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Category Archive for ‘NY-20’ at Campaign Diaries
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Archive for the 'NY-20' Category


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It’s all over in NY-20

Jim Tedisco has conceded the race, and Scott Murphy is heading to Washington.

As the number of uncounted ballots was dwindling, it was becoming mathematically impossible for the Republican to overtake Murphy’s lead. This is not a surprise: It was clear that Murphy had a decisive edge as soon as we learned the geographical and partisan breakdown of the district’s 7,000 absentee ballots. Tedisco’s decision to frivolously challenge hundreds of ballots only delayed the revelation of the magnitude of Murphy’s victory.

In fact, the situation had become so desperate for the GOP that I was led to wonder what they could possibly be looking to accomplish by prolonging the contest. My somewhat provocative answer was that Republicans had bigger fish to fry than Tedisco’s victory and that they were looking to set legal precedents that they could use in future elections - precedents about the eligibility of voters who own a second residence or the eligibility of voters who attent college. I myself thought I might be too eager to believe conspiracy theories, but it turns out I was right. From a Roll Call story published this morning:

The source said that Tedisco believes the residency issues that came up during absentee vote counting after the March 31 contest could have a bearing on future races in New York. As such, the source said, Tedisco wants to see those issues resolved before ending the legal battle.

Politico heard the same:

Republican sources said that the campaign’s legal approach to the absentee ballots is geared as much towards the 2010 elections as it is to help Tedisco win this particular election. The party has an interest in establishing the legal principle that the many dual-residency voters who live in New York City cannot vote elsewhere in the state – and a premature concession in the Tedisco race would prevent them from making their case.

A favorable court ruling could prove useful since the GOP hopes to target as many as six Democratic-held Upstate New York seats next year. Among the party’s leading targets are: Reps. John Hall, Michael Arcuri, Eric Massa and Dan Maffei– and Murphy too, assuming he ultimately prevails.

Murphy might be heading to Washington, but it looks like this is not the last we are hearing on residency requirements.

Tedisco’s concession completes a remarkable defense by Democrats. When Kirsten Gillibrand was tapped for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, the special election looked like a perfect opportunity for Republicans to regain some political footing. For one, there is no question that the Democrats’ bench was pathetically weak compared to the GOP’s. Second, Republicans were on a roll in elections scheduled since November (in Georgia, Louisiana or Northern Virginia). In short: After two cycles in which Republicans lost their standing in upstate New York, they were favored to pick-up NY-20.

But the campaign did not unfold as the GOP was hoping for. Tedisco was forced on the defensive by refusing to take position on the stimulus and he was lambasted in the local press for weeks; when he finally declared that he would have voted against the bill, it only put him at odds with the majority of voters, who approved Obama’s economic policies. Republicans (and pundits like Rothenberg) thought that Murphy declaring his opposition to the death penalty would cost him, as if an issue that has become so low-profile (especially in New York) could outweigh voters’ economic concerns in the current crisis.

That Murphy barely won should not obscure the fact that he was considered an underdog throughout the campaign. Sure, he was never expected to lose by 20% - the margin found by the first polls; the district was competitive enough and the DCCC was going to invest enough that no one doubted that the gap would narrow. Yet, national Republicans got far more involved in the district than did national Democrats - a clear sign that they expected to do well - and this is a humiliating finish for RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who intended to present NY-20 as the first step towards reconquering power.

(It is doubtful Steele will be much endangered by this result, however: News that the RNC had significantly outraised the DNC over the first quarter of 2009 should allow him to save himself by pointing out that he has at least been successful at the first duty of a party chairman.)

At the end of the day, the equilibrium barely changed since November - 51% for Obama, slightly more than 50% for Murphy - and that’s good news for Democrats since that equilibrium was that of a large Democratic victory nationwide. The GOP remains far below the support it used to enjoy in the district while Democrats managed to keep the support of voters they seduced in 2006 and in 2008 - an achievement considering that circumstances were very favorable for Democrats over those two cycles.

Sure, Democrats missed an opportunity to prove that voters were being drawn in by Obama’s presidency and that the party was only growing further - but how much more could have been expected from a political novice with far lower name recognition than Jim Tedisco, the state Assembly’s Minority Leader? (In fact, Tedisco kept it this close by overperforming in Saratoga County, which he represents in the legislature.)

With Murphy replacing Gillibrand, the balance of power does not change: Democrats will control 257 seats, Republicans 178 - 40 seats away from a majority. In retrospect, Murphy’s victory could be remembered as the final chapter of the GOP’s nightmarish collapse - or the first chapter of the Democratic Party’s growth under President Obama.


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What are Republicans hoping to accomplish in NY-20?

A week after issuing a decision that invalidated most of Jim Tedisco’s challenges, Judge Jim Brands backtracked and agreed with Republicans that he was relying on faulty use of precedents. (See this post for more information on the GOP’s argument.) Brands had initially ruled that a voter’s absentee ballot application cannot be used as grounds to challenge his absentee ballot; today, he ruled that Tedisco is entitled to review those applications.

Had Tedisco not be allowed to use these applications as evidence, most of the challenges his camp issued during the absentee ballot count would have been invalidated. But Brands has now given him a chance to argue for the exclusion of hundreds of absentee ballots. On a case-by-case basis, Republican lawyers will have the opportunity to ask the judge to toss out a ballot.

As to why Republicans thinks that getting ballots tossed out will be good news for Tedisco, that remains a total mystery to me. In Minnesota, Norm Coleman spent weeks arguing against the inclusion of new ballots. Yet, the situation changed once Al Franken took the lead: Republicans recognized that their only path to victory was to expand the universe of valid ballots and thus demand that thousands of additional votes be counted. The situation in NY-20 started out similarly: Just like Franken, Murphy took a decisive lead after Republicans had clamored against the inclusion additional ballots. But the parallel stops there.

The GOP seems to have missed the memo that Tedisco is now trailing and that getting ballots tossed out only lower the odds of a Tedisco comeback. (I explain this in more detail below.) Unless Republican lawyers now have bigger fish to fry than Tedisco’s victory…

Today, Murphy further expanded his lead

Judge Brands’ ruling did not correct the other major decision he delivered last Wednesday: A ballot should be counted when election officials unanimously overrule a poll watcher’s objection. Today, Warren County counted such ballots and the results were a dramatic boost for Murphy: Out of 131 ballots that were counted, he won 111. 20 went for Tedisco. Combined with a gain of one vote in Essex County, Murphy’s lead was boosted from 273 to 365 votes.

This is first and foremost confirmation that Tedisco’s camp challenged far more absentee ballots than his opponent - and that many of its objections were frivolous enough to be overruled by all election officials. It also further lowers the odds of a Tedisco comeback: There are still about 1400 challenged ballots to be considered and Tedisco needs to net 365 votes to overtake Murphy’s lead. If all these ballots are accepted, the Republican can win the election by receiving about 63% of the challenged ballots. That’s up from the already too high 58% Tedisco stood at on Friday. Needless to say, Tedisco is clearly headed towards a defeat.

Here’s the obvious catch: The more challenged ballots are tossed out, the higher a percentage of those that are included Tedisco will need to win. For instance: If 400 challenged ballots are deemed invalid, Tedisco would need to receive more than 68% of the remaining 1,000 ballots. Why, then, would Tedisco try to stop challenged ballots from being included?

