Archive for the ‘Election 2006’ Category

Dem senator suffers stroke [UPDATE: or maybe not]; Senate majority at risk

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Breaking news:

Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota suffered a possible stroke Wednesday and was taken to a Washington hospital, his office said.

Johnson became disoriented during a call with reporters at midday, stuttering in response to a question. He appeared to recover, asking if there were any additional questions before ending the call.

If he should be unable to continue to serve, it could halt the scheduled Democratic takeover of the Senate. Democrats won a 51-49 majority in the November election. South Dakota’s governor, who would appoint any temporary replacement, is a Republican.

Hopefully he’ll be okay, first of all for human reasons and secondarily for political ones.

UPDATE: The Argus Leader quotes South Dakota’s at-large congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth, as saying she believes it as a “severe stroke.” But other reports say Johnson was conscious when he went to the hospital.

More from Political Wire, The Hotline (which says that any temporary replacement would serve until 2008), TAPPED (which says there’s an ongoing debate about whether that’s true), Althouse (who emphasizes that “in modern history the Senate has never declared a seat vacant as a result of a senator’s physical condition”), The Corner, RedState, Outside the Beltway, Malkin, Kos, TPM, MyDD, Kevin Drum, Wonkette, and two right-leaning South Dakota blogs: Jay Reding and South Dakota Politics. Needless to say, everyone — regardless of party and ideology — says they’re hoping for a speedy recovery, and I’m sure they are.

MAJOR UPDATE: Good news: Sen. Johnson reportedly “is speaking and is expected to be fine.” There are conflicting reports about what happened: his spokesman now says he didn’t have a stroke or a heart attack, but other sources say it was a stroke. A commenter at South Dakota War College (headline: “Possibly not a stroke, but an as yet to be diagnosed illness?”) offers a possible explanation that could help explain those conflicting reports: a Transient Ischemic Attack, which some people might describe as a “stroke” and others might not. But I’m just speculating.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s the latest from Reuters:

Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota underwent surgery on Wednesday, a source said, after suffering what a doctor called “symptoms of a stroke.” The actions prompted concerns about his fellow Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the incoming Senate.

While there was no immediate word on the condition of the 59-year-old senator, the source, who is familiar with Johnson’s situation, said surgeons sought to remedy an unspecified medical problem.

Just hours after Johnson was admitted to George Washington University Hospital, a spokeswoman for him said the senator had not suffered a stroke. She provided no other details.

In a statement later, Johnson’s communications director Julianne Fisher said: “Senator Johnson continues to undergo testing and procedures at George Washington University Hospital. We expect to have more information in the morning.”

John Eisold, attending physician of the U.S. Capitol, issued a statement of his own, saying Johnson was admitted to the hospital “with the symptoms of a stroke.”

South Dakota Politics has more.

Dem wins in Texas; Tony Badger clinches House Contest

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Always the groomsman, never the groom, Patrick Cullen is a runner-up again.

Tony Badger, a Rutgers alum, edged Cullen for first place in the BrendanLoy.com House Contest as Ciro Rodriguez upset Henry Bonilla in Texas’s 23rd District runoff Tuesday by a surprising 54% to 46% margin, bringing the Democratic net gain in the House to 30 seats — exactly what Badger predicted.

Cullen, who lost the Senate contest by a margin of 227 votes out of 1,134,780 cast in Connecticut, stands to lose the House contest by one seat out of 435. He predicted a 29-seat Dem pickup.

Here are the final House contest standings, with a proviso that’s noted after the jump.

(more…)

Texas election today could decide BrendanLoy.com House contest

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006


The white seats are undecided: TX-23 and FL-13.

Voters in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District go to the polls today for a runoff election between Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla and Democratic challenger Ciro Rodriguez. Bonilla received 48.6% of the vote on November 7, while Rodriguez got just 19.9% — but he was trailed by a whole panoply of Democrats whose vote totals, combined with his, add up to 48.7%. (An independent candidate got 2.7%.) Polls show a close race in today’s runoff, with Bonilla slightly ahead.

Results will be available here. The polls close at 8:00 PM EST.

If Rodriguez pulls the upset, Tony Badger will win the BrendanLoy.com House Contest. If Bonilla prevails, Patrick Cullen will win — unless GOP incumbent Vern Buchanan’s apparent 369-vote victory over Democratic challenger Christine Jennings in Florida’s 13th Congressional District is overturned.

