Primary night results thread

Lots of states are holding primaries today. Swing State Project has early returns in many House district primaries. We'll update this thread later with more results. For now, it looks like Senator Blanche Lincoln is going to hold on to win the Arkansas runoff election. Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter is polling a few points below where he was on May 18 and not hitting the numbers he needs to win.

In South Carolina, there will be a runoff to determine the Republican nominee for governor. Nikki Haley leads by a substantial margin but will probably finish just below the 50 percent mark she needs to avoid a runoff. She will face off against Rep. Gresham Barrett on June 22.

Chat away.

UPDATE: Lincoln appears to have defeated Halter 52-48. Very disappointing.

Bad night to be named Jim Gibbons. Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons lost the GOP primary to Brian Sandoval, who has led all the polls against Democratic candidate Rory Reid. Meanwhile, the NRCC's candidate in the IA-03 Republican primary, Jim Gibbons, lost badly; State Senator Brad Zaun won the seven-man field and will face Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell in November. The NRCC favored candidate in IA-02, Rob Gettemy, also seems to have lost to 2008 nominee Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

Roxanne Conlin easily won the Democratic primary in the Iowa Senate race and will face Senator Chuck Grassley in the general election. Terry Branstad leads Bob Vander Plaats in the Republican primary for Iowa governor, but not by as big a margin as recent polls suggested.

UPDATE: Meg Whitman appears to have won the Republican primary for California governor and will face former Governor Jerry Brown. Carly Fiorina is way ahead of Tom Campbell in the CA-Sen primary. I think that's good news for incumbent Barbara Boxer, though polls have been mixed on whether Campbell or Fiorina would do best in the general election.

I haven't been following the Maine governor's race at all, but Libby Mitchell won the Democratic primary and Paul LePage the GOP primary.

UPDATE: How lucky is Senate Majority leader Harry Reid? He will face Club for Growth favorite Sharon Angle in the Nevada Senate race. If the Club for Growth had invested serious money in Bob Vander Plaats, Iowa Governor Chet Culver might be facing an equally weak opponent.

FINAL UPDATE: Calitics has more detailed results from the California races, including several ballot initiatives. It looks like Props 16 and 17, both brought to you by and for big corporations, were narrowly defeated, but sadly, so was an initiative on public financing of campaigns. The queen of the "birthers," Orly Taitz, got crushed in the Republican primary for California secretary of state. Swing State Project has results from U.S. House primaries in various states.

Republican edge with independents shrinking

Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, has good news and bad news for Democrats:

The party's candidates are still losing [independent voters] in almost every important [U.S. Senate] contest- but it's not by nearly the margins that led to losses in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia in the key races so far this cycle.

Our final polls in those contests found Scott Brown leading Martha Coakley by 32 with independents, Bob McDonnell up 30 on Creigh Deeds with them, and Chris Christie holding a 23 point edge over Jon Corzine.

The Democratic candidate is losing independents in 7 of the 9 key Senate races we've polled over the last three months. But it's not by more than 15 points in any of those instances and the average deficit is only 7 points, a far cry from the mean of 28 points in those contests that have already occurred.

Click over to view Jensen's chart showing the Democratic candidate's margin with independent voters in nine states with competitive Senate races. They bode well for holding states where Democrats have a large advantage in voter registration (Pennsylvania, Illinois).

Chris Bowers noted recently that Democratic Senate candidates have gained a lot of ground in the last few months' polling. If PPP's data are accurate, the GOP's shrinking advantage among independents could explain the phenomenon.

Speaking of polls, Nate Silver compiled a new set of pollster rankings at FiveThirtyEight.com, using this methodology.

AR-Sen: Not enough polling places in Halter stronghold

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter has momentum going into tomorrow's runoff election against U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, but only two polling places will be open in the most populous county Halter carried in the Democratic primary election. The Blue Arkansas blog has been all over this disturbing story. Garland County has about 80,000 residents, of whom about 12,000 voted at 42 polling places in the Democratic primary on May 18. The Chairman of the Garland County Election Commission, Charles Tapp, is not budging from the decision to open only two polling places in the county for the runoff. That will create obstacles for many voters, especially minorities and people in rural areas. On June 4 Tapp promised to open polling stations on the weekend to make it easier for people to vote, but the stations were closed on Saturday. ARDem explains why you should care:

Remember how rural voters broke so heavily for Halter in the primary? Well now those same rural voters have to travel miles across a mountain range to get to town on a weekday to cast their vote [....] While Halter was going down to Hot Springs to stand up for the right to vote and stuck up for the people trying to do their sacred civic duty, Lincoln couldn’t even bother to talk to us with that condescending double speak of hers:

A spokesperson with Senator Blanche Lincoln’s campaign said they do not have any comment at this time.