Sure, the challenged ballots are likely to boost Murphy further. Sure, as I calculated on Friday they have been disproportionately cast by registered Democrats. Sure, it would take a miracle for Tedisco to pull off a comeback thanks to these ballots. But the miracle becomes increasingly inconceivable with each ballot that is tossed out, thus reducing the pool of votes Tedisco can rely on to close the gap!

Looking for an explanation to the GOP’s desire to toss out ballots

The first hypothesis I have is that Tedisco still believes victory is possible and that the only path is to pull off a massive deception: He could have a chance if hundreds of challenged absentee ballots cast by registered Democrats find themselves tossed out while most challenged absentee ballots cast by Republicans make their way to the final count - all of this under the cover of a “case by case” examination of the votes. But Murphy’s lead is too great, and the pool of challenged ballots skews too greatly towards Democrats for such a maneuver to make any sense.

The second hypothesis, then, is that Republicans have given up on victory and that they are only looking to establish legal precedents that could serve them in the future.

As was reported in detail last week, GOP watchers in some counties systematically objected to absentee ballots from voters who hold a secondary residence in New York City and in Florida, as well as those sent in by college students. On its face, this is a frivolous challenge as voters who have more than one residence have the right to choose in which district they will cast their ballot; but Judge Brands has essentially questioned that premise by ruling that a case-by-case examination of absentee ballot applications are in order.

It is more than probable that Tedisco will lose even if the GOP’s legal strategy is successful; but for Brands (who has a history of boosting GOP candidates in election contests) to rule on the side of GOP lawyers on a number of ballots they want thrown out could set the stage for Republicans to later challenge the eligibility of voters with residency ties to Democratic areas, the eligibility of students who come from other parts of the state or of the country or the eligibility or 91-year old woman who write that they are too old to go to the polls on their absentee application form.

In a way, NY-20 features the opposite situation as in Minnesota’s Senate race. There, a Coleman victory could set a precedent for expansive use of “equal protection” that Republicans would undoubtedly come to regret; here, Republicans could lose the election but lay the groundwork for legal arguments they will use later.


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In NY-20, all that remains is challenged ballots

All 10 of NY-20’s counties have finished processing their absentee ballots, leaving Scott Murphy with a lead of 273 votes.

Just two days ago, the Democrat was ahead by only 86 votes, but he was expected to gain further since Tedisco’s stronghold of Saratoga County had finished reporting. “By the time we get to challenged ballots, Murphy’s lead could easily top 200 votes,” I wrote - and that is exactly what has happened.

The election battle now moves to the roughly 1,700 absentee ballots that were challenged by the two campaigns during the past 10 days. That is obviously a large enough number that Tedisco can mathematically take the lead, but the challenge looks insurmountable for the Republican: His goal is now to net 273 votes out of 1,500 challenged ballots, so we can easily calculate that he would need to win 58% of the challenged ballots.

Needless to say, that is highly unlikely given that Murphy has won a majority of the paper ballots that have already been counted and that Tedisco’s camp is responsible for the majority of these ballots being put aside. While Saratoga County has not released the partisan breakdown of voters whose ballots has been challenged, we know for sure that registered Democrats are dramatically over-represented in Columbia and in Washington.

Murphy’s campaign has released its database of challenged ballots to drive the point home. Their unofficial estimates are that 810 challenged ballots were cast by registered Democrats (45%), 653 from registered Republican (36%) and that 310 were cast from third-party/unaffiliated voters. Now remember:

  • 46% of all absentee ballots were returned by Republicans, and 35% were returned by Democrats.
  • Among the entire electorate, the GOP’s registration edge is even larger - 15%.

Simply put, this means that the pool of absentee ballots is less Republican than the electorate at large - and the subset of challenged ballots is itself dramatically more Democratic than the pool of absentee ballots. If the breakdown above is true (and the numbers certainly match everything else we have been hearing), we shouldn’t expect Tedisco to receive more than 40% of the challenged ballots - far from the 58% he needs.

We shall know more on Monday, when counties are set to start counting most of these challenged ballots. As I explained on Thursday, a judge ruled overruled most challenges by ruling that the application filed by a voter to receive an absentee voter can not be used as ground for objecting to a ballot.

But there is a glimmer of legal hope for the Republican: His lawyers are hoping to convince Judge James Brands to modify the implications of his rulings. Their two arguments:

  1. Judge Brands based his ruling on a case called Jacobs v. Biamante, which ruled that campaigns did not have the right to demand copies of voters’ applications to receive an absentee ballot. But since that ruling concerned campaigns’ demands for such applications before Election Day, Republicans are arguing that the precedent does not apply.
  2. Judge Brands rejected challenges based on a voter’s absentee ballot application because the determination that those applications are valid was already made weeks ago when the state Board of Election decided to issue the absentee ballots. But Republicans are pointing out that such a ruling is impractical as it would create logistical chaos if campaigns were allowed to challenge a Board of Election’s decision to issue absentee ballots.

At best, Tedisco can hope for the judge to rule that challenged ballots should be examined one by one in court - and that would certainly draw out the process.

But whatever the merits of these arguments, I am very confused about Tedisco’s strategy. Let’s say he convinces Judge Brands to reverse last week’s ruling and then manages to get hundreds of ballots tossed out - which certainly seems to be his goal. How will he then overcome Murphy’s advantage? The Republican is now trailing by 273 votes based on already counted ballots! The more challenged ballots are tossed out, the higher the percentage of those who are counted Tedisco would have to receive to net 273 votes - as if 58% was not already high enough.


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Tedisco suffers decisive blows

In NY-20’s special election, Scott Murphy’s lead now stands at 86 votes. That might look like a small change since he posted a lead of 47 votes yesterday, but the numbers hide decisive developments that have brought the Democrat to the brink of victory.

Saratoga County has reported

As of yesterday morning, Tedisco’s stronghold of Saratoga County, which makes up a third of the district’s population and 27% of the absentee ballot pool, had not reported. While Murphy was performing better than he needed to in other counties, a strong Tedisco performance in Saratoga could have been enough to put him over the top.

Saratoga County reported its full results last night - and it was not enough to put Tedisco over the top: The Republican netted 163 votes, but that was canceled out by Murphy’s gains in other counties (see below).

Tedisco got 58% of the absentee ballots in Saratoga, which is better than the 54% he had received on Election Day. Yet, not only is some of that improvement due to the large number of frivolous challenges issued by Republicans, but it is not enough of a boost to compensate for his very disappointing absentee performance elsewhere in the district.

Yesterday, I detailed Murphy’s remarkably strong numbers in the five counties that have finished counting their paper ballots. Now, take a look at the three Murphy strongholds that counted hundreds of new ballots yesterday.

  • Washington: Murphy received 56% of the Election Day vote, and 59% among absentee ballots.
  • Columbia: Murphy received 56% of the Election Day vote, and a startling 66% among absentee ballots. The county still has absentee ballots to count.
  • Warren:  Murphy received 56% of the Election Day vote, and 60% among absentee ballots. The county still has absentee ballots to count.

Now, all but three counties have finished canvassing their absentee ballots: Columbia, Dutchess and Warren. All voted for Murphy two weeks ago. In short: Expect the Democrat to significantly increase his lead as these three counties finished the process. By the time we get to challenged ballots, then, Murphy’s lead could easily top 200 votes.

