America Decides 2014

midterm election blog

Progressives for Prosperity is covering the 2014 midterm election with up-to-date results and immediate analysis. Will the Democrats retain control of the Senate or Republicans gain a Congressional majority? We find out as America votes. Check back for more.

(11:50 PM EST) Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis win giving Republicans a Senate majority

It’s official: Republicans gain control of the Senate. Joni Ernst, the radical candidate in Iowa, and Thom Thillis in North Carolina handed Republicans their 51st and 52nd Senate seats.

Joni Ernst’s victory is disconcerting. She is a radical pretending to operate within mainstream political society. You can read our profile of her here.

Kay Hagan’s loss in North Carolina is very disappointing for Democrats. Though she was pegged as one of the Senators most at risk during this cycle, she ran a tight race focusing on issues within North Carolina, not the nation at large, and was disciplined in her campaigning. Polls suggested she would be reelected but the trend of this election has been Democrats underachieving in the election.

Mark Werner (i-D) is likely to win in Virginia after a surprisingly strong showing by Ed Gillespie (R) that casts doubt on Democratic efforts to turn Virginia blue. Whether that re-reddening of Virginia is a lasting trend or rather a result of a very bad cycle for Democrats remains to be seen. Since Werner’s victory will be less than 1 percent, it is very likely that Gillespie will ask for a recount of the votes.

Patt Quinn (i-D) has been defeated in the Illinois gubernatorial race. Bruce Rauner will assume the governorship of Illinois, potentially casting doubt on Illinois’s proposal to increase its minimum wage.

Jerry Brown (i-D) has won an unprecedented 4th term as governor of California.

(11:35 PM EST) Pat Roberts withstands strong Independent challenge

Pat Roberts (i-R, KS) has defeated Greg Orman (I, KS), the independent with strong Democratic backing. Recent polls suggested that the race would come down to the wire, but that Orman would pull off an amazing victory. In the end, though, partisan allegiances seem to have been strong enough to deliver Roberts a victory. Independent candidates face many challenges. They have no state-wide infrastructure to conduct GOTV, canvassing, and other actions of voter mobilization. On election day, undecideds are unlikely to vote to for an Independent because of a lack of party affiliation. Especially in a deeply conservative state like Kansas, a voter unfamiliar with the candidates or uncertain for whom to vote is likely to take comfort in the Republican label and vote Republican rather than taking a risk with the Independent. Roberts took heat for not staying in touch with Kansas voters but in the end, that made no difference. The best chance for Democrats to take away a seat from Republicans (Democrats expected Orman to caucus with them) has been lost.

(11:18 PM EST) Scott Walker wins in Wisconsin (have I heard that before?)

Controversial governor Scott Walker once again wins in Wisconsin. This marks his third electoral victory in four years after winning his initial gubernatorial election in 2010, withstanding a recall election in 2012, and now today’s victory. Walker is tough on unions, restricting the collective bargaining power of the teachers union. Those actions spurred his recall election and have caused rifts in Wisconsin society. Regardless, Walker proves a force to be reckoned with. He’s a winner. Walker is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016 and this victory bolsters his standing and resume for grander plans.

Elsewhere: Nebraska and Arkansas pass minimum wage increases. Florida voters reject medical marijuana.

(10:40 PM EST) Rick Scott is reelected Governor in Florida

Rick Scott is projected to be reelected in Florida, withstanding a tough campaign by Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist. In typical Florida fashion, legal action was taken and the race was not called until some 99 percent of the vote was tallied. Despite declining popularity and a diva moment regarding a fan in a debate, Scott will serve four more years as the head of the most notorious swing state in America.

(10:26 PM EST) Cory Gardner wins in Colorado

Cory Gardner (R) defeats Mark Udall (i-D) in Colorado, representing another pickup for Republicans and lowering their magic number to 1. Udall’s campaign was focuses largely on social issues, especially that of abortion. Critics of his campaign chide Udall for his lack of economic populism and instead fixating on the contentious issue of abortion rights. A late effort to mobilize Latino voters proved too little too late, though it will be interesting to compare this year’s Latino turnout to years prior.

