Election Day 2008 - A Day Post - See Below for Updates, Interviews, Etc.

7:30 AM - The morning run here in Uptown, New Orleans revealed a stronger ground game for DA candidate Cannizzarro on St. Charles (his folks and red signs were out in greater force yesterday, too). Obama, too, had the advantage in signage, with a lone McCain-Palin yard sign competing with scores of Obama signs in the neutral ground.

My running buddy reported almost no wait at the polls down in the Lower Garden District early on.

+ Accusations of armed members of The Black Panthers blocking the doors of polling places in Pennsylvania?

+ Faith in Obama brings to mind the cargo cult religions of Indonesia. Chickens in pots, cars in garages...!

+ Interesting...LIB gets excerpted and linked over at "Jews for Palin"

+ The coming media ambush of Obama? I can only hope - while Obama has clearly run a better campaign than McCain, not all of the media's disparate treatment of the two candidates stems from that difference. The press has done itself a disservice in its favoritism. It selected which issues and personal attributes were relevant which weren't. And it decided what level of vagueness passes as acceptable and unquestionable.

+ A report from a friend of the blog on what's happening on the ground in Chicago in advance of the Obama rally tonight at Grant Park:

"I dunno...lots of dumbasses cooing about getting tickets to the neo-fascist Obama rally in Grant Park. Massive enthusiasm for a well constructed series of fonts, images, and logos, as well as tight musical cues and catchy slogans. Excitement about the word 'change', both the crunchy 'ch' sound and the gamy 'ange.' Unbridled hope for a future in which we can all collect around an ad campaign and, unencumbered by ideas, information, or irony, agree to purchase the most attractive thing being sold."

+ Interview

Brad V: So, as someone who supported Mitt Romney back in the primaries, where are you at today?

JD: I'm happy with John McCain as the nominee. America is strongly divided and I believe Sen. McCain's demonstrated willingness to "cross the aisle" will heal some of our country's partisan wounds. Nevertheless, I look forward to Gov. Romney one day being our president.

Brad V: What concerns you most about an Obama presidency?

JD: I am very concerned about the impact his tax policy will have upon commerce.

Brad V: Was Sarah Palin or the economic crisis a bigger contributor to McCain's downfall?

JD: We will let the political scientists sort that one out. My humble opinion is that the economy has hurt McCain more than anything. But I don't like the wording of your question: there has yet to be a downfall for McCain - he hasn't won or lost the election yet - and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if he won this evening.

Brad V: Will the Democrats hit 60 in the Senate today?

JD: Not a chance, but they will get close.

Brad V: Presuming McCain loses per the projections, where does the GOP go from here? When the dust settles, what happens with Sarah Palin? What does 2012 look like on the GOP side?

JD: I hope nothing but the very best for Gov. Palin. I feel like she got pulled into this thing before she was ready. Nevertheless, I won't support her in 2012 should Sen. McCain not win the presidency. I think 2012 looks very good for Republicans. In fact, I think 2010 will be a great year for our Congressional races. Once the newness and excitement surrounding Sen. Obama wears off, people will see his policies for what they are, and I think it will lead to a resounding resurgence in Republican support. Look for something like the Contract With American in 2010 - heck, we might even see Speaker Gingrich as the 2012 Republican Nominee.

If McCain wins this evening, which I maintain is more possible than people think, the Republicans will be the subject of blame for any problem that plagues this country, people will get hungrier for "change," and 2012 will certainly be a year that a Democrat becomes president.

+ Brad V: Streaming shallowness over at the Twitter Election page.

+Steve S: As of 1.30, the line to vote was short in Menasha, WI -- perhaps 3 or 4 people deep. Poll workers told me it had been that way most of the day, except for a short time when the line was "out the door" at 7 am. It's a contrast with yesterday when my mom voted, when even in the late morning the line to vote absentee was an hour long. What does this say about a previously deeply Republican area, an area where nearly all the downticket races are Republicans running uncontested? I don't think the Fox Valley will be able to turn the election in WI, and it seems a good part has already made up its mind.