(Indeed, remember that 1,300 ballots have been challenged and thus temporarily put aside - 700 of which come from Saratoga County. In other words, there are certainly enough ballots for Tedisco to have a mathematical chance of reclaiming the lead.)

Let’s say this again: Now that Saratoga has reported, Murphy is all but sure of winning this election if all the challenged ballots are thrown out! That is a startling reversal given that Tedisco is the one who is trying to throw out those challenged ballots - and it is Murphy who is trying to get them included.

The situation is exactly the same as that of Minnesota. Until the end of December, Franken was the candidate who was trying to get as many rejected absentee ballots counted as possible; but once he took the lead, the roles got reversed and Coleman was stuck arguing for the expansion of the universe of valid ballots. And Tedisco is in even worse shape than Coleman, since he himself is responsible for objections to a majority of the challenged ballots (in Minnesota, the GOP had little to do with the rejection of absentee ballots).

This is a lose-lose situation for Tedisco:

  • If challenged ballots are not counted, Murphy is all but assured of victory win.
  • If challenged ballots are counted, Tedisco has a mathematical chance of winning - but it’s difficult to see where Tedisco is going to net votes since Republicans have challenged more ballots than Democrats. With a conservative assumption of a 150-vote Murphy lead at the end of the Dutchess/Warren/Columbia process, Tedisco would need to win more than 55% of  challenged ballots to score a victory; he should consider himself lucky if he wins 50%.

In short: Tedisco better rethink his strategy of objecting to as many ballots as possible quickly.

Most challenged ballots will be counted

In another major development that occurred last night, Judge James Brand tossed out most of the objections issued during the absentee ballots counts. He sided with Democrats in issuing two major decisions:

  1. A ballot should be counted when election officials unanimously overrule a poll watcher’s objection.
  2. The application filed by a voter to receive an absentee voter can not be used as ground for objecting to a ballot. The reason: The determination that those applications are valid was already made weeks ago when the state Board of Election decided to issue the absentee ballots.

Most of the challenged ballots fall in the latter category. For instance, Republican poll watchers objected to the ballot of a 91-year old woman, saying that her claim that she was too old to go to the polls in person was not a valid reason to issue an absentee ballot. Under the judge’s decision, that ballot will now be counted. Similarly, Kirsten Gillibrand’s vote will now make her way in the final tally.

As I explained above, Tedisco’s main hope of victory is for challenged ballots to be counted - especially the 700 in Saratoga. As such, this ruling can be said to save his candidacy. But it is telling of how deep of a hole he has fallen in that he should take relief in judge siding against him: Many ballots that now will be counted were challenged because the voter had a primary residence in New York City or in Florida; the majority of those should go for Murphy - as should the ballots of college students that Tedisco has sought to exclude.

(Note that Democrats were very worried atout Judge Brand, who had a history of siding with Republicans in recent election lawsuits. That will make it harder for the GOP to now blast him as a partisan.)

We are now in the final stretch, and the election could be all but resolved in the coming 48 hours. With hundreds of challenged ballots now set to be counted, we will soon know whether Tedisco has enough support left to stage a comeback.


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As Tedisco challenges absentee ballots, early counting trends favor Murphy

As of Wednesday morning at 9am, Scott Murphy leads NY-20’s special election by 47 votes - a swing of 102 votes based on the counting of absentee ballots. Tedisco-stronghold Saratoga County and Murphy-stronghold Washington County have yet to report any results from their absentee counting, while Columbia and Warren Counties (both won overwhelmingly by Murphy) have a long way to go before completing their count.

The early trends contain good news for Murphy

That does not mean we cannot draw some lessons from the ballots that have been tallied so far. 5 out of 10 counties have finished counting their absentee ballots, and the results are telling (the counties are ordered by size):

County Murphy’s % on Election Night Murphy’s % among absentee ballots
Rensselaer 48.5 51.2
Greene 44.4 47.4
Delaware 49.8 52.6
Essex 55.2 58.7
Ostego 48.76 44.35

In 4 out of 5 counties, Murphy performed better among absentee ballots than on Election Day - and the fifth county (Ostego) is by far the smallest of all these counties, having cast 115 absentee ballots compared to 432 in Rensselaer!

Now, remember what I calculated last week: Counties where Murphy performed well are dramatically over-represented in the absentee ballot count. If every county’s absentee ballot count is exactly the same as the Election Day count, Murphy would net a decisive number of votes. Put otherwise: Since Murphy’s strongholds make up a disproportionate share of absentee ballots, Murphy needs to do nothing else than secure the same percentage among absentee ballots as he did on Election Day in each county, while Tedisco needs to over-perform to offset the absentee ballots’ unfavorable geographical distribution.

And yet, we now learn that not only is Tedisco not improving his score - but that it is Murphy who is drawing better results than he was Election Night! Sure, we should not draw any conclusions before we get a sense of the trend in Saratoga: if Tedisco overperforms among absentee ballots in the district’s biggest county, he could make up for losses elsewhere. But he would have to do so decisively considering that Saratoga only represents 27% of the total number of absentee ballots - compared to 36% of the ballots cast on Election Day. In short: Murphy has every reason to be (cautiously) optimistic.

In case you had any doubt, look no further than the fact that Tedisco is seeking to get an extension to the deadline by which overseas absentee ballots have to be returned. He is looking to expand the field of eligible votes while Democrats are resisting his move - a clear parallel to Norm Coleman’s efforts in Minnesota.

Tedisco picks up ballot challenges

And here is another parallel to Minnesota: Tedisco’s camp has been doing its best to keep Murphy’s lead low by challenging absentee ballots. As of Monday, 600 absentee ballots had already been challenged - many from Democrats, but more from Republicans.

One of the GOP’s argument: Voters whose primary residence are not in NY-20 should not be eligible to vote in the district. As a result, reports indicate that Republican poll watchers have been systematically challenging ballots from voters who hold a secondary residence in New York City and in Florida, as well as those from students who come from outside of the 20th Congressional District (many of whom attend Skidmore College).

The Hill writes that the “challenge gap in NY special may be exaggerated” because poll watchers do not know for whom the electors they are challenging have voted. This is a bizarrely weak argument: Sure, we cannot know for sure that a voter who lives on a college campus or whose primary residence is in New York City has voted for Murphy - but such a voter is more likely to be a Democrat than a Republican. Challenging dozens of such electors will undoubtedly depress Murphy’s numbers.

This situation has naturally led Democrats to complain that Republicans are looking to disenfranchise voters - and they furiously accused the GOP of using racial bias by systematically challenging voters with Jewish surnames. Yet, the GOP’s efforts will mostly be temporary: These ballots are not being tossed out; they will be looked at by an election judge - and most of them should be reinstated. In Minnesota, this led to a dramatic boost in Franken’s totals; there obviously cannot be as big a swing in a House race, but the basic principle is the same.

Yesterday, the GOP might have gone too far in challenging the absentee ballot of the district’s previous representative - Kirsten Gillibrand. The motive: The state’s new Senator was in the district on Election Day since she was at Scott Murphy’s victory party; she could have thus voted in person and had no right to request an absentee ballot. The two problems with Tedisco’s claim: First, Gillibrand was in Washington during the day and only traveled to upstate New York in the evening. Second, she claims to not have set foot in Columbia County, her county of residence; election law states that a voter needs to intend to be out of the county - not out of the district - to request an absentee ballot. In short: Gillibrand’s vote was probably challenged frivolously.

