The decision of John Kerry and liberal groups not to focus on turning out the Democratic vote in "noncompetitive" states may have cost the Democrats control of the US Senate, Zogby pollsters concluded. In a Nov. 5 analysis, Zogby noted that the Bush campaign ran up the score in safe Republican states and closed the gap in states that were safely Kerry's. "Where this increased Republican turnout had the great impact was the US Senate," Zogby wrote. Among open-seat races, eight were in states Bush won in 2000 and one was in a state Gore won in 2000.
Democrats only won two seats -- one in Colorado, and an effortless victory in Illinois. In the last-minute-surprise state of Kentucky, a swing of 3% toward Republicans may have been enough to keep the seat in the hands of Sen. Jim Bunning (R). In Louisiana, a 12-point swing toward Republicans helped US Rep. David Vitter become the first Republican elected to the Senate in Louisiana since Reconstruction, without the need for a runoff.
"There were 5-point swings in North Carolina and South Carolina that helped deliver those races to Congressmen Richard Burr and Jim DeMint, respectively. A 12-point swing toward the Republicans in Alaska was critical to keeping Sen. Lisa Murkowski in office. In Florida, a 5-point swing narrowly delivered a victory to former HUD secretary Mel Martinez; had the swing been any smaller Betty Castor would have won."
Bush's turnout apparently didn't affect races in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Colorado. In Oklahoma, partisan composition of the electorate was nearly unchanged from 2000. Rep. Brad Carson's (D) weak showing among independents and loss of Democrats cost him the race, and delivered it to right-wing Rep. Tom Coburn. In South Dakota, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) lost because he failed to do well enough among Republicans to overcome the state's GOP lean. And in Colorado, Pete Coors ran way behind Bush in the state -- and failed to top Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar.
Democrats did better with independents nationally, edging out Bush among an important swing group he won in 2000, Zogby noted. "Democrats performed particularly strong among independents in the battleground states, winning independents in Ohio and Florida by double-digit margins.
"But Democrats must deal with the fact that they could not get their troops motivated enough to win, and lost to an incumbent who received low marks: Despite the saturation of the electorate with Bush-friendly conservatives, Bush's job in office was only approved of by 52%, less than half (49%) thought the country was headed in the right direction, more than half (52%) did not trust Bush on the economy, and only a slim majority (52%) approved of his decision to invade Iraq."
FRANK: BEAT CULTURAL POPULISM WITH REAL THING. Thomas Frank, author of What's The Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, wrote in the 11/5/04 New York Times: "To short-circuit the Republican appeals to blue-collar constituents, Democrats must confront the cultural populism of the wedge issues with genuine economic populism. They must dust off their own majoritarian militancy instead of suppressing it; sharpen the distinctions between the parties instead of minimizing them; emphasize the contradictions of culture-war populism instead of ignoring them; and speak forthrightly about who gains and who loses from conservative economic policy.
"What is more likely, of course, is that Democratic officialdom will simply see this week's disaster as a reason to redouble their efforts to move to the right. They will give in on, say, Social Security privatization or income tax 'reform' and will continue to dream their happy dreams about becoming the party of the enlightened corporate class. And they will be surprised all over again two or four years from now when the conservative populists of the Red America, poorer and angrier than ever, deal the 'party of the people' yet another stunning blow."
DEMS SEEK E-VOTE PROBE. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), all members of the House Judiciary Committee, on Nov. 5 asked the General Accountability Office for an investigation into electronic voting machines.
They noted that in Columbus, Ohio, an electronic voting system gave President Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes; an electronic tally of a South Florida gambling ballot initiative failed to record thousands of votes; in one North Carolina county, more than 4,500 votes were lost because officials mistakenly believed a computer that stored ballots could hold more data that it did; and in San Francisco, a glitch occurred with voting machines software that resulted in some votes being left uncounted. They also noted that in Florida, there was a substantial dropoff in Democratic votes in proportion to voter registration in counties utilizing optical scan machines that was apparently not present in counties using other mechanisms.
They added, "House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff has received numerous reports from Youngstown, Ohio, that voters who attempted to cast a vote for John Kerry on electronic voting machines saw that their votes were instead recorded as votes for George W. Bush. In South Florida, Congressman Wexler's staff received numerous reports from voters in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade Counties that they attempted to select John Kerry but George Bush appeared on the screen. CNN has reported that a dozen voters in six states, particularly Democrats in Florida, reported similar problems. This was among over one thousand such problems reported. ... "Excessively long lines were a frequent problem throughout the nation in Democratic precincts, particularly in Florida and Ohio. In one Ohio voting precinct serving students from Kenyon College, some voters were required to wait more than eight hours to vote. ...
