This Just In!

The first vote count is in! The good people of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire just voted (all 21 of the registered voters participated). They counted and announced the results of this tiny place that usually votes Republican.

Ralph Nader – 0
John McCain – 6
Barack Obama – 15!

Some Election Night Guides

Newsweek’s guide to tomorrow night’s elections is authored by Nate Silver, the creator of the excellent political blog, FiveThirtyEight.com.
CAMPAIGN 2008

What to Watch For

An hour-by-hour guide to election night.

In 2000 and 2004, the outcome of the presidential race was unknown into the wee hours of the morning (and indeed for several weeks thereafter in 2000). This time, it is possible that we will be able to guess the winner of the presidential race relatively early in the evening. Regardless, there will be plenty to watch Tuesday night, particularly for those who can appreciate a good slugfest in the Senate. And lest we count John McCain out, we need only remember the polling disasters that befell states like New Hampshire in this year’s primaries. Here, then, is what I will be watching each hour on election night.

6 PM EST. Polls close in portions of Indiana and Kentucky.

Traditionally, these are the first states to get called by the networks, spotting the Republicans a quick 19 points in the Electoral College. This year, however, is liable to be a little bit different. Indiana is far more competitive than usual, and is probably the state with the greatest disparity in ground games: the Obama campaign has 42 field offices open there, whereas McCain neglected the state entirely until recently.

The responsible thing to do would be for the networks to hold off until at least 7 PM to project Indiana, when polls have closed in Gary and the northwestern part of the state just across the border from Chicago—where Obama hopes to rack up huge margins among black and working-class voters. If for some reason the state is called before 7PM for John McCain, that probably means we’re in for a long night. If, on the other hand, the state is called for Obama in the first hour after the polls close, that could indicate that the force of Obama’s
field operation has been underestimated, and that McCain is in for a catastrophically poor evening. (Speaking of which, Indiana’s equivalent on the Senate side of things might in fact be Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell remains the favorite but where he could be vulnerable in the event of an anti-incumbent wave.)

7 PM EST. Polls close in Virginia and Georgia, as well as most of Florida and most of New Hampshire.

Virginia, for my money, is the most important state in this election. If John McCain loses it, his path to victory is exceptionally narrow—he would need to pull out an upset in Pennsylvania, while holding on to Florida and Ohio, and avoiding a sweep out West. Barack Obama has considerably more ways to win without Virginia, but a failure to close out the state would suggest at best a more circuitous route to victory. As Obama remains about five points ahead in most polls of Virginia, what we’re really looking for is a quick call on anything before 8 PM that would indicate that the map has indeed changed from 2004, and not in McCain’s favor.

Georgia and New Hampshire are a bit less essential electorally, but they may tell us the most about whether the polls are off in this election. If there’s one state where Obama is likely to overperform his polls, it’s in Georgia, where 35 percent of early voters are African-American, and where almost 30 percent of them did not vote in 2004. These are the sorts of voters that may erroneously be screened out by “likely voter” models that rely on past voting history. Obama could not only carry the state, but he might help boost Jim Martin to
victory in the U.S. Senate race there—giving the Democrats a plausible path to a 60-seat caucus.

On the other hand, if there is any state where the polls might overestimate Obama’s numbers, it’s in New Hampshire, where nearly the entirely electorate is white and where Obama was famously upset by
Hillary Clinton during the primaries. If McCain holds Obama to within about five points in New Hampshire—closer than any current polls—we may need to be worried about some sort of Bradley Effect.

7:30 PM EST. Polls close in Ohio and North Carolina.

The dynamic to look for in these states involves early voting: more than twice as many people have voted early in North Carolina as did in 2004, and nearly three times as many in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland),
Ohio. Recent polling indicates that Obama may have a lead of 20-30 points among early voters in Ohio and a 10-20 point lead in North Carolina. If Republican turnout is at all depressed on Election Day—because of anything from bad weather to low morale—that may be too large a deficit for McCain to make up.

8 PM EST. Polls close in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Missouri.

Use caution when interpreting the results from these three states; Missouri in particular is notorious for nearly having been called prematurely both in the 2006 senate race and in this year’s Democratic primary. In each state, Barack Obama will rack up huge vote totals in the cities (Philadelphia, Detroit and St. Louis  espectively) while trying to hold his own in the rest of the state. If the city numbers come in first, Obama’s margins will be exaggerated. If the rural numbers come in first, Obama’s prospects will be much better than they appear.

But Pennsylvania in particular is the one to watch. If Barack Obama holds onto Pennsylvania—the only state where John McCain seems to have been closing the gap over the last week of the campaign—then winning

virtually any red state (Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri) would probably clinch the election for him.

