Wedding Songs – Choose Wisely

A YouTube video went viral a few months ago showing Alzheimer’s residents in nursing homes who seemed to awake from a stupor upon hearing a favorite song from the past.notebok

Obviously, upon re-watching the video I mentally wandered to the year 2075, when my own mind may start to give as a result of tau protein build-up in the brain.  What songs will awaken me?  From there I thought, well…probably my wedding song.  Isn’t that suppose to be one that you never forget, a tune filled with memories of everlasting love, happiness, and excitement?  Yes, I think it is.  And as long as the marriage doesn’t end in divorce, one’s wedding song may very well be one of the only sounds capable of pulling you out of a near-permanent mental fog. Think: The Notebook.

The point is this: Do not take your wedding song selection lightly. If you are already married, this life-saving lesson isn’t helpful. If you married folks do not regret your wedding song selection, great. If you do regret it, consider a divorce and a second wedding to correct the mistake.

For those yet to marry, I recommend always having a notecard and pen in your back pocket with a running list of your top 3 options. Whenever you hear a potential winner, jot it down. My Top 3 as of this moment…

1) As Time Goes By – Louis Armstrong

2) One and Only – Adele

3) Everything I Do (I Do it For You) – Bryan Adams

 

If you read this whole post and are feeling generous, please let me know your own choice–I’m always looking for more options.

History Will Remember

The Minnesota legislature is having the same debate as Illinois regarding gay marriage.  One former Republican state representative in the state gave a powerful testimony on the issue.  She was emotional while explaining how her 2002 vote against equality was something she has regretting ever since.  Take two minutes to listen (and maybe send along to your own wavering legislator in Illinois)…

Weasels

Earlier this week a GOP State Representative from the Naperville-Wheaton area, Jeanne Ives, said this in a radio interview with the Catholic Conference of Illinois:

“ It’s a completely disordered relationship and when you have a disordered relationship, you don’t ever get order out of that. So I’m more than happy to take a ‘no’ vote on the issue of homosexual marriage.”

“They’re trying to weasel their way into acceptability so that they can then start to push their agenda down into the schools, because this gives them some sort of legitimacy. And we can’t allow that to happen…To not have a mother and a father is really a disordered state for a child to grow up in and it really makes that child an object of desire rather than the result of a matrimony.”

Today, Chicago Representative Greg Harris–the man leading the fight for equal rights in the House–has this on his agenda per Facebook…

Another day of fighting for equality, fairness and otherwise weaseling my way into acceptability.
——————–

In other news, while many some Illinois Democrats are showing their allergy to courage, the first sitting Republican Senator announced he has changed course and supports the right for all couples to marry – Rob Portman of Ohio (whispered to be a possible 2016 GOP Presidential candidate).  In a touching interview he explained how the reversal was caused entirely by his son’s decision to come out to him.  His son is now a junior in college.  One person at a time…

Popes, Wives, & Democrats…Oh My

How can they possibly hold an Olympics in a city this beautiful?
How can they possibly hold an Olympics in a city this beautiful?

Just like Rio de Janiero stole our 2016 Summer Olympics, it looks like another South American country (damn Argentina!) has swiped our chance at the first American Pope.  This week the archbishop (“really big bishop”) of Buenos Aires was magically transformed into Pope Francis I (do we even use I or do the numbers start at II?).  Catholic friends whose judgment I trust are reportedly happy about this development as Francis will be the first Latin American vicar of Christ–and a Jesuit to boot!  Most of my Catholic friends are Jesuits, so obviously their opinion is biased.

Confession: I attended a Jesuit law school.  I even took a small law school class led by a Jesuit priest with whom I had a private lunch at Ralph Lauren.  He paid.  Long story short, my opinion on the matter is also suspect.  I wouldn’t blame you if you stop reading now because this blog post was being written at the command of my Jesuit masters.  I’m easily bought.

I digress.  Being a one-dimensional person, upon hearing the glorious news of the Pope’s naming (how we survived a few days without a Pope still baffles),  I immediately Googled to get his opinion on gay rights.  I know what you’re thinking.  That’s like Googling to find out which of the Dixie Chicks is the talented one.  The answer is obvious: all of them.  Why bother Googling Pope candidates on gay rights.  They are all against it.  That’s what you were thinking, wasn’t it?  And you’d be right.  But I didn’t know that at the time, so cut me some slack.

