Last night's returns contained a few surprises, but for the most part, were only surprising to people who hadn't been paying much attention, and to those conservative commentators who had been predicting a Republican takeover of the Senate and House gains in the neighborhood of 80-100 seats.
As always, there were an assortment of ballot initiatives and other random acts of direct democracy that voters dealt with today. The two most famous, California's Prop 19 (legalization of marijuana) and Prop 23 (suspending the state's carbon emissions law), are losing, as polls predicted. On Prop 19, the theory that pot aficionados would hide their vice from pollsters appears to have been less compelling than the theory that pot aficionados would zone out on election day. More likely, the recent California law that reduced penalties for possession of small quantities of weed to a $100 fine un
This is hardly a surprise, but it appears the Pacific Coast states will give Democrats a nice sunset for an election day that's certainly been full of violent storms. If the exit polls are at all on track, not only are Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown romping to comfortable victories, but we may not have to wait days or weeks to see if Patty Murray will survive. There's still a close governor's race in Oregon to resolve (the exits in that race feature the biggest gender gap I've ever seen, which may be attributable to the fact that Republican Chris Dudley is a former NBA player), and seven or eig
So far it looks like Republicans are meeting, and maybe even slightly exceeding, generally expected (50-60 seat) gains in the House; they are in the process of picking up a lot of seats in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Senate's another matter, at least until Pennsylvania, Illinois, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington are resolved. All these races appear to be very, very close.
One of the side-stories of this election will be how well Sarah Palin's adopted "Mama Grizzlies"—female conservatives—are doing.
It's beginning to become clear that the exact shape of this election (beyond the near-certainty of a Republican House and a Democratic Senate) isn't going to be definitively known until pretty late tonight. House races from such target-rich (for Republicans) states as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York are coming in very slowly. Two "early" races in Kentucky are so close that a call may not be made until virtually all votes are in. The Florida governor's race is very close, and although exits suggest Pat Toomey may have an advantage in Pennsylvania, that race, too, is very close. And now exit po
Early indications that Democrats seem to be holding their own in a lot of close races should not be misunderstood as in indication that the Donkey Party is having a good night; far from it. It just doesn't look like the vast tsunami a lot of Republicans—and for that matter, the final Gallup Poll—have been pointing towards. And there is definitely bad news for Democrats.
CNN has released the head-to-head exit polls for selected statewide races where polls were closed, and though caution should be used in accepting this data (remember 2004?), it looks like Ted Strickland may be winning the Ohio governor's race, and that Peter Shumlin may be winning the Vermont governor's race. And hold onto your hats: The data also suggests Joe Manchin is winning the Senate race in West By God Virginia, which means you can forget about any Republican Senate.
The release of exit poll data is maddeningly scattered, but I gather some of the numbers are creating great consternation among Democrats. I don't quite see it. So 41 percent of voters self-identify as conservative? So did 39 percent in 2006, and 44 percent in 2002. (Pew's final poll, which predicted a 6-point Republican advantage, about average, projected that 46 percent of voters would self-identify as conservative). 18 to 29-year-olds are 9 percent of the electorate, half of the percentage in 2008?
So CNN just released the first bit of actually revealing national exit poll data: President Obama's job approval rating is 45 percent positive, 54 percent negative (looks like no one is ambivalent). Comparing this to some of the final polls, the final ABC/Washington Post poll, which gave Republicans only a 4-point advantage in House voting, had the Obama ratio at 46/52. The final Gallup "low-turnout" estimate, which gave Republicans a gigantic 15-point margin, had the Obama ratio at 40/56. So based on this one data point, it looks like a wave, but maybe not a tsunami.