+ Brad V: Here's a brief interview with a politically astute friend of the blog who's out in California on this big day:

Brad V: So, how are things looking on the ground for Proposition 8?

Matt B: As a disclaimer, I should mention that I've been much less involved with Prop 8 here than I was with Fair Wisconsin two years ago. Law school has limited my availability.

Having said that, from what I've observed and heard, I'm surprised by the differences in the way the campaign has been run here. In Wisconsin, we focused on going door-to-door, talking to voters face-to-face about the issue. Here, the strategy seems to be an ad blitz. I've been a bit surprised, and perhaps disappointed, by the lack of a ground game. But I also know little about how things work in California, so I don't know exactly how unusual that is.

I have appreciated that, for the first time that I know of, this campaign has outright said: "This is discrimination; this affects people; this is wrong." In my experience in Wisconsin, our focus was on how it affected families and individuals - both gay and straight. We talked about what many foresaw as unintended consequences. Here, though, there have been ads referencing internment and antimiscegenation and ads flat-out saying that discrimination is wrong. To me, it's refreshing to see the dialogue changing.

Brad V: As someone familiar with similar statewide gay marriage issues and campaigns, how do you see this weaving into the presidential election?

Matt B: It's not the same as it was two or four years ago. After the last election cycle, the general consensus that these things help bring out the conservative vote has been turned on its head. California seems to be a last-ditch effort by the conservative religious movement to prevent the spread of gay marriage. For them, gay marriage in California is the equivalent of what we thought communism in Vietnam would be during the Cold War. Money has been pouring in from Utah, of all places, and spending records have been obliterated on both sides. It's really quite extraordinary.

As for how it will turn out, there are some weird variables at play. The pundit-consensus is that Obama will lead to high turnout among blacks and Hispanics, who as voting blocs (to the extent that voting blocks exist), tend to be less supportive of gay marriage. If, on the other hand, the race appears in hand - which could happen as a result of recent polls or polls closing earlier on the East Coast - turnout might be depressed. Plus, there are those that oppose the proposition system on principle, and vote no on everything. I'm cautiously optimistic that it will fail here.

Brad V: Why do you think the Governator stepped into the ring at the very end and mocked Obama on McCain's behalf as "skinny" when he otherwise, at least nationally, seemed to be sitting this one out?

Matt B: Good question. He is termed out in two years, so perhaps he was auditioning for a position as Obama's personal trainer? Really, though, I have no idea - it's generally amazing how much more moderate he has become since taking office . That he was sitting out was really not all that surprising. As for his sudden involvement, he is, in the end, a Republican, and in my view, McCain has been desperate.

+ Brad V: Here's another pocket interview...with an Obama supporter in New Orleans, also a friend of the blog:

Brad V: As someone who supported McCain in the 2000 primary, but is now a committed Obama voter, how are you feeling about the election?

R1: I'm feeling simultaneously hopeful (for a break with the divisive nature of the recent past) and disappointed (that McCain has fallen so far from where he was only 8 years ago). I believe Obama will win the election, but ideally he will do so by landslide margins, not so much to facilitate a "radical" leftist agenda but rather to repudiate the culture war tactics of the right.

Brad V: Where did McCain go wrong? Was it all Palin?

R1: McCain was (and still is) a great American. His sacrifice for this country as a POW abroad is both humbling and powerful and all Americans owe him their respect, admiration, and heartfelt thanks. I think the ironic thing is that he didn't go wrong. Rather, his party (in Reaganesque fashion), left him. In order to win the Republican primaries, McCain had to rely on the same revolting tactics used against him in 2000 (in some cases by hiring the same individuals).