After a Google search that returned 250,000,000 items and took .13 seconds I learned from the Huffington Post:

In 2010 Bergoglio said about a gay marriage bill in Argentina that “At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

He went on to describe it as a “‘move of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” In John 8:44, the Father of Lies is the devil.

Crap.

Which Cardinal took this photo while on the balcony?
Which Cardinal took this photo while on the balcony?

I wasn’t expecting an archbishop who has “Gay Pride Parade Grand Marshal” on his (“her” is not a pronoun that could ever apply here) resume.  But I was at least hoping for a guy who was a little more subdued on the sexual issues.  Dreams shattered.

Normally I could pick up the pieces after this disappointment by remembering: “I’m not Catholic, so what the hell do I care what their leader says?”

But I couldn’t shake it off this time.  Why?  Because I read news like this on the same day that Bergoglio became Francis:

[In a discussion about the prospects for the gay marriage bill in the Illinois House]…One House Democrat I talked with last week wants to vote for gay marriage, but his strongly Catholic wife is absolutely, completely dead set against it.

Read that sentence again and then take a moment to bang your head against the nearest solid object four or five times (whatever number seems appropriate to you).  What should I discuss: why it is idiotic for a legislator to vote to deny equal rights because his wife says so OR why it is idiotic for a legislator to vote to deny equal rights because one particular Church doctrine thinks those people are influenced by the devil?  I don’t have time to discuss both. I’ll just go with the church one, because this whole post is mostly about Popes.

Image selected entirely because of the high tech microphone.
Image selected entirely because of the high tech microphone.

Believe it or not this anonymous Democratic legislator’s wife is not the only Catholic working to ensure gay couples are never allowed to marry.  For example, Chicago’s own archbishop, Cardinal Francis George (totally different Francis) penned a letter which said:

[Allowing gay marriage would  force people to] “pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.”

Sheesh Cardinal Francis George, tell me how you really feel.  I don’t recall every saying a bad word about you…at least before this post.  You’ll be happy to know that after reading your thoughtful letter I sat down and seriously contemplated whether the most important, intimate relationship of my life was indeed “contrary to the common sense of the human race.”  And while I cannot speak for the rest of the human race, for my own sake I concluded that you were full of shit.

Making matters worse (I’m no longer writing as if I’m talking to the Cardinal), this letter was required to be read in virtually all Catholic churches in Illinois.  Besides talking about the human race, it called on parishioners–everyday Catholics; good folks–to call their legislators to ensure that state law only allows people to get married if the Catholic church deems them worthy (divorced people?).

This author had to include Britney Spears to make photos for the cover.  Slim pickens.
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. Britney Spears is on the cover of this book.

So where are we now?

Awaiting a final vote in the Illinois House which would end one more vestige of enshrined legal discrimination.  But depending on who you talk to we are either one or five or ten or twelve votes behind.  Everyone agrees that it’s a bit shaky.

Keep in mind, this is in a chamber made up of 71 Democrats when only 60 votes are needed for passage.  Even if we assume that not a single Republican will do the right thing (*sigh*), that still means that one to two dozen Illinois Democrats are prepared to permanently put their names in the history books with a vote for discrimination. (In a few decades I’m sure they will have good excuses worked up for why they had no backbone when it counted most).

What on earth are they thinking?  My guess: they are scared of angry church letters.  And wives.  It’s mostly the wives fault.  Which is why I have taken a vow to never marry a woman.

Cheers-

Paul

P.S. In all seriousness, I do wish Pope Francis the best.  May he use the position he’s been given to heal more people on the planet than he harms.

P.P.S.  Statistics actually show that wives generally support marriage equality at far higher rates than husbands.

Others Are Yelling – Don’t Stay Silent

“In the end we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– MLK Jr.

Large church congregations are sending mass emails, calls, and flyers to Illinois legislators urging them to ensure gay couples remain less than under the law.  The leading anti-gay organization in the state, the Illinois Family Institute, is telling congregations to pass out this flyer.  Among other things, the flyer claims that if gay couples are treated equally then….

gay-marriage-banner“CHILDREN, in some cases, will be deliberately deprived of the opportunity to
be raised by a mother and father.”

