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Topic: Elections

In Defense of the 2012 GOP Presidential Field

Posted on Nov. 18, 10 | 11:07 AM by Michael Connolly | Topic: Elections
Everywhere I go, I hear people dismissing the 2012 Republican presidential field as weak.  I’m not sure what they could be talking about.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have my own qualms with all of the names that have been bandied about.  But by any objective measure, the 2012 Republican field seems to me the strongest either party has cobbled together in a long time.

Who, exactly, are the cream puffs here? 

Mitt Romney was a right-of-center governor in a very liberal state.  Before that, he was one of the most successful business executives of his generation, who made a fortune turning around failing businesses.

Sarah Palin is the most charismatic political leader in the country, and the most electrifying political celebrity since Ronald Reagan.

Mike Huckabee is perhaps the party’s only natural-born politician and a dynamic communicator of conservative ideas.  (Whether he actually adheres to those ideas is another question, of course.)

Tim Pawlenty was twice elected governor in one of the bluest states in the country, cut taxes and spending, and reformed education, health care, and union pensions in his state.

Mitch Daniels makes op-ed writers swoon for good reason.  He’s a serious policy thinker, and a bold executive willing to make tough decisions that, despite their unpopularity at the time, have almost all been vindicated over time.

Haley Barbour is one of the most successful politicians in the country – a legendary party chairman, an other-worldly fundraiser, and was for good reason the only elected official who came out of the Hurricane Katrina fiasco better then he went in.

Newt Gingrich is one of the most creative policy minds in the Republican Party, one of the best think-on-his-feet debaters in politics today, a natural leader and movement organizer, and – for all his faults – really and truly did create a national Republican majority in 1994, almost out of thin air.

Mike Pence and Jim DeMint’s names have been mentioned, and who can argue with the potential candidacies of the conservative movement’s leading spokesmen and most successful legislators in Washington?

Of all the names bandied around, only Sen. John Thune seems to lack a resume full of substantive accomplishment or conservative leadership.  And yet, even Thune’s thin resume compares favorably to, say, John Edwards’ in 2004 or Barack Obama’s in 2008.

Yes, all of the above candidates have glaring weaknesses, too, but that’s just to say they are human.  Sorting out strengths and weaknesses is what presidential primaries are for.

But to say that the prospective 2012 Republican presidential field is “weak” is like saying middleweight boxing in the 1980s was “weak,” because Roberto Duran, Ray Leonard, Marvin Haggler, and Tommy Hearns were evenly matched.

Has it occurred to anyone that the 2012 Republican nomination is wide open not because the contenders are so weak, but because they are all, in their own ways, very strong?
Member Comments (7)

House Republican Leadership for the 112th Congress

Posted on Nov. 18, 10 | 08:45 AM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
Boehner isn't Speaker until the full House votes for him early next year, but the Conference has officially blessed it.  From the House Republican Conference:
  • Speaker of the House: John A. Boehner of Ohio
  • Republican Leader: Eric Cantor of Virginia
  • Republican Whip: Kevin McCarthy of California
  • Republican Conference Chairman: Jeb Hensarling of Texas 
  • National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman: Pete Sessions of Texas 
  • Republican Policy Committee Chairman: Tom Price of Georgia 
  • Republican Conference Vice-Chair: Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington 
  • Republican Conference Secretary: John Carter of Texas 
  • Freshman Elected Leadership Representative: Kristi Noem of South Dakota
  • Freshman Elected Leadership Representative: Tim Scott of South Carolina
Member Comments (2)

Alaska Race Update -- Murkowski in a strong position after first day counting write ins.

Posted on Nov. 11, 10 | 11:06 AM by David Keating | Topic: Elections
Unfortunately, things are looking pretty good for Lisa Murkowski.  Miller continued to gain in absentee ballots, cutting the gap behind "write in" by another 264 votes, but Murkowski's write in campaign did a good job getting voters to fill in the oval and spell her name.

Currently 89.23% of all write in ballots are completely unchallenged for her by Miller's observers.  If that pace were to continue, and the absentee and other ballot margin remains, she would win by 785 votes even if Miller's interpretation of the law and his observer's application of that standard were to prevail.

I think Miller does have the law on his side and I suspect his campaign's observers are being very strict in applying it, as they should be.  So it is likely that a more neutral arbiter who still applies the strict legal standard would allow more than the 89.23% currently going unchallenged to Murkowski.

Additionally, an earlier news report indicated that absentee ballots from rural areas are likely to be counted last, and those areas went strongly for Murkowski.  It is not clear whether Miller will continue to gain votes from the absentee, early and questioned ballots.

Finally, a federal judge did not grant the Miller campaign's request for a preliminary injunction.  I have not been able to read the order, but this is not a surprise.  The ballots are being placed into piles, so I doubted the Court would rule before it was clear whether there would be a genuine controversy.  I don't see this ruling as a set back as he was very unlikely to get a favorable ruling at this stage.  

