Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What to Watch for Tonight

There now seem to be hundreds of articles about what to watch for in the presidential race, state by state, time-zone by time-zone.   This one is as good as any. But I'm always interested in what Nate Silver has to say, so this one's worth a look too.  

And here's the list of states to watch (according to poll closing times, translated to the Pacific time zone):
  • 3pm PST: Indiana (most of the state's polls close at 3pm PST, but not 'til 4pm in some parts of the state)
  • 4pm: Virginia, Georgia, New Hampshire, Florida (Western portion of panhandle closes at 5pm)
  • 4:30: Ohio and North Carolina
  • 5:00: Missouri and Pennsylvania
  • 6:00: Colorado and New Mexico
  • 7pm: Montana
Expect first waves of results to come in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes after the polls close in that state.  Networks and newspaper websites, if they're at all responsible will not call a state based on exit poll results unless there is at least a 10-point margin between the two major-party candidates.  Again, Nate Silver explains why.  

The best real-time mapping on-line will be on the front-page of the New York Times website. On TV, CNN has the best mapping, by far.  

US Senate
Here are the Senate races to watch, with those at the top of the most likely to go Democratic and the ones at the bottom least likely to turn-over:
  • Virginia: Mark Warner (D) vs. James Gilmore (R) open seat
  • New Mexico: Tom Udall (D) vs. Steve Pearce (R) -open seat
  • Colorado: Mark Udall (D) vs. Bob Schaffer (R) - open seat
  • Alaska: Mark Begich (D) vs. Ted Stevens (R) - Stevens just convicted of concealing gifts
  • New Hampshire: Shaheen (D) vs. John Sununu (incumbent R)
  • Oregon: Jeff Merkley (D) vs. Gordon Smith (incumbent R)
  • North Carolina: Kay Hagan (D) vs. Elizabeth Dole (incumbent R)
  • Minnesota: Al Franken (D) vs. Norm Coleman (incumbent R)
  • Georgia: Martin (D) vs. Chambliss
  • Kentucky: Lunsford (D) vs. McConnell
  • Mississippi: Musgrove (D) vs. Wicker

US House (a few of the more interesting ones, listed by incumbent defending)
  • Don Young - R, At-Large, Alaska (yet another Alaska Republican under investigation)
  • John Shadegg - R, 3rd Dist., Arizona
  • Marilyn Musgrave -R, 4th Dist. Colorado (Congress's most infamous homophobe)
  • Christopher Shays -R, 4th Dist. Connecticut
  • Lincoln Diaz-Balart- R, 21st Dist. Florida
  • Mario Diaz-Balart- R, 25th Dist. Florida
  • Bill Sali - R, 1st Dist. Idaho
  • Don Cazayoux -D, 6th Dist. Louisiana (won special election earlier this year for Bobby Jindal's old seat
  • Wayne Gilchrist-R, 1st Dist, Maryland
  • Michele Bachmann -R, 6th Dist. Minnesota (recently called for investigation of "un-American" members of Congress)
  • Heather Wilson - R, 1st Dist, New Mexico
  • Steve Chabot - R, 1st Dist, Ohio
  • Jack Murtha -D, 12th Dist, Pennsylvania (famously called his constituents racists)
  • Nick Lampson- D, 22d Dist., Texas (Tom Delay's old seat)
  • Virgil Goode- R, 5th Dist., Virginia
  • Dave Reichert - R, 8th Dist. Washington (vs. top Netroots candidate Darcy Burner)
  • Missouri: Jay Nixon (D) vs. Kenny Hulshof (R) (open seat)
  • North Carolina: Beverly Perdue (D) vs. Pat McCrory (R) (open seat)
  • Washington: Chris Gregoire (incumbent D) vs. Dino Rossi (R) 
Ballot Initiatives
  • Abortion: Parental notification in California, near complete ban in South Dakota and life begins at conception in Colorado
  • Affirmative Action bans in Colorado and Nebraska
  • Assisted Suicide: I-1000 in Washington
  • Education: ban on English as a Second Language education in Oregon
  • Elections: Top-two primary in Oregon
  • Gay Rights: Prop  8 in California would overturn right to gay marriage.  Gay marriage bans in Florida and Arizona.  An Arkansas measure would prohibit gay couples from adopting or foster parenting children
  • Transportation: $10 billion for high speed rail in California; Light rail expansion in Seattle area (Prop. 1); and making traffic worse in Washington state (I-985).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Proof that no good deed goes unpunished

