The AP is reporting that marriage bans have passed in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Virginia. In South Carolina 80% of voters approved a ban that not only eliminates the possibility of gay marriage, but also domestic partnerships and other forms of relationship recognition. Wisconsin, which many LGBT leaders had hoped would break the other way, also approved their ban. Fair Wisconsin, the group leading the fight against the marriage amendment, has mobilized thousands of volunteers, and polls were quite tight. The NGLTF sent several staffers there to campaign and do election protection. So it's a dispiriting loss.
This evening's good news goes far beyond the obvious. (Obvious being, Republicans take a pounding, and cretins like Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum join the ranks of the unemployed.) Bernie Sanders became America's first Socialist Senator in history, beating his Republican opponent by a huge margin. When I heard Sanders speak a few months ago, he noted that his focus on economic justice was key to his appeal to socially conservative, patriotic rural white people. (Unlike many of the Democrats that are picking up seats tonight, Sanders doesn't do this by becoming a social conservative himself.) It does look like where they were given a chance to do so this year, many people voted for a slightly more humane economic order. Voters in Missouri (74%) and Ohio(65%) have overwhelmingly chosen to raise the state minimum wage to $6.50 and $6.85, respectively. The minimum wage issue was expected to affect other races by turning out the Democratic base in the way that gay marriage may have turned Republicans out to vote in 2004; it's too soon to say whether that happened. Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Montana also have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot; the pre-election opinion polls looked good, but stay tuned.
Update: According to the networks the Virginia marriage ban will pass. The latest results show 57% in favor. I'll rehash what happened and why when more numbers are in. But one thing that's clear is that the campaign to defeat the ban WAS winnable. The ban is THE most extreme amendment ever presented to voters. It not only bans same-sex marriage but also forbids the recognition of any legal status that "intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage."
Unfortunately, the campaign didn't receive the best support. Many gay organizations gave up early (polls from a year out showed around 58% in favor, but many were moveable). Labor was slow to sign on. And not one of Virginia's Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Virginia (and there are many including AOL Time Warner, MCI Sprint and US Airways) came out against the amendment -- even though ALL of them provide domestic partnership benefits and have employment non-discrimination policies.
Shortly after 10 pm, the evening unfolds splendidly--an excruciatingslow-mo roll-up of the Republicans. Their pain is well-earned and fun towatch.
What spoils the drama for me are the cable talkers and their half-bakedattempts at analysis.
MSNBC should take Chris Matthews out in the parking lot and hose himdown. He puts on a fake confrontation interview with Howard Dean,demanding an end-of-war plan. Please, does no one at the network understand howstupid (and loud) this guy sounds?
Joe Scarborough should look for another line of work, now that right-wingcrackers are out of vogue.
On CNN, they found over-stuffed Bill Bennett and JC Watts to mourn thedefeat of their dearest friends. Who cares? These burned-outRepublicans peddled the usual party propaganda, even as their party wassliding down the rat hole.
That's the point. On a rare night when the Dems are building toward anepic victory--still too early to know for sure--these Cable Guysgive us stale DLC/neocon spin on what's wrong with the Democrats. Thebloggers should get on their case. Now.
While Bill Bennett is on CNN spinning like a loose top--arguing that tonight represents the end of a liberal "Democrat" party… don't tell that to the voters of Ohio. To them, Sherrod Brown is the face of the new Democratic Party, and he won with an antiwar, populist, fair trade, pro-choice, pro-gay rights message – and he did it in formerly Bush country too.
As John Nichols wrote in a recent Nation cover story, "If Democrats want to win statewide races, Brown says, they must reconnect with voters who live in places that have been off the party's map for the past few election cycles."
And that's exactly what Brown did. He met with regular, hard-working folks throughout the state who are struggling just to make ends meet – people anxious about ravaged pensions, mounting personal debt, job loss.....
And Nichol's points out that "Brown's no ‘back to the future' populist…. Brown's ‘we need to make Ohio the Silicon Valley of alternative energy' pitch has resonated with CEOs who don't typically talk up Democrats."
Brown is a decent and smart man who will play an important role in the Senate. For progressives who continue to miss the voice and presence of the late Paul Wellstone, there is reason for hope once again tonight. No matter how the Bennett's of the world spin it.