Apparently honesty is not an important commandment when playing politics.

We cannot allow ridiculous scare tactics to sway legislators into continuing discrimination.  One swing Democrat in the northern part of the state just announced that she is going vote to deny equal rights after a large church group  screamed at a recent public hearing.  That large group was mostly made up of  a congregation that arrived in a bus with a banner on the side reading “Say No to Same Sex Marriage.”

We will always have diverse religious beliefs.  But individual religious opinion about any issue can never be an excuse to deny equal rights to certain members of the community.  It was wrong when it was used to treat women as inferior.  It was wrong when it was used to treat African Americans as second-class.  And it is wrong to deny equality to same sex couples.

Thirty years from now I want to look back and know that I did not stand idly by while injustice prevailed…I want to tell my grandchildren that I used my voice to say: Enough!  I hope you feel the same.  More than ever before, NOW is our time to do something.

CloonenKate1

Reminder: Please take a moment to send a message to Rep. Kate Cloonen to let her know that our community is made stronger when gay couples in love are treated the same as everyone else. Also, please share with friends and family to ensure they do the same.

(1) Facebook message HERE

(2) Send her an email (staterepcloonen79@att.net)

(3) Call her office (815) 939-1983

[Don’t forget…mention your address or that of relatives if you live in the area]

Kate Cloonen – Vote for Love & Equality

Bradley and Bourbonnais residents…all eyes are on you this week.

Why?  Because our representative is planning to vote to deny equal rights to all her constituents.

Kate Cloonen is the IL House member who serves our corner of the state: Bradley, Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Grant Park, Aroma Park, Limestone, Herscher, Peotone, and others.

CloonenKate1Get This: Right now Rep. Cloonen, a Democrat, may vote to prevent her gay and lesbian constituents from marrying.  I am shocked and saddened that she is leaning this way.  Our area deserves better than a vote against fairness and love.

We are one step away from making marriage equality happen in Illinois.  That hurdle will take place in the next week or so, and it is literally going to come down to one or two votes.  It breaks my heart to think that our own Representative may be the deciding voice that tells gay couples yet again that they are not deserving of the same equality under the law as their friends and neighbors.

PLEASE take one moment to send Rep. Cloonen a Facebook message HERE OR send her an email (staterepcloonen79@att.net) OR call her office (815) 939-1983 OR all three. [Don’t forget…mention your address or that of relatives if you live in the area]

Injustice perpetuates when good people do nothing.  Please do not stay on the sidelines.  Kindly remind Rep. Cloonen that denying marriage rights to gay couples does not help a single person in our town, but it harms many.  Urge her to vote for love and equality.

You could share the words of a powerful editorial:

gay couple 3

“The question facing those reluctant Illinois lawmakers is not about their own personal beliefs on gay marriage. It is about their personal beliefs on discrimination. Which law-abiding groups do they purposely want to exclude under state law?

Any answer but “none” would be awful.”

Take a moment and send something now.  It will take only a second and could change everything.  We need you.  Please…

(1) Facebook message HERE

(2) Send her an email (staterepcloonen79@att.net)

(3) Call her office (815) 939-1983

[Don’t forget…mention your address or that of relatives if you live in the area]

Let’s Win This

gay couple 2

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts transform the world.”

My dear family & friends-

I spent the first twenty years of my life berating myself over whether I should keep quiet about my sexual orientation.  What would people think?  Would I be ridiculed?  Who would joke about me when I wasn’t around?  Who would be disappointed?  Would my life be worse?

Guess what happened?  A lot changed.  And I’ve never been happier.

The people that matter most in my life didn’t just support me: You became my biggest defenders.  There is nothing so sweet as having others standing at your side, ready to challenge those trying to bring you down or treat you unfairly.  Every day I am humbled by those who stand up for love, fairness, and equality–even when it isn’t popular.  I know you don’t have to do it.  But you do.   And it means the world to me.

