Mojo - November 2008

Handy Map: Poll Closing Times Nationwide

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 11:42 AM EST

From the pros over at Swing State Project. Click the map to head over to their site, where they have key Senate and House races broken down by poll closing time.

poll_closing_map.jpg

Also, for a photo diary of voting lines across the country, check out Open Left.

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MOJO VIDEO: Inside a National Election Hotline Call Center

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 10:01 AM EST

Election Protection is a coalition of voting rights groups that, as I mentioned in this space yesterday, is hosting the nation's premier voter hotline — 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Yesterday, I visited the org's national command center in downtown Washington DC, where trained volunteers were handling phone calls by the thousands from voters seeking information or reporting problems. As you can see on Election Protection's online database of voter reports, the volunteers received more than 10,000 calls by 9:20 am today. A new report is added every few seconds, in real time.

Officials from Election Protection were kind enough to give me an explanation of how they do what they do, and what challenges remain in their way. Have a look.

Election Protection is blasting reporters with some of the worst voting problems it is seeing around the country today. After the jump, a collection:

Check MotherJones.com for Full Election Day and Election Night Coverage

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 9:28 AM EST

Just an FYI, folks — MoJoBlog and Kevin Drum will have coverage of the election all day and all night. We know we're not replacing CNN, but visit us for analysis, under-the-radar stories, and our typical panache.

For now, we've got four stories that went up late yesterday: Kevin Drum's "The Great Persuader," about the challenges Obama will face should he win; my "Election Day Arrives: Should Obama Supporters Worry?" about whether the supposed tightening in the polls should give anyone pause; Laura Rozen's "Getting Ready for President McBama," about a Congressional honcho who is ready to work intelligence in a McCain or Obama administration; and Adele M. Stan's "Howard Phillips' World," about the Constitution Party candidate who could provide inspiration for the GOP.

Hope to see a lot of you over the next, oh, 17 hours.

Obama's Grandmother Got to Cast a Vote for the Man She Raised

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 9:11 AM EST

As you probably know by now, Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died yesterday, one day before the nation decides if the man she raised gets to be the next president of the United States. To many — Obama himself probably first among them — it felt like a punch to the stomach. As a middle-aged white woman raising a half-black boy in the 1970s, Dunham led an unconventional family. As Obama tells it, she was undaunted by the challenge. In fact, she embraced it. In a statement about Dunham's death, Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said, "She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."

But take heart, Obama supporters. According to Eli Sanders of the Seattle Stranger, Dunham was able to cast her ballot before her death. Here's Kevin Cronin, chief election officer for Hawaii, speaking to Sanders:

Ms. Dunham's absentee mail ballot was received and reviewed under the Hawaii standards for processing absentee mail ballots… She was alive at that time. Her ballot will be opened tomorrow, and it will be counted in the same way that all absentee voters would be treated under our law.

No word, of course, on who she voted for. I suspect we can guess. What a proud moment that must have been.

Kindergarten Landslide

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 3:46 AM EST

My five-year-old came home with an "I Voted" sticker on Monday and informed me that he'd cast his ballot for the guy he's insisted for weeks on calling "OhRock Obama." Turns out that he was part of the "Every Kid Votes" program, in which some 800,000 kids in all 50 states (what company president Ed Rickers calls a "significant sampling") made their choice, with OhRock prevailing 59 percent to 41 percent.

Just sayin'.

Election Day: SWAT Teams at the Ready

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 7:21 PM EST

Early%20Voting.jpg

I voted the good ol' fashioned way today—in person at my Oakland polling station (though a day early to beat tomorrow's chaos). I was nervous when I saw the nightmarish line at Alameda County Courthouse, but surprisingly, I got out in about an hour fairly unruffled. The place was fully staffed, the line efficient, and the mood upbeat. A guy quipped, "Obama better appreciate this," as he dutifully made his way to the back.

Not a whiff of the tension that riot police and SWAT teams are gearing up for tomorrow in Oakland—a phenomenon that, strangely, hasn't been very widely reported. Troubling, considering that it's happening mostly in cities with large black populations like Atlanta and Chicago.


Early%20Voting2.jpg


Nichole Wong

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Election Day Arrives: Should Obama Supporters Worry?

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 3:45 PM EST

obama_fret250x200.jpg Democrats are notoriously skittish. Conditioned by decades of underperformance in presidential elections, where they have secured just three victories in the 40 years since Richard Nixon first won the White House, and in Congress, where the Dems have only recently recovered from their crushing 1994 defeat, Democrats are like the metaphorical field mouse, constantly spooked at the first bit of bad news.