"We are literally receiving additional reports every minute and will transmit additional information as it comes available. The essence of democracy is the confidence of the electorate in the accuracy of voting methods and the fairness of voting procedures. In 2000, that confidence suffered terribly, and we fear that such a blow to our democracy may have occurred in 2004."
John Doty, a spokesman for Nadler, told Wired.com the congressmen were not seeking a nationwide recount and were not anticipating that an investigation would change the outcome of the election. "But we do want to make sure that where there are problems they're fixed so that it won't affect other elections in the future," Doty said.
Nationally, there were more than 1,100 reports of electronic voting machine malfunctions, Associated Press reported.
Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes (therandirhodesshow.com) noted that in at least eight states, including Maine, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, North Carolina, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Kerry got a lower share than the exit polls indicated while Bush got a larger share. And in Florida, Ohio and New Mexico, where the exit polls showed Kerry winning, the final counts on the election computers showed Kerry losing. That is a coincidence not often seen in exit polling, but it is a situation that e-vote critics repeatedly warned about before the election.
Nick Biddle of Save the Election said the efforts to develop an urgent response network to preserve an honest election count came to naught when Kerry conceded the day after the election and his campaign didn't want to be associated with efforts to protest circumstantial evidence of voter fraud in Ohio, Florida and other states. "I'm stunned," said Biddle, who lives in Oregon. "Personally I'm convinced that Diebold machines did their black magic."
VERMONT PROGS GAIN SEATS. Vermont Progressive Party candidates won six House seats Nov. 2, picking up two in the traditionally conservative Northeast Kingdom and another in Windsor County while returning two incumbents in Burlington and one in Brattleboro. "Voters were basically looking for a change," dairy farmer Dexter Randall told the Burlington, Vt., Free Press of his victory and the wins by the two other rural Progressives -- Winston Dowland of Holland and Sandy Haas of Rochester. "In rural areas of Vermont -- sure, it is traditional Republican territory, but I think more than identifying as Republicans, many people see themselves as working people," Pearson said. The three rural Progressives, he said, campaigned on pocketbook issues affecting working people. "This is what Progressive politics is all about," Randall said. "It is about working-class people and family farms."
GREEN GAINS, LOSS. Green legislator John Eder was returned to the Maine Statehouse with about 55% of the vote in a three-way race. Democrats had tried to weaken Eder by redrawing district lines. Greens kept their 3-2 City Council majority in Sebastopol, Calif., as incumbent Council members Craig Litwin and Sam Pierce were re-elected. Mark Sanchez is the first Green to be re-elected in San Francisco, finishing third out of 12 candidates for four seats on the Board of Education.
San Francisco Green Ross Mirkarimi won an instant runoff election to replace Green Supervisor Matt Gonzalez. "Greens in California are enormously proud that IRV was implemented in San Francisco," said Peggy Lewis, co-chair of the national party. California Greens also celebrated the defeat of Proposition 62, which would have effectively blocked third party candidates from the ballot. A competing proposition guaranteeing all parties participating in the primary a place on the general election ballot won with a 2 to 1 margin.
Art Goodtimes picked up a third term as San Miguel County, Colo., commissioner with 50.7% in a three-way race.
In Washington, D.C., Statehood Green candidates won six out of seven seats for which they competed in local nonpartisan Advisory Neighborhood Commission races. Green candidates ran in 356 races in the 2004 election. National Green Party voter registration now stands at an all time high of 311,350 in 22 states. See www.gp.org.
Greens also lost a Council member in Hartford, Conn., when Elizabeth Horton Sheff, the first African-American Green Party member elected to a City Council, quit the party. First elected to Hartford City Council on the Green Party line in 1999, Horton Sheff quietly contacted the registrars of voters' office in October and declared herself "unaffiliated," the Hartford Courant reported Oct. 28. "Our priorities are just too different," Horton Sheff said of her now former party. "I'm working on grandparents raising grandchildren. They're working on 'runoff voting.' I'm working on civil rights, their focus is Palestinian rights," she said. "With all that's going on in the city, I need to concentrate on answering the needs of the constituents." Horton Sheff also said she was disenchanted with fellow members' insistence on supporting the Green Party's presidential candidate, David Cobb, in a year when the race for president among the two major party candidates was so close. She said she still plans to work with the state Green Party and parted ways amicably.
