Here are all the races I’m watching closely tonight

The Senate has officially fallen to the Republicans.
At 1:25 AM ET, I’m calling it quits on the updates, since I can’t wait for Alaska or the final Virginia call.

I’ll be updating with notes and observations here as I go tonight. Some won’t be called tonight or will go to runoffs later. Ordered alphabetically (italics = old update) and moved to lower section when called:

Alaska Senate: This won’t close until very, very late eastern time. Expect delays in counting.
– Added: Virginia Senate: Update 5: With 99.9% counted, Warner is currently squeaking to re-election by about 12,462 votes. || Update 4: Sen. Warner (D) finally edges ahead by a few thousand at 98.6% counted. || Update 3: This is basically coming down to how many more votes Warner can extract from populous Fairfax County, where he leads heavily with almost 40% still to be counted. || Update 2: Looking a little better with Gillespie (R) now under 50% at 90% counted, and I’m told by my DC sources that Warner will squeak by, but it’s going to be incredibly tight. || Update 1: It’s looking a bit more dire to me, overall and at the county level, than it ought to with 75% counted and the Republican leading over Sen. Warner (which was never expected in any polling or projections I saw). The Virginia 2006 Senate results by county, which narrowly delivered a Democratic win by very narrow margins, already don’t match the map tonight, even with Democratic northeastern Virginia still to come.

There are other important and very close races, obviously, all over the place. So these are just my particular picks to watch. If you want to nominate any additions, drop that in the comments! (My night-before predictions on the US Senate side is here.)

I’m using Politico/AP for my data.

Key Senate races already called

New Hampshire Senate: Sen. Shaheen (D) holds.
Michigan Senate: Open seat. Democratic hold.
Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) re-elected. Much ado about nothing.
Kansas Senate: Update 2: It’s called for Sen. Roberts; Republican hold. Much ado about nothing after all. Update 1: Sen. Roberts (R) picking up steam in the lead, after very early Orman leads.
Georgia Senate: Update 2: This is called for Perdue (R) and will not go to a runoff, in a bit of a twist; the seat remains in GOP hands… another much ado about nothing race. || Perdue (R) is crushing Nunn (D) in this open R seat race with 71% counted. Expected to go to post-November runoff.
Iowa Senate: It’s called for Ernst (R); flips to Republicans. Update 2: Ernst (R) edges into the lead and toward the 50% mark in this open D seat after 46.4% counted. || Update 1: Braley (D) off to a good start.
North Carolina Senate: Tillis wins; Sen. Hagan (D) loses the seat. It’s officially all over for Democrats in the Senate. Update 3: Tillis (R) leading by 47,500ish votes over Sen. Hagan at 95.3% counted. || Update 2: Tillis (R) opens a narrow lead of 30,000ish votes over Sen. Hagan (D) at 79% counted. || Update 1: I predict this is resolved between 12 and 1 AM with less than a half a percentage point separating them, but right now Sen. Hagan (D) has a solid lead at 28% counted.
Colorado Senate: Update 3: It’s called for Gardner (R) over Sen. Udall (D); flips to Republicans. Update 2: Gardner (R) opening a hefty lead over Sen. Udall (D). || Update 1: Looks incredibly close so far…
Montana: Open seat. Flips to Republicans.
West Virginia: Open seat. Flips to Republicans.
Arkansas: Sen. Pryor defeated, flips to Republicans
South Dakota Senate: Open seat. Flips to Republicans. Much ado about nothing as Rounds cruises to 51% in a 3 way race.
Louisiana Senate: This will go to a post-November runoff. D incumbent, unresolved.

GOP gain 7 so far, with no losses of Republican-held seats now possible. Need 6 net wins to capture majority.


Other called races

Florida Governor: Update 3: It’s called for Gov. Scott (R). Bummer. Update 2: Rick Scott looking like he’s going to hold on for another term with 95% counted but the margin is about 86,000 votes statewide. Update 1: Incumbent Rick Scott (R) leading by over a hundred thousand votes with 81% counted.
Wisconsin Governor: It’s been called for Gov. Scott Walker (R), his third gubernatorial win in competitive statewide battles.
Michigan Governor: Gov. Snyder (R) re-elected. Update 1: This is probably going to incumbent Rick Snyder (R).
Kansas Governor: Update 3: It’s called for Gov. Brownback (R) in a huge and disappointing comeback for his radical agenda. || Update 2: Gov. Brownback (R) now taking a lead with 70.3% counted. || Update 1: Davis off to a good start against toxic incumbent Brownback (R).
Massachusetts Governor: Update 5: It’s called for Baker (R) by about 26,000ish votes. || Update 4: Baker now back in the lead by about 11,000 at 87.7% counted. || Update 3: 100 vote margin while the United Independent Party guy has over 52,000 votes. Good work, spiteful Democrats and Greens. || Update 2: Coakley surprisingly edging ahead of Baker. Might not be enough to win but this is good news. || Update 1: Baker (R) in the lead by what looks like a narrow but sustainable margin.
Maine Governor: The Boston Globe has called it for Gov. LePage (R) so I’m going with that, sadly. Update 3: 59.1% counted, LePage (R) leading by 17,650 votes and a few percentage points in this 3-way race. || Update 2: LePage (R) leading by about 14,000 votes at 45.8% counted. || Update 1: Gov LePage (R) up by a few thousand votes at 39.5% counted.