Mediocre coffee, but a company with pretty good corporate practices. Starbucks, thought it would do a good deed by giving a free cup of coffee to anyone who came in to a store claiming to have voted.  However, those spoil sports here in Washington state Secretary of State's office have told Starbucks that giving away a free cup of coffee to voters is an illegal inducement.  So, now Starbucks says it'll give a cup of free coffee to anyone that asks.  Sam! Lighten up! A free cup of coffee does not a vote buy.  While we're talking about inducements, here are a few other other ways to buy a vote -not a vote for a particular candidate, just a vote:
  • Free ice-cream:  go to Ben & Jerry's for a free cup or cone
  • Free Doughnuts: a free doughnut for voters at Krispy Kreme (if you're Seattle, you're better off paying for a doughnut at Top Pot!)
  • Free GOTV calls for Credo Mobile members during voting hours
  • Free chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A.  (sorry, no Chick-fil-A's in the Northwest)
  • Free sex toys: and last, but certainly not least, Babeland is offering a free Silver Bullet vibrator, or something called a Maverick sleeve to anyone coming in to their New York or Seattle stores with a voter registration card or proof of voting between Nov. 4-11.  Interestingly,  there's no indication that the Washington Secretary of State has contacted Babeland to shut down their vote buying operation.  Sorry Starbucks.  

Experts agree...

...that Obama's gonna win this thing, big. There's been an uptick in both the state and national polls in the last day or so. Nate Silver gives Obama a 98.1% chance of winning the election. This is Karl Rove's electoral prediction map for tomorrow night (click for larger view):

I like it. Except, I think Obama has a real good shot at winning both North Carolina and Indiana. Then there's Montana and Georgia. Not so likely, but a strong possibility, especially Georgia where 1/3 of the registered voters are black. And there's a bunch of young white people who live in the Atlanta area. And there must be a few older white liberals to add to the mix.

A few more endorsements

Better late than never.  It's not like half the people in this state have already voted or something. In any case, here are a few more endorsements to throw your way:

King County judges
Most of these endorsements are based on bar association qualification assessments, combined with endorsements from progressive groups like WA Conservation Voters and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington (not that superior court judges often play a role in big constitutional issues, but it's an endorsement that helps filter out the bat-shit crazy Federalist Society types):

Superior Court #1: Susan Parisien
Superior Court #22: Holly Hill
Superior Court #37: Jean Rietschel

King County Charter Amendments
I really wish these things were not cluttering up the general election ballot, but they are.  So here's some quick recommendations:

Charter Amendment #1: No.  This would make the County Elections Director an elected position.  This is a position that should remain ministerial not political.

Charter Amendments #2-7: Yes  These are all housekeeping measures of various sorts and all pretty self-explanatory (i.e., no hidden agendas).

Charter Amendment #8:  No This measure to make county offices non-partisan is an effort by a small group of businessmen to make it easier for Republicans to sneak into office in a very Democratic county.  Voters have such little information as it is about local offices that they need the kind of shorthand signals party labels provide. It's an imperfect indicator but better than the nothing that many voters get in local elections.  

Pierce County
As someone who spent ten years living in Pierce County, even running for office and sitting on public boards, I still pay a lot of attention to Pierce County politics.  And, with Ranked Choice Voting (also known as Instant Run-off Voting), politics there will only get more interesting starting this year.  But, I haven't had much time to focus on all the candidates there for all the offices.  So, let me highlight just a few of the most interesting races: 

Pierce County Executive
If I still lived there, I'd be having a tough time picking.  On paper, Calvin Goings is the best candidate and that probably means you should vote for him.  But, he sometimes has trouble making the best decision when constituencies he cares about are pulling in different directions. He's one of those stereotypically ambitious politicians who's always focused on the next election.  The other real choice is Pat McCarthy.  I like her a lot, but do worry about how much money is being infused on her behalf by the very, very sleazy builders lobby.  I'd be tempted to rank Pat first and Calvin second.  But with the Builders such a big factor in her campaign, I have to recommend the reverse - Calvin ranked first, Pat second.

Pierce County Council
The only one I'll comment on is the primary Tacoma seat on the Council, now held by Tim Farrell.  Tim has been a fabulous councilmember, quite effective given that he's been in the minority almost the whole time.  His district loves him, so he'll sail to reelection without any trouble.  But, make sure you vote for him early and often to show him the love.  

26th District House
Pat Lantz was a great legislator but, unfortuately, felt the need to move on.  Kim Abel is the Democrat in the race to replace her.  The Republican, Jan Angel, is a shill of the Builders and the very conservative Kitsap County Realtors.  On the Kitsap County commission, she was a disaster on growth management, transportation and other environmental issues.  Vote for Kim Abel.