JOBS FINALLY SHOW UP. George Bush in October finally produced the jobs numbers he promised way back last year. "What was actually promised was 18 months of this sort of performance. Not one. Still the growth is good news," economist Max Sawicky commented. The Economic Policy Institute noted that the tax cut package, which took effect in July 2003, was supposed to result in the creation of 5.5 million jobs by the end of 2004 -- in other words, 306,000 new jobs each month starting in July 2003. The president's Council of Economic Advisers had projected that the economy would generate 228,000 jobs a month without a tax cut. The October job growth of 337,000 jobs exceeded this target by 31,000. However, there are still 2,738,000 fewer jobs than the administration projected would be created by enactment of its tax cuts. See jobwatch.org.
BRACE FOR CAFTA VOTE. Fair trade advocates are preparing for a Central American Free Trade Agreement vote during the likely lame duck session of Congress. President Bush's re-election doesn't mean passage of CAFTA is inevitable. Preventing Congress from approving this NAFTA expansion to Central America could invalidate the flawed trade model that has gutted US manufacturing, undermined environmental protections and bankrupted family farms, Global Tradewatch reported. Call the Capitol switchboard toll-free 1-800-839-5276 to contact your representative. See tradewatch.org.
VET SUES OVER ARMY RECALL. A Hawai'i man who enlisted in the US Army Reserve in 1987, served three years of active duty during the first Gulf War and received an honorable discharge in 1991, is is suing the secretary of the Army for recalling him to active duty. After remaining on inactive status for five more years, until 1996, David Miyasato married, started an auto window tinting business and this year, he and his wife had their first child. But the Army announced last year that it would be involuntarily activating an estimated 5,600 soldiers to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The Army is tapping members of the "Individual Ready Reserves," military members who have been discharged from the Army, Army Reserve or the Army National Guard, but still have contractual obligations to the military. Miyasato, however, long ago fulfilled his military obligations, his attorney told the Honolulu Advertiser.
SENATE LEADERS CHANGE. In the Senate, which may be the last line of defense to stop bad bills for at least the next two years, Sen. Harry Reid reportedly has lined up the votes to replace Tom Daschle as majority leader, after Daschle was narrowly unseated in South Dakota. Reid, who previously held the No. 2 post as Democratic whip, has a reputation as a master of parliamentary infighting, which is good, but he also has a reputation for willingness to compromise, which could be bad. Reid voted for Bush's tax cuts. He is a strong supporter of Western mining and ranching interests, but otherwise is generally liked by environmentalists. He generally sides with unions on trade votes and scored 70% by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action for votes in 2003 (down from 85% in 2002).
Democrats will have 45 votes, four more than the number needed to sustain a filibuster and keep bad bills such as Social Security privatization from getting out of the Senate. Moving into Reid's old position as whip is Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois (95% ADA).
Senators up for re-election in 2006 include 17 Democrats, one independent and 15 Republicans. Democrats include Daniel Akaka, Hawaii; Jeff Bingaman, N.M.; Robert Byrd, W. V.; Maria Cantwell, Wash.; Tom Carper, Del.; Hillary Clinton, N.Y.; Kent Conrad, N.D.; Jon Corzine, N.J.; Mark Dayton, Minn.; Dianne Feinstein, Calif.; Edward Kennedy, Mass.; Herb Kohl, Wis.; Joe Lieberman, Conn.; Ben Nelson, Neb.; Bill Nelson, Fla.; Paul Sarbanes, Md.; Debbie Stabenow, Mich. Independent Jim Jeffords, Vt., is up, as are Republicans George Allen, Va.; Conrad Burns, Mont.; Lincoln Chafee, R.I.; Mike DeWine, Ohio; John Ensign, Nev.; Bill Frist, Tenn.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas; Jon Kyl, Ariz.; Trent Lott, Miss.; Richard Lugar, Ind.; Rick Santorum, Pa.; Olympia Snowe, Maine; Jim Talent, Mo.; Craig Thomas, Wyo.
UNMASK 'REAL' CONSERVATIVES. Chris Bowers of MyDD.com agued that there is no sense trying to claim Bush is not a real conservative. "In this election, 84% of those people who identify as conservatives voted for George Bush, thereby endorsing his policies." But liberals can point out that, if actions prove their beliefs, "real conservatives" value fiscal insolvency, including irresponsible tax cuts, corporate giveaways, massive spending increases, huge undisclosed pork-barrel spending projects hammered out during congressional conference, rather than actual budget legislation on the Congressional floor that is open to the public and recorded in the public record. ...
