Potomac Confidential: Obama Victory, Red States, Electoral College, McCain, Post Newspaper, Md. Slots
Washington's Hour of Talk Power

Marc Fisher
Post Metro Columnist
Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:00 PM

Potomac Confidential fills the midday lull with discussion by Metro columnist Marc Fisher who looks at the latest news with a rigorous slicing and dicing of the issues that define who we are and where we live.

Today's Column and Latest Blog Post: Rapture in the Streets as Multitudes Cheer Obama and Celebrate America and Fist Bumps On U Street: 'We Crossed The Bridge'

Fisher was online Thursday, Nov. 6, at Noon ET in an all-election special edition to hear your stories about the night after on the streets of the city, what this vote means to you and how Washington will change.

A transcript follows.

Check out Marc's blog, Raw Fisher.

In his weekly show, Fisher veers wildly from serious probing to silly prattle, and is open to topics local, national, personal and more.

Archives: Discussion Transcripts


Marc Fisher: Welcome aboard, folks. Just when you thought every word that could possibly be uttered about the election had already been committed to screen or paper, here we are! Actually, we're just starting to mine the vote counts for insights into who we are right now and where we're headed--drill down into the county by county numbers and the exit polling data and well, it's enough to keep an army of academics and reporters busy for, hmmm, four years or so.

Speaking of which, here's the best email of the day:

The subject line says:

"Marist Poll: Matchups for the 2012 Presidential Election -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE"

So like a good reporter, always eager to get a jump on what's coming next, I click. They got me good. Here's the text that comes up from that polling operation at the New York college:

"Did you really open this email?!
Haven't you had enough?!

You'll be hearing from us soon¿but, not this soon.

Best wishes,
Your friends at The Marist Poll"

Nicely done.

But no trickery here today. We're open for your questions, comments and thoughts on the Obama win, Virginia's political metamorphosis, the (gulp) 2009 governor's race in Virginia, slots and tax matters in Maryland, the House races that are still too close to call in both Virginia and Maryland, the D.C. Council results and what they portend for the tensions between council and Mayor Adrian Fenty, the rumors around Michelle Rhee becoming U.S. Secretary of Education, and, if you're so inclined, work the dominos, as Fairfax pols gear up for the special election to replace Gerry Connolly, as he moves from running the county board of supervisors to take his seat in the House.

But first, think about this insight, courtesy of The Post's Mary Pat Flaherty: Check out the election results and you will see that it takes fewer votes to be elected a U.S. Senator from Alaska than it does to win a seat on the Montgomery County school board. What does that say about the equity of D.C. voters having no representation in Congress?

On to your many comments and questions, after we call the Yay and Nay of the Day:

Yay to the thousands of people in that amazing queue of people that stretches all the way up the block on 15th Street NW, people desperately seeking their own copies of yesterday's Washington Post front page. You can't save pixels in a dresser drawer. Who said print is dead?

Nay to the crowd of profiteers who are already gathering around to grab their piece of the pie as Maryland rushes to get slot machines up and running before the state runs out of money. Whether it's the Jockey Club--part of the financially troubled Magna corporation--or a group that includes the son of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos and two former state Democratic Party chairmen, the big boys smell megabucks and they're circling over the State House in Annapolis, ready to swoop in for their share and more.

Your turn starts...right now.


Anonymous: I would like to get your perspective on this issue. I am ecstatic that Obama won! However, looking at the Washington Post's election results by county, America was OVERWHELMINGLY red! I know it did not account for population but it was a sea of red. As a black person I see his election as a tremendous accomplishment for America, then I see the heartland is not onboard. I cannot say their exact reasons, but knowing how some parts of this country are I can attest not all perspectives on race have changed in this country. I want this country to be more united. Maybe the divide is urban versus rural. What is the rural red perspective? Can you help me understand the urban blue and rural red divide in this country?

washingtonpost.com: Map: Presidential Election: Winners by County

Marc Fisher: The map you're looking is indeed quite dramatic--take a quick glance and you'd think John McCain won handily. But take a closer look and you'll see that Obama did far better in just about every place where population is bunched together more densely--in cities, as you'd expect, and in the suburbs of metro areas, which was the real battleground and which Obama did better in than any Democrat in decades.

The wide open spaces do remain largely Republican territory, but the population growth is mainly in the suburbs, and that's where the Dems are gaining fast. Virginia's transformation is one of the best examples in the country of that phenomenon.


