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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
Number of posts: 44,384

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'Instead it was result of the GOP’s triumph ... of corporate money & voter suppression.'


Corporate Triumphs, Progressive Victories and the Roadmap for a Democratic Revival
November 5, 2014
by Peter Dreier

Tuesday’s Republican wave of election victories did not reflect public opinion or the public mood. Instead it was the result of the GOP’s triumph in changing the rules of democracy to favor big business and conservative interest groups, including the triumphs of corporate money and voter suppression. But while Democrat candidates were going down to defeat, liberals and progressive won some impressive but little-publicized victories on important issues — including minimum wage hikes — especially in red and purple states, suggesting that voters are not as conservative as the pundits are pontificating. One of the most significant victories occurred in Richmond, California, where progressives defeated a slate funded by Chevron, the nation’s third largest corporation, which poured at least $3 million (about $150 for each likely voter) into this municipal election in this working class Bay Area city of 105,000 people.

- snip -

Plutocratic Political Gains

These progressive victories are impressive, but they don’t offset the huge GOP triumphs around the country. Democrats knew they had an uphill fight. Among the 36 Senate races, 21 were seats held by Democrats, including six in states that Mitt Romney won in 2012. Five factors, in particular, contributed to Tuesday’s GOP gains. It was a victory for plutocracy and profit over democracy, a triumph for the super-rich and Republicans who changed the rules to favor their own interests.

Big Money. Donors spent more than $4 billion in this midterm election. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, this was the most expensive midterm election in American history. This was a triumph for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and McCutcheon rulings that permitted unlimited money to buy elections. The biggest donors, billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, poured “dark money” — hidden from public scrutiny by arcane campaign finance laws — into key races that certainly helped elect Republicans. Karl Rove’s Crossroads organizations and the US Chamber of Commerce spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help elect conservative Republicans in the House, Senate and governors races. We may never know the full extent of the billionaires’ bankroll, especially in key battleground Senate races where they targeted much of their war chest. The Republicans increase in Senate seats – from 45 to at least 52 – depended on outspending Democrats by a wide margin in those key races in where Republicans captured seats held by Democrats in Colorado, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia. Three incumbent Democratic senators – Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Udall of Colorado – lost their seats.

As the Center for Responsive Politics reported a week before the election, “outside groups, which are overwhelmingly fueled by large donors, are picking up more of the tab” of election costs, increasingly by funding issue ads and funneling money to shadowy so-called “social welfare” organizations that can hide their donations but focus most of their money to help Republican candidates.

Voter Suppression and Low Turnout among Democratic-leaning voters. Midterm elections always see much lower turnout than in presidential years. On Tuesday, less than 40 percent of American voters went to the polls, and the ones who voted hardly reflected the American people. The midterm electorate was much whiter, wealthier and more elderly than the voters in 2012 or even those in the last midterm election four years ago. As Bloomberg News reported, “Those 65 and older represented a quarter of the national electorate, up from 21 percent four years earlier.” This demographic debacle was compounded by Republican efforts to suppress the vote of African-Americans, Latinos, young people and the poor. These groups voted in significantly smaller numbers this year than they did two years ago. This was the first election since the Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act and many states – particularly those with a large number of eligible African-American voters — adopted laws making it more difficult to vote, aimed at reducing turnout by these Democratic constituencies.

Gerrymandering. After the 2010 Census, Republicans succeeded in redrawing House districts to favor their party, creating increasingly “safe” districts for GOP candidates. The GOP’s control of the majority of state legislatures and governors’s offices gave them an advantage that made it possible to redraw the districts to their liking. In 2012, Democrats won 1.3 million more votes than Republican in all 435 House race – 59.6 million and 58.2 million. In other words, Democrats won 55 percent of the two-party vote but GOP candidates won 54 percent of the 435 House seats. In Pennsylvania, for example, Democrats won 83,000 more votes than Republicans, but Republicans won 13 seats and Democrats won 5 seats. On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Republicans increased their margin to 14 seats. Nationwide, the GOP widened their congressional majority to by at least another 8 seats to 243. This was more a reflection of partisan mapmaking than voter preferences.


How Much Difference Did New Voting Restrictions Make in Yesterday’s Close Races? Apparently A LOT.


"margin of victory came very close to the likely margin of disenfranchisement."

How Much of a Difference Did New Voting Restrictions Make in Yesterday’s Close Races?