John Oliver reminds us to focus on state legislatures

The US Senate’s control, whether Democratic or Republican, probably won’t make much difference in the next two years while the White House is in Democratic hands and the US House of Representatives is in Republican hands. State legislature control will have a lot of effects on a lot of people at the ground level over the next two years and will be setting the groundwork several years ahead for which parties control which states when the next redistricting rolls around. However, that has continued to get little attention nationally. John Oliver devoted 17 minutes on Sunday to the topic:

Final 2014 Senate Outlook

Assuming no unexpected party switching, the Republicans will win the Senate if they win at least six Senate seats (net). Here’s how things look the night before…

Likely Democratic seat losses (ordered by approximate likelihood, most to least, of flipping): West Virginia, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa (8, based on consistent polling)
Possible Republican seat losses: only Kansas (1; independent may caucus with Republicans anyway)
Possible extra Dem seat losses: North Carolina, New Hampshire (2)
Likely key Republican seat holds: Georgia, Kentucky
Likely key Democratic seat holds: only Michigan (1)

N.B. Georgia and Louisiana are both expected to go to runoff or second-round elections after November. These will probably still be Republican wins, but will likely be highly contested if they are the determining factor for chamber control.

Background stats recap
  • Going into the November 2014 elections, Democrats and their supporting independents control 55 seats out of 100.
  • 36 seats in total, including 4 special elections, are up for election this year. (Most were last elected in 2008.)
  • 21 Democratic seats are up for election this year.
  • Only 15 Republican seats are up for election.
Key states with retirements


  • West Virginia
  • Montana
  • South Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Michigan


  • Georgia
Light blue = Heavily contested Democratic-held seat. Light red = Heavily contested Republican-held seat. (Credit: Wikimedia)

Light blue = Heavily contested Democratic-held seat. Light red = Heavily contested Republican-held seat. Michigan is generally now deemed, by both parties, out of contention to flip. (Credit: Wikimedia)

New Jersey still no clearer on Charlie Baker’s role in scandal

Weird that the Boston Globe Editorial Board endorsed Charlie Baker for Governor of Massachusetts after the paper’s own coverage back in June about the connections between Baker and the pay-to-play scandals of the Chris Christie Administration in New Jersey:

Baker’s new-found notoriety in the Garden State came to a head when the New Jersey State Investment Council agreed to seek a legal review of the $10,000 donation he made to the New Jersey GOP in May 2011 — just seven months before General Catalyst, the investment firm where he is listed as an “executive in residence” principal, received $15 million from the state’s pension fund.

The council’s decision sparked a series of headlines across the state that has put Baker in the middle of the ongoing media feeding frenzy that is swirling around Christie and his administration.

Just last week, a Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called on the Securities and Exchange Commission, the New Jersey attorney general, and the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission to investigate a possible connection between the donation and the investment.

Here’s a sampling of some of the headlines over the past month: “N.J. pension fund’s investment draws pay-to-play inquiry” is the way the Philadelphia Inquirer’s website,, headlined its story. “Christie administration to investigate pension investment tied to Massachusetts Republican” topped the story in the Newark Star Ledger. The Asbury Park Press and the Bergen Record covered the meeting with stories detailing the controversy.

The Inquirer website salted the wounds with a huge photo of Christie on a stage with Baker, then the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee, when the New Jersey governor came to Massachusetts to campaign for him. It also carried a head-shot of Baker farther on in the story, with the phrase “pay-to-play” in the caption. The controversy is also drawing national media. Businessweek ran a piece about the council’s decision, Fortune magazine has weighed in, and CNN’s website has also followed the story.

According to David Sirota, writing in the International Business Times last week, Chris Christie is now actively suppressing information related to the inquiry into Baker’s involvement in the situation in New Jersey.

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has helped Charlie Baker with millions of dollars worth of ads supporting his Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign. But that’s not the only way he may be boosting the GOP candidate in the final weeks of a close election: Christie officials are blocking the release of the findings of New Jersey’s pay-to-play investigation into Baker.

The documents being withheld pertain to an investigation of Baker’s $10,000 contribution to the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The contributions came just months before Christie officials gave Baker’s company, General Catalyst, a contract to manage New Jersey pension money. New Jersey’s pay-to-play rules prohibit contributions to state parties from “any investment management professional associated” with a firm managing state pension money.

When the campaign donations and subsequent pension contract came to light in May, Democrats criticized Baker, who was then launching his 2014 campaign for governor of Massachusetts. In response, New Jersey launched a formal investigation into Baker’s contributions. The Newark Star-Ledger reported at the time that Christie officials “said the review would take several weeks.”