Jennings has sued, claiming errors caused by electronic voting machines cost her the election, and Dem party chairman Howard Dean has called for a new election and urged Democrats in Congress to deny Buchanan the seat unless a revote occurs. “This election is not valid,” Dean said. “You cannot seat someone if you don’t have an election that’s valid.” In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times that was published yesterday, Jennings said, “I am not giving up until we have an answer about what happened in this race.” (The Times‘s headline reads, “Candidate vows not to give up vote fight,” but an early edition headlined the same article, “The woman who refuses to admit she didn’t win.” The Times has editorialized that Jennings should concede.)

Anyway, a Rodriguez win in Texas tonight would make the Florida battle moot for BrendanLoy.com House Contest purposes. But if Bonilla wins in Texas, the contest will be decided by the final outcome in the Sunshine State. If Buchanan ultimately prevails there, Cullen would win the contest; if Jennings wins, Badger would be victorious.

Badger predicted a 30-seat Democratic gain in the House — the largest gain predicted by any contestant. Cullen predicted a 29-seat gain, which is where things stand presently, barring Dem pickups in either Texas or Florida.

Cullen was the runner-up in the BrendanLoy.com Senate Contest, which Greg Rauen won by a margin of 227 votes in Connecticut.

UPDATE: Rodriguez and Badger win!

Greg Rauen wins Senate Contest

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

It’s official: Notre Dame 3L Greg Rauen has edged out Patrick Cullen in the BrendanLoy.com Senate Contest — by a margin of 227 votes for Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s official canvass of vote was completed yesterday, and the final results are now online. They show no major changes from a week ago: Joe Lieberman beat Ned Lamont by 113,251 votes out of 1,134,780 cast — a percentage margin of 9.979996123% (or, rounded off, 9.98%).

In the BrendanLoy.com contest, Rauen predicted that Lieberman would win by 8%; Cullen said he’d win by 12%. Rauen was thus ever-so-slightly closer to the correct margin than Cullen. Because they both predicted a nationwide Democratic net gain of six seats, and both correctly picked all eleven closely contested states (the “first tiebreaker”), the race was decided by the “second tiebreaker” — Lieberman’s margin over Lamont.

A margin of 113,478 votes would have been exactly 10 percent, splitting the difference between Rauen’s and Cullen’s predictions (and causing the race to come down to the “third tiebreaker,” Rauen’s more accurate prediction of Alan Schlesinger’s percentage total). Lieberman’s actual margin, 113,251, was 227 votes less than that. This means a shift of 114 voters from Lamont to Lieberman would have thrown the BrendanLoy.com contest to Cullen.

Anyway, congrats to Greg on his victory! Full standings can be seen here.

Cullen is still alive in the BrendanLoy.com House Contest, which remains undecided pending two remaining undecided races: Texas’s 23rd District, where the Republican incumbent faces a runoff on December 12, and Florida’s 13th District, where the Republican incumbent apparently won by 0.16% but his Democratic opponent has the challenged the result in court due to possible voting-machine error. If the Republican candidates ultimately win both races, Cullen will win the contest. If the Democrat wins either or both, Tony Badger will win.

A Rauen comeback? Lieberman by 9.98%!

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Back on November 8, I wrote:

Lieberman’s margin of 114,773 votes over Lamont is 10.15% of the total number cast — which, in the BrendanLoy.com Senate contest “second tiebreaker,â€? is closer to Patrick Cullen’s prediction of a 12% margin than to Greg Rauen’s prediction of an 8% margin. However, because 10.15% is so close to the midway point between those predictions (10%)…it will probably be impossible to definitively declare a winner until…the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office completes the official canvass in late November.

Well, I’m not sure if this is the final, official canvass, but I just looked up the official results as of November 15:

Lieberman (CFL) 564,086
Lamont (D) 450,837
Schlesinger (R) 109,196
Ferrucci (G) 5,922
Knibbs (CC) 4,638
Vassar (write-in) 80
Joy (write-in) 3

That’s a total of 1,134,762 votes cast… and a Lieberman margin of 113,249, which translates to a percentage margin of 9.97997818%. That would mean Rauen wins the BrendanLoy.com Senate Contest!