Udall will be questioned in the coming weeks and months about his refusal for campaign help from President Obama. Throughout the country, Democrats who shunned Obama are doing poorly. Allison Grimes (D, KY) faced a large defeat after refusing to say for whom she voted in the 2012 presidential election. Kay Hagan (i-D, NC) also tried to distance herself from the President and she currently finds herself in a very contentious race.

Perhaps a major lesson from this election will be to not distance oneself from the President. Jeanne Shaheen (i-D, NH) initially moved away from Obama but later asked him to do radio advertisements. She won her reelection bid. The President, despite his low approval ratings, is still a celebrity who brings attention and political clout to a campaign. Voters may dislike him, but he’s charming and as we’ve seen, an incredible campaigner. I wouldn’t distance myself from him.

(10:02 PM EST) Republicans pick up a seat in Montana

Their magic number to hold the majority in the Senate is down to 2.

Joni Ernst (R, IA) leads in exit polls in Iowa.

Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado remain too close to call.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has been defeated. He is the first PA governor to lose while seeking reelection.

Senate – 41 D, 45 R, 1 R

(9:50 PM EST) BREAKING: Runoff in Louisiana

There will be a runoff in Louisiana between Mary Landrieu (i-D) and Bill Cassidy (R) on December 6th. Many pundits believe that Landrieu will lose in a one-on-one race with a Republican because of the conservative roots of LA. In the jungle primary, she stood a chance to earn 50 percent plus 1 because, theoretically, the Republicans would split their vote. Eliminating the other candidates, voters can consolidate around Cassidy. Depending on how the races end tonight, we might not know who has the Senate majority until December 6th.

midterm election 2014
Incumbent Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH

(9:44 PM EST) Jeanne Shaheen wins in New Hampshire, Arkansas Medicaid woes

Jeanne Shaheen (i-D) will win in New Hampshire, defeating “imported” senatorial candidate Scott Brown (R). Brown lost in 2012 to Elizabeth Warren (D) in Massachusetts. Trying to salvage his political career, he moved to his home state of New Hampshire to challenge Senator Shaheen. For most of the season, the race was not close. However, in the last week, Brown closed his gap in polls and moved New Hampshire back to a swing state. This is an important victory for Democrats as they desperately try to defend Senate seats in an election whose map is not in their favor.

The election of Asa Hutchinson as governor could threaten Arkansas’s Medicaid expansion. In Arkansas, the Medicaid expansion needs to be approved annually with the support of 3/4 of the members of the House and Senate. Should Hutchinson want to end the Medicaid expansion, which allows Medicaid beneficiaries to purchase healthcare on federal exchanges with Medicaid money, he could make finding the needed votes very difficult. Such an action would cause some 205,000 people to lose healthcare coverage. That’s a big deal.

progressive blog
The Republicans will hold their majority in the House for at least another two years

(9:17 PM EST) Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives

No one’s surprised. Another two years of Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi. Perhaps in 2016 the House will actually be up for contest.

(9:11 PM EST) Another pickup for Republicans

Republicans pickup another Senate seat in South Dakota. At the beginning of the night, Republicans needed to pickup 6 seats to hold a majority in the Senate; now they just need to pickup 3 seats.

They could do that in Colorado, Louisiana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and perhaps even Virginia. Republicans are at risk of losing a seat in Kansas to the Independent Greg Orman.

Rick Scott is beginning to pull away in Florida. With 95 percent of the vote in, Scott (i-R) leads Crist (D) by 3 points. There is no projection yet, but it’s not looking good for Crist.

Greg Abbott (R) easily defeated Wendy Davis (D) for the governorship of Texas. This race received a lot of national attention despite Davis never having had a lead in a poll. Battleground Texas, an organization committed to turning Texas blue, invested heavily in Davis’ campaign needs Davis to lose respectably or else they may lose legitimacy as an organization. Their initial plan was to focus on long-term voter mobilization, looking ahead to 2016, but they bumped up their timetable, seeing a potential upset with Wendy Davis.

