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8:58 AM PT: FL-18: Amazing! After all that mishugas involving recounts and re-recounts and multiple trips to court, GOP Rep. Allen West has finally conceded to Democrat Patrick Murphy. Of all the big Democratic wins on election night, this to me is one of the sweetest. Sure, West is crazy, but crazy has a lot of adherents in this country, especially in an almost perfectly-divided district like this one. What's more, he raised an insane $17 million, and while a lot of that was due to West's extremely high burn rate, that still left him with a fortune to spend.
Meanwhile, a lot of Beltway types were very dismissive toward Murphy, a young first-time candidate they were all too willing to view the same way West did, as some kind of entitled upstart. He never was. I admit that when we first heard about him—then a 28-year-old accountant—we had him figured for a proverbial Some Dude and even took to calling him "no, not that" Patrick Murphy to distinguish from the much better-known former congressman from Pennsylvania. But Murphy quickly wowed us with his fundraising, and he turned out to be a strong campaigner.
What's more, when redistricting gave West the opportunity to move up the coast and seek re-election in the redder 18th instead of his native 22nd, Murphy made an enormously daring move and pursued West on to this tougher turf. Not only did that give Democrats a credible candidate to keep holding West's feet to the fire, but it avoided an expensive primary with fellow Dem Lois Frankel in the 22nd (who went on to win her own open-seat race). And while Murphy, as you may know, was a Republican not long before seeking office, he turned out to be a strong progressive, showing quite a lot of backbone in a swing district like this.
Murphy, now 29, will become one of the youngest members of Congress, so here's to many, many more years to come. Again, an amazing victory!
9:07 AM PT: And Congressman-elect (man do I love saying that!) Murphy even took the time to stop by Daily Kos this morning to offer his thanks to the community here. What a mensch!
10:15 AM PT: SC Pres-by-CD: We have presidential numbers from seven more districts, this time from the state of South Carolina. The nascent trend that we're seeing in Pres-by-CD results of Obama improving his standing over four years ago in heavily-minority districts continues to develop, with the black-majority SC-06 showing a swing just short of 1 percent towards the president. Despite the state having swung against Obama by about a point overall, the POTUS just about held the line in the two other districts with sizeable Black populations, SC-02 and SC-05. (And as we've seen elsewhere, the most Appalachian of the state's districts, SC-04, recorded the sharpest decline.) As always, we've added these to our full chart, which you'll want to keep bookmarked.
10:22 AM PT: NC-07: Well, we're down to one last House race that's still in overtime: Republican David Rouzer has decided to request a recount, even though he trails Dem Rep. Mike McIntyre by a pretty intimidating 655 votes. The recount will take place on Monday and Tuesday, though if any county doesn't finish in time, it can ask for an extension.
11:28 AM PT: MT-Superintendent: There's still one uncalled statewide race left in the nation: the contest for Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana. Democratic incumbent Denise Juneau leads Republican challenger Sandy Welch by just under 0.5 percent, which would allow Welch to seek a recount. It actually sounds like Welch wants to go that route, even though she'd have to put up a bond for the cost (estimated at a very hefty $115K), and even though she trails by a steep 2,264 votes at last tally. Welch would get the money back if the recount yields a tighter result, but she can't ask for one until after the state certifies the returns, which won't happen until Nov. 27.
11:45 AM PT: NH Lege: It looks like all the recounts in New Hampshire haven't affected any outcomes: The state House will wind up firmly in Democratic control, by a 221-179 margin. That's an amazing flip from the 298-102 edge the GOP held after the 2010 elections, which itself was a huge turnabout from the 216-174 majority Dems had just before the election two years ago. Those are some seriously head-spinning gyrations, but what's most remarkable is that Democrats clawed their way back despite Republicans having complete control over redistricting. Hopefully they'll stay in power a bit longer now!
The situation in the state Senate, though, is not as bright. Two recounts both went against Team Blue, leaving the GOP with a slim 13-11 edge in the chamber. However, as in the House, it's a big jump for Dems, who were deep in the hole with just five seats after 2010. With Maggie Hassan retaining the governor's mansion for Democrats, hopefully she'll find a couple of willing Republican senators who want a nice state sinecures via some appointed position, thus forcing some special elections.