Here's what is interesting to me at this point:
Anti-war candidates appear to be doing exceptionally well. In Ohio, Sherrod Brown, the most clearly anti-war candidate in a competitive Senate race, has upset Republican Senator Mike DeWine. In New Jersey, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who staked his campaign on an anti-war message, has won.
In Kentucky, John Yarmuth, a Democrat who was especially blunt in his criticisms of the war, has upset entrenched Republican incumbent Anne Northrup. And I especially like what I am seeing from New Hampshire -- no final results, but early numbers show anti-war Democrat Paul Hodes up 53-45 over Republican incumbent Charlie Bass in the 2nd district. In that state's first district, where Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, who was dramatically outspent but who built a strong grassroots campaign based on her opposition to the war, is virtually tied with Republican incumbent Jeb Bradley.
I don't know if Shea-Bradley will be able to pull out a win, but even if she finishes strong it is another signal that voters really are responding to anti-war messages.
So goes Louisville, Kentucky, maybe goes the GOP. In the toilet, thatis. The race is Rep. Anne Northrup, usually reliable Republicanincumbent, versus a supposedly weak Democrat. Only with 70 percentcounted, Northrup is below 50 percent and Yarmouth is above. If sheloses, even narrowly, it's a good signal that the Rs are in much deepertrouble this evening.
Still very early in the evening, but I don't see any Republicanofficials on TV talking up "hopeful signs." In a tight situation, theywould be keeping the balloon aloft at this hour, if only to encourageGOP voters on the West Coast not to give up prematurely. Tonight, theydon't seem to be trying.
We don't know the election result yet and thanks to the MSM killjoys we don't even know the exit polling at the moment, but what we do know is that the electronic voting machines are a threat to the very foundation of our democracy. In yet another failure of competence, machines across the country arefailing to work.
In Indiana officials in 175 precincts were forced to turn to paper ballots and the deadline for voting has had to be extended. In New Jersey, Republicans are complaining that the ballots were pre-marked with a vote for the Democratic Senate candidate. Republican Don Sherwood, who stands accused of knowing how to choke his mistress, had to ask a poll worker how to send his vote. Even Republican "Mean Jean" Schmidt had problems.
There will no doubt be Congressional hearings about these voting machines after the election and there should be. Here at The Nation we want to collect your stories about any problems you may have experienced. Let's document today for investigations tomorrow. Please share them with us in the comment board below.
We are in the weird zone at just after 7 pm EST, when nobody really knowsanything and political types are flashing inside information around the country.
I picked up the following from a Democratic source. It sounds verypromising for Democrats, but don't jump to conclusions at this hour.
First-breakout of exit polls for Senate races in eight states showDemocrats leading:
Virginia 52-47. Rhode Island 53-46. Pennsylvania 57-42. Ohio 57-43. New Jersey 52-45. Montana 50-48. Maryland 52-46.
Republicans are leading in Tennesseee 51-48 and Arizona 50-46.
Again, don't pop any corks yet...but this does make a nice start forthe evening.
With the Allen-Webb race in a dead heat, the Allen campaign is claiming that the incredibly high turnout in Virginia is from Christian conservatives who showed up to vote for the anti-gay marriage amendment. CNN is reporting that over 100,000 more absentee ballots were cast this year than in the last midterm elections, and activists I spoke to said that the wait at some poll stations was over 45 minutes long.
I just got off the phone with Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, the campaign manager of The Commonwealth Coalition, the hard-charging group who've moved the marriage amendment from a right-wing sure thing to a live issue. Gastanaga dismissed the Allen campaign's claim as just smoke and mirrors. She's highly skeptical that high turnout has been motivated from the right-wing. "We're seeing high turnout in northern Virginia where the latest Mason-Dixon poll showed us ahead on the issue 60-38," says Gastanaga.
Gastanaga concedes that turnout is high across the state and includes some right-wing voters, but she says, "There's a lot of intensity on our side of the issue too."
Gastanaga also has heard of reports of voter intimidation and Republican dirty tricks. In Roanoke, two of the voting stations are at churches where marquees read "Vote yes on Amendment 1" and where parishoners had ringed the parking lot with cars covered in vote yes bumper stickers. "Voters had to get through a phalanx to get to the poll," she said.
CNN is also reporting that the FBI is investigating phone calls that inaccurately told voters they may be inelligible to vote. I'll post more when I know more.