November 5, 2014
by Wendy R. Weiser

This post first appeared at Brennan Center for Justice.

The Republican electoral sweep in yesterday’s elections has put an end to speculation over whether new laws making it harder to vote in 21 states would help determine control of the Senate this year. But while we can breathe a sigh of relief that the electoral outcomes won’t be mired in litigation, a quick look at the numbers shows that in several key races, the margin of victory came very close to the likely margin of disenfranchisement.

North Carolina

In the North Carolina Senate race, state house speaker Thom Tillis beat Senator Kay Hagen by a margin of 1.7 percent, or about 48,000 votes.

At the same time, North Carolina’s voters were, for the first time, voting under one of the harshest new election laws in the country — a law that Tillis helped to craft. Among other changes, the law slashed seven early voting days, eliminated same-day registration and prohibited voting outside a voter’s home precinct — all forms of voting especially popular among African-Americans. While it is too early to assess the impact of the law this year, the Election Protection hotline and other voter protection volunteers reported what appeared to be widespread problems both with voter registrations and with voters being told they were in the wrong precinct yesterday.

Some numbers from recent elections suggest that the magnitude of the problem may not be far from the margin of victory: In the last midterms in 2010, 200,000 voters cast ballots during the early voting days now cut, according to a recent court decision. In 2012, 700,000 voted during those days, including more than a quarter of all African-Americans who voted that year. In 2012, 100,000 North Carolinians, almost one-third of whom were African-American, voted using same-day registration, which was not available this year. And 7,500 voters cast their ballots outside of their home precincts that year.


In the Kansas governor’s race, Governor Sam Brownback beat back challenger Paul Davis by a margin of 2.8 percent, or less than 33,000 votes.

But Kansans faced two new voting restrictions this year — a strict photo ID law that was put into effect right before the 2012 election, and a new documentary proof of citizenship requirement for voter registration.

What was the impact this year? We know from the Kansas secretary of state that more than 24,000 Kansans tried to register this year but their registrations were held in “suspense” because they failed to present the documentary proof of citizenship now required by state law. And while we do not yet have the data regarding the impact of the voter ID requirement this year, a recent study by the independent Government Accountability Office found that Kansas’s voter ID law reduced turnout by approximately 2 percent in 2012. (GAO also found that Tennessee’s new law reduced turnout by up to 3 percent.) If the law’s effect was similar this year, it would mean that turnout was about 17,000 voters lower than it otherwise would have been. And keep in mind that the number of Americans that don’t have government-issued photo IDs that would be accepted under new laws is closer to 11 percent. In short, the margin of victory in Kansas looks perilously close to the margin of disenfranchisement.


TPM: The 2014 Electorate Was Really Old


Dylan Scott TPMLivewire
CHART: The 2014 Electorate Was Really, Really Old
11/5/2014 11:14 AM EST

Older voters helped propel Republicans to sweeping victories Tuesday in Senate and gubernatorial races nationwide, according to exit polls from NBC News.

The disparity between the under-30 and over-60 was the widest it's been in a decade, those polls found. The seniors comprised 37 percent of the electorate; young people made up 12 percent.

2014 the First True Post-Citizens United Election

Yes, the original decision was made in January of 2010, and so affected the elections that year and in 2012, etc., however, many subsequent Citizens United-related decisions came later. It wasn't until this year that the Supreme Court reversed a ruling of the DC District Court's dismissal of McCutcheon v. FEC, striking down aggregate limits.

And it has taken a few years of the learning curve to figure the most effective ways to take advantage of the changes.

Study: Citizens United elected more Republicans


By Reid Wilson August 28
The 2010 Supreme Court decision that helped usher in a new era of political spending gave Republicans a measurable advantage on Election Day, according to a new study.

The advantage isn’t large, but it is statistically significant: The researchers found the ruling, in Citizens United v. FEC, was associated with a six percentage-point increase in the likelihood that a Republican candidate would win a state legislative race.

And in six of the most affected states — Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee — the probability that a Republican would be elected to a state legislative seat increased by 10 percentage points or more.

In five other states — Colorado, Iowa, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming — Republican candidates were seven percentage points more likely to win.

The SCOTUS minority dissent, read from the bench, in part, by Justice Stevens back in 2010, argued that the Court's ruling "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution... A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold."

