Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day, 2004

Jon Delano rambled that I'll let you see his words in the comments and pass myself. Otherwise, I'm working and walking polls to meet and greet and generate awareness for 2005 when I'll be a candidate.


Anonymous said...

Dear Politically Savvy Friends,

It's over except for the most important part -- the voting! Oh, I know that tens of thousands of lawyers are standing by to prolong the agony -- and that Gov. Ed Rendell has agreed to Republican-inspired demands to allow overseas voters more time to get their PA votes in -- but I still remain hopeful that a few hours from now, America will know who its president will be for the next four years.

The final weekend began with an October surprise that neither George Bush nor John Kerry had predicted -- the reappearance of Osama bin Laden, the murderous mastermind of 9/11 who still remains at large. Nobody is really sure if OBL will have any impact on today's voting, but both sides have been spinning furiously on the topic.

The fact that nobody is really sure who the winner is this Tuesday morning guarantees that this cliffhanger election will attract millions of TV viewers tonight, giving the networks an opportunity to atone for their coverage of the 2000 presidential election. No network will declare George W. Bush reelected, or John Kerry elected, without a good deal more than one percent of the real votes tallied.

How key PA remains in this process was evident by the hordes of campaign folks who descended on the state this weekend, including Senator John Edwards' visit Sunday to Westmoreland County and President Bush's Monday morning drop-in to Washington County. The Dems feel good that the trend is right for them in this state, but obviously the GOP has not given an inch in its assessment that PA is theirs for the taking.

Will Darlin' Arlen or Snarlin' Arlen, depending on your mood, get another six years? And what about those statewide row offices? And could an incumbent state senator from Westmoreland County really be in trouble? All that and more in this LAST pre-election missive to my dear politically savvy friends.

By the way, if you learn or hear of anything interesting out at the polls today, send me a special email at jdelano@andrew.cmu.edu. Use that email, so I can be sure to get it during the day.


Osama Talks, Does Anyone Care:

Nobody really expected it, which made it an October surprise for both candidates -- a videotape from Osama bin Laden in which he tells American voters that it really doesn't matter whether Kerry or Bush is president. The chance of another attack depends, says the murderer, on changes in American attitudes towards Muslims and America's support of Arab dictatorships that, in OBL's view, undermines any claim that the U.S. supports democracy.

Forget the policy argument. On the tape, this terrorist admits full responsibility for 9/11 and hails the murderers as martyrs, and he clearly mocks the United States and this administration. Politically, the big question is, does he help or hurt Bush or Kerry at the polls?

My gut says OBL's attempt to inject himself into American politics will not work. Most people just don't care what he says, but that doesn't stop the spinmeisters. The Bush folks think it helps them because it reminds voters of the all-important issue of terrorism on which Bush scores higher marks than Kerry. The Kerry folks think it helps them because it reminds voters that Bush botched the effort to capture OBL, opting for an easier target in a two-bit dictator in Iraq.

My own view, despite the spin, is that it will not change any votes at all.

Big Mo:

Former President George H. W. Bush called in "Big Mo," the momentum that he felt a candidate must have at the end of the campaign to win it all. So who has Big Mo the day before the election? Well, no surprise, both campaigns claim they've got it, but it's awfully difficult to quantify this fact when poll numbers have been all over the map.

Speaking of polls, it's worth remembering that most polls had Bush beating Gore by 3-1/2 points (in the popular vote) just before the election of 2000. Most of the latest polls I have seen show Bush ahead of Kerry by a point or two, but still within the margin of error (which means it could be just the opposite). The last CNN/Gallup poll puts the race at an incredible 49 to 49.

Bottom line, forget the polls.

Try something else . . . like Weekly Reader. Apparently, their poll of students is almost infallible, and George W. Bush beat John Kerry in their survey. Bush wins. Or, if you prefer, how about that football test wherein a Redskins victory just before a presidential election means the incumbent president wins. Guess what? The Redskins lost on Sunday. Kerry's a shoo-in.

Clearly, nobody can tell who has momentum so both sides claim it.


It is a truism in politics that whoever turns out more of his voters wins the election. But I do think this election comes down to just that, and here's the unanswered question. Whose voters are more likely to stand in line, maybe in rain in some states, in order to vote. Are those unhappy with Bush (some might say, those who despise Bush) MORE LIKELY TO VOTE than those who are enthusiastic about Bush's policies?

I have attended many rallies for both candidates, and there's no doubt in my mind that Democrats who dislike Bush dislike him intensely, ridicule his ability to be president, and fear the consequences of "four more years" of Republican rule. But, at the same time, the religious fervor of those who love this president is inescapable. Even yesterday at Bush's last PA rally, one person carried a sign with his picture and that of Jesus. Despite all the talk that the anti-Bushies are more likely to vote than the Bush-lovers, I just don't know.

The real imponderable is the newly registered voter. Will they show up to vote today, and are they just as likely to be Bush-lovers from the religious heartland of America? Karl Rove predicted that the president needed 4 million more of these voters to vote in 2004 over 2000, and I think he just might reach his goal. The question is whether the other side can outmatch that number.

Some 106 million Americans voted in 2000, and every analyst believes this number will go up today. But by how much? Some think it could actually hit 125 million, and conventional wisdom is that the more folks who vote the better it is for Kerry. We shall see.


The Final Push:

If Senator Kerry loses PA, some will say that it is because he did not campaign in the state during the last week of the campaign. Not that PA was ignored by the Dems. Senator John Edwards, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Elizabeth Edwards, and a host of surrogates were all over the place, but Kerry himself focused on other battlegrounds. The closest he came to Pittsburgh was Warren, Ohio, about 80 miles away on Saturday evening. I attended that rally, and it was much larger than, say, Bush's last event in this region yesterday. The Kerry message on Saturday night was no different than the one he had delivered in Philadelphia last Monday with President Clinton, but it was interesting to talk to Ohioans who had only one thing on their minds -- jobs, jobs, jobs.

In contrast, President Bush visited the state three times in the last week of the campaign, including a final pep-talk at Star Lake (now the Post Gazette Pavillion) in Washington County. The crowd wasn't especially large as these events go (maybe 10,000), but it sure was loud, and the event gave the prez lots of air-time to make one final connection with voters. His message was a solid pitch to his conservative base -- abortion, marriage, conservative judges, and the like -- but he also told the crowd that the economy was getting better, that we're making more money today than before he became president, and that a better day was coming.

Polls have shown this race in PA a real nail-biter, with SurveyUSA issuing its last poll Monday night giving Kerry a one-point lead, 49 to 48, within the margin of error meaning it could just as easily be Bush over Kerry by a point. A few days ago, the Quinnipiac Poll had Bush up by two points over Kerry in PA. Last night, it had both candidates tied at 47 each. So who is going to win PA? Stay tuned.

The Military Vote:

One thing is certain. If only a few votes separate the candidates late tonight, PA's final result will have to wait an additional eight days. That was the deal that Gov. Ed Rendell cut in federal court with Republican proponents of allowing more time for military votes to be counted. Although there is not a lot of evidence that local county elections departments have failed to send out absentee ballots to military personnel overseas, there were a couple of counties with snafus, and that was enough (along with the politics of not wanting to prevent the military from voting) to convince Rendell to give more time for the military ballots to be received by the counties.

Now, this does not mean that military personnel get to vote AFTER the 8 pm deadline tonight. It simply means that ballots postmarked by tonight will be allowed to be received and counted so long as they are received by November 10. Rendell set up a special account with DHL, the international express shipping company, to allow military to get their ballots time-stamped and delivered in time.

Specter Likely Winner:

Every last minute poll has Sen. Arlen Specter winning a record fifth 6-year term in the Senate, in large measure because Democrats, nearly a third, seem to be abandoning their own candidate, Cong. Joe Hoeffel. The last poll I saw gives Specter a 19-point win, which seems far larger than anyone really expects. The Hoeffel camp simply does not believe that that many Dems will vote for a Republican who endorses George Bush so heartily and seems so indebted to Rick Santorum.

The most interesting weekend development in this race was, in my view, the Tribune Review's endorsement of Jim Clymer, the Constitution Party conservative, who is now getting 8 percent of the vote in the latest polls. Clymer is the only pro-life candidate in this race. The Trib has long assailed Specter, but some thought the paper might sit this race out in deference to their strong support of Bush. But true to its conservative principles, the Trib endorsed Clymer, saying the more votes he gets the louder the message to the Republican Party. By the way, Specter was once again booed at yesterday's Washington County rally when President Bush mentioned his name.

No matter. Barring something really peculiar out there today, it looks like Arlen Specter gets reelected, although I still think it's more likely to be by a single digit margin than a double one.

Two of Three State Rows Up for Grabs:

With the notable exception of Bob Casey, whom everyone believes will be elected state treasurer, the race for attorney general between Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Jim Eisenhower and the race for auditor general between Republican Joe Peters and Democrat Jack Wagner are still very much up for grabs. Conventional wisdom is that both these races will follow the presidential balloting. If Kerry wins PA, Eisenhower and Wagner win. If Bush wins PA, Corbett and Peters win.
It's probably not that simple. All four candidates have been running TV ads -- Corbett and Wagner seemingly more than all the others, at least in the Pittsburgh market -- but it's hard for any of them to break through the overwhelming number of ads in the presidential race. Frankly, maybe it's a regional western PA bias, but I could see both Corbett of Shaler and Wagner of Beechview winning, giving the Dems two out of three. To sweep, Eisenhower is going to need a big boost from Philadelphia and its suburbs. He just might get that, so don't rule anything out.


Is Kukovich in Trouble?

With the area members of Congress each expecting reelection -- Democrats Jack Murtha and Mike Doyle and Republicans Melissa Hart and Tim Murphy -- the most exciting race has turned out to be a nasty, mudslinging battle in Westmoreland County between state Sen. Allen Kukovich, a Democrat, and Republican-come-lately Bob Regola. Kukovich has always been one of those interesting politicians who defy logic. A true progressive (yes, liberal) on many issues, Kukovich represents the increasingly conservative county of Westmoreland. His success over the years has been largely attributed to hard work, constituent service, and sheer likeability.

Enter 42-year old Bob Regola, a Democrat who once campaigned for Ed Rendell and a Hempfield supervisor. Embraced by the GOP looking to unseat Kukovich, Regola switched parties and has run a classic campaign that attacks Kukovich for being out of step with the conservative values of Westmoreland County. Both candidates have spent over $350,000 each, much of it on TV attacking each other.

Could Kukovich be upset today in the 39th senatorial district? Some think so. And, in a sad testimony to the unwillingness of both parties to take on incumbents, it's about the only race in this region in which an incumbent could be unseated.


Assuming a smooth electoral process, unlike that of 2000, we should know who is the next president before the sun rises tomorrow. Here are the closing times in Eastern Time to keep in mind:

6 p.m. Indiana, Kentucky; 7 p.m. Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia; 7:30 p.m.
North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia; 8 p.m. Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas; 8:30 p.m. Arkansas; 9 p.m. Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming; 10 p.m. Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah; 11 p.m.
California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington; 12 midnight Alaska.

Battlegrounds Florida and New Hampshire close first at 7pm, followed by Ohio at 7:30 and then Pennsylvania and Michigan at 8pm. Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wisconsin close at 9pm with Iowa reporting at 10pm. Those are the Top Ten Battleground States, but it wouldn't be a fun election without a few surprises elsewhere across the country.


Although this campaign was clearly one of the most negative, divisive ones in memory, I give thanks this morning that we live in a country where every American is free to cast a ballot, and that elections are decided by a free people, not guns and bullets.

Oh, sure, we'll have plenty of screw-ups today, and maybe a few people on either side will try to 'steal' the election through illegal behavior. But the vast majority of Americans will not countenance such practices, and I do trust the judicial system to expose the illegalities.

More importantly, none of the funny stuff will outweigh the value of a free people going to the polls to elect its president. And I remain hopeful that, one way or the other, we will get a result that all of us, as Americans, can rally behind . . . even it's not the man for whom we voted.

By the way, if you learn or hear of anything interesting out at the polls today, don't to forget to email me ASAP at jdelano@andrew.cmu.edu.

Happy Election Day!


Jon Delano
Political Analyst
H. John Heinz School of Public Policy & Management
Carnegie Mellon University

[As always, these views are my own and not those of the wonderful organizations with whom I am privileged to be associated].

Anonymous said...

Dear Politically Savvy Friends,

Your friendly correspondant has been on a bit of campaign whirlwind -- working 12 straight days (with one day off to celebrate Halloween with the kids), following Kerry from Philadelphia to Warren (OH) and Bush & Cheney in Western PA. Needless to say, I'm sleepless in Pittsburgh. So, forgive me, if it all seems a dull blurr.

This morning, one-half of America wakes up in agony, wondering how it can survive 'four more years' of the same crowd in Washington. The other half is exultant, convinced that God shines on this country with a strong leader who will bring this country to an even higher level of economic growth, prosperity, and morality.

We are deeply divided as a nation, but think back to how you felt when others were elected -- Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- or, for you old-timers, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. America is greater than its political leaders, always has been and always will be. So to those despondant today, keep the faith. And to those in political nirvana today, enjoy it. It's never as good as it feels the day after!

So what happened on election day, especially here in Pennsylvania? In this abbreviated PSF Part I, let me offer my initial sleepless thoughts.


The Kerry Bus Stalls in Ohio:

If you look at the electoral college map, the Kerry campaign deserves more credit than it will get for a strong performance on election day. Kerry swept through all of New England, picking up the former red (Bush) state of New Hampshire, cleaned up in the mid-atlantic states, even in once contentious New Jersey, and won a decisive, if narrow, victory in the must-win state of Pennsylvania. On the west coast, Kerry won all four Pacific states (California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii) with the expected exception of Alaska.

As it turned out, Kerry even won many of the battleground Midwest states, winning Illinois (no doubt there), along with states thought to be in doubt like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. When all those electoral votes were in, Kerry had 252 votes, 18 short of the magic 270.

For his part, the president swept through the south, border states like Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and Rocky Mountain states, winning every state he won in 2000 (except New Hampshire) and leading in two Gore states, New Mexico and Iowa. That said, he was stalled at 268 electoral votes, 2 short of the magic 270.

Both campaigns suspected it might come down to this. Whoever won two of the three (Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) would be elected president. Hard-fought to the end, Florida gave Bush a 370,000 vote margin, a far cry from the contested 537 votes that won him the White House four years ago.

With PA for Kerry and FL for Bush, it all came down to Ohio's 20 electoral votes. With 100% of the precincts reporting, Bush had 2,796,147 votes and Kerry had 2,659,664 votes, a margin of 136,000 votes. What raised questions Wednesday morning were reports that tens of thousands of provisional ballots had been cast by people who thought they were duly registered to vote and wanted their votes counted. In the end, the Kerry campaign determined that even if there were 150,000 such votes (and that's the number we hear), Kerry would not get them all.

To his great credit, the senator opted (much like Richard Nixon did in 1960) not to bring in the lawyers to prolong a fight. He called Bush privately and then publicly conceded the election.

Why Did Ohio Vote Bush?

Over the next few weeks, pundits will ponder Ohio and give us their analysis of why a state hit much harder than PA with unemployment elected to stay the course with President Bush. It may just be as simple as the Republicans did a better job of getting their voters to the polls. After all, the Democratic Party is dysfunctional in Ohio (in sharp contrast to PA), and the GOTV (get out the vote) efforts for Kerry were essentially designed by outside organizations (MoveOn and ACT), along with the Kerry campaign. Ohio Republicans, while often fighting each other, were united for Bush/Cheney. Exit polls suggested that 40% of those voting were Republicans, 35% were Democrats, and the rest Independents, and Bush won 94% of his party faithful.

Exit polls also found that the Christian conservatives were perhaps a more important factor in Ohio than in some other states. While 24% of Ohio voters said "jobs and the economy" was the MOST IMPORTANT issue to them, a stunning 23% said "moral values" was the MOST IMPORTANT issue in this campaign. Hmmmm, moral values MORE important than terrorism, the Iraq war, health care . . . well, you get the idea.

Karl Rove, who I have always admired for his political savvy, was dead right when he determined that, for Bush to win reelection, Bush needed 4 million Christian conservatives who failed to vote in 2000 to come out in 2004. The president's actions (from gay marriage constitutional amendments to appeals to faith and the sanctity of life) were politically crafted to bring these voters to the polls in droves (hey, rhymes with Rove). It was hardly a coincidence that many states, including Ohio, had gay marriage bans on their ballot to coincide with a Bush vote. The political elite ridicules this vote as the "God, guns, and gays" philosophy to elections, but it was brilliant . . . and it worked!

I'm sure we'll hear all sorts of other reasons why Ohio went red, and most of them will probably be right. Once again, this state lived up to its billing as the maker and breaker of presidents. Just ask John Kerry.


Keystone GOP Fails to Deliver:

You have to wonder what President Bush thinks about Pennsylvanians today. After 44 visits to this state and millions spent on TV and grassroots, he just couldn't get this state's voters to reverse their original opinion of him. Four years ago, he lost PA by 204,000 votes. This year, he lost PA by 122,000 votes, despite the best GOP presidential campaign I have seen in this state in a long time.

While the loss did not cost him the White House for another four years -- thanks to Florida and Ohio -- it has to hurt just a little bit. No other state saw the president has much as we did over the last four years, and you just have to wonder.

The most interesting aspect to the results in PA is that Kerry's victory is singularly a product of an incredible vote in Philadelphia and its suburbs, coupled with a strong performance in Allegheny County. Philadelphia delivered a mind-boggling 392,000-vote margin to Kerry over Bush, the product of a totally united Street-Brady-Fuomo machine that beat every expectation except their own (they were hoping to hit 400,000). And then the three Republican suburban counties did what they did four years ago -- they rejected Bush again. While the numbers were smaller, they were fatal nonetheless. Kerry won Bucks County by 9,000 votes, Delaware County by 40,000 votes, and Montgomery County by 45,000 votes.

I think that Bush scares a lot of these voters, especially women, who are part of the Washington-to-New York crowd that eschews religious fanaticism and political hard edges, and has generally bought into the "Bush as Cowboy" image of the president.

The other great victory area for Kerry in PA was Allegheny County which includes Pittsburgh and its suburbs. This county is generally more conservative than the ones back east, but a very organized Democratic campaign managed to deliver the county by 95,000 votes, just shy of the 100,000 vote goal Dems had set for themselves. While generally conservative, this county has not embraced the hard-core Republicanism of the religious right. Indeed, imagine this, the traditionaly Republican suburban community of Mt. Lebanon actually gave Kerry a nearly 1,000 vote win over Bush.

Bright Sign for the PA GOP:

What makes Kerry's success in Allegheny County so remarkable is that Bush did surprisingly well all around the SW region, carrying or nearly carrying many of the counties once thought to be Democratic strongholds.

No surprise that Bush carried Butler by nearly 25,000 votes and Westmoreland by 22,000 votes. The former always votes Republican, and the latter (despite its Democratic registration edge) is now reliably Republican in most statewide races. The big surprise is the result in some of the other counties thought to be Democratic, like Armstrong that voted Bush by 7,000 votes and Lawrence that gave Bush a 400-vote edge. And what happened in Washington County where Bush came within 400 votes of beating Kerry, or in Beaver where the Kerry margin was just 2,200 votes?

My own instant analysis is that the religious conservative appeal, coupled with the GOP's solid grassroots effort, made a big difference in these culturally conservative Democratic counties. It's a lesson that Democrats will have to heed in elections to come.

This is my quickie, instant analysis of the presidential election with only a few hours of sleep. There's much more to come in Part II with a particularly focus on the other statewide and local elections, some upsets and near upsets, and, of course, my traditional look at the political year ahead. Stay tuned.


Jon Delano
Political Analyst
H. John Heinz School of Public Policy & Management
Carnegie Mellon University

[As always, these views are my own and not those of the great organizations with whom I am privileged to be associated].

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