Kenya's Constitutional Referendum: US Healthcare Debate Deja vu?

Arguably the biggest news story for the past year in the United States was Healthcare Reform and everything that went with it.  Yes, we are all too familiar with all that this subject entails so I feel no need to provide background information.  

In Kenya, the country is undergoing a similar divide style debate for a referendum on a proposed new Constitution.  The country has established a Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review to outline the major bullet points of the Constitution.  Kenya is in need of a new Constitution, and if this weren't clear enough ... look back on the 2007 election violence that took the lives of thousands of people, and lasted for several months.  

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Why are people scared of McCain?

I wrote a draft of this post yesterday, before the NYT story broke, only to have it lost.  But I wanted to engage with the MyDD community on this question regardless.  Why are so many people scared of McCain?  He seems to me to be an astonishingly weak candidate, for the following reasons.  Some of these are predicated on a McCain versus Obama race, but all but two I think apply equally if Clinton manages to turn things around.  

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Uneventful Legislative Year May Be Prelude to Exciting 2008

In 2007, Project Vote tracked 485 election bills in 24 states, some of them appearing to promise a consequential impact on voting rights. Bills ranged from good--Election Day Registration and felon voting rights restoration, to bad--voter ID, and everything in between. Few of the bills, however, made it beyond one chamber, making the 2007 legislative year an uneventful one. But it was a preview of what we can expect from the 2008 legislative sessions: an abundance of election bills expanding (or restricting) voter access in a presidential election year.

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Who Got It Right on Election Day 2007?

Yesterday I predicted that Steve Beshear would beat Ernie Fletcher by a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, which as it turned out was a net six-tenths of a percent off the mark from the final tally. How did I come up with that guestimation? By examining the long-term and short-term averages of all of the public polling on the race.

Looking in-depth into all of those polls, which individual pollster performed the best? Who nailed the race? Though you might not have guessed it if you listened to the Beltway pundits and establishment types who have showered robo-pollsters with little other than derision over the years, the outfit that outshone its competitors in the Kentucky gubernatorial race was SurveyUSA. Take a look at this chart:

(R)(D)
Fletcher/
Rudolph
Beshear/
Mongiardo
Margin
SurveyUSA
11/2-4
3959D+20
Insider Advantage
(prediction)
4456D+12
Rasmussen Reports
11/1
3954D+15
Bluegrass Poll
10/26-29
3356D+23
Research 2000
10/22-24
4055D+15
Actual Results41.358.7D+17.4

So which pollster came closes to making the right prediction in this race, both in terms of margin and final spread? SurveyUSA, Rasmussen Reports and Research 2000 were all about the same amount off in the final spread (with the latter two coming 2.4 points under and the former coming 2.6 points over). But in terms of getting the exact performance of the individual candidates, SurveyUSA blew its competition out of the water, missing by a combined 2.6 points. By comparison, the next closes pollster in this regard, Research 2000, was off by a combined 5.0 points -- not by any means bad (in fact very good as these things come), but not nearly as close as SurveyUSA.

The purpose of this comparison is less about stoking the egos of the folks at SurveyUSA as it is about sending a message to some of the folks in the Beltway who disregard SurveyUSA and other pollsters who use automated rather than live interviewers that this relatively new method does work -- and at a significantly lower cost than the more traditional methods of polling. Roll Call seems to get it, contracting with SurveyUSA to poll the most competitive Senate races around the country this cycle. But to those who are still kneejerkedly skeptical about SurveyUSA and other automated pollsters, it seems that the time is now to start rethinking those sentiments.

Election Results Thread

In the results out of Kentucky -- with 2,307 (65.1%) of 3,543 precincts reporting -- the Democratic slate for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Steve Beshear and Dan Mongiardo, leads the Republican slate of Ernie Fletcher and Robbie Rudolph by a 60.5% to 39.5% margin according to unofficial results provided by the Kentucky State Board of Elections. More results as they come in...

Update [2007-11-6 19:2:45 by Todd Beeton]: From WaPo, here's a rundown of the 9 most competitive Virgina state senate seats. Democrats need a net gain (i.e. R seats switching to D) of 4 seats to win control of the senate. (* = incumbent.)

District 1: John C. Miller (D), Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall (R)

District 6: Ralph S. Northam (D), D. Nick Rerras* (R)

District 27: Donald C. Marro (I), Karen Schultz (D), Jill Holtzman Vogel (R)

District 29: Charles J. Colgan* (D), Robert Fitzsimmonds (R)

District 28: Albert Pollard (D), Richard Stuart (R)

District 33: Mark R. Herring* (D), Patricia B. Phillips (R)

District 34: Jeannemarie Devolites Davis* (R), J.C. "Chap" Petersen (D)

District 37: Ken, II Cuccinelli* (R), Janet S. Oleszek (D)

District 39: George L. Barker (D), J.K. "Jay" O'Brien, Jr.* (R)

Not Larry Sabato has called the District 34 race for "Chap" Peterson, defeating Rep. Tom Davis's wife. Per NLS, with that one under our belt, Democrats now just need to win 4 of the remaining 8 competitive races to win control of the senate; Republicans need to win 5 to retain it.

Update [2007-11-6 19:32:39 by Todd Beeton]: Virginia results are coming in HERE.

Update [2007-11-6 20:13:4 by Todd Beeton]: Winners of the VA state senate races in bold.

Update [2007-11-6 20:23:20 by Jonathan Singer]: The Kentucky Governor's race has been called for Steve Beshear. Now, onward and forward to take on Mitch McConnell! (Notice that the state Auditor's race has also been called for Democratic incumbent Crit Luallen...)

Update [2007-11-6 20:42:38 by Todd Beeton]: Great news for Democrats in Kentucky tonight. John Cheves at the Lexington Herald Leader has this great on the ground report (h/t Bluegrass Report):

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, just trotted through the press room with an ear-to-ear grin, saying hello to everyone, slapping backs and wishing folks a great evening.

The congressman bolted into a V.I.P. crowd faster than I could follow, but he's clearly enjoying Election Night 2007 more than he did Election Night 2003. That's when Ernie Fletcher clobbered him by a 10-point margin and became the first Republican governor in a generation.

Four years later, Chandler has Fletcher's old seat in the U.S. House representing Central Kentucky; he's in the majority party in Congress; and he belongs to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which decides federal spending. By contrast, the evening's election returns suggest Fletcher soon could be looking for work.

"I think we've brought the Democrats back home tonight," said Democratic State Auditor Crit Luallen, who is cruising to re-election tonight over Republican Linda Greenwell."

Update [2007-11-6 21:10:43 by Todd Beeton]:Not Larry Sabato is reporting that Democrats need just one more Virginia senate seat to take the majority. Right now they're at 20/40 with 3 races yet to be decided. The bolded names above are the winners. And check it out, the Democrat is currently ahead in all 3.

Update [2007-11-6 22:33:12 by Jerome Armstrong]: It all comes down to two seats for the senate control. The 37th and 39th districts. Dems have 20 seats, Repubs have 18; we need one of these seats for control of the state senate and fair redistricting for 2012.

I'm at elction central at Tyson's Corner, hopeful!

Update [2007-11-6 23:25:16 by Jerome Armstrong]: Barker's been declared the winner, Dems win the Senate in Virginia!

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