9 PM EST. Polls close in Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Wisconsin and Minnesota should be called fairly quickly for Obama; if they aren’t, that’s a sign that something has gone truly wrong for the Democratic ticket. New Mexico looks like a safe Obama-state too,
but since its vote-counting is notoriously slow, it may take longer to call. The key number to watch in Minnesota should be the difference between Obama’s margin of victory and Al Franken’s tally in his Senate
race against Norm Coleman. If Franken is staying within 5-7 points of Obama as the vote begins to roll in—say, for example, Franken leads by 2 while Obama leads by 7—then Obama’s coattails should carry Franken into the Senate. If not, the race may be Norm Coleman’s to lose.

Colorado, meanwhile, is the last of what I’d characterize as this year’s “Big Three” states (the others are Pennsylvania and Virginia). If Pennsylvania and Virginia have split their votes (and Obama hasn’t picked up Ohio or Florida), then Obama probably wins if he wins Colorado, and loses if he doesn’t.

10 PM EST. Polls close in Nevada, Iowa, Montana and New York.

This is the earliest point at which the race might be officially called for Barack Obama—there just aren’t enough electoral votes out there, even if he’s swept every swing state, to get him to 270 until New York’s 31 come in. But assuming that we don’t know the outcome of the election by this time, Nevada, where Obama has expanded his lead and where much of the state has already voted, could be Obama’s ace in the hole—possibly offsetting a loss in Pennsylvania if paired with other pickups like Colorado and Virginia. The key area to watch in Nevada is Washoe County (Reno), which John Kerry lost by 4 points in 2004 but where the Obama campaign has registered thousands of new voters. If Obama wins Washoe, that means the  state—and probably the country—is his.

11 PM EST. Polls close in California, Oregon and Washington.

None of these states are in play in the presidential contest this year. The status of the race, however, could have a potential impact on California’s Proposition 8, which seeks to strike down same-sex marriage. If Obama appears as though he’s headed toward a landslide victory, crestfallen conservatives might not bother heading for the polls to vote for Prop 8.

Finally, even if the presidential race has been called by that point, Democrats looking for a little schadenfreude may want to stay up late until the midnight poll close in Alaska, where Ted Stevens is
almost certain to be bounced from his Senate seat by Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Should the Democrats pull out an upset in Georgia or Kentucky, it may be Stevens’ seat that gets them over the
top to a 60-man majority.

Nate Silver is the creator of FiveThirtyEight.com, a popular political blog.

© 2008

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Huffington Post’s Guide

For those obsessed with the results on Tuesday night, here is a November 4 guide to watching television and searching exit poll data on the web.

There are three basic questions (with hundreds more to follow in the weeks ahead): 1) When can you feel confident about the outcome of the presidential contest?; 2) How well are Democrats progressing toward
their goal of 60 seats in the Senate?; and 3) Will 2008 be another Democratic blowout, signaling the possibility that the party could establish a majority coalition in future elections?

The basic rule of thumb is to follow the closing times of the polls in each state. Once voting is stopped, the networks can start using detailed exit polling and post the material on their websites. If the networks are unwilling to call a given state, an examination of the exit poll data can often give you a clear signal of
the ultimate results. The state-by-state exit polls released after poll closings will have large samples and should not suffer the defects that plagued the early findings in 2004 which pointed to a solid Kerry
victory nationwide.

For additional help, HuffPost has election night widgets from CNN and MSNBC that will allow you to “watch the electoral vote count and the congressional balance of power with the national U.S. map or choose a
state and see how individual counties are voting.”

Fortunately for those who cannot stay awake, some of the first states with earliest poll closing times of 7 PM EST are key battlegrounds: Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky.

Virginia is a crucial battleground state, and an Obama win there (without Georgia or Indiana) would suggest he is likely to take the oath of office on January 20. In terms of the future, an Obama victory would mean that Virginia has completed the move from red to purple, with all the demographic changes pointing toward further Democratic gains.

If Obama carries either Georgia or Indiana, look for a big Democratic night all around. If he carries both (along with Virginia), Republicans should consider turning on the gas and closing the windows. Those who care only about the presidential outcome should feel free to switch to sports, watch a movie, or go to bed.

Conversely, if McCain carries Virginia, Indiana and Georgia, plan to stay up a little later.

These early states are also key to the Senate outcome:The Kentucky Senate race, pitting Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell against Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford, a businessman and U.S. Army veteran, is a crucial contest in the fight for filibuster-proof control of the Upper Chamber. McConnell has a 5.7 percent advantage according to RealClearPolitics and a Democratic victory would be a major upset.

