Hard to believe it’s already here. The Georgia U.S. Senate run-off is this Tuesday, December 2. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, everyone from Bill Clinton to John McCain has been in Georgia campaigning over the past few weeks. If Martin (D) can upset incumbent Chambliss (R), it will be Senate seat number 59 for the democrats. A win keeps the democrats’ hopes for a supermajority alive with the 60th seat still up for grabs .
[Update 11/8/08: Nebraska has indeed awarded one of its electoral votes to Obama (Omaha World-Herald). Also, apparently, Michigan split its electoral votes in 1892, so this is the first time in Nebraska history that but not in U.S. history that electoral votes have been split.]
Nebraska, one of two states that awards its electoral votes by congressional district instead of winner-take-all, may be the first state in history to split its electoral vote. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Obama has pulled within 569 votes in the Omaha-area 2nd congressional district with 12,000 early and absentee votes till to be counted.
Obama won 60% of the early ballots counted so far, and if that trend continues, he will be the first Democrat to win an electoral vote in Nebraska since Lyndon Johnson won the entire state in 1964.
More importantly, it will be the first time in U.S. history that any state has split its electoral vote. Unlike all the other states, Maine and Nebraska can split their electoral votes if different candidates win different parts of the states. But in every election, a single candidates has won in all the state’s congressional districts. Obama may change that.
Six Down, Three to Go
The AP Reports that Merkely (D) has unseated Smith (R) in Oregon for the Democrats sixth new U.S. Senate seat. That brings the democrats to 57 senate seats total with three races still undecided.
- Minnesota Recount: Franken (D) has pulled even closer to Coleman (R) with only 438 votes between the two. That’s less than 0.1%. In Minnesota, there is an automatic recount if the difference is less than 0.5%, but Coleman had the audacity to suggest the recount should be foregone and he declared the winner. It will be a few weeks before Minnesota declares a winner.
- Alaska Still Counting: Even though Stevens (R) leads Begich (D) by 3,533, there are still 55,000 absentee, early, and questioned votes still to be counted. It will be a few weeks until they’re done. Special note: analysts are puzzled by (A) how close the race is (polls showed Begich ahead by 6-8 points) and (B) the fact that Alaska’s turnout appears to be lower than in 2008 than 2004, despite the fact that there was a hotly contested senate race and Sarah Palin was on the national Republican ticket.
- Georgia Run-off?: With 96% reporting, Chambliss (R) is sitting at 49.9%. If he stays under 50% plus one, there will be a run-off between Chambliss (R) and Martin (R) on Dec. 2. If Democrats win Minnesota and Alaska, expect the circus to come to Georgia for Thanksgiving.
I don’t understand why the AP is reporting that “in the Senate [Democrats] fell short of the 60 votes needed for a filibuster-proof majority that would have given them almost unbridled power over legislation.” In the next paragraph of the same article, the writer says:
Voters ousted Senate Republicans in North Carolina and New Hampshire and added three seats held by retiring GOP incumbents to the Democrats’ fragile 51-49 majority. Four other Senate races involving Republican incumbents, including the contest in Minnesota, were too close to call early Wednesday. The GOP retained some leverage in spite of Democratic gains.
So, the Democrats started with 51 plus North Carolina and New Hampshire is 53. Add the three seats previously held by retiring GOP incumbents is 56. And there are 4 more too close to call. Unless I missed something in second grade, I’m pretty sure that means 60 is still a possibility.
- Minnesota: as of this afternoon, Franken (D) has pulled within 475 of incumbent Coleman (R). There will be an automatic recount, which the Minnesota Secretary of State said will take “several weeks.”
- Oregon: the incumbent Smith (R) is currently ahead of Merkeley (D) by about 4000 votes, but there are two heavily-democratic counties whose votes are yet to be tallied.
- Alaska: the incumbent Stevens (R) is ahead of Begich (D) by under 4000 votes, but Alaska over 40,000 absentee ballots to count. Ironically, if Stevens holds on and the Senate removes him for being convicted on bribery, Gov. Sarah Palin will pick his replacement.
- Georgia: the incumbent Chambliss (R) has more votes but failed to earn a majority so far. There are more votes to be counted, but if he does not get a majority, there will be a run-off between Chambliss and Martin (D) on December 2.
Can you imagine if the Dems win Minnesota, Oregon, and Alaska? Georgia will become the battleground for supermajority control of the Senate.
The Democrats currently control the House and barely control the Senate (51-49). In the Senate, the majority party can be stopped by any single senator’s filibuster…unless sixty senators vote for cloture to stop the filibuster. Hence, if Democrats win a 60-seat supermajority in the senate tonight, they can pass whatever laws they all agree upon, no matter what opposition they get from Republicans.
As Sen. Schumer said on Face the Nation, “60, that’s very, very difficult. It’s possible, but unlikely.” Democrats will almost certainly pickup more seats, but making it all the way up to 60 is a long shot. Still, if Obama wins Pennsylvania and Virginia early in the night, the Senate race is where I’ll turn my attention.
51: Current Democrat Senators, including Sanders (I-VT) and Lieberman (I-CT)
Getting to a 60-seat Supermajority
56: Safe Wins
- Virginia: M. Warner (D) replaces J. Warner (R) (defeats Gillmore)
- New Mexico: T. Udall (D) replaces Pearce (R)
- Colorado: M. Udall (D) replaces Schaffer (R)
- Alaska: Begich (D) replaces Stevens (R)
- New Hampshire: Shaheen (D) replaces Sununu (R)
58: Probable Wins
- Oregon: Merkley (D) replaces Smith (R)
- North Carolina: Hagan (D) replaces Dole (R)
- Minnesota: Franken (D) replaces Coleman (R)
Al Franken (yes, that Al Franken) is trying to unseat Norm Coleman in what could be the closest race of the night. They are statistically tied in the polls with some showing Franken slightly ahead and other showing Coleman slightly ahead. My college roommate Andy Barr is on the Franken campaign staff, so I’ll be watching this especially close.
- Georgia: Martin (D) forces a run-off with Chambliss (R)
Incumbent Chambliss is comfortably ahead in the polls put has only made it to the 40s. If Chambliss does not get at least 40%, there will be a December 2 run-off election between the two.
61: Long-shot Upset
- Kentucky: Lunsford (D) replaces McConnell (R) despite McConnell’s lead in the polls.
If Democrats get a supermajority, it’ll be the first time democrats have had the White House, a majority in the House, and a supermajority in the Senate since 1965 and 1933.
Thanks again to fivethirtyeight.com for the analysis. I have been unable to find an interactive graphic that I really like for the senate races. The New York Times (shown) has the best graphic I’ve seen but still not great. If you know of a better senate graphic, let me know, and I’ll link to it.
McCain is definitely the underdog going into election night, but if he can win Pennsylvania or Virginia early, we might be in for a surprise. Two early Obama wins in the eastern battleground states mean he’s won the election. Here is what I’ll be watching for on election night.