What remains on the table

The AP finally corrected its massive New Haven mistake, and Dan Malloy is now leading by 4,300 votes - a 12,000-vote swing since the AP’s evening numbers. With the remaining ten precincts all located in Bridgeport, Malloy looks in a good position to become Connecticut’s first Democratic Governor since 1991.

Tom Foley is threatening legal action due to polls remaining open late in parts of the state on Tuesday Night, so hopefully the chaos following AP’s mistake (which allowed Foley to suggest he was the rightful victor) will not unfairly delegitimize Malloy’s victory.

Connecticut’s turnaround means that Democrats are now in a position to sweep all four of the gubernatorial races that remained too close to call on Wednesday morning: Connecticut, Oregon, Illinois, Minnesota.

Oregon is already settled: The Governor’s race was called for John Kitzhaber last night. Just as in 2008, Portland reported late, putting the Democrat on top. Kitzhaber will have to deal with a divided government, however: The state House will be deadlocked at 30-30 and the state Senate might be deadlocked 15-15, though it will be 16-14 for Democrats if an incumbent’s 200-vote lead holds.

Illinois is quite a comeback story: Governor Pat Quinn has extended his lead to 20,000 votes - and all precincts are in. Provisional ballots remain to be counted, but most of them are reportedly in the Chicago area rather than downstate so it’s very hard to see how they allow Bill Brady pulls ahead. The race is close enough  for the Republican to ask for a recount, but 20,000 is a big margin to overcome.

The situation is similar in Minnesota: All precincts are now reporting, and Mark Dayton is clinging to a 9,000-vote lead. This is enough to trigger an automatic recount, but despite the parallels to the 2008 Senate race Dayton’s lead is 12 times larger than Norm Coleman’s was immediately after the election. The GOP can pursue its options, but Dayton supporters can breath easily.

With Oregon already under their belt, Democrats would limit the damage at the gubernatorial level if they hold on to their leads in and clinch Illinois, Minnesota and Connecticut. The GOP would then gain a net 5 governorships, which is certainly a large number but Republicans were hoping for gains approaching the 8-10 range. (That said, the GOP’s victory in Florida is a very big deal - and is by itself enough to offset any regret the party might have elsewhere.)

At the Senate level, two races remain have yet to be called: Washington and Alaska.

With ballots allowed to be postmarked on Election Day, Washington counts notoriously slowly. But Patty Murray currently leads by 28,000 votes and she is likely to keep that edge given the large number of ballots still to be counted in King County and given that she is more than meeting the benchmark she needed in that Democratic stronghold.

In Alaska, “write-in candidates” are leading Republican Joe Miller by 13,000 votes (41% to 34%), which seems like a big enough margin that Lisa Murkowski looks like the favorite going forward. Election officials will start going through write-in ballots next Wednesday, and Murkowski has to hope that no more than 13,000 of the 83,201 “write-in” ballots: (1) were cast for another write-in candidate, (2) misspelled her name so badly as to be invalidated.

If Murkowski prevails, four of the five most emblematic Tea Party candidates will have lost on Tuesday: Miller, Angle, Buck and O’Donnell. Only Rand Paul would have made it to the Senate. (You could argue Marco Rubio should count, but he really is far more of an establishment candidate than any of those I just mentioned.) However, the Tea Party scored a lot of juicy victories in House races, some of them in big upsets.

Republicans have already secured a net gain of 58 seats, but 10 House races are still uncalled: CA-11, CA-20, AZ-7, AZ-8, IL-8, KY-6, NY-25, TX-27, WA-2 and VA-11. (WA-9 was called for Democratic Rep. Adam Smith yesterday afternoon.) All are Democratic seats.

Democrats are currently trailing in 4:

  • TX-27: Rep. Solomon Ortiz is trailing by 800 votes in TX-27 with all precincts reporting, and media reports do not suggest the existence of large number of absentee or provisional ballots.
  • CA-20: Rep. Jim Costa is trailing by 17,000 1,700 with all precincts reporting, but a staggering number of provisional ballots remain to be counted - and most of them reportedly come from the counties that have favored Costa. KMPH reports that 98,000 provisional ballots have to be counted in Democratic Fresno and Kern Counties and just 500 in Republican Kings County! If those numbers are even remotely correct, Costa is favored to hold on.
  • NY-25: After leading by about 6,000 votes early Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Dan Maffei suddenly found himself trailing by 600 votes once the final precincts reported from a conservative county. Thousands of absentee ballots remain to be counted and count still change the outlook, with some reports suggesting that more come from the Maffei-friendly county. The race remains too close to call.
  • IL-8: In what would be the biggest upset of the year, Melissa Bean is trailing by 550 votes with all precincts reporting. But thousands of absentee ballots remain, and one paper calculates that Bean could pull it off if they break the way already counted absentee ballots do.