If the total number of votes cast is correct, a Lieberman margin of 113,477 or more would mean a Cullen victory; a margin of 113,476 or less would mean a Rauen victory. So just 228 votes separate the current situation from a Cullen win.

Like I said, though, I’m not certain if that’s the official final canvass. I may have to call the Secretary of the State’s office to find out, or ask my dad to look into it. :) So I’m not declaring a winner yet. But I do know the above-linked results are more up-to-date than the CNN results I linked to previously, because the Newington tabulation error is corrected in them. (My dad actually e-mail the Newington town clerk’s office to tell them about that error.)

In the BrendanLoy.com House Contest, meanwhile, Cullen is still poised to win, with four races still undecided. A Nun Mouse was eliminated when the Dems clinched GA-12, but Tony Badger still has a chance to win if any of the four undecided races — all currently led by the Republicans — go Democratic. What’s happening in those races?

  • In OH-15, where the vote-counting was delayed by the Ohio State-Michigan game, the Republican led by 3,717 votes as of Tuesday, with 19,000 provisional ballots still to be counted. Results are expected next week.

  • In NC-8, a machine recount cut the Republican’s lead from around 450 votes to 329 votes, and now the provisional ballot count has reportedly reduced it further, to 179 votes. The Republican is urging his challenger to concede; the Democrat wants a manual recount. According to UPI: “Johnnie McLean, the chief deputy director of North Carolina’s board of elections, said ballots in 3 percent of the precincts will be inspected by elections officials Nov. 29 and Nov. 30. A district-wide manual recount will be ordered if the sampling reveals a statistical inconsistency, McLean said.”

  • In FL-13, the counting and recounting is over, and the Republican has been declared the winner by 369 votes — but the Democrat is challenging the result in court beacuse of that massive undervote in one county, which may have been caused by machine error, and may have cost the Democrat the elction.

  • Last but not least, in TX-23, there will be a December 12 runoff between the incumbent Republican and the highest-vote-getting Democrat in what was a crowded field of challengers.

So, we won’t know the winner of the BrendanLoy.com House Contest until December 12 at the earliest — unless one of the other apparent Republican victories is overturned in favor of the Democrat before then. Badger only needs one of the above four races to go Democratic. Cullen needs all four to stay Republican in order to maintin his edge.

Courtney wins CT-2 by 91 votes

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

The recount is over, and Democratic challenger Joe Courtney is the winner in Connecticut’s 2nd congressional district, edging Republican incumbent Rob Simmons by 91 votes, or less than 0.04%.

Technically, Simmons has until next Tuesday to file a complaint challenging the results in court, but I’ve heard of no controversies that would make such an endeavour likely to succeed, so I assume he will concede now that the recount is completed. Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow morning to officially announce the results. [UPDATE: According to the above-linked article, Simmons will hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon. “He’ll be announcing his intentions,” said the state GOP chairman. “Whatever his decision, it will be in the best interest of the 2nd District.” The same party chairman is also quoted as saying — notably using the past tense — that Simmons “ran a great campaign” and “served with distinction in the 2nd District and he can hold his head up very high.” That certainly makes it sound like a concession is imminent. However, I was wrong about there being “no controversies.” Again quoting from the above-linked article, “Simmons’ campaign raised concerns about the vote tallies in Norwich, New London and Chester where it appeared more people voted than were checked off by the poll workers on Election Day or filed absentee ballots,” and Bysiewicz is quoted as saying that both sides “certainly appear to have [legal action] in mind” in the event of a loss. So, we’ll see.]

In addition to making Chris Shays the lone Republican in Connecticut’s five-person House delegation, Courtney’s victory increases the Democrats’ net gain in the House to 29 seats, which is exactly what Patrick Cullen predicted in the BrendanLoy.com House Contest. If nothing changes in the seven seats that are still undecided, Cullen will win the House Contest — possibly completing a sweep of the BrendanLoy.com Midterm Election Contests. (He’ll win the Senate Contest, too, if the official canvass later this month confirms that Joe Lieberman won by more than 10%.)

