Tuesday, November 05, 2013

U.S. Election Extravaganza 2013

By Michael J.W. Stickings 

So here we are. A huge, historic day for the greatest country that has ever graced the face of the earth.

Actually, that's not true. None of it.

But it is Election Day in America, and there are some important, interesting races around the country, and there are already results coming in, with votes in...

Virginia... and New Jersey... and New York City... and... and... Alabama?

Yes, the (great?) state of Alabama, where one-quarter of my family is from, including my wonderful, sadly now-deceased maternal grandfather, a WWII hero and, later, baseball broadcaster. There's a House race in that state's first district, with, predictably, two right-wing Republicans on the ballot. So whatever.

(There are also a lot of other local elections taking place, and I'm sure many of them are important and interesting, but we're going to stick to the national stories here.)

Does any of this matter, though? I mean, is there any larger narrative? Will the results tonight tell us anything about the political state of the country, about where the country may be going headed into 2014, with the midterms coming up a year from now, with President Obama's approval ratings low, though not nearly as low as Congress's, with the Affordable Care Act struggling to get going and of course under a constant barrage of dishonestly from Republicans?

I would say no, not really.

Gov. Chris Christie has won re-election in New Jersey. I believe that was called weeks ago, no? It might as well have been. He's a bully and a blowhard, but there's no denying his popularity, and he certainly qualifies as the GOP superstar du jour, with all signs pointing to a 2016 presidential run, with the media salivating over his prospects, even if in reality he stands zero chance of winning the Republican nomination because he's just so out of line with mainstream right-wing Republicanism these days (though he'd likely be a formidable national candidate, just as he might have been the best choice as Romney's running mate last year). Sure, it says a lot that he can win in a blue state, and he's certainly no ideological extremist, but Republicans have a long history of winning state-wide races in my former home state and it's not like Democrats put up a truly viable alternative. Sorry, but Barbara Buono is no Cory Booker.

So, again, whatever.

The more interesting race by far has been in Virginia, where centrist (and corrupt) Clintonite Dem Terry McAuliffe has been ahead of Tea Party social conservative extremist Ken Cuccinelli, he who hates blow jobs, in the polls and appears to be on track to win in that oh-so-purple state. Last night on The Daily Show, a somewhat funny bit suggested that it's a race between two equal evils, two equally unlikeable candidates. That's Jon Stewart's independent shtick, but it's anything but true in this case. I'm hardly a fan of McAuliffe, who has spent much of his political career wallowing in the deep underbelly of the Clinton machine, but he's an opportunistic, self-aggrandizing centrist. He's not nearly as progressive as I would like, but he's at least on the right side of the issue when it comes to, say, women's health, the environment (more or less), and poverty, while The Cooch is a far-right extremist and ideologue who represents the nefarious fusion of anti-government Tea Party radicalism and socially moralistic Christianist theocratism. There's the choice. And the choice is clear. That's what Virginia voters are saying.

As for The Big Apple, well... after years and years of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, two right-leaning law-and-order types who were tough on crime, minorities, and Big Gulp drinkers, it's obviously time for someone who represents the city's more progressive aspirations for a better life, not just a "safer" life, and that someone is Democrat Bill de Blasio, whose toughest competition was in the Democratic primary and who will beat Republican (and former Giuliani lieutanant) Joe Lhota by, what, 40 points? More? Let's just agree it'll be a landslide. It remains to be seen how de Blasio performs as mayor, and perhaps there are questions about how effectively he'll manage the city and be something more than an aspirational figure, but there's no denying his broad support among the city's various demographic groups and the fact that he's generated a good deal of excitement during the campaign.

By the way, it's still too early to call in Virginia. Not surprising. The early votes from the more rural parts of the state tend to go Republican, while the Democratic votes from the denser northern parts of the state come later, and so The Cooch will continue to lead until, hopefully, those urban, suburban, and exurban votes turn the tide in McAuliffe's favor. But it'll take time. This is purely anecdotal, but Virginia vote-counting and reporting always seems to be a slow, slow process.

Alright, a short break... be back soon.



At 9:30 pm, it's a really tight race in Virginia, but McAuliffe has closed the gap significantly. It's now 878,515 to 875,160, or 47-46, for The Cooch, with 87% of precincts reporting.

Christie's up 59-39. Yes, yes, a big win. Let the media kick their stupid "Christie 2016" narrative into an even higher gear. Perspective, people, perspective.

In New York, the race has been called for de Blasio even though, as of right now, CNN has no votes reported. There you go.


By the way, make sure to read the comments. One of our co-bloggers, Frank Moraes, is weighing in as well.


McAuliffe has taken the lead. It's now 911,726 to 906,841, or 47-46, with 91% reporting. I was going to say it's hard to believe that many people actually voted for The Cooch, but, no, it's not surprising at all. It's Virginia, after all, with large parts of the state deeply rooted in the Confederacy, and of course this purple state, like the country generally, remains deeply divided along partisan lines regardless of candidate.


And CNN -- and probably others, but that's what I've got up on the screen at the moment -- has called it for McAuliffe.

It's still 47-46, and so a closer election than expected (and than the polls were suggesting was likely to be the case), though the final numbers will likely show a larger McAuliffe victory, with votes still coming in from populous Democratic areas.

Why is that, this closer-than-expected race? Republican vote suppression efforts, anyone?


At 11:19 pm, it's McAuliffe over Cooch 45-45.

Meanwhile, Christie won big and de Blasio is crushing it. And, for what it's worth, Bradley Byrne beat Dean Young in AL-1.

Oh, what an extravaganza it's been.

Good night, everyone.

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  • I'm concerned about how people will react to de Blasio when things don't suddenly change next year. It will be 2009 all over again. But I think de Blasio might do a better job than Obama did. I think that mostly because de Blasio really is a liberal and believes in something other than Wall Street doing well and it trickling down to the rest of us. As much as the New Democratic movement would never admit to believing in trickle down and voodoo economics, that is the core of their thinking. That's why I worry more about stopping them than the Republicans (who are doing a good enough job stopping themselves).

    The fact that Chooch doesn't lose by that much will be more of an excuse for the Republicans to do nothing. And that's just fine.

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 9:22 PM  

  • PS: As anyone knows who follows me knows, I hate Chris Christie. I'm very angry with the the Democratic Party for abandoning Barbara Buono. Christie is as much an extremist as Ted Cruz. He's just not an idiot. Liberals are stupid to consider him "reasonable." He's good at politics. He's dangerous. But he's not reasonable.

    A good liberal friend of my in New Jersey didn't vote today. I can't tell you how angry that kind of thing makes me.

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 9:32 PM  

  • On the issue of Christie, there are a few things. First, does the "asshole" character really play outside of New Jersey and New York? Here in California, I think most people just find him an offensive bully. So I question whether he is going to play in a Republican primary the way that Washington insiders think he will.

    Second, there is the whole issue of what Romney dug up about him in the VP background check. There seems to be something there. Skeletons in one's closet may work in a Goodfellas movie, but I'm not so sure they do elsewhere.

    Finally, and I think most importantly, Christie really is a conservative extremist. The people of New Jersey are voting against Christie when it comes to the minimum wage even as they vote for him as governor. In an actual election, Clinton (or whoever) would paint him as the extremist that he is.

    So I'm with you, "Perspective, people, perspective." Christie gets far too much credit. If he wins in 2016, then Ted Cruz would have won. I don't see much of a difference except that Christie is smarter.

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 10:17 PM  

  • I think the reason for the close election is that Rand Paul campaigned. I remember he said, "I just had an entirely new idea. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." There's nothing people appreciate like original poetry in a stump speech. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times! How true that is. Leave it to a great mind like Rand Paul to see the truth of that.

    Have I beat that bit of snark enough? I can do the whole thing if you like, "It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..." Wow, that cuts a little deeper than I expected!

    By Anonymous Frank Moraes, at 10:23 PM  

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