Democrats currently lead in 6:

  • CA-11: With all precincts reporting, Rep. Jerry McNerney is clinging to a 121-lead. With thousands of absentee ballots still to be counted, this could go either way.
  • AZ-7: Many provisional ballots remain, but it would be a surprise if Rep. Grijalva lost his 2% lead.
  • AZ-8: Rep. Giffords leads by 2,000 votes but a huge number of provisional ballots remain to be counted in unpredictable Pima County (47,000, to be exact!). It will probably take a while before we get a call here.
  • KY-6: Rep. Ben Chandler’s lead shrank to 600 votes, but all precincts are now reporting. We await the count of absentee ballots, but media reports suggest they should not be enough for Andy Barr to overtake Chandler’s lead.
  • WA-2: Only 70% of ballots have been counted, so it’s far too early to tell whether Rep. Larsen can keep his current 500-vote lead.
  • VA-11: With all ballots apparently counts, Rep. Gerry Connolly leads by slightly less than 1000 votes. We now move to a routine recanvass. Fimian could then ask for a recount, but if the recanvass doesn’t allow him to close the gap it will be hard to see Connolly going down.

That leaves us with down-ballot races, and while I am not going to go through all of them, two I am following are California’s Attorney General race and the New York state Senate.

In California, Democrat (and progressive-favorite) Kamala Harris seized a lead late on Tuesday night - but it has since been shrinking. With tens of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be counted, she is up by about 8,000 votes. And in New York, the GOP will capture a 32-30 seat majority in the chamber if current leads hold, but three seats have yet to be called.

One last thing: Some of you might remember that back in the spring I was perplexed (to say the least) at the DSCC’s disdain towards Elaine Marshall. Given the political environment this fall, I certainly don’t think she could have won had she been treated differently. But I just wanted to point out that Marshall ended up running stronger than Robin Carnahan in Missouri, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire and Lee Fisher in Ohio.

37 Responses to “What remains on the table”

  1. 1 Nathan

    Of course, the AP tally still appears to be at odds with the Secretary of State’s report, showing Foley ahead by over 40,000(!) votes despite(!!) Malloy netting 17,000 from New Haven. There are caveats (as described in my comment on the previous post), but the Sec. State is a better source than the AP.

  2. 2 Taniel

    Nathan, the SoS website includes no votes from Bridgeport, which is one reason for the big difference.

    But it doesn’t account for all of it, and the New Haven numbers for one are different. I’m really not sure what’s going on in Connecticut at this point.

  3. 3 Nathan

    Yeah, it looks like we’ll have to wait and see.

    On another matter, one I broach hesitantly…it seems to me that over the years Democrats have done a lot better in “too close to call” elections than Republicans have. The cynical side of my mind thinks that large-scale vote tampering is easier in big cities than in rural areas. I’m NOT making any accusations. But, objectively, wouldn’t it take a lot less work to slip in, say 10,000 forged ballots in Chicago than to distribute 500 each to 20 different counties?

    I think both parties have honest and dishonest people. But I wonder if the level of opportunity for cheating (even if the party leadership never knows about it) is greater for Democrats, simply because their voters are concentrated. Anyway, such thoughts spring to mind when I watch Democrats rack up yet another slate of Wednesday morning victories.

  4. 4 Gerard

    Interesting stuff. In North Carolina, the entire state legislature flipped in a huge way to the Republicans, so, as Daniel noted, it might not have mattered who the Dems nominated for the US Senate seat. But, if the Dems had put some more money into the state, it could have helped bring out some more voters for the legislative races; of course, the state legislature would have still flipped, but anything to help keep losses down. Gov. Perdue is going to have quite a contest on her hands in 2 years. Interesting that most incumbent Dems running for Congress did fairly well (all their contests have been tallied up, no nail biters, except for Rep. Etheridge, even if the margins are smaller than, say, 2008); it is encouraging that voters will split their tickets, as it should be.

