Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

As you know, we still have three Senate races yet to be determined, one of which, GA-Sen, will be decided in a run-off on December 2nd and the other two, MN-Sen & AK-Sen, in which the votes are still being counted. If all three races break the Democrats' way AND Joe Lieberman remains in the Dem caucus -- granted, that's a lot of "If's", we will indeed secure the magic 60 votes in the Senate.

Here are some updates on where the races stand including some reasons for hope for Begich and Franken.

AK-Sen: Mark Begich is currently behind Sen. Ted Stevens by 3,257 votes (link.) According to Nate Silver, there are as many as 75,000 ballots yet to be counted including 9,500 early votes, more than 50,000 vote by mail absentee votes and about 18,000 "questioned" ballots. The good news for Begich, according to Nate, is that so far Begich has won about 60% of the early vote. Nate concludes that if the remaining early votes break for Begich by the same margin and if you give Begich just 53% of the outstanding absentee ballots (which are, after all, just early votes that were mailed in) Begich would net over 6,000 votes, more than enough to win the race. The big question mark here is how those absentee ballots are going to go.

Consider another method. If you look at the current CNN vote tally, you see it is behind the Alaska Board of Elections tally by 582 votes, which went to Begich over Stevens 339-243. Let's say for the sake of argument that this updated tally was a representative sample of how the count from here on in will proceed (Begich winning 58% of outstanding votes cast for the two major party candidates.) In this case, it will take just under 20,000 votes for Begich to catch up to Stevens (out of a total 75,000 votes that have yet to be counted.)

MN-Sen: If you've been following the slow Minnesota Senate vote count, you know that Franken has closed to within 221 votes of Norm Coleman (link) even before an automatic recount is set to begin. Franken has cut Coleman's lead in half since Thursday. Without a sense of how many votes are still yet to be counted, it's hard to tell whether we can expect this trend to continue but there may be some reason for optimism when it comes to the upcoming inevitable recount.

As you probably know, Coleman has already declared victory and essentially called on Franken to concede. Now, as Josh Marshall puts it, Coleman is becoming increasingly "squirrelly," shouting "voter fraud!"having tried (and failed) to stop the count of absentee ballots and assembling a legal team on the ground worthy of Florida in 2000.

Why? While the Coleman team has tried to create an aura of inevitability by asserting that a recount is unlikely to yield a shift in votes since they have an optical scan system and not a punch card system, that's not actually an accurate analysis of what's likely to happen in a recount at all. First of all, as John Chait reminds us, recounts of optical scan ballots actually produce a high percentage of new votes because the intent of the voter is often clearly discernible in the under- (and even over-) votes. Not only that but The AP tells us why Coleman should indeed be afraid, very afraid, of what that recount might unearth:

An Associated Press analysis of the nearly 25,000-vote difference in Minnesota presidential and U.S. Senate race tallies shows that most ballots lacking a recorded Senate vote were cast in counties won by Democrat Barack Obama. [...]

Ballots that showed a presidential vote but no Senate vote are called the "undervote." Statewide, more than 18,000 of those ballots came from counties won by Obama with more than half the vote. About 6,100 were in counties won by Republican John McCain with at least 50 percent.

In addition:

There's one more critical statistic: About 8,900 people weren't recorded as voting for president, according to county-by-county turnout estimates kept by the Secretary of State's Office.

That nearly 9,000 people would skip the closely watched race is questionable, raising the possibility that as many as 33,700 ballots might be subject to change in a hand recount.

I like those odds and Coleman's actions of late seem to indicate that he doesn't.

GA-Sen: And as for Jim Martin's attempt to unseat Saxby Chambliss in the Dec. 2nd run-off, while a final result has yet to be certified, the run-off campaign is engaged. Martin is already up on the air with an ad that casts him as Barack Obama's partner in change and Freedom's Watch is spending half a million dollars to attack Martin. In addition, according to one source, Team Obama is aiding Martin in a more concrete and direct way:

...president-elect Barack Obama has reportedly dispatched all of his Ohio staffers to the Peach State to help Democrat Jim Martin knock off incumbent GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

"We're setting up our entire field team again," said one emboldened Obama staffer in Ohio. "I'm coming to Georgia and bringing several hundred of my friends with me."