Odenton, Md.: Marc -- I understand that most people are happy over Obama's victory; however, for those of us who supported McCain, the celebrations are rubbing salt in a very raw wound. In some cases, we're afraid to say anything for being seen as churlish (or in some cases, shouted down by co-workers). "Congratulations" is about as much as we can manage, but it's still hard to do when we're getting the "in your face" treatment. So, Obama fans -- how about recognizing his election isn't a universal national holiday? You'll need us to play ball with you, but we won't if we get playground taunts.

Marc Fisher: You shouldn't be taunted, of course, and it's good of you to offer your co-workers a polite congrats, but it's also important for all Americans, whatever their political persuasion, to recognize, as McCain did so eloquently in his concession speech (to the strong unhappiness of those in his crowd who booed) that this is a historic turning point, and that for millions of Americans who never really felt entirely part of this society, they are now embracing the country and its ideals in a way that everyone, regardless of ideology, should welcome.


13th St S.E.: I generally disagree with you about 75 percent of the time (popular point needs a stadium!) but I can't agree more about early voting. It was so great to see and talk with all my neighbors standing in line together to vote and having that go away because of early voting would be a shame. Tommy Wells even gave out free coffee! Thanks for doing the chats and continuing to be wrong 75 percent of the time.

Marc Fisher: Many thanks--I'd never want anyone to agree all the time. That would be way too boring. If you agree a quarter of the time, you're my kind of reader. I'd never read a columnist whom I agree with more than 70 percent of the time--what would be the point? I am completely baffled by the attraction of cable TV channels designed to appeal to those who already share the same political viewpoints and sensibility. I far prefer to listen to the other guy's arguments--where else are you going to be challenged?

Anyway, you and I got totally trounced on early voting. Yet I've received dozens of notes in the last 48 hours from people talking about what a joy it was to vote together with neighbors, and how they didn't mind the long queues in the least. Sounds like they're coming around, if too late for Maryland.


Germantown, Md.: The front page picture of the people enraptured by the news of Obama's victory was striking to me. It's pretty clear that people have a need to believe in something larger than themselves. With the decline of the church many seem to be turning to politicians or to a CAUSE such as global warming, which has taken on many of the characteristics of a religion. I'm not sure what this means for us and I'm not sure I like it.

Marc Fisher: Not to dampen the celebration among those who are still cheering, but anytime any large number of people invest so much emotional energy in any one person, I get nervous. The Republican campaign tried to capitalize on that anxiety with their rhetoric about Obama being "The One," but the McCain campaign was so nasty and sniping about that strand of its message that it blew the chance to have a real and serious conversation about the limits of the presidency.

I know most Americans loathe the Jimmy Carterish, small-bore concept of the president as a mere manager of the government, and yet, there aren't really many levers that a president has to pull when dealing with issues such as the economic mess we're in. That said, what a president can do is to use the office as a bully pulpit, to be persuader-in-chief and Obama is blessed with the tools to attempt that in a way that no one has since Reagan.


Alexandria, Va.: Marc, where do I go to get information on how I can be a spectator to the inauguration ceremonies and balls that will be planned? I desperately want to be part of this historic event but I'm just an average joe! It can't be as simple as just walking over to Penn Ave to watch the parade and festivities.

Marc Fisher: Actually, it's just that simple. The grandstand seats tend to be handed out in large numbers to the fancy crowd, but some of those seats will be made available to the public, and along the many blocks where there are no grandstands, it's simply first-come, first to the curb. Get there early and you get a front row seat--but the weather on Jan. 20 can be brutal, so only do it if you're a hardy type.

The balls are a different question. There are usually several that are open to whomever wants to pay for a ticket, so that's a possibility. And there are usually other events that are accessible to the general public as well--Bush had a concert at the Abe Pollin Center starring the then-barely known Beyonce and her friends. I'll bet the Obama camp puts on several such events. Watch The Post and we'll have details of all the events as they are announced.


Alexandria, Va.: Now that we have elected an African-American president, how long do you think it will be until we elect a woman president?

Marc Fisher: If this election teaches us anything, it's to expect the unexpected, and therefore not to put much stake in predictions. A first will always be an issue unto itself but I'd expect that it won't be terribly long before having women running for the top offices is a matter of course. I'm still inclined to think you'll see a woman as veep before you see a woman president, but the Obama example proves that to be a fairly lame prediction.

There are of course ever more women in the pipeline now, both as governors and as senators, and that's the place to look to get a better sense of who it might be and how long it might take.


Washington, D.C.: The red map: Yes, huge swaths of geography are red, but they are largely in lightly populated small towns and rural regions where the demographics are white and older. The Democratic party rules the entire W. Coast (55 electoral votes from California alone), the east coast from Virginia north and most of the upper Midwest. David Brooks said, re the Republican Party, that you can't win envincing scorn for educated people who live on the coasts. Tuesday proved him right.

Marc Fisher: There are more and more such educated people--that's only going to matter more as the rate of college attendance increases, and running a campaign that derides intelligence and embraces anti-intellectualism may soon become a recipe for losing, if it isn't already.

The other big difference as you compare this week's map to the one four years ago is that that blue patch from New England through the mid-Atlantic states is spreading southward, into Virginia as we in this region know best, and on into North Carolina, which is changing demographically in a very similar way to Virginia--lots more college-educated people, lots more brain-powered jobs, lots more affluent retirees, lots more refugees from the North, and lots more immigrants. Every one of those categories means an electorate more open to Democratic appeals.


Red Map: It would have been nice if you had pointed out to the first poster (the one about how much area was still red), that for many and probably most McCain voters, race was irrelevant. It is possible to have voted for McCain without being a morally repugnant person. No need to be disappointed that Obama did not get 100 percent of the vote.

Marc Fisher: Right--there are still many millions of Republicans, about the same number as there are Democrats, and probably most of them are drawn to the party for its traditional fiscal conservatism as well as for its former allegiance to the leave-me-alone school of American ideology. But the GOP has forsaken many of its supporters by straying from those ideals, and that explains some of the votes we saw this week.


Laurel: The "sea of red" is also the reason the Electoral College contradicted the popular vote in 2000. Bush won 32 states to Gore's 19 (counting D.C.), so Bush got the extra 26 Senator electors. In this sense, the Republicans start every election about a million votes ahead.

BTW, with so many Senators from small states, I bet the 57-59 Democrats that the Senate ends up with represent about 2/3 of the U.S. population.

Marc Fisher: Good point--especially that last bit. I bet it's even higher than that, though it does even out a little bit: For (not quite) every Wyoming, there's a Vermont.


Maryland: Hey Marc, come on over a put a few bucks in our slots machine sometime!

Marc Fisher: No, thanks--it's just too passive a game for my taste. But put in a few full-blown casinos and I'm there. Bally's Bethesda. Trump's Colossal College Park. Caesar's of Cheverly.


Catonsville, Md.: Re the slots issue: I voted no, not because I am morally opposed to the state being involved in gambling -- the lottery opened that barn door years ago. My opposition was based on the fact, as you point out, that private companies will reap windfalls from this. The state runs the lottery with the help of outside contractors. I say the state should own the slots parlors and hire someone to run them. The way it is set up now makes it ripe for favoritism and corruption.

Marc Fisher: Or here's my alternative (not that it matters anymore): If the state wants to legalize gambling, I have no problem with that--I just don't want the state running the business or profiting from it. So go ahead and legalize slots, but leave it right there. No state involvement in the location, licensing, or profits of the slots. Just let them operate like any gas station, restaurant or factory.


Alexandria, Va.: Press reports leaking from McCain staffers is that Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country and not a continent. Plus, she did not know the North American countries in NAFTA. Stunning. Now they tell us. Can I get my vote for McCain back?

Marc Fisher: I was waiting to see how long it would take for the McCain folks to start trashing her. Those are great laugh lines, of course, but I'd love to see at least a shred of evidence that this is something other than sour grapes.


Ink-stained Wretch: What's up with the black-and-white Sports and Business sections the last two days? Is the election coverage using up all the color ink?

Marc Fisher: As I understand it, which is only sketchily, there are only so many color positions that the presses can accommodate in a given press run, so the many, many color pages in the election sections required black-and-white pages elsewhere in the paper, and since the story right now is politics, Sports and Business were temporarily asked to return to the good old B&W days for just a couple of days.


Ft. Washington, Md.: Is there any way to get a full copy of yesterday's paper? My morning delivery either didn't arrive or was stolen. By the time I got home everywhere was sold out. I'm very upset about my daily newspaper routine being upset and not having a piece of history.

Marc Fisher: You should be able to find the commemorative Extra Edition of yesterday's paper at most retailers today--and there's a crowd of people out in front of our building buying them here. Or you can order a copy from the comfort of home, by buying it off our web site.


Post Commemorative edition: Hey Marc, not for nothing, but how about The Post showing a little love for actual subscribers like myself by including the Commemorative edition with our delivery? I'm sure if not most then all subscribers would be happy to pay for the extra edition. It would definitely show that The Post is grateful to the subscribers who don't just steal the news every day from the Web site, but actually subscribe and pay for the paper the old-fashioned way. It would show that there is a benefit once in a while to getting the paper delivered and being loyal readers. Instead I guess I'll be out there the masses fighting and waiting hours to buy it on the street.

Marc Fisher: I'd love to see the paper offer commemorative editions as a bonus to new subscribers and to existing subscribers who extend their subscriptions.

I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that we are thrilled to see that print still matters for a great many people, and that for all the splendors of this here new technology, there remains something special about news you can hold in your hand and save for your kids.


Anonymous: I don't know if you could reveal such info, but are you being considered for any cabinet post? I´m thinking Homeland Security. I am a bit puzzled as to why Gates might be held over as SecDef since he's associated so closely with Bush's Iraq policies (rightly or wrongly).

Marc Fisher: The only cabinet post I'll ever be considered for is the one that would stop our dishes from rattling whenever someone walks through our dining room.

But I'd love the Homeland Security job: I'd take office, enjoy the big chair and then announce that we're no safer than we were before that silly name was adopted and I'd dismantle the whole dang thing.

Gates is admired by many on both sides on the war debate, and there are many who believe he's closer to Obama's view of the path forward than to McCain's.


Electoral maps: For those who are interested in the electoral map, there are some really cool maps that resize states according to population or the number of electoral votes they have. It makes the country look quite different when you shrink Wyoming and Oklahoma down to size.

Here's a map blog that rounds up some of the links: The Map Room

Marc Fisher: Excellent stuff.


washingtonpost.com: Post Photo Store


Baltimore, Md. : Northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore: I couldn't help but laugh at the pre-election comments about the "real Virginia." I wonder if those folks ever thought to ponder the name of the most famous Confederate army in the War Between the States. Why, it was the Army of Northern Virginia, of course, led by Arlington native R.E. Lee.

As for the Eastern Shore of Maryland, it's fascinating to me that McCain took every county, but Democrat Frank Kratovil ran overwhelmingly ahead of Andy Harris there in Maryland's First Congressional District. While the final outcome hangs on absentee ballots, it is obvious that the Eastern Shore resents the redistricting that lumped that section of the state in with the most conservative environs of Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel counties. The Shore did not like losing Wayne Gilchrest to an extreme right winger from Baltimore County and when Gilchrest endorsed Kratovil, it made a huge difference. It also proved that Bobby Haircut, who stumped for Harris, doesn't carry much weight on the east side of the Bay.

Marc Fisher: Good points--I'd only add that the Eastern Shore is one of those special places where local perspectives sometimes trump national trends and issues. Even a strongly business-oriented Republican has to be something of a Green on the Eastern Shore, where development, water and pollution issues can overwhelm the usual questions about health care, taxes and war.


Alexandria, Va.: "As a black person I see his election as a tremendous accomplishment for America, then I see the heartland is not onboard."

As a "white person" I have to ask -- Why do you assume my vote was decided by race?

Marc Fisher: Lots of comments rolling in along these lines, and they're of course right. Voting against the black candidate doesn't make you a racist anymore than does voting against the white candidate--unless, of course, that's the primary reason for your vote.


Dear McCain Supports....: I do realize that Obama's victory may seem like 'rubbing salt in a wound', keep in mind that the GOP has been in power for 8 years and basically running crazy taking away the rights of millions of U.S. citizens and making changes to the U.S. that will take decades to correct. So if we're a little excited with the historic event that will change to course of this country, give us a few days to savor this moment. As a gay black man, I feel (excluding the approval of Prop 8 in CA) extreme pride in the U.S.

Marc Fisher: As I've been out talking to blacks who share that sense of joy and pride, I've asked about how lasting they think that feeling will be. Is it keyed solely to Obama? Does this represent a real turning point? And the answers have been remarkably consistent: To my surprise, young and old alike seem to believe that this is a real pivot point, that there's more going on here than Obama himself, that when a substantial portion of white voters put their trust in a black man as their president, that represents a different social dynamic in the country as a whole.


Washington, D.C.: Reverse Bradley Effect?


I'm curious if you are hearing any stories that might suggest this phenomenon. My mother, who generally votes Democratic, was uncomfortable with voting for Obama until the last minute. My father, a retiree and Vietnam vet, who has never voted for a Democrat in his life, was giving me a hard time last night on the phone about "your boy" that won the election. After he handed off the phone to mom and she was sure he was out of earshot, she confided to me: "Your father would never admit it, but he voted for a Democrat, and black man to boot, for the first time in his life". I was floored. Ecstatic, but floored.

Marc Fisher: I have no doubt that there are whites who voted for Obama as a way of telling themselves, or proving to themselves, that they are not as race-conscious as they had once thought, or as others perceive them to be. That's going to be hard to quantify, of course, but I heard views like that in quite a few interviews.

That said, there are also obviously many people who just couldn't bring themselves to vote for Obama, in part on racial grounds. What the breakdown is between these two attitudes is very hard to say.


Silver Spring, Md.: Nay for the Washington Post not publishing more papers on November 5th. There also should have been an Extra edition published Tuesday night. A missed opportunity by Washington Post management.

Marc Fisher: Actually, our production people did indeed print tens of thousands of extra papers to start with, and then did indeed publish an Extra edition on Wednesday--I believe something like 350,000 extra copies. So they are out there, even if they're quickly sold out in many locations. But we're getting reports from all around the area that they are indeed available.


Kensington, Md.: If it wasn't for early voting in Florida three people I know (including my mother) would not have been able to vote. Mom ended up in the hospital Tuesday and two others are hourly workers who could not afford to risk hours in line to vote. My husband was 3 hours late for work, but luckily he's salary and his employer was OK with it. For those two reasons, I voted for early voting though I probably would not take advantage of it.

Marc Fisher: Those are of course legitimate reasons for absentee voting, a process that more than adequately covers those who truly need to vote ahead of Election Day. My objection is not to absentee voting, which is an essential piece of making elections fair, but to early voting, which actually encourages people to vote long before their neighbors do, potentially skewing the results of elections when intervening events may change the dynamic of a particular race.


Arlington, Va.: The Nationals are unveiling their new 2009 jerseys today. How many losses can we attribute to the old jerseys? Will these jerseys be enough to keep them below 100 losses next season? Glad the money isn't being wasted on talented free agents!

Marc Fisher: I haven't yet seen the new jerseys--I'd be at the unveiling, but my first priority was to spend the hour here with you (all together now: Aaaaah!)--but my fear is that they're changing the wrong ones. I loved the old "D.C." alternate hats and Sunday jerseys and the rumor ahead of the announcement was that those would be going away. We'll have details up shortly.


Bethesda, Md.: "However, looking at the Washington Post's election results by county, America was OVERWHELMINGLY red!"

Tom Brokaw said this on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" yesterday. So you too can be stupid and enormously well-paid and "respected".

Marc Fisher: That map is really not a very enlightening way to look at the results, given that vast portions of that redness reflect areas where very few people live. A population-adjusted map like the one linked to above gives a more accurate snapshot. Here's another such link.....


Electoral map: The previous chatter should look at a map that is adjusted proportionally to represent actual population. I just did a quick Google search and found this one, though there are plenty of others:

Maps of the 2008 US Presidential Election Results

The "regular" map tells you nothing when vast expanses of red are occupied by national parks and cattle ranches. For instance, Wyoming looks big, but it has only enough people for a single House member.

Also, even within states, look at vote breakdowns by county. (The N.Y. Times site has an easy interactive map for this.) Even the reddest of states usually have clumps of blue in their urban centers.

Marc Fisher: Cities have been blue-dominated for a long time. The changes are happening in the suburbs, and a good, helpful map will drill down to look at how those areas are evolving demographically and politically.


Annandale, Va.: I told my wife that her employer (she is salaried) had to allow her time to vote and could not dock her pay, by law. She asked where I heard this, and I could not remember. Is this 'law' true, or was I just having a wonderful dream?

Marc Fisher: Sounds like wishful thinking. You'd certainly expect employers to accommodate those who need to arrange a time shift in order to vote, but I've never heard of a state that has codified that into law.


Laurel (in PG County): If as you predict, Laurel Racetrack becomes a slot venue, will parking and admission for racing be free, like they are at Delaware Park and Charles Town?

Marc Fisher: The whole point of Maryland slots is to lure Marylanders back from W. Virginia and Delaware to spend their money closer to home, so the competitive instinct is likely to assure gamblers the same perks they've come to expect out of state. So I'll boldly, if ignorantly, predict free parking. Will that make the difference for you?


Montgomery Village, Md.: Marc -- My wife and I voted in that oxymoronic fashion of "in person absentee" last Saturday at the MoCo Board of Elections -- the only place you could do so. Thye opened at 10, we arrived at 10:20 and found a long line. Everything was handled very well and efficiently so that we were out by 10:55. We had a community experience with other voters, albeit not our immediate neighbors and we didn't have to stand in the rain for 90 minutes or more on Tuesday that our neighbors did. We also didn't make anyone's Tuesday wait any longer. I hope that the state of Maryland figures out a similarly effective, multi-site process for early voting by 2010. Next time you might want to give it a try.

Marc Fisher: No, thanks--I'll go and wait for however long it takes so that I can have the full Election Day experience. On Tuesday, I ran into half a dozen folks I haven't seen in a long time, I got to introduce my daughter to several old friends and neighbors, and I got to meet my Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner outside the polls. That's all Election Day stuff that just doesn't happen to early voters.


"Undervotes": I'm a D.C. voter who did not make a choice for some of the races on my ballot (the ones for which I had absolutely no information about the single candidate listed, like the school board). Is is true that my ballot is then considered to be an "undervote" by the scanner, and not counted unless there is a need to decide a contest? As I wrote in the name of a certain council member (and yes, I remembered to connect the arrows), this is very upsetting to me.

Marc Fisher: No, your ballot is automatically counted on the first run through, as I understand it. Look at the D.C. results for proof: The total number of votes in some of those down-ballot races is well under the total in the presidential race, so obviously the tallies include a great many ballots from people like you who voted only in the contests at the top of the ballot.


Washington, D.C.: Remember how the Clinton folks in the W.H. stole keys from the computer keyboard and glued the keys together etc., before they left the W.H.? You have to give W. credit for going out of his way to be a gentleman and head a smooth transition of power.

I do hear Cheney is leaving his Darth Vader costume for Biden!

Marc Fisher: You would certainly think that after the Bush folks made such a big hullabaloo about how poorly they were treated on their way in the door that they'd be extra special nice on their way out, and good for them if they keep that promise.


Obama: For all the talk about electing a black man -- no one seems to point out that he's 1/2 white, and was raised by a white mother and white grandparents. His skin is dark, but in my opinion he fits in more with white people than black people.

On another note, any ideas on who's running for governor of VA next year?

Marc Fisher: I have to say that while I understand the historic nature of this election and the remarkable emotional power that the election of a black man has not only at home but around the world, I've always found it odd that we as a society choose largely to ignore the fact that Obama is as much white as he is black. If nothing else, this ought to help advance the notion that race is an artificial construct, one that has little basis in science and little meaning in genetics. But there's remarkably little discussion along those lines--yet another illustration of the mythic power of race as a defining concept in this society.

Re VA governor's race. The Republicans have already settled on attorney general Bob McDonnell, who gets to sit back and raise money while the Democrats fight it out: It will likely be a three-way primary battle among Del. Brian Moran from Alexandria; state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who represents the Charlottesville area; and Terry McAuliffe, the former Clinton fundraiser and Democratic party chair who lives in northern Virginia.


Time off to Vote -- Part II: I am aware of the following states that have laws requiring time off to vote (based on where my employer operates): CA, NY, IL, TX, GA.

Marc Fisher: Ah, excellent--thanks for the info.


Laurel (in PG County):: Re: Free parking and admission

Of course they make a difference. It's current $5 just to go in before you make a wager.

Marc Fisher: But if you're going inside to dump $100 or whatever, why does the parking fee make a difference? (That said, I'm all for free parking in a place like that. Suburban sports teams should take a lesson from the gambling casinos.)


Alexandria, Va.: When I read the rumor that Michelle Rhee might be considered for Secretary of Education, my immediate reaction was "Please God, dear Lord no," and I do not usually invoke God into my thought process. A much better choice would be Marion Wright Edelman.

Marc Fisher: That's where my Please God, no reflex kicks in.

Better that both of them keep their current jobs. How about dissolving the Department of Education and returning responsibility for schools back where it's supposed to be, with state and local officials?


If slots are such a good idea ...: ... why not install some of the bandits at Camden Yards? Would give the crowd something to watch.

Marc Fisher: Great idea--that could restore Orioles attendance instantly, and jack up the gambling arms race, forcing the District and the Lerners to line Nationals Park with blackjack tables.


Alexandria, Va.: I voted for Obama and race had nothing to do with it for me. But given that Obama is 50 percent white, and some argue, a greater percentage of Arabic origin than black, why is so much emphasis being placed on him as being our "first black president"? What percentage of African ethnicity is the minimum you need to qualify as "black"? My biggest hope is that as a result of this election we're taking our first step toward not having to talk about this stuff anymore. I voted for the man, not his heritage.

Marc Fisher: A couple more on this topic....


Alexandria Again: I would also like to say that as a "white person" that voted for McCain, I also see this election as a tremendous accomplishment for the country.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Marc Fisher: I like your attitude.


Washington, D.C.: To "Anonymous", please note that a vote for McCain over Obama does not make a person racist. Geez...

Marc Fisher: Ok, now a radically more local topic....


Washington, D.C.: While I am thrilled that Obama won, and felt awesome to be at 14th and U celebrating. I would also like to point out another major race...Frank Winstead lost his ANC seat! I don't even know who won but I know he lost. Do you think this means no more secret videos of rogue ping pong tables?

Marc Fisher: The man who beat the anti-ping pong tables commissioner is Tom Whitley, and he did so quite handily. Will this loss stop Winstead from continuing his vigilante video series on double-parked delivery trucks and kids who dare to play ping pong on public sidewalks? Hard to say, but at least now he won't be conducting his crusade with the imprimatur of public office.


Upper NW D.C.: Wow, some real and rational people on some of the ANCs. Who would have thought?

Marc Fisher: I have a post up on Raw Fisher with some more details on a number of victories for commissioners who have promised to stand tall against the NIMBYs who oppose all development and peddle the false promise of bucolic suburbia in the midst of a big city.


How about dissolving the Department of Education and returning responsibility for schools back where it's supposed to be, with state and local officials? : President Reagan, is that you?

Marc Fisher: Weeellll....


Athens, Ohio: Actually, I believe that the Clinton administration did not do any of those things "Washington, D.C." noted. Those were just stupid rumors put out by some of W.'s minions.

Marc Fisher: Oy, do we really have to go back and fight that one again? If I recall correctly, there was never any proof that the gluing of keyboards actually happened.


Alexandria, Va.: RE: Red counties -- yes, there is a lot of red, but if you look at the numbers, in many, many of those counties Obama got 40 percent or higher of the vote -- so you need to get past the color on the surface and understand that even in those red counties, there are many many people that voted Obama.

Marc Fisher: And conversely, many in the blue counties who voted for McCain. Much as each side harbors the dream of unanimity or even just consensus, the fact is that we have three reasonably equally divided factions in this country--hard core Dems, hard core Repos, and people in the middle (the latter category includes those who just can't be bothered)--and that's probably for the better, at least as long as we offer one another some modicum of respect.


RE: Clinton Keyboard: Oh please. Removing the 'W' key from all W.H. keyboards was hardly making Bush's transition difficult. It was a joke the senior class played on the freshmen. Geez.

Marc Fisher: No more calls, please--yes, we know, the allegations were mainly specious.


Calvert County: Calvert County went for McCain but with a smaller margin than expected. But what to me was stunning was all three candidates endorsed by the Calvert County Republican party lost in the race for the school board. Steny Hoyer trounced his opponents in Calvert as well. This was a very red country until recently and I think these results show just how much ground the local Republicans have lost recently.

Marc Fisher: Southern Maryland's population is growing and changing almost as dramatically and quickly as the outer suburbs of Virginia, so it's no surprise that the old political patterns are breaking down.


Downtown: Now that there are slots, perhaps Maryland can take a more logical steps and sanction poker. Think about it: Poker is a game that actually requires a lot of skill (okay, and a little luck) and would attract a different subset of gambler than the dead-eyed souls who frequent slots. I know I'd travel up to Laurel or Pimlico from the District if there were poker rooms (other states have done this--Montana and California, for example, have a long history of successful poker rooms). I'd even probably place a bet on a horse race or two.

Slots? Not so much.

Marc Fisher: In a state with a population as affluent and worldly as Maryland's, you make a lot of sense. Of course, if you opened poker rooms, you'd pretty much clean out the college campuses and high schools as kids flocked to make big money rather than write their Economics papers.


Washington, D.C. : The Post selling out yesterday: What I want to know is, how many of the people moaning that they couldn't get a paper on Wednesday dropped a whole 50 cents for one on Tuesday or today? I buy the paper every day here near work(can't get in delivered in Baltimore)and couldn't figure out why all the street boxes were empty in the afternoon. Duh! But I wish it would happen more often.

Marc Fisher: Yeah, I've love to require everyone in the queue outside to buy a subscription. But hey, it's a free country and you're allowed to read everything we write without paying a dime.


Those red voters in red states: Just a point to the first poster. The same folks in the red parts of the country most likely didn't vote for the multitude of white men running as the Democrat before them. In fact, Obama improved on margins among whites in many red states. These voters are "not on board" with the Democratic party, haven't been for 40 years. Not about Obama as much as issues.

Marc Fisher: And another on this point....


I cry crocodile tears for the McCainites: After suffering through two Bush victories and one hanging chad, I shout from the rooftops DEMOCRATS RULE!

Marc Fisher: Well, that's not exactly reaching out the hand of friendship, is it?