Another upset could be in the making in Georgia where Democrat Jim Martin has been closing the gap in his challenge to incumbent Saxby Chambliss, although Martin remains 2.7 points behind. If Georgia goes for Martin, it will indicate that black voters are turning out in droves, mobilized by the prospect of electing the first African American president.

Just a half hour after the data from these states starts pouring in, polls close at 7:30 in the Big Enchilada of 2008: Ohio — and may close in another important state, North Carolina, although officials there have the option of staying open until 8:30 if there are problems in completing the voting process.

Ohio has become the national battleground state and this year is no exception. Carried twice by George W. Bush, this year Obama is favored, with a 7 point edge, but neither side is taking it easy. The closing Ohio trend line has been in favor of McCain, who in recent days has cut in half what had been a double digit deficit.

The presidential race in North Carolina is a dead heat, and has been so for a month. The RCP average has Obama ahead by a statistically meaningless 0.3 percent. An Obama victory there would be another strong sign of a good night for the Democratic nominee and his party — especially if combined with an Obama win in Virginia.

North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole (R) is fighting for her life against Kay Hagan (D) in the Tar Heel state. Hagan holds a 5.5 point advantage and appears likely to pull off an upset win, but the big question is whether Dole’s last minute airing of highly controversial commercials linking Hagan to a “Godless” supporter gains traction.

At one point, Obama supporters had thought West Virginia, where polls close at 7:30, was within reach, but in recent surveys, the Democratic nominee has faced a double digit deficit.

The flood of voting results and poll data begins at 8 PM EST. In the presidential race, hotly contested states include Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Hampshire. In addition, there are two crucial Senate races: Sen. John Sununu (R) v. Jeanne Shaheen (D) in New Hampshire, and Senator Roger Wicker (R) v. Ronnie Musgrove (D) in Mississippi.

Of the presidential states with 8 pm poll closings, Florida is by far the most important. RCP’s 4-poll average in Florida gives Obama a 4.2 point edge over McCain. If that holds up, Obama would be well on his way to victory.

If, conversely, McCain wins Pennsylvania while holding Florida and other states carried by George W. Bush in 2004, it’s a whole new ball game, and a late night: you will have to wait for returns from Colorado, New Mexico (both 9 PM ET closings) and Nevada (10 PM), to have any real confidence in the outcome.

The networks will not go anywhere near calling the race until the polls close on the West Coast at 11 PM. Barring the Pennsylvania-McCain scenario, the odds are that the winner will be known to anyone following the results once the states with 8 PM closings are in.

There will be plenty of interesting results coming in from the states in the Central and Mountain time zones — especially Senate races in Louisiana, Minnesota, Colorado, and New Mexico. In addition, House results will be constantly trickling in.

Unfortunately, it will be virtually impossible to ascertain early whether Senate Democrats will hit the magic number of a 60 seat majority, unless Republicans win in some of the early states listed above, in which case it will be possible to rule out a Democratic super-majority. In the event that Democrats keep winning in every key state, those who can’t go to sleep before they find out will have to wait at least until the votes are counted in Oregon, where the last polls close at 11 PM EST and where Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley
leads incumbent Gordon Smith by 5.3 points.

If Democrats are still on the cusp, with 59 seats, when Oregon’s results are counted, it will take until the polls close at 1 AM EST in Alaska to be sure of the balance of power in the Senate. In Alaska, recently convicted incumbent Republican Ted Stevens looks like a probable loser to Democrat Mark Begich, who leads by 10.3 points — although no one is going to state publicly that Stevens is politically dead until the results are officially declared.

There is an even worse scenario for those with a desperate need to know: The Democrats could be at 59 Senate seats at 2 AM on November 5, but, when all the votes are counted in the Georgia race, a number of
experts say that a reasonable expectation is that neither Chambliss nor Martin will reach the 50 percent required to win, and that Libertarian Allen Buckley will siphon off enough votes to force a run-off later in
the month.

(c)2008 Huffington Post

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CBS’s Guide to Election Night

7 P.M. ET
Polls close in the first six states. We’re pretty sure that South Carolina and Kentucky will go to McCain and Vermont to Obama, but three of the states bear close watching. Obama has been leading in Virginia and he’s even in Indiana — both states have gone Republican since 1964. If McCain wins both, he’s still in the game. If either of them goes for Obama, his campaign is on life support.

7:30 P.M. ET
There’s more potential drama here. Ohio was always destined to be a key battleground just as it was in 2004. This is a state McCain must win.  North Carolina has seen a massive infusion of Obama’s money and
volunteers, so a McCain victory is a hint of real late movement toward the Republican.