Senate – 39 D, 43 R, 1 I

(8:41 PM EST) Cotton wins in Arkansas

Tom Cotton (R) is set to become the youngest Senator and the first born after the bicentennial. At the age of 37, Cotton replaces incumbent Mark Pryor (i-D). The Clinton’s campaigned on behalf of Pryor and, according to CNN, took this race “personally”. Pryor sought to distance himself from President Obama, a move spurred by Cotton’s accusations of Pryor being too much like Obama. Cotton’s Arkansas victory is the second pickup for Republicans. They need to pickup just 4 more seats to have a majority in the Senate.

We’re still waiting for projections on other key Senate races. Shaheen (i-D, NH), Hagan (i-D, NC), Perdue (R, GA), and Gillespie (R, VA) are maintaining their leads. Not enough of the vote is reporting to warrant projections. Meanwhile in Florida, Rick Scott (i-R) has pulled ahead of Charlie Crist (D) with 67 percent of the vote reporting.

Senate – 36 D, 41 R, 1 I

(8:15 PM EST) Update on key races

New Hampshire – Shaheen (D) up 11 points with 8 percent reporting

Georgia – Perdue (R) up 15 points with just 2 percent reporting

North Carolina – Hagan (D) up 3 points with less than 1 percent reporting

Virginia – Gillespie (R) up 6 points on Warner (i-D) with 41 percent reporting. This race is surprisingly close, but we’re still waiting for results from the Democratic strong hold of northern Virginia.

Florida – Crist (D) up 0.3 points on Scott (i-R) with 28 percent reporting. After election glitches in Broward County, Crist appealed for extended voting hours; the emergency motion was denied and Crist will not appeal the decision. All voters in line when polls closed were allowed to vote.

Senate – 36 D, 40 R

Governors – 7D, 11 R

republican senate majority
The Republicans are favored to pickup the Senate, though not much will change if they do

(7:30 PM EST) What happens if Republicans win the Senate?

Nothing. Congress is already split and so polarized that nothing is getting done. The filibuster makes a 60 vote majority necessary to invoke cloture, basically necessitating filibustered legislation have 60+ supporters. Republican usage of the filibuster has blocked many pieces of Democratic sponsored legislation. Undoubtedly, Democrats will be happy to do the same if they find themselves in the minority. Since Republicans will not win 60 seats, it would seem likely that any strongly partisan legislation would be filibustered; if not, President Obama will veto the bill and Republicans will lack the votes to override a presidential veto.

At worst, Republicans will pursue impeachment charges of Obama, none of which will stick. Republicans may pursue ultra-partisan legislation, but none of it will survive minority provisions in the Senate and none would be signed by Obama. In other words, not much would change – Congress would remain a do-nothing institution.

At best, and this is optimistic but not out of the picture, Republicans will moderate and compromise with the Democrats. Why would they soften their rhetoric and compromise their viewpoints? Because of 2016. Republicans are already seen as the party of no, having the Senate majority and failing to pass legislation wanted by the American populace would only reinforce that stigma and damage the image Republicans are trying to build of “doers”. Winning the Senate could force them to moderate if they want to have a chance at winning the presidency in 2016 and maintaining or even increasing their Congressional majority.

Political science states that a politician and party will not succeed if they stray too far from the median voter. You can’t hide when you’re in the majority and that may force Republicans to moderate.

Of course, Americans have a short-term memory and may be willing to forgive ideological actions.

Only time will tell.

Race updates:

West Virginia – Shelley Capito (R) wins the Senate race; this is a pickup for the Republicans

Virginia – Ed Gillespie (R) leads Mark Warner (D) by 19 points with 2 percent of the vote reporting

New Hampshire – Jeanne Shaheen (D) leads Scott Brown by 7 points with less than 1 percent of the vote reporting

Georgia – David Perdue (R) leads Michelle Nunn (D) by 20 points with less than 1 percent reporting

North Carolina – Polls have closed, but there are no projections. Kay Hagan (i-D) has a 3 point lead in exit polls

Florida – Charlie Crist (D) leads Rick Scott (i-R) by 5 points with 7 percent reporting. Crist has requested an extension of polling hours in some counties. His request is going to the circuit court.