11:47 AM PT: Polltopia: At long last (why, it's almost Thanksgiving!), PPP is back out with one of their patented "where should we poll" polls. The choices: IL, MA, NJ, OH, OR, RI, SC, and TX. I can't decide!
11:57 AM PT: KY-Sen: Democratic state House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he won't challenge Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014, and he also threw cold water on the idea of an Ashley Judd candidacy, citing her opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining, saying "Democrats like myself would have trouble supporting her."
12:29 PM PT (David Jarman): State legislatures: You've probably noticed that at the U.S. House level, 2012 worked as something of a "re-aligning" election, with few Dems surviving in red districts and even fewer GOPers making it out of blue districts. The same re-aligning trend seems to be working in the state legislatures, if not accelerating even more than in the House: there are now 25 state legislatures with true supermajorities, up from 13 only four years ago. In addition, there are only three states left (Iowa, Kentucky, and New Hampshire) where control of the chambers is split. As you'd expect, the supermajority trend isn't happening in the swing states (with the exception of North Carolina, where the GOP moved into supermajority territory thanks to controlling a new gerrymander) but in the red and blue states (with supermajorities also being added in California, Illinois, Georgia, and Indiana).
12:38 PM PT (David Jarman): Ads: Thought you might catch a break from political ads, eh? After two weeks off, they're already back (although they're policy-related issue ads). A coalition of the SEIU, AFSCME, and NEA are targeting moderates of both parties not to cave on Social Security or Medicare as part of a "grand bargain." Interestingly, they're targeting Dem Senators via TV (Udall/Bennet, Warner/Webb, and McCaskill), while targeting the GOP's most labor-tolerant members via radio (Don Young, Jo Ann Emerson, Pat Meehan, and Mike Fitzpatrick). At any rate, it's good to see that labor (much like OFA) isn't making the same mistake that Democrats did in early 2009, continuing to go pedal-to-the-metal in the policy fight instead of coasting after the election and letting the activist momentum go to waste.
12:39 PM PT: VA-Gov: There goes all that speculation: Dem Sen. Mark Warner has officially confirmed that he will not run for governor in 2013, the job he held from 2002 to 2006 (before winning election to the Senate). That leaves former DNC chief and unsuccessful 2009 primary candidate Terry McAuliffe as the presumptive Democratic frontrunner for this open seat. (Virginia law only allows governors to serve one term in a row, so incumbent GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell cannot run again.)
12:49 PM PT (David Jarman): Polltopia: Gallup sucked this year; we can all pretty much agree on that. Why they sucked, though, is a real puzzle, since they were doing a number of things right, compared with, say, Rasmussen (they called cellphones, for instance, and they didn't weight to party ID). National Journal's Steve Shepard does a deep dive into what their other problems might be, and the two main possibilities include using random-number dialing (instead of working off registration lists) and their likely-voter screen.
I was actually shocked to learn the specifics from this article of just how restrictive their LV screen is: it requires voters to self-report their voting history and how much thought they've given to the election, and know where their polling place is. However, that might not be the problem; Pew's Andrew Kohut says that Pew uses a similar LV screen and it came close to nailing the election in 2012 (in fact, Kohut says he designed Gallup's LV screen himself, seeing as how he led Gallup before he took over at Pew); he thinks the sample itself is their problem.
1:04 PM PT (David Jarman): Redistricting: Conventional wisdom is that gerrymandering helped save the GOP's bacon in the House, amidst an election that mostly went the Dems' way, but just how much did it save them? Governing has a good roundup of the overall effects of redistricting on the post-election composition of the House; while they don't have a conclusive answer, they find that House elections were less competitive this year, with many more districts that were decisively red or decisively blue being created in 2010. 64 out of 435 House races were decided by a 10% margin or less this year, compared with 79 in 2010. They also cite a pre-election Brennan Center study that Republican control of most of the redistricting process allowed them to maintain control of "11 additional seats," apparently based on the number of theoretically-vulnerable GOP freshmen who got upgraded from swing or light-blue seats to light-red seats instead.
1:21 PM PT: AK-St. Sen: It sounds like the rift between warring factions of the Alaska Republican Party is mostly over. As you may know, a coalition of Democrats and more moderate Republicans held sway over the chamber for some time, but Dems lost enough seats on election day to give control of the Senate to the GOP outright. And based on current reports, it looks like all 13 Republicans have now united to form a majority—along with, interestingly enough, two Democrats. Four other Dems remain out in the cold, and one race, featuring Dem Sen. Hollis French, remains uncalled.