...and looks like Chambliss will be getting some support from the vanquished winner of Georgia's EVs:

John McCain will be campaigning for Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in the all-but-assured runoff against Democrat Jim Martin next month, according to Chambliss' campaign.

Chambliss spokeswoman Michelle Grasso said that McCain has committed to campaign for his Senate colleague, though no date has yet been scheduled.

All three candidates need our continued support, so please give them some love at our Road To 60 ActBlue page.

Tags: AK-Sen, GA-Sen, MN-Sen (all tags)

Comments

28 Comments

Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

Reading blogs like Powerline, I find it hilarious to watch wingnuts making the exact same knee-jerk "stolen election" arguments that they mocked liberals for in past years.  They just know in their hearts that the DFL is engaging in all sorts of shenanigans on behalf of Al Franken, and never mind that their posts read like a cut-and-paste from the BradBlog with the party identifiers reversed.

It was funny in the Washington governor's race in 2004 and it's still incredibly funny today.  They have no sense of self-awareness whatsoever.

by Steve M 2008-11-08 01:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

On what basis are they making that argument?

by bruh3 2008-11-08 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

Various precincts have found discrepancies in their reported vote totals that favor Franken when corrected, and no answers have been provided as yet to Powerline's list of 20 questions about who knew what and when they knew it, so there must be a stolen election in progress.  Also, the Secretary of State is a Democrat who was elected with the help of the liberal Secretary of State Project, so therefore he must be a fraudster, as opposed to an impartial public servant like Ken Blackwell.

by Steve M 2008-11-08 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

okay so just tinfoil stuff. Cool.

by bruh3 2008-11-08 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

What is the counting schedule in Alaska?  I saw somewhere that Sarah Palin changed her mind and now doesn't think Stevens should resign.  Actually if he does win - it might be better to keep him in the Senate than to give her an opening to take the seat.

by NYMARJ 2008-11-08 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

From mid nov til mid dec

by bruh3 2008-11-08 02:57PM | 0 recs
agreed I've been saying 59 +/-1

I think GA would be very hard, so I gave it to the repugs (play devils advocate, I would like to be proven wrong).  The +/- 1 is for Liberman. Odds are Joementum will stay despite his protest of being stripped of his Homeland Security Chairmanship. Repugs have few to none in terms of chairmanship spots to give him, what Repug would want to give their minority chair spot to a Dem who votes against most of their issues. The most Joe will get from the repugs is a subcommittee minor leader position. It would defy logic to take a sub committee minority leadership spot on a over a chairmanship spot on a subcommittee with Dems. But Joe I'm sure will fine away to defy logic.

Along with Joe's decision to caucus with repugs comes a reduction in his staffing, reduction in operating funds, office size and other perks that go along with being in the majority.

Odds are Joe will caucus with Dems despite his hissyfits of not getting the Chairman's gavel of the Homeland security committee which I'm sure he would use to hit Pres Obama over the head with  any chance he gets.

No Joe! Noway, No how, Never.

by FLS 2008-11-08 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: agreed I've been saying 59 +/-1

Joe merely caucusing with us is not enough. He needs to vote the same way. Good luck convincing him to vote with us related to anything on the middle east.

by Pravin 2008-11-09 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: agreed I've been saying 59 +/-1

foreign policy is mainly the domain of the Pres. I don't really care if Joe stays or goes. If he's stays it should be without a chairmanship.

by FLS 2008-11-10 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

I met Jim Martin today at the Cobb County Democratic breakfast.  He was as fired up as the crowd (which is saying something) and is determined to run as President-elect Obama's partner despite Obama's loss to McCain here.  Martin's calcululation is that the Repubs are dispirited, and Chambliss will lose far more of his Nov. 4th votes than he IF the Martin campaign can remuster the Obama energy.  

An Obama visit to GA is critical to that strategy - indeed, I would go so far and say that the President-elect's presence is the ball game.

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-08 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

While I would love to see Saxby Chambliss ousted, I doubt that an Obama visit will happen.  For 98% of the country, the election is over and Obama has stated he wants to reach across the aisle.  For him to appear partisan while he is trying to get everybody behind him is a tough task.  

Sending surrogates might help, perhaps even Biden, but I just can't see the President-elect interjecting himself in a state that he lost.  

by flatblade 2008-11-08 03:36PM | 0 recs
Clinton and Bush

Both appeared on behalf of candidates following their election, so why shouldn't Obama?