What is particularly stupid in the GOP’s decision to challenge Gillibrand’s ballot is that the move is predictably igniting a lot of negative media coverage. For the past 5 days, Democrats have been doing their best to accuse Republicans of launching frivolous challenges based on no other ground than the likelihood that a voter be a Democrat - and the Gillibrand incident is a high-profile story that is sure to make the Democrats’ complaints more credible than anything else Republicans had done up until then.


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NY-20 counties start counting absentee ballots

The 10 counties that make up NY-20 were scheduled to start counting thousands of domestic absentee ballots today. (Ballots sent from overseas cannot be opened until April 13th.) A number of counties did not start to tally up votes, however: It takes time to process through absentee ballots, check eligibility and ensure that there is no double-voting.

Other counties did start counting. Yet, the State Board of Elections did not include any county’s tally in its daily update so we can only rely on unconfirmed reporting. (Considering that we have grown used to Minnesota’s open process in which every step of the count process has been open to the public and televised, the New York process looks pretty opaque; at least Warren County was good enough to write on its website that it will not start counting until tomorrow.)

From what I can gather from various sources:

  • The Murphy campaign released a statement announcing that Delaware County has finished counting its absentee ballots and that the Democrat netted 20 votes. By the time the media got the statement, it looked like it was too late to call the county’s office to get confirmation. If confirmed tomorrow, this would be good news for Murphy: Based on the Board of Election’s PDF, we know that only 272 domestic absentee ballots were returned in Delaware; that would mean that Murphy won the count by a 53% to 47% margin, a 6% swing from the Election Day results which showed a slight edge for Tedisco.
  • Politicker was told by the Rensselaer County Democratic Party that Murphy netted 10 votes out of more than 400 ballots counted - with only 49 remaining, many of which have been received from overseas and cannot be open yet. Beyond marveling how close the margin is, this would again be good news for Murphy as it would suggest that he has managed not to lose vote in a district Tedisco won 51% to 49% last week.
  • Politicker also gets word from actual Election Commissioners in Columbia County and Dutchess County (both won by Murphy) that the Democrat has netted 40 and 13 votes, respectively. Yet, neither county has finished counting. (The Albany Project hears the same numbers about Dutchess County.)
    It is not possible to make much of these numbers as long as we don’t know how many ballots have been counted. At 6:30pm, TPM’s Eric Kleefeld wrote that Columbia County officials were telling him that about 100 absentee ballots had been counted. If Politicker and TPM’s information is both correct, that would mean that Murphy won about 70% of the Columbia ballots counted today. That seems too great a percentage, and something has got to give.
  • There is no word from Saratoga County, which is where Tedisco will need to perform very well if he wants to win the seat. Yet, as I explained two days ago, Saratoga County is dramatically underrepresented in the pool of absentee ballots: The county represented 36% of the votes cast on Election Day, but only 27% of absentee ballots come from that district. According to the latest tallies released by the Board of Election, Saratoga’s share of absentee votes could be even lower than what I wrote two days ago.

All in all, then, returns are incomplete and inconclusive. Yet, early hints from Delaware and Rensselaer do nothing to contradict my argument that the pool of absentee voters is more Democratic than the electorate at large - quite the contrary. Murphy will win the contest if Delaware and Rensselaer’s tallies are confirmed and if he performs in other districts the way he reportedly has in those two counties.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, Norm Coleman’s camp is leaving no doubt that it will file an appeal once the 3-judge panel renders its final ruling sometime this week or next week. Even if the judges side with Coleman on issues that they have yet to address, the Republican cannot overtake Franken’s lead now that it has expanded to 312 votes.


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Franken expands lead, perhaps decisively

Watchers of Minnesota’s Senate race had been waiting for this day for months. For the first time since the beginning of January, the margin between Al Franken and Norm Coleman was set to change as new ballots were going to be counted!

The court had set aside 387 rejected absentee ballots for possible inclusion in a final tally. Today, after a thorough review, it determined that 351 of these were eligible and immediately proceeded to count them in open court. Franken netted more votes: Of the 351 absentee ballots which were added to the tally, Franken received 198, Coleman 111 - a difference of 87 votes. 42 went in the “other” pile.

You might have spent the past few months getting accustomed to a margin of 225 votes, but Franken’s new lead is : 312 votes - almost a landslide!

While it was virtually impossible for Coleman to overtake Franken today (he would have needed to win about 82% of these absentee ballots - an unlikely proposition), today’s procedures were more than symbolic. The 3-judge panel still has to rule on two outstanding issues that could yield Coleman votes: the missing envelope of Minneapolis ballots and the dispute over potentially duplicated ballots. If the court had sided with the Republican on both of these issues, Coleman could have picked up as many as 140 votes.

In other words: Had Coleman netted 87 votes today instead of Franken, he would have been pulled close enough to overtake the Democrat’s lead if the court sided with him on the remaining issues. Now, Franken is certain to be the victor once the three judges issue their final ruling in the coming days, perhaps by the end of the week.

Of course, this does not mean that he should prepare himself to be seated in the Senate. Today, the Coleman campaign left no doubt that it would file an appeal. “Today was good in the sense that 351 voters got their ballots counted, but we are saddened and disappointed that it was only 351. It should have been 10 times more than that,” said a Coleman spokesperson. “Because those voters remain disenfranchised… we will be appealing this to the Minnesota Supreme Court.”

Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, has made it clear that he will not sign an election certificate before the state Supreme Court issues a ruling. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, has agreed that Franken should not be seated before the state appeals process is exhausted. The real question is what happens if Coleman files an appeal in federal court (will Pawlenty not sign a certificate? how strongly will Democrats push for Franken to be seated), but we have many months to ponder these questions.

Meanwhile, in New York…

Election officials in NY-20 are preparing themselves for the big day: They will start counting absentee ballots tomorrow, since today was the deadline for counties to receive domestic absentee ballots. As I documented yesterday, counties where Scott Murphy performed well are dramatically over-represented in the pool of absentee ballots. That suggests a slight edge for the Democrat going forward, but Tedisco can take comfort in the fact that many absentee ballots might have been cast before Murphy’s last-minute campaign push allowed him to pull into a tie with Tedisco.

As of tonight, the Republican is back on top in the official count… by only 18 votes! Last night’s count had Murphy up by 83 votes. What changed: Counties continued recanvassing procedures, Essex County conducted its check-ups and Saratoga County discovered a small glitch in their prior totals. All of these changes are routine and they happen in every election; but they are so minor that they do not matter… unless two candidates are separated by only a handful of votes.


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Simple calculations reveal Democratic edge in NY-20 and MN-Sen

New York

As counties have been conducting routine recanvassing operations, the lead has been sea-sawing between the two candidates. First, Scott Murphy’s lead shrank until the two candidates were left at an exact tie on Friday night (how likely is that?). Today, the numbers oscillated as various counties updated their totals. We went from a 198-vote lead for Murphy to a 98-vote edge for Tedisco edge back to a Democratic lead. The latest tally has Murphy ahead by 83 votes. 2 counties still have to recanvass.

