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Friday, November 17, 2006
On Explaining the Elections
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 11:58 am

Time has a piece on the 5 Myths About the Midterm Elections which includes the following:

MYTH: The election was all about the war.
REALITY: It’s the dishonesty, stupid.

Against traditional political wisdom, national themes did matter more than local loyalties and personalities in 2006. George Bush was far more likely to show up in a Democratic candidate’s ad than a Republican’s. Many Democrats have translated their victory into a mandate for change in Iraq; the day after the midterms, Sen. Harry Reid called for a bipartisan summit on the issue, saying “The President must listen and work with Democrats to fix his failed policy.” But in the end, what appears to have mattered most was Congress’ own behavior. Fully 74% of voters surveyed in exit polls ranked corruption and ethics as important in determining their votes; by comparison, 67% said that about Iraq. The lack of progress in Iraq helped nationalize the elections, but multiple scandals (Abramoff, Foley) appear to have driven home an urge for massive change. Mattis Goldman, who coordinated the campaign advertising for Democrat Sherrod Brown’s successful Ohio Senate run, says that they chose to emphasize economic populism, change and fighting corruption. “If we had run a one-dimensional campaign just about the war,” says Goldman, “I don’t know how this election would have turned out.”

Really, based on those numbers, I would say that the answer should be: it was both. 74% and 67% aren’t exactly hugely different numbers.

There were clearly two issue of significance in the contests last week.

We can see that in the debate that Democrats just had in their leadership race. The argument for Murtha was that he was the strongest on Iraq, yet the thing that likely killed his candidacy was the ethics question.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Going Inside the Numbers (Earmarks Edition)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:00 am

From this week’s postmortem on the GOP in Newsweek:

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan vetoed a highway bill because it had 152 earmarks. In 2005, President Bush signed a transportation bill with 6,371 earmarks.

And there you go.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Murtha and ABSCAM
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:52 pm

I have started looking into the Murtha-Abscam situation and it isn’t especially pretty.

For some details check out the TPMmuckraker and Joshua Zeitz at HuffPo.

Both posts notes that the full Abscam video (click here) featuring Murtha is revealing, especially from the 15 minute mark to the 30ish mark. In Zetz’s word:

While Murtha refused the bribe, he made it clear that his reasons for doing so were trust and appearances. He explained to the undercover agent, who was posing as a middleman for a wealthy sheik, that he intended to serve a long tenure in Congress, and since he was not personally acquainted with the parties in question, he was reluctant to accept money from them. Moreover, he explained that were he to start doing favors for a sheik who had no connection to his district, the authorities might become suspicious.

[…]

At the fifteen-minute mark it gets interesting, and at about thirty-two minutes it gets scandalous. Murtha could have stood up, walked out of the room, and called federal authorities. Instead, he indicated a future willingness to accept the sheik’s bribe, provided the sheik first make a show of good will by dropping some money in the local economy.

Having watched the tape, that comports with my assessment as well.

Murtha’s defense on Hardball (transcript and video here) is not all that impressive.

When one steps back and looks at this, the political ineptitude of Pelosi throwing her support behind Murtha is mind-boggling, given the significance of ethics to the recent elections.

Update: More on Murtha, Abscam and Pelosi’s odd choice from Ruth Marcus in WaPo.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Post-Election Politics (Democratic Leadership Edition)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:30 am

Via WaPo: In Backing Murtha, Pelosi Draws Fire

Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha’s involvement 26 years ago in the FBI’s Abscam bribery sting.

“Pelosi’s endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic-leaning group. “It is shocking to me that someone with [Murtha’s] ethics problems could be number two in the House leadership.”

There are several interesting aspects to this situation.

1) It is an intra-Democratic conflict at the moment. Even the interest groups that are the most vocal at the moment are more in the Democratic camp.

2) This the collision of the two main issues of the campaign: the war and corruption.

3) It indicates that Pelosi may have a character trait in common with President Bush: loyalty. Part of the argument for Pelosi favoring Murtha over Hoyer is that Murtha helped her in an earlier leadership race and Hoyer opposed her. A similar manifestation of part of this trait is the fact that she apparently has problems with Jane Harmon and hence is willing to ignore seniority rules on the Intelligence Committee (in this case this is perhaps what happens when one isn’t viewed as loyal).

Of note is the fact that this particular character trait/traits of Pelosi are getting her in trouble right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how this manifests over time.

If anything, I suspect we are going to get quite the education on ABSCAM over the next week or so…

[Cross-posted at OTB]

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Sunday, November 12, 2006
PoliColumn II (More Alabama Politics)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:31 am

On this two-fer Sunday, here’s a piece from today’s Press-Register:

Lessons of the’06 Alabama election
Sunday, November 12, 2006
By STEVEN L. TAYLOR
Special to the Press-Register

E lections are events that always answer one set of questions while raising others. Alabama’s electoral journey of 2006 is no exception to that notion.