Senate – 34 D to 34 R

Governors – 7 D to 9 R

mitch mcconnell election day blog
Mitch McConnell (I-R, KY) is hoping to become the Senate Majority Leader

(7:00 EST) BREAKING: Mitch McConnell wins in Kentucky

CNN has projected that Mitch McConnell will win in Kentucky, defeating Democratic challenger Allison Grimes. Early results showed Grimes doing poorly in the traditionally-Democratic eastern districts. Exit polling data along with these early results were conclusive for CNN to call the race for McConnell. Seen by some as a battleground race, Grimes slipped late in the election season and at one point the DSCC even pulled funding for advertisements.

Other races:

Georgia – no projection, exit polls show 48 percent for Michelle Nunn (D) and 49 percent for David Perdue.

South Carolina – Lindsey Graham (R) and Tim Scott (R) will retain his Senate seat and Nikki Haley will win reelection as Governor.

Senate – 34 D, 33 R

(6:44 EST) Fox News releases exit poll early

At 6:07 PM EST Fox News broadcasted the result of an exit poll in New Hampshire. Polls in New Hampshire don’t close until 8 PM EST.

There’s an agreement among media outlets to not release exit poll data until polls have closed because of evidence that, in the past, voters were dissuaded from voting after seeing the results of exit polls and national projections. In cases like that, voters may believe their vote doesn’t matter. The marginal costs of voting then outweigh the marginal benefits and citizens rationally choose not to vote.

The exit poll had Scott Brown, the Republican challenger, up 1 point over Jeanne Shaheen (i-D, NH), reversing the polling trends. This race could be much closer than expected if the poll is accurate.

Kentucky update: with 1 percent of the vote reporting, McConnell leads by 19 points (it’s much too early to draw any conclusions from the results thus far)

kentucky senate race

(6:33 EST) Polls have closed in Kentucky!

The first polls have closed. Results in Kentucky are beginning to trickle in, you can find them here. Though considered a battleground state, Senator Mitch McConnell (i-R, KY) has been pulling away in recent polls. Allison Grimes, the Democratic nominee, has a long-shot chance at upsetting the Senate Minority Leader in Kentucky. The race has been interesting. At one point the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) pulled all ads from the state and instead diverted resources to the race in South Dakota, where polls showed a tightening race. However, just a few days later the DSCC ceased ads in South Dakota and returned to the Kentucky race.

Kentucky is an interesting state. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Kentucky yet the state is unquestionably red. This election year is marked by two hatreds: hatred for Obama and hatred towards the establishment. Kentucky has both. McConnell’s campaign successfully tied Grimes to Obama and her efforts to undue that connection were awkward, at best, as seen by her refusal to state for whom she voted in 2012. On the other hand, McConnell is the establishment. He’s served many a term in Congress and has led Senate Republicans in their failed effort to prevent Obama from winning reelection. In this case, though, it is very likely the establishment will win.

Nate Silver compiled an interesting map for Kentucky and all battleground states that shows the margins Democratic candidates need to beat in order to win elections. To borrow the example given by 538, Grimes needs to win Jefferson County, home of Louisville, by more than 17 points to beat McConnell statewide.

Keep checking back as further results are made available.

Joni Ernst, live election blog
Joni Ernst is the Republican senatorial candidate in Iowa

(4:34 EST) Iowa and the Democratic Failure

Joni Ernst, the Republican senatorial candidate in Iowa, is expected to win the open Iowa Senate seat. Nate Silver of 538 Blog gives her a 70 percent chance of winning. Recent polls give her lead as large as 7 points. This is a seat Democrats should win, not necessarily because of the strength of the Democratic ground-game or because Bruce Braley is a great candidate but because Joni Ernst is a radical. Didn’t know that? That’s because Democrats often fail to convey Republican radicalism and extremist rhetoric in a way that sticks with voters. This failure could cost the Democrats the Senate.

