Post Politics Hour
Tuesday, November 4, 2008; 11:00 AM
Don't want to miss out on the latest in politics? Start each day with The Post Politics Hour. Join in each weekday morning at 11 a.m. as a member of The Washington Post's team of White House and Congressional reporters answers questions about the latest in buzz in Washington and The Post's coverage of political news.
Chris Cillizza, washingtonpost.com political blogger, was online live Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the latest news in politics.
The transcript follows.
Chris Cillizza: Happy Election Day! It's amazing for me -- after two years -- for the big day to finally be here. Thanks to everyone who checked out The Fix or tuned into these chats; as I hope you can tell, The Fix is a labor of love for me.
Lots of questions in the queue, so I will try to keep my answers relatively short so I can get to as many as possible in the next hour. And remember: it's just 1,463 days between now and the 2012 presidential election!
New York: Okay Chris ... deep breaths ... you can get through this. You can sleep tomorrow ... well maybe not tomorrow, we'll all want our Wednesday morning analysis -- but Thursday is all yours. Here's a wonky question that is right up The Fix's alley: It never has happened before, but what are the odds that one of the candidates strips off one of the electoral votes in Maine or Nebraska that are apportioned via congressional district, rather than winner-take-all? My guess is if it happens, it is Obama peeling off the Nebraska district that abuts the currently very blue state of Iowa. What do you think?
washingtonpost.com: The Fix's Final Electoral Map (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 3)
Chris Cillizza: This is a big two days for me ... the election today, and then tomorrow my wife's field hockey team plays in their conference semifinal game. So, not a lot of sleep, but a lot of excitement.
I think there is a real chance that Obama carries Nebraska's 2nd District tonight -- peeling away an electoral vote in a very Republican state. A private poll last week showed Obama ahead in that district, and a win is a real possibility.
I don't think McCain can answer with a win of his own in Maine's 2nd District. It is the more conservative-minded of the two Maine congressional seats, but the northeast has moved strongly in the direction of Democrats in the past few elections and my guess is that trend will continue tonight.
Ohio: Chris, thanks for your always thoughtful, knowledgeable commentary. What time do you think we'll start to see meaningful returns tonight? I'd hate to miss some important states (like mine) being called. Will there be good information shortly after the polls close, or will it take longer for the dust to settle? Two hours? Five?
washingtonpost.com: Pass the time tonight with Post Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser (and guests) or Metro columnist Marc Fisher (washingtonpost.com, 7 p.m. ET tonight)
Chris Cillizza: Thanks, Ohio. My guess is we will start having a real sense of where things stand around 10 p.m. Some states -- Connecticut, Utah and Illinois to name just a few -- will be called by the television networks as soon as the polls close. Others -- Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, for instance -- likely will take some more time, as they are almost certain to play host to a closer race between McCain and Obama.
I put together an hour-by-hour viewer's guide for tonight's vote; it will go up on The Fix in the early afternoon today, so make sure to check it out.
A side note: Is there a better invention in the past five years than the "genius" button on iTunes? So cool.
Indianapolis: I have on my JFK, Win with Taft, Bryan/Kern and MacArthur for America buttons in honor of Election Day! The report from Indianapolis (I have a asked a bunch of my co-workers) is that there are long lines in the city. The townships are doing brisk business too (although not quite as heavy). The only exception, earlier today, was in Southport (a far south part of Indianapolis) where it wasn't too busy. Good for Obama? It's too soon to tell.
Chris Cillizza: Thanks for this Indianapolis ... folks, you can check out the links above to share your Election Day experiences with us. We want to hear from you!
Roseland, N.J.: FYI, even here in New Jersey, where there's no doubt who's going to win the electoral votes -- polls are mobbed. Bring a Thermos and an iPod, folks! Which leads me to this comment: In my opinion, in a lot of these critical battle ground states, the official poll closing times are not going to be the actual poll closing times. If the lines into the polling places are as bad as we think, there are going to be courts that say "keep 'em open another hour." So even if it is a landslide, it won't be called officially as early as we think.
Chris Cillizza: This is a good -- and important -- point. The general rule of thumb is that if you are in line when the polls officially close in your state, you will be allowed to vote.
My guess is that with such heavy turnout being predicted across the country, Roseland is right -- it might be a little late before we know even if one or the other candidate scores a major win.