The next step: Counting the absentee ballots. The two parties went to court today to determine when that process could start, with the GOP demanding that counties wait until all military ballots have been received next week. The court sided with Murphy, ruling that absentee ballots will start being tallied on Wednesday.  (The deadline for the reception of domestic absentee ballots is tomorrow, but the deadline for the reception of overseas ballots is April 13th; but all have to be postmarked March 30th.) I am not sure why it makes such a difference when ballots are counted since all votes have already long been cast.

According to the State Board of Elections, 6,780 absentee ballots have been received as of today. According to my calculations based on the board of election’s PDF, the absentee ballot data contains good news for Scott Murphy.

1. 3107 (45,8%) ballots have been returned from registered Republicans and 2383 (35,1%) from registered Democrats. Among the entire electorate, the gap between the share of registered Republicans and of registered Democrats is 15%. That means that the pool of absentee voters is significantly Republican than the electorate at large.

2. Counties where Murphy performed well are dramatically over-represented in the pool of (uncounted) absentee ballots:

  • Columbia County, which gave the Democrat 56% of the vote, cast 9.8% of the district’s votes last Tuesday; but 15,3% of the absentee ballots come from there!
  • Two other counties that gave Murphy 56% are over-represented. Warren County and Washington County represented 10% and 8,1% of last Tuesday’s districtwide, respectively; but they make up 15% and 9,2% of the incoming absentee ballots!
  • Inversely, Saratoga County, which saved Tedisco’s candidacy by giving him 54% of the vote, represented 36% of the districtwide vote last Tuesday. Now, only 27% of absentee ballots come from Saratoga - a sharp drop.

Let’s put this otherwise: Murphy is winning Columbia County and Warren County by 12%; he is losing Saratoga by 8%. Last Tuesday, Columbia and Warren combined made up 20% of the districtwide vote, while Saratoga made up 36%. Now, there are more absentee ballots from Warren and Columbia combined than from Saratoga. That does not bode well for Tedisco.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Senate race will take an important turn tomorrow, when the absentee ballots the court set aside for potential counting last week will be opened. This could all but guarantee that Al Franken will retain the lead at the end of this trial since the judges agreed to review too few ballots for Norm Coleman to have a chance at overtaking Franken. In fact, the number of ballots under review shrank further today when it was discovered that 13 of the 400 ballots the judges had deemed potentially eligible were discovered to have already been counted!

That leaves a grand total of 387 until-now rejected absentee ballots that could find their way in the official tally based on the judges’ examinations tomorrow. Even all of these ballots are deemed eligible, even if as many as 90% of these ballots have a mark for Franken or for Coleman (that would already be a lot considering that some will go for third-party candidate Barkley and others will be undervotes), Coleman would need to receive an improbable 82% of the remaining ballots to claim the lead!

A note of hope for Coleman: The court still has to rule on the potentially duplicated votes and on the missing enveloppe of Minneapolis ballots. At best, Coleman can hope to pick-up about 140 votes if both of these rulings go his way (not that there are any indications that the court is preparing to grant him such a victory). Even then, the Republican would need to win at least 62% of the two-way vote to overtake Franken’s lead. Simply put, the odds are not on the Republican’s side.


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NY-20 might be heading into overtime, but it’s not too early to draw some lessons

I had assumed that my first post today would be devoted to the aftermath of NY-20’s special election and to the lessons to be drawn from the results. Instead, the election is still too close to call and could remain that way for at least 2 weeks!

Last fall, the closest House race occurred in VA-05, where Tom Perriello defeated Rep. Virgil Goode by 745 votes. NY-20’s tally is likely to change as absentee ballots are included in the count, but it looks likely that the margin will remain inferior to that of VA-05. What were the odds that the very first election of the new cycle would result in such a dramatically tight finish?

What’s next

With all precincts reporting, Scott Murphy leads Jim Tedisco by 65 59 votes. But thousands of ballots remain to be counted: New York’s election board has said that 10,055 absentee ballots were issued, and that 5,906 had been returned by Monday. And that number will grow: For one, these numbers only concern seven of the district’s 10 counties. Second, absentee ballots sent from the U.S. have until April 7th to arrive, as long as they are postmarked by March 30th; overseas or military absentee ballots have until April 13th.

We will have to wait a bit for these absentee ballots to start being counted. A court hearing has been scheduled for this coming Monday. Judges will be asked to determine procedures for counting and challenging ballots - as well as guidelines for an absentee ballot’s eligibility. Elections officials will have to wait for the process to be resolved to start tallying the outstanding absentee ballots.

Needless to say, the current vote count will be dramatically altered once thousands of outstanding ballots are thrown in the mix. The question, then, is who these absentee votes are likely to favor. Republicans have historically had a distinct advantage in absentee voting, but Democrats have had their own share of success over the past few years. In Alaska’s Senate race, absentee ballots allowed Mark Begich to close a substantial deficit in the two weeks following the Senate race; in Minnesota, Franken seems to be expanding his lead every time a new batch of absentee ballot is being counted.

As for NY-20, we actually have some hints! The election board added that there are 600 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats among the 10,055 voters that requested absentee ballots; among the 5,906 who have already returned theirs, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by 798. That might sound like good news for Jim Tedisco, but don’t forget that the GOP enjoys a significant registration edge NY-20 (42% to 26%) and that last night’s results mean that Murphy won a significant number of registered Republicans. If absentee voters were representative of the district-at-large, Swing State Project calculates that Republicans would have an edge of 921 voters among those who have returned their ballots - and a far larger one among those who requested a ballot.

In short: Early indications suggest that absentee voters are slightly less Republican than the district-at-large. Yet, this is certainly not a large enough difference for us to draw any definite conclusions and the election will have to be resolved the old-fashioned way - by actually counting ballots… and following that up with a recount and potentially with legal proceedings!

Drawing tentative conclusions

If last night’s count had yielded a victor, the press would immediately have relayed a series of lessons about what that means about the country’s political environment, about Barack Obama’s popularity and about the electoral consequences of the stimulus bill. Now, it is hard to imagine that the race will grab many headlines once the final absentee ballots are counted and a winner emerges. Yet, yesterday’s results are enough to draw a few conclusions.

The first is that voters are paying very close attention to politics. Turnout was much higher than anyone had anticipated, with about 150,000 voters casting a ballot. In last spring’s special elections in IL-14, MS-01 and LA-06, between 95,000 and 106,000 voters had gone to the polls. Some analysts suggest that voters turn away from politics because they are preoccupied with their economic situation, but yesterday’s vote dispels that myth: Elections become all the more important in times of crisis, and that puts the pressure on politicians to deliver. Interestingly, both parties appear to have been equally motivated - a break from last spring’s special elections (Democrats voted in greater numbers) or last December’s contests (where Republicans were more mobilized).

Along with the rest of upstate New York, NY-20 is a historically conservative district and Republicans have a significant registration edge. In 2006 and 2008, years of Democratic dominance nationally, the GOP suffered two setbacks: In 2006, Kirsten Gillibrand beat a disgraced, embattled incumbent 53% to 47%; last fall, Barack Obama beat John McCain 51% to 48%.

Whatever happens in the upcoming weeks, the results will essentially remain a 50-50 split. That means that Tedisco has improved Sweeney and McCain’s performances, but only marginally. The GOP remains far below the support it used to enjoy in the district, and Murphy managed to roughly perform at the same level as Obama did. That is an achievement in and of itself considering how favorable the circumstances were for Democrats and considering that Murphy was a political novice with far lower stature and name recognition than Jim Tedisco, the Minority Leader of the state Assembly.