Ernst is sympathetic to the idea of nullification. Though she has never explicitly endorsed the idea of nullification, she did say “we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification.” What? The Iowa State Senate talked about nullification? It continues:

as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right…we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators—as senators or congressman—that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Bottom line: senatorial action should be guided by the premise that states can nullify laws. This presupposes that states can nullify laws.

States can’t do that. Nullification and idea of state sovereignty over the federal government were huge contributing factors to the Civil War. Some outside group easily could have created a political ad in Iowa with dialogue along the lines of “Joni Ernst is sympathetic to the idea of nullification. I thought we settled that a long time ago, in 1861, with the Civil War.” Strong rhetoric but it would be resounding. It pegs Ernst as a radical. Democrats didn’t do enough to make it clear that Ernst supports an idea that contributed to the onset of the Civil War.

In January of 2014, Ernst stated that President Obama had “become a dictator” and needs to face consequences for his actions, “whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment.” Without substantiating her claims whatsoever, Ernst contends that “he [President Obama] is not following our Constitution”.

I could write a very long article about how Obama is acting within Constitutional limits. Republicans are quick to call for impeachment without any actual grounds for such an action. Their favorite talking point, Benghazi, remains a ridiculous conspiracy. There’s talk of impeachment for his actions in Libya even though they were constitutional under the War Powers Act. Anything other calls for impeachment are on purely ideological grounds – radical conservatives don’t like Obama’s liberal policies and therefore he must be violating the Constitution and should be impeached. It’s ridiculous. That a candidate for the highest legislative house in the country can make such incredulous statements and still be poised to win is the fault of voters and Democratic operatives. I would make an argument about how Obama is not a dictator, but by doing so I would be giving an ounce of standing to her insane assertion. While it’s harder to make good soundbites from these comments because of voter ignorance and apparent readiness to embrace populist anger over unsubstantiated claims, it would be possible to create a lit piece outlining the error in her statements. Or they should create an ad with the soundbite of the image. Voters may be ignorant, but they can tell craziness when they hear it (for the most part). Let Ernst’s words sink her campaign.

Her craziness continues with remarks about Agenda 21. Many people outside of the far-right GOP have not heard of Agenda 21 and there’s a natural reason for that – it’s not a big deal.

Agenda 21 is a voluntary action plan developed by the United Nations and national governments at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. At the Summit, governmental leaders around the world agreed on the need to become more sustainable—to meet today’s needs without sacrificing our future. Agenda 21 presents a vision for how all levels of government—especially in the developing world—can take voluntary action to combat poverty and pollution, conserve natural resources and develop in a sustainable manner.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding agreement that seeks to offer a vision for a better and more sustainable world. Fringe Republicans, though, have seen it as a conspiracy that launches a major threat to private-property laws in America. Ernst is one of them, saying

The United Nations has imposed this upon us, and as a U.S. senator, I would say, ‘No more. No more Agenda 21.’ Community planning — to the effect that it is implementing eminent domain and taking away property rights away from individuals — I don’t agree with that. And especially in a place such as Iowa, where we rely heavily upon our agricultural community, our rural communities. We don’t want to see things like eminent domain come into play

She demonstrate absolutely no understanding of the implications and visions of Agenda 21. What she’s saying nonsense and demonstrates, along with her aforementioned beliefs of nullification and impeachment, the gross lack of critical thinking and reasoning abilities. Ernst is motivated by the likes of Glenn Beck, radicals who perceive threat when there is none. There is no basis for her attacks on Agenda 21. Here’s some text democrats should have used: “Joni Ernst doesn’t believe in environmental sustainability. Do we really want someone who fails to understand the importance of sustainable agriculture to represent the people of Iowa?” and/or “Joni Ernst fails to understand even the most basic pieces of legislation. Her gross interpretations of Agenda 21, which provides a vision for a sustainable future, twist her viewpoints to extremism. Do we really want a Senator who can’t understand basic policy?” Don’t be nice, Democrats, attack her and expose her for the radical she is.

