Democrats Projected to Win Senate as Well as House

NBC now projects Webb as the winner in Virginia, meaning the Democrats have won control of the House and Senate, exceeding the expectations of many pundits. Recounts remain possible in close states such as Virginia and Montana, and the official result in Virginia might not be known for weeks. Going into possible recounts leading does give a tremendous advantage to the Democrats.

Update: Allen appears likely to concede if the margin remains as great as at present:

An adviser to Allen, speaking on condition of anonymity because his boss had not formally decided to end the campaign, said the senator wanted to wait until most of canvassing was completed before announcing his decision, possibly as early as Thursday evening.

The adviser said that Allen was disinclined to request a recount if the final vote spread was similar to that of election night.

Posted in Breaking News, Congress. Tags: . 3 Comments »

The Effect of Libertarian Voters

The Economist partially attributes the Republican’s losses to the Libertarian vote:

GLUM Republicans might turn their attention to the Libertarian Party to vent their anger. Libertarians are a generally Republican-leaning constituency, but over the last few years, their discontent has grown plain. It isn’t just the war, which some libertarians supported, but the corruption and insider dealing, and particularly the massive expansion of spending. Mr Bush’s much-vaunted prescription drug benefit for seniors, they fume, has opened up another gaping hole in America’s fiscal situation, while the only issue that really seemed to energise congress was passing special laws to keep a brain-damaged woman on life support.

In two of the seats where control looks likely to switch, Missouri and Montana, the Libertarian party pulled more votes than the Democratic margin of victory. Considerably more, in Montana. If the Libertarian party hadn’t been on the ballot, and the three percent of voters who pulled the “Libertarian” lever had broken only moderately Republican, Mr Burns would now be in office.

The fallacy in their argument is the assumption that without the Libertarian Party on the ballot the majority of these votes would have been won by the Republicans. This misses the point of why the Republicans were repudiated. The Republicans have become the party of big government. Even worse than the “tax and spend” Democrats they attack, the Republicans have been far more harmful in increasing the deficit to feed their addiction to pork. Republican corporate welfare is hardly capitalism, and their merger with the religious right has made them the party of increased government intrusion in individual’s lives. The issues of the Iraq War and corruption, which appear to have motivated voters nation wide, also provide reasons for libertarians to vote against Republicans. While the Republicans have becoming more authoritarian, there has been an increased number of socially liberal and fiscally conservative Democrats who, while certainly not libertarians, are far more libertarian than the Republicans who where thrown out of office.

Beating Expectations and Winning the Scapegoat Game

Today is certainly a better day than the day after the last three elections! Not only did Democrats win where it mattered, at the polls, they also won the last ditch expectations game played by conservatives. It was clear from some pre-election reports that if Democrats did not pick up a substantial number of seats, and take control of both Houses of Congress, this could be spun as a loss due to failing to meet expectations.

At this point there remain some undecided races but it is clear that the Democrats are going to meet expectations with regards to the House. There were a couple of minor surprises going each way, but the Democrats do appear to be picking up the maximum number of seats predicted by those most optimistic about Democratic prospects and are exceeding the average predictions.

The Senate remains undecided, but with Webb in the lead in Virginia the Democrats are in an excellent position. With the prospect of a recount and court battles, the Virginia race is reminiscent of Florida 2000 in many ways. One way not being discussed by the media is the effect of the Green Party. The Green Party candidate, running as an independent, has over 26,000 votes. Without a Green candidate running, most likely Webb would be leading by an insurmountable margin. Granted Webb is far more conservative than the ideal candidate of Green voters, but the real issue isn’t Webb but who controls the Senate. Hopefully the Greens are over their delusion that there isn’t any difference between the parties, or at least see the value in having a Democratic Congress to balance the Executive Branch.

Another battle is over would be the scapegoats. As KJ already reported, Donald Rumsfeld is out. (Jerry Springer will be certainly be bragging over this prediction on Air America all morning tomorrow!) If the Democrats had done poorly, pundits would have speculated that any slight difference could have caused them to fail to meet expectations, such as Kerry’s botched joke on George Bush getting us stuck in Iraq. Instead Kerry deserves credit for campaigning harder than anyone else for fellow Democrats, and the ultimate lesson is that a Republican smear could be overcome. Kerry’s position going into 2008, as well as that of other Democratic Senators, will also be enhanced when they are in the majority and have the ability to influence legislation and gain favorable publicity by leading investigations.

Republicans lost largely due to Iraq and corruption, but Republicans also remain out of step with the country on most issues. They do remain able to win on gay marriage, but otherwise the country is more liberal. Voters supported embryonic stem cell research in Missouri. Around here, in conservative West Michigan, prohibitions on selling alcohol were relaxed, and the area is also sending one more Democrat to the state House, helping the Democrats take control. Even the proposal to restrict lap dancing in Seattle, by forcing dancers to remain four feet away from patrons, went down to defeat.

Rumsfeld Stepping Down as Defense Secretary

George Bush announced the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld today. The Washington Post reports:

“WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, intends to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon, Republican officials said Wednesday.

Word came a day after the Democratic gains in the election, in which Rumsfeld was a focus of much of the criticism of the Iraq war. Officials said Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, would replace Rumsfeld.”

After a couple of google searches, I found some links that might prove useful for anyone looking for information on Robert Gates.

From NPR:
Weekend Edition Saturday, May 18, 2002
Scott Simon talks with former CIA director Robert Gates about the challenge of interpreting and acting on vague terrorist threats.

and from DePauw University News:

“The only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director, and the only intelligence analyst to become director, Robert Gates headed the agency from November 6, 1991 to January 20, 1993, overseeing all foreign intelligence agencies of the United States. Dr. Gates joined the CIA in 1966 and spent nearly twenty seven years as an intelligence professional, serving six presidents. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, serving for different presidents at The White House.”