2008’s political equilibrium has not been meaningfully altered - and that’s an equilibrium that allowed Obama to score a 7% victory over McCain nationally. Hardly a sign of Republican recovery.

Even if Tedisco comes out narrowly ahead after absentee ballots are counted, the GOP will be hard-pressed to argue that it has made a political comeback or that voters who chose Obama last November have turned against his economic policies. Quite the contrary: Tedisco started the campaign with a massive lead, which melted as the campaign focused on economic issues, and particularly on the stimulus bill. (Remember: The first poll to find Murphy in the lead was released last Friday.) If voters had objected to Obama’s policies and to the stimulus, would Murphy’s embrace of the President’s agenda not have prevented his rise?

On the other hand, this election is also a missed opportunity for Democrats, who have been arguing that the GOP risks losing support for its obstructionism and its unified opposition to the stimulus. Had Murphy outperformed Obama’s performance, it would have allowed Democrats to boast that independent voters were lining up behind the White House’s agenda. (After all, the President is enjoying an approval rating that is hovering around 60%, which suggests that a significant number of McCain voters support his action.)

In short: Both parties stood their ground compared to November 2008. Given that Democrats won a decisive victory that fall, this is good news for them and it crushes Republican hopes of showing that they are back in the game. On the other hand, Republicans should be happy to learn that Obama’s early popularity and their opposition to his economic agenda have not made their standing collapse further.


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NY-20 results: Murphy leads by 65 votes, with thousands of absentee ballots left to count

11pm: The biggest shocker in tonight’s election is undoubtedly turnout: more than 145,000 thousand voters went to the polls - and we should top 150,000 once absentee ballots are counted. That is a high number for a special election. (In the IL-14 and LA-06 special elections last spring, the number was under 100,000; in the MS-01 special election, about 106,000 voters went to the polls.) So voters were far more mobilized than usual - though the results show that neither party benefited from this, suggesting that both candidates’ bases came out in record numbers.

Also: As of yesterday, more than 5,900 absentee ballots had been received. These have yet to be counted - and any ballot postmarked March 30th that arrives for the next week (for domestic ballots) or two weeks (for overseas ballots) will be counted. We still have a long way to go.

10:50pm: All precincts are now reporting, and Murphy is ahead by 65 votes: 77,344 to 77,279. It is symbolically important for a candidate to be ahead, but the Democrat is far from being the victor. Absentee ballots will change the margin considerably.

We can take a closer look at how things broke down county-by-county and compare tonight’s results with those of the 2006 Gillibrand-Sweeney race. Remember, Gillibrand won by 6% so Murphy could afford losing some ground:

  • Tedisco dramatically over-performed in Saratoga, which happens to be the district’s biggest county by far: Gillibrand won by 6% but Tedisco won by 8% (4,000 votes). It is remarkable that Murphy managed to stay afloat despite that 14% swing.
  • In at least three counties, Tedisco gained 6% compared to Sweeney’s performance - which is just what he needed to make the election… a tie. This is what happened in Dutchess (+10 Gillibrand to +4 Murphy), Columbia (+18 Gillibrand to +12 Murphy) and Greene (+4 Sweeney to +10 Tedisco).
  • So how did Murphy manage to compensate his collapse in Saratoga? He performed well in four counties: Essex (+10% instead of +4%) Warren (+12% instead of +8%), Washington (+12% instead of +6%), and Delaware County, (tie instead of 8% Sweeney lead).

10:35pm: We could wait a while for the final precinct to report, and what it will say will only matter for P.R. purposes - who will emerge ahead of tonight’s count, prior to the count of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted? One amusing note: Josh Kraushaar reports that Murphy has an immense extended family leaving in the district (and at least 50 people in his “immediate family”), most of whom are registered Republicans and are bucking their electoral habits to vote for Murphy. It is no exaggeration to say that the size of Murphy’s family might have made the difference tonight.

10:25pm: Incredible! 2 more precincts have reported, cutting Murphy’s lead to… 81 votes. Only one precinct remains, which means that Murphy will probably keep an even smaller lead (if any at all) when the count is completed. Needless to say, it will be impossible to say who won the district after tonight whatever the last precinct reveals. This will be decided by absentee ballots - and potentially by a recount.

10:20pm: Murphy grabs 200-vote lead as Columbia County’s 8 last precincts report! Murphy won that county by 1,900 votes, performing almost as well as Gillibrand in 2006 (58-42). 8 precincts from Saratoga also reported… which means that all is left is 3 precincts from Saratoga… and potentially thousands of outstanding absentee ballots.

10:17pm: 30 votes! That’s all that is left between Tedisco (still in the lead) and Murphy! This means that the latest batch of Saratoga precincts helped the Democrat - and there is now a very clear path for the Democrat to win! There are 8 precincts left in Columbia (Murphy leads 56-44) and 11 left in Saratoga (Tedisco leads 54-46).

10:15pm: All three remaining counties have reported more… and Murphy is now 100 votes behind Tedisco with 22 precincts left! What a finish!

A big batch of Columbia ballots allowed Murphy to surge, and the county still has 8 precincts out of 58 (Murphy is leading by 1,600). The good news for the Democrat: Delaware is done, and Murphy managed to tie Tedisco in a county that voted for Sweeney by 8% - quite a dramatic change. That Murphy is still trailing is entirely due to Saratoga, where there are only 14 precincts left. Tedisco is leading 54-46.

10:10pm: It is looking increasingly plausible that the race might not be decided tonight. There might be several thousand absentee ballots that will have to be counted in the upcoming days, not to mention the fact that overseas ballots can arrive for two more weeks (as long as they have been postmarked by Election Day). If Tedisco manages to keep a 1,000 vote lead, he will been seen as the presumptive victor - but anything can happen in overtime.

10:05pm: Only three counties are left: Saratoga, where Tedisco is winning big; Columbia, where Murphy is winning big; and Delaware, where Tedisco has a lead. In other words, Murphy has to perform significantly better in the portion of Saratoga that is left to win - which is logical considering that it was always inconceivable that he could win while losing the district’s biggest county by double-digits.

Greene County finished reporting, and Tedisco won by 10% - 6% better than Sweeney did. (Sweeney lost the district by 6%, which explains why we now have a tie.) Also, Tedisco won Rennselaer 51% to 49% (Gillibrand had won by 8%).

10:00pm: Bad news for the Democrat: Dutchess County has just finished reporting, and Murphy did not do what he needed to do. He won the county 52% to 48%, a significantly smaller pace than Gillibrand or Obama. Also, a new batch of precincts have reported from Saratoga, allowing Tedisco to keep his overall lead at 1,000 votes. The good news for Murphy is that he has over-performed in Washington County (just as in Warren County): He received 56% compared to Gillibrand’s 53%. But Most Democratic counties have finished reporting, so how will Murphy close the gap?

9:55pm: Very little movement with 436 precincts reporting: Tedisco is ahead by 950 votes. Interestingly, another county finished reporting (Otsego County), and Murphy performed slightly better than Obama: 49% to 48%. Unfortunately for Democrats, Otsego represents a tiny share of the district vote.

