Kilroy Was Here

ABC News is calling the 15th District here in Ohio for Republican Steve Stivers over incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.  With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Stivers leads Kilroy, 54 percent to 41 percent.

Kilroy, who was swept in to office with the Obama win in 2008, was a faithful proponent of the “health care reform” legislation and the House Democratic agenda.  She was also one of UJ’s favorites.

This is another race where a post mortem would be instructive.  In 2008, Kilroy won with a 2300-vote margin, but there were many more votes cast in 2008 than in 2010.  In fact, Stivers received fewer votes in 2010 than he did in his losing campaign in 2010.  In view of that, you have to wonder how much of Kilroy’s defeat was due to the “enthusiasm gap” and the lack of turnout by her core constituency.

ABC also has called the race in our district, the 12th, and has concluded that Republican Pat Tiberi will be returned to Congress.

Empty Space

One of the bellwether U.S House races in Ohio in this election was District 18, where incumbent Democrat Zack Space faced a stiff challenge from Republican Bob Gibbs.

The 18th is a big, sprawling district just to the east of us, so ads for the race were run on some of the Columbus TV stations.  The negative ads — which was about all we saw — depicted Gibbs as a job-killer who wanted to outsource jobs to China, whereas Space was portrayed as a Nancy Pelosi clone.

The race has now been called in favor of Gibbs, who leads by a surprisingly large 14 percentage point margin with 92 percent of the votes counted.  This race will be well worth reviewing in retrospect, to see what motivated the voters to turn on Space to such an extent.  I suspect that the economy and government spending will be cited by most voters as the key reasons for their decision.

Pundits Galore

We’ve been channel-surfing tonight on this Election Night, flipping between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox.

All of the stations feature pundits, of course, but CNN seems to have an unworkably large number of them. Good Lord!  It’s unbearable!  How many are there, anyway?  They seem to be rotating them in and out, like they are players on a hockey team running two-minute shifts.

I suppose pundits are unavoidable on election nights, but can’t the media outlets pick just one or two whom they think actually have something meaningful to say and just stick with them?

Ohio, The Swing State

As the night progresses, we’ve seen significant swings in the Ohio Governor’s race.  In early returns, Republican John Kasich led, then incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland surged into the lead, and now Kasich has moved into a slight lead.

In Ohio, the issue of where the votes have been counted can be highly significant.  Although Ohio, as a whole, is a swing state, the Buckeye State really is a bunch of enclaves.  When you consider interim statewide results, you must consider whether it is Democratic strongholds that been counted or Republican areas that have been tallied first.

Here in central Ohio, the Stivers-Kilroy case in the 15th District has not been called, although Stivers has a significant lead with more than half of the votes counted.  In our district, the 12th, about a third of the votes have been counted and Republican incumbent Pat Tiberi has a surprisingly small lead over Democratic challenger Paula Brooks.

As of 10:20 p.m. Eastern time, there is still a lot to be decided.

Goodbye, Charlie

In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio is projected to defeat Independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek.

Charlie Crist

I don’t know much about Rubio, but I am glad to see Crist go down to defeat.  Crist lost to Rubio in the Republican primary and promptly decided to run as an Independent.  In my view, Crist’s willingness to say and do anything to try to get elected epitomizes everything that is wrong with American politicians.  Principles obviously meant little to him; his campaign was all about voting for Charlie Crist.  Voters apparently decided they would rather vote for a candidate who stood for something other than his own advancement.

It will be interesting to see how Rubio performs on the national stage.  As a conservative son of Cuban immigrants, he will be the focus of some significant media attention.

Senator Portman

The networks are calling the Ohio U.S. Senate race for Republican Rob Portman over Democrat Lee Fisher.

No surprise there.  Portman has been leading in the polls by wide margins for weeks, and Fisher’s campaign has been pretty much invisible.  Fisher got attention only when he did a curious “24-hours-of-Lee-Fisher” event recently, and that was seen as more of a publicity stunt than anything else.

Portman will replace another Republican, George Voinovich, so the result is not a pick up for the Republicans.  Portman is likely more conservative than Voinovich, but he is not a Tea Party favorite, either.

On the Democrat side, I expect many Ohio Democrats are regretting that they didn’t nominate Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner rather than Fisher.  Brunner is more of a fresh face, whereas Fisher has been in Ohio politics for 30 years — and he didn’t run much of a campaign.

Watching The Returns

For the first time, we at Webner House are trying some live-blogging (not that anyone cares, I imagine).  Kish and I are camped out in front of the TV, channel surfing to watch the returns.  The polls haven’t closed yet in Ohio, but they have closed in several states.

When Richard and I went to vote this morning at about 7 a.m., our polling place was not very busy.  There were people at every station, but Richard and I did not need to wait for more than a few minutes.  Kish went to vote at about 4:45, and there was no real line then, either — although she had to wait for one or two people to finish up.  The Ohio Secretary of State apparently is talking about a light turnout.  The conventional wisdom, I think, would be that that bodes well for the Republicans.