"Real conservatives do not value your personal liberties. They like disenfranchising voters, challenging voters and making it more difficult to vote. They like it when the government is in your bedroom. They want to be able to spy on your personal files. They do not respect your right to privacy. They like to tell you who you can and cannot love, and what you can and cannot do to your own body. You know these are conservative values, because conservatives regularly pass laws of this nature.
"Real conservatives like to recklessly use the military They love war, and regularly resort to it as one of their first choices. They have no respect for the lives their policies destroy, as long as they have more bases overseas. They derive their values from violence, and detest peace. They will come up with any excuse possible, and cynically invent several more, to use force whenever possible, wherever possible. You know these are conservative values, because these are the actions conservatives take.
"Real conservatives are bloodthirsty, reckless with our tax money, and want to tell you how to live your life. They are intolerant, warmongering and irresponsible. You know these are real conservatives values, because you can find anyone's beliefs in what they do, not what they say."
START PICKING FIGHTS. Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.com note that from Oct. 1 through the election the NRCC spent $40.4 million (89.5%) opposing Democrats and $4.7 million for Republican candidates. The DCCC spent $4.8 million opposing Republicans and $22.6 million (82.4%) promoting Democrats. "Seven cycles in a row now, the Democrats in the House have gotten their teeth kicked in by the thugs in the NRCC, and what does the DCCC do? Play nice, and expect that the historical cycles and poll indicators will propel them into the majority," Armstrong commented. "Democrats in the House continue to wait, while the Republicans find ways to beat the polls, make history and gain more power.
"If the Democrats in the House want to regain the majority before the next historical cycle gives them a break in 2012, they will start picking a fight. Not in the halls of Congress, but out in the street, out in the [congressional districts]."
ELECTION QUESTIONS. William Rivers Pitt, who posted his own analysis, "Worse than 2000: Tuesday's Electoral Disaster" at Truthout.org on 11/8/04, noted that a poster named "TruthIsAll" on a DemocraticUnderground.com forum laid out the questionable election results in succinct fashion: "To believe that Bush won the election, you must also believe: That the exit polls were wrong; that Zogby's 5 p.m. election day calls for Kerry winning Ohio and Florida were wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000 final poll); that Harris' last-minute polling for Kerry was wrong (he was exactly right in his 2000 final poll); that incumbent rule #1 -- undecideds break for the challenger -- was wrong; that the 50% rule -- an incumbent doesn't do better than his final polling -- was wrong; that the approval rating rule -- an incumbent with less than 50% approval will most likely lose the election -- was wrong; that it was just a coincidence that the exit polls were correct where there was a paper trail and incorrect (+5% for Bush) where there was no paper trail; that the surge in new young voters had no positive effect for Kerry; that Kerry did worse than Gore against an opponent who lost the support of scores of Republican newspapers who were for Bush in 2000; that voting machines made by Republicans with no paper trail and with no software publication, which have been proven by thousands of computer scientists to be vulnerable in scores of ways, were not tampered with in this election."
BAN GERRYMANDERING. Kevin Drum of WashingtonMonthly.com suggested that Dems propose a constitutional amendment to ban gerrymandering. "It's big, it's simple, it could draw a lot of attention, and it would be tough for Republicans to make a principled case against it. Even if it were impossible to get passed, there's not much downside to being on the side of the angels on this."
EXIT POLLS. Dick Morris, the cross-partisan political consultant and Fox News regular, wrote in The Hill: "Exit polls are almost never wrong. They eliminate the two major potential fallacies in survey research by correctly separating actual voters from those who pretend they will cast ballots but never do and by substituting actual observation for guesswork in judging the relative turnout of different parts of the state. ...
"So, according to ABC-TVs exit polls, for example, Kerry was slated to carry Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Iowa, all of which Bush carried. The only swing state the network had going to Bush was West Virginia, which the president won by 10 points.
"To screw up one exit poll is unheard of. To miss six of them is incredible. It boggles the imagination how pollsters could be that incompetent and invites speculation that more than honest error was at play here."
URBAN/RURAL DIVIDE CONFUSED. Matt Yglesias noted that Gallup's post-election poll ran counter to the conventional wisdom as it showed Bush improved his share among suburban voters (51% in 2000, 54% in 2004) and among urban voters (35% in 2000, 44% in 2004) while doing worse among rural voters (60% in 2000, down to 54% in 2004). Similarly, while Bush gained among all categories of educational attainment, his biggest improvement was among those holding postgraduate degrees (47%, up from 43%) while his smallest gain was among those with high school or less (46%, up from 45%).
