Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Senate is Finally Final … Almost

Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) was declared the winner of the 2010 Senate contest with still more than 17% of the vote remaining to be counted. The 46,000+ vote margin made it impossible for challenger Dino Rossi (R) to close the gap. Rossi released a statement conceding the election. Campaign Manager Pat Shortridge indicated that the turnout in the Democratic stronghold of King County (Seattle) was greater than 70%, a huge number for a mid-term election and an obstacle that Rossi could not overcome.

The Murray victory ends all of the Senate races from a partisan perspective. It is still unclear if Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will retain her seat via the write-in process, but it is a foregone conclusion that the eventual winner will either be she or the Republican nominee Joe Miller. You will remember that Miller defeated Murkowski in the GOP primary. Though it will be two weeks or more before this election is finally determined, it does appear that Murkowski is well positioned to eventually declare victory.

The final count will show 53 Democrats in the new Senate versus 47 Republicans; a net gain of six seats for the GOP. Republicans won 24 of the 37 Senate elections, but needed 28 to claim the majority. They converted six Democratic states, but only defeated two incumbents – Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Democrats won zero Republican states, as the GOP was successful in holding all of the seats they previously controlled.

On the gubernatorial side, several more races were called yesterday. Former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) was declared the winner in Oregon, defeating ex-NBA basketball player Chris Dudley (R). Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) eked out a very close win over state Sen. Bill Brady (R) in a race that polling suggested was headed for a different conclusion. In Vermont, Democrats successfully converted the open Republican seat back to their column as state Senate President Peter Shumlin won a razor-thin victory over GOP Lt. Governor Brian Dubie.

Two states are still outstanding: Connecticut and Minnesota. Confusion reins in Connecticut as election officials and media outlets attempt to determine the actual vote count. Democrat Dan Malloy claims to be ahead in the race as most of the uncounted ballots come from the city of Bridgeport, which is a Democratic fortress area. Former Sen. Mark Dayton’s (D-MN) 8,000+ vote margin will likely stand, but the Minnesota election appears headed for a recount.

Should the Democrats win the final two races, the count will end with 29 Republican governors, 20 Democrats and 1 Independent (former Sen. Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island); a gain of five seats for the Republicans. Like in the Senate, only two incumbents were defeated, Govs. Ted Strickland (D-OH) and Chet Culver (D-IA). Republicans won a total of 23 gubernatorial elections this past Tuesday night as compared to the Democrats’ 13, assuming the last two campaigns finally break their way.

Looking at some House stats from Tuesday, 51 incumbents were defeated (49 Democrats; 2 Republicans), not counting any of the remaining outstanding campaigns; 35 of the ousted incumbents are either in their freshman or sophomore term, and 16 are veteran members. The House Blue Dog Coalition was decimated on Tuesday, as 28 of its 52 members will not return to the 112th Congress. Twenty-two BD’s were defeated on Election Day and six more either retired or ran for a different office.

The Upside Down Landslide

The 2010 election cycle proved unique in many ways – it’s the first time that the House of Representatives switched party control without the Senate also doing so, for example – but probably it’s most surprising characteristic is the reverse nature of the results.

Normally in landslide years, the statewide elections set the tone for incumbent defeats. Not so in 2010. Only two US Senators, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, were unseated Tuesday night. Likewise, only two Governors, Ohio’s Ted Strickland and Iowa’s Chet Culver, were politically fired. In the US House races, however, at least 49 (47 Democrats; 2 Republicans) incumbents lost their re-election battles, and the number could go as high as 59 depending upon the outcome of the 10 House elections that are still undecided. At the state legislative level, the number of incumbent defeats rose into the hundreds. Republicans gained more there than at any electoral level, and increased their total number of legislative seats by at least 680 nationally. They will control a minimum of 54 legislative chambers, a modern-day political record.

The voting public’s willingness to change political course in 2010 is unusual because the anti-incumbent fervor actually increased as people moved down the ballot (into races where the candidates’ names are less familiar) instead of waning. Thus, the sense that this is an “upside down landslide” victory for the Republicans.

As mentioned above, 10 US House races remain unresolved. In all cases, large numbers of absentee and/or provisional ballots remain to be counted that could certainly change the results. Whether such alteration means a different candidate will eventually win the election as opposed to the one who is now leading remains an open question in each of these elections. The 10 are (in alphabetical order):

  • AZ-7: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) vs. Ruth McClung (R)
    Grijalva leads 62,459 to 58,376 – all precincts are counted
  • AZ-8: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) vs. Jesse Kelly (R)
    Giffords leads 120,175 to 117,826 – in both AZ races all precincts are counted but thousands of absentee ballots remain
  • CA-11: Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) vs. David Harmer (R)
    McNerney leads 82,124 to 82,003 with thousands of ballots remaining to be counted
  • CA-20: Rep. Jim Costa (D) vs. Andy Vidak (R)
    Vidak leads 32,521 to 30,708 – the low vote total suggests huge numbers of votes remain uncounted
  • IL-8: Rep. Melissa Bean (D) vs. Joe Walsh (R)
    Walsh leads 97,403 to 96,850 – again large numbers of absentees remain
  • KY-6: Rep. Ben Chandler (D) vs. Andy Barr (R)
    Chandler leads 119,845 to 119,245 – the high vote total suggests the absentee ballots remaining are relatively few, but are enough to change the outcome
  • NY-25: Rep. Dan Maffei (D) vs. Ann Marie Buerkle (R)
    Maffei leads 95,286 to 93,090 with 96% of the precincts counted
  • TX-27: Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D) vs. Blake Farenthold (R)
    Farenthold leads 50,954 to 50,155 – all precincts are reporting; low voter turnout; absentee ballots remain
  • VA-11: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) vs. Keith Fimian (R)
    Connolly leads 111,615 to 110,695 – absentee ballots remain
  • WA-2: Rep. Rick Larsen (D) vs. John Koster (R)
    Larsen has just pulled into the lead 97,931 to 97,224 – but only 71% of the vote has been counted; Washington’s unique all-mail system that allows ballots postmarked on Election Day means this one will take a long time to resolve

