Kevin Drum

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?

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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.

Dreams

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 9:37 AM EST

DREAMS....I had a weird dream last night. Really vivid too. Obama had already won the election and he was giving a big victory speech at Grant Park. Crowds were cheering, people were crying, and there were celebrations around the country. I swear, it felt as real as if it had really happened.

But enough of that. So what do today's tracking polls look like? Has McCain made up any ground since yesterday?

Hillary

| Wed Nov. 5, 2008 2:13 AM EST

HILLARY....Tonight has been both a great triumph for common sense and a final, emphatic rejection of the Texification of the Republican Party. Barack Obama's victory has been huge, and his coattails have proven to be everything Democrats could have hoped for, with pickups of at least five Senate seats and more than a dozen House seats. Conservatives will do their best to spin things otherwise, but there's little question that the country moved decisively from center right to center left tonight.

I'll have more to say about Obama tomorrow, but for now I want to end the night with a word about Hillary Clinton. She ran in one of the toughest Democratic primaries ever, against one of the party's most talented politicians in recent memory, and she took a lot of abuse during that primary — some of it deserved, most of it not. But in the end, despite what must have been a bitter and searing loss, she campaigned tirelessly and wholeheartedly for the man who beat her. This is something that a lot of people doubted she'd do, and frankly, we all owe her some recognition and gratitude for her role in tonight's victory. Hillary has always been unambiguously dedicated to the Democratic Party and the cause of liberalism, and I think she proved that in the most concrete way possible over the past two months.

Congratulations to Barack Obama for a tremendous victory — tremendous and life affirming. This is his night, and his promise is vast. I hope and pray that he fulfills it.

11 PM Update

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 11:00 PM EST

11 PM UPDATE....I figured CNN would call the election at 11:01 Eastern, but I was off by a minute. They called it at 11:00.

....I guess I should be feeling a sense of excitement, but what I mostly feel is an immense sense of relief. Just a complete, unmitigated, totally drained sense of relief that George Bush will finally be packed up and sent home to Crawford. For just this moment, I don't even care whether Barack Obama will be a great president. I'm just grateful that for the next four years our president will be at least minimally competent and grounded in reality. Thank God.

....CNN has called Florida for Obama.

....Colorado goes for Obama. Obama is up to 338 electoral votes so far.

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10 PM Update

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 10:00 PM EST

10 PM UPDATE....Apparently Mark Udall has won his senate race in Colorado. That's +5 for the Democrats.

....Fox and CNN have called Virginia for Obama.

....Obama wins Iowa.

9 PM Update

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 9:00 PM EST

9 PM UPDATE....ABC says Tom Udall has won the senate seat in New Mexico. That's +4 in the senate for Dems.

Obama is ahead in the electoral college by about 174-76.

....Pretty much everyone seems to agree that Florida is looking very grim for John McCain. No official call yet, though.

....CNN says McConnell has retained his senate seat in Kentucky. Damn.

....Fox and NBC have called Ohio for Obama. That's the election at 9:25 pm EST.

....Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. Our long national nightmare is (almost) over.

....NBC has called New Mexico for Obama.

Tom DeLay Blathers

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 8:59 PM EST

TOM DeLAY BLATHERS....Tom DeLay just told Chris Matthews that Democrats would double the minimum wage within the next six months. That would really be something, wouldn't it? A minimum wage of 14 bucks an hour. It's good to see that DeLay is still as delusional as he was back when he was in office.

Also: Dems will destroy the economy. Leave it a smoking rubble. Etc. DeLay is not a man with a sense of irony, is he?

The Northeast Speaks

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 8:11 PM EST

THE NORTHEAST SPEAKS....CNN says Obama is now ahead in the electoral vote 77-34. In addition, John King has as much as admitted that Obama has won Pennyslvania and Indiana too.

....ABC has called Pennsylvania for Obama.

....NBC says Jeanne Shaheen has beaten John Sununu in the New Hampshire senate race. That's +2 senate seats so far for the Democrats.

....Fox says Hagan has beaten Dole in North Carolina. That's +3 senate seats for the Democrats.