What to watch when the polls close in Ohio?  The Strickland-Kasich race looks like a close one.  Here in central Ohio, we’ll be looking to see whether Steve Stivers can beat Mary Jo Kilroy in the 15th District.  And elsewhere in Ohio, is there really a chance that Dennis Kucinich might lose?

Voting Makes Me Feel Good

In a few minutes Richard and I will go to our polling place and cast our ballots on Election Day 2010.  I’m looking forward to the experience, because voting always makes me feel good.

We will drive down Route 62 to the All Saints Episcopal Church.  We will wait in line with our fellow New Albany residents and prove our identities to the kindly senior citizens who always staff the registration table, then we will sign in, get our voting registration slips, and be escorted to the voting booths.  We will work the touch screens, choose our candidates, and push the green “Vote” button.  Afterward, we will get our “I Voted Today” stickers, and I will feel the familiar, warm feelings I always feel when I have voted.

Why does voting make me feel good?  Part of it is just being proud to be a citizen, to be trusted with having a say in how our country, our state, and our district are governed.  Part of it is feeling personal satisfaction at fulfilling my civic duty.  But a significant part of it, too, is relishing my personal participation in the experience of a fundamental collective activity of the American people.  Today, across this magnificent country of ours, Americans will be quietly going to their neighborhood schools, libraries, and places of worship to exercise their franchise, choose their representatives, and decide whether to authorize taxes or change fundamental policies.  Democrat and Republican, self-proclaimed progressives and Tea Partiers, they all will make their decisions behind the voting booth curtain.

It is awesome and humbling to be a little part of that grand affirmation of the American idea.  That is why voting makes me feel good.

Keeping Track On Election Night

Let’s say you want to celebrate the end of this seemingly interminable mid-term campaign tomorrow night with an adult beverage.  You want to plop yourself down in front of the TV and watch the returns to see if your team is going to win.  You want to know whether the Democrats will hold on to the House and Senate, or whether discontent with the status quo will bring a “wave election” that sweeps Republicans to power.  But with so many congressional seats up for grabs, how will you know which team is doing well and which isn’t?

The New York Times‘ 538 blog has posted an excellent hour-by-hour guide that tracks key races based on the hours in which the polls close in various states.  The guide also tries to predict whether, based on the results, there is evidence of a big Republican wave.  So, for example, the polls will close at 6 p.m. in Indiana and Kentucky.  If you are following the Democrats, you will look to see whether they can win the seats in Indiana’s districts 8 and 9.  If you are hoping to detect a Republican tide, you’ll check out Kentucky district 3, to see whether the Republican candidate who has been trailing the incumbent has been lifted to victory.

In Ohio, where the polls close at 7:30, the guide lists several races that might indicates broader national trends.  For Democrats hoping to hang on to the House of Representatives, it is the 15th, where the polls indicate that incumbent Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy trails Republican challenger Steve Stivers.  For Republicans looking for a big night, it will be Ohio 18, a district just to the east of us, where incumbent Democrat Zach Space is trying to fend of Republican Bob Gibbs.

Our endless electoral campaigns are a pain, but election night TV-watching can be fun — like watching a bunch of football games to see whether you did well in the office pool.

Early Signs

On my morning walks lately I have noticed political yard signs going up.  Nothing odd about that — except that Election Day 2010 is more than six weeks away and in New Albany we have a rule that says that yard signs should not be put up until two weeks or so before the election.

Can we draw any inferences from the early appearance of yard signs?  It probably means that the neighbors who have put up the signs feel especially strongly about the election and want to make their views known early.  In that regard, it may be significant that every yard sign I’ve seen so far is for a Republican candidate.

Pundits and pollsters have been writing for months about a purported “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats as they approach the upcoming election.  We may be seeing evidence of that on the lawns of New Albany.

Two Months And Counting

Election Day 2010 is exactly two months away.  In Ohio, the two races that seem to be receiving the most national attention are the race for the open Senate seat, between Democrat Lee Fisher and Republican Rob Portman, and the contest for Governor, where Republican John Kasich is challenging incumbent Ted Strickland.  The polls indicate that Portman is slightly ahead of Fisher, with somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of the electorate undecided, and that Kasich has a more significant lead over Strickland, with about 10 percent of respondents declaring that they are undecided.

I’m not sure what such polls mean at this point.  I haven’t heard many people talking about these contests or about the individual candidates, their positions on the issues, or their relative merit.  My guess is that political addicts have been focused on these races and polling and fundraising data, but many average people haven’t paid much attention — yet.  When you are dealing with a tough economy and your own issues, why think about an election that is months into the future?

After the Labor Day weekend passes and the barbecue equipment is put aside, the average person will start to pay attention.  (They will be forced to, as the onslaught of political commercials begins.)  People will begin to think about the issues and talk about the races with their friends and colleagues.  During this period, candidates will have the opportunity to reach the undecideds, as they form their opinions about the races.  Given the tough state of the Ohio economy, I think it will be a challenging sell for the Democratic candidates, but time will tell the tale.