...all the states with Pres-by-CD updates. We'll mark four states as completed today (in additional to updates on 8 districts previously completed), bringing our count to 325, or 75% of the way there. First, the new states:
New Mexico's 2-1 Dem split seems to be solidifying, as even the "swing" NM-01 went for the President by more than 15 points (and for incoming Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham by substantially more than that). Pennsylvania is yet another Republican gerrymander (that state Democrats stupidly signed on to), which is starting to show through. The Pittsburgh-based PA-14 gave Obama 68 percent, while the remaining districts all went for Romney. PA-08 gets the distinction of closest district so far, with Romney having eked out a 255-vote edge over Obama here.
Next, we also confirmed the state-provided CD calculations in Virginia, where the results were marked by the State Board of Elections as "official" despite one precinct in Fairfax County supposedly not having reported yet. Fortunately, the Fairfax County Office of Elections also provides precinct-level data, allowing us to confirm the correctness of the SBE's data.
Similarly, in Washington, we replicated results substantially similar to those offered by the Secretary of State. (The difference is attributable to precincts with low voter counts, for which results are not reported individually so as to protect voter privacy. The SoS obviously has access to that information, which we do not; therefore, we'll go with the SoS's numbers, even though they aren't meaningfully different from those calculated using public information.) Both Virginia and Washington's numbers have had their preliminary designations removed.
Additionally, we calculated for fun the results from the old incarnation of WA-01, which held a special election to replace Dem Gov.-elect Jay Inslee; the difference in Dem Rep.-elect Suzan DelBene's performance between the special election (in old WA-01) and the general election (in new WA-01) very much reflects the difference in the presidential results as well (Obama +25 in old WA-01 vs. Obama +11 in new WA-01).
Finally, some updates to previously completed districts.
In California, we noted a few days ago that we would update our data once results were certified by the Secretary of State, which did so on Friday. There were a battery of slight changes (did you know write-in votes for Barack Obama in Monterey County are treated the same as regular votes for Obama? Well, now you do!), as well as two meaningful ones affecting four districts.
In Placer County, the results we'd used were (unknowingly) not final. They've been recalculated using final precinct results. They moved the needle slightly in CA-01 and CA-04, but both remain districts that went solidly for Romney. In Sonoma County, the results we'd erroneously used were vote-by-mail (VBM) only. Even though VBMs represent a solid majority of votes cast in California now, the inclusion of Election Day votes in the (staunchly liberal) county were enough to nudge CA-02 and CA-05 more into Democratic territory. Our totals now match those provided by the SoS, and when the Supplemental Statement of the Vote is released next April, we expect our results by CD will match the official ones exactly.
In Florida, we received updates from Polk County that allocated early votes and regular absentees (as distinguished from overseas/UOCAVA absentees) to their respective precincts, meaning we no longer have to estimate the distribution of more than 120,000 votes. While our early vote allocation formulas are decent, they're far from perfect; they misallocated about 9,000 votes (out of the 120,000). Therefore, we're making the following adjustments:
9:36 AM PT: SC-Sen-B: It's a done deal: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is naming Rep. Tim Scott to fill the seat of Sen. Jim DeMint, who earlier announced that he'd resign to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation in January. Scott was first elected to Congress in 2010, filling ex-Rep. Henry Brown's open seat, and just handily won re-election to a second term. From the moment of DeMint's announcement, Scott's name made the top of almost every list, so this move comes as little surprise.
And though DeMint never confirmed it, Scott was reportedly his first choice as well, and he'll also become the only African American in the Senate. While Scott hasn't been the iconoclast DeMint has (few could be), he's already put together a reliably conservative profile and should fit right in with the rest of the GOP caucus in upper chamber. For instance, he once said that if Barack Obama were to find a way to pay our nation's creditors without Congress lifting the debt ceiling, it would constitute an "impeachable offense." He's also extremely anti-union, sponsoring legislation to make families ineligible for food stamps if one member went on strike.
Because DeMint was just re-elected in 2010, Scott's appointment will only run through 2014, at which time he'd have to run again—for just the final two years of DeMint's term. Scott wouldn't have a chance to seek a full term until 2016, which means two elections in back-to-back cycles if he plans to stay in the Senate.
Before he even gets that far, though, Scott may have to contend with a Republican primary. Lots of eager up-and-comers who wanted this appointment for themselves may decide that Scott's not entitled to the seat and might try to challenge him. That may or may not be so easy, though, depending on how extensively the establishment rallies around Scott, and whether he can avoid screwing up once he's elevated to a much more prominent role. (At least one snubbed colleague of Scott's, however, has said he won't run in such a primary: Rep. Mick Mulvaney.)
Haley's decision will also kick off a special election in Scott's 1st Congressional District, a very conservative seat along the South Carolina coast that voted for Mitt Romney by a 58-40 margin last month. Consequently, most of the action to replace Scott will happen on the GOP side, and the Charleston Post and Courier lays out a long list of possible contenders. For Democrats, 2008 nominee Linda Ketner (who lost by only two points) might be our best hope for making this one competitive. The timing of the special hinges largely on when Scott resigns, but if things go as planned, a May election looks likely.
10:21 AM PT: As we get down to the final districts for our presidential results by congressional district project, we could really use your help in tracking down certified, precinct-level election results for the counties below. If you can assist us—by scouring websites, sending emails, or making phone calls—we'd be very grateful. If you obtain any results, please email davidnir [at] dailykos [dot] com and jeffmd [at] dailykos [dot] com. Thank you!
10:35 AM PT: Special Elections: The last two special elections of 2012 are coming up on Tuesday. Johnny Longtorso tells you what you need to know:
Kentucky SD-16: This is the seat vacated by Dem Gov. Steve Beshear's nemesis David Williams, located along the Tennessee border. The candidates are Democrat Bill Conn, a teacher, and Republican Sara Beth Gregory, a State Representative who was just elected to her second term.
Virginia HD-89: This is the seat vacated by now-state Sen. Kenny Alexander, a majority-black district in Norfolk. The candidates are Democrat Daun Hester, a former member of the Norfolk City Council, and an independent, James St. John, a Some Dude.
10:48 AM PT: IL-02: This is unexpected: On Saturday, Cook County Democratic officials were expected to formally endorse a candidate in the Jesse Jackson, Jr. special election, and anyone who was betting was putting down money on state Sen. Donne Trotter. But the meeting wound up producing no endorsement at all, very possibly because of Trotter's recent arrest for attempting to carry a firearm and bullets through airport security. While it's an open question how much an official seal of approval would have mattered in the primary, the establishment's failure to get behind Trotter in this multi-candidate race probably indicates it's a bit more wide open than some insiders imagined it would be.
11:10 AM PT: NY-St. Sen: This is very unexpected: After a full count of all ballots in the super-close state Senate race between Republican George Amedore and Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, it looks like Amedore will be certified as the winner with a 39-vote lead. Earlier in the process, Amedore's attorneys had challenged far more ballots than Tkaczyk's, making her look like the likely victor. But in the end, it seems Amedore may have eked it out. However, it's not over yet: A Tkaczyk spokesman says that there are "still hundreds of outstanding objections that have to be ruled on by the Appellate Court."
If Amedore does hang on, though, then that raises a huge question: What will become of Republican leader Dean Skelos's power-sharing deal with the five renegade Democrats of the so-called IDC? With Amedore, that gives the GOP 31 seats outright; add in turncoat Democrat Simcha Felder (a conservative who is not part of the IDC) and Skelos has 32 senators in his camp—enough for control of the chamber without the IDC. After all that bullshit about bipartisanship that Skelos and the IDC have been peddling, is Skelos prepared to abandon the deal and punk Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC junta? We'll just have to see.
11:21 AM PT: OH-Gov: While some sketchy recent reports suggested that Rep. Tim Ryan would not, in the end, make a bid for governor in 2014, in a new interview he says he's still weighing his options and will decide "'very early next year.'' Ryan added that he hadn't spoken with ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (whom Ryan calls a mentor) recently; Strickland, like Ryan, is also weighing a run, and if he gets in, he'd likely clear the Democratic field. Ryan may have to make up his mind without the benefit of an answer from Strickland, though.
12:15 PM PT: HI-Sen: Democrat Dan Inouye, Hawaii's senior senator, has been hospitalized at Walter Reed since Dec. 9 with "respiratory complications," has reportedly "worsened significantly," according to Politico. The papers adds that "people close to the senator," who is 88 years old, "were less upbeat than a week ago when news of his hospitalization first broke." Needless to say, we wish Inouye the best.
12:23 PM PT: TN-Gov: When state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh first started mooting a challenge to GOP Gov. Bill Haslam last week, I opined that I was "not sure how he'd have a path to victory" and called Haslam "incredibly tough to beat." Well, it looks like someone agrees with me: Craig Fitzhugh. In a new interview, Fitzhugh was very candidate about Haslam's strengths and his own reasons for running:
House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh says he may become a candidate for governor in 2014, but not because he thinks a Democrat can beat Republican incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam.Well, score one for rare honesty in the political arena. It sounds like Fitzhugh is mindful of the debacle Tennessee Democrats experienced this year, when their Senate candidate turned out to be a right-wing lunatic who was formally disavowed by the party, and wants to at least offer Dems a legitimate option in the 2014 gubernatorial contest. Fitzhugh says he plans to delay a decision for as long as possible—perhaps he's hopeful someone else will volunteer themselves as a sacrificial lamb—adding "the shorter (a campaign) the better." Ordinarily, you want to get into a race as early as possible, but in an unusual situation like this, Fitzhugh's position makes sense.
"I don't think Gov. Haslam is going to lose any sleep over me," Fitzhugh said in an interview. "Our current governor is a good man with deep pockets and a 70 percent approval rating." [...]
If he runs, Fitzhugh said, "it would be an issues deal" with the idea in mind of having a statewide candidate on the ballot without big negatives to drag down Democrats seeking other offices, such as state legislator.
1:12 PM PT: NJ-Gov: Looks like GOP Gov. Chris Christie might score a pretty big get: Various reports say that the 20,000-strong Laborers union (which mostly represents construction workers) will back Christie for re-election, at the behest of labor leader Ray Pocino. This is disappointing, as organized labor seems more unified against Christie than it was in 2009—and with good reason. Christie's engaged in some serious anti-union rhetoric, including this notable passage during his RNC keynote address earlier this year:
They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.Indeed, he's even called the New Jersey Education Association a "political thuggery operation." But it's not just words, it's deeds as well: Christie's also cut union pensions and healthcare benefits, so there's ample reason for labor to unite against him. Hopefully other unions will hold the line.
They believe in teachers' unions.
We believe in teachers.
1:55 PM PT: SC-01: With Rep. Tim Scott set to succeed Jim DeMint in the Senate (See above), the Great Mentioner is roaring into action with a boatload of possible names who might run in the special election on the GOP side. The Fix offers up three state senators: Larry Grooms (an unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial candidate); Tom Davis (who's been mulling a run against Sen. Lindsey Graham); and Paul Thurmond (son of Strom and a 2010 candidate for SC-01 who got pounded by Scott in a runoff). Others include state House Majority Whip Jimmy Merrill; state Reps. Peter McCoy, Chip Limehouse, and Chip Campsen; and former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford.
The Charleston-based Post and Courier largely concurs with this list, adding a couple more: Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey and former Charleston County School Board member Larry Kobrovsky. The general election will likely be held in May, and the all-important primary in March.
2:00 PM PT (David Jarman): Senate: If you think that Barack Obama has been unusually willing to go the Senate well to fish out Cabinet members, you'd be absolutely right... especially by historical standards. Prior to Obama (who's doing it for the third time), the last time it happened was the pick of Lloyd Bentsen at Treasury by Bill Clinton (which led to the election of GOPer Kay Bailey Hutchison at the special election), and before that, you have to go back to Ed Muskie getting picked SoS by Jimmy Carter.
2:36 PM PT: Electoral College: Reid Wilson at the National Journal has an extended look at various GOP schemes to rig the electoral college; even though a prominent attempt died on the vine in Pennsylvania last year, Republicans in Washington are coordinating efforts in several blue-leaning states to forge ahead once again. As we've written before, these plans typically revolve around splitting a state's electoral votes by congressional district, which of course is wonderful if you're the GOP and you've drawn the state's map. For instance, even though Obama won Michigan handily, Republican control over the mapmaking process meant Romney prevailed in nine of the state's 14 districts.
Along with Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan make the most tempting targets because they're all blue states which (temporarily, we can pray) are completely controlled by Republicans, thanks to the 2010 wipeout. Virginia's also a possibility, but it remains in play for the GOP on the statewide level, so Republicans might continue to prefer winner-take-all there. (After that, you're talking about Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina—states the GOP almost certainly doesn't want to carve up.)
But it's far from automatic. BeloitDem points out that Republican margins in the state legislatures in MI, PA, and WI are fairly tight and it wouldn't take many defections to derail this scheme. (In Virginia, it would take just one: Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who casts tiebreaking votes in the evenly-divided state Senate. And he's pretty incensed at the establishment these days.)
The reason this very same scheme ran aground in the Keystone State is instructive, too: Republican members of Congress were extremely wary of turning their individual turfs into national battlegrounds every time a presidential election rolled around. GOP leaders in Pennsylvania are therefore pushing an amended plan now, one that would award electoral votes based on the total popular vote share in the state. That, too, would damage Democratic chances at the White House in the future because of course similar changes won't be made in large red states like Texas.
The modified Pennsylvania approach worries me the most, though, since it'd probably be the easiest to pass. Democrats therefore need to keep pressure on wobbly Republican lawmakers in each of these states—and to make as big a stink as possible about how shameful these shenanigans are. I'll bet newspaper editorial boards won't like these hijinks one bit, and I think ordinary voters can be convinced that the GOP is playing political games with their right to vote. What's more, changing the system will also jeopardize the swing state status of each of these states. I don't care for the electoral college one bit, but if appealing to any sense of "swing state pride" helps scuttle these efforts, I'm all for it.
3:45 PM PT: IL-18, NY-21: The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the House Ethics Committee open investigations into ethical matters concerning two members of congress: Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois and Democratic Rep. Bill Owens of New York. If you're a regular reader of the Daily Kos Elections Digest, then you might recall both of these stories, which we've written about before. In Schock's case, he solicited a $25,000 donation from Eric Cantor to the now-defunct Campaign for Primary Accountability, which was helping another Illinois congressman, Adam Kinzinger, in his (ultimately successful) member-vs.-member battle against Rep. Don Manzullo. That sum was five times the amount lawmakers are allowed to ask for on behalf of super PACs.
As for Owens, he's being looked at for improperly accepting a lobbyist-funded trip to Taiwan—something he immediately reimbursed his sponsor for (to the tune of $22,000) right after ProPublica first published the details of the junket. (Owens' Republican opponent, Matt Doheny, also ran ads on the issue.) The Ethics Committee must decide by Jan. 28 whether it will launch full probes into either of these matters.