Couldn’t even say they were troubled by it.

Pulaski County, which Lincoln carried easily on May 18, has about six times the population of Garland but will have about 50 times as many voting locations open on June 8. Blue Arkansas is urging disenfranchised voters to call Lincoln's campaign, the Garland County Elections Commission, the Arkansas Elections Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice. The White House and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which are backing Lincoln, should also denounce any attempt to suppress the vote in Arkansas and should demand that a sufficient number of polling stations be open statewide tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Lincoln is trying to portray herself as one of the people while Halter (backed by several labor unions and progressive organizations) is supposedly "letting other people fund his campaign and do his dirty work." Think Progress posted a partial list of the corporate PAC money flowing to Lincoln's campaign. It's not the first time we've seen signs of Lincoln's dishonesty, and it won't be the last if she manages to defeat Halter.

IA-Gov: Branstad looks set to win GOP primary

Three recent Iowa polls show former Governor Terry Branstad in a position to win this year's Republican gubernatorial primary on June 8. The Sunday Des Moines Register published results from the latest Iowa poll by Selzer and Co, which surveyed 501 likely Iowa Republican primary voters. About 57 percent of respondents plan to vote for Terry Branstad, 29 percent plan to vote for Bob Vander Plaats, and 8 percent plan to vote for Rod Roberts. The poll was in the field from June 1 through June 3, and results for the likely Republican voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Two other Iowa polls by Public Policy Polling and Research 2000 for KCCI have found Branstad below 50 percent but comfortably ahead of Vander Plaats and Roberts. Public Policy Polling had Branstad with 46 percent, Vander Plaats with 31 percent and Roberts with 13 percent. Research 2000 for KCCI put Branstad at 44 percent in the GOP primary, Vander Plaats at 29 percent and Roberts at 12 percent.

In Iowa's 2002 Republican primary, Vander Plaats did much better than his final poll numbers, but he benefited that year from a highly negative campaign between front-runners Steve Sukup and Doug Gross. Vander Plaats announced James Dobson's endorsement on Thursday and held rallies around the state with Chuck Norris on Friday and Saturday, but I doubt it will be enough to overcome the hurdles he's facing in the primary.

This race might have played out differently had Vander Plaats had more resources to make his case. About 34 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the new Des Moines Register poll weren't sure whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Vander Plaats, and 60 percent said the same about Roberts. Branstad not only is much better known, he also scored highest on attributes like "best ideas for bringing new jobs to Iowa" and "best able to curb government spending" (which is laughable when you consider Branstad's record on fiscal issues).

Public Policy Polling's survey had Vander Plaats slightly ahead of Branstad among Republican primary voters who had heard of both candidates. Branstad's lead among self-identified conservatives was much smaller than his lead among those who called themselves moderates. Vander Plaats has campaigned as a more conservative candidate, a stauncher opponent of gay marriage, and the only Republican in the field who supports an Arizona-style immigration law in Iowa (though Branstad and Roberts have done plenty of pandering on the immigration issue too).

I will never understand why the Club for Growth and other national right-wing organizations declined to get involved in the Iowa governor's race. Given the way the national conservative movement pushed Marco Rubio against Florida Governor Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate primary, you'd think they would have some issues with Branstad. During his four terms as governor, he received a "D" grade from the Cato Institute, greatly increased the state budget, borrowed money to pay bills and kept two sets of books to hide illegal deficits.

Assuming Branstad is the Republican nominee, Democratic Governor Chet Culver has a tough road ahead. Every poll on the race since last fall has shown Branstad leading Culver, and in many cases Branstad was above the 50 percent mark. Last week Public Policy Polling's survey showed Branstad ahead 52-37, while Research 2000 for KCCI had Branstad leading Culver 51-42. The Des Moines Register hasn't published general election numbers yet for its latest poll by Selzer. Culver's approval ratings have been below 50 percent since last fall, and he will need to bring them up a bit and make this election a choice rather than a referendum on the incumbent. He also needs to hope that social conservatives and tea party activists who favor Vander Plaats either stay home or vote third party in the governor's race. Some conservatives have already pledged not to support Branstad against Culver.

