Saturday, November 15, 2008


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This is a high-risk, high-reward opportunity for Hillary Clinton. If she accepts, and serves out six or eight years in a popular Obama administration, then she is practically guaranteed the Presidency in 2016 ... However, there is always a chance she will be replaced, or that Obama will not be a popular President. In either of these scenarios, taking the job might make it the last job Hillary Clinton has in politics.
That commentary is from Chris Bowers at Open Left. I tend to agree with the gist of what Chris has to say -- were Clinton to accept Obama's offer to become Secretary of State, her political fate would be tied fairly strongly to the success or failure of his administration.

The fundamental question I am concerned with, however, is slightly different. If Hillary Clinton's goal is to become President of the United States in 2016, would she improve her odds by accepting the Secretary of State position? The answer to this question is less clear.

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Emanuel Roasts Colbert



Malia and Sasha Obama


Hillary Clinton

While we wait for Obama to make Hillary an offer, or not, and we await her reply, or not, it is good to enjoy the reprise of the old Obama/Hillary contest. “On Friday, a speaker at the City University of New York Women’s Leadership Conference mentioned the story about Hillary’s possible appointment and several hundred women burst into applause,” writes Gail Collins in the New York Times. “All around the country, the news reminded old Hillary supporters of a nagging pang of disappointment, the feeling that the great election bandwagon had left something behind.” Meanwhile, what do the Obama people think their man is up to, offering a job to his arch-rival? “I know, my little Obama hyperpartisans. You spent a year of your lives trying to keep Hillary out of the White House because she voted to let the Bush administration invade Iraq. And now, your man is talking about letting her be the point person on foreign policy. What happened to the transformative change?” We’ll find out soon enough.


Alaska Update: Begich Leads By 1,061, Then 1,022
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There's been an update today in the Alaska Senate race, with 11,612 more votes counted. Mark Begich now leads incumbent Ted Stevens by 1,061 votes.

Later update: 1,022. An additional 3,333 votes have been counted and Stevens pulled back 39 votes.

About 510 questioned ballots from Southeast, the Peninsula and Southwest Alaska

About 5,180 absentee and questioned ballots from Mat-Su

Questioned, absentee ballots from Richardson Highway and the Interior

About 3,600 absentee and questioned ballots from Western and Northwest Alaska, and North Slope

Monday the extra Richardson Highway ballots will be counted, and Tuesday another 24,000 or so ballots will be counted from Anchorage, Southeast, Kenai Peninsula and Southwest Alaska.

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Dartmouth Study: Minnesota Undervotes Should Favor Franken

Dartmouth professors Michael Herron, Jonathan Chipman and Jeffrey Lewis have put together a terrific study of the recount situation in Minnesota. They suggest that -- while many African-American voters in the Minneapolis area may have skipped the senate race intentionally -- the majority of unintentional undervotes that will be counted during the recount process are also liable to favor Franken.

We show using a combination of precinct voting returns from the 2006 and 2008 General Elections that patterns in Senate race residual votes are consistent with, one, the presence of a large number of Democratic-leaning voters, in particular African-American voters, who appear to have deliberately skipped voting in the Coleman-Franken Senate contest and, two, the presence of a smaller number of Democratic-leaning voters who almost certainly intended to cast a vote in the Senate race but for some reason did not do so. Ultimately, the anticipated recount may clarify the relative proportions of intentional versus unintentional residual votes. At present, though, the data available suggest that the recount will uncover many of the former and that, of the latter, a majority will likely prove to be supportive of Franken.
The Darmouth guys don't offer a specific prediction about whether the number of recounted votes is likely to tip the balance of the race toward Franken, but their entire study (PDF) is worth a read.

(h/t Andrew Gelman)

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Begich Gains in Alaska as More Votes Are Counted

The Anchorage Daily News starts its story today on the slow Senate election count with: "Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is in grave danger of losing re-election." When used in a medical context, "grave danger" means "will likely die today." In a political context it means "Mark Begich is about to become a U.S. senator." His election will bring the Democrats' total to 58, with Minnesota and Georgia still undecided.

On Friday, more absentee and provisional ballots were tallied including all the ballots from Matanuska-Susitna Borough (Wasilla), the core of Stevens support. At the start of the day Begich was ahead by 841 votes but that has now grown to 1022 votes. The remaining 24,000 votes are largely from Anchorage and Juneau, areas where Begich is well known and popular, but also from the much smaller Kenai Peninsula, where Stevens is popular. The remaining ballots will be counted Tuesday. The slow counting is a result of the careful checking of each provisional ballot to see it is indeed from an eligible voter. After the final vote is in, the losing lawyers will hitch up the dogs and mush on up to the state capital to challenge the results. A recount is likely in any event.

Probably many Republican senators are secretly breathing a sigh of relief at the prospect of Stevens' losing. Few of them want a public trial of Stevens followed by a vote to expel him from the Senate. It draws too much attention to Republican corruption. Better that he just quietly lose to the popular Anchorage mayor. Begich doesn't seem to be worried. He is off on vacation at Disneyland with his wife and 6-year-old son.

Charlie Brown Closes the Gap in CA-04

In CA-04, state senator Tom McClintock (R) leads retired Air Force Lt. Col. Charlie Brown (D), but his lead is diminishing. It is now 533 votes--down from 1248 yesterday. This gain by Brown was expected as yesterday's count was from Nevada County, a Democratic stronghold. The remaining 35,000 absentee and provisional ballots come from a mix of counties so the race is still a tossup. The seat is vacant due to the (forced) retirement of John Doolittle, who had close ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The 2012 Race Has Started

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are on the Sunday talk shows tomorrow to start testing the presidential waters. Jindal is young and relatively inexperienced, but the election of Barack Obama shows that these are not necessarily handicaps. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine Jindal running on a platform of change. What does he want to change from? Or to? Ultimately, reelection campaigns are always about the incumbent. If Obama does well and is popular, he will be reelected, no matter who the Republican nominee is. If he does badly, the Republicans can say "We're more competent" although the memories of the Bush administration will still be moderately fresh.

Senators Leahy and Sanders Oppose Chairmanship for Lieberman

Two Democratic senators, Pat Leahy (R-VT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have publicly called for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to be stripped of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. The Democratic caucus will probably vote on how to handle this situation. Many Democrats are very angry with Lieberman for supporting John McCain, but they also need his vote on cloture motions, so it is a tough call for many of them.