A Nun Mouse and Joe Badger still have a chance to beat Cullen in the House contest, though. If Republican Max Burns, who currently trails Democratic incumbent John Barrow by 930 votes (0.65%) in GA-12, requests a recount (which is likely to happen either tonight or tomorrow) and makes a comeback to win the seat (which appears highly unlikely), A Nun Mouse — who predicted a Dem net gain of 28 seats — would win the contest, assuming the Republicans hold onto their slim leads in NM-1, NC-8, OH-2, OH-15 and WY-AL, and assuming the Republican incumbent wins the December runoff in TX-23. On the other hand, if Barrow holds onto GA-12 and the Democratic candidate in even one of the above-listed Republican-held seats makes a comeback, thus pushing the Dems’ net gain to 30 or better, Joe Badger would win the contest.

P.S. NRO‘s Jim Geraghty crunches the numbers and concludes: “There was a shift to the Republicans in the closing days of the campaign; but it was only enough to reduce a 50 seat shellacking to a 30 seat shellacking.”

UPDATE: It looks like the Republican will win Wyoming, too. That would reduce the number of undecided seats to six: GA-12 (Dem lead), NM-1, NC-8, OH-2 and OH-15 (GOP lead), and TX-23 (GOP plurality; December runoff).

Courtney’s lead at 82; final decision tonight

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

According to the Hartford Courant, Democratic challenger Joe Courtney now has a 82-vote lead over Republican incumbent Rob Simmons in Connecticut’s 2nd District. The recount is expected to be completed tonight:

The stomach-churning ride is expected to screech to a halt late tonight, when every community in the sprawling, 65-town district will have completed its mandated recount. By law, the municipalities have until midnight Wednesday to report their revised tallies to the secretary of the state’s office, but 56 had completed the process by Monday night and the final nine will do so today.

The Courant has the deadline wrong — it’s midnight Thursday (i.e., one minute after 11:59 p.m. Wednesday), not midnight tonight (er, tomorrow morning) — but I assume “the final nine will do so today” is based on what election officials are saying about the actual progress of their recounts, not on the Courant‘s misinterpretation of the state election calendar. (Hat tip: TPM Cafe.)

A win by Courtney would mathematically eliminate Joe Mama from the BrendanLoy.com House Contest, and would make Patrick Cullen the odds-on favorite to win. (Previous post here.) Cullen is also the odds-on favorite to win the Senate Contest, pending the announcement of Joe Lieberman’s final, official margin of victory.

Meanwhile, the number of undecided House races (including CT-2) is down from ten to nine, after the Democrat conceded in WA-08. (Hat tip: My Boaz’s RUth.) The Democratic candidate has the lead in the one undecided Democrat-held seat, and the Republican candidates have the lead in the seven undecided Republican-held seats (excluding the Simmons-Courtney race), so if nothing changes, the Dems’ net gain would stay at 29 seats (assuming Courtney wins). However, one of the seven undecided Republican-held seats, TX-23, will require a December runoff.

Lloyd Carr lloses it

Monday, November 13th, 2006

No one knows why, exactly, but Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is not happy with ABC after a pregame interview apparently went awry earlier today. Seems he “stormed out” of the locker room where the interviews were taking place. Hmm. Did Brent Musburger reveal that he’d given Chad Henne’s hand signals away to Jim Tressel? Did Lee Corso come barging into the interview wearing Brutus Buckeye headgear? Regardless of the cause, it’s nice to have a bit of intrigue to get Ohio State-Michigan Week off to a running start. Just one request: can we get John L. Smith involved somehow? Please? Maybe he can slap Carr or something? I know he’s not relevant, but c’mon, he’s damn entertaining.

In other Game of the Century-related news, the Buckeyes and Wolverines are bringing democracy to a screeching halt:

[In Ohio’s 15th congressional district,] Rep. Deborah Pryce, a member of the House Republican leadership, leads Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy race by 3,536 votes. Thousands of provisional ballots will be counted beginning Nov. 19 – a day later than normal in deference to the Ohio State-Michigan football game Nov. 18.

Heh.

Corrected math error cuts Courtney’s lead from 0.069% to 0.027%

Monday, November 13th, 2006

The Democratic candidate’s slim lead in the closest congressional race in America just got even slimmer:

Democrat Joe Courtney’s lead in the 2nd Congressional District dropped to 66 votes Monday after officials in Lebanon discovered a math error that had given him 100 extra votes over Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, an election official said.