Arlington, Va.: Is it possible that all the dire predictions of long lines could discourage people from going out? The news I have been hearing is that lines were long when polls opened but that they moved pretty quickly, so lots of places were line-free. I voted early before that all got going in earnest, so it only took me about 10 minutes a couple of weeks ago.
washingtonpost.com: Lines Grow For Early Morning Voters (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 4)
Chris Cillizza: There is no question in my mind that turnout will set a record today -- but election officials have know for a long time that interest in this race is the highest in modern history, and maybe (just maybe) they have acted and prepared accordingly.
Thanks for this report Arlington, Va. Any other folks had experiences (good or bad) at their polling places this morning?
Valdosta, Ga.: Chris - thanks for taking my question. How big does the African American turnout have to be for Martin to have a chance in my state? For Obama to have a chance? Just curious what I should be looking for.
Chris Cillizza: A slew of Senate and House questions ... love it! Keep 'em coming.
The early vote in Georgia was very encouraging for Democrats. African American voters comprised 35 percent of all early ballots cast -- a stunningly high number that, if it holds, could give Obama a huge upset in the Peach State and carry Martin into the Senate as well.
If blacks wind up making up 25 percent of voters in Georgia, Chambliss is likely to win or at least hold the lead going into the Dec. 2 runoff. If the black percentage approaches 30 (or even higher), then all bets are off.
Rochester, N.Y.: Quick, who wins New York's 26th and 29th congressional districts?
Chris Cillizza: Thanks, Rochester -- the home of John F. Harris!
I wish I knew what was going to happen in either of these districts. Both are Democratic takeover opportunities, with the 26th perhaps slightly more likely because it is an open seat. Rep. Randy Kuhl (R), the member from the 29th, is a notorious underperformer, however, and can't afford to let that happen again today.
St. Paul, Minn.: Hi Chris. Out here in Minnesota we anxiously are awaiting your final prediction on the Franken/Coleman and Bachmann/Tinklenberg races. What do you think? My sense is that Coleman is going to pull it out, but barely. Same with Bachmann. Hope I'm wrong about both.
Chris Cillizza: Hello St. Paul. A great city. Holy cow what a Senate race you guys have in the state. I think this may well be the closest Senate race in the country. Both sides believe they are going to win -- albeit narrowly. The X-factor is Dean Barkley, the independent candidate. If he gets in the low double-digits, Coleman may well eke it out. If he gets closer to 20, it could be Sen. Franken.
In the 6th District, the question is whether Bachmann has done enough to rehabilitate her image in the wake of her "anti-American" comments on "Hardball" a few weeks ago. She clearly has been damaged politically, but benefits from sitting in a district that is strongly conservative.
Alexandria, Va.: I woke up at 5 a.m., was at my polling place at 5:45 a.m., and was told at approximately 6:45 a.m. that I needed a federal ID to vote that and my Virginia-issued driver's license was not enough. Thankfully another poll worker corrected the poll person, and I was able to cast my vote. I had to share this. Pay attention, folks, and don't step out of line for any reason.
Chris Cillizza: I agree -- know your rights. Voting is an incredible privilege. Don't give it up.
Washington: Well, the traffic jam near my normal polling place (Wisconsin and Calvert streets) was horrible this morning as I drove to work. The lines looked longer than normal but not really bad. I voted absentee last week -- I genuinely expected to be out of town today -- and it took an hour and 45 minutes.
Chris Cillizza: More reporting from the field.
New York: Wouldn't Chambliss be a prohibitive favorite in a run off, as black turnout would have to diminish considerably with Obama not on the ballot?
Chris Cillizza: I am not sure he would be a "prohibitive" favorite but he clearly would have to be considered the front-runner for just the reason you cite, New York.
Alexandria, Va.: You asked for voting experiences -- my husband went at 6 a.m. this morning, hoping to beat the rush. It was packed, and he stood in line for two hours. I waited until 10 a.m. and was in and out in 15 minutes.
Chris Cillizza: Power to late risers!
Silver Spring, Md.: Chris, thanks for your appropriately named blog -- against my better judgment about how to use my time, I have become addicted to election news. Okay, my question: I just waited 90 minutes to vote in reliably blue Maryland. Do you think there is any chance that the polls have become outdated by not adequately assessing or querying who will vote, and the outcome will be a landslide for the Democrats? That is, McConnell, Chambliss and maybe Wicker (not to mention more House Republicans) will get swept away?