Moreover, the GOP's precipitous lurch to the right in recent years left McCain appear lacking the level of ideological purity required for unconditional conservative support. This in many ways forced his hand with respect to Sarah Palin. I'm sure he would much rather have chosen someone to reinforce his bipartisan image, à la Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge. Either choice would have infuriated the base of his party and destroyed his chances in the general election.

McCain's refusal to air ads on Jeremiah Wright speaks volumes about his courage and foresight, in ways that in retrospect may redeem his initial support of the Iraq invasion. Even as Obama has been the "post-partisan" candidate, it was McCain himself who drew a line in the sand with regard to character assassination. It goes without saying that this year represented an almost insurmountable challenge to any Republican candidate for president, and as I wrote in March, the party made a valiant last stand for moderation by choosing John McCain as its candidate.

All of that said, the selection of Palin was disastrous. The woman represents the worst of American populism---a candidate so brazenly dismissive of "elitism" and "savoir faire" that even conservative intellectuals have fled the Republican ticket. It is telling that these same individuals have been viciously attacked as RINOs and not "true" Republicans in the same way that Democratic-leaning jurisdictions are labled not "true" America. The party's self-immolation is frightening and may have far-reaching consequences.

Brad V: Presuming an Obama victory, how do you think all his promised change will manifest itself in the end?

R1: I think The Economist said it best. A large part of Obama's success lies in who he is. This is not a reason anyone should vote for him, but it becomes very difficult for Iranians, the Taliban, and other radical Islamist groups to denounce the "Great Satan" when it is led by a black man with the middle name Hussein (as one example). African-Americans and other minorities will know that America's promise truly applies to them, too, which may reduce tendencies to blame racism for all those groups' problems. The world waits on baited breath to embrace a man who represents the complete opposite of George W. Bush and will rally to him in a way never seen before in American history. Watch for people to be dancing in the streets tomorrow from Beijing and Paris to Sao Paulo and Nairobi. The world faces enormous problems at this defining moment, but a united front will be much more successful than a go-it-alone policy.

My hope for policy change, however, lies in two areas. First, the "healthcare" system in this country is appalling. When a healthy 26 year old cannot get health insurance because he got sick one time, the market system is not working. Insurance companies, driven by short-term profits, have entrenched a system of massive long-term inefficiencies. The poor and uninsured postpone medical treatment until the results are catastrophic. Insured individuals pay ever-higher "premiums" and co-pays for the privilege to be insured. Yet even with health insurance nearly 3 million Americans have been forced into bankruptcy due to medical bills over the last few years. Appalling. I believe Obama's approach is the best I've heard on this issue. Unlike Hillary, he does not advocate for a universal payor system that abolishes the private sector. Rather, he allows individuals (like myself) to purchase (I repeat, purchase---this isn't a handout) the same insurance that members of Congress give themselves. Since the "market" thinks I am too risky to be insured, I will be able to participate in a government-sponsored (but NOT mandated) plan.

Secondly, we MUST do something about our country's energy policy (which consequently affects the environment). Offshore drilling should be a prospective component of either president's energy policy, but we must be realistic in our approach. The United States controls only 3% of the world's oil supply, yet consumes 25%. This is unsustainable, even at 100% production. Furthermore, new drilling for oil now will not yield an ounce of oil for approximately 10 years. This does nothing to alleviate energy prices or our dependency on foreign nations. Although I'm wary of nuclear fuels (due to uncertainty about where to store the waste and the possible consequences of a terrorist strike or industrial accident), I accept the fact that nuclear power may be necessary as well. The next president must start solving a crisis that has been building over the last 40 years.

Brad V: What would the GOP have to do to make you consider voting for its candidate next time around?

R1: The results tonight will confirm the marginalization of Republicans into a regional party of the Deep South and interior west, even if McCain manages to pull out a victory. The party's future can be summed up by a snapshot of its current composition---largely older, white, and male. All other things being equal, this is an unsustainable coalition. Even Texas is already a minority-majority state. The party must cast off (or at the least reduce the influence of) its social arch-conservatism for it to regain a foothold in mainstream America. The politics of division, hate, and character assassination may succeed in isolated circumstances to win elections, but cripple the victor's ability to effect change.