NO GREAT LOSS. Bradford Plummer wrote for MotherJones.com Nov. 5 that the Democrats' position in Congress, wasn't weakened by that much. "Fake Republican Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) was replaced with a real Republican -- a wash. In Lousiana, John Breaux, a Democrat who supported much of Bush's first-term agenda, will be replaced with a Republican -- another wash. Other than that, the Republicans gained four seats (South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, South Dakota) and lost two seats (Colorado, Illinois). That's a slightly bigger majority, but it's certainly no guarantee that Republican legislation like the much-ballyhooed energy bill -- which was sunk by the 108th Congress -- is suddenly a lock to pass.
"Democrats in the Senate still have the ability to filibuster Republican legislation, though much of that depends on how unified the minority party can remain. No doubt Democrats are already nervously looking ahead to 2006, when a number of swing-state Senators -- Kent Conrad (ND), Ben Nelson (NE), Mark Dayton (MN), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Bill Nelson (FL), and Herbert Kohl (D-WI) -- are up for re-election. Conversely, there are very few Republicans in danger of losing their seats. This sort of imbalance may convince Democrats that they should avoid blocking President Bush for fear of being tarred as obstructionist liberals in 2006.
"It shouldn't. The reality is that Democrats will be tarred as obstructionist liberals no matter what in 2006. Back in the 2002 midterm elections, Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was ruthlessly targeted by the Republicans, even though he was one of the most conservative and pro-Bush Senators in Washington. Acquiescence wins few friends. In the long term, Democrats should realize that they will always be in a disadvantage in the Senate, since there are fewer blue states than red states. Expecting that cozying up to Republicans will ensure re-election is, in the long term, a losing strategy.
"Still, the challenge for the minority party will be considerable. Bush's mandate, whether it reflects the will of the people or not, will no doubt go far in advancing his conservative agenda. As Josh Marshall writes, Democrats now resemble a parliamentary opposition that is in a weak position to block legislation; hence, their main goal should be to place 'alternatives on the table that the party will be able use as contrasts to frame the next two elections.' If they can do so effectively, Democrats may soon find themselves with a mandate of their own."
COST-EFFECTIVE CHALLENGES. In Texas, Tom DeLay had to spend $2 million to survive an underfunded challenge by Richard Morrison, who raised only $60,000, in a suburban Houston district. The Hammer's win with 55% was his closest call so far, Chris Bowers of MyDD.com noted. In Colorado, Stan Matsunaka (D) spend $600,000 and forced Rep. Marylin Musgrave (R) to spend $3 million and the National Republican Congressional Committee to spend $2 million to back her up. She survived 51-44.
LATIN ADVERSARY. Elsewhere, supporters of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez won governorships in at least 18 of 22 states, while two races undergo a recount. Mayoral candidates allied with Chavez led in more than 80% of the races, as 270 of the 335 municipalities went to pro-Chavez candidates. The sweep builds on the momentum created by Chavez's 18-point victory in the Aug. 15 referendum. The regional election results will allow the country's popular education, health and land reform programs to expand in the year ahead. It also should reinforce the resistance to a Free Trade Agreement for the Americas.
STATE GAINS. For the first time since Reconstruction, Republican majorities were elected to the Tennessee Senate and the Georgia House, where the GOP overcame a 27-seat gap in a single day. The GOP also took the Oklahoma House, which Democrats had ruled since the 1920s, and the Indiana House, which has bounced back and forth. But Democrats, performing better at the local level than statewide or nationally, took both chambers in Colorado, as well as the Vermont House and the Senates in Oregon and Washington. In hard-fought Iowa they earned a Senate tie with Republicans, and in Minnesota they used an aggressive voter-turnout operation to make dramatic gains. Minnesota's 77% turnout, the highest since 1960, helped the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party narrow a 28-seat Republican majority in the House to just two seats. A recount is scheduled in a race where Republican Judy Soderstrom finished 94 votes ahead of DFL opponent Tim Faust among 20,000 votes cast. Before the election, the Washington Post noted, with nearly 5,800 seats up for grabs, Republicans controlled 21 states and Democrats, 17, while 11 were split between the parties. Nebraska's legislature is nonpartisan. Democrats, with Wednesday's unofficial results, appear likely to control 19 states and Republicans 20, with 10 states divided.