I don't think it's at all important that Obama appear nonpartisan, but whatever importance is assigned to that appearance, it can't possibly be more important than the reality of having another Democratic vote in the Senate for the next SIX YEARS.

Not to mention that Georgia could do with Democratic leadership like Jim Martin going into the 2010 election.

by Drew 2008-11-08 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Georgia & Jujutsu

It looks to me like the major theme that prevented 60 was the Republican argument that it was dangerous to have one party control both the White House and the Congress.  

I assume that Georgia's economy is taking a beating too. That there is massive uncertainly about the future and hope that Obama's leadership will get us out of the mess.  Quickly.

Using the assumption that the Republicans will use the fear card, I would suggest a variation: Fear and Greed.

I think that Martin should nuance his campaign on the known that Chambliss will Oppose Obama.  A theme of a vote for Chambliss will jeopardize the Economic Recovery can be developed.  

Make the voters realize that their own self interest at stake. Force them to look at what is their self interest (the greed part) and what they risk if they blindly follow the Republican banner (the fear part).  

By not having one Party clearly in charge during this crisis, they are screwing themselves.

Use clear language about the economy, use the words 'October Crash' and don't sugar coat it.  Use the word 'Depression' to get their attention.  Make it Clear that Chambliss was an enabler of the Bush policies leading to Economic Ruin.

Sidebar: This guy (Chambliss) is clearly in favor of negative campaigning, Obama used negative campaigning in conjunction with positive campaigning and McCain's exclusive use of negative campaigning gave the public impression of a positive campaign.  I'm betting that Chambliss will go exclusively negative.

by NvDem 2008-11-09 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

looks like good odds. Alaskans who voted absentee may be less willing to vote for a criminal, if that means they travel some.  Seems to me that that one's the longest shot.  Good reporting.

by anna shane 2008-11-08 03:11PM | 0 recs
What's so important about 60?

Obviously, the more Dems in the Senate, the better. However, is 60 Senators in the Democratic caucus really a magic number?

A majority (51, including the VP) is crucial for committee assignments, moving legislation, and a whole host of procedural reasons; a vote for a Republican majority is a vote against all progressive legislation. In that sense, the idea of a "moderate Republican" is a farce. However, 60 is only relevant for filibusters, which occur on individual votes. I haven't done any research, but do those votes really occur on party lines? How often does either caucus hold together perfectly on individual votes?

This breaks both ways: progressives surely can't count on Lieberman on foreign policy and military votes no matter which caucus he's in, but will Senators Specter, Snowe, and Collins vote, for example, to filibuster President Obama's judicial nominees, particularly if President Obama remains popular in their blue states?

There may be something I'm missing, but it seems to me that 60 just a ballpark target needed for each individual vote but not the caucus.

by alex hill 2008-11-08 03:14PM | 0 recs
Part of the breakdown

In the Senate, nothing really moves forward unless there are 60 in favor of not filibustering.  Otherwise a coordinated super minority (41) can stop any legislation dead before it starts.

This is why Employee Free Choice is DOA. The Senate won't get 60 to move it forward.  The same can be said of any part of the Economic Recovery that the Republicans find distasteful.  

OR they'll not filibuster if something they like is put in, which will dilute the impact of the legislation and put us back into compromise mode.  We did it to them for two years ('04-'06), trust me, they were taking notes.  

Add the Gentlemen's agreements that make the filibuster less painful and inconvenient, and you get a lot of nothing moving.  Personally, I think that Harry needs to start yanking out the cots every time they even think of it.  Wear them down and show Democratic Party determination to fix this mess. (With the added benefit of putting the Republican Party in a bad light in times of Crisis).

by NvDem 2008-11-09 06:21AM | 0 recs
There's always the nuclear option

Get rid of the filibuster rule, if necessary.

It's also much harder to make the threat of a credible filibuster when 58/59 senators are members of your caucus.

60 itself is impossible because (1) you can't count on Lieberman for healthcare without the insurance companies (Medicare for everyone, the only universal form that isn't too expensive to implement), and (2) foreign policy issues.

Finally, you peel off Democratic votes (Bacchus [sp?] with real tax reform that attacks primarily corporate tax loopholes, etc., much less reversing deregulation of the financial services industry.