So, what did we learn last Tuesday and what new questions should we be asking?

(more…)

PoliColumn I (Alabama Politics)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:30 am

From today’s Birmingham News:

Now, watch post-election drama of politics play out
Sunday, November 12, 2006
STEVEN L. TAYLOR

Election night was great drama in terms of the national races. We saw a change in control of the Congress for the first time in a dozen years. Democrats are returned to power. By comparison, the Alabama contests were dull - or were they?

(more…)

Thursday, November 9, 2006
Allen to Concede
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:30 pm

So report WaPo: Allen to Concede Election This Afternoon

Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) will concede that he has lost the election to Democrat James Webb at a 3 p.m. news conference in Alexandria, according to a source close to the campaign with direct knowledge of the senator’s intentions.

[…]

Allen’s campaign officials had initially put into motion plans to challenge Virginia’s election after coming within three-tenths of a percent of Webb’s lead. But after local election officials spent a day-and-a-half reviewing the totals, that margin remained largely unchanged.

A senior Allen aide said he did not believe any further reexamination of the 2.3 million ballots in Virginia would change the outcome of the election.

I have been quite critical of the Allen campaign, but will note that this is the reasonable and classy thing to do. While I fully support the ability of candidates to pursue their rights under the law in close elections, I also believe that if there is no evidence of error or fraud that the best thing that a candidate can do is concede.

Unless error and/or fraud are evident, dragging the voters of a given location (let alone in this case, the country due to the relevance of the race to the Senate) unnecessarily to such a process is nothing less than denial and extreme egoism.

I have been of this opinion for some time, having made a similar argument in the Washington state brouhaha in 2004 over the governor’s race.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Pros and Cons » The Democrat Dilemma … linked with [...] Poliblogger takes a far more adult tack, and he does it well. I still cannot help but wonder what advantage other than personal there is in playing by Marquis of Queensbury Rules when the other side does not? Maybe I need to review the career of a former Senator from North Dakota and judicial nominations to answer that question for myself. [...]
Armey on the Election
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:07 pm

In the WSJ former Majority Leader Dick Armey assess the results of this weeks election. He is basically on target, especially here:

Eventually, the policy innovators and the “Spirit of ‘94″ were largely replaced by political bureaucrats driven by a narrow vision. Their question became: How do we hold onto political power? The aberrant behavior and scandals that ended up defining the Republican majority in 2006 were a direct consequence of this shift in choice criteria from policy to political power.

Nowhere was this turn more evident than in the complete collapse of fiscal discipline in the budgeting process. For most Republican candidates, fiscal responsibility is our political bread and butter. No matter how voters view other, more divisive issues from abortion to stem-cell research, Republicans have traditionally enjoyed a clear advantage with a majority of Americans on basic pocketbook issues. “We will spend your money carefully and we will keep your taxes low.” That was our commitment. This year, no incumbent Republican (even those who fought for restraint) could credibly make that claim. The national vision-less government and lower taxes-was replaced with what Jack Abramoff infamously called his “favor factory.” One Republican leader actually defended a questionable appropriation of taxpayer dollars, saying it was a reasonable price to pay for holding a Republican seat. What was most remarkable was not even the admission itself, but that it was acknowledged so openly. Wasn’t that the attitude we were fighting against in 1994?

(Emphasis in the original).

There is little doubt that the main focus of the Republicans of late has been the retention of power. Even more significantly there is no doubt that the fiscal responsibility that was allegedly the hallmark of the party clearly went out the window.

Now, the question is, I think, whether that it is simply, as Armey suggests, the failure of Republican values, or the what happens to majorities in Congress where the pressures are high to bring home the bacon as a means of pleasing the voters back home and building power with lobbyists and colleagues.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
PoliColumn (Blogs and Politics)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:59 am

This ran in print on Sunday, but finally made it online yesterday.

From the Press-Register:

Blogs highlight good, bad, ugly
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
By STEVEN L. TAYLOR
Special to the Press-Register

The era of the instantaneous is upon us. News, information and opinion now travel at the speed of light and are available to us whenever we want, wherever we want.

(more…)

Filed under: US Politics, My Columns, Blogging, 2006 Elections | Comments (7) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Perhaps we aren’t in for a Long, Ugly Fight After all
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:48 am

As I learn more about the Virgina recount process, I become more optimistic that a clean, clear and litigation-free conclusion to this situation may be coming. Comparing to Florida’s rules circa 2000, the Virgina process appears to be sleek, reasonable and consistent.

