Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Morning-After Roundup - UPDATED

Good morning, fellow citizens of a country in which the black son of a single mother can become President!

The election returns for President are still trickling in, with very ominous signs of funny business in Georgia, where the President-elect crushed Senator McCain in early voting, apparently so much for naught that McCain is projected to win 53-46, a not-even-particularly close outcome. According to CNN, Obama has amassed only 1,700,000 votes in the State of Adventure, despite the fact that 35% of the 2,000,000 early votes banked in the state were cast by African-Americans (0.35 x 2,000,000 = 700,000 people, which would suggest that Obama only received about as many total votes on election day as he did from African Americans in two weeks of early voting, which doesn't sound right to me.

Meanwhile, drama abounds in the remaining un-called states: Obama leads McCain by about ten thousand votes (out of 4.2 million cast) in North Carolina, and by about 23,000 (out of 2.7 million cast) in Indiana. (UPDATE: INDIANA HAS BEEN CALLED FOR BARACK OBAMA, bringing his electoral-vote total to 349.) John McCain's lead in Missouri, meanwhile, is only about 6,000 votes, out of 2.9 million cast. Other recent Presidential contests have been closer in their overall electoral vote tallies, to be sure, but I can't remember a contest in my lifetime in which three different states had come down to such razor-thin margins in the same election. Incidentally, I can't resist the chance to gloat just one last time about the prediction that the mainstream media's inability to call Indiana would set the tone for the coverage. Sorry: I promise not to bring it up again. (The second district of Nebraska may also have to be taken down from McCain's column, incidentally.) Here's your new map:

Over in the Senate, the Democrats have picked up seats in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and New Mexico, but while nobody was looking there's plenty of room to wonder about electoral funny-business in other hotly contested races with Republican administrations. For one thing we have Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, magically sitting on exactly fifty percent of the vote after an all-night tally in which he'd only been at 47 or 48 (which would've required a runoff).

Meanwhile in Republican-Governed Minnesota, Norm Coleman has mysteriously squeaked back in front of Al Franken this morning, after trailing him by a few thousand votes all night. That race will probably be headed for the courts, since Mr. Franken isn't about to pull a John Kerry on us and lie down. Oregon might be the big disappointment for the Democrats, this time around.

But the big head-scratcher is in the Republic of Sarah Palin, where her husband's long-standing membership in a secessionist party may not have won her the right to anoint herself President--yet--but where convicted felon (and twelve-point underdog) Ted Stevens is somehow, "miraculously" clinging to a lead of a few thousand votes over centrist Democrat and popular Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. My guess is that this last one was definitely hacked. ...The silver lining in which is that Governor Palin has overreached and gotten caught for it before, so she just might live to regret this one. (The other possible explanation is that Sarah Palin just had $150,000 coattails, but that seems more a convenient excuse to yours truly.)

It was a decent night for Democrats in the House, but for the high expectations that had been set beforehand. They were never going to pick up thirty additional seats over the comfortable majority they came in with, and accordingly a great many of the major media franchises are reporting the outcome in the House as a chastening moment for Team Blue. With eleven races still undecided, the Republicans are assured of 173 votes in the lower house of the next Congress, and while that's not exactly a roadblock of an opposition, it isn't comic-book-small, either.

Of the as yet un-called races, the Republicans lead in six and the Democrats lead in five--though the head-scratcher of the bunch is Colorado-02, an open seat in suburban Denver: as these words are written the Democratic candidate, wealthy philanthropist Jared Polis, is leading Republican graphic designer Scott Starin by a 60-37 margin. So why isn't the race being called for Polis, you wonder? So does your author: At 9:24Am on the east coast, fewer than half of the precincts--in a suburban Denver congressional district that has reported all of its votes for President--have been counted in this race. Something very, very, very fishy going on there.

All three of the principal players on the Presidential stage were gracious last night, notably George W. Bush, whose congratulatory telephone call to the President-elect was significantly longer and significantly more cooperative in tone than was either necessary or reasonable to expect under the circumstances. (Perhaps we can look forward to an SNL sketch in which Mr. Bush and his wife sell jewelry on QVC, in the near future?) Both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama extended substantive olive branches, and if they are to be believed at their word, the next few weeks and months could easily lay the foundations for a tone-setting start to the Obama Administration.

Safe money is on Tom Daschle for Chief of Staff, but I've never bet safe money before so I'll throw my wager behind Rahm Emmanuel. Daschle, meanwhile, will be a cabinet secretary--possibly Ambassador-at-large for health care reform. Hillary Clinton wants no part of the Administration, not for reasons of leftover angst but because she'll be in a much better position to prosecute her own agenda from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The Treasury Secretary position (remember when that one seemed all wonky and uninteresting?) will be the first and most closely watched appointment, and it's likely to be a moderate with unimpeachable credentials--probably current NY Fed Bank President Timothy Geithner, Paul Volcker would be perfect in this respect but he's way too old.

I've got a bizarre little fantasy for Obama's choice of Attorney General, but you won't like it at first so bear with me: Arlan Specter. It probably won't happen, but Specter is one of the few Republicans left in the country who is also a decent, inoffensive guy who wants what's best for the rest of us. His positions on stem-cell research, choice, and gun control are all solidly Team Blue and his legal credentials (and his relationship with the rest of the Judiciary Committee) could easily result in a confirmation by voice-vote without a hearing. Why would the President-elect choose a Republican for such a high-level position, you ask? Because the vacancy he'd create in the US Senate would be filled by a Democratic Governor. Stay tuned.

On the foreign policy side, first thing's first: William Jefferson Clinton is your next U.S. Ambassador to either the UN or to Israel (a wider assortment of poon-tang over at the UN, plus no commute back and forth to Tel Aviv, so he's probably rooting for that one), while Robert Gates will almost certainly stay on for a time as Sec-Def, eventually giving way to either Chuck Hagel (if John Kerry can squeeze him out as Secretary of State), or Jack Reed (if Hagel gets the State Department). The odd man out in the foreign policy arena is Bill Richardson, who took a big risk by switching sides in the primary fight, but who's got a pretty good job already and might be perfectly happy to keep it. As for really dark-horses, don't put it past the President-elect to extend the biggest of olive branches to Joe Lieberman, not just because it'd be good politics, but because it would (at least technically) gain the Democrats a Senate seat when next the matter came up for a vote--though in the meantime the Republican governor of the state would appoint a replacement.

Public financing of election campaigns is, of course, dead. And if the Republicans can take any solace from last night's repudiation, it is that they will never again have to worry about complaints from the other side involving any kind of funding gap. Look for the evangelicals, in particular, to gear-up a massive netroot fundraising apparatchek for the next contest in 2012, regardless of whether their favorite Hocky Grandmom is running.

We're only just getting started, here, people!

Dave O'Gorman
("The Key Grip")
Gainesville, Florida

1 comment:

Calvin and Hobbes said...

Hey Dave, I live in District 2 in Colorado which contains (amongst others) both Boulder County and Summit County (all the ski resorts). I think the early voting stats for Boulder County were 75% which is why it's taking so long to tabulate the final results.

That said, I agree, anyone who can take $10M of their own money and dump in in their HOUSE race (forget Senate, or President) in a district that hasn't been red since 1975 should be able to be called fairly early. That said, there's nothing fishy going on here. The Republic of Boulder wouldn't allow it.

My concern is for MN, OR, and AK. I thought for sure that OR and AK were D pickups but I have no idea how they're going to go now or how anyone who has any semblance of a brain could vote for Stevens except out of denial or spite.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how they play out.