9:50pm: Make that a 1,000 vote lead for Tedisco - and it’s all because Saratoga County, where the Republican continues to build his lead. He is now ahead by 4,000 votes in that county, with 1/3 of ballots still to be counted. (Reminder: Gillibrand beat Sweeney 53% to 47% in that county, which happens to be her winning margin district-wide.) As I noted before, the best news Murphy has gotten so far is his result in Warren County, which has now finished counting: The presidential results were tied, but Murphy won by 12% (or 1,800 votes).

9:45pm: One thing is for sure: There will be no landslide tonight. With 386 precincts now reporting, Tedisco is only ahead by 300 votes. Murphy is narrowly underperforming compared to Obama and Gillibrand. Dutchess County has counted 62 of 72 precincts, and Murphy is only ahead 51% to 49%; Obama had won it by 7% and Gillibrand by 10%. Murphy will also need to significantly improve his performance in Saratoga, where he trails by 3,500 votes - and half of the county remains to be counted. Even in Columbia County, Murphy is winning by 12% compared to Obama’s 13% - that is good enough to win a tight race, but certainly not enough to pull ahead.

9:37pm: Murphy has taken a 200 vote lead, with 280 precincts reporting! (In nearly two years of covering Election Nights, I wonder if I have ever seen.)

What changed: Lots of precincts reported from Warren County (Murphy still leads 57% to 43%) and Washington County, which has almost finished reporting and where Murphy is leading by a solid 57% to 43%. Those latter results are very good for the Democrat: Obama only won the district by 1% in 2008, and Gillibrand by 4% in 2006.

9:35pm: Results are coming in faster than usual, with 206 precincts already reporting. Tedisco has increased his lead to 2,400 votes, 52% to 48%.

There is perhaps early signs of trouble for Murphy from Dutchess County, where he is only leading by 2%. Gillibrand had beat Sweeney by 10% in 2006. Murphy is also underperforming in Greene County, where he trails 56% to 44%.

9:25pm: 125 precincts out of 610 are already reporting, and Republican nominee Jim Tedisco has an early lead, 51% to 49% (about 800 votes).

One county - Warren - has almost finished reporting, so we can compare results to past elections: Murphy is leading 56% to 44%. In 2006, Gillibrand beat Rep. Sweeney 54% to 46% in Warren and Obama beat McCain 51% to 48% in 2008, so this is an improvement for the Democrat. Yet, Murphy is being crushed in early returns from Saratoga County - a county Gillibrand narrowly won in 2004.

Original post: Welcome to the first Election Night thread since Louisiana’s congressional elections on December 6th. It is 9pm on the East Coast, which means that the polls have closed in NY-20!

Simply put, anything could happen tonight - either candidate could score a landslide or the contest could be decided by a handful of votes. Democratic nominee Scott Murphy has had undeniable momentum heading into the final stretch, but he started with such a deficit that his surge does not guarantee him victory.

For one, there have been very few polls released of this race; in fact, Siena is the only institute that has released public polls! Furthermore, special elections are notoriously unpredictable as we simply do not know who will turn out. (In Georgia’s Senate runoff, who could have predicted that the Democratic base would get so demobilized that Saxby Chambliss would win re-election by 17%?)

Perhaps because of the election’s unpredictability, the stakes are high tonight. Republicans have lost a lot over the past three years - including a spring of special election defeats last spring - and they now believe that they can get back on the winning path. Another defeat would be a devastating blow and it would put incoming RNC Chairman Michael Steele on the defensive; meanwhile, a pick-up would allow them to boast that Obama’s agenda is already being rejected by voters.

Democrats have arguably less to lose in tonight’s election. Few people expected them to have a shot at keeping the district when the special election campaign was launched, and the name recognition differential between the two candidates gives the DCCC a ready-excuse to explain away a defeat. Yet, the fact that the stimulus bill and Barack Obama have been the election’s defining issues has nationalized the stakes: A defeat could tarnish the President, while a Murphy triumphs would allow Democrats to claim voters in swing districts are applauding Obama’s agenda.

For those who are planning to watch tonight’s election in close detail, the key county to watch is Saratoga. A third of the district’s population resides in that county. Gillibrand won those regions by 6% in her 2006 race against then-Rep. Sweeney. Counties that lean Democrats are Columbia County (Obama won by 13%) and Dutchess County (Obama won by 7%). Counties won by McCain are Rennselaer, Delaware and Essex.


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One more day in NY-20: It’s tight, heated and expensive

The week-end brought a second survey showing Scott Murphy leading Jim Tedisco in NY-20’s special election, 43% to 41%. Sure, it is an internal Democratic poll leaked by the DCCC, but Democrats released internal polls with Murphy trailing earlier in the campaign; not only does that increase the credibility of their latest survey, but it also confirms that trendlines are favoring Murphy.

The DCCC’s most recent poll had Tedisco leading 44% to 37%, which suggests that Murphy’s rise is primarily due to his gains among undecided voters rather than to Tedisco’s losses. Friday’s Siena poll had also shown undecideds breaking heavily towards the Democratic nominee. Whether this is due to a natural tightening, to the rise in Murphy’s name recognition or to Tedisco’s errors can be debated at length in 48 hours. For now, the burden is on Tedisco to recapture enough momentum to convince the remaining share of undecided voters.

Murphy’s challenge is to keep up enough buzz over the next 24 hours to continue asphyxiating Tedisco. Kirsten Gillibrand’s return to her former district today to campaign alongside Murphy should help him grab last-minute headlines, and Gillibrand’s recording a robocall could help Democrats mobilize their base. (Don’t forget, a special election is all about turnout.)

Hi, this is your Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, calling today to ask you to vote for Scott Murphy this Tuesday, March 31st. In these very tough economic times, we need someone who knows how to create jobs. Scott Murphy will work with me and President Obama to get our economy moving again.

It is no surprise that Gillibrand is invoking Barack Obama’s name. The President’s popularity is Murphy’s main asset in tomorrow’s vote, not only among undecided voters but also among loyal Democrats who might not bother going to the polls: If Murphy links his candidacy to a show of support for Obama, will Democratic voters not be more likely to go vote? That’s certainly what Murphy’s campaign is thinking, as demonstrated by their new mailer, which is all about Obama.

The Albany Times-Union’s endorsement can also be construed as good news for Murphy, but it is certainly unsurprising: the paper endorsed Obama in the fall. Three other local newspapers are also backing Murphy. On the other hand, Tedisco gained the support of two conservative paper, The Glenns Falls Chronicles and The New York Post. The latter’s editorial is a typical assault on Murphy’s as an out-of-touch liberal:

Murphy opposes the death penalty, even for the 9/11 terrorists, sounding like he’d prefer to fight the War on Terror with lawyers. That mindset is most definitely not needed in Washington.

This attack line was born after Scott Murphy declared his opposition to capital punishment in a radio interview earlier this month; the GOP is doing its best to drum up controversy over Murphy’s comments. The NRCC has released a 1-minute web ad attacking Murphy for opposing the death penalty for those responsible for 9-11. (You can view it here, as I have no plans to start uploading web videos meant to attract free media.)