Only two Senate races remain outstanding. In Alaska, it will take some time to determine if Sen. Lisa Murkowski has won re-election via write-in after losing the Republican primary. It is clear, however, that Republicans will retain the seat. In Washington, Sen. Patty Murray maintains a lead of 27,464 votes, but a quarter of the statewide vote remains to be counted.

On the gubernatorial front, five races remain outstanding. Democrats have small leads in Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota, and Vermont. Republican Tom Foley has a slight lead in Connecticut. Several percentage points worth of votes remain to be counted in all five states.

It’s Over: A Stunning GOP Election Turnaround

For the most part, the 2010 election is in the books. With just a few races outstanding in the Senate, House, and Governors races, it appears the Republicans will command the next House of Representatives with anywhere from 239 to 242 seats, a stunning turnaround from the previous Congress. Such a composition of the body would mean a net gain of between 61 and 64 Republican seats. The new House will represent the largest GOP majority in the modern-day political era. The largest number of elected Republicans during the 12-year majority run (2005-2007) was 232.

The Senate races were kinder to Democrats. The Ds will hold the Senate with 52 or 53 seats depending upon the outcome in Washington. The winner of the Alaska seat is still in doubt, though the top two contenders, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (W/I) and Joe Miller (R) are both Republicans. Colorado was called earlier in the day for appointed Sen. Michael Bennet (D) by a very small margin over Weld County DA Ken Buck.

Several races remain outstanding for Governor: Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont. Republicans lead in Connecticut and Oregon; Democrats in the remaining three. If things stay as they are, the GOP will control 30 Governorships, the Democrats 19, with one Independent (former Republican-turned-Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Lincoln Chafee). Earlier this morning, Florida and Maine were decided, both in favor of the Republican candidates.

The big story on the state front is the number of legislative chambers that flipped from Democrat to Republican. At this writing it appears that 20 chambers went from Democratic control to the GOP. Some of the surprises are both houses in the Alabama, Maine and Minnesota legislatures changing, the Texas House now breaks in favor of the GOP 101-43, and the party obtained the requisite number of new legislators to take full control in the critical redistricting states of Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Florida remains under total Republican control, but a ballot initiative passed last night that will create a redistricting commission. A similar measure passed in California. Thus, the majority party in both of those states stand to fare worse through the commission process than if they were drawing the new maps themselves.

The interesting point about this landslide is that, in contrast with most others, the wave came from the bottom up. Only two incumbent Senators (Lincoln, Feingold) and a pair of incumbent Governors (Strickland, Culver) were defeated at the statewide level versus possibly more than 50 US House members and hundreds of state senators and representatives. This appears to be the biggest Republican legislative year since the Great Depression.

The bottom-up nature of this landslide makes it historically unique. In most such elections it is the statewide candidates who fare worse than those who represent districts. It is also the first time in history that the US House changed party control without the Senate following suit. In other years the Senate has flipped without the House, but never the inverse.

Much more in the coming days.

The Results

Most of the election results are in, and we will have a full analysis later in the day. But the big story is the Republicans easily taking the House majority, gaining more than 60 seats. It appears that three committee chairmen, Reps. John Spratt (D-SC-5), Jim Oberstar (D-MN-8), and Ike Skelton (D-MO-4), were defeated at the polls. At least 50 incumbents were unseated with as many as six races left to be decided.

In the Senate, Democrats held the majority with Colorado and Washington still outstanding. The Alaska winner may still be unclear, but it will be a Republican.

In the Governors races, Republicans gained at least six states, with two, Oregon and Connecticut still left to be decided.

A full analysis will be posted when more of the statistics and final results are tabulated and become known later today.

A Quick Look at Election Day Trends

On Election morn, the Senate now appears to be the body with the most question marks. With the House trending toward a Republican majority, the Senate GOP races are now apparently closing in upon majority status, too. Throughout electoral history there has never been an election where the House flipped to a different party without the Senate. Thus, if the Republicans do gain control of the House and not the Senate, 2010 will make history because this will be the first time such a configuration has occurred.

The latest trends suggest that Nevada (Majority Leader Harry Reid), Illinois (Burris open), Pennsylvania (Specter open), and Colorado (appointed Sen. Michael Bennet), are all tilting the GOP’s way. Add those to the Democratic states of Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, all of which that secure in the Republican column, and that would mean the party is realistically approaching 49 seats. Thus, one of the following states would have to vote Republican to force a 50-50 tie: California, Connecticut, Washington, or West Virginia. Two wins in these four states would mean a companion Senate Republican majority.

In the final day, California looks to be tightening but incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer still has a slight lead. In Connecticut, Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal looks to have a lead beyond the margin of error. The race in Washington is approaching dead heat status; and in West Virginia, Gov. Joe Manchin has a slight lead, but is by no means secure. The Republicans need to throw a perfect political game tonight, and though attaining the majority in the Senate is still unlikely, one can at least see the goal from the current Republican perch.