“It was human error,” said Lebanon election moderator John Bendoraitis. “It was strictly misreading one number on one machine.” …

Bendoraitis said the error happened when an official on election night read the vote total on one of six machines as 363 votes for Courtney when it should have been 263. With the revised total, Courtney received 1,353 votes in Lebanon, compared with 1,585 for Simmons.

More than 30 of the 65 towns in the district were recounting their votes Monday. Others had already completed their recounts, and the rest must finish by the weekend. [Actually, they must finish by 11:59 PM Wednesday, not “by the weekend.” -ed.]

(Hat tip: my dad.)

The original, initial tally was 121,316 to 121,149, a difference of 167 votes. Now it’s reportedly 121,221 to 121,155, a difference of 66 votes. (Aside from the 100-vote counting error in Lebanon, Courtney has picked up five stray votes, Simmons six.)

Sixty-six votes? Now this is getting into the sort of territory where it’s close even by 2nd District standards. (The same district had an election in 1994 that produced a 2-vote margin after the initial count, which eventually widened to 21 after a recount.)

Anyway, please, no griping, Democrats. This is precisely what recounts are for: to correct errors like this. (Hi, Dino Rossi.) Human error will always happen, and in a razor-close election, it is imperative that we correct as much of that error as humanly possible, in order to come as close as we possibly can to an accurate tally. Kudos to the Lebanon election officials for catching this. (Now, if only they would stop launching rockets at Israel… oh, wait, wrong Lebanon, never mind.)

In addition to affecting the size of Nancy Pelosi’s newfound majority, the Courtney-Simmons race could be crucial in determining the winner of the BrendanLoy.com House Contest. Currently, the Dems have achieved a 28-seat gain in the House, which could potentially go as low as 27 or as high as 37, depending on the outcome of the ten undecided races, nine of which are potential Dem “pickups” while one is a seat the Dems are trying to “hold.” If the Dems’ final edge is 27 seats, Joe Mama wins; if it’s 28, A Nun Mouse wins; if it’s 29, Patrick Cullen—also the likely winner of the Senate contest—wins; and it’s if 30 or greater, Tony Badger wins.

Connecticut’s 2nd District is one of just two out of those ten undecided House races in which the Democratic candidate is currently leading. (The other is the attempted “hold” in Georgia.) A win for Courtney, if confirmed by the recount, would eliminate Joe Mama from contention and would increase the Dems’ 28-seat gain to 29, pending the outcome of the other races. (Apropos of which — and speaking of Dino Rossi — it looks like Washington’s King County could throw another election to a Democrat. Maybe.)

P.S. CT Bob and My Left Nutmeg are blogging about the 2nd District race.

P.P.S. Here’s an Associated Press roundup of the 10 undecided races. (They actually exclude FL-13, which the AP has “called” but which will probably end up in court, and include LA-2, which will go to a runoff between two Democrats and thus doesn’t affect the balance of power. So I think TPM Cafe’s list is better.)

UPDATE: Here is a possible eleventh undecided race, another potential Dem pickup. Unlikely, but possible.

Virginia Senate update

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Two photos from this afternoon’s Virginia Senate race press conferences.

Rumsfeld.app

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Rumsfeld resigns OS X

Rumsfeld’s “resignation” as a Mac OS X app by BoingBoing reader Brian Topping.

Another election debacle in Florida?

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

The media often exaggerates the nefariousness of the “undervote,” some of which is intentional and quite natural. But it sounds like there’s a real problem in Sarasota County, Florida:

A review of Sarasota County voting results shows that in almost every precinct a high percentage of voters didn’t cast ballots in the hotly contested 13th Congressional District, a trend that likely affected the outcome of the race.

Democrat Christine Jennings lost to Republican Vern Buchanan by 368 votes, making it the second closest congressional race in the country. [Connecticut’s 2nd CD is the closest. Woohoo! We’re #1! We’re #1! -ed.]

More than 18,000 voters who showed up at the polls voted in other races but not the Buchanan-Jennings race.

That means nearly 13 percent of voters did not vote for either candidate — a massive undercount compared with other counties, including Manatee, which reported a 2 percent undervote. [Oh, the Hugh Manatee! -ed.]

If the missing votes had broken for Jennings by the same percentage as the counted votes in Sarasota County, the Democrat would have won the race by about 600 votes instead of losing by 368, according to a Herald-Tribune review. Even if the undervote had been 8 percent — more than three times what it was in Manatee — Jennings would have won by one vote.

While some have speculated that people simply chose not to vote in the District 13 race, many voters say the unusual undervote was caused by badly designed touch-screen ballots, which they say hid the race or made it hard to verify if they had cast their vote.

More than 120 Sarasota County voters contacted the Herald-Tribune to report such problems, almost all regarding the Jennings-Buchanan race. …

A review of precinct-by-precinct voting results in Sarasota County shows that voting problems were widespread and cut across party lines. Virtually every precinct had relatively high undervotes. Among the worst was La Casa Mobile Home Park, a retirement park for seniors where 30 percent of people who showed up at the polls did not have a vote recorded in the Buchanan-Jennings race.

Meanwhile, the estimated undervote in DeSoto County was 1 percent based on the number of people who voted in the governor’s race versus the District 13 race. In Hardee County, the undervote was roughly 5 percent.

The review of Sarasota County results showed high numbers of undervotes occurred in precincts regardless of whether Jennings or Buchanan was the preferred candidate.

Although some blame the undervote on anger at the mudslinging in the race and general dislike of Buchanan by some other Republicans, that seems unlikely given that the undervote was not repeated in other counties and was not heavier in strong Republican precincts. In fact, in precincts that went for newly-elected Gov. Charlie Crist, the number of undervotes was slightly less than in precincts that went for his Democratic challenger.

In addition, absentee voters, who didn’t have to use the voting machines, had only an estimated 1.8 percent undervote.

Aubrey Jewett, a University of Central Florida political scientist who specializes in Florida and congressional politics, said he finds it hard to believe so many voters would intentionally refuse to vote in the high-profile race but then cast ballots for little known races such as hospital board. The hospital board race in Sarasota had more votes than the District 13 race.

“It’s possible people just declined to vote, but it doesn’t seem likely to me,” Jewett said. “It’s certainly a very unusual situation.”

(Hat tip: Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog, who says, “Do not be surprised if a court orders a revote.”)

To me, it seems like the key question, legally, is what exactly it means that the voting machines “hid the race or made it hard to verify if [voters] had cast their vote.” If we’re simply talking about a confusing electronic ballot design, then this situation is analogous to Palm Beach County in 2000: a tragic but unfixable case where the intent of the voters clearly was not accurately reflected by the results, thanks to voter error that would not have occurred if the ballot design had been better, but where nevertheless there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s fundamentally still voter error, not machine error. On the other hand, if we’re talking about an actual machine malfunction of some sort, then a re-vote (always an option of last resort) might indeed be appropriate.

Allen to concede Virginia race at 3pm EST

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

So says Hotline.

With Burns already having conceded in Montana, this means it’s really & truly over. Dems 51, Repubs 49. Woohoo! (Hat tip: A&A.)

This just reinforces the point that I made Tuesday morning:

[T]he odds of a truly close Senate race are also lower [than the odds of a truly close House race], simply because there are fewer of them.

Think back to the 2004 election. By shortly after midnight, it was clear Kerry had lost. Oh, he delayed conceding until the next morning, because he didn’t want to repeat Gore’s “premature concession� mistake, but it was clear to any neutral observer that Bush had won Ohio. With races that are Ohio-close, there’s no need to “be prepared to wait� for longer than a few hours. Only with races that are Florida-close (or in that ballpark) is the wait going to be REALLY long. And pre-election polls simply do not have the precision to differentiate between Ohio-close and Florida-close. But the odds are always against Florida-close because it’s just so numerically unlikely.

My point is, the odds of having to wait for days and days to know who has the majority are actually far lower than most people believe. It certainly could happen, but it’s by no means likely.

As it turns out, Virginia was somewhere between Ohio-close (118,601 votes, 2.1%) and Florida-close (537 votes, 0.009%). Percentage-wise, Webb’s 8,787-vote, 0.37% margin is roughly six times closer than Ohio and 41 times less close than Florida. Fittingly, we had to wait almost 48 hours for a concession — longer than Ohio, much shorter than Florida. However, much like with Ohio in 2004, it was clear to any neutral observer by the wee hours of the morning Wednesday that Webb was almost certainly going to win.