Chris Cillizza: There is always the possibility that polling is missing a significant swath of voters -- particularly in an election like this one where Obama has put such a huge amount of emphasis (and money) on finding and registering new voters.
The good thing about elections is that all -- or at least most -- will be known tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Webster Groves, Mo.: How does it look for Dole in North Carolina? I was absolutely appalled by her "Godless" ad!
Chris Cillizza: Webster Groves! Love it. Mrs. Fix is a St. Louis native. She's a Vivette!
I think Dole is done for, barring some sort of miraculous comeback today. Tracking polls for both parties this papast the weekend suggested that her "Godless" ad -- attacking state Sen. Kay Hagan's religious beliefs -- backfired, putting Dole even further behind the Democrat.
It has been a very rough four years for Dole. She chaired the Senate campaign arm in 2006, when Democrats retook control of the chamber, and now she appears to be headed for defeat in her own right today.
Charlotte, N.C.: Chris, I was astounded to read in yesterday's Charlotte Observer that 54 percent of newly registered voters in North Carolina had voted early. What a number, considering that you are luck to get 40 percent of new voters to vote a all.
washingtonpost.com: Are newly registered really going to vote? (Charlotte Observer, Nov. 3)
Chris Cillizza: It is a remarkable number and a testament to the excitement and interest in this campaign.
Will the early vote be enough to hand Obama an upset win in North Carolina? I am still somewhat skeptical, although if ever North Carolina could be won by a Democrat for president, Obama is the candidate and this is the year.
Ashburn, Va.: Per your request on voting experiences this morning, I arrived at 5:55 a.m. to vote, and there were about 200 or 250 people in front of me. It took an hour, and when I left, I would estimate there were 350 in line to vote. However, several of my co-workers who waited until 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. to vote said the lines were very short, if there was one at all.
Chris Cillizza: Holy cow! 5:55 a.m.? The Fix never has been up that early. Point of pride.
Raleigh, N.C.: Good morning. FiveThirtyEight.com seems to think it's likely the Democrats won't get 60 seats in the Senate; they'll miss by one, maybe two. Which two or three moderate Republicans will be under the most electoral pressure to prove they are really moderates on cloture votes? Is that list the same as the list of the two or three moderate Republicans most likely to vote for cloture because that's how they really want to vote (i.e., not for electoral reasons)?
washingtonpost.com: Final Senate Projections (FiveThirtyEight.com, Nov. 4)
Chris Cillizza: Nate Silver and the other guys at FiveThirtyEight are great and have been a revelation in this election.
I too, in my Crystal Ball predictions for The Post over the weekend, predicted that Democrats would come up a single vote short of 60.
If that scenario does come to pass, people like Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) will get a lot more attention starting in January.
Minneapolis: My husband and I voted at 7 a.m. in our upscale liberal neighborhood, and the lines were very long. Just for fun, I voted for Franken and the guy I married voted for the Independence Party candidate, Barkley. He was annoyed with me because he knows I wasn't 100 percent in love with Franken, and he thinks I betrayed my values.
Chris Cillizza: We now have an updated Minnesota Senate race vote count: Franken 1, Barkley 1, Coleman 0.
Arlington, Va.: I was in line at 5:55 a.m. and voted at about 7 a.m. The line was very long, but was shorter when I left. It seemed like a much shorter wait, because I struck up conversations with others in line. There was one man walking up and down the line saying he was representing "Voters Rights" or something and was available to assist anyone with questions/problems. I didn't get a chance to ask him, but I wondered whether he was from the government, a nonprofit, or another kind of organization.
Chris Cillizza: Love it. It's so great everyone is up and at 'em this morning. But seriously, 5:55 a.m.? Is it even light out then?
Rockville, Md.: In North Bethesda I and my wife got there at 6:40 a.m. and voted at 7:40 a.m. My guess was the line moved twice as fast as in the most recent election (four years ago).
Chris Cillizza: More fodder...
Fresno, Calif.: No line in my precinct at 7:30 a.m. There was a 15-minute line in the adjacent precinct.
Chris Cillizza: A turnout report from the left coast!
Washington: I'm a native Californian -- what's your latest line on Proposition 8 and any of the other ballot initiatives in California?
Chris Cillizza: Great question. For those of you who don't know, Proposition 8 would add an amendment to the California constitution banning same-sex marriage in the state.
Pro- and anti-8 forces have spent tens (maybe even hundreds) of millions on their efforts, and cultural warriors on both sides of the political spectrum see it as a seminal moment in the gay marriage debate.
A Field Poll last week showed 49 percent opposed to the measure and 44 percent supporting it -- results that suggest the vote today could go either way.
On other thing to keep an eye on in California: Proposition 11. It would establish an independent committee to draw the districts lines in the state Assembly and Senate following the decennial census. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been Proposition 11's most ardent backer.
Missouri: Care to go out on a limb and call the Missouri's 9th District? Republican former Rep. Hulshof is the sacrificial lamb against soon-to-be Gov. Nixon. Two newcomers battling for the 9th District.
Chris Cillizza: I'll give it a shot. While Obama's focus on Columbia (home to the University of Missouri) should help state Rep. Judy Baker (D), my guess is that former state Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) pulls out the win.
Cleveland: I live in blue Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and voting went well this morning (that is, as well as usual). The line was out the door as the polling location opened, but diminished within an hour. Took me about 50 minutes from start to finish. Unscientific observation: I live in a diverse precinct, but I noticed many more African Americans at the polls than in past years -- and, thankfully, many more volunteers at the polling location controlling traffic and answering questions. It's so heartening to see the big turnout and to see people excited about voting!
Chris Cillizza: Thanks for the report from one of the central battlegrounds in today's election.
2016: Enough about today...who do you think gets the Democratic nod: Secretary Emanuel, Sen. Napolitano; Vice President Kaine or Gov. McCaskill? Oh, and big congrats on your great news!
Chris Cillizza: Love it. Even I can't look that forward into the future.
Here's what I will offer though. If the polls are right and Barack Obama is elected president today, here's a quick guesstimate on the 2012 GOP field: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
Who am I missing?
Dixville Notch: Chris, as silly as it may seem, is the fact that Dixville Notch, N.H., voted overwhelmingly for Obama (first time since 1968 that they voted for a Democrat) a significant "early return?"
washingtonpost.com: Obama wins in earliest vote in tiny New Hampshire town (AP, Nov. 4)
Chris Cillizza: Not really. But I will tell you that Dixville Notch is home to the summer vacation hotel of the Fix's childhood: The Balsams. Seriously, it's the greatest place in the world. Check it out.
Speaking of Propositions...: We have one here in Wisconsin that would provide universal health care, funded by higher taxes on junk purchases (like tobacco and fast food).
Chris Cillizza: Fascinating...
Pittsburgh: Dude, it was Steelers 23, Redskins 6. Take the rest of the day off.
Chris Cillizza: The Fix grew up a Giants fan -- during the Phil Simms, Phil McConkey and original LT (Lawrence Taylor) days.
Despite living in Washington for the last decade, we still don't bleed burgundy and/or gold.
Anonymous: Is there any evidence that robocalls work? Here in Arizona, I received at least six distinct, very negative, in some cases false robocalls this past weekend from the Republican National Committee. If I had been inclined to vote for McCain, this would have turned me against him.
Chris Cillizza: There is some evidence they work to push negative information out to the general public that is too controversial to put into a television or radio ad.
San Francisco: No, it's not light out at 5:55 a.m. -- sunrise today was at 6:37 a.m., thanks to Sunday's time change. I have not voted yet, because I have to be on the road before our polls open, but I am looking forward to pulling out my sheet of 34 propositions and filling out my four-page California ballot. Voting is a lovely right, but I do wish that the California legislature would make a decision about something without sending it out for referendum.
Chris Cillizza: California is sort of the Wild West when it comes to ballot initiatives/referenda...
New York: Where and how do you watch the returns? Do you divide your attention between the networks and the Internet, or do you have some sort of super-special journalistic satellite feed the rest of us don't? (P.S. I'll be watching the returns with some newly naturalized first-time voting friends and eating lots of yummy-but-really-bad-for-you Bosnian food.)
Chris Cillizza: I will be at washingtonpost.com tonight, filing reports on important moments throughout the night on The Fix and appearing on our live Web cast of tonight's festivities.