But we might have a majority on these issues if not a supermajority.

Much depends on Obama's vision, the effectiveness of his leadership, courage, and his ability to mobilize popular support of such, objectively rather modest, reforms.

by Reptile 2008-11-09 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

Well one other bit of good news, although I just read this elsewhere, is that the Alaska Dems focused on getting out the early vote so that also would seem to favor us.

by bruh3 2008-11-08 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

How many of the early votes were made before Stevens was convicted?  

I do believe that this will end up being a Democratic win, but I am not going to bet the house on it.

by flatblade 2008-11-08 03:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

Well my thought process is that if one side is doing GOTV to get out their votes early, then that favors us. I don't know the answer to your question. I just know in VA that's how Webb was able to win over Allen. He got out the vote in absentees and early voting.

by bruh3 2008-11-08 04:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

The new Democratic controlled Senate should refuse to seat the scumbag Stevens

by hddun2008 2008-11-08 05:11PM | 0 recs
And then....

Governor Palin gets to appoint the new Senator, Sarah Palin!

They can't refuse to seat him, if he's elected, but they can expel him immediately.

by NvDem 2008-11-09 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

Regarding the Minnesota election:  The votes have been cast.  Apparently the 32 Absentee Ballots were late arrivers that weren't opened on Election Day.  If it can't be proven that they have weren't tampered with, I don't believe they should be counted, either.

The adjustments in the numbers between Election Night and now is merely a "light of day" recanvass of the votes.  So far, the three largest errors uncovered have benefitted Franken.  Two were providing the wrong number of votes (both off by 100) when phoning in the results, and one was the failure of a small town to report their results on Election Day.  

I am waiting for a "transposition error"--for example calling in 15,303 when the actual vote total was 15,033.  It could happen for or against either candidate.  

Finally, the number of scanning errors is questionable.  I have heard numbers like .2%, which would be about 2900 ballots.  Also, the undervote is pegged at about 25,000.  Most, but not all, of those votes are probably where the Senate contest was left blank.  The campaign was highly negative and many people were turned off by both candidates, as evidenced by the 15% that Barkley received.

It is far to early for Franken to claim victory, but it is also too early for Coleman to claim re-election.  If the numbers don't change much in the rest of the official canvass, I would think that Franken's odds of gaining 222 votes is about 40%.  

by flatblade 2008-11-08 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

You want someone to prove a negative? The standard is the correctone. If the seals, as I undersatnd it, havent been open that should be sufficent. Your standard is an impossible one to ever prove. That someone didn't tmper with it.

by bruh3 2008-11-08 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

The complaint against the 29 absentee ballots was dismissed.

by lojasmo 2008-11-09 04:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Road To 60: Not Dead Yet

It is continuing sorry state of affairs for McCain. He is just keeps getting lower and lower in prestige and character. How can a guy who spent 5 years in a POW camp support Chambliss the scumbag who in 2002, ran the biggest lies in Senate history when he ran against Max Cleland the disabled vet who lost his arm and 2 legs in Vietnam? How can McCain even consider helping that jerk?--McCain is NUTS. I no longer have any sympathy for him. I am beginning to believe those stories about his "accident" on the USS Forrestal which killed 29 of his fellow Navy shipmates and deckcrew in 1965.

by hddun2008 2008-11-08 05:10PM | 0 recs
Frozen Banana Republic

I would like to see the Alaska irregularities getting more play than they have so far.  A stunningly depressed turnout, massive pro-incumbent Election Hour swings from the polls, turnout numbers that don't add up...it all stinks like a dead flounder in Dutch Harbor.  If Obama is sending his field staff to Georgia, he should be sending his lawyers to Alaska.

A good place to start reading is with Shannyn Moore.

by ogondai 2008-11-08 07:15PM | 0 recs
I don't get why he should be afraid.

Look, so what if they voted for Obama but the vote did not register for Franken?

I hate Coleman but also dislike Franken and oppose third parties on principle. The only reason I voted for Franken was my seething desire for revenge on Republicans. If someone doesn't have that seething hate for them then you can easily imagine them leaving the oval blank.

Look, anecdotes are worth a bucket of warm spit but since we don't know anything about how those ballots broke down, my version is as plausible as yours.

by MNPundit 2008-11-09 05:24PM | 0 recs

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