With 94 percent of the vote reporting, it looks like Arizona's Prop. 107, the gay marriage ban will go down -- 51.6 percent against it, 48.4 percent for it. Of particular interest is Maricopa county (home of Phoenix) which went against the ban. Pima county, home of liberal Tucson, played a big part in the victory -- defeating the amendment by large margins.
Cindy Jordan, chair of No on 107, credits the victory (if it occurs, knock on wood) to grassroots efforts.The big national gay organizations have been notably absent there, and the campaigns have been smart about attracting voters from both conservative Phoenix and liberal Tucson with targeted messages and tactics. "We did this with no national help," says Jordan, "this grassroot's effort was local."
Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant initiatives there are passing by wide margins -- some over 70 percent.
Voters in South Dakota have defeated a draconian ban on abortions, which would have outlawed the procedure in every instance, except to save the life of the mother.
This contest was an important battleground for the grass-roots far-right forces in their quest to overturn Roe v Wade.
It was also an important test of pro-choice strategy; could democracy--something reproductive rights organizations have often been afraid of--be a better guardian of our rights than the legislature or the courts?
In this case, it proved to be.
Partial returns in California still suggest the Golden State might, in an odd way be one the better Red success stories tonight.
Schwarzenegger was immediately projected as re-elected the moment the polls closed. Now the question is just how miserable a finish Democrat Phil Angelides will have. So far, it seems, he risks not getting much more than 40% of the vote and perhaps a lot less.
The downward pressure from the top of the ticket is putting several statewide Democrats at risk. And at this moment, with about 10% of the vote tallied and the caveat that the night here is still young, most of those Dems are trailing.
Except for former Governor and former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown who is way, way out in front in his run for attorney general. Brown emerges tonight as the most popular Democrat in the state and is likely to greatly elevate the profile of the office he will now hold.
Brown has always been at least neutral on Schwarzenegger and they may now become California's new political odd couple.
There are a couple of contested congressional seats in the state, those held by Republicans Doolittle and Pombo. To soon to call, but it looks like the former may survive while the latter could sink into his own pool of corruption.
At this hour of just after 8 pm Pacific, the first significant results are coming in here in the west. And as expected, the first congressional seat to flip Democratic is Arizona's 8th district. As predicted, Democrat Gabby Gifford walloped pro-minuteman GOP rival Randy Graf.
And as I write, CNN has just projected a Democratic majority for the House.
A couple of more victories in the west, like the defeat of Arizona incumbent J.D. Hayworth, and New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson would broaden the new majority.
We'll update those races as more info comes in.
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.