• ME-Sen: Staying true to form, Maine's new senator-elect, independent Angus King, is still refusing to declare whether he'll caucus with the Democrats or the GOP in the Senate. Hey, Angus if you want to join the Republican minority—or hell, execute your cockamamie plan to caucus with no one—that's fine with me.
• WA-Gov: If it's the day after Election Day and you're in Washington... that means you were probably still watching the votes being counted. At the end of Tuesday night's counting, Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee led GOP AG Rob McKenna 51.3-48.7. There are still 1.3 million votes remaining to be counted, meaning McKenna would need to win 52% of the remaining ballots to pull it out. Since this spread isn't much different from Inslee's margin of victory in the top 2 primary, I wouldn't expect the numbers to change much. Traditionally, the Dem share would increase as King County would take the longest to count—but King County says that they've streamlined operations this year and they may be reporting at a rate fairly proportionate with the rest of the state, so don't count on the spread increasing.
So, while the nation's longest gubernatorial winning streak apparently continues (the Dems haven't lost a race since 1980), it's also looking like an even longer streak may continue too. In this blue state, a Democrat hasn't won the Secretary of State election since 1960. (As I've explained before, people have gotten entrenched with the idea of electing a moderate, good-government Republican to this job as their token act of ticket-splitting.) Republican Kim Wyman, the Thurston Co. Auditor, is currently defeating Democrat ex-state Sen. Kathleen Drew, 50.3-49.7. Dems are holding all the other statewide offices, though, including Bob Ferguson picking up the open AG position vacated by McKenna. (David Jarman)
• CA-35: You may have seen the defeat of CA-15 Dem Rep. Pete Stark coming, but the loss of Blue Dog Rep. Joe Baca to state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod in the San Gabriel Valley's 35th wasn't high on too many watch lists... and now it's a subtle but important move of the Dem caucus's ideological needle to the left. Michael Bloomberg's late intervention (he dislikes Baca over gun issues) may have actually paid dividends here. McLeod finished with 55.7% of the vote.
What I'm wondering is whether Baca is kicking himself for not running in the 31st, where half of his old constituents are. His decision to run in the 35th (whether the other half of his constituents are) seems premised on the 35th being a bluer district than the 31st (64% Obama in '08, instead of 56%). If he'd left the 35th for McLeod and run in the 31st, though, he would have cleared the Dem field of all the nobodies who ran there, faced Gary Miller (or Bob Dutton), cleaned Miller's clock, and still had a job (and the Dems would have one more seat, instead of Miller's fluky win). Coulda, shoulda, woulda. (By the way, h/t to micha1976, who made the same point in the diaries.) (David Jarman)
• MI-11: This may be one of the most underreported stories of Tuesday night: Even as Paulist reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio was winning the MI-11 election for the next two years, the Democrat won the special election over Bentivolio to fill out the last two months of ex-Rep. Thad McCotter's term during the lame duck. And, no, it wasn't Syed Taj, who didn't bother running in the special: It was David Curson, a Some Dude who will now get his name etched in the history books as one of the least consequential members of Congress ever (something of the Dems' own Snelly Gibbr).
I hate to start accusing the residents of a whole congressional district of racism, but the logical equation for the MI-11 election goes like this: completely unknown Dem with Anglo name > demonstrably crazy Republican > Dem with strong resume but poor campaign skills and furrn'r name. Could someone with Syed Taj's resume, but named, say, Jay Teds, have won the full two-year term? (One other thing to note, though, is that the stub-term election was run in the old 11th, which was slightly bluer than the new version.) (David Jarman)
NY-24: LOL! GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, who lost to Dem ex-Rep. Dan Maffei by five points, is somehow refusing to concede. Of all the candidates currently doing their best impression of a WWII-era Japanese soldier stuck in the Philippine jungle in 1972, I believe Buerkle is trailing by the widest margin.
• Here's a look at a handful of off-the-radar House races that wound up being unexpectedly close:
: Republican Ron DeSantis, a Club for Growth favorite in this conservative open seat, beat underfunded Democrat Heather Beaven by just 56-44.
• HI-01: Dem Rep. Colleen Hanabusa won her rematch with the guy she defeated in 2010, ex-Rep. Charles Djou, by just a 55-45 margin. Some polling had shown a potentially close-ish race, but it would have been hard to imagine Djou winning under any circumstances. Name rec probably kept him close. When the GOP goes back to putting up Some Dudes here, hopefully Hanabusa's margins will improve, because it would sure be frustrating if she wound up being a chronic underperformer.