Don’t be nice, Democrats, attack her and other Republicans for the radicals they are.

Will states raise the minimum wage?
Minimum wage increases are on the ballots of 5 states today.

(2:29 EST) What else is being voted on?

The biggest story of the 2014 elections is the race for the Senate. But much else is being voted on today, including marijuana legalization and minimum wage increases.

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in Alaska, Oregon, Florida, and the District of Columbia. The results from Alaska and Florida may potentially shift the political associations of marijuana. Now, marijuana legalization is largely viewed as a liberal idea because it follows social liberation from pre-existing norms. Often identified with youth and “hippies”, should marijuana be legalized in the deep-red state of Alaska, it could cease the partisanship of the marijuana debate. Both parties would have to accept that the coalition supporting marijuana legalization cuts a different sect of society than coalitions supporting the president and the legislature.

One would expect the liberal havens of Oregon and DC to legalize marijuana. Florida is a perpetual swing state with deeply religious areas and a significant senior-citizen vote; we would expect both segments of society to reject the marijuana proposal. Whatsoever the results in these states, it seems that the course of history is swinging towards the legalization of marijuana and as such the narrative should refocus to appropriate regulations and determining short- and long-term health risks associated with marijuana inhalation and exposure to marijuana.

Five states are deciding whether to increase the minimum wage. The states and their proposals are as follows:

Alaska – Alaskans today are voting on whether to raise their minimum wage, over the course of two years, from $7.75 to $9.75, tied to inflation. This is a nice increase considering that the living wage as determined by MIT for an individual worker is $9.37/hour. The proposal is likely to pass.

Arkansas – Arkansas’s minimum wage is currently below the federal minimum of $7.25/hour. The proposal being voted on today would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 by 2016. The living wage for a single adult in Arkansas is $7.86, so the new proposal would assure all single workers of earning a living wage. Polls suggest that the minimum wage increase will pass.

Illinois – Voters in Illinois will have a chance to pass a non-binding increase of the minimum wage from $8.25 to $10/hour, above the Illinois living wage of $9.66. However, even if the voters pass this proposal, nothing would happen. The state legislature and governor need pass and sign a minimum wage increase. There is hope that passing the measure would create a “mandate” whereby the legislature would have to raise the wage. Governor Pat Quinn (i-D) said that if reelected, he would sign a minimum wage increase but his adversary, Bruce Rauner (R), has not expressed support for a $10 minimum wage. Voters are likely to pass this non-binding measure.

Nebraska – Nebraska’s minimum wage proposal would raise the wage from $7.25/hr to $9 by 2016, well above the $8.23 living wage. There are no recent polls from which to gauge support for the measure, but a poll from March showed 55 percent support.

South Dakota – South Dakota’s minimum wage is only $6.25/hour, which gets defaulted to the federal minimum. The proposal would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 in 2017 which, owing to the low cost of living of South Dakota, is decently higher than the living wage of $7.44. This proposal would also increase the tipped minimum wage from the federal minimum of $2.13 to $4.25. Recent polls show strong support for the measure and it is likely to pass.

Interestingly, four of the states considering increases to the minimum wage are red states. All of them succeed in increasing the minimum wage to a level higher than the living wage, assuring that no full-time worker will live in poverty or struggle to pay for basic housing, medical care, utilities, etc. It seems gridlock on the federal level has spurred even red states into taking action. Cities across the country are considering minimum wage increases as well. San Francisco, my home town, is considering an increase to $15/hr by 2018, much higher than its living wage. While such an increase could actually be inflationary and bad for employment, San Francisco is taking active steps to fight rampant inequality. States and cities are taking important steps to protect employees in the light of stalled national proposals.

Senator Mary Landrieu (i-D, LA)
Senator Mary Landrieu (i-D, LA)

(1:07 EST) With all the buzz of the Republicans gaining a senate majority (which is likely to happen), it’s often overlooked that we might not know for up to 2 more months.

