Anti-Gay Measures Victorious Nationwide

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 12:00 PM EST

While California's Prop 8 may be the most crushing blow to gay rights if it holds, it's certainly not the movement's only setback. An initiative that will bar gay couples from adopting passed in Arkansas, a gay marriage ban passed in Florida (bigtime, 62%-38%), and a "marriage amendment" passed in Arizona.

While "change has come to America" in some huge ways, equality was not a hands-down winner yesterday.

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Reactions from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:55 AM EST

white_house_election_night.jpgWe've mentioned what happened half way around the world from the White House. So what happened at, uh, the White House itself? I'm happy to tell you — pandemonium. I wandered by the Obama family's next place of residence yesterday around 1 am and walked right into a joyous mob shouting, crying, and carrying Obama signs. The favorite chant of the night? "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, gooooodbye."

Reactions from Kenya

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:33 AM EST

The New York Times, reporting from Kenya, where the government has declared Thursday a national holiday.

This town, in the epicenter of Kenya's Obamaland — the same area where Barack Obama's father was from and where some of his cousins, half-brothers and a very gregarious 80-something step-grandmother still live — exploded into cheers when the news broke that Mr. Obama had won the presidency.
Thousands of people sang, danced, blew whistles, honked horns, hugged, kissed and thumped on drums — all down the same streets where not so long ago huge flames of protest had raged.
"Who needs a passport?" people yelled. "We're going to America!"

Primary Sources: Obama's Acceptance Speech, Full Text

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:29 AM EST

Read every remarkable word of President-Elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech (as prepared for delivery) below. Then read David Corn's sharp analysis of history in the making here:

The Dems' Moderately Disappointing Congressional Results

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:20 AM EST

Congressional Democrats had high hopes going into yesterday's election. Everyone knows they were shooting for a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate, but they we were also looking to add anywhere from 15 to 30 seats to their House majority.

In that lower body, Democrats lost four incumbents (Tim Mahoney in FL-16, Nancy Boyda in KS-02, Don Cazayoux in LA-06, and Nick Lampson in TX-22). They picked up 21 seats, according to Swing State Project. Ten races are still outstanding. So we're looking at a net gain for the Dems of 16 to 26, with the likely number around 20.

They almost certainly won't get to 60 in the Senate. They started the night with 51. If they had scored pickups in the closely contested races in New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, Kentucky, and Alaska, they would have had 62.

Wins: New Mexico (Senator-elect Udall), Colorado (also Senator-elect Udall), North Carolina (Hagan), Virginia (Warner), and New Hampshire (Shaheen). That boosts them to 56.

Losses: Mississippi (Wicker) and Kentucky (McConnell).

Unclear: Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska.

Georgia will go to the Republicans if the current leader, incumbent Saxby Chambliss, gets over 50 percent. If he doesn't, the race will go to a runoff. Chambliss currently has 49.9 percent.

Here's the AP on Minnesota: "With the unofficial vote tally complete, Coleman led Franken by 571 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. Coleman had 1,210,942 votes, or 42.03 percent, to Franken's 1,210,371 votes, or 42.01 percent." A recount is expected.

Here's the Register-Guard on Oregon: "[Republican] Smith led [Democrat] Merkley by 4,478 votes, 474,398 to 469,920, based on partial returns released by the state Elections Division at 5:53 a.m. Wednesday." Full results are not yet in. The delay in counting may be due to Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system. Note that Obama is winning Oregon by double digits and that Merkley had a last-minute polling lead of about five. If Smith retains his seat, it will be a real head-scratcher.

And Alaska continues to befuddle. Stevens is the Senate's longest serving Republican and he brings home the pork. But after his felony conviction a week ago, people on both sides of the aisle assumed his political career was over. His opponent, Mark Begich went up 4 or 5 in the polls. Many in the Republican Party, including John McCain, called on Stevens to resign. And yet, Stevens has a small lead as vote counting continues. The AP: "Stevens' lead was fewer than 4,000 votes with more than 40,000 absentee ballots to be counted within 10 days."

If the Dems lose all four of these outstanding races (a real possibility), they will be stuck on 56. If they win all four (a very slim possibility), they will get 60. A reasonable guess? They get one or two, and head into the next term with 57 or 58 senators.

Prop 8 Still Not Official, Franken Race Headed for a Recount

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:18 AM EST

California's same-sex marriage ban is ahead 52%-48% with 95% of precincts reporting, though the state has yet to call the race. Given the stakes, that's wise. Count each and every vote before setting a new precedent for the nation. If Prop 8 does end up passing it will be the first time that California's constitution is amended to take away rights. A dubious distinction.