Read the rest here.

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This article, from the Mercury News, is a guide to various network’s shows.

McCollum: Your guide to election night TV

The best show on television this year comes down (we think) to its final episode Tuesday night.

Campaign 2008 has had everything you could ask for from great TV: riveting drama, rich characters, compelling events, unexpected twists, outbursts of humor. It has been a tasty jambalaya, spiced with
unprecedented moments in American history. There was even a dash of life imitating art as, with each passing day, the campaign came more and more to resemble the final season and a half of “The West Wing”
when unknown Hispanic Congressman Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) ran against aging Republican maverick Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). (At times, it was downright eery. On “The West Wing,” as in real life, the Philadelphia Phillies were in the World Series.)

Not even the pungent smell of “foregone conclusion” that has been wafting through the TV coverage of the campaign in recent days can ultimately spoil just what a show this has been. (If you wanted to avoid the foregone fragance, you could always turn to Fox News which seemed to be existing in parallel universe of its own making in recent weeks.)

Given all that has come before — and the passions this campaign has stirred in America — the viewership for tonight’s election returns are likely to be historic and you get to make one last choice: what network

or cable news channel to watch. This is not small stuff, particularly if you have invited folks over to watch the results. A good host always picks the channel appropriate for his or her guests (I think Miss Manners said that).So here’s a quick rundown of your options (with a little opinion thrown in to guide you) in order of when the channel will start its “official” Election Night In America coverage:MSNBC (2 p.m. PT): Campaign 2008 reshaped MSNBC, which — until recently — lagged well behind CNN and Fox News in cable news world.
Then someone got the idea of creating a liberal alternative to Fox News (thank you, Keith Olbermann) and the game was on. Well, not completely. When the liberal slant started to filter a bit too much into the
straight news coverage, the big guns at NBC — particularly Tom Brokaw — suggested rather strongly that there should be a firewall between news coverage and opinion. And when Tom Brokaw speaks, people listen.

As a result, on election night, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory will anchor with a heavy emphasis on news reports and the relatively straight-ahead analysis of Chuck Todd. (Gregory will also
have the job of trying to rein in Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Rachel Maddow. Good luck on that.)

Expect Brokaw and Brian Williams to pop in for visits before NBC starts its own coverage at 4 p.m. PT but one major presence will be missing: the late Tim Russert, perhaps the best commentator in the history of TV news. Not only will MSNBC and NBC miss him; we all will. Won’t seem like election night without him.

Fox News (3 p.m. PT): The big news here is that this will be the swan song for long-time Fox News anchor Brit Hume, who is cutting back on his airtime after tonight. It will be interesting to see how quickly Fox News comes out of that parallel universe and gets down to the business at hand (which could — and I say, only could) involve a Democratic landslide. This is no knock on the channel’s ground troops who are usually quite good and largely straight-ahead in their reporting. But, let’s be honest, this might be the best  lternative for the more conservative among us. At least, you’ll be among friends.

CNN (3 p.m. PT): The danger with CNN this year has been that it would allow technology and gadgets to overwhelm the reporting. (That “magic wall” that is the centerpiece of CNN’s coverage spews out so
much information that it can give viewers a bad headache.) And the level of danger may rise tonight as the channel adds — stay with me here — holograms of reporters in the field. (“Please save us, Obi Wan!”) It all sounds like a “Saturday Night Live” skit waiting to happen.

And then, of course, there is the apparent theory at CNN that the more talking heads the merrier. In addition to the three-headed anchor core of Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper and Campbell Brown, CNN will have
14 — count ’em, 14 — analysts vying for air time. Come to think of it, that’s a second “Saturday Night Live” skit waiting to happen.

The networks (4 p.m. PT): The major broadcast networks will all jump in with their Election Night In America shows at the same time. The past two presidential elections, NBC has been the clear choice (not only in quality but in the ratings). But the Russert factor looms large here. Williams will have Brokaw and Todd on hand for analysis (plus plenty gadgets) but he won’t have Russert to provide insight and a decidedly low-tech view of what is taking place (remember the now-legendary white board from 2000?)

Katie Couric may be doing her own big-event swan song over at CBS. (Rumors persist that she will leave the network sometime after election night). She will get strong support from two wily veterans — Bob Schieffer and Jeff Greenfield — and the network will keep outside analysis down to a dull roar with only Dan Bartlett and Dee Dee Myers onhand.

ABC could see a rise in its fortunes this election night with Charles Gibson anchoring with Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos also getting big airtime. (Stephanopoulos isn’t Russert yet but he brings considerable insight to his work.) The network also has a particularly strong reporting corps in the field with the likes of Jake Tapper, Kate Snow, Sharyn Alfonsi and Martha Raddatz.

