Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Few Election Ruminations

For your reading pleasure, a few thoughts that ran through my head last night/this morning...

President Barack Obama. Sure, pretty much everyone not named Mike Mott knew it was going to happen, but it's still pretty sweet. I have no illusions that Obama will be the next Lincoln or Jefferson, but he could very well be the next Clinton, which I don't think anyone would mind at this point. And it's a pretty good butt-kicking, at least more so than either of Bush's narrow victories. So maybe we're coming together around something, even if it is just "Republicans suck."

And so a campaign that lasted some 20 months comes to a close with the country electing its first black President. Oh, and 40 years ago today, the avowed segregationist George Wallace won 46 electoral votes and 13.5% of the national popular vote. Chew on that for a second. Also, this is kinda cool.

If the polls hold, it looks like we'll have 56-57 Senate seats and 254 House seats to work with. That's a pretty solid majority, though not filibuster-proof. It makes me wonder how much the leaders in Congress will be willing to reach across the aisle to compromise, even if Obama wants to do so. Remember, domestic policy is more in the hands of Reid and Pelosi now than Obama. Anyway, with a President who won't veto bills out of a Democratic Congress and only a few Republican defectors necessary to pass legislation, let's see what comes out. Democrats, there's no one else to blame now. Don't screw this up.

Alaska voters are nuts. As I write this, there's no call in the Alaska senate race between Ted Stevens (R-Jail) and Mark Begich, but Stevens is narrowly leading. Seriously, what is wrong with you people? Stevens was found guilty of corruption, plus he's completely bonkers. Do you seriously want to have a Senator who can't make a roll call vote because he's stuck in a prison cell, ranting incoherently about a series of tubes?

Bigotry - not a winning strategy... Here in NC, Elizabeth Dole was in a close race with Kay Hagan for her Senate seat. She decided to try to tie Hagan to atheists and get people all good and scared about those "godless" heathens. Hagan won, and it wasn't even close. Pennsylvania challenger Lou Barletta made news as the anti-immigrant mayor of Hazleton - he lost to freshman Rep. Paul Kanjorski in a pretty Republican district. Same state - John Murtha called his constituents a bunch of racist rednecks, and had one of his closest races. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) should have had no problems with his Democratic opponent - however, his anti-Muslim hateful screed unleashed two years ago against Minnesota's Keith Ellison put a big target on his back. No call in his race yet, but he's trailing Democrat Tom Perriello.

...unless your opponent is "the gay." Goode was also partially done in by the revelation that his chief of staff was in some sort of gay porno or something. I don't remember the details, I just remember hearing about it and thinking, "dumbest political issue ever." Anyway, gay marriage bans passed in Arizona and Florida. Oddly, Arizona rejected the same measure two years ago. And that brings me to...

Thomas Monson's Epic Fail. How can you succeed and fail at the same time? When you're LDS Church President Thomas Monson, and you have no head for strategy or priorities. Monson's baby, California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage, is headed for victory. No call yet, but it's up 52-48. The cost? The LDS Church's reputation among liberals and left-leaning Californians, and probably more than a few others scattered throughout the country.

See, Prop 8's success is a disaster for the gay and lesbian community, but it's pretty bad for Mormons too. There's something to be said for standing on principle, and there's never an excuse to hate someone because of their religion. In fact, the ugliness from Prop 8 opponents regarding the LDS Church is probably a main reason why they lost a fight they should have won by at least a 60-40 margin. But the existence of that ugliness can be traced to Monson's decision to get the Church involved in the first place. Had Prop 8 failed, the anti-Mormon bitterness might have faded in time. Now? Good luck with that - the anti-Mormon bigots on the left just got fuel for their fires to last a long, long time. It's for this reason that Prop 8, and the amendment it will engender if the polls hold, will now be known as Thomas Monson's Epic Fail.

(As I write this, the uncounted votes that seem to be preventing anyone from calling this are from the pretty conservative Inland Empire. So yeah, I'm calling it, even if no one else is.)

Though you can't get away with being too homophobic. Goodbye, main federal marriage amendment supporter Marilyn Musgrave. We won't miss you.

Minnesota loves its wackos. Congratulations to Minnesota, whose Senate race between a conservative wacko, a liberal wacko, and a just plain wacko is still not decided. And they voted for extreme conservative wacko Michelle Bachmann over Elwyn Tinklenberg, despite Bachmann's insane McCarthy-esque ranting and Tinklenberg's awesome name. Novak, you got some 'splainin' to do.

At least we don't vote using punch-cards. I'm really happy that Obama won by a substantial margin, because if it were close, the pack of rabid lawyers that descended upon Florida in 2000 would be in North Carolina this year. It's pretty close, here - I think it currently favors Obama by 12,000. This oughta spare us the video of people looking at ballots and trying to figure out if they're bubbled in or not. Also, everyone should use optical-scan voting. It's easy, it's fast, and it uses paper, which doesn't break down or mis-record votes so recounting is really easy. I don't understand the touch-screen or punch-card crapola.


-Dave said...

Touch screen is nice when it prints up a paper copy for you to review and approve before it is officially submitted.

Ease of use (large print, clearly defined layout), less resources used in the process (as the paper receipt is printed on receipt paper, in more condensed form than a ballot), and quick response times.

What's not to like?

Mike said...

I was pretty sure it was going to happen, I mostly just made my prediction to be different, and to be right on the extreme off-chance it came true.

When the email about Stevens went around the office, one of the first responses was, "Well, I can understand how he could be innocent." So it's not just Alaskans.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Will explain when I get back into town. I promise.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Real quickly, here's the promised explanation:

I'm pretty sure it's a lot easier for a third-party candidate to get on the ballot in MN, and get equal funding. For example, this helped Jesse immensely (and the independent in this senate race) because he had a ton of money to spend at the end of a one of the most contentious races I've ever seen, (but only between the Republican and Democrat.) So his ads at the end were basically, "vote for me as a message to the major parties" and people went along with it largely because they didn't think Ventura could actually win. That also explains the 15% for the independent in this senate race.

As far as wackos... Minnesota is a DFL state, so we love our blue-collar Democrats, but less so our white-collar democrats. That keeps a guy like Franken, who's more white-collar, from cleaning up. Coleman isn't quite a wacko, though he's strictly Republican, so you've got a very democratic state debating between an unideal democrat and a somewhat reasonable incumbent republican. It's a close call. Also, this race was one of the longest-running, most expensive senate races this year. A lot of heat.

As for Bachman... that district is rigged pretty well for the Republicans, and really holds some of the most Republican counties in the state. It's hard to get a Democrat out of that one. Nobody likes Bachman, but they're not willing to vote for the Democrat.