And it looks like Norm Coleman nosed out Al Franken in Minnesota's Senate race, with all votes in Coleman ended up with 42% to Franken's 41.97%. The 571 margin of votes for Coleman sets into motion an automatic recount that could drag on until December.

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The Senate

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 11:09 AM EST

THE SENATE....Lots of very, very close senate races this cycle. Alaskans, almost unbelievably, appear to have returned convicted felon Ted Stevens to office, but only by a few thousand votes. I guess that could still change, though. Swillmeister Saxby Chambliss seems to have won reelection in Georgia by 100,000 votes or so. Oregon is still too close to call, but incumbent Gordon Smith is currently ahead by about 15,000 votes.

And then there's Minnesota, where Al Franken and Norm Coleman are within a thousand votes of each other with nearly all votes counted. Via email, here is Franken's statement:

Let me be clear: Our goal is to ensure that every vote is properly counted.

The process, dictated by our laws, will be orderly, fair, and will take place within a matter of days. We won't know for a little while who won this race, but at the end of the day, we will know that the voice of the electorate was clearly heard.

There is reason to believe that the recount could change the vote tallies significantly.

Our office and the Obama campaign have received reports of irregularities at various precincts around the state. For instance, some polling places in Minneapolis ran out of registration materials. Our team has been working on those issues for several hours already, and they will continue to do so this morning as the recount process begins.

Let me be clear: This race is too close to call, and we do not yet know who won. We are lucky enough to live in a state with built-in protections to ensure that in close elections like these, the will of the people is accurately reflected in the outcome.

I guess it's going to take a few days to know whether Democrats picked up more than five seats. Keep your seat belts buckled.

UPDATE: This is actually a weird repeat of what happened in 2004. This year, all the Dem pickups have been in states where they won by big margins (seven points or more). Conversely, all the close races look like they're going to be won by Republicans, with the possible exception of Minnesota. The same thing happened four years ago, when Republicans won all the close senate races but one (Colorado). Weird. What's the deal with Dems and close senate contests?

Already Missing Sarah Palin?

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 10:56 AM EST

Via Politico's Mike Allen, Newsweek has got your post-election Palin withdrawal fix:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family — clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent 'tens of thousands' more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide … said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.
McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.

And looks like we can expect much more of this sort of finger-pointing.

A recent report by the New Yorker said that Bill Kristol played a key background role in promoting Palin for the GOP VP slot.

Gay Rights in California

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 10:50 AM EST

GAY RIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA....The votes aren't quite fully counted yet, but with 95% of the precincts reporting it looks like Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California is headed for passage, 52%-48%. In one sense, this might have been inevitable: this is precisely the margin I projected six months ago based on basic demographic trends. What's more, the voting trends are exactly what you'd expect: strong No votes in the liberal coastal counties, especially in the north, and Yes votes in the conservative inland counties. On the other hand, it only passed by two points. I really, really wonder if we could have beaten it if Barack Obama had been willing to step up and take a bit of a risk on behalf of defeating it. Especially toward the end, when it was unlikely to hurt him in the national race. If he had cut an ad to run over the final weekend, would it have made the difference? Maybe.

In other news, it looks like Prop 1A, the high-speed rail bond measure, has passed. I opposed this, but obviously I had mixed feelings and I can't say I'm unhappy to see it win. I hope the rosy projections from its proponents turn out to be closer to the mark than I thought they were.

Prop 2, guaranteeing minimally decent treatment of farm animals, passed decisively. Prop 4, which required parental notification for teen abortions, appears to have lost. Prop 9, a bad "victims rights" initiative, passed fairly easily. Prop 11, the redistricting initiative, is narrowly ahead right now, but still too close to call.

Not the worst night ever for California initiatives, then, but not great either. The good news, I guess, is that the same demographic trends that doomed gay marriage this year also guarantee its eventual victory. We'll try this again in five or ten years and win easily.

Barbecue Politics***

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 10:10 AM EST

BARBECUE POLITICS....Last July, at Netroots Nation, I had lunch with Joe Garcia, the Democratic challenger in Florida's 25th congressional district. "If Joe's ability to pound down Texas barbecue is any indication," I said, "he should be a landslide winner in November."

Sadly, it turns out that barbecue eating ability was not the key factor in the race. Garcia lost to the incumbent, Mario Diaz-Balart, 53%-47%. This is a sad defeat for central Texas barbecue.

I also had lunch in Austin with Steve Young, the Democratic challenger in my district (California 48th). He ended up losing to incumbent John Campbell 55%-41% — which actually isn't a half bad result, several points higher than any Democrat has ever gotten in this district. Still, the lesson is clear: having lunch with Kevin Drum is not the road to victory. Aspiring politicians, take note.