By Doug Porter
History repeated itself last night. Going back to Franklin D Roosevelt, where the party of Herbert Hoover picked up seven US Senate seats and eighty-one US House seats, the political party of a second term president usually gets its ass kicked in the final mid-term election of that administration. It happened to Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush.
The most notable exception would be the 1998 midterms elections, where damage to the GOP brand brought about by their failed impeachment attempt, marked first time since 1822 that the party not in control of the White House failed to gain seats in the mid-term election of a President’s second term.
There will be lots of finger-pointing going on today and in the weeks to come. My takeaways are that micro-targeting and millions invested in Get Out The Vote campaigns can’t overcome a weak message. On a national level the Republicans knew what they were against specifically and for in a very general sense; the Democrats failed to tell anybody what they were for, in large part because many of them tried to run against a sitting President from their own party.
From the Cook Political Report (Which has a much longer analysis worth reading):
“You Can’t Win on Turn-out If You Are Losing on Message:” This was a prescient quote made to me from a GOP pollster earlier this fall. Ultimately, Democrats just didn’t/couldn’t convince even their own voters that their vote mattered. Democrats we talked to throughout the year were frustrated that the White House and national Democrats were not able to effectively make the case for a Democratic agenda. Nor were they able to make the economic contrast with Republicans as effectively as Obama was able to do with Romney in 2012. Perhaps no state typifies the “losing on message” narrative like Colorado’s Senate race where exit polls found that Republican Cory Gardner carried the “middle class” (those making between $50,000-$100,000/yr) by 13 points. In 2012, Obama carried these voters by 22 points.
The Republican victories on the national level are not the end of the world, unless you believed the dozens of daily emails from Democratic fundraisers in recent weeks. (How the $25 I contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008 & 2012 could justify more than 1200 messages to just one of my three email accounts is simply beyond me.)
What (Should Be) Democratic Issues Did Well
Massachusetts voters elected a Republican Governor. But they also approved Question 4, joining two other states and 16 cities that have laws mandating paid sick days, up from one state and six cities in 2013.
Ballot measures to raise the minimum wage passed with broad bipartisan support in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota..
From the New York Times:
The wage increase won its biggest margin of victory in Alaska, where it garnered 69 percent of the vote. In Arkansas, it received 65 percent; in Nebraska, 59 percent approved raising the minimum wage, while in South Dakota, the margin was 53 percent.
The proposals differed in their particulars. Alaska would set its minimum wage the highest, with a gradual rise to $9.75 by 2016. Nebraska would go to $9 in 2016, South Dakota to $8.50 in 2015 and Arkansas to $8.50 by 2017. In Alaska and South Dakota, the minimum wage would continue to rise in line with price inflation in following years, which makes an enormous difference in the long term.
San Francisco (77% approval) and Oakland (81.2% approval) voters also voted to increase the minimum wage.
The Bay Area cities diverged over this issue of taxing sugary drinks, however.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco voters rejected a tax on soda and other sugary beverages Tuesday, but voters in Berkeley approved their own version, making the famously liberal bastion the first city in the country to adopt a controversial soda tax.
With 98 percent of the vote counted, 55 percent of San Francisco voters approved
Proposition E, but it needed two-thirds to pass. With 23 percent of the Berkeley vote counted, 73 percent of voters approved Measure D. It needed a simple majority.
Proponents of both measures said sugar is fueling a worldwide obesity epidemic and contributing to a host of diseases, including diabetes, and that a tax on soda would make people think twice about drinking so much of it.
The American Beverage Association spent $9 million on campaigns to oppose San Francisco’s measure, about $19 per eligible voter, and at least $2.1 million — or $27 per eligible voter — against Berkeley’s measure. And the spin, oh my goodness… the proposed taxes were touted as the 1% (who apparently don’t have an obesity problem) taxing the 99%. By the way, some of these spinmeisters are the same folks who wanted you to believe the evidence wasn’t in on smoking just a few years ago.
Speaking of smoking, voters in Alaska and Oregon joined Washington State and Colorado in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana yesterday. Washington DC voters approved legal possession, but not sales, of pot. The congress will get a chance to overturn their wishes when they return for the post-election session.
A measure allowing for the use of medical marijuana in Florida apparently will not reach the 60% threshold needed for approval. Opponents of the measure waged an all-out campaign essentially based on the untrue claim that DUI arrests and accidents had soared in Colorado following legalization in that state.
There were a dozen local ordinances on the ballot in California. A medical MJ measure in Encinitas failed.