In Louisiana and Georgia, if a single candidate fails to get a simple majority of the vote, a runoff election is held. Louisiana has what’s known as a jungle-primary for congressional elections, which means, essentially, that the general election is a primary election. There is no primary beforehand so multiple candidates from the Democrats and the Republicans are running, as well as numerous third-party candidates. If a candidate receives an outright majority, the election is over. However, if no candidate earns a majority of the vote, there is a runoff election between the top two vote getters. Mary Landrieu (i-D) is trailing in the polls to one Republican contestant, Bill Cassidy, but the persistence of another Republican candidate is preventing the top two candidates from polling a majority. It’s likely that neither will receive a majority and the election will proceed to a runoff on December 6th.

In Georgia, a Libertarian candidate is polling just high enough that it seems unlikely that David Perdue (R) or Michelle Nunn (D) will receive a majority of the votes. Though unlikely, it could happen that Perdue outright wins tonight as he has been surging recently in the polls. Like Louisiana, should no candidate win a majority, a runoff will be held. The Georgia runoff would occur January 6th, three days after Congress convenes meaning that the 114th Congress might not know which party is in the majority until after it begins session.

Election Day 2014!
Election Day 2014 is upon us!

(12:20 EST) It’s finally here!

For political junkies, the dawn of election day instills the same excitement as Christmas morning does for young children. We’ve been dreaming of this day since, well, since President Obama was reelected. Many of us even wrote letter’s to political deities asking for a Democratic or Republican Senate majority (please, James Carville, bestow to us a Democratic senate!).

After nearly $4 billion spent on the election – some $2.4 billion of which was spent on advertising, up from “just” $100 million four years ago – Americans are finally emerging from the fog of flyers, advertisements, and canvassers to make their voices heard. If you live in a battleground senate state, like Colorado, North Carolina, Iowa, and Louisiana to name a few, you have the Supreme Court to thank for your inundation with political advertisement. According to OpenSecrets, over 1200 SueprPACs have spent almost $340,000,000 on this election, much of it coming in negative ad barrages. So it’s been an expensive election. We’re growing used to that narrative. Will all this spending have an effect on the results?

There are generally two types of campaigns: a motivation campaign and a persuasion campaign. A motivation campaign relies on getting out the vote (GOTV). This assumes that if a larger fraction of the electorate votes, the campaigners will win. Barack Obama’s two presidential elections relied heavily on motivation – his vaunted data allowed volunteers to target those who were sympathetic to his policies but may not have voted otherwise. Looking at voting trends, there is a noticeable uptick in 2008 and 2012 caused by Obama’s GOTV efforts. While his campaign was not entirely motivational – he still had to persuade a number of independents in swing states – mobilizing many minority voters had a noticeable effect on the overall election results.

A persuasion campaign focuses on making voters believe that your policies are best. Republicans excel at persuasion campaigns because of their edge in rhetorical practice (rhetoric which often times borders on or is blatantly fallacious). Both the presidential election in 2012 and their midterm efforts in 2014 have focused on persuasion. Though Republicans have invested heavily in voter mobilization, playing catch-up to the Democrats enormous technological advantage, the brunt of their efforts have been to convince independents and moderates that Democrats – and by Democrats, they almost always mean President Obama – has failed the country and that Republican congressmen would initiate policies that benefit Americans. It’s an easy narrative to sell when the President’s approval numbers are at an all-time low.

A big question during this election will be voter mobilization. Midterms are typically dominated by Republican voters. Turnout is usually only 40%. If the opening of Obama’s voter database to senatorial campaigns proved successful in mobilizing voters, results might very well differ from the most recent polls. That’s the Democratic hope, at least. Is it likely? Almost all election forecasts and models show a Republican senate majority and we believe, as well, that will happen. Of course, it’s not over until every vote is counted, but it seems increasingly likely that Republicans will control both houses of Congress.

Keep checking back for more analysis of candidates and races, we’ll be posting all day.

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