The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

First results

Dixville Notch, N.H., votes for Biden, 5-0:

The results are already in from two New Hampshire towns where voters famously head to the polls just after the stroke of midnight on Election Day.

In Dixville Notch, where a handful of masked residents voted shortly after midnight on Tuesday, all five votes for president went to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee. He is the first presidential candidate to sweep the general election vote in Dixville Notch since the midnight voting tradition began there in 1960, when Richard M. Nixon won all nine votes over John F. Kennedy.

The other northern New Hampshire town that voted around the same time on Tuesday, Millsfield, favored President Trump by 16 votes to 5.

But:

Antsy journalists and political types often look to these New Hampshire towns for clues as to how the election will unfold across the country, but they have a spotty track record. While Millsfield voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, Dixville Notch went for Hillary Clinton.

See you at 6.

(Apologies for posting this almost 10 hours late.)

What I'll be watching for tomorrow

I plan to live-blog off and on tomorrow evening, understanding the likelihood that we won't know the results of many of the races until later in the week. I'm watching these races most closely (all times CST, UTC-6):

6pm

Polls close in Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia. Of these, I mainly want to know the results in Georgia's two US Senate races, plus the US Senate race in South Carolina and the Georgia presidential totals. In Kentucky, Amy McGrath has less than a 1 in 20 chance of winning, but if you've ever played D&D you know that doesn't mean she's dead. Kentucky expects 90% of votes to be counted Tuesday night. The other three may have all their results as well, but Virginia might not have close races resolved until next week.

6:30pm

North Carolina and Ohio are must-wins for the president; North Carolina is a likely US Senate pick-up for the Democratic Party. In Ohio, the president is favored by about 62%; in North Carolina, Biden is favored around 66%. While most ballots will be counted Tuesday night in Ohio, final results may take until November 18th. We should know North Carolina by Wednesday morning.

7pm

Polls close here, in Maine, most of Texas, and a number of states unlikely to sway the election. However, by this point, polls representing 272 electoral votes will have closed. Illinois results for everything except the Fair Tax amendment will come out Tuesday night, though final results could take until the counting deadline on November 17th. We'll know whether Maine's Susan Colins goes on the dole before midnight in Chicago. But Texas, boy, I don't know. They may have some results Tuesday night but absentee ballots can come in through 5pm Wednesday.

8pm

Polls close in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New York, the western nub of Texas, and Wisconsin. Arizona should start releasing their results by 9pm, and with Mark Kelly and Joe Biden both expected to win the state, this may be the first one I actually celebrate. Colorado should start reporting results overnight, and Wisconsin should report everything by Wednesday morning. Michigan and New York will take several days to report results. (New York, in fact, has until the 28th to report its results, according to state law.)

9pm

Of the races whose polls close at this time, I care most about Iowa's US Senate race. It's dead-even between incumbent Republican Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield. Because Iowa counts ballots that arrive up until the 9th, we will have to wait a week to know for sure.

10pm

All three West Coast states plus Idaho close at this time, though I don't expect any surprises. All three should go for Biden by wide margins, and only Oregon has a US Senate race that incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley should win easily. The only exciting event at 10pm will be the AP officially calling all 74 of those Electoral College votes for Biden.

11pm

The networks can call Hawai'i, with its 4 electoral votes and no US Senate race, at this time.

Midnight

Alaska finally closes its polls, sending its 3 electoral votes to the president. But the US Senate Race is still in play, with Democrat Al Gross nipping at incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan's heels. Unless the revolt from the left exceeds even my optimistic expectations, Sullivan will probably sit in the 117th Congress. However, since Alaska won't even start counting votes received after October 29th until next Tuesday, we won't know until the 18th.

In the background, I want to know state legislature races in a few states, like North Carolina. 

Sources:

Anniversaries of blunders in presidential politics

On this day 4 years ago, the Cubs won the World Series. Just six days later, we experienced one of the worst things ever to happen in US presidential politics.

It turns out, today is the anniversary of other horrible things that happened to the Presidency:

  • In 1795, James K Polk was born.
  • In 1865, Warren G Harding was born.
  • In 1948, Dewey defeated Truman defeated Dewey. (At least this one turned out OK.)

I'm going into tomorrow a great deal more optimistic than I've felt in years. Tonight I'll have a run-down of the races I plan to watch tomorrow, though we may not know for days what the final results will be. For example, because we need to know the total number of votes cast to determine whether Illinois' Fair Tax Amendment passes, we can't know the final outcome until the 17th.

As of this morning, The Economist has lowered Biden's chances of winning from 96% to 95%, and 538 has Biden at 90%. The president can still win. I just don't think he will.

By the way, I was not wrong about the outcome of the last election.

It's the end of October as we know it (and I feel fine)

Milestones today:

Also, this is the 600th post on the Daily Parker since last November 1st, and the 7,600th since May 1998. In each of the last 6 months, the 12-month running total has hit a new record, mainly because if I post once more today, this will be the 8th month in a row of 50+ posts. In the 22-year history of this blog, I've only posted 50+ posts 13 times, including those 8. So in future, when I look back on 2020, I'll have at least one good thing to talk about.

He's both a mod and a rocker

Jennifer Rubin (a Republican, I keep having to remind myself) finds former President Obama's mockery of the current president impressive and effective:

In Orlando on Tuesday, Obama told the crowd, “Our current president, he whines that ’60 Minutes’ is too tough,” he said referring to Trump’s walking out of an interview last week with CBS News’s Lesley Stahl. “You think he’s going to stand up to dictators? He thinks Lesley Stahl’s a bully.” He does not need to say Trump is a “crybaby” or “weak”; he lets Trump indict himself with his own conduct.

Obama does not need to label Trump “nuts” or a “conspiracy monger.” Again, Obama simply needs to point out what Trump has done and asks the audience whether it’s normal. “[Our] president of the United States retweeted a post that claimed that the Navy SEALs didn’t actually kill [Osama] bin Laden. Think about that. And we act like, well, okay. It’s not okay.” He added: “We’ve gotten so numb to what is bizarre behavior. We have a president right now who lies multiple times a day, and this is not my claim. Even Fox News sometimes says, well, what he says, isn’t really true, he didn’t mean it. It’s not normal behavior. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a coworker. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a football coach. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a high school principal. I mean, we might have to put up with it if it was a family member, but we talk about them afterward.”

With his relaxed body language and humorous delivery, Obama conveys in these short vignettes what pundits and psychologists have spent years analyzing. In doing so, he makes clear to those who do not follow politics routinely that this is not hard. You don’t have to be a political junkie or policy wonk to figure out something is very, very wrong with Trump.

And here we are, six days until the election, with the following polls-of-polls:

Know hope.

* Florida matters, because they will count all their ballots on the 3rd—in fact, they're already counting them. If Florida's 29 votes go to Biden, the president's path to re-election becomes nearly impossible.

One week to go

The first polls close in the US next Tuesday in Indiana at 6 pm EST (5 pm Chicago time, 22:00 UTC) and the last ones in Hawaii and Alaska at 7pm HST and 8pm AKST respectively (11 pm in Chicago, 05:00 UTC). You can count on all your pocket change that I'll be live-blogging for most of that time. I do plan actually to sleep next Tuesday, so I can't guarantee we'll know anything for certain before I pass out, but I'll give it the college try.

Meanwhile:

  • The US Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last night by a vote of 52-48, with only Susan Collins (R-ME) joining the Democrats. It's the first time since Reconstruction that the Senate confirmed an Associate Justice with no votes from the opposition party. And in the history of our country, only two people have been confirmed by a smaller margin: Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. I'm sure the three of them will continue to fight for bipartisanship and good jurisprudence as strongly as they ever have.
  • Emma Green points out "the inevitability of Amy Coney Barrett," because the Republicans don't care. And Olivia Nuzzi brings us the story of "the tortured self-justification of one very powerful Trump-loathing anonymous Republican."
  • Bill McKibben reminds us "there's nothing sacred about nine justices; a livable planet, on the other hand..."
  • Speaking of the planet, Tropical Storm Zeta became Hurricane Zeta last night. The 2020 season has now tied the all-time record for the number of named Atlantic storms set in January 2006, and it's only October.
  • Bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County have to close again tomorrow as statewide Covid-19 cases exceed 4,500 on a rolling 14-day average. Some parts of the state have seen positivity rates over 7.5% in the last couple of weeks. My favorite take-out Chinese place down by my office is also closing for the winter, which I understand but which still saddens me.
  • The Washington Post asked TV screenwriters how 2020 should end.
  • In one small bit of good news, the Food and Drug Administration has finally agreed that whisky is gluten-free, as gluten does not evaporate in the distilling process and so stays in the mash.

Finally, from a reader in Quebec comes a tip about violent clashes between a Canadian First Nation, the Mi'kmaw tribe of Nova Scotia, and local commercial fishermen over First Nations lobster rights. If you think Canada is a land without racism, well...they're just more polite about it.