What the Republican Congress Will (and Won’t) Do
The first problem they’re going to face is an internal one. The Republican controlled House of Representatives spent a lot of time fighting amongst themselves, and that’s not going to go away simply because there are more of them lurking about. Remember folks, this is the same GOP that required five different rebuttals to the President’s State of the Union Address in 2014.
The urge to stick it to the President was out in full force on election night, with Senator Ted Cruz joyfully predicting the end of just about anything he could think of relating to the past six years.
Cruz and his teahadist friends will have a battle on their hands, as the same party elders who steered the GOP through the primaries backing more “electable” candidates believe their long-term chances are tied to their ability to actually pass, rather than repeal laws.
Items near the top of the GOP agenda will likely be congressional approval for the Keystone XL pipeline, legislation easing regulations on coal, and repealing the medical device tax portion of Obamacare. There are enough Democrats who’ve already indicated a willingness to placate industry lobbyists on these matters to make the GOP leadership look like they’re being bi-partisan in their approach.
While placating the dirty energy industry will likely have no short term consequences (what climate change?), the repeal of the medical device tax is a ticking time bomb.
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that repealing the excise tax would cost $29 billion over the 2013-2022 period. Repealing the tax would undercut health reform in at least two ways. Pay-as-you-go procedures would require Congress to offset the cost of repeal by increasing other taxes or reducing spending; one likely target would be the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that expand health coverage to 27 million more Americans. Also, repealing the tax would encourage efforts to repeal other revenue-raising provisions of the ACA, which in turn would either require still more painful offsets or increase the budget deficit (if Congress failed to offset the cost).
Who needs to actually pass a bill repealing Obamacare when you can cater to the whims of campaign contributors and create a situation where the health insurance mandate becomes a burden on middle class taxpayers?
Another likely area of “bi-partisan cooperation” will be fast tracking the various trade agreements currently being negotiated behind closed doors. The biggest of these deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is the most ambitious trade deal ever attempted by any administration. Due to its scope it will have ramifications effecting nearly every area of economy activity in the US.
Opponents are making dire claims about these impacts ranging from a banning of state-led local purchasing initiatives to an internet regulated by corporate greed. It’d be nice to know if these things are true, or maybe even for elected representatives to debate them. Due to the secrecy (these deals really are difficult to negotiate) involved, Congress is being asked to give a blank check to negotiators; that’s what “fast track” means.
Finally, some observers think a Republican-controlled Congress may open up a pathway towards immigration reform measures that would have been unthinkable in past years. Given the nativist base of many members of the House of Representatives, I think this is a pipe dream. (But I’ve proven been wrong…once, I think….)
What’s more likely to happen is that the President will take his promised executive actions, which will negate the legal sting of being undocumented for three or four million people living in the United States. Given that the legal basis for these executive orders has been unsuccessfully challenged in court in the past, the next move the further right members of Congress can make will be impeachment. I really hope they try.
Beyond those areas, it’s possible that tax reforms not politically possible in past sessions may be negotiable. Just remember, folks, trickle down does not work.
Ultimately the Democrats’ problem is their coalition didn’t vote yesterday. Republicans smart enough to realize that half of their coalition will be dead in 15 years are going to have come up with some actual acts of governance going beyond obstruction.
One final note on the Congress: there seems to be a belief in some circles that the Dems can filibuster and veto their way out of the challenges posed by a GOP controlled legislative branch over the next two years. This is wishful thinking in my view, simply because the corporatist wing of the Democratic party doesn’t want to get punished at the SuperPAC level in 2016. A good example of this kind of retribution is the US Chamber of Commerce’s refusal to fund the 52nd district’sGOP congressional challenger, a certain Carl DeMaio.
Here on the Left Coast
There are two stories about the California statewide results in November 2014 for statewide offices.
1) No Republican has been elected to a statewide office since 2006. Jerry Brown crushed Neel Kashkari’s “new” Republican candidacy. Even the down-ballot races where many newspapers thought it might be possible to endorse their way back to the two party system at the executive level went to the Democrats.
It should be noted, however, that Democrat John Chaing was the only non-Republican to win a majority in San Diego County.
2) The Democrats (probably) lost their “super-majorities” in both the Senate and the Assembly.
By taking Orange County seats Tuesday and one more in LA County’s Antelope Valley from Democrats while defending their members in competitive races, Republicans were able to secure 14 of the 40 Senate seats. The Democrats needed 27 seats for super-majority status.
The picture in the Assembly isn’t so clear as there are some races too close to call. But it doesn’t look good for Dems, who lost three members last year due to criminal indictments.