From the Court's perspective, it does not want to rule unless it has to.  If enough write in ballots go to Murkowski to win, even after all of Miller's challenges are asserted, then there is no controversy and no reason for the Court to weigh in.

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Bachmann Drops Out of Leadership Race, Endorses Hensarling

Posted on Nov. 11, 10 | 07:52 AM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
From the POLITICO:

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann dropped out of the race for House Republican Conference chair on Wednesday night, ending a quixotic bid for leadership that many saw as the first real test of the tea party against the GOP establishment.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Bachmann said that Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling has her “enthusiastic support for his candidacy” for the top messaging post in the GOP. Bachmann's decision means there will be no contested positions for Republican leadership jobs as the party prepares to take control of the House.
Member Comments (4)

How Many Votes for Lisa Murkowski?

Posted on Nov. 09, 10 | 04:51 PM by David Keating | Topic: Elections
As Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over till it's over," and while I assume he was talking about baseball you could certainly use that Yogism to describe Alaska's wild Senate election. 

In the initial count, "write in" votes "won" the Senate race with 83,201 votes to 69,762 for Joe Miller, the Republican, and 48,034 for Scott McAdams, the Democrat. 

But it's not clear if Lisa Murkowski, who ran the well-funded write in campaign, has actually won the election.
  1. We don't know how many write in votes were cast for her.
  2. We don't know how many votes were correctly cast for her.
  3. We don't know how many absentee and early votes were cast for the three candidates.
So let's take a look at each item.

Alaska does not typically count write in ballots for each candidate.  There has never been, as far as I could find, a case where write in votes were tallied according to the legal requirements because a write in candidate never had a chance to win.

The only case where write in ballots were counted was in the 1998 race for governor where the Republicans abandoned their nominee and a write in campaign was mounted behind the candidate who finished second in the primary, Robin Taylor.  In that campaign, Taylor got 92.25% of the total write in votes cast.

I have no idea if Murkowski will get the same or a similar percentage of the write in votes.  However, if she gets 92.25% of the total write in votes, that would cut the total to 76,749.

On the one hand, Murkowski supporters could argue that her campaign was better than the Taylor campaign, and I suspect that's correct.  On the other hand, Taylor got nearly 20% of the vote, so it was a significant effort.  It is entirely possible that all the publicity around the existence of the write in option made people more likely to write in a candidate's name.  That appears to be the case for other races on the 2010 ballot, where write in may be 50% to 100% higher than typical.  For example, the US Representative has 0.49% of all votes cast for write in votes this year, compared to 0.38% in 2008 and 0.24% in 2006. 

The next question is how many votes were cast correctly for Lisa Murkowski.  Of course, no one knows.  There were news reports that the Alaska Division of Elections will assess voter intent, but that's not the law.

The law says "A vote for a write-in candidate, other than a write-in vote for governor and lieutenant governor, shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."  There are other requirements, but this one is the most important.

Additionally, the law appears to leave no room for discretion, "The rules set out in this section are mandatory and there are no exceptions to them. A ballot may not be counted unless marked in compliance with these rules."  I assume the law was written this way to make it difficult for write in efforts to succeed in order to discourage sore loser candidacies.

If 92.25% of write ins were for Murkowski and 95% of them spelled her name right and marked the ballot correctly, then she would have 72,912 votes.

Additionally it appears that some of Joe Miller's supporters may have written in his name either in addition to or instead of marking the ballot for him.  Those votes will count for Miller.  The law says "Write-in votes are not invalidated by writing in the name of a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot."

Still completely unknown is how many of the write in votes were for Miller.  If it is just 1.5%, that would cut her lead to 1,901 votes before absentees and other ballots are counted.  If 3.7% of the write in votes are for Miller, the two would be tied before the other ballots are counted.

So, we will just have to wait to see how many votes were cast for Miller and Murkowski.  The tally of absentee and early votes started today.  That is one piece of the puzzle.
Member Comments (5)

Jeff Duncan's Victory Speech

Posted on Nov. 05, 10 | 11:31 AM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
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GOP Picks Up 680 Seats

Posted on Nov. 05, 10 | 09:23 AM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
This is amazing.  From National Journal:

While the Republican gains in the House and Senate are grabbing the most headlines, the most significant results on Tuesday came in state legislatures where Republicans wiped the floor with Democrats.

Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures -- the most in the modern era. To put that number in perspective: In the 1994 GOP wave, Republicans picked up 472 seats. The previous record was in the post-Watergate election of 1974, when Democrats picked up 628 seats.
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What's Next in Alaska Senate Race?

Posted on Nov. 03, 10 | 04:31 PM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
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Pat Toomey's Victory Speech

Posted on Nov. 03, 10 | 04:00 PM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
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Ron Johnson Victory Speech

Posted on Nov. 03, 10 | 12:15 PM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
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Looking Ahead to 2012 with Art Laffer

Posted on Nov. 03, 10 | 12:01 PM by Andrew Roth | Topic: Elections
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