Any thoughts about the Iowa governor's race are welcome in this thread.

Palin's Iowa endorsement could hurt her in 2012

If Sarah Palin runs for president in 2012, she will regret endorsing former four-term Governor Terry Branstad yesterday in the Iowa Republican primary for governor.

First thoughts on how this will play out are after the jump.

There's more...

Just what the Gulf of Mexico needs: another oil well

Oil from BP's blown-out Deepwater Horizon well continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico and will do so until August at the earliest. In response, the Obama administration extended a moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months last week. However, the president also "quietly allowed a three-week-old ban on drilling in shallow water to expire" last week (hat tip Open Left). As a result,

Federal regulators approved Wednesday the first new Gulf of Mexico oil well since President Barack Obama lifted a brief ban on drilling in shallow water, even while deepwater projects remain frozen after the massive BP spill.

The Minerals Management Service granted a new drilling permit sought by Bandon Oil and Gas for a site about 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana and 115 feet below the ocean's surface. It's south of Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, far to the west of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the BP spill.

Chris Bowers put it mildly when he described the Obama administration's action here as "difficult to fathom." The president gave a speech on the economy today and talked about investing in alternative energy, but like all my parenting books say, actions speak louder than words. The greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, and BP doesn't know how to stop it, but it's business as usual at the Minerals Management Service. Nor is today's permit approval an isolated case:

In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Words fail me, so you'll have to share your thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: In 1979 it took nine months to stop oil gushing from a shallow well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Memorial Day open thread: Guns, not butter

Since Memorial Day was established a few years after the Civil War, Americans have marked the holiday every year by remembering our war dead (ok, almost all our war dead). In his weekly address, President Barack Obama asked Americans to honor "not just those who’ve worn this country’s uniform, but the men and women who’ve died in its service; who’ve laid down their lives in defense of their fellow citizens; who’ve given their last full measure of devotion to protect the United States of America."

Every so often I read the I Got The News Today profiles of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to an old Jewish teaching, saving one life is equivalent to saving the whole world. The IGTNT diaries, like "Six More Lost to All Who Loved Them," are a crushing reminder that the death of one person is like the death of the whole world to the people left behind.

The IGTNT series will likely continue for many more years. The number of Americans killed in Afghanistan recently passed 1,000, and we are preparing to send an additional 30,000 troops there. Although we have fewer troops in Iraq now than we did for most of the past seven years, we have more troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined now than we did when Obama became president.

The price of these wars is also enormous in monetary terms. On May 30 the estimated cost of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq exceeded $1 trillion. We could have done lots of things with that kind of money. On May 27 the U.S. Senate passed yet another war supplemental funding bill, this time for $58.8 billion. On May 28 the House passed the $726 billion Defense Authorization Bill for 2011 (roll call here).

Meanwhile, Congress adjourned for the Memorial Day weekend without extending unemployment benefits or passing another jobs bill. This economic relief bill had already been watered down because of "concerns" about deficit spending. You'll notice few members of Congress are concerned about deficit spending to fund our endless war machine.

For some people, Memorial Day is first and foremost the unofficial beginning of summer. Feel free to share any fun plans or picnic recipes in the comments. We've been invited to a potluck today, and I haven't decided whether to make my favorite chick pea dish (from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking), a North African potato salad with olive oil and spices, or a pasta salad with a Chinese-style peanut butter sauce. I like to bring vegan dishes to potlucks so I don't worry if they sit outside for a few hours. Also, the party I'm attending may include some vegetarians and people who keep kosher (they don't mix meat with dairy in the same meal).

This is an open thread. What's on your mind?

UPDATE: Graphs showing number of days in Iraq and number of U.S. deaths in Iraq before and after President George W. Bush announced "Mission Accomplished."

HI-01: Case ends campaign

Via James L. at Swing State Project, former Representative Ed Case has decided not to seek the Democratic nomination in Hawaii's first Congressional district. Republican Charles Djou just won a special election in this D+11 district, because Case and Colleen Hanabusa split the Democratic vote. Case had previously indicated that he would run against Hannabusa in the Democratic primary for this district on September 18. Today Case wrote in an e-mail blast,

"We've taken apart the results and analyzed our options every which way," Case wrote in an email to supporters. "If it all lined up it'd be an easy decision, but it doesn't." [...]