From the San Fransisco Chronicle:
Steve Maviglio, spokesman for Assembly Democrats, said the caucus was expecting to hold on to 52 seats, the same number it had in 2010. He downplayed the significance of having supermajority.
“In reality, it just makes a lot of procedural issues easier,” Maviglio said.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy propositions (1&2) benefitted from being re-numbered for this election, removing them for the contentious 40-somethings on the ballot. Away from the taint of (mostly) insurance company sponsored attack ads on 45 and 46 (which both lost) the Governor was able to address two long-term problems (water and funding) facing the state.
California voters (even in San Diego County!) did approve Proposition 47. Beyond its immediate effect of freeing as many as 10,000 people incarcerated for minor offenses, the passage of this measure signals a sea change in the electorate’s attitude.
In the two decades since voter approval of California’s Three Strikes Law the state prison population has surged. Now people are realizing incarceration isn’t the solution it was cracked up to be.
From Huffington Post:
Nonviolent felonies like shoplifting and drug possession will be downgraded to misdemeanors under the ballot measure, Proposition 47. As many as 10,000 people could be eligible for early release from state prisons, and it’s expected that courts will annually dispense around 40,000 fewer felony convictions.
The state Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that the new measure will save hundreds of millions of dollars on prisons. That money is to be redirected to education, mental health and addiction services — a novel approach that reformershope will serve as a model in the larger push against mass incarceration.
More to the point, passage of Proposition 47 reflects an implicit admission that the War on Drugs has failed
The San Diego Story
That’s story. As in singular.
All the other races went to the incumbent (or the incumbent’s party, in the case of Chris Cate in District 6)
As in the 52nd Congressional District race. Peters vs. DeMaio. Incumbent vs, Challenger. Corporate cronyist vs political sociopath. It could be weeks before we know who won.
A few hundred votes separate the candidates, with all precincts counted. Except for those pesky late arriving and provisional ballots. The Registrar of Voters has announced that some counts would be updated on Thursday, Nov 6th.
There are 148,000 uncounted ballots countywide; 42,500 of those were cast in the 52nd Congressional District. I saw one estimate saying if they broke down the same as those cast on the day of the election, Peters would win by 192 votes.
The mood was upbeat last night in the Scott Peters suite at the Westin Gaslamp Hotel. Early returns showed the incumbent Democrat within a couple of percentage points of Carl DeMaio’s early lead in mail-in ballots, a much closer race at that point than many expected.
The Congressman made a short speech, thanking his supporters. Words like “good start”, “optimistic” and our “great field work” were bandied about.
After all, “everybody knew” the election day turnout always skews Democratic. Except that it didn’t. DeMaio even had a little surge right at the end to put him back in front.
Peters told the crowd last night that he’d been in eight electoral contests in his political career and that three of them took a week or more to be decided. In the 2012 election, his share of the vote increased by six thousand after the late and provisional ballots were counted.
Carl DeMaio held a press conference early this morning. He seemed cautiously optimistic, saying that he would (as all challengers in contested contests do) be attending a congressional orientation for new members next week. He told the assembled reporters if he were a Democrat, there’d be protesting in the streets over what he’s had to endure during the campaign.
So now we wait. It seems appropriate that San Diegans get just a little more drama to wrap up the Peters vs DeMaio spectacle.
I’ll have more analysis of the elections and what’s likely to happening the future as the week goes on.
PS–Voter turnout in California is reported to have been… 29.5%.
Tweet of the morning:
.@sdchamber must be looking at that $15/hr minimum wage approval in San Francisco and thinking maybe they’ll take a mulligan on $11.50
— Andy Kopp (@andykoppsd) November 5, 2014
(As of 8am, Wednesday Nov 5th)
The first line = State Results by percentages; to see actual statewide vote counts go here.
