November 8th, 2006

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Midterm Mid-Result Impressions

Very interesting. Some odd surprises for me not covered by talking heads.

1) Surprisingly strong showing by independent candidates. I'm not talking Leiberman. In a number of states, the independent candidates are polling in the double digits. That's a significant departure and especially noteworthy in light of other trends showing voter frustration with status quo and general difficulties for underfunded 3rd parties.

If someone pumped $100 million into the Greens, they could become a significant political force at this stage. Even better -- a third party with serious name recognition and cash running almost exclusively on populist economic platform could, I believe, capture a significant number of seats and make a real run for the Presidency.

2) Ds do more poorly in the Northeast than expected, by offset but surprise gains in central US. The Ds did surprisingly poorly in OH and upstate NY. Yes some wins, but not the projected landslide. OH in particular is puzzling, since voters clearly split their tickets between Senate Candidate Sherrod Brown and the R incumbent in their district. Any hope for the Ds in 2008 must include serious analysis of what happened in OH.

OTOH, Ds pick up some unexpected gains in KY and IN and look to pick up seats in KS.

Critical issues for Ds appear to be the War and populist economic issues. The traditional social issues that are the hallmark of the Clinton Ds -- such as gun control and reproductive rights -- are non-issues in places where Ds picked up votes. The critical social "wedge" issues now appear to be stem cell research and gay marriage. (Reproductive rights is an important issue for the base of each party, but appears to have little impact on the swing voters).

3) Republican voter turnout machine still extremely impressive. Despite an endless set of setbacks, they can still get the votes out. Ds need to keep own party solid -- which means resolving split between DLC/Clintonistas and "Netroots"/Deaniacs and "Blue Dog Ds" enough to develop a coherent platform and ensure turn out of both base and new registrants.

More later.
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My day job just got a lot easier

The defeat of Conrad Burns is extremely good news for those who oppose media consolidation and support network neutrality. Burns has been a long-time wholly owned subsidiary of the NAB and corporate interests generally. In fairness, Burns was at least somewhat supportive of unlicensed spectrum use, but not nearly enough to compensate.

An Allen defeat will also help in this regard, although Allen was better on a number of intellectual property issues (as NOVA is tech country not content country).

OTOH, I do not take VA as a given yet. The absentee ballots still could overcome Webb's lead. It will make an enormous difference whether the absentee ballots in VA come from pro-Webb voters who feared using electronic voting machines or Pro-Allen voters in traditional Republican enclaves like the military.