In a reply to International Business Times’ request for the findings of the audit under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act, Christie’s Treasury Department said the request is being denied on the grounds that the documents in question are “consultative and deliberative material.” Despite officials’ assurances in May that the probe would take only weeks, the New Jersey Treasury said in September that the investigation is still “ongoing” — a designation the department says lets it stop the records from being released.

As a reminder: If the governor of Massachusetts has to resign for some reason — which, between scandals and promotions to Federal offices, is pretty common for U.S. governors in general these days — the lieutenant governor becomes Acting Governor of Massachusetts. From New York to Arizona, in the last six years, we’ve seen some pretty terrible lieutenant governors fail to rise to the challenge when suddenly promoted. If Charlie Baker becomes governor, and his term ends unexpectedly early for any reason, his current running mate, anti-gay Karyn Polito, would be the acting governor of Massachusetts.

Jessica Williams heads to Kansas for The Daily Show

In September, I noted that the situation in Kansas was becoming quite dire for some of the Republican statewide incumbents on the ballot. A lot of that is due to the state’s unmitigated disaster of a fiscal experiment headed by hardline-Republican Governor Sam Brownback. Here’s what I said in September:

Closer to home, in Kansas itself, creating a second competitive statewide race in Kansas could further help boost left and moderate voter turnout against the now-near-universally-loathed Governor Sam Brownback.

Brownback very plausibly might be about to lose re-election to the governorship of Kansas for cutting taxes — because his magical-thinking-based plan cut them so far that there’s a budget catastrophe unfolding. A former Republican state party chair suggested the state may be bankrupt (or at least deeply in debt) within 2 years … and the bond outlook to finance that is not great.

According to PPP in February, Brownback had a lower approval rating in Kansas than Obama has in Kansas. And even Republican-leaning Rasmussen polling [in August] put the Democratic challenger, Paul Davis, ahead of Brownback by an impressive 10 points, pulling above 50%, and with a very low undecided block — which adds up to almost certain doom at the ballot box. (It was unclear, last I checked, what the Democratic challenger would do instead regarding the budget, but I’m guessing Kansas will have to elect first and ask questions later, while hoping it’s better than the monstrosity Brownback enacted.)

The Daily Show sent its brilliant and incredibly talented correspondent Jessica Williams into the field in Kansas this week to bring the story to wider attention.

Mitch McConnell tries to run for and against Obamacare

Mitch McConnell is trying to convince Kentuckians that if “Obamacare” is fully repealed, the popular state-run Kynect insurance exchange would magically keep going and not suddenly become meaningless. If it wasn’t obvious that he was blatantly lying to win votes, one would wonder what he thought the website does, if not for serving up private insurance plans regulated and formulated by the very law he wants to repeal, the Affordable Care Act. Repealing the standards, of course, would then make a comparison of plans impossible.

Radio Archive: Sasha and I discuss how Kynect was set up and why it works so well. [Produced October 29, 2013; Running Time: 14:13]
AFD 62 – Part 1 – Kynect discussion


The Susan Collins Dilemma

A new Buzzfeed article asks why no national resources were invested in trying to challenge Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine this year. Various people offer defenses or condemnations of the decision. But I think it raises bigger philosophical questions in strategic voting and campaigning that apply beyond Maine.

On the one hand, it makes complete sense to ignore this race. It wasn’t particularly close to begin with, she’s one of the more liberal Republicans left in Washington, and she’s very well liked by both Maine voters in general and many of the traditionally Democratic pressure/activist groups.

On the other hand, all those groups (and the national Democratic organizations) should have considered that no matter how much she has supported certain liberal positions, her Republican affiliation means she’ll be making a Republican Senate majority more likely (possibly even becoming the deciding factor), and that in turn means at least 50 far more conservative Senators voting against those issues and controlling the agenda. No matter how many votes she casts for Planned Parenthood, her vote for majority leader automatically outweighs that by a lot. I feel like they haven’t done that obvious math.

This is a good example why I have a problem when left-leaning independents (and some Democrats) say they want to keep an open mind and consider voting for moderate Republicans, even if they would never consider voting for a regular or right-wing Republican candidate. If I accept the premise that she’s moderate or even liberal — and I actually think there’s a lot in her voting record to dispute even that — her re-election alone makes it vastly more likely that a whole battery of extremist policies will be put forward and possibly even pass the Senate, even if she votes against them all. If you don’t support the overall Republican agenda, you can’t vote for their maverick/liberal backbenchers even if a specific candidate has voted or will vote the way you want on your issues, because as long as they support their party’s legislative majority, the mainstream position of the party is what will carry through.

I’m sure someone will now make the “but voting for moderate Republicans will make the party more moderate!” argument here, but I haven’t really seen evidence that it actually works like that in practice. Plus, the so-called moderates like Collins (and a few others) really tend to end up voting for the extreme agenda the vast majority of the time when the heat is on.

If they weren’t supportive of the bulk of the Republican agenda, the candidates wouldn’t be registered as Republicans in the first place — or they would have left the party like Lincoln Chafee or Jim Jeffords or Arlen Specter all did.

And in the end, don’t we want a clear choice between parties, agendas, and directions anyway?