• NC-09 Republican Robert Pittenger, who self-funded his way to the GOP nomination and spent over $2.2 million of his own money, only got 52 percent to Democrat Jennifer Roberts' 46 in this very red open seat. Roberts had offered a poll a while back showing her potentially competitive, and we had kept this seat on the big board as Likely R for a while, but we eventually moved it to Safe R and no one seemed to take her chances seriously. That looks like it may have been a mistake.
• NY-23: Another race we moved from Likely R to Safe R down the homestretch where it seems Democrats really should have made more of an effort. GOP Rep. Tom Reed eked out a 52-48 win over Democrat Nate Shinagawa, who had very little money. A major missed opportunity.
• CA Prop 34: Proposition 34, a measure that would replace California's death penalty with a maximum sentence of life without parole, has narrowly failed. With most votes counted, 52% of voters were opposed and 48% supported the measure.
• San Diego Mayor: It took until daybreak, but San Diego has a new mayor... and for the first time in ages, it's a Democrat. Retiring U.S. Rep. Bob Filner decided a turn as mayor of his home town would be a good career capstone, but with San Diego's long-time preference for GOPers at the local level even as it's turned dark-blue presidentially (and perhaps due to Filner's irascibility as well), it turned into a difficult race: he led Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio only 51.5-48.5 in the end. DeMaio—who would have been the nation's first big-city gay Republican mayor—conceded Wednesday morning.
Also worth mentioning is the new mayor in Portland, Oregon, ex-city councilor Charlie Hales, who beat state Rep. Jefferson Smith 62-30 after some of the less appealing parts of Smith's resume surfaced late in the game. This wasn't a D-on-R battle royale, just a battle of different-flavored liberals along lines not likely to make much sense to non-Portlanders, sort of like Subarus vs. Volvos or vegans vs. grass-fed-beef eaters. (David Jarman)
• NRSC: Well, that 2012 election was interesting, but now it's time to start talking about 2014. Yes, it's time to decide who leads the Senate Republicans' campaign shop during the next cycle, where the GOP will probably gain seats thanks to it being a midterm under a Dem president and Dems having more seats to defend (it's the class of '08). (Of course, look how well that 'probably gain seats' thing worked out for them this year.) At any rate, Kansas's Jerry Moran claims to have already banked enough votes to nail the job down, though he made that pronouncement right after Ohio's Rob Portman expressed his own interest in the job. (David Jarman)
• Polltopia: Fordham University was quick out of the gate with a study assessing national pollsters and how their final numbers compared to the actual results. There was a two-way tie for first between none other than PPP... and PPP! (Both PPP's tracking poll and their weekly poll for Daily Kos and SEIU pegged a two-point Obama win.) Interestingly, PPP is followed closely by an Internet-based pollster, YouGov, suggesting this may well become a legitimate polling avenue and a way around the cellphone problem.
You're probably more interested in who did worst, though, and it's not exactly who you'd think: GfK, on behalf of the Associated Press, brought up the rear. NPR and National Journal's polling was only slightly better, and only then, and fourth and fifth worst, come Rasmussen and Gallup.
And at the Monkey Cage, there are two other pollster evaluation exercises, apparently involving more complicated factors (like margin of error for estimated margin of victory)... and they come up with the essentially same results: PPP closest to the target, followed closely by YouGov and Ipsos/Reuters, with Gallup and Rasmussen the furthest in right field and National Journal and D-Corps the furthest in left field. (David Jarman)
• Democrats did very well on the state legislative front on Tuesday night, and the DLCC has a helpful list of all the key contested chambers and their outcomes:
New Hampshire House
New York Senate
New Mexico House
New Mexico Senate
Dem Majorities Increase:
Dems Gain Super-Majorities:
California Assembly and Senate
Illinois House and Senate
Dems Gain Seats (still in minority):
On the flipside, Democrats only lost two chambers for sure: the Wisconsin Senate, which we only barely regained control of after a year of painful recalls, and the Arkansas Senate. The Arkansas House and the New Hampshire Senate are still too close to call, and the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats which have long run the Alaska Senate is also still up in the air. Conservatives won a bunch of seats, but it looks like it'll come down to whether Dem state Sen. Hollis French, who currently is up by just a smidge
, can hang on.
