11:52 AM PT (David Jarman): MI-11: This may be one of the most underreported stories of last evening: even as Paulist reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio was winning the MI-11 election for the next two years, the Democrat won the special election over Bentivolio to fill out the last few months of Thad McCotter's term during the lame duck. And, no, it wasn't Syed Taj, who didn't bother running in the special: it was David Curson, Some Dude who will now get his name etched in the history books as one of the least consequential members of Congress ever (something of the Dems' own Snelly Gibr).
I hate to start accusing the residents of a whole congressional district of racism, but the logical equation for the MI-11 election goes like this: completely unknown Dem with Anglo name > demonstrably crazy Republican > Dem with strong resume but poor campaign skills and furrn'r name. Could someone with Syed Taj's resume, but named, say, Jay Teds, have won the full two-year term?
“Dan asked me to update you on the state of our race, which is currently one of the closest contests in the nation. There are tens of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted, and we may not know the outcome of this race for days or even weeks. We remain cautiously optimistic and will monitor the final count closely. Please look for a follow-up email on opportunities to help make sure every ballot is counted.
“What we do know is how thankful we are for all your help and support. Thanks to you we knocked on thousands of doors, called thousands of voters and fought hard. Thank you for all you’ve done. We will keep you posted as the race develops.”
12:04 PM PT: Some unexpectedly close races:
• FL-06: Republican Ron DeSantis, a Club for Growth favorite in this conservative open seat, beat underfunded Democrat Heather Beaven by just 56-44.
• NC-09 Republican Robert Pittenger, who self-funded his way to the GOP nomination and spent over $2.2 million of his own money, only got 52 percent to Democrat Jennifer Roberts' 46 in this very red open seat. Roberts had offered a poll a while back showing her potentially competitive, and we had kept this seat on the big board as Likely R for a while, but we eventually moved it to Safe R and no one seemed to take her chances seriously. That looks like it may have been a mistake.
• NY-23: Another race we moved from Likely R to Safe R down the homestretch where it seems Democrats really should have made more of an effort. GOP Rep. Tom Reed eked out a 52-48 win over Democrat Nate Shinagawa, who had very little money. A major missed opportunity.
• HI-01: Dem Rep. Colleen Hanabusa won her rematch with the guy she defeated in 2010, ex-Rep. Charles Djou, by just a 55-45 margin. Some polling had shown a potentially close-ish race, but it would have been hard to imagine Djou winning under any circumstances. Name rec probably kept him close. When the GOP goes back to putting up Some Dudes here, hopefully Hanabusa's margins will improve, because it would sure be frustrating if she wound up being a chronic underperformer.
12:32 PM PT (David Jarman): San Diego mayor: It took until overnight, but San Diego has a new mayor... and for the first time in ages, it's a Democrat. Retiring U.S. Rep. Bob Filner decided a turn as mayor of his home town would be a good career capstone, but with San Diego's long-time preference for GOPers at the local level even as it's turned dark-blue presidentially (and perhaps due to Filner's irascibility as well), it turned into a difficult race: he led Republican city councilor Carl DeMaio only 51.5-48.5 in the end. DeMaio -- who would have been the nation's first big-city gay Republican mayor -- conceded this morning.
Also worth mentioning is the new mayor in Portland, Oregon, ex-city councilor Charlie Hales, who beat state Rep. Jefferson Smith 62-30 after some of the less appealing parts of Smith's resume surfaced late in the game. This wasn't a D-on-R battle royale, just a battle of different-flavored liberals along lines not likely to make much sense to non-Portlanders, sort of like Subarus vs. Volvos or vegans vs. grass-fed-beef eaters.
12:36 PM PT: GA Legislature: It's never going to be all good news. Georgia Republicans actually kicked ass in their legislative elections on Tuesday and now hold 119 seats in the state House—just one shy of the 120 needed for a super-majority. And now the chamber's lone right-leaning independent, Rusty Kidd, says he may caucus with the GOP to give them that unstoppable advantage. (Dems tried to defeat him.) Republicans also are all but assured for a super-majority in the Senate, and they already control the governor's mansion. What's scary about this is that now the lege can pass constitutional amendments without requiring a popular vote—all this in a state Obama only lost by a pretty respectable 8 points. Sigh.
12:41 PM PT: MT-Gov: Awesome! CNN has now put a checkmark next to Democrat Steve Bullock's name, who holds the Montana governor's mansion for Team Blue. He's defeated ex-Rep. Rick Hill by a tight 49-47 margin.
1:06 PM PT (David Jarman): NRSC: Well, that 2012 election was interesting, but now it's time to start talking about 2014. Yes, it's time to decide who leads the Senate Republicans' campaign shop during the next cycle, where the GOP will probably gain seats thanks to it being a midterm under a Dem president and Dems having more seats to defend (it's the class of '08). (Of course, look how well that 'probably gain seats' thing worked out for them this year.) At any rate, Kansas's Jerry Moran claims to have already banked enough votes to nail the job down, though he made that pronouncement right after Ohio's Rob Portman expressed his own interest in the job.
1:50 PM PT: NY-24: LOL! GOP Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, who lost to Dem ex-Rep. Dan Maffei by five points, is somehow refusing to concede. Of all the candidates currently doing their best impression of a WWII-era Japanese soldier stuck in the Philipine jungle in 1972, I believe Buerkle is trailing by the widest margin.
2:04 PM PT (David Jarman): PA-St. Sen.: I'd though that if the Dems flipped two seats in the Pennsylvania state Senate -- impossible to dislodge from its GOP control since time immemorial -- that'd be epic enough (if predictable, since internal polls already had them up big in two GOP-held open seats). But they actually managed to flip a third seat as well, with Dem Rob Teplitz picking up a state Senate seat in the Harrisburg area vacated by GOPer Jeff Piccola, 52-48. This narrows the GOP edge to 27-23, striking distance for a Dem flip next time.
2:10 PM PT: State Leges: At the link, you'll find a very handy spreadsheet from the DLCC running down the changes in every state legislature's party composition. They're also touting the following list of pickups and holds. First, the pickups:
New Hampshire House
New York Senate
And the key holds:
New Mexico House
New Mexico Senate
2:16 PM PT: On the flipside, Democrats only lost two chambers for sure: The Wisconsin Senate, which we only barely regained control of after a year of painful recalls, and the Arkansas Senate. The Arkansas House is still too close to call, and the coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats which have long run the Alaska Senate is also still up in the air. Conservatives won a bunch of seats, but it looks like it'll come down to whether Dem state Sen. Hollis French, who currently is up by just a smidge, can hang on.
2:24 PM PT: WV-St. House: The GOP made great strides in West Virginia's House of Delegates, picking up 11 seats, but still falling short of the majority with 46 out of 100 total in the chamber. Needless to say, Mountain State Democrats are living on borrowed time.
2:37 PM PT: CA Prop 34: Proposition 34, a measure that would replace California's death penalty with a maximum sentence of life without parole, has narrowly failed. With most votes counted, 52% of voters were opposed and 48% supported the measure.
4:16 PM PT (David Jarman): Polltopia: Fordham University was quick out of the gate with a study assessing national pollsters and how their numbers compared to the actual results. (Best as I can tell, this involves only their final pre-election poll, rather than an aggregation of multiple polls by the same pollster.) Who's in a two-way tie for first? PPP! (One is PPP on its own; the other is PPP for Daily Kos and SEIU.) Interestingly, they're followed closely by an internet-based pollster, YouGov, suggesting this may well become a legitimate polling avenue and a way around the cellphone problem.
You're probably more interested in who did worse, though, and it's not who you think: GfK, on behalf of the Associated Press. NPR and National Journal's polling was only slightly better, and only then, at fourth and fifth worst, come Rasmussen and Gallup.
At the Monkey Cage, there are two other pollster evaluation exercises, apparently involving more complicated factors (like margin of error for estimated margin of victory)... and they come up with the essentially same results: with PPP closest to the target, followed closely by YouGov and Ipsos/Reuters, with Gallup and Rasmussen the furthest in right field and National Journal and D-Corps the furthest in left field.