KARL ROVE NO LONGER CONSIDERED A GENIUS
"As you go to the polls, remember, we're at war." -- George W. Bush
"What's changed today is the election is over, and the Democrats won." -- George W. Bush
WEBB TAKES VIRGINIA. Democratic majority in both houses of Congress! Bush: "Shows what I know." MSNBC: "Win solidifies Democratic power on Hill." More soon...
5:20 pm: The New York Times is reporting that Jim Webb has been confidently planning his transition to the Senate, and that his aides are referring to him as "Senator-elect Webb." Meanwhile, "some members of Mr. Allen’s camp suggested...that he would challenge the vote count." The complexity of Virginia's election laws means that "results of a formal recount might not be known until nearly Christmas." The current precinct-by-precinct canvass "should be completed no later than next Tuesday."
RNC chairman Ed Gillespie seems to have assured the Times, "The conclusion of the canvass will be the official result." Also, Gillespie "said he believed a count of provisional ballots and a review of the state's voting machines would turn up additional votes for Mr. Allen."
|"The recount in Virginia is unlikely to resolve all potential legal issues. In Virginia 'recounts' consist of re-tabulating the votes from the existing counts to ensure that the end-of-the-day tallies were summed accurately. Virginia uses a mix of optical-scan machines and touch-screen machines, with 11 different systems in total, across more than 130 jurisdictions, amounting to more than 9,000 machines. Touch-screen machines print out full tallies after all voting is done, and unless these printouts are unclear, officials generally do not rerun the machines. With optical-scan machines, only unclear ballots are run back through the scanner.|
"While all of the state's absentee ballots were already counted, election officials said today that they did not know how many voters had cast provisional ballots, which are used when a voter does not have proper identification or does not appear on a voter registration rolls.
"In Virginia, provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct are thrown away. Voting experts say if the number of provisional ballots deemed ineligible is greater than the number of ballots needed to tip the race, there may be litigation over which ballots should be eligible. In 2004, of three million total ballots, 4,609 were provisional and only 728 ended up being counted."
One of the fun things about election coverage is that the news keeps coming in, and everyone's been up all night, and the reportage starts to get a little punchy:
|"A protracted recount in Virginia is a scenario that many voting experts feared, with control of Congress hinging on a razor-thin margin in one Senate race, bringing a replay of the bitter litigation of the 2000 presidential election, which resulted in a drawn-out recount and bitter litigation."|
I wish George Allen would just concede already...but if Webb were trailing, I might have more patience. So we'll see.
1:12 pm: Excerpts from Bush's press conference: "Why all the glum faces?" (Nobody laughs.) "And in my first act of bipartisan cooperation...I gave [Pelosi] the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help them pick out drapes for their new offices." (Smirk, smirk, nobody laughs.) "It is clear the Democrat Party had a good night last night." (That's the Democratic Party, idiot.) "I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made" in Iraq.
12:55 pm: CNN, CBS, NBC, and the Associated Press are all reporting two items of note: Tester is the projected winner in Montana...and Donald Rumsfeld is going to step down!
Well, my friends, last night was a beautiful night, and though my fingers are sore from my live blogging frenzy, my heart isn't sore at all.
Here's the latest: There are still thirteen undecided House races, but the only question is how large the Democratic majority will be. It looks more and more certain that the Democratic Party will control the Senate. Some are already projecting it, and it's difficult to imagine any other outcome at this point. They're still counting in Montana, but Tester is 1,700 votes ahead, and the precinct still being counted is a Democratic stronghold, where Tester currently leads with 66% of the vote. Verification of the Montana vote could take a day or two. The margin has to be within one quarter of one percent for Burns to get a state-funded recount. It's unlikely. Webb still leads by about 8,000 votes in Virginia, with absentee ballots already counted. Verification is underway, and may also take a day or two, but again, Webb's lead looks much more likely to grow than to shrink. (Webb has already declared victory, though George Allen has yet to concede defeat.)
Basically, the only reason not to say we've won the Senate is extreme caution. The New York Times does warn that "Virginia's election laws allow an apparent loser to request a recount if a contest’s margin is less than 1 percent -- and the margin in the preliminary results of the state’s Senate election stood this morning at about one-third of 1 percent." Furthermore, in Virginia, "no request for a recount may be filed until the vote is certified, which is scheduled to happen this year on Nov. 27th. After certification, a losing candidate has 10 days to file a recount request in the state courts."
Dueling press conferences: The next Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi -- soon to become the first woman ever to hold that office, and the highest-ranking female elected official in American history -- will speak to the press at noon. Bush will speak to the press at one.
Democrats have won a majority of state legislatures. The next session of Congress, the Boston Globe points out, "will include an unprecedented number of women," plus Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), "an avowed socialist...[elected] to the Senate for the first time in history." Also, "including last night, the House has only changed parties twice in 52 years." Keith Ellison has become the first African-American elected to represent Minnesota in the House of Representatives; he is also the first Muslim ever to serve in the U.S. Congress. In local commissions and state legislatures, an unprecedented number of openly gay candidates have been elected to office, including sixty-seven winners endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
In a major victory for both women and freedom, the South Dakota aboriton ban was defeated. In Missouri, the stunning victory of Claire McCaskill was complemented by the approval of a ballot measure supporting stem cell research. An amendment banning gay marriage was defeated in Arizona -- though, in one of last night's few disappointments, gay marriage bans did pass in six other states (Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia, and South Carolina). In a silly and meaningless (but vaguely disappointing) development, Arizona seems to have voted for English as the "official language." So I guess English is now the official language of Arizona. The state bird is the cactus wren.
It was also an election rife with symbolic victories -- the unseating of Santorum, Hostettler, DeWine, and others being the most visible and the most thrilling. The Texas redistricting masterminded years ago by the now-ousted Tom DeLay made it harder for Democrats to win a majority in the House, which makes it even sweeter to learn that Democrat Nick Lampson won DeLay's old seat! Speaking to Rita Cosby on MSNBC, DeLay emerged from the shadows to say, "Well, Rita, I'd call it a Texas whupping, that's for sure."
With the Democrats in the majority, who will be the House Majority Leader? Steny Hoyer (Maryland) and Jack Murtha (Pennsylvania) have made their intentions clear.
Associated Press: "World Sees Democrats' Win as Rejection of Bush." Damn right!