• CA Lege: This lede pretty much says it all:
California Democrats appear to have picked up a supermajority in both houses of the state Legislature Tuesday night, a surprise outcome that gives the party the ability to unilaterally raise taxes and leaves Republicans essentially irrelevant in Sacramento.
Now you may have thought that Republicans were already irrelevant in California, but the state labors under a 2/3rds requirement in both legislative chambers to raise taxes, one that leaves the budgeting process a chaotic nightmare. Democrats have hovered just under that mark for a number of years now, but they finally broke through that, thanks to a little independent redistricting commission assist. Observers weren't expecting the Dems to hit the 2/3rds mark in the Assembly, but an upset win by Fullerton mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva over GOP Asm. Chris Norby in northern Orange County appears to have gotten it done. (David Jarman)
• GA Lege: It's never going to be all good news. Georgia Republicans actually kicked ass in their legislative elections on Tuesday and now hold 119 seats in the state House—just one shy of the 120 needed for a super-majority. And now the chamber's lone right-leaning independent, Rusty Kidd, says he may caucus with the GOP to give them that unstoppable advantage. (Dems tried to defeat him.) Republicans also are all but assured for a super-majority in the Senate, and they already control the governor's mansion. What's scary about this is that now the lege can pass constitutional amendments without requiring a popular vote—all this in a state Obama only lost by a pretty respectable 8 points. Sigh.
• IL Lege: Remember when Republicans claimed they could flip the Illinois House and Senate? This happened: Dems +7 in the House; +5 in the Senate.
• New Hampshire: It also looks like the Dems have picked up New Hampshire's unusual Executive Council, which has certain veto powers over the governor's actions. (The prior iteration of the EC stymied outgoing Dem Gov. John Lynch more than once.) Dems now have 3 seats versus 2 for the GOP.
• NY-St. Sen: So a crazy thing happened on Tuesday night: Democrats might—might—have retaken the New York state Senate, even though the GOP had a free hand in drawing the ultimate screw-the-Dems map. (I guess there's only so long you can defy demographics.) Here's the deal: Team Blue held its two vulnerable seats, SD-15 and the open SD-37. Dems also picked up, as expected, SD-55, an open GOP seat. But there appear to be two shocker victories. In SD-41, Democrat Terry Gipson looks to have defeated GOP Sen. Steve Saland, who staved off a primary challenge after voting for gay marriage, but who nevertheless still had to deal with that opponent running on the Conservative Party line. That allowed Gipson to squeak out a 1-point, 44-43 win.
And in the new "63rd" seat (actually SD-46), Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk has a 140-vote lead over Republican Assemblyman George Amedore, in a contest where George Soros's super PAC spent heavily against Amedore. But here's where things get really complicated: In SD-17, the so-called "super Jewish" district, "Democrat" Simcha Felder defeated Republican David Storobin, but Felder is super-cozy with GOP leadership and seems to prefer caucusing with them, though he might just sell out to the highest bidder. Then there's also the "Independent Democratic Conference" (aka the IDC)—a group of four wankerish "independent" Dems who enjoy tormenting their nominal party to gain perks from Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and may side with him for control of the chamber.
So here's how it all looks, if Tkaczyk hangs on: You have 28 actual Democrats, 4 IDC members, 1 Simcha Felder, and 30 Republicans. If the IDC sticks together, then they'll hold the balance of power and Felder won't matter. Supposedly, the IDC despises the current Dem leadership, so perhaps some kind of deal could be struck to bring them back into the fold. But I think it might be challenging for these four people elected on the Democratic line to side with the GOP when "Democrats" almost certainly have the majority in the chamber. And it could be a while before we see how things shake out, since these kinds of negotiations have tended to drag on in a lengthy and ugly fashion in the past. But what we do know for sure is that the GOP had a very bad night on election night.
• PA-St. Sen: I'd though that if the Dems flipped two seats in the Pennsylvania state Senate—impossible to dislodge from its GOP control since time immemorial—that'd be epic enough (if predictable, since internal polls already had them up big in two GOP-held open seats). But they actually managed to flip a third seat as well, with Dem Rob Teplitz picking up a state Senate seat in the Harrisburg area vacated by GOPer Jeff Piccola, 52-48. This narrows the GOP edge to 27-23, striking distance for a Dem flip next time. (David Jarman)
• WV-St. House: The GOP made great strides in West Virginia's House of Delegates, picking up 11 seats, but still falling short of the majority with 46 out of 100 total in the chamber. It appears that Mountain State Democrats are living on borrowed time.
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