Mojo - November 2006

First Numbers of Key Senate Races Released

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 6:55 PM EST

What are supposedly CNN's early exit poll numbers (Hat Tip, ThinkProgress):

VIRGINIA

Webb (D): 52
Allen (R): 47

RHODE ISLAND

Whitehouse (D): 53
Chafee (R): 46

PENNSYLVANIA

Casey (D): 57
Santorum (R): 42

OHIO

Brown (D): 57
DeWine (R): 43

NEW JERSEY

Menendez (D): 52
Kean (R): 45

MONTANA

Tester (D): 53
Burns (R): 46

MISSOURI

McCaskill (D): 50
Talent (R): 48

MARYLAND

Cardin (D): 53
Steele (R): 46

TENNESSEE

Ford (D): 48
Corker (R): 51

ARIZONA

Pederson (D): 46
Kyl (R): 50

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Lawsuits Filed by Democrats in Two States Push to Keep Polls Open Late. More Suits May be Pending. In Colorado, a Suit Rejected.

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 6:52 PM EST

A judge in Colorado denied an emergency request by Democrats to keep polls in Denver open an additional two hours after computer problems and unusually high turnout led to lines of up to 100 people.

According to the Denver Post, District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport argued that she didn't have the authority to keep the polls open, citing case law from Missouri and Arkansas. The Post story and a story in Denver's Rocky Mountain News didn't elaborate on the judge's reasoning.

In Ohio, CNN reported Democrats are awaiting a ruling on a similar suit. Democrats are asking that 16 precincts in Cuyahoga County—the Cleveland area—stay open until 10:00 pm tonight. Confusion over the use of new electronic voting machines had created long lines there. (Four to five House Republicans are in danger in Ohio, as well as Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who has been running behind in his race for governor)

According to Bloomberg, the voting rights group Election Protection is considering filing suits in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida to extend voting hours due to similar delays.

MORE Early Exit Polls from CNN

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 6:05 PM EST

Feed me, CNN, feed me. Just reported on America's most trusted name in news:

- The network asked voters, "Was the economy a very important issue in how you voted?" Those who said yes voted for the Democrat more frequently than the Republican, by a 20% margin. Recent good news on jobs and the economy, which Bush trumpeted frequently on the campaign trail, does not appear to be helping the Republicans.

- CNN also asked, "Was terrorism a very important issue in how you voted?" Those who said yes voted for the Republican in their district 53% of the time, and for the Democrat 45% of the time. The "terror gap" seems to shrinking.

- And finally, CNN asked, "Was illegal immigration a very important issue in how you voted?" Those who said yes actually split, voting for the Republican as frequently as the Democrat.

Early Exit Poll Results

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 5:14 PM EST

Hot off the CNN stove:

- This is not a one issue race. When asked what the extremely important issues of the election were, 42% of respondents said "corruption in Washington," 40% said "terrorism," nearly 39% said "the economy," and 37% said "Iraq."

- When asked if they approve or disapprove of the war in Iraq, 57% said disapprove and 41% said approve.

- And finally, not all politics is local. When asked if they voted on national issues or local issues, 62% of voters said national and only 33% said local. The death of Tip O'Neill's axiom is good for the Democratic Party.

Robo-Calls Make it to CNN. It's Not Good

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 4:37 PM EST

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer just asked Ken Mehlman about the robo-call story. (The story has been slow to make its way off the internet and into the more major outlets.) Mehlman said he didn't know anything about it, and used the opportunity to list every questionable voting tactic alleged against Democrats from 2000, 2004, and 2006. Mehlman literally went on for five solid minutes, with no interruption from Wolf.

To recap, false-flag robo-calls have been common throughout the nation. Voters receive phone calls that appear to be automated campaign spots for the local Democrat candidate. If the voter hangs up, they get a call back. This can continue six, seven, or eight times. If the voter has the patience to listen to the whole thing, the ad is revealed to be paid for by Republicans. Democratic activists at the polls have reported that people are showing up irritated with Democratic candidates, and are unwilling to listen to the explanation that, in fact, the opposing party is responsible for their frustrating morning.

Talking Points Memo has been all over this story, as has the rest of the blogosphere. Mother Jones may have gotten there first, though, with this story from Daniel Schulman on October 26.

For Some Virginia Voters It's "The Best Day of the Year.'' Dispatches from Around the State

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 4:34 PM EST

By mid afternoon, voters had slowed to a trickle at polling booths in towns along the fringes of northern Virginia exurbia, which often provides the swing vote for the state as a whole. Voters we talked to tended to be disgusted in general with the Bush Administration and fed up with the dirty Senate campaign. Nonetheless, there were numerous Allen diehards, who noted he had been dependable in the past and now could be viewed as the lesser of two evils.

Reston, once a model new town, is situated well out from Washington in northern Virginia, the key swing area of the state. At the Community Center, Jane Bullock, 58, an entrepreneur, formerly Chief of Staff for FEMA, said she had to leave her job at FEMA because of the administration. She was plenty mad. "This country is on the wrong track, the president is deranged. We need senators who will bridge the gap. I think Webb is more conservative than I am but he's the better choice. He's got the right attitude on the war in Iraq." She went on, "This administration, they don't care about government. You saw what happened with Katrina. They simply don't care about people and it shows in their government."

Linda Cooper, 37, bartender, former graphic designer, came up to the polling station skipping and singing: "This is the best day of the year!" She declared, "Mr. Bush is inarticulate and the Republican Party follows a not very well thought out foreign policy, and a not very well thought out domestic policy. I don't think they care about the average American who earn less than $30,000 a year. He is insular in his wealth and I think the majority of Republicans are. And I think the average American is suffering." Time for a change, she said.