GOVERNOR-– Jerry Brown (D) 58.7% vs Neel Kashkari (R) 41.3%
County Vote: KASHKARI 250,236, BROWN 249,995
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR— Gavin Newsom (D) 55.9% vs Ron Nehring (R) 44.1%
County Vote: NEHRING, 256,683, NEWSOM 233,553
SECRETARY OF STATE — Alex Padilla (D) 52.5% vs Pete Peterson (R) 47.5%
County Vote: PETERSON 266,482, PADILLA 217,963
CONTROLLER — Betty T. Yee (D) 52.8% vs Ashley Swearengin (R) 47.2%
County Vote: SWEARENGIN 260,883, YEE 220,184
TREASURER — John Chaing (D) 57.7% vs Greg Conlon (R) 42.3%
County Vote: CHIANG 249,564, CONLON 234,568
ATTORNEY GENERAL — Kamala D Harris (D) 56.3% vs Ronald Gold (R) 43.7%
County Vote:: GOLD 254,024, HARRIS -DEM 228,359
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER — Dave Jones (D) 56.3% vs Ted Gaines R 43.7%
County Vote: GAINES 246,680, JONES 231,828
STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION –-Tom Torlakson 52.1% vs Marshall Tuck 47.9%
County Vote: TUCK 225,689, TORLAKSON 179,994
DISTRICT 6 SAN DIEGO CITY COUNCIL
Chris Cate 13,399
Carol Kim 11,155
PROP 1 Water Bond – Yes 66.8% vs No 33.2%
County: YES 331,804, NO 152,536
PROP 2 Rainy Day Budget- Yes 68.7% vs No 31.3%
County: YES 339,833, NO 135,207
PROP 45 Healthcare Insurance Rates Approval -Yes 40.2% vs No 59.8%
County: NO 310,287, YES 173,790
PROP 46 Lawsuit Caps, Drug and Alcohol Testing- Yes 32.9% vs 67.1%
County: NO 346,731, YES 137,352
PROP 47 Reducing Criminal Sentences – Yes 58.5% vs 41.5%
County: YES 266,017, NO 219,165
PROP 48 Indian Gaming Compacts -Yes 39.1% vs No 60.9%
County: NO 283,019, YES 190,678
PROP G City Charter City of Escondido –
NO 11,923, YES 7,048
PROP H Develop Country Club Land City of Escondido –
NO 12,060, YES 7,750
U.S. REP. 49TH DISTRICT
Darrell Issa R 52,186
Dave Peiser (D) 37,840
U.S. REP. 50TH DISTRICT
Duncan Hunter R 75,508
James H. Kimber (D)30,021
U.S. REP. 51ST DISTRICT
Juan Vargas (D) 30,178
Stephen Meade R 14,194
U.S. REP. 52ND DISTRICT
(Contest Result Waiting on Uncounted Ballots)
Carl DeMaio R 72,431
Scott Peters (D) 71,679
U.S. REP. 53RD DISTRICT
Susan A Davis (D) 62,906
Larry A Wilske R 45,771
STATE SENATE-36TH DIST.
Patricia Bates R 44,422
Gary Kephart (D) 29,693
STATE SENATE-38TH DIST.
Joel Anderson R 109,325
Fotios Tsimboukakis (D) 48,014
STATE SENATE-40TH DIST.
Ben Hueso (D) 34,891
Rafael Estrada (D) 29, 108
STATE ASSEMBLY-71ST DIST.
Brian W Jones R 45,453
Tony Teora 16,765
STATE ASSEMBLY-75TH DIST.
Marie Waldron R 37,894
Nicholas Shestople (D) 17,140
STATE ASSEMBLY-76TH DIST.
Rocky Chavez R 44,204
Thomas Krouse R 21,419
STATE ASSEMBLY-77TH DIST.
Brian Maienschein R 63,527
Ruben Hernandez (D) 31,578
STATE ASSEMBLY-78TH DIST.
Toni Atkins (D) 52,915
Barbara Decker R 34,984
STATE ASSEMBLY-79TH DIST.
Shirley Weber (D) 35,522
George Williams (AIP) 22,923
SUPERIOR COURT – Office No. 25
Brad Weinreb 210,152
Ken Gosselin 160,695
SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEE
Maria Neito Senour 83,539
Donna J Woodrum 38,627
SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY COLLEGE TRUSTEE
Peter Zschiesche 73,794
Lan E. Jefferson 42,196
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL TRUSTEE
Kevin Beiser 78,610
Amy C. Redding 46,924
MAYOR CITY OF CHULA VISTA
Mary Salas 14,282
Jerry R. Rindone 13,095
MAYOR CITY OF ESCONDIDO
Sam Abed 12,190
Olga Diaz 6,805
MAYOR CITY OF IMPERIAL BEACH
Jim Janney 1,630
Serge Dedina 1,597
MAYOR CITY OF LA MESA
Mark Arapostathis 6,017
Art Madrid 4,200
MAYOR CITY OF NATIONAL CITY
RON MORRISON – 3,278
LUIS NATIVIDAD – 1,337
On This Day:1872 – Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for attempting to vote in the presidential election. She never paid the fine. 1916 – In Everett, Wash.at least seven Wobblies killed, 50 wounded and an indeterminate number missing 1998 – Scientists published a genetic study that showed strong evidence that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child (Eston Hemings) of his slave, Sally Hemings.
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