Most people don’t realize what a truly freakish event Florida 2000 really was. Certainly, the Allen-Webb race was a very close election. Indeed, it’s close enough that Allen could have demanded a pointless recount, if he’d wanted to.* But realistically, an 8,787-vote margin simply isn’t going to disappear. In other words, this very close election wasn’t nearly close enough to send us in Florida-style chaos. Rick Hasen was right: the “margin of litigation” is “in the hundreds or low thousands.” And the odds of a statewide election with national implications having such a margin are incredibly remote. This is the closest we’ve come since Florida 2000, and yet the margin was still five or six times too wide to really make it interesting.

Now, Connecticut’s 2nd District, on the other hand, that’s a close race. Possibly the closest in the country, in fact. Of course, as Joe Courtney (D) says, “We’re up by 167 votes, which in the 2nd CD is a landslide.” Heh. The deadline for towns to complete their recounts is midnight next Wednesday.

*Please, no Al Gore references here. James Taranto is wrong when he says that the question in Virginia was “whether Virginia’s George Allen decides to take his razor-thin loss gracefully like Richard Nixon or brutishly like Al Gore.” The 2000 race in Florida was MUCH, MUCH CLOSER than the losses by Allen and Nixon. Fighting on would have pointless for Allen or Nixon; for Gore, it was by no means pointless. At the start of the recount, there was probably — looking only at the votes, not the political dynamics — a 55% chance Bush would end up winning and a 45% chance Gore would end up winning, or something like that. Bush’s initial, pre-recount margin of “victory” was really statistically insignificant. Thus, it was completely realistic for Gore to think that a full Florida recount might win him the presidency. If you think Bush wouldn’t have done precisely the same thing, you’re delusional. Washington gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, faced with a Florida-close loss in 2004, proved that Republicans are no better than Democrats when it comes to reacting “brutishly” to razor-thin losses. In fact, Rossi was far more “brutish” than Gore, continuing to fight after a full manual recount was complete (something Gore never got) and making baseless allegations of fraud. Anyway, if Webb was only up by 537 votes, there’s no way Allen would be conceding, nor should he. The reason he’s bowing out now isn’t because he’s more “graceful” than Gore — it’s because he has no chance of winning if he fights on, whereas Gore did.

AP: Webb wins Virginia, Dems take Senate

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

The Associated Press has called Virginia for Democrat Jim Webb:

The Associated Press contacted election officials in all 134 localities where voting occurred, obtaining updated numbers Wednesday. About half the localities said they had completed their postelection canvassing and nearly all had counted outstanding absentees. Most were expected to be finished by Friday.

The new AP count showed Webb with 1,172,538 votes and Allen with 1,165,302, a difference of 7,236. Virginia has had two statewide vote recounts in modern history, but both resulted in vote changes of no more than a few hundred votes.

Coupled with the call of Montana earlier today, this means the Dems will take over the Senate with a 51-49 majority. (Well, technically 49-49, plus the Socialist Sanders and the, uh, Liebermanite Lieberman.)

Congratulations to Webb and the Dems, of course. But also, congratulations to Patrick Cullen, Marty West, Ken Stern, David Mathues, Greg Rauen, Barry Caro, Nug, Joe Loy and Victoria Lopez, all of whom correctly predicted a Democratic net gain of 6 seats in the BrendanLoy.com Senate Contest. And congratulations especially to Cullen, Stern, Rauen and Loy, all of whom predicted all 11 individual battleground states correctly. Nice job!

So, who wins? As explained here, it all comes down to Joe Lieberman’s margin of victory, and as explained here, it’s too close to call between Rauen and Cullen — though Cullen has the edge at the moment, pending final results that won’t be known for certain until Connecticut’s official canvass is completed in late November.

History repeats itself…

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

We’ve all heard the line before about history repeating itself.

Last week Nicraguans elected Daniel Ortega as their new President. Ortega was a member and leader of the Sandinista rebel group involved in the Nicaraguan civil war of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Today, on the heels of the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, President Bush has nominated Robert Gates to replace him. Gates is a former Director of the CIA and as a Deputy Director was involved along with Oliver North and William Casey in the U.S. backing of the Contra’s who opposed the Sandinista’s.

Thats right, to quote Wonkette, “History doesn’t just repeat itself; it repeats itself with the same exact people.”