No good deed goes unpunished.  If you have any gas left in the tank, I would be so grateful if you could take one last step to finally end this battle in Illinois and ensure our state treats everyone the same, including people like me.  As you might have heard, in early January legislators in Springfield will vote on a bill that would allow same sex couples to solidify their loving relationship by way of a marriage. gay couple 3

The chief sponsor of the bill explains: “It’s very straightforward.  We treat all couples with the same respect and dignity in the eyes of the law and we protect the rights of religious institutions to either consecrate or not consecrate marriages within their faith as they see fit. It’s very important that government not involve itself in religion on either side of the issue.”

Here’s the reality: Right now, internal counts of those legislators show that we may not have the votes.  It is very close, but some representatives are unsure.  They will make up their mind based on how their constituents voice their opinion.

That is why I am urging you to take 5 minutes to draft a very simple email and send it to your State Representative and State Senator, asking them to treat all Illinois residents fairly by supporting marriage equality.

It does not have to be long or time-consuming.  But by typing out a few sentences and hitting the send button, you may be the tipping point.  All you need to include is this:

kyle&paul

1) Share you name, that you are a voter in Illinois, and indicate where you live.  It makes a big difference if the lawmaker knows that you are a constituent in their own district.  Say if there are multiple voters in your household (or, better yet, have each one send an email).

2) Urge them to vote in favor of marriage equality.  You can say this in one sentence or fifty.

That’s it.  More than at any other time, that simple act can make a real difference.  This is not like casting a vote for President when you know what the outcome will be in Illinois.  It is VERY close, and every single email counts tremendously. Lesbian couple

It would be great if you could do this right now…as you are reading this.  Because if you don’t do it now, you might forget.  Life is hectic.  Below you will find a list of legislators and email addresses.

Please send a message now explaining where you stand.

Forever grateful-

Paul

——————————————————————————————————

Not sure who your legislators are?  Go to this site, type in your address, and get their names, then come back here to get their email from the list below….

1) Step #1: FIND YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS: HERE (Remember to look for your STATE Representative and STATE Senator)

2) Step #2: Find their names below (alphabetical) and send them a quick email.  You should send one to your State Rep. AND one to your State Senator.  If two email addresses are listed for that person, send them to both addresses.