The Obama campaign appears to be an exception to that trend. It has inspired more than just hope — it has inspired confidence. So much so that national polls show that wide margins of Democrats and Republicans alike assume Obama will win the presidency. In fact, the Obama campaign has released a video warning supporters of the dangers of over-confidence.

But as Election Day nears, it's likely you know anxious Democrats who just can't help themselves. Four things cause worry.

Charlie Black: Eternal Optimist

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 2:37 PM EST

From former MoJo-er Michael Scherer's Swampland post yesterday, explaining why the McCain campaign thinks the race is getting closer:

Barack Obama On The Issues: Sagging Pants

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 2:31 PM EST

In an otherwise issues-focused interview with MTV, we finally get to hear Barack Obama's position on what those darn kids are wearing:

Here is my attitude: I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq, and anybody, any public official, that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face, that you don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear — I'm one of them.

The campaign's new slogan: "Brothers should pull up their pants."

How an Obama Win Would Justify Years of Bush-bashing: A Personal Reflection

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 2:15 PM EST

I first posted this personal reflection at www.davidcorn.com....

This time it's personal.

Then again, it was personal in 2004.

In September 2003, I published a book immoderately titled, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception. Its contention was a simple one: that Bush had gone beyond the normal boundaries of presidential spin in using falsehoods and misrepresentations to skew the public discourse on many fronts: stems cells, global warming, tax policy, and, above all, the invasion of Iraq.

At the time, this was not--in certain circles--a well-received argument. Conservative pundits, pointing to my book and others that came out at the time (Al Franken's Lying Liars, Molly Ivins' Bushwhacked, written with Lou Dubose, and Joe Conason's Big Lies), declared a new phenomenon was at hand: rabid, irrational Bush hatred. MSM commentators, ever looking to reside within the comfortable, above-it-all middle, observed that the left was now mirroring the extreme rhetoric of the Limbaugh-crazy, Coulter-loving right. I noted some examples of this dismissive reax in a recent Mother Jones essay. The New York Times' Matt Bai, citing my book, wrote, "the new leftist screeds seem to solidify a rising political culture of incivility and overstatement." Conservative columnist David Brooks proclaimed that "the core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it's the haters themselves." (Yes, I was more dangerous than George W. Bush.) What few of these commentators of the center and right bothered to do was to evaluate the case I (and the others) had put forward. That is, to confront the facts I had presented. Their aim was to discredit the very idea of anyone going so far as to call the president of the United States a liar. And National Review editor Rich Lowry opined, "I don't think the public is going to buy the idea that [Bush is] a liar."

Lowry got it wrong. By Election Day 2004, polls showed that a slight majority believed that Bush was not honest and trustworthy. Still, Bush managed to best John Kerry in an election that was something of a referendum on Bush's first term. But that election came too early. Had it been held a year later--post-Katrina--any Dem would have thrashed Bush and Cheney at the polls. And now about seven out of ten disapprove of his presidency, and most of the public agrees with the premise that Bush deliberately misled American citizens about WMDs and the threat supposedly posed by Iraq. Bush is heading toward the door widely regarded as a failure: Iraq, Katrina, the financial meltdown. He has become the vanishing president. Hardly seen. Barely relevant.

Bush's style of politics, his policies, his political party--it's all been discredited. Whatever happens in the presidential race, the GOP is poised to take a beating in congressional races. He has led his party to ruin. The battle over the W. story has been won by his critics--at least in the short run. The view that Bush has been a dishonest president and bad for the United States has become the majority position in the United States. If John McCain somehow manages to win, it will be in spite of Bush.

Many presidents are elected as reactions to the previous president. George W. Bush's (faux) victory in 2000 was a reaction to the Bill Clinton soap opera. And a Barack Obama triumph would be the natural reaction to the W. years. Obama is the most progressive (or liberal) Democratic nominee since FDR ran for reelection. He is black (or biracial). He is an intellectual. He is no child of privilege. To sum up: he is the opposite of George W. Bush. Not only has Bush started two wars he couldn't finish, presided over a government that lost a major American city, and did little as a financial tsunami hit the nation; he has (I am guessing) created a yearning among many Americans for a non-Bush. And within the realm of conventional U.S. politics, Obama is about as non-Bush as it gets. No wonder Obama has a strong chance of becoming president. He spoke (endlessly) of change; he is an antidote to the Bush presidency.