Tradition: If you like your election night coverage without a lot of gadgets, head-splitting graphics and a gaggle of rowdy talking heads, try PBS which begins its coverage at 6 p.m. PT. Jim Lehrer of “The NewsHour” anchors once again for public TV with civilized commentary from the likes of Mark Shields and David Brooks and reporting by Judy Woodruff, Gwen Ifill and Ray Suarez. What PBS usually does best is to provide historical perspective which can invaluable amidst all the bluster on the other channels. CSpan will also be providing an unvarnished, glitz-free take on the returns starting at 3 p.m.

ALT TV: For something completely different, there are two alternatives. One is the high-tech Current — available on the digital tier of most cable systems — which will work with Digg, Twitter and 12seconds.tv
to provide viewpoints on the returns from through the social media universe. Coverage starts at 4 p.m. PT. The other is BBC America, which has vastly expanded its news programming during the election and brings
some unique perspective to the party. In addition to reports and returns, the coverage — which begins at 3 p.m. PT — offers commentary from an ecletic and rather fascinating array of folks including Gore Vidal, Jay McInerney, John Bolton, Christopher Hitchens and my personal favorite, Ricky Gervais.

Final word: We can’t let any discussion of election night go by without mentioning that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will join forces on “Indecision 2008,” a mix of returns (yeah, they’ll actually say who’s winning what states) and what’s certain to be sophisticated humor. The downside for folks on the West Coast: It’s tape-delayed until 11 p.m. PT which could mean it might feel a bit old by the time we see it. But, still, it’s Stewart, Colbert and the last night of Campaign 2008. Who could ask for anything more?

Robots Attack!!!

This witty ad just in from BarackObama.com

Quick Reminder

My Daily Rant – October 29, 2008

Promises Promises

by The Tall Twin

On CNN on Tuesday, Campbell Brown said on her new show, No Bias, No Bull, that Senator Barack Obama has broken a promise. On the face of it, she is correct, but with all due respect, so what?

The promise in question was actually a response to a questionnaire sent to all of the primary candidates last November. It came from the Midwest Democracy Network, which is made up of nonpartisan government oversight groups. Apparently only two candidates (Obama and McCain) bothered to fill out and return the form. At the time Senator Obama said that if he were the Democratic nominee he would, “aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

That was then and this is now. One thing about Obama is that he’s a fast learner. The tough primary campaign taught him many lessons. By the time he became the Democratic nominee he could see what he was up against and what tactics might be used against him. Think about it this way. While planning a trip to Europe you sign up to swim the English Channel wearing a bikini. When you get there you see that the water is freezing and full of sharks. Would you go ahead with the plan or would you rethink your strategy?

Palin unmasked

Palin unmasked

Once he became the nominee it was obvious to Senator Obama that millions of mostly small donations would be better than funds from a broken public financing system. It was a leap of faith and a good economic choice. He decided not to “aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee.” He did, however, keep his promise to the American people to refuse money from registered lobbyists. His supporters have responded by donating an astounding amount of money,* while taxpayers who do not support him haven’t had to help pay for his campaign.

And by the way, Senator McCain pledged to run an honorable campaign. So much for promises!!

***

*WORD SPY

micro-donor n. A person who donates a small amount of money to a political campaign or other cause. Also: microdonor.
micro-donation n.

Example Citation:
Meanwhile in Chicago, Obama’s elite high-end fund-raisers, his National Finance Committee, met Thursday for strategy sessions.Obama has developed an army of micro-donors during his campaign.
—Lynn Sweet, “Obama passes on public money,” Chicago Sun Times, June 20, 2008
Posted on October 28, 2008

McCain: Bad for the Environment

If McCain Palin are elected to office, we can expect this kind of pollution:

McCain Pollution

McCain Pollution

Say What?

A few years ago there was a television commercial in which a young man made a phone call to his mother. She complained that he never called and he responded, “But I am calling you!”

There’s just no pleasing some people.

To help to ease the sting of the mortgage crisis, Senator Obama introduced a plan to give tax relief to ten million homeowners who don’t itemize their taxes.

The McCain campaign said that the plan was essentially “welfare” because some of the homeowners that would be included are unemployed.

Although very few homeowners fell into that category, Obama addressed the issue by adding a work requirement for those who would receive the $500 credit.

The McCain campaign then criticized the plan for offering no help to the unemployed.

There’s just no pleasing some people.

The McCain criticism is off base anyway. Obama’s website lists several credible plans to create millions of new jobs and so decrease unemployment.