NAME                          EMAIL #1                                            EMAIL #2

Edward J. Acevedo eacevedoed@ilga.gov Sylvia_idrovo@sbcglobal.net
Pamela Althoff pamela@pamelaalthoff.net palthoff@mc.net
Luis Arroyo RepDistrict3@gmail.com
Jason Barickman  jason@jasonbarickman.org
Mark H. Beaubien, Jr. strepmbeaubien@sbcglobal.net
Daniel V. Beiser dvbeiser@sbcglobal.net
Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock rep@pbellock.com
Maria Antonia (Toni) Berrios repberrios39@gmail.com rep_berrios@yahoo.com
Daniel K. Biss repbiss@gmail.com
Tim Bivins senatorbivins@grics.net
Larry K. Bomke senatorbomke@yahoo.com
Mike Bost rep.bost@hotmail.com mikebost@midwestmail.com
John E. Bradley repjohnbradley@mychoice.net
Bill Brady billbrady@senatorbillbrady.com
Dan Brady dan@rep-danbrady.com
Rich Brauer Brauerr@housegopmail.state.il.us
Adam M. Brown abrown@decaturil.gov
Daniel J. Burke burkedj2@ilga.gov illhouse@aol.com
Kelly M. Burke kelly@kellyburke2010.com
William D. ‘Will” Burns repwillburns@att.net
J. Bradley Burzynski senatorbrad@frontier.com senatorbrad@verizon.net
John Cavaletto john@johncavaletto.com
Linda Chapa-LaVia chapa-laviali@ilga.gov lindachapalavia@aol.com
James F. Clayborne, Jr. jfc87@norcom2000.com
Franco Coladipietro franco@il45.com
Sandy Cole representativesandycole@comcast.net
Jacqueline “Jacqui” Y. Collins jcollins@senatedem.ilga.gov
Annazette R. Collins collinsar@ilga.gov annazettec@sbcglobal.net
Marlow H. Colvin repcolvin@sbcglobal.net
Michael G. Connelly Repconnelly48@gmail.com
Fred Crespo fred@fredcrespo.com
Tom Cross tom@tomcross.com
M. Maggie Crotty jdowis@senatedem.ilga.gov
John J. Cullerton john@senatorcullerton.com
Shane Cultra Shanecultra105@yahoo.com
Bill Cunningham  staterepbillcunningham@gmail.com
Barbara Flynn Currie repcurrie@sbcglobal.net bfc15@aol.com
John D’Amico johnd@ilga.gov
Monique D. Davis davismd@ilga.gov Mdavis2147@yahoo.com
William “Will” Davis williamd@ilga.gov repwilldavis@sbcglobal.net
Anthony DeLuca repdeluca@sbcglobal.net
William Delgado repdelgado@aol.com
Kirk W. Dillard senator@kdillard.com
Dan Duffy Dan@SenatorDuffy.com
Lisa M. Dugan lisadugan@sbcglobal.net
Kenneth Dunkin kendunkin@msn.com
Jim Durkin jimd@ilga.gov kanadyF@housegopmail.state.il.us
Roger L. Eddy roger@peopleforeddy.com Reddyunit1@aol.com
Keith Farnham krfarnham@gmail.com
Sara Feigenholtz sara@staterepsara.com staterep12@aol.com
Mary E. Flowers flowersme@ilga.gov mflowers@hds.ilga.gov
Gary Forby senatorforby@yahoo.com
LaShawn Ford lkf@ilga.gov repford@lashawnford.com
Mike Fortner Mike.fortner@sbcglobal.net
Jack D. Franks jack@jackfranks.org
Michael W. Frerichs mfrerichs@senatedem.ilga.gov
Robyn Gabel robyn@robyngabel.com
Susan Garrett ilsenate29@sbcglobal.net
Esther Golar esthergolar@sbcglobal.net
Careen Gordon staterepgordon@sbcglobal.net
Jehan Gordon repjehangordon@gmail.com
William R. “Bill” Haine whaine@cbnstl.com
Norine K. Hammond  rephammond@macomb.com
Don Harmon dharmon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Greg Harris greg@gregharris.org
David Harris harrisforstaterep@yahoo.com
Kay Hatcher info@kayhatcher.us vote4kay@att.net
Chad D Hays  chad@chaddhays.com
Rickey R. Hendon hendon@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elizabeth Hernandez repehernandez@yahoo.com hernandezl@ilga.gov
Thomas “Tom” Holbrook holbrookta@ilga.gov Thomas.holbrook@att.net
Linda Holmes senatorholmes42@sbcglobal.net
Constance A.”Connie” Howard howardca@ilga.gov staterep-constance-a-howard@comcast.net
Mattie Hunter senatorhunter03@sbcglobal.net
Toi W Hutchinson thutchinson@senatedem.ilga.gov
Eddie Lee Jackson Sr. bbsty2010@gmail.com
Mike Jacobs senatorjacobs@sbcglobal.net
Naomi D. Jakobsson naomi@naomijakobsson.com
Charles E. “Chuck” Jefferson staterepchuck67@aol.com
Thomas Johnson SenatorTomJohnson@gmail.com 
Emil Jones, III ejones3@senatedem.ilga.gov
John O Jones johnojones@sbcglobal.net
Thaddeus Jones tjones@calumetcity.org
Dwight Kay info@dwightkay.com
David Koehler senatorkoehler@grics.net
Renee Kosel rkosel@ilga.gov
Dan Kotowski dan@senatorkotowski.com
Louis I. Lang langli@ilga.gov reploulang@aol.com
Chris Lauzen admin@lauzen.com
David R. Leitch davidleitch@ameritech.net
Kimberly A. Lightford statesenatorlightford@comcast.net
Camille Lilly statereplilly@yahoo.com
Terry Link senator@link30.org
David Luechtefeld sendavel@midwest.net
Joseph M. Lyons lyonsjm@ilga.gov jsmith@hds.ilga.gov
Michael J. Madigan mmadigan@hds.ilga.gov
Edward D. Maloney ed@edmaloney.com
Iris Y. Martinez ilsenate20@sbcglobal.net
Sidney H. Mathias repmathias@hotmail.com SIDNEYMATH@msn.com
Frank J. Mautino patti76th@ivnