For all of you searching the internet for exit polls, you're probably wondering where all the data is. Rest assured - not even Drudge has it. The LA Times has a very interesting piece on how networks are approaching exit polling this time around.
Sorry I couldn't come up with a Z word. But If you're getting tired of pacing and biting your nails waiting for election returns, here are some of the political ads that stood out this year. Also make sure to read James Crabtree's picks in the Guardian.
It's been a landmark year in political advertising, with new approaches taken to breaking through the media clutter and connecting to voters. Sure, there were plenty of grainy attack ads that made the usual distortions and took words and votes out of context. There were also soft-focus bio spots with uplifting music that showed candidates with any combination of children/men in hard hats/senior citizens /their families, etc. But what made this cycle of political advertising stand out was the new wave of political ads that Simon described as "more real, more intimate, more authentic."
Here is my personal and incomplete (especially since it barely touches on the rise of YouTube and viral video) list of some of the best, worst and most original ads of 2006:
Jon Tester is Montana, from his haircut to his boots. And his early ad "Haircut" made that very clear. Republicans hit back immediately, but the MDP's response to the response was definitive and effective.
Elliot Spitzer (up by dozens of points in the polls) made the obvious choice to run a positive campaign.
Bill Richardson also faces token opposition, but he went in a little zanier direction.
I really enjoyed Arkansas Gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe's first two campaign ads, and anyone who thinks Democrats can't win in the South should watch them. The first has Beebe talking into the camera about growing up in a single parent home. The connection between his mom waiting tables and the need for a raise in the minimum wage is heartfelt, convincing and puts him on the side of the little guy. He follows that by calling for the elimination of the highly regressive grocery tax, which is both good policy and a way to insulate himself against charges of being a high-tax DemocratThe second Beebe ad has the best soundtrack of finger-pickin' bluegrass guitar this cycle. Maybe it's the only ad with bluegrass music this cycle, but it works, with Beebe again looking straight into the camera and talking about his support for gun rights.
Republican Kerry Healy in MA took a page from the Lee Atwater handbook and ran a really despicable ad intended to scare Bay Staters into not voting for Deval Patrick. Maybe her team didn't realize that while the "Willie Horton" ads may have contributed to Michael Dukakis' defeat in 1988, he still won Massachusetts.
In Tennessee, Harold Ford defined himself before his opponent could with an ad on faith. The RNC responded with the now infamous "Call Me" ad. Watch it and decide if the obvious race-baiting was even the most effective part of the ad. If nothing else, "Call Me" further tarred Ken Mehlman's reputation, since just a year ago he apologized for the Republican Southern strategy and promised an end to racial politics. He also told Tim Russert that as RNC chair he had no control over the ad and could not pull it. That gives Ken Mehlman the trifecta of lying, being hypocritical and straining credulity. His reward: a hilarious spoof on the “Call Me” ad, referencing the rumors about his sexuality.
Michael Steele's "Puppy" ad in Maryland was one of the most creative of the year and helped him reinvent himself as an independent candidate. We'll know how effective the Democratic response was sometime tonight.
Desperate Republicans like Colorado Congressional candidate Rick O’Donnell tried to make illegal immigration a campaign issue. For more on how demonizing Hispanics worked out, visit www.immigration2006.org.
The Republican Party made one final attempt to use the scare tactics of '02 and '04 in this election with their ticking time bomb ad.
A handy map from The Swing State Project lists when polls close. (All times are EST.) This morning's post says we might have a sense of the results early. But, on the other hand, there is no national poll that will be a good guide to the House races. And my colleagues tell me that the LA Times recently wrote that all American pollsters are being held in a blackberry free basement to stop leaking, so we might not know until later. Who knows? Roll on 6pm.
I was 17 when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. Since then the great back story of American politics has been the ascendency of the conservative movement, and its ally, the Republican Party. One of the big questions we will all be talking about in the days to come will be whether or not this story of conservative ascendency has come to an end, and whether we are entering a new period in American history.
I believe we are.
The last 100 years of American politics can be put into three rough historical periods. Period 1 ran from TR to FDR, and was a battle for the mastery of a new reform-minded and modern politics eventually captured by the Democrats, and philosophically located squarely in the progressive camp. Period 2 was FDR to Reagan, and was an era of Democratic ascendency and consolidation of power, and a triumph of progressive values. Period 3, the conservative ascendency, began in 1980 and saw great triumph in 1994, and again in this decade. Today as a result of their recent success, the Republican Party and the conservative movement has more political and ideological control over the government than any time since the 1920s.
The question about conservatism has always been could it mature enough as a governing philosophy to replace 20th century progressivism, and provide America with a true alternative governing approach? I believe the Bush era has answered that question, and the answer is no. Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - I think history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy. It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way.
Despite the many billions spent in building this modern conservative movement, history will label it a grand and remarkable failure. And I think we will look back at 2006 as the year this most recent period of American history - the conservative ascendency - ended.
So like two heavy weight boxers stumbling into the 15th round of a championship fight, the two great ideologies of the 20th century stumble, exhausted, tattered and weakened, into a very dynamic and challenging 21st century. My own belief is that this next American era will not be one dominated by these two exhausted ideologies of the past, but will be a battle for the mastery of a new, as yet unarticulated 21st century governing approach suited to the challenges we face today and built around the media and people of our time. The core direction of this battle is not the left-right one fought at the end of the last century, but will be more about forward and backward. Meaning that the way we will have to measure progress from now on is to look at how a party or ideological movement captures the three main dimensions of this emergent, post-liberal/conservative politics of our day - a new governing agenda capable of tackling the challenges of our time, and new political arrangements built around the emergent media and people of the 21st century.
I believe 2006 will become known as the year American conservatism reached its peak, and our 20th century politics fought one its very last battles. The future will belong to those who master this "new politics" of the 21st century. Friends, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that it is our movement, and our values, that leave these old and tired battles behind and get about mastering this new politics of the 21st century.
For a video presentation of about this idea of the "new politics," visit our New Politics Institute site at http://www.newpolitics.net.
TPMmuckraker has a copy of a letter sent by John Conyers and John Dingell to Justice, the FCC and FEC:
Dear Chairmen Martin, Toner and Attorney General Gonzales:
We write to demand an immediate investigation concerning allegations of unethical and possibly illegal prerecorded phone calls designed to confuse voters in Tuesday’s election. These misleading calls are made late in the evening, or during the night, in an effort to generate anger at the Democratic candidate, who is in no way associated with this harassment. In fact, the calls are being funded by the National Republican Campaign Committee, which has reportedly provided $600,000 to fund this deception.
There have been numerous media reports about these calls, which appear to be occurring in dozens of districts. It is also our understanding that the Republican Party has been forced to stop the calls in New Hampshire.
According to the Associated Press, one individual “received three prerecorded messages in four hours. Each began, ‘Hello, I’m calling with information about [Democratic candidate] Lois Murphy [in the Philadelphia area].’” The Philadelphia Daily News reported that “[t]he calls, which begin by offering ‘important information about Lois Murphy,’ are designed to mislead voters into thinking the message is from her.”
The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that a “national Republican group yesterday scuttled a pre-recorded phone call effort the state Attorney General’s Office said may have violated New Hampshire law by contacting residents listed on the federal Do Not Call registry.”
In Illinois, The Barrington Courier-Review reported that a resident received the following phone call – “Hi. I’m calling with information about [Democratic Candidate] Melissa Bean.” She received the same call a total of 21 times since October 24. Others reported receiving the same calls, none of which were paid for by Ms. Bean or any Democratic group.
If true, these allegations could violate a number of federal laws and legal requirements. Among other things, 47 CFR 1200 (b)(1) provides that prerecorded telephone messages must “[a]t the beginning of the message, state clearly the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call.” Section 441h of the Federal Election Campaign Act provides that no agent of a federal candidate shall “fraudulently misrepresent himself or any committee or organization under his control as speaking or otherwise writing or acting for or behalf of any other candidate or political party.” Section 441d(d)(2) specifies that communications must provide a statement as to the party responsible for it, and the campaign finance laws generally prohibit fraudulent and deceptive activities. A number of state laws also appear to be applicable, such as New Hampshire’s which prohibits calls to individuals on the federal Do Not Call registry.
Given the magnitude and seriousness of these charges, we ask that you immediately investigate and take action to protect the integrity of our electoral process and hold the culpable parties responsible.
The President is slouching back to Texas tonight, unable to get even his handpicked candidate in Florida to show up at a rally designed to help him:
PENSACOLA, Florida (AP) -- The White House did not hide its irritation Monday at Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist for ducking President Bush at a campaign rally in the Republican-friendly Panhandle.
Crist said he considered the Pensacola area so firmly in his camp that it made more sense to campaign elsewhere in the state as the race to replace outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush tightened.
On a tarmac in Texas where the president boarded Air Force One for the trip east, Bush political strategist Karl Rove mockingly questioned what kind of alternate rally Crist could put together that would rival the expected 10,000-person crowd that Bush was expected to draw at the Pensacola Civic Center.
The White House already had distributed schedules saying Crist would introduce Bush at the rally.
Crist's opponent, Democratic Rep. Jim Davis, seized on the news.
"Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."
Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said the candidate already has strong support in the heavily Republican Pensacola area and thought his time would be better spent campaigning elsewhere. LeMieux said the decision had nothing to do with the president's job approval ratings.
Jeb Bush will attend the Pensacola event in Crist's place. Rep. Katherine Harris, who is mounting a lukewarm challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, will also be with the president. Before the September primary, Republican leaders failed to support Harris.
Bush is using the last day of his 10-state campaign swing to flush out GOP and swing voters needed to keep Republicans sitting in the governor's offices of Arkansas and Texas as well.
Reports from all over America, coming in largely through the blogs and associated listservs, are showing Republicans and their Party Committees stooping to new lows to confuse voters and discourage people from voting. in some cases laws have clearly already been broken. In other cases - like the new flyer from MD shown on Kos tonight - they have brought shame to their politics.
One of our greatest message opportunites in future years is for us to make the simple case that we want ever one to vote, and the other side doesn't.
We need to use their systemic efforts to discourage and deny folks the right to vote - in a terrible version of the "whatever it takes" argument of the Bush campaign in 2004 - something that hurts their brand and their leaders across the country.
Their systemic efforts to gain and hold on to power at any costs is a national disgrace.
Georgia10 on Dailykos has a good roundup of things to be on the lookout for tomorrow.
Earlier today we released a memo arguing that there was no conclusive evidence that the national race had "tightened." Charlie Cook, respected election handicapper, agrees:
.....November 6, 2006
Going into Election Day, we see a 20-35 seat gain for Democrats in the House, a four to six seat gain for Democrats in the Senate and a six to eight seat gain for Democrats in the governor's races.
All Monday there was considerable talk that the national picture had suddenly changed and that there was a significant tightening in the election. This was based in part on two national polls that showed the generic congressional ballot test having tightened to four (Pew) and six (ABC/Wash Post) points.
Seven national polls have been conducted since Wednesday, November 1. They give Democrats an average lead of 11.6 percentage points, larger than any party has had going into an Election Day in memory. Even if you knock five points off of it, it's 6.6 percentage points, bigger than the advantage that Republicans had going into 1994.
Furthermore, there is no evidence of a trend in the generic ballot test. In chronological order of interviewing (using the midpoint of field dates), the margins were: 15 points (Time 11/1-3), 6 points (ABC/Wash Post), 4 points (Pew), 7 points (Gallup), 16 points (Newsweek), 20 points (CNN) and 13 points (Fox).
In individual races, some Republican pollsters see some movement, voters "coming home," in their direction, and/or some increase in intensity among GOP voters. All seem to think that it was too little, too late to significantly change the outcome. However, it might be enough to save a few candidates. None think it is a major change in the dynamics of races, and most remain somewhere between fairly and extremely pessimistic about tomorrow's outcome."
There is one Republican who is poised to do exceedingly well on Tuesday – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. We’ll see what plays out, but if it goes as expected, Arnold will win big over the Democrat.
It is very important to be clear on what this means. From my perspective, it’s because Arnold represents a creature we have not seen in a long time – a progressive Republican.
He started out as a mushy moderate in the 2003 Recall Election that started him out. He then tacked hard to the right and championed a conservative agenda in the 2005 special election for initiatives – where he got clobbered. But in the last year he has now tacked to the other side and become a champion for a range of progressive policies that originated with the progressive Democrats that run the state legislature.
The success of this formula, particularly in the context of a repudiation of conservative Republican politicians and policies, will have a big impact on the next wave of Republicanism to evolve in the coming years.
The San Francisco Chronicle had a front page story this morning that comes closest to articulating this framework, though reporter Carla Marinucci still dances around the edges. Here’s how she leads off the story:
If the Republican Party, as predicted, takes a serious swamping Tuesday across the country, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may look not only like a prescient politician who rode the wave -- but like one who's now poised to generate one himself.
Even before Tuesday's vote is tallied, "Arnold has become the New Republican -- someone who talks fiscal conservatism and put together a coalition of Democrats and Republicans," said GOP strategist Ed Rollins. "Certainly, he can become a very significant role model."
Should he win re-election -- and polls put him in a commanding lead -- Schwarzenegger's bounce back from unpopularity a year ago will show how California "has always been a trendsetter,'' Rollins said. Politically, "it's always two to six years ahead of the rest of the country.''
Rollins gets the new wave part, but muddles the mix of what Arnold represents. Marinucci then gets everyone else’s take on what Arnold means and the story goes into a “he said, she said” balanced piece that can tie newspaper stories up in knots.
But the general thrust of the piece is pointing to Arnold as a sign of new wave Republicans. And that much is true.
However, the piece begs the question about where the really interesting story now lies. Not in Republicans who are desperately taking Democrats’ progressive ideas to appeal to the electorate, but on the front edge of that progressive movement.
The real story of the next couple years is going to be how progressives drive the new agenda that needs to fill the gaping void the conservatives are leaving. As the Chronicle story puts it in the end with a quote from Democratic strategist Chris Lehane:
The political question isn't "does Arnold provide a road map to the future,'' Lehane said, but now that Schwarzenegger has "tacked to the left and taken many of their ideas, are Democrats going to create a new vision for the party and seize the opportunity?''