The first stage, as I understand it, is a canvassing process to make sure that no data entry or other errors were made. We may know the results of that process today, and it is wholly possible that if no significant discrepancies are found that Allen will then concede.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Alabama Returns
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 8:40 am

Anyone who is interested can get info on the Alabama statewide (and other) races here: al.com: Elections.

The Governor cruised to victory-what looked like a tighter than predicted race has turned into a 16 point win.

The Democrats were able to get the Lt. Gov’s office back, by bringing back Governor Folsom to run for the office. He won in a close race over political newcomer Luther Strange, who was able to oust one member of a famous Alabama political family when he beat George Wallace, Jr. in the primary, but was unable to defeat Folsom.

Their were, to me anyway, two surprises in the returns. The first was that Sue Bell Cobb (D) was able to defeat Drayton Nabers (R) for the Chief Justice slot by 3 points.

The other surprise was that Amendment 2 passed handily.

Filed under: US Politics, Alabama Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with George Allen and Gay Marriage
Virginia Numbers
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:01 am

Here are Virginia’s election returns.

One thing that we can see from those numbers is that there were a substantial number of persons who voted for the the marriage amendment who did not vote for Allen-demonstrating that he clearly had alienated some of his natural voter base.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Today’s Theme: It Was a National Election (and a Repudiation of the President)
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:57 am

There is little doubt that yesterday’s results were as much about national issues as anything else. As such, the major papers are appropriately noting that yesterday was very much about President Bush.

The NYT: A Loud Message for Bush

Everything is different now for President Bush. The era of one-party Republican rule in Washington ended with a crash in yesterday’s midterm elections, putting a proudly unyielding president on notice that the voters want change, especially on the war in Iraq.

[…]

Nearly 4 in 10 voters said they saw their ballot as a vote against Mr. Bush, about twice as many as those who said they had cast their ballots for him. It was a remarkable turnaround for a president who just two years ago emerged triumphant from his re-election campaign, declaring that he had earned political capital and intended to spend it.

Indeed-and capital he squandered, at best.

The article correctly notes that there were also issues of Republican incompetence and corruption that were of issue in yesterday’s vote as well.

WaPo has a similar story: A Voter Rebuke For Bush, the War And the Right

Overall, 59 percent of voters surveyed in a news media consortium series of exit polls yesterday expressed dissatisfaction or anger with the Bush administration; 36 percent said they cast their vote to express opposition to Bush, compared with 22 percent who were voting to support him. Fifty-six percent of voters support withdrawing some or all U.S. troops from Iraq, which will embolden Democrats pushing for a pullout.

Corruption proved to be a more potent issue than it had appeared even weeks ago. After 12 years in control, the Republicans who took power with Gingrich promising to sweep out a calcified and ethically bankrupt Democratic leadership found themselves perceived as becoming what they had tried to expunge. Exit polls found 41 percent of voters rated corruption “extremely important” to their decision.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
And Then There Were Two…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:43 am

Via the NYT: Democrats Seize Control of House; Senate Hangs on Virginia and Montana

the fate of the Senate remained in doubt this morning, as races for Republican-held seats in Montana and Virginia remained too close to call as Election Day turned into the day after. Democrats would need both seats to win control of the Senate as well.

In Montana, Senator Conrad Burns, a Republican, was trailing Jon Tester, a Democrat, by a narrow margin. The race in Virginia — between another Republican incumbent, Senator George Allen, and Jim Webb, his Democratic challenger — was so close that some officials said it would have to be resolved by a recount.

It is unfortunate that this is all going to come to down a handful of votes in these two states. I think a clearer victory either way would have been better for the country. The acrimony and frustration of 2000 still taints our political life, and if it comes down to another court battle deciding a key issue of power in Washington that acrimony and frustration will only deepen and cause more friction and division within partisan competition.

And if we end up going down the recount route, it will long, drawn-out and, I fear, ugly:

That prospect could mean prolonged uncertainty over control of the Senate, since a recount can be requested only after the results are officially certified on Nov. 27th, according to the state board of elections. Last year a recount in the race for Attorney General was not resolved until Dec. 21.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
That Sinking Feeling…
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:15 am

WaPo notes: Webb, Allen Race Too Close to Call

Given that Burns is trailing badly as I type this and given that MO is leaning Democratic, I am getting that sinking feeling the the balance of the Senate is going to tilt on Virginia. The sinking feeling is not horror over who will control the Senate, rather it is about the fact that we are likely about to go through weeks of legal fights and procedural maneuverings over this final seat.

I don’t think that that is healthy for the republic, but we shall see.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

The Moderate Voice linked with Democratic House Win And Changed Senate Suggests GOP Lost Independents And Moderates
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