Citizens United, voter ID laws, election law re-engineering, gerrymandering, these are all policy tactics being used by a right-wing that long ago figured out that they could not win on a level playing field overall.


Ballot Measures: Oregon, DC Voters OK Use of Pot

Source: Associated Press

Ballot measures: Oregon, DC voters OK use of pot

NOV. 5, 2014 12:16 AM EST

NEW YORK (AP) — Voters in Oregon and the District of Columbia approved ballot measures Tuesday allowing the use of marijuana by adults, elating legalization activists who hope to extend their winning streak across the country.

Oregon will join the company of Colorado and Washington state, where voters approved the recreational use of pot two years ago. And the District of Columbia is on the same path unless Congress, which has review power, blocks the move.

Still to come were results from Alaska, which also had a marijuana-legalization measure on its ballot Tuesday.

Other volatile issues on state ballots include gambling and abortion. Two competing measures in Washington state gave voters a choice on whether to expand background checks for gun sales.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4d1839d90a414c1caac7dbc0be1a5666/pot-guns-gambling-among-ballot-measure-topics

BREAKING: GOP Joni Ernst Wins Election to U.S. Senate in Iowa

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: GOP Joni Ernst wins election to the U.S. Senate in Iowa. @AP race call at 11:37 p.m. EST. #Election2014 #APracecall


Read more: Link to source

GOP Thom Tillis wins election to the U.S. Senate in North Carolina (Defeats Dem Incumbent Hagan)

Source: Associated Press / Reuters

@AP: BREAKING: GOP Thom Tillis wins election to the U.S. Senate in North Carolina. @AP race call at 11:25 p.m. EST. #Election2014 #APracecall

Republican Thom Tillis wins U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina: CBS projects

Tue Nov 4, 2014 11:39pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Thom Tillis has unseated U.S. Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina, CBS projected on Tuesday, claiming an important prize for Republicans as they gained control of the Senate.

In the most expensive race in the country, Tillis, 54, the speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, painted Hagan as a rubber stamp for unpopular President Barack Obama.

Hagan, a first-term Democratic incumbent, criticized the North Carolina Legislature’s rightward shift under Tillis.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN0IP0E620141105

CBS: PROJECTION: Repub. David Perdue takes Senate race in Georgia, defeating Dem. Michelle Nunn

Source: CBS News / NBC News

@CBSNews: RT @CBSPolitics: PROJECTION: Republican David Perdue takes the Senate race in Georgia, defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn http://t.co/QYQOzSVrmq/s/l5Wr

@cnnbrk: CNN projects Republican David Perdue beats Michelle Nunn to win Georgia U.S. Senate seat. http://t.co/YksT4dkTcq/s/f3yF #CNNElection

Read more: http://www.nbcneb.com/home/headlines/Results-Nebraska-Voters-to-Decide-Next-Governor-281541011.html

AP declares Gov. Rick Scott (R) the winner in Florida over Democrat Charlie Crist

Source: Associated Press

@GregMitch: RT @jamiedupree: AP declares Gov. Rick Scott (R) the winner in Florida over Democrat Charlie Crist

Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott won re-election over former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Full Florida election results | Interactive election results map

Polls in recent weeks showed Scott and Crist in a virtual dead heat. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll Monday showed Crist had 42 percent of the vote to Scott's 41 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie had 7 percent with 9 percent undecided.

The margin of error on the poll was 3.4 percentage points.

The two candidates focused on Central Florida in their final push for votes Monday.

Read more: http://www.wesh.com/politics/florida-republican-gov-rick-scott-wins-reelection-over-former-gov-charlie-crist/29522108

Dem Al Franken wins re-election to the U.S. Senate in Minnesota

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: Dem Al Franken wins election to the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. @AP race call at 9:41 p.m. EST. #Election2014 #APracecall

Sen. Al Franken wins re-election in Minnesota, according to Associated Press

November 04, 2014 - 9:02 PM

U.S. Sen. Al Franken has won re-election, according to the Associated Press, which based its analysis on exit poll results.

Early voting results, with about 4 percent of precincts reporting, showed Franken jumping out to a 7-point lead over Republican Mike McFadden.

The early results mirrored results of many recent polls that showed Franken with a comfortable magin.

A number of other national news organizations were projecting that Franken would hold onto his seat, based on exit poll analysis.

Read more: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/281516701.html
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