"My heart tells me to stay in this fight, but my head says this has become the wrong fight. So today I'm withdrawing my candidacy for the U. S. House of Representatives from Hawaii's great first district," he wrote.

Most local politicians and several labor unions have endorsed Hanabusa, who is now unlikely to face serious competition in the primary. Case had the covert backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the White House, yet still won fewer votes than Hannabusa in the special election. I doubt another Democrat would see an opportunity to beat her on September 18. I also consider Hanabusa the favorite in November given the partisan lean of this district, but Djou is trying to position himself as a moderate. Last Thursday, Djou was one of only five House Republicans to vote in favor of a Defense Authorization bill amendment that is a step toward repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. On Friday, Djou was one of nine House Republicans to vote for the Defense Authorization bill.

UPDATE: What Swing State said: "The @DCCC needs to add Colleen Hanabusa to Red to Blue immediately. HI-01 is one of our best pickup opportunities."

IA-Sen: Grassley up on tv

Senator Chuck Grassley's re-election campaign unveiled its first television commercial of the year yesterday:

Rough transcript by me:

 

Unidentified woman: "Tightwad."

 

Unidentified woman: "Penny-pincher."

Unidentified man: "He's frugal."

Unidentified man: "Blunt."

Unidentified man: "Straight-talking."

Unidentified woman: "One of us."

Female voice-over: Chuck Grassley visits every county every year to stay in touch. He's a farmer and a senator. He'll do what needs to be done. He's just like Iowa. Chuck Grassley works ... and he never forgets he works for us.

Grassley: I'm Chuck Grassley for Iowa, and I approved this message.

 

Once Roxanne Conlin went up on television, I figured it wouldn't be long before Grassley's campaign responded. He has more than $5 million in the bank and can probably afford to run television commercials from now until November.

Although this commercial doesn't mention Grassley's likely Democratic opponent in the general election, I infer from the language in this ad that he'll run against Conlin as a rich, free-spending lawyer who's not "one of us."

This doesn't seem like a strong commercial to me, but it shows Grassley recognizes he can't afford to be seen as the candidate representing special interests. The female voice-over suggests to me that Grassley knows he needs to shore up support among women. The most recent Rasmussen poll showed Conlin trailing narrowly among women, and the most recent Research 2000 poll for KCCI showed Conlin slightly ahead of Grassley among women.

Grassley will be hard-pressed to defend his "penny-pincher" reputation when he has voted for every blank check for war and the Wall Street bailout. He also voted for every Bush tax cut for the wealthy, which massively increased our national debt and budget deficits. In the current fiscal year, "a staggering 52.5 percent of the benefits [from the Bush tax cuts] will go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers. Meanwhile, Grassley voted against many policies that benefit hard-working Iowans, like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Any thoughts about the Iowa Senate race are welcome in this thread.

UPDATED: Senate Committee and House approve compromise on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 today to pass a compromise that will probably lead to repeal of the prohibition on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote for the compromise. Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it. I wouldn't have predicted that Webb would vote no when people like Evan Bayh, Robert Byrd and Ben Nelson voted yes.

This bill appears to have the votes to pass on the Senate floor. Representative Patrick Murphy is offering a comparable amendment to the Defense Authorization bill in the House. Technically, it's not correct to call this a "repeal" of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell, because the legislation allows officials at the White House, Pentagon and Joint Chiefs to leave the policy in place.

Here's what will happen if the amendment makes it into the final bill passed by the House and Senate:

When the President signs the Department of Defense Authorization bill into law, DADT will not instantly be repealed. Repeal would take place only after the study group completes its work in December 2010 and after the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense all certify that repeal will not hurt military readiness or unit cohesion.

So, gay and lesbian soldiers will continue to be discharged several months (and perhaps several years) from now. Still, I agree with Adam Bink; this has to be viewed as a "giant step" toward taking Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the books. Ideally, Congress would have passed stronger legislation, but I'd rather have them pass this deal now than shoot for something better next year. If Republicans took control of the House or Senate, we'd have no hope of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell for a long time.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: The House passed Murphy's amendment 234 to 194, with 26 Democrats voting no and five Republicans voting yes. The five Republicans who broke party ranks were Charles Djou (HI-01), Joseph Cao (LA-02), Judy Biggert (IL-13), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Ron Paul (TX-14). I don't have the list yet of the Democrats who voted no.

UPDATE: Here is the House roll call. I'm pleased to see that my Blue Dog Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03), a Vietnam veteran, voted yes.

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