Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chambliss wins in Georgia, Coleman maintains lead in Minnesota

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I've been busy this evening writing an article that I hope will soon be published -- more on that if and when -- but I just thought I'd post quickly on the Senate races in Georgia and Minnesota.

Georgia: The run-off was held on Tuesday (today until about 45 minutes ago), and Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss defeated Democratic challenger Jim Martin. And it wasn't close. With 99 percent reporting, Chambliss is up 57 to 43. (He won the initial vote last month 50 to 47 -- or, rather, just under 50 to 47. Why the expanded win? Republicans came out en masse for Chambliss, with the likes of Sarah Palin stumping for him, and it may be that they just wanted it more than the Democrats did. Of course, it could also be that incumbents tend to do well in run-offs. And, of course, Georgia is still a solidly Republican state.)

Minnesota: The recount continues... Democratic challenger Al Franken picked up 37 votes in Ramsey County today, when 171 votes were found to have been uncounted "due to a combined machine malfunction and human error," according to the Star Tribune. Still, with 93 percent of votes recounted (and with more than 6,000 ballots challenged), Republican incumbent Norm Coleman leads by 303. (The Franken camp claims Coleman's lead is just 50.) According to Eric Kleefeld at TPM Election Central, the momentum may be swinging back to Coleman. However, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight says that his "statistical models," which recently projected Franken the eventual winner, "now show Norm Coleman as the favorite to retain his senate seat, although with a high degree of uncertainty and without accounting the effects of potential rejected absentee ballots."

For my previous updates on the Minnesota recount, see here, here, and here. For all our posts on Minnesota, see here.

With the Republican win in Georgia, the Democrats won't make it to 60 seats in the Senate. But as I and many others have pointed out, though, 60 is something of an artificial threshold (given the obsession with the filibuster). Very few votes in the Senate are strict party-line, and the Democrats should be able to pull over one or two, or more, Republicans on any given vote. But, then, the Democrats will also lose votes. Even with 60 senators, they would hardly be guaranteed of having a filibuster-proof majority on any given vote. The point is, whether it's 58 or 59, the Democrats will have a huge majority in the Senate. If they, and Obama, are able to reach out across the aisle to the few moderate Republicans left, they should be able to get stuff done (not least because there's a huge Democratic majority in the House as well).

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