Justin Salop, 26, accountant, said he voted for Allen: "There was a lot more negative ads and campaigning and more shock than what I have seen in the past. It has made me increasingly upset with the parties and politics." He decided to vote for "the lesser of two evils," adding, "Being a business guy I have always been for growth and expansion, but I think we have hit a point, at least in this area where it has gone way too far. I'm getting tired of every little area being turned into a condo."

Dave Spanbauer, 62, retired high school basketball coach, voted for George Allen "because he's an athlete and because I'm a basketball coach. I would have voted Democrat if the Democrat person had enticed me to vote for him. But the fact that he came on to slander Allen."

Further west is Leesburg, offering a nostalgic glimpse of a Virginia long gone. In the early 1970s you could still see chain gangs of prisoners working along the roadside under a shotgun toting police officer. Segregation died hard around here, if in fact it did die. By its looks, Leesburg remains a memento of an earlier time. At the town firehouse, Mary Kraseman, 65 and retired, said "George Allen has always come through on what he said he was going to do."'

A 58 year old woman teacher, who asked that her name not be used, said "I think it's time for a change and the Republicans have messed things up totally."

Purcellville, once a farm town center not far from Leesburg, now part of the sprawling exurbia. At the elementary school, Mary Coate, 50, a housewife said, "I am for the marriage amendment. I believe it should be between a man and a woman and I don't want people from Massachusetts coming and demanding recognition for their gay marriages."

-- Reporting in Virginia by Caroline Dobuzinskis and Jessica Savage

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Ohio's New Voter-ID Law Turns Away Congressman

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 4:19 PM EST

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

WESTWOOD - Congressman Steve Chabot found out just how serious elections officials are about the new voter ID law when he showed up to vote at his polling place in Westwood.

Chabot went into the polling place at Westwood First Presbyterian Church about 9:30 a.m. and pulled out his Ohio driver's license to show the poll workers. They looked at his license, and told the congressman that, even though they know perfectly well who he is, his driver's license was issued to his business office, not his home, which is his voting address.

Somewhat sheepishly, Chabot went back out into the parking lot, jumped in his 1993 Buick - the one he talked about on his campaign commercials - and started heading back to his home a few blocks away to find a proper ID.

"I guess I'll see if I can find a utility bill," Chabot said. "That's the law. You have to have proper ID."

Chabot returned about 10 minutes later with a bank statement and a Social Security Administration statement in hand.

He went inside and voted quickly.

"My wife told me to bring two documents just to be sure," Chabot said. "I guess this just shows the poll workers are really doing their job."

The Ohio voter ID requirement is the work of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is famous for his partisan hatchet job on the 2004 presidential election. Only two weeks ago, Blackwell issued a directive requiring that any ID used at the polls show a current address. It was challenged in court but upheld by a judge on October 29. Its impact on vote suppression this year could foretell problems down the road: according to the NYU-based Brennan Center, some 25 states have proposed similar voter ID requirements. Stay posted for more news about how the law is affecting Ohio voters today at the polls.

Also, here's a link to a Mother Jones story I wrote which talks about how these voter-ID laws are at the center of many tight secretary of state races across the country this year.

New Jersey Slime Fest

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 3:32 PM EST

Tom Kean Republicans in New Jersey are claiming they are being screwed by voter irregularities caused by Dems. Party officials formally notified the New Jersey attorney general and U.S. attorney Chris Cristie that in Hudson, Middlesex, Camden, and Passaic counties, voters were running into machines where Democrat Bob Menendez's name appeared to have been pre-selected. WNYC's Bob Hennelly is reporting the turnout in Jersey is strong, with the Democrats running the only visible get out the vote operations there.

New Jersey is the scene of one of the nation's slimiest slugfests with Tom Kean Jr. trying to topple the incumbent Menendez by calling him a crook.

Vote by Mail: the Solution to Today's Problems?

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 3:20 PM EST

Daily Kos forwards along a press release written by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden that makes the case for vote by mail. It's a system that has been used in Oregon for years with positive results. Registered voters receive their ballots at their home address weeks before the election and fill them out at their leisure. When completed, the ballots are put in secure drop boxes at libraries, county offices and other locations. The whole process is convenient and uncomplicated. Other arguments that Wyden puts forward:

Vote by Mail eliminates poll problems--there are no long lines, polls to open late or even confusion about where to vote.

Vote by Mail eliminates voter roll issues and the need for provisional ballots--ballots are mailed only to registered voters at their official address. Those who do not receive a ballot have ample time to resolve the issue with election officials.

Vote by Mail reduces the risk of voter intimidation--a 2003 study of Oregon voters showed that groups--like the elderly--who are most vulnerable to coercion prefer Vote by Mail.

Vote by Mail creates a paper trail.

You can learn more at the Vote by Mail Project.

Election Night Resources for Political Junkies

| Tue Nov. 7, 2006 2:25 PM EST

For those of you like us who are watching voting irregularities until the exit polls come in, and will watch exit polls until the real numbers come in, and will watch the numbers until the results come in.... here's some stuff from around the web to fuel your obsession.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has a list of poll closing times for each state in the country, with links to pages where you can get results.

The Wall Street Journal has made a handy scorecard [PDF] with the House and Senate races that will determine control of Congress.

And CBS has a neat article on how networks make each "call" that so many people tonight will exult/groan over.

More from Mother Jones as the day goes by.