    I was thinking about Nathan’s thought, about cheating in large urban areas. I’d like to see a study of the manpower put in place in urban voting precincts versus rural, and urban versus rural local election boards. Also, do urban voting precincts generally have more voters to being with? Is it just pure incompetence, or do the large urban areas just not staff these elections as well as is needed.

    As a former New Yorker, I am also interested in the State Senate contests. It is little known but when reapportionment for the state legislature occurs, there is a large margin of difference allowed in the population of the districts. It is large enough to allow for some “fudging”, therefore, state senate districts upstate can have somewhat fewer people than those downstate. The reason this is important is that it saves a couple of upstate Senate Republicans seats and with the State Senate being so closely divided, every seat counts. In fact, after the last census, another State Senate seat was created, and added to New York City, (instead of being taken away from upstate where there were large population losses), which is why there is an even number of seats in the State Senate, which will mean that if the balance is 50/50, there is the need for power sharing.

    The next 2 years will be interesting with Obama and the GOP House doing some power sharing. Either they sink or swim together. Boehner must know that he can lose his speakership just as fast as Pelosi did, and I am sure his caucus wouldn’t give him another shot later. I know the reapportionment will give the GOP a built in advantage in 2012, but, if the GOP continues to stonewall, they will be out in 2 years; of course Obama also has to show flexibility. This era reminds me of the late 1940’s - early 1950’s, when the US House and Senate switched party control several times, after years of Dem control. The uncertainty of those years of course fed into this. I do marvel at the fact that FDR was able to build on his majorities in very hard economic times, in fact, in the 1934 midterms, the Dems added 10 more Senators and 9 more Reps. So, Obama, if he is a strong enough leader, can also gain strength.

  5. 5 Anonymous


    Good philosophy about Democrats tampering with the vote. The increase in Democratic votes the day after election certainly can’t have anything to do with that there are a lot more votes in urban areas (Democrats) and these take longer to count. It almost certainly has to be forged ballots!

    In Oregon, the Kitzhaber win due to late Multnomah county votes had to be due to voting fraud. It can’t have anything to do with the fact that 91,000 turned in their ballots on the last day (Oregon is all mail-in) and all those ballots had to be checked to signatures on file. I bet voting officials slipped fake ballots past all the observers.

    Great observations!

  6. 6 Taniel


    Republicans are not helpless. If they thought fraud was happening, they would make it an issue. And by that I do not mean they would express vaguely phrased fears about ACORN stealing elections or Portland systematically saving the day for Democrats (they do often express such fears); I mean they would bring forth evidence and go to courts.

    I also question the premise that close races tend to break Democratic. The GOP saved a big number of House races by excruciatingly tiny margins in 2006/2008; Pat Toomey and Mark Kirk’s margins of victories are tighter than Harry Reid’s. And Florida’s competitive statewide elections often end with a tiny GOP victory - this year, the 2004 Senate race and, of course, the 2000 presidential election.

    But here’s the bottom-line. Big cities tend to report late in many states (Oregon, Washington, Missouri), and big cities are Democratic strongholds. End of story.

  7. 7 Matt

    Daniel is basically correct on the Too Close To Call House Elections. While I thought that they were about 50/50 in 2008, in 2006 the GOP won something like 10 of 11 races not called by Wednesday noon.

  8. 8 LivesintheValley

    Jim Costa, CA-20, is trailing by 1,800 votes, NOT 17,000.
    Even the Republicans are admitting that once the absentee ballots from Fresno and Kern Counties are counted, he will win re-election.

  9. 9 Ogre Mage


    Patty Murray wins, Dino Rossi concedes:


  10. 10 Nathan

    Gerard, I also wonder about the manpower situation in urban precincts. Why should cities take longer to count votes? I know they have more votes to count, but don’t they also have more people to do the counting? Yet, for some reason, cities routinely run out of ballots, stay open late, and cannot report their totals until the wee hours. It would be interesting to learn why. Maybe there are just more precincts (each with similar numbers of votes to precincts throughout the state), and the cities just don’t report anything until all the precincts are done counting? But that doesn’t seem to be how the numbers come in, and anyway it wouldn’t explain the need to stay open after other polling places. Can it be that they just have too few voting places?

    My observation is extremely modest: that structural differences in vote procedures will result in structural differences in the opportunity to cheat (which could cut either way–I’d just like to understand them better). I’d say exactly the same thing if Republicans dominated the urban centers.

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