Many analysts are portraying Murphy’s comments as a major gaffe. (See for instance Stuart Rothenberg, who writes that his “view is simply out of touch with the district” and has given Republicans “an opening.”) I think this is lazy reporting. Sure, the GOP has been able to use death penalty opposition against Democrats in the past; but there are few recent examples of this issue playing any sort of role in federal races, and New York (even upstate) is probably not the place where capital punishment could play an important role: The Empire State has not applied the death penalty since 1963.

Add to that the fact that we are in the midst of a financial crisis, that NY-20 is badly hit and that the economy has been the campaign’s dominant issue, and it is hard to see how Murphy’s comments play any sort of role in tomorrow’s results. And believe me: If the NRCC thought they could gain more traction on this issue, they would have done more than a low-quality web ad.

The GOP has much more to gain by accusing Murphy of supporting the AIG bonuses because of his praise of the stimulus bill. As I explained last week, that argument makes little sense, but it could pay off politically given Murphy’s profile as a businessman and his ties to Wall Street. The National Republican Trust PAC, which has spent nearly $800,000 on the special election (a significant sum for upstate New York) is out with a new TV ad attacking Murphy on the AIG mess:

If anything, the ad does not go far enough to be effective: It only accuses Murphy of “praising” a bill that “protected” the AIG bonuses. Last week, Republicans were much more direct (and misleading) in tying Murphy to AIG. “Murphy supports the law giving bonuses to AIG executives,” said a NRCC ad; the stimulus bill “provides bonuses” to AIG executives, added Tedisco.

But the National Republican Trust PAC’s heavy investment raises an important question: Could Tedisco be saved by the GOP’s superior spending? The Albany Times-Union summarizes the expenditures of independent groups on both sides and finds that Tedisco has benefited from more support:

  • National Republican Trust PAC  $779,306.10
  • NRCC $817,681.10
  • Our Country Deserves Better PAC  $56,020.81 [Update: An official of this PAC e-mailed to alert me that this figure does not include anti-Murphy ad. Their total spending is $156,407.]
  • SEIU PAC $75,000.00
  • DCCC $591,591.32
  • American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) $106,419.67
  • 1199 SEIU $244,914.00

That comes to a $1.6 $1.7 million to $1 million advantage for the Republican camp. Coincidentally, this is almost the reverse of the two candidates’ fundraising: As of Friday, Murphy had raised slightly more than $1.56 million while Tedisco had raised about $1.08 million. In other words, financial discrepancy should not be a major factor in tomorrow’s results.


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4 days to go: Murphy scores first poll lead, DNC and SEIU launch ads

NY-20’s exhausted campaign operatives shouldn’t worry: They will not have to work beyond March 31st! Concerns that overseas voters would not have enough time to return their absentee ballot opened the door to talk of a delay to the special election, but the state board of elections resolved the situation by extending the deadline for overseas ballots by 6 days. (If the election is extremely close, this could mean a wait of a few extra days to get the results; but we are talking about such a small a number of ballots that this extension is unlikely to matter much and no state can be as inefficient in counting absentee ballots as Alaska.)

With this last-minute obstacle out of the way, we can be sure that we are entering in the election’s last stretch - and what a finish it is turning out to be! Just 4 days before Election Day, a new independent poll conducted by Siena finds Democratic nominee Scott Murphy with his first lead of the campaign (he had not even led in any Democratic-sponsored polls!).

  • Murphy is ahead 47% to 43%, with 2% to Libertarian candidate Sundwall who was kicked off the ballot yesterday. Murphy’s lead is just outside of the poll’s 3.2% margin of error. Two weeks ago, Republican nominee Jim Tedisco led 45% to 41%; last month, he was up by 12%, 46% to 34%.

What this means: Murphy has risen from 34% to 41% to 47% while Tedisco has stayed at a similar level, 46% to 45% to 43%. These trendlines suggest that Murphy has been winning over undecided voters. The poll’s internal numbers confirm this trend:

  • First, among registered Democrats: Last month, Murphy was ahead 70% to 16%; today, he is ahead 84% to 11%. In short: Murphy has gained 14% among Democrats, 5% of which have turned away from Tedisco and 9% of which were undecided.
  • Among registered Republicans, Tedisco has stayed at the same level in all three polls (63% to 65% to 64%) while Murphy has improved his support, from 18% to 23% to 27%. (Registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats, but the district voted for Obama, suggesting that many historically Republican voters have been trending Democratic but have yet to update their party registration.)

In short: Undecideds have been breaking towards the Democratic nominee. This is partly due to the fact that the campaign has been rough on Tedisco, and it is partly a natural tightening to the fact that the name recognition differential has melted away. While this is an open seat, Assemblyman Tedisco is playing the role of the well-known incumbent: If voters were not already backing him in mid-February, they are unlikely to do so now. On the other hand, no one knew Murphy before he was selected as the Democrats’ nominee: As he has improved his name recognition, voters unwilling to elect a Republican but unsure about Murphy have been able to rally around him.

None of this is to say that Scott Murphy is suddenly favored to win the special election. Tuesday’s contest is likely to be decided by such low turnout that the results are largely unpredictable. In fact, I have argued that recent examples suggest that Republicans could show up in larger numbers. It would be useful to compare different pollsters’ turnout models, but Siena is the only public polling institute to have completed a survey of the race, making it hard to draw definitive conclusions!

On the other hand, Tedisco faces a daunting challenge: To cross 50%, he has to convince a significant share of the remaining undecided voters. Yet, it is Murphy who is attracting the most buzz in the campaign’s final days: The White House is providing Murphy truly minimal support - an e-mail sent to upstate activists - but that is enough to provide the Democrat a boost.

For one, the local press is covering Obama’s endorsement as a newsworthy event, providing Murphy a golden opportunity to showcase his support for the popular President. Second, Murphy’s allies are making sure to amplify Obama’s e-mail message. This morning, SEIU launched its first TV ad touting Obama’s endorsement; the ad will air over the week-end for a cost of $150,000 - a significant sum in upstate New York:

Also today, the DNC came out with an ad highlighting the President’s endorsement:

It is somewhat puzzling that Barack Obama did not lend his voice to the ad. Unlike Georgia’s Senate runoff, a Democratic defeat in NY-20 would be read as a setback for the President’s agenda no matter how much the White House gets involved. For Obama to record an ad urging voters to elect Murphy could have provided the Democrat with a much-needed boost. Sure, the President cannot get that involved in every congressional race, but this is an isolated special election. At least, Obama’s e-mail will asphyxiate Tedisco over the final days of the campaign, complicating his efforts to reach out to undecided voters.

Update: In the comments, Panos points out that Sundwall has decided to endorse Murphy and is blasting Tedisco for being responsible for kicking him off the ballot! Sundwall is polling too low in the polls to have enough dedicated supporters to shift around, though the story could end up playing a significant role as it will further adds to Murphy’s positive press and will make it more difficult for Tedisco to reverse his opponent’s momentum.



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    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Confusion in Connecticut (Updated)

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Results thread, part 2: Dems suffer staggering losses in House and legislatives races, limit damage in statewide races

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election Night results thread: Rep. Boucher’s fall first surprise of the night

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Election night cheat sheet

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • Final ratings: Democrats brace for historic losses

  • Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

    Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

    Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55
  • What to watch for down-ballot

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Strict Standards: mktime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 41

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 50

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 52

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 54

Strict Standards: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/New_York' for 'EDT/-4.0/DST' instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/functions.php on line 55

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /homepages/33/d214989360/htdocs/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

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