Some predictions: Total pumpkin spice lattes consumed by Fix: three; pieces of pizza eaten: nine; Cokes consumed: six; times I say "holy cow, did you see this?": 75.
Minneapolis: I seriously doubt that was my wife posting, as our neighborhood is mid-scale, not upscale, but we split the same way: one unenamored Franken voter, one unenamored Barkley voter.
Chris Cillizza: Franken and Barkley knotted at two votes each. Will Coleman receive a single vote?
We are kidding, Coleman folks. Kidding.
Arlington, Va.: Hi Chris. If Minnesota ends up electing Franken (following the Ventura debacle), how long would it take to pass an amendment to strip the state of its Senate privileges?
Chris Cillizza: I laughed out loud at this one. Well played, sir.
Alexandria, Va.: It took me 45 minutes to vote this morning at 6 a.m. The woman in front of me in line said she had open-heart surgery two weeks ago, but still wanted to make sure she voted.
Chris Cillizza: Whoah!
Annapolis, Md.: One that for the longest time wasn't in play, but looks to be a tight one: Maryland's 1st District -- what do you think?
Chris Cillizza: Hello Annapolis. Awesome town I need to spend more time in.
Maryland's 1st District is a good bellwether to see how good a night it will be for House Democrats.
By the numbers, state Sen. Andy Harris (R) should win this Eastern Shore seat easily, but longtime Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) has endorsed the Democratic candidate and both sides acknowledge the race is close.
If Democrats can pull off an upset in that district, they likely are headed to a national gain of more than 30 seats.
Redskins: I think Pittsburgh is referring to the Redskins predictor. If they lose their game prior to the election, the party in power loses the White House. I was very, very conflicted last night.
Chris Cillizza: Aha!
Northeast Florida: I tried to early vote on several occasions, but there were long lines, with waits of at least an hour. I guess a lot of people voted early, because the lines today are short!
Chris Cillizza: There was huge early vote in Florida ... my guess is there will be massive day-off voting there as well.
Keep an eye on the Sunshine State -- if Obama wins there, it badly complicates McCain's electoral path to 270.
New York: Has The Fix voted yet? Do you and Mrs. Fix go together?
Chris Cillizza: The Fix does not vote -- journalistic objectivity and all that. Mrs. Fix left to vote about 30 minutes ago.
Milwaukee: On my way home from the gym at 6:45 a.m., there were huge lines...
Chris Cillizza: On the way home from the gym at 6:45 a.m.!? Man do I feel like a slacker.
Ann Arbor, Mich.: Oh no! In my Obama fever I accidently voted no against Proposition 1 (legalizing medical marijuana) in Michigan. Do you have any clue as to how things are looking for this proposal? I've had enough disappointment this fall with Maize and Blue football -- I don't need Proposition 1 to fail too.
Chris Cillizza: I wish I did, but between covering the presidential, Senate, House and gubernatorial races, I haven't spent as much time as I would have liked to watching these propositions.
I can tell you how the Michigan season will end, however: not well.
Abingdon, Md.: So, will The Fix go on hiatus for the next two years or so? Also, do you think one of the reasons this cycle ran so long was because the sitting vice president did not run and the field was open on both sides? Do you think that whoever wins tonight, there will be in all likelihood no one opposing the president in power (from his own party) in 2012, keeping at least one party's primary short and sweet? And what might the other side look like?
washingtonpost.com: Thank You (and Two Notes on the Future of The Fix) (washingtonpost.com, Nov. 4)
Chris Cillizza: The Fix definitely will be taking it slow for the remainder of the week as Catholic field hockey is playing in the semifinals tomorrow and then, when they win, the championship game on Saturday.
But, per our Fix post today, we will be back at it relatively soon. The Fix is going to turn to focus on the White House over the next few years and I will be part of a four person team covering 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for The Post as well.
Never fear, however. The Fix will still be all over the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races in 2009 as well as the 2010 midterm elections and the race for the White House in 2012.
So please make sure to check back early and often!
Chris Cillizza: Folks, my time is up! Thank you for joining me today, for sharing your voting stories and for your continued support of The Fix both today and as we pivot to focus on the White House in the days to come.
Remember to check out our election night viewer's guide on The Fix this afternoon and our updates all night long on the news you need to know from the most exciting day in politics in the past four years!
Have a great Election Day!
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