Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Midterm time

Saturday November 1st
8:16 a.m. -- 76 minutes after the polls opened on the last day of early voting in Florida, I submit my ballot, complete my duty, and walk back outside where the sky is gray and the air chilly. It was a long drive home from Atlanta the day before, but it's always worth it when I get to kiss Erika and see our kids smile.

4:33 p.m. -- I sit down to start writing this post, and decide I might as well say how I voted. Which was this: Rick Scott for governor, Pam Bondi for Attorney General, and yes on Amendment 2 (which would legalize medical marijuana). Since neither of the state's senate seats are on the ballot, those three line items are the only ones likely to generate any national interest.

4:35 p.m. -- I think about writing an explanation for why I voted Scott, Bondi, and yes -- but decide it would take too long, especially once I start talking about the once-Republican, then-Independent, now-Democrat, snakeoil-selling charlatan running against Scott.

4:51 p.m. -- I decide to add that I did not vote on any of the judicial seats, for the simple reason that I do not know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. On a similar note, I skipped voting on Amendments 1 and 3 because I had not spent enough time thinking about their pros and cons to make a well-considered decision... But in the off chance anyone is curious, I was leaning towards no on Amendment 1 (which would commit a set percentage of excise tax revenue to land acquisition) and no on Amendment 3 (which would in some circumstances require, and in others allow, the governor to "prospectively fill" judicial seats before they become vacant).

5:13 p.m. -- I decide to make a few predictions about the midterm elections nationwide: The GOP will add approximately a half-dozen seats to their current advantage in the House of Representatives, and gain seats in the Senate but not enough to give them more than 50... I also decide to make a Florida prediction: Scott will edge the snakeoil-selling charlatan, even though a large percentage of Floridians don't like his personality, because an even larger percentage of Floridians is acutely aware that the snakeoil-selling charlatan is a snakeoil-selling charlatan.

Tuesday November 4th
8:37 a.m. -- I take a bathroom break at work and sneak a peek at a Michael Barone column. I had recently heard that Millennials are no longer supporting Obama, but in my mind I downplayed the notion by assuming that "no longer supporting" him did not mean they had "switched sides." However, Barone's column got specific by citing a Harvard Institute of Politics poll that showed Millennials who were likely to vote favored Republicans 51-47. That is huge when you consider that Millennials voted 66% for Obama in 2008 and 60% in 2012. It makes me smile, but it still does not make me expect a Republican wave.

10:11 a.m. -- I sneak another peak and what I see is a story that broke overnight about Jeanne Shaheen, incumbent U.S. Senator from New Hampshire. In a nutshell, the story reveals that documents released by the IRS -- after years of refusing to release them -- appear to show that Shaheen not only knew about the IRS targeting conservative groups but actively worked with the IRS in an effort to make it happen.

8:29 p.m. -- I get back to the hotel after having a lovely dinner with my cousin Sarah and her husband Jarrett. I look at the TV, which I had left on, and the first thing I see is Mitch McConnell giving his acceptance speech after winning re-election in Kentucky.

8:32 p.m. -- Fox News calls Arkansas for Republican challenger Tom Cotton over Democrat incumbent Mark Pryor. With twenty seats left to be decided, the GOP holds a 41-39 Senate edge and has a decent chance to take control of the Senate.

9:15 p.m. -- Back in Florida, with 96% of precincts reporting, Rick Scott leads Charlie Crist 49-46 in the governor's race. But news outlets refuse to call the election, which tells me that the outstanding 4% must be in the heavily populated (and heavily corrupt) Miami-Dade area.

9:54 p.m. -- Fox News calls Colorado for Republican challenger Cory Gardner over Democrat incumbent Mark Udall, giving the GOP a 47-42 Senate lead with ten states yet to be called and one (Louisiana) headed for a runoff.

10:47 p.m. -- Fox News calls Kansas for Republican incumbent Pat Roberts, who was thought to be in trouble. It's now 48-43.

10:49 p.m. -- Up in New Hampshire, Republican challenger Scott Brown just pulled even with Jeanne Shaheen, despite the race having been called in Shaheen's favor a couple hours earlier. Maybe that 48-43 count should be changed to 48-42 for the time being.

10:57 p.m. -- According to the Drudge Report, Rick Scott has been re-elected governor of Florida. I love how the headline ("Crist Loser") mocks the snakeoil-selling charlatan he just beat (a charlatan who, much to my chagrin, graduated from the same high school as me).

10:59 p.m. -- Fox News calls the Georgia U.S. Senate race for David Perdue and the Idaho U.S. Senate race for Jim Risch. Those calls, combined with a few West Coast races going to the Dems, bring the GOP Senate lead to 50-45. The Republicans are therefore on the brink of winning control of the Senate.

11:22 p.m. -- Iowa's U.S. Senate race gets called for Republican Jodi Ernst over Democrat Bruce Braley, giving the GOP 51 of the 100 seats. Unless some of the "called" results turn out to be wrong, the GOP has prevailed.

11:27 p.m. -- North Carolina's U.S. Senate race gets called for Republican Thom Tillis over Democrat Kay Hagan. Make it 52 apparent seats for the GOP. There are races yet to be decided, but it looks like we've got this one in the bag.

Wednesday November 5th
6:52 am -- While getting dressed for work, I hear some results that I also heard last night, but somehow I managed not to think about their significance until now. One of them was Republican Tim Scott winning the U.S. Senate race in South Carolina by 61-37, thus becoming the first black Senator from the South since the 1800's (do you think that will get Democrats to stop calling Republicans racists? -- neither do I)... The other results involve GOP candidates being elected governor in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. They weren't expected to have a chance in the first two states, and all three of the states voted heavily for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Final thoughts
Despite my earlier "don't expect a wave" thoughts, this election truly was a wave.

It was a wave because every surprise outcome (like the governor races mentioned above) went against the Democrats. In every other election I can remember, surprise outcomes have cut both ways.

It was a wave because incumbent Republicans won while incumbent Democrats lost.

It was a wave because the Republicans won races they weren't expected to, and came within a whisker of winning races in which they weren't even expected to compete.

It was a wave because the Republicans expanded their number of governors when many prognosticators thought that number would go down.

It was a wave because the Republicans gained control of more than half of the Democrat-controlled state legislatures the party decided to pursue.

It was a wave because when you combine federal seats and state seats, the Democratic Party is now in its weakest position since the 1920's.

And lastly...
May I suggest that the Republicans react to the midterm election not by "reaching out" to Democrats, but by opposing Obama and passing their own legislation with or without Democrat support.

And may I suggest that when they do things, they clearly and repeatedly explain the benefits of what they are doing.

Guys and gals, you have two years to prove you are worthy of the victory the people just handed you. Our party's past performances don't do much to inspire confidence, other than the period from early 1995 to mid-1996, so please step up and make sure you don't blow it.

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