Simi Valley, Calif.: Ronald Reagan may have spoken about reducing the size of the federal government (abolish Dept. of Education comments), but the federal government grew by more than 5 percent during his terms. The size of the deficit more than doubled. Not exactly small federal government.

Marc Fisher: That's the Reagan-Bush legacy: talk small, but spend and grow the government like mad. There is something inexorable about the growth of government, like that of college tuitions. They seem to have little relationship to the rest of reality.


RE: Clinton staff trashing the White House: That isn't true!!!

The White House vandal scandal that wasn't (Salon.com, May 23, 2001)

Marc Fisher: Thanks but we're not going to take more calls on this issue right now.


Anonymous: "So, Obama fans -- how about recognizing his election isn't a universal national holiday? You'll need us to play ball with you, but we won't if we get playground taunts."

This is indeed churlish. I'm sorry if your feelings are hurt by your loss, but genuine celebration and happiness is hardly rubbing it in anyone's face. History has just been made. People are going to react to that. And faith in the power of the vote has just been restored -- a welcome transformation after the events of 2000. How is that a "playground taunt"?

Marc Fisher: Fair enough.


Washington, D.C.: So what do you think about possibly having a U.S. senator that can vote on laws but cannot vote in elections because he broke the law? Isn't that a little... ohhhh I don't know... odd?

Marc Fisher: He's a rogue, but he's our rogue, they're saying. As despicable as his crimes may be, I have a soft spot in my heart for voters who knowingly elect crooks. It's a strange sort of commentary on the system, but it sure sends a message.


Brea, Calif.: Regarding Proposition 8: Last night, the chickens won. In California, voters elected to give certain rights to farm animals, while at the same time they chose to eliminate the right of gays to marry the person they love. But if this election proved anything it is that in the United States of America progress is inevitable, sometimes is just takes time. These hate-based initiatives pass with a narrower margin with each election. Change is on the way and history will recognize our struggles. The chickens may have been victorious last night, but this caged bird knows he'll get to sing very, very soon.

Marc Fisher: I like your spirit, but the progress you crave won't come as long as supporters of gay marriage think of those No voters as "hate-based." There are real and serious issues of faith and upbringing at stake here, and attitudes change from familiarity and the defusing of anger and fear, not by the hurling of accusations.


G'burg, Md.: I wonder if McCain will get a gig on Comedy Central...

Marc Fisher: He'd be great, but I think the more likely talk host is his running mate.


Section 128 Row H: In conjunction with the new jerseys, can the Nationals lease the "Yes, we can!" slogan from the Obama campaign?

Marc Fisher: That wouldn't be a campaign so much as a long march, no?


Washington, D.C.: Is there any evidence anywhere that any American voter was swayed to vote for Obama because of Mayor Fenty's efforts? I know he got a few junkets out of the area, but then he didn't even show up on time to the roll call at the convention.

Marc Fisher: The whole surrogates phenomenon leaves me totally flat. Is there a single McCain voter in Virginia who was persuaded by Rudy Giuliani and Jerry Kilgore stumping around the state? Or a single voter in Ohio who was won over to Obama by Adrian Fenty? I'd love to meet such a person but I don't think it's going to happen.


Alexandria, Va.: Kids writing economics papers should know that playing poker as an investment strategy is only slightly less risky than playing the lottery. If they didn't know that, they wouldn't make very good economists anyway.

Marc Fisher: Depends on how good they are at the game. For the vast majority, you're right. But for those few who have the memories and strategies to make it work, it's a living.


RE: Obama: As an African-American I resent statements such as that made by the previous poster. "Fits in more with white people than blacks"? On what grounds? Because he is educated, articulate and now the president? I wish people would understand that President-Elect Obama is not an anomaly in the African-American community and rather the standard. Just because stereotypes are perpetuated in entertainment and media does not mean that they are fact.

Moreover, black people didn't conceive or invent the "one-drop rule." It just happens to be a part of this ridiculous social construction called race.

Marc Fisher: Quite right--but I wonder if that one-drop mentality will shift with a new generation of intermarriage.


Anonymous: "Of course, if you opened poker rooms, you'd pretty much clean out the college campuses and high schools as kids flocked to make big money rather than write their Economics papers."

At least they wouldn't be in the bars.

Marc Fisher: You could use the other silly excuse that toxic parents wheel out: At least they'd be doing it in public instead of cloistered off in their rooms.


Marc Fisher: That has to kick things in the head for today. Back next week and we'll see about shifting gears into some non-political topics.

In the meantime, lots more election analysis and info coming up on the blog and in the column. Thanks for coming along.


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