An avenue for thwarting minority rule

In the March 2020 Atlantic, writer and attorney Simon Barnicle laid out one of the simplest ways to re-balance the Senate and Electoral College without a constitutional amendment:

Realizing that the deck is stacked against them, but recognizing that constitutional amendments are a pipe dream, some Democrats have called for structural reforms that could be accomplished with a simple majority in Congress: court packing, filibuster reform, and the legally dubious Senate Reform Act, to name a few. These proposals, while perhaps well intentioned, are inadequate. At best, they are temporary fixes—the minute Republicans regain control, they will retaliate in kind. And given the structural advantages enjoyed by Republicans, Democrats are unlikely to benefit in the long run.

A better solution to the problem of minority rule would address it directly. Democrats—if and when they regain control of Congress—should add new states whose congressional representatives would likely be Democrats. In areas that are not currently states, like Washington, D.C., or territories like Puerto Rico, this could be done with a simple congressional majority. But Democrats should also consider breaking up populous Democratic states and “un-gerrymandering” the Senate. Perhaps there could be a North and South California, or an East and West Massachusetts. A new state of Long Island, an area that is geographically larger than Rhode Island, would be more populous than most of the presently existing states.

In the short term, new Democratic states would remedy the advantages Republicans currently hold in the Senate—and, to a lesser extent, the Electoral College—which allow a party to control the federal government despite a lack of popular support. And unlike other progressive proposals, the risk of retaliation and escalation is low. Because adding states would also add Democratic senators, there would be no way for Republicans to immediately add states of their own without an overwhelming electoral victory.

[T]he federal government is increasingly acting on behalf of a smaller fraction of the population. And unless Democrats get serious about adding new states to counteract the Republican advantage, the disconnect between popular votes and control of the federal government is likely to grow.

My guess is that DC will become the 51st state before the end of the next Congress, possibly followed by Puerto Rico in 2023. But here we have to tread carefully: Puerto Rico would probably send one member of each party to the Senate, if not two Republicans. I'm willing to take that chance though.

The morning after (debate reax)

Unlike the first presidential debate on September 29th (i.e., two years ago), nothing that happened at last night's debate made me want to become a hermit in the mountains of New Zealand. But two big things stood out.

Most importantly, Joe Biden pledged to expand Obamacare with a true public option. This would expand health coverage to the entire country. It would constitute the broadest expansion of a public program in my lifetime. And it would take the biggest step towards a true guarantee of health care in the US since Medicare became law in 1965. I imagine UHG, Blue Cross, and all the other health insurers in the country just started taking a hard look at their stock option plans.

On the other side of the ledger--the side making New Zealand more attractive to me--the president essentially said that only stupid undocumented immigrants show up to immigration court. This goes along with his general belief that following the law is for suckers. And coming in the same debate in which he reiterated his "rapists and murderers" view of immigrants, it really showcased his unfitness to lead a country where fewer than 1% of its families can claim to have lived here for 500 or more years.

Other reactions, from home and abroad:

  • The Guardian: the president "has given up trying to articulate a plan."
  • Le Monde: the president "needed a striking victory to change the dynamic of the election. This wasn't the case."
  • El Universal: "nada cambia." (Nothing changed.)
  • The Toronto Star: "final debate is calmer amid the campaign storm."
  • The Washington Post: The changes to the debate format "all worked. There were far fewer interruptions — perhaps because Trump recognized it didn’t really work for him last time, but also because of the changes — and there was a far more substantive exchange on the issues." Still, the president said nothing new.
  • The New York Times: "Biden’s win is also a function of a solid performance focused on real issues, in contrast with the president’s decision to spend most of the debate on the deep lore of the Fox Cinematic Universe."

Of course, last night's debate won't change a thing. About a third of the electorate, including I, have already voted. The number of truly undecided voters this cycle wouldn't make a dent in the Tampa Bay Rays fan base. And as the man himself pointed out last night, we're only one Scaramucci (11 days) from the polls closing.

Meanwhile, back in your global pandemic

In all the excitement of the debate, I forgot to mention a couple of local news items that depressed me today:

Also, former US Attorney DIck Schultz talked to the Chicago Tribune and the local NBC affiliate about the Chicago 7 trial. (Watch Aaron Sorkin's Trial of the Chicago 7 to see Joseph Gordon-Leavitt play him.)

OK, really walking Parker and going to bed now...