1:35 PM PT: UT-04: Should Mia Love be pissed at fellow Republicans Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz, and Gary Herbert? It seems like perhaps yes, based on that new stash of 16,000 documents related to redistricting that were just made public the other day. Bishop and Chaffetz, the state's two sitting GOP congressmen, both seemed to demand districts as wildly conservative as possible—despite having almost no fear of a Democratic challenge pretty much ever. Indeed, Ken Sumsion, the state House redistricting chair, says in a new interview: "In their own self-interest, they would have loved to have 80 percent Republican districts and got 70 percent-plus ... They would have taken 90 percent."
That's a little bit crazy to me, since I'd imagine that both men have more to fear from a challenge from the right in a primary than in a general election. (Indeed, that's how Chaffetz won office in the first place, though for what it's worth, Bishop disputes Sumsion's take.) But also intriguing is the notion—first floated back when maps were being debated—that Gov. Herbert wanted legislators to draw lines that would give Dem Rep. Jim Matheson a reason to seek re-election to the House, instead of trying to challenge Herbert for the governor's mansion. The evidence here is scanter, but emails at the time from Sumsion make it sound like he thought a veto by Herbert was a possibility if the maps didn't suit him. Once again, though, a Herbert spokesman differs with Sumsion's take.
But if Sumsion is right about all this (and he was in the center of things), then pressure by Bishop and Chaffetz for maximally conservative seats of their own, plus subtle veto threats from Herbert if Matheson didn't get a sufficiently appealing district to run in, may well have led to a map that just barely allowed Matheson to hang on—thus screwing Love.
2:12 PM PT: CA-35: Dem Rep. Joe Baca, who lost in an upset to fellow Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod, is going out swinging. He's penned an op-ed blaming his loss on a last-minute infusion of outside cash from Mike Bloomberg's PAC, and I actually have to agree that without those $3 million in attack ads, it's hard to see how Negrete McLeod would have pulled it off. Baca's words are harsh, accusing Bloomberg of "buying" his opponent and saying: "In the wake of super storm Sandy, imagine the number of homes that $3.3 million could repair, or the number of Thanksgiving meals that could be bought for displaced individuals and families."
But really, as we've written before, it seems like the only person Baca has to blame is himself. Instead of running in the firmly blue 35th, where he left himself open to precisely this kind of unpredictable same-party challenge, he could have run in the swingier but still Dem-leaning 31st. There, he would have almost certainly met GOP Rep. Gary Miller, and he would have been favored to win. (Instead, the 31st insanely wound up as an R-vs.-R contest in which Miller prevailed.)
But is Baca reconsidering for 2014? A random (and basically unsourced) tweet claims Baca said he'd run again in two years, in response to a question about whether he'd challenge Miller. I'd really like to see something firmer, though, especially since Baca is 65.
2:21 PM PT: CT-Sen: This is so revolting but somehow exactly what I'd expect from a bottom-feeder like Linda McMahon:
Two days after the election campaign workers came to News 8 claiming, they had not been paid by Linda McMahon's campaign. We spoke out on their behalf and one week after the election the campaign was writing checks. The only problem is that the checks bounced. [...]
Twaine Don Gomes was one of the people who first complained to News 8. He was handed a check, but he says, the campaign told him they were mad that he came to News 8, so he got a little something extra in his envelope.
"Basically he handed me a check with a condom in it, told me I was screwed," Gomes said. "That's the rudest gesture you can ever do to a person, it's like spitting in a person's face."
And note that these aren't some high-priced DC consultants that McMahon's stiffed: If you read the full article, McMahon also screwed over a check-cashing company, which in fact paid out some of these checks. And typically, people who use check-cashing services are those without access to mainstream banking—in other words, folks on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. So McMahon's campaign is shorting people who need the money most. I truly hope we never, ever see her again.
2:35 PM PT: Passings: Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Warren Rudman, who served from 1980 to 1993, has died at the age of 82. Rudman had also served as the state's attorney general and belonged to the now-extinct tradition of moderate New England Republicans—he was even asked by Bill Clinton to become his Secretary of the Treasury in 1994. Rudman was a co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act and was also a key supporter of David Souter's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. (Souter had previously served on New Hampshire's highest court.)