As a fiscal conservative, I'm far more concerned with how Republicans have almost doubled the national deficit over the last 8 years than with a family's very personal decision to end life support for a comatose child, parent, or grandparent. If Republicans return to their true roots of limited government (in economic as well as social issues), they will enjoy greater prospects of success in the future.

+Steve S: elusive surge? Fears of long lines prompted Menashans to vote early; perhaps that's happened elsewhere as well. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I've just gotten down to Madison, where I'll be covering the evening.

+ Brad V: A roommate reports that rural Iowa counties are coming in weak for McCain...a bad omen for his camp.

+ Brad V: The black vote in New Orleans.

Feeling antsy, I drove around a bit. Seeing the ground game in Central City and Treme was especially interesting...the areas are key stomping areas of "the black vote" in the city. And I'd never encountered this machine in real life.

For one, the local DA candidate Cannizzarro tried to use Obama's coattails...while tying his opponent Capitelli to McCain. The two signs you see below have no "paid for" notation and are clearly made by the same company...pretty disingenuous on the part of whoever is backing Cannizzarro. The signs were up and down Martin Luther King Blvd. and showed up on Claiborne, as well as over in various areas of Mid-City and Treme:

While Capitelli had a "firetruck" going around, causing second lining on Claiborne at least, Cannizzarro seemed to have a better infrastructure out on the street corners. His red-garbed suporters were out waving signs in force. I asked a few whether they were paid. They said they were. This explains, in part, why they were out so late and in such force.

At a church just off Simon Bolivar in Central City, the poll staff said the polls had been busy all day long (but refused to tell me how many people had voted at that point):

Directly across the street, there was one of many signs supporting Congressman Bill Jefferson. Incredible.

+ Brad V: What about Tulane? Reports: About 200 voters lined up earlier this afternoon at around 3:30, waiting to get into the union.

+Steve S: are the undecideds are breaking towards Obama in the East? That would be huge for him.

+ Mike F: 8:25: Madison, within half a mile of campus. I just got a third canvasser. Missed the first one in the morning, the second one mid-afternoon was a white grandma for Obama, and the third one just now was a middle aged white guy for Obama. Both had clipboards, pieces of flair, and were reminding me to vote, which I already had by 10 am. This is in addition to three large glossy Obama flyerings in the last week and the airplane again today.

+ Brad V: 7:06: Live from the Irish Channel in New Orleans! Many families are out on their porches here in the neighborhood. People are chatting about the candidates. There's a bit of excitement, tension in the air. A crew of friends has gathered, CNN is on the tv. Laptops are up. I ran down to the dingy corner store at Washington and Annunciation. An old African American gentleman was sweeping the sidewalk outside in the dark. He's not sure who's going to win, but "You know who I voted for," he said with a wink.

+ A Madison Experience from JE (who voted at the same polling place I voted at in 2004, bleary-eyed and unshaven, standing in a long early morning line without my contacts):
"election mania: as you can imagine madison is insane. people are running around drunk on the obama hype. i stood in line at the dayton street fire station for over an hour, and my line was the "shortest they'd seen all morning" come to find out that was the tail end of the ambitious voter rush. an hour later when i went to class there was almost no line at all."

+ Polling place, Sophie B. Wright School, Uptown New Orleans, late afternoon:

+Steve S: Slate is already telling McCain how to surrender.

+Steve S: a friend who is working for the Dems has this to say:
Inside sources in the obama campaign have been saying things are looking good, but a few wards Madison and Milwaukee have had lower than expected turnout, but these are wards that had high early vote push… so now it is hard to tell if they are really ‘under performing’ or if this is a result of so many people having early voted, there aren’t as many people left to vote in person. The irony of an early vote plan is poll watching gets thrown for a loop.

As for state assembly, I have no idea at this point. It really comes down to Democratic Wave vs. whether outside groups can buy a campaign. The outside groups are outspending our dem candidates 10 to 1 in some areas (talking about healthcare for illegal immigrants) and it comes down to whether voters are equate these negative over the top attacks to the McCain/republican attacks at the end.

So in the seats where these ads aren’t running, I think we a have a good shot to pick them up. But some of these highly contested open seats, I’m worried. Some of these tv ads have been running for 4 to 5 weeks. For example in Eau Claire, they’ve spent over half a million on tv for the last month against the area dems (like it were a huge Senate race) and our candidates just have 10 pieces of mail and 2 radio ads… so it scares me.

So that’s really all I know right now. I am hopeful we take the majority, the question is where and by how much. Playground politics has some interesting insights on the republican side as to which candidates are working hard and which aren’t. But his claims about what the dems are doing is way off.

+ Bob Barr: Apparently, speaking to a number of friends here at the Rabbit Cage in the Irish Channel, Bob Barr was not on the ballot here in Louisiana.

+ Overall: 8:34 p.m. Central - Pennsylvania and Ohio have gone Obama. That's...

McCain, as of 8:43, has, based on the Magic Map, no way to win.

+ 8:45 - Here in New Orleans, a CNN ad for Lou Dobbs shows up on a Fox station. ?!?

+ 8:46 - Wow - the Mary Landrieu Senate race here in Louisiana is looking a lot closer than I would have guessed.


Orleans Parish
District Attorney
18% Reporting
Leon Cannizzaro, Jr.
Ralph Capitelli

Sadly, Bill Jefferson is polling over 60% at the moment in the 2nd Congressional race.

+Steve S: fun times in the WI state Assembly race: illegal money seems to be helping Darling.

+ Brad V:  The house has now turned over to Comedy Central.  72% for Obama in New York at this point with some in?  Wow.  That's unhealthy.

+Steve S: at the UWCRs results-watching party, the outlook is grim: the fix is in, and they all seem to know it. But it's pretty divided over whether McCain was the right guy to run -- there are those who think he was not nearly conservative enough. Says the chair, "win or lose... you have worked so hard for so long... We're still Republicans, and we'll still be here tomorrow."

+ Brad V:  Other Races.  Coleman losing in Minnesota's Senate race - hurt, no doubt, by Barkley, the independent.  The Obamic Madia is going down with 7% reporting in Minnesota's 3rd, to my surprise.  In Wisconsin, WI 8 is a close race...49/51 with Kagen leading narrowly in a Democratic blowout cycle.

Wow - the Landrieu Senate race here in Louisiana is far closer than I could have possibly imagined!  49/48 over Kennedy with 40% in!

+ Irish Channel, New Orleans:  Fireworks are going off here in the Crescent City.

The race has been called for Landrieu, as well - 50% t0 48% - that's a poor showing for Landrieu.

+ Stats:  RealClearPolitics has a nice breakdown - watch the Senate, state-by-state, and House races unfold.

+ 10:19 - Sad.  McCain has to hold up his hands to halt booing at his own - otherwise sterling - concession speech.

Obama gave a good speech, I must say.  Although the raving throngs gave pause.

+ MIKE H UPDATE:  11:48 - With 54% reporting, LIB's own Mike H pulls a very respectable 44% in his WI Assembly race - for a candidate who had to leave for deployment to active duty back at the beginning of September!  Check for updates here.

Benedict, Chuck (i) Dem 7,389 56%
Hahn, Mike GOP 5,782 44%

+ 12:02 AM  - The WI Assembly - Wow.  Lots of 51-49 races with GOP incumbents barely hanging on...looking like the Dems will move into the majority position...

Brad V:  A friend, after sending an email that simply read "YAHOO!" followed up with another that read: "NEW DEAL II."

Needless to say, I'm signing off for the night.  Congratulations to the new President-elect.

There's much to think about tomorrow...and even more to do.