November 08, 2006

Election Night 2006 Running Diary

(Note: All of this was written in real time, and edited only for grammar and style after the fact):

6:45: I voted today at the local precinct here in Delaware County. I went straight ticket Democrat in the five races listed: Ed Rendell for governor, Bob Casey for Senate, Joseph Sestak for Congress, and I don’t even remember the names of the state senator and assemblyman. Strangely, there were no third party candidates at all. No trouble at all with the touchscreen machine, at least as far as I know.

7:00: MSNBC is announcing first results: Virginia Senate too early to call, but the first declared winner is Bernie Sanders, who becomes the first avowed socialist in the Senate probably in 70 or so years. Richard Lugar won in Indiana; I’d had no idea he was even running for re-election.

7:02: The faces are looking pretty glum on Fox News. Then again, I remember the same thing early on in Election Day 2004.

7:04: During an interview with MSNBC, Rick Santorum’s brother shares that when Rick was in middle school, he talked about always wanting to be… governor. So I guess we know what his next move is.

7:08: Brit Hume introduces a “balance of power bar,” which will scroll at the bottom of the screen throughout the night. “You should watch it, not eat it,” he says.

7:22: A frightening MSNBC report about a section of Missouri in which twice as many people showed up to vote as there were ballots. Yikes. Can you say “court challenge”?

7:30: As the polls close in Ohio, the Senate race is reported as 0-0, with 0 precincts reporting. Good to know. Democrat Ted Strickland is the new governor of Ohio, machine difficulties in Cleveland notwithstanding.

7:31: Robert Byrd has been re-elected to a ninth Senate term, which I’d imagine will probably be his last.

7:50: On Fox News, Bill Kristol blames “blogs and YouTube” for George Allen’s possible loss in Virginia. Yea, it’s all YouTube’s fault.

7:54: Bill Richardson talks with Matthews about some funny campaign commercials that he starred in while dressed as a cowboy; then he jokes that the horse he was riding on died after he was done filming. Wow, that joke was even more botched than Kerry’s about Bush.

7:57: Joe Negron, who would replace Mark Foley on the ballot should Foley win, is leading with 10% of vote in, Fox News says. Wouldn’t losing to the admitted pederast be even more embarrassing than John Ashcroft losing to the dead guy?

7:58: Democrat Brad Ellsworth wins in the Indiana 8th, one of the first Democratic House gains of the night.

8:00: Ted Kennedy, who I also had no idea was running, was re-elected. Trent Lott and Olympia Snowe, too. And, sadly, Katherine Harris’ political career is over, as she has lost to Bill Nelson in Florida. “You remember her, from ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Matthews reminds us.

8:05: To the surprise of no one, Ed Rendell has been re-elected governor of Pennsylvania. And Deval Patrick has re-captured the Massachusetts governorship for the Democrats, following four straight Republicans. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict he’ll be a better governor than Paul Cellucci was.

8:07: Tim Russert is on MSNBC- minus the Magic Slate. Or does he only bust it out in presidential years? Kristol’s little telestrator on Fox is but a pale imitation.

8:18: Lou Dobbs interviews Howard Dean on CNN; Dean gets through the entire interview without squealing a single time. He also says he “just got off the phone” with Rahm Emanuel, and he complements the DCCC, so I guess they’re back on speaking terms again.

8:30: Dan Savage is the happiest man in America right now: NBC News says Bob Casey has defeated Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. I’m sure, though, that he’ll have a shot at the WWE’s general council job.

8:32: Someone named “Weed” was the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Virginia 5th, but he lost to incumbent Virgil Goode. Yes, that’s right, Goode-Weed. Surprisingly, marijuana legalization did not come up much in the race.

8:37: Bob Menendez has won a full term in New Jersey. The only question, now is who will be appointed to replace Bob if/when he resigns and/or goes to jail.

8:41: Sherrod Brown wins Ohio, for another Democratic Senate pickup.

8:48: Nancy Grace, on Headline News, is ignoring the election and instead doing a segment on “Mom Missing: Baby Found Alone.” Nice to see she’s focusing on what’s important.

8:53: South Carolina Rep. Chip Pickering’s cameo in the “Borat” movie apparently didn’t keep him from getting re-elected, although his lack of an opponent seems to have helped as well.

8:54: How’d I not hear about this? There’s a race in New Jersey between Sexton and Saxton. Was the strategy just to confuse everyone?

8:56: Joe Scarborough takes issue, after the fact, with Howard Dean calling him biased (and Chris Matthews agreeing.) So he gives a three-minute soliloquy about how he’s ripped the Republicans a lot more than the Democrats the last two years. Then he apologizes for calling Hillary Clinton “a part of the far left” of the Democratic Party. It’s official: he’s no longer an O’Reilly clone. The panel then spends several more minutes debating how biased Scarborough is or isn’t. Gee, good thing there’s not an election going on, or anything like that.

9:00: The non-far-left Hillary Clinton has been re-elected to the Senate from New York. And Amy Klobachar wins the Minnesota Senate race, becoming the first female senator from my home state. Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow, North Dakota’s Kent Conrad, and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico win as well.

9:02: Matthews calls Herb Kohl winner in Wisconsin, and refers to him as the owner of the “Milwaukee Bulls.” Luckily, former sportscaster Keith Olbermann is on hand to correct him.

9:03: Craig Thomas has been re-elected senator in Wyoming, which is strange because I’m not sure I’d ever heard his name before.

9:10: Centrism triumphs over crazy leftism- just the way I like it- as Joe Lieberman wins in Connecticut. That should temper the gloating of the Kos people that I can almost hear from here.

9:13: Continuing the theme of confusing politics and sports, Olbermann mistakenly calls Lieberman “Lieberthal.” Joe certainly had a better year in ‘06 than now-former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal did.

9:17: Ben Cardin has won the Senate race over Michael Steele in Maryland. It’s really looking like a Democratic Senate is possible at this point. I was quite impressed with Steele, however; we’ll be seeing more of him in the future, I’m sure.

9:18: An MSNBC reporter, Kevin Corke, says that earlier that night he had asked a Steele staffer to tell him, “off the record,” how the mood was inside the campaign- and then Corke shares the staffer’s answer. Uh, Kevin, didn’t they teach you what “off the record” means?

9:20: Nancy Pelosi speaks at a rally, and asks the crowd, “are you ready for victory?” Everyone screams “yes!,” until, after two beats, one guy yells “no!”

9:22: The most undeserving election victory of the night? Probably Durham, N.C. district attorney Mike Nifong, the man behind the ridiculous Duke lacrosse prosecution.

9:24: Former “Apprentice” contestant Raj Bhakta, a Republican, has lost in his bid to unseat Allyson Schwartz in the Pennsylvania 13th. Raj had no hope, of course, but I liked him on the show, I loved that stunt he did with the elephant at the border, and he had about five times as many signs as Schwartz did, from what I saw, in Northeast Philadelphia. I’d like to see a lot more former reality TV people run for office, just for comedy’s sake.

9:27: Sheldon Whitehouse wins the Rhode Island Senate race, for another Democratic pickup. For control, Democrats need to win three of the following: Virginia, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee, or Montana. Wouldn’t be surprised, at this point.

9:31: According to MSNBC, Martin O’Malley, the mayor of Baltimore, has been elected governor of Maryland, defeating incumbent Bob Ehrlich. O’Malley has been just as victorious, of course, as Thomas Carcetti, the mayor character based on him on HBO’s “The Wire.”

9:37: Keith Ellison has won in the Minnesota 5th to become the first-ever Muslim member of Congress, and the first African-American congressman from Minnesota. Expect him to be a very outspoken –and controversial- member of the House from the start.

9:38: Michelle Malkin appears on Fox News.

9:38: I click over to MSNBC.

9:41: Indiana’s Republican Congressman Chris “Count” Chocola has been defeated by Joe Donnelly. I hear the DNC wanted Boo Berry to run, but he had other commitments.

9:49: CNN’s bloggers are having their “blog party” at Tryst, a bar in the Adams Morgan area of Washington. That was, you may remember, an important place in the Gary Condit/Chandra Levy scandal.

9:50: So much for all those worries about Diebold hacking the voting machines to help Republicans, huh?

10:00: Santorum concedes, saying that he wants to help Casey because “he’s a good man.” I didn’t get that impression from the ten faxes a day from his campaign that my office has been getting for the last year, about what an incompetent hack Casey is.

10:11: Who’s less deserving of being on a national TV panel- Mike Barnicle, or Pat Buchanan?

10:16: Don Sherwood has lost in Pennsylvania. The lesson, as always: it’s a bad idea, if you’re in politics, to choke your Peruvian mistress during a backrub.

10:22: Andrew Cuomo has finally been elected to something, as he defeated Jeanine Pirro to become Attorney General in New York. Most Republicans this year only had one embarrassing election loss; Pirro had two.

10:28: Michael Arcuri, the guy who had the infamous “phone sex” ad aired against him, has won in the New York 24th.

10:46: Michael Barone, out of nowhere, predicts it will take “36 days” to determine who wins the Virginia Senate race. Yikes.

10:48: Until moving to Pennsylvania last year, I’d had a Democratic congressman for my entire life. And now I’m about to again, as Curt Weldon has been defeated by Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania 7th. Another example of the Democrats coming up with a strong candidate and riding him to victory- the kind of thing they never, ever did before.

10:50: Heath Shuler is certainly much better at politics than he ever was at football: he’s been elected to Congress from North Carolina. “He finally completed something,” Olbermann says.

11:02: NBC News has officially projected that the Democrats have won control of the House.

11:20: “Dennis Hastert,” Olbermann says, “is now speaking.” Not for long, I’m afraid.

11:30: Wow, the South Dakota abortion ban failed. Awesome.

11:33: Steve Cohen has won the Memphis-area Congressional seat formerly held by Harold Ford, Jr. Cohen, who is Jewish and white, has vowed to join the Congressional Black Caucus, which led to one of the most nonsensical quotes of the campaign, from a local county commissioner: “The only reason he wants to join is that he wants to get money for Israel.”

11:56: Eckstein Award nominee David Freudenthal has been re-elected as governor of Wyoming.

12:08: MSNBC says James Webb has taken the lead in Virginia. Absolutely unbelievable, potential recount notwithstanding.

12:26: Bob Corker has won in Tennessee, the Washington Post says. I was rooting for Ford, and I hope he goes for it again next time a Senate seat opens up. Remember: Ford is very young, and was running in a very Republican state. This means that to win the Senate, the Democrats need to win all three remaining seats (Missouri, Montana and Virginia.) And yes, it is possible that they take all three.

12:35: George Allen speaks in Virginia, introducing his entire family, including his brother Bruce (the GM of the Tampa Bay Bucs.) Thus far, he has yet to accidentally drop any racial slurs.

12:45: Bob Shrum is discussing the election on MSNBC. It’s good that the Democrats didn’t listen to him at all during this election, because they would likely be looking at a vastly different result tonight if they had.

12:47: News from Minnesota: Ultraconservative Michelle Bachmann wins in the 6th; Tim Walz (not to be confused with the Minnesota Wild’s Wes Walz) knocks off Republican incumbent Gil Gutknecht in the 1st, and the Democrats capture the state House of Representatives for the first time in eight years. No word on the governors’ race. I love Minnesota. You can only marvel at a state that can send both Keith Ellison and Michelle Bachmann to Congress the same year.

12:59: A bizarre discussion of Bill and Hillary’s celebration behavior leads Matthews to comment that “I don’t get this whole ‘clapping for yourself’ stuff. It’s, like, Chinese, or something.” I think he’s tired.

1:02: Fox News says all the votes are in in Virginia, with Webb leading by a few thousand votes- and Bill Kristol says McCaskill is leading in Missouri. If Tester wins- Democratic Senate. Unbelievable.

1:15: Ford appears before the cameras. When he called Corker to concede, did either of them make a “call me, Harold” joke? A great speech, and he’d better run again in ’08.

1:36: No, the new Congressman from New York, John Hall, was NOT a member of Hall & Oates. He was in fact the frontman of Orleans, who sang “Still the One.”

1:40: An MSNBC reporter, Mike Viqueria, just said that, ironically, Nancy Pelosi is considered conservative by San Francisco standards. Then again, so is Hugo Chavez.

1:50: As Michael Barone sifts through polling data with pinpoint precision, Shepard Smith asks him questions and accidentally calls Montana “Vermont.” Not as bad as accidentally saying “cock” on the air, but still.

1:56: McCaskill declares victory in Missouri, and the numbers seem to back her up (though she has been projected winner by anyone, as far as I know.)

2:08: Just kidding- NBC calls it for McCaskill. What a strange route that Senate seat has taken: it was John Ashcroft’s, he lost it to the already-deceased Mel Carnahan, it was assumed by Carnahan’s widow Jean, she lost a special election to Talent to complete the term, and now it’s McCaskill’s.

2:12: The NBC group discusses the possibility that Joe Lieberman will switch parties, giving the Republicans the Senate again. This thesis assumes that Lieberman would 1) Go back on his word, 2) Depart the only party he’s ever known at a crucial time, 3) Leave the party with the momentum to join the party without it, and 4) Decide the Democrats are too left wing for him, right after they won a national election by running candidates from all over the political spectrum. So no, I don’t foresee that.

2:17: A Fox News question: who, exactly, is “Democratic strategist Kristin Powers”? I’ve never known her as anything other than a Fox News contributor. I love how all of the Republican “contributors” are heavyweights like Newt Gingrich and Robert Novak, and the Democratic ones are people nobody has ever heard of.

2:25: Scenes from the Schwarzenegger victory party: Ah-nuld was reportedly seen dancing with his mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to “Let the Sun Shine In.” Yes, in order to win as a Republican this year, you have to be the sort of person who dances with a Kennedy, to music from “Hair,” in Beverly Hills.

2:34: David Schuster mistakenly refers to “George Webb,” transposing the names of the Virginia Senate candidates. There’s no such person, but George Webb is the name of a popular fast-food restaurant chain in Wisconsin.

2:54: Tim Pawlenty has won the Minnesota governors' race, in a squeaker, as the Dems could not complete the three-way states-I-used-to-live-in parlay along with Massachusetts' Deval Patrick and New York's Future First Jewish President, Eliot Spitzer. I wish Pawlenty had lost, of course, but I'm not a big Mike Hatch fan, and I probably would've voted for Peter Hutchinson, the independent candidate.

3:02: Good to see Steve Centanni back on Fox, especially since he was captured by terrorists in Gaza just three months ago.

3:05: All right, that's it for tonight. A banner day for the Democrats, thankfully not marred by any kind of voting machine trouble or widespread fraud. I'm anxious to see how Montana and Virginia turn out, but it looks to me like both houses have flipped. I'll be back tomorrow with more analysis.

Posted by Stephen Silver at November 8, 2006 02:53 AM

Good analysis,its time to wait n watch for final results..

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I’m a recent UC Berkeley Political science grad and I along with some fellow Princeton alums have been working hard to launch our own internet startup called
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Posted by: Mark Johnson at November 8, 2006 04:00 AM

No mention of the Midterm Midtacular? haha

Posted by: Megan at November 8, 2006 11:44 AM

Great Blog. In your channel surfing you missed the classic moment of the night on MSNBC. They did a live cut away to Florida. A reporter was speaking live from the Negron headquarters. Unfortunately it seems they went to the live feed way too late. The hall was empty and workers were dissembling the podium. Keith Olbermann commented that you didn't have to rely upon concession speeches or proedictions. You know you have lost when they show a shot of them removing furniture and the campaign headquarters

Posted by: James Kilbourne at November 8, 2006 01:15 PM

Your friend Nancy Grace is going to be on Jeopardy tonight...

Posted by: A at November 8, 2006 02:35 PM

And the most underrated 2006 election story--a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage in Arizona has apparently LOST-the first time that I'm aware of that this has happened at the ballot box. And who would have thought: Arizona?!

Posted by: Ev at November 8, 2006 04:45 PM

The Saxton vs Sexton race is nothing new. In 2002, Dick Durbin ran against someone named Durkin.

Posted by: BZ at November 10, 2006 06:59 AM
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