Political MoJo

The Rise of McCain

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 10:19 AM EST

Yesterday's elections open the door on the 2008 presidential race with John McCain front and center for the Republicans. Once laughed off by Bush, detested by many in the military, and vilified by the right wing Christians, McCain has stayed the course and now is in a position to organize a strong race for the presidency in 2008.

To an unknown degree this will depend on the Arizona senator's health (he has melanoma). He will have to contend with a far more conservative group of Republicans in the House, who will be demanding sharp curtailments on spending. These are people, for example, who wanted to drastically curtail what little the federal government made available for Katrina victims. This conservative cadre is unlikely to be in the mood for bipartisan deal making, and can conceivably force a greater degree of separation between the parties.

Some conservatives already are threatening to throw wrenches into the House machinery with stalling tactics and other measures. These may be idle threats, but giving the GOP record in running a backbench, that can't be counted on.

"There's going to be a batch of people who are going to personally owe McCain and there's going to be another batch of people who are going to have to rethink their view of him," Michael McKenna, a Republican strategist and pollster, told the Washington Times.

Democrats almost surely will try and extend the Medicare drug plan and get behind an immigration bill which provides a mechanism for illegals to obtain citizenship. Dems can reopen their internal fight over free trade with the old Clintonista centrists arguing for free trade measures, and progressives, in the past led by Dennis Kucinich and others, against such steps.

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Buh-Bye, Pombo

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 6:14 AM EST

It's official: ocean enemy #1 Richard Pombo is outta there.

Joe Lieberman, New Senate Power Broker?

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 4:05 AM EST

Any predictions of the Democrats taking the Senate assume Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who was reelected yesterday as an independent, will caucus with them. (Mother Jones was among the first to report on Lieberman's intentions here). Although Lieberman has never indicated he will defect to the GOP, his new status as an independent would give him substantial power to pit both sides against each other to push his own policies. Keep an eye out in coming days for which way Joe-mentum goes.

Voters Reject Repubs, and (Gay) Marriage

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 3:17 AM EST

Reuters reports that the initiatives to ban gay marriage in eight states are all winning, even in pivotstates where Republicans lost key seats, such as New Jersey (Kean), Minnesota (Klobuchar beat Kennedy) and Dems won big, Wisconsin (Kagen) and Colorado (Ritter and Perlmutter).

MoJo staffer Cameron Scott wrote today about the "gay panic" vote, wondering whether the war might give voters some perspective on what's worth fighting for, or against. Looks like the sanctity of marriage is as high on the list as changing course, at least for now.

Fighting Dems Update

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:58 AM EST

Mother Jones has been covering the "fighting dems" story for quite some time. Here's an update on how some of them have done:

In PA-07, Fighting Dem Joe Sestak defeated powerful House member Curt Weldon, 57%-43%.

In PA-10, Fighting Dem Chris Carney defeated alleged choker Don Sherwood, 53%-47%.

In MN-01, Fighting Dem Tim Walz defeated Republican Gil Gutknecht, 52%-48%.

In NY-29, Fighting Dem Eric Massa lost to Republican Randy Kuhl, 51%-49%.

In PA-08, Fighting Dem Tim Murphy is locked up against Mike Fitzpatrick, 50%-50%. CNN has not called the race, as of 11:00 pm PST.

In IL-06, Fighting Dem Tammy Duckworth lost to Peter Roskam, 52%-48%.

And CBS Projections Don't Show Signs of Letting Up

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:54 AM EST

CBS predicts McCaskill as the winner of the Missouri Senate race.

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Quarter of Montana Voters Cast Absentee Ballots

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:54 AM EST

With McCaskill getting the call, it's down to two.

But we may have to wait a while to know how things go in Montana. According to the Hotline, Montana's Secretary of State reported that 106,000 voters cast their ballots early or by absentee, that's well over a quarter of the expected votes in the large, sparsely populated Big Sky state. Absentees always make for slower counting (read: by hand), which means we likely won't know if Tester/the Dems get this key seat until midday tomorrow, at the earliest.

And if a recount is on the horizon in Virginia it'll be a lot longer than that.

Will the Democrats Win the Senate? The Bookies Have Spoken!

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:42 AM EST

Forget the pundits, the Huffington Post has linked to tradesports.com,  timeAndSalesChart.gif  which is taking bets on election 2006. This is how it works: the Republican Party is like a stock. You can buy in whenever you want. If the GOP takes the senate, the stock hits 100 and you get paid. If the GOP loses the senate, the stock hits zero (but hey, maybe you'll make your money back once the Democrats turn the economy around).

So what's the GOP Senate prospect trading at? Well, in the days leading up to the election it was hovering around 70. Now it's at. . . . 13.5.

My bet's that the Democrats take the Senate.

Stem Cell Initiative Too Close to Call; Regardless, Seats Gained Won't be Enough to Override Bush's Veto

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:32 AM EST

Still too soon to tell on Missouri's stem cell initiative, which is trailing in early returns (perhaps as goes McCaskill, so go stem cells?), but the Chronicle of Higher Education today posed this interesting what-if take on the bigger picture, getting federal support for embryonic stem cell research. The Chron asked: If Democrats won every single election up for grabs today, would there be enough pro-stem-cell members of Congress to overturn President Bush's veto on federal financing for research on new lines of embryonic stem cells?

Their analysis says no. A two-thirds majority of both chambers of Congress is needed to override a presidential veto and there was plenty of bipartisan support for the override. But even given the cross-aisle sentiments that support stem-cell research, the Chronicle analysis concludes that the voting records of candidates show that there simply aren't enough pro-stem-cell bodies to make the two-thirds overriding majority.

Looks like we need a change bigger than a new Congress to see stem cell research progress. Together now: two years and counting.

Rumor of the Night: Rummy To Go?

| Wed Nov. 8, 2006 2:30 AM EST

I'm loathe to repeat unsubstantiated rumors, especially ones that come from the Comedy Central blog. But the cable station where more young Americans get their news is saying that Rumsfeld is now definitely a goner come tomorrow. Hey, they even have double sourcing—some blogger and Bill Kristol. Let me check my Magic 8 Ball and we may have definitive confirmation...