presume the last major contest to be resolved, other than the Georgia runoff, is the Nevada Senate race. (Z)
Ratfu**ed, that is. During the primaries, Democrats spent close to $20 million promoting 16 different far-right candidates who went on to claim the Republican nomination in their respective primaries. That list includes, most notably, Darren Bailey, Dan Cox, John Gibbs, Don Bolduc, Bob Burns, and Doug Mastriano. And how did that work out for the blue team? Very well, indeed. In those 16 races, some of them quite high profile (like, say, the Pennsylvania governor's race), the Democrats went... 16 and 0. The blue team would have won some of those races without getting involved, of course, but it's highly unlikely they would have won all 16.
During primary season, a number of high-profile Democrats were not happy with the tactic, writing an open letter that declared "Our democracy is fragile, therefore we cannot tolerate political parties attempting to prop up candidates whose message is to erode our dedication to fair elections." Are those Democrats unhappy today? We don't know, since they haven't exactly released an updated statement. But there are many times in life where you have to start by doing something unpleasant and even destructive in order to achieve something positive. In that way, ratfu**ing is sort of the political equivalent of chemotherapy.
Indeed, if the Democrats lose control of the House, it will be, at least in part, because—even in a cycle where the Party was willing to play dirty pool—it got out-dirtied by the Republicans. Had New York Democrats been successful with their extreme gerrymander, that might have given the Party enough House seats to hold on to the lower chamber. But the New York Democrats fumbled, and lost to the Republicans in court. Similarly, if racial gerrymanders were illegal, the Democrats would surely have a few more Southern seats right now. But they've lost the mother of all dirty-politics wars, namely the struggle for control of the Supreme Court. And the now 6-3 conservative majority sees no issue whatsoever with racial gerrymanders.
What does this mean going forward? Now that the Democrats have crossed the ratfu**ing Rubicon, will this become a significant part of their toolkit? Or was this a once-in-a-lifetime, desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures election? We'll find out in 2024, though as Pandora could tell you if she were real, it's not so easy to put these things back in the box once they've been released. (Z)
In the days leading up to the election, there was a lot of news, meaning we didn't have time to properly consider all of it. What time and mental energy we had, we tended to spend on people who were actually on the ballot this year, particularly in elections that looked to be close. We gave far less attention to people like, say, Donald Trump, who were not running this year, and who may never hold office again. Consequently, while we did have an item on the former president's promise of "a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15," we didn't think all that much about it.
Now, however, we have thought it all the way through. And we're left with a question that we probably should have asked in the original item: What, exactly, was the point of that tease? By not actually making the announcement, he didn't get the attention, the love from the crowd and the fundraising boost he so craves. And, at the same time, he committed himself to... something, and just days before a giant X-factor, namely the elections, might change the calculus.
We tend to assume there was no method to the madness. Our guess is that Trump very badly wanted to announce, but that he was under enormous pressure not to do so from all sides. So, he went as far as he could without actually defying his advisers and the RNC. Characteristically, he neglected to account for the possibility of a bad, embarrassing night that might make a Nov. 15 announcement ill-timed.
Whatever the thought process was before the election, the fact is that Trump had a lousy day on Tuesday. And how, he's pointing fingers at nearly everyone. He's ripping into the members of his inner circle; blaming them for persuading him to support people like Mehmet Oz (R-NJ). He's also lashing out at the media. As per usual, there's one very obvious culprit he's not pointing the finger at. And it would be soooooooo easy, since Trump undoubtedly copious amounts of time looking into a mirror.
And now he's got this November 15 promise, and about 3 days left to figure out what to do. There would appear to be three options:
- Announce a presidential bid on November 15: This is the most likely option, we think.
Trump has been itching to announce for months, and probably can't hold back much longer. He wants to goose his
fundraising, which has slowed to a trickle, and he wants to push aside some of the "DeSantis Is on the Rise" headlines.
This is the only way he might plausibly achieve those things.
- Announce a delay/say nothing on November 15: Trump's inner circle is
announce a postponement because they think the timing is bad for him. Other Republicans are
to announce a postponement because they don't want him to cost them the Georgia U.S. Senate race. If Trump does delay,
or he "forgets" to say something, he'll look weak, since everyone will know why. He hates that. On the other hand, the
RNC would keep paying his legal bills. He loves that. So, maybe that will carry the day.
- Announce something else on November 15: Trump could make some other "big" announcement on November 15. Maybe Trump-branded erectile dysfunction pills or that users can get red "verified" checkmarks on Truth Social for the bargain price of $5/month or something like that. To most, it would be obvious that the former president was just saving face. But the MAGA faithful would probably accept that this was the plan all along, and then would hustle to their local convenience store to get their supply of Trumpstenze.
Whatever is going to happen, we won't have to wait long to find out. (Z)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has, like Donald Trump, made a bed that he now has to lie in. In McCarthy's case, he's been far too willing to make Trump and the MAGA members of Congress a part of his power base. That kind of Faustian bargain has had at least three obvious consequences. First, he's constantly beholden to people who are not interested in actually governing. Second, any attempt to govern in the next two years (i.e., work with a Democratic president) will be regarded as treasonous. Third, taking note of how slim the Republicans' majority will likely be, if they obtain one, the right-wingers are already talking about tossing him overboard and trying to put someone more agreeable in the Speaker's chair.
McCarthy has never struck us as someone with imagination or with courage. But he's at a crossroads here. The easier path—again, assuming Republicans regain control of the House—would be to try to assuage the MAGA crowd, granting them whatever boons they demand in exchange for supporting him as Speaker. This is the path we assume he will choose, given the type of person he is, and given that the brass ring is so, so close. But this path also means unending headaches, and the possibility of a very short Speakership. Maybe not Liz Truss-short, but there are reasons that John Boehner gave up the job mid-term, and that Paul Ryan couldn't wait to retire once he had it. And even if McCarthy holds on for 2 years, the Democrats are likely to regain the House in 2024, with that being a presidential year.
And then there is the bold option. McCarthy could announce that it's time to move on from Trump, and to get serious about governance again. Instead of working with the MAGA crowd, he could work with the Blue Dog Democrats. If the alternative is being shut out of power entirely, the Blue Dogs might well be willing to support McCarthy for Speaker in exchange for concessions in terms of his being willing to bring up and support some of their legislative priorities. This is something that Joe Biden, who remains a bipartisanship fetishist, would certainly support.
This would be very high risk for McCarthy; he could find himself an outcast, like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). On the other hand, he would be turning apostate after the disaster Trump had on Tuesday, and not before. And it's possible that many of his colleagues are just waiting now for someone to say the emperor has no clothes. If McCarthy manages to inaugurate a new era for House Republicans, he'll become someone of national prominence, and a possible presidential candidate. Further, if things actually get done, then voters might decide that throwing the bums out is not called for, and that mixed government seems to be working. So, this is also probably McCarthy's best shot at staying Speaker for more than one term.
Again, by all indications, McCarthy doesn't have this kind of courage. But the option's there, if he decides to go big. (Z)
We have so much post-election stuff to write about that it's going to dominate the blog for weeks. But there's also news beyond the election results, and we have to stay on top of that, too. So, let us first note that yesterday, Joe Biden's student-loan forgiveness was "struck down" by a federal judge.
The judge in question is Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump appointee. The suit was brought by a group called the Job Creators Network Foundation, on behalf of two people who made a dubious case for standing, based on the fact that they did not qualify for the program. And Pittman's ruling would seem to have an equally shaky foundation. He declared that the program is "an unconstitutional exercise of Congress's legislative power and must be vacated," despite the fact that the program is based on specific language in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This is why we put "struck down" in quotations, since the decision is going to be appealed and there is a very good chance that Pittman will be overturned.
Meanwhile, while things were going badly on the legal front (at least temporarily), there was good news for the country and the White House on the economic front. Namely, inflation is trending downward again. The Consumer Price Index has increased 7.7% over the last year, which is not good, but is way better than the 8.2% figure from last month. Further, core inflation (which excludes food and energy) was up 0.3% last month as compared to 0.6% in September.
Part of the downward trend is due to supply chain issues being resolved. That is something that can be expected to continue. And part of the downward trend is due to consumers changing their spending habits. That might or might not continue. Still, while there is some chance that things will take a turn for the worse next month, the chances are better that things will continue to improve. (Z)
We don't much care for Twitter; it seems clear to us that it's done much more harm than good. We also don't much care for Elon Musk. He's clearly brilliant but he's also a jerk. For example, unceremoniously firing half your employees, in violation of California law no less, is an ultra-jerk move.
Point is, the ongoing meltdown of the Musk-owned Twitter is an occasion for much schadenfreude, in our view. A rundown of the this week's disasters:
- Quite a few verified, blue-check users
their "names" to Elon Musk, to make fun of the new monthly charge for the privilege. Comedian Kathy Griffin was
banned for life for doing it.
- While real users are balking at the new fee, fakers are
more than happy to pay
a few bucks for a laugh or for some attention. There are now a great many "verified" accounts for LeBron James, Joe Biden, Mickey
Mouse, George Washington and Jesus Christ, among others.
- Those high-ranking executives who were not fired have been
That kind of institutional memory is not easy to replace.
- Racist language is
on the platform. That's a bad thing overall, of course, but it's a good thing as an object lesson in what happens when you
can your moderation staff and pander to alt-right types.
- According to a now-former
engineer, the remaining staffers aren't going to be able to keep up with all the bugs that emerge on a daily basis, such that the
site's functioning will quickly degrade within a month or so.
- In view of the above issues, Twitter is now
some laid-off employees to return.
- Musk is now
about Twitter's financial prospects, warning that bankruptcy could be in the near future. Actually, maybe that's what he wants, since
it would stop the bleeding. His overall fortune has now
$100 billion in the last year.
- Twitter competitor Mastodon has gained more than 70,000 users in the past week.
In short, get out your popcorn. Or your marshmallows, if you enjoy toasting them over a nice dumpster fire. (Z)
This one is a slight stretch, in terms of qualifying for this slot. However, we think it's pretty funny, which is a major selling point. And it connects to the previous item, because the Twitterer in question is about to get banned by Elon Musk. So, we're going to run with it.
The aforementioned Twitterer is John Cole, who tweets under the name New York Times Pitchbot. As you might imagine, the purpose of that account is to take the stuffing out of The New York Times in various ways. And this week, he shared this "essay from the Times Food section":
Is there a more quintessentially New York beverage than ice water? This deceptively simple yet undeniably refreshing combination of water and ice is a mainstay of meals in the city, whether it's served in cut crystal goblets at Le Sot Crédule or a capacious plastic tumbler at an outer borough diner.
Indeed, the ways in which the city's signature drink can be served are as varied and fascinating as the city itself. Beyond the choice of drinkware, the ice can be cubed, crushed, or even shaved. Some pour the water before adding the ice, but many purists insist that ice-first is the only way to do it.
Unsurprisingly, this incredible range of options leads to strongly-held convictions and passionate disputes. There is no surer way to start an argument among New Yorkers than to ask a group of them which establishment serves the best ice water. (The correct answer, by the way, is a little family-owned trattoria in Fort Greene. No, I'm not going to be more specific—it's already too crowded.)
But despite its ubiquity within New York, ice water (also called "iced water") is impossible to find anywhere else.
Believe me, I've tried.
On treks as far afield as Hartford and Philadelphia, I have, occasionally, attempted to order a glass of ice water. The outcome is always the same: the server looks at me, not quite understanding, and returns a minute or two later carrying a glass of water with some ice cubes in it.
I'm not sure what that's supposed to be, but whatever it is, it's not New York ice water.
That is what quality satire looks like. Have a good weekend, everyone. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov10 How Did Election Deniers Do?
Nov10 How Did the Democrats Stave Off Disaster?
Nov10 The Senate: Candidate Quality Matters after All
Nov10 The House: There Was a Pink Ripple
Nov10 The Governors: The Center Held
Nov10 What Will the Next Two Years Be Like for Biden?
Nov10 Attack on Husband May Influence Pelosi's Future
Nov08 Let the Shenanigans Begin...
Nov08 ...And the Quiet End
Nov08 Election Workers in Arizona Threatened
Nov08 Reports From the Front Lines
Nov08 The Root of All Evil
Nov08 Bellwether House Races
Nov08 The Wisdom of the Crowd
Nov08 Today's Senate Polls
Nov07 Last Look at the Senate Races
Nov07 Latinos Won't Save the GOP
Nov07 Generic Poll Is Nearly Tied
Nov07 Fetterman Didn't Blow It at the Debate
Nov07 Who Are the Biggest Donors This Cycle?
Nov07 RNC Won't Pay Trump's Legal Bills after He Announces His Candidacy
Nov07 Trump and DeSantis Have Been Avoiding Each Other
Nov07 Abortion Is on the Ballot
Nov07 More than 40 Million People Have Already Voted
Nov07 Twitter Is Suffering a Massive Loss of Advertising Revenue
Nov07 "Where Are We a Week Before the Election?": Readers Who Think We Were Right
Nov07 Today's Senate Polls
Nov06 Sunday Mailbag
Nov06 Today's Senate Polls
Nov05 Saturday Q&A
Nov05 Today's Senate Polls
Nov04 Who Aggregates the Aggregators?
Nov04 Pollsters Are Worried about 2022
Nov04 Fixing Polling
Nov04 But Wait, There's More!
Nov04 Oprah Picks Her Horse in Pennsylvania
Nov04 Today's Trump Legal News
Nov04 This Week in Schadenfreude: ¡Abucheo Zapata!
Nov04 This Week in Freudenfreude: Here's What a Healthy Father-Son Relationship Looks Like
Nov04 Jolly Olde English Politics, Part IV
Nov04 Today's Senate Polls
Nov03 Control of the Senate Will Depend on This Strange Tradeoff
Nov03 Conspiracy Theories about Paul Pelosi Are Running Wild
Nov03 Hand-Counting of Ballots Is on the Ballot
Nov03 Pennsylvania Will Not Count Undated Ballots
Nov03 Where Are the Heavyweights Campaigning?
Nov03 Flood of New Poll Workers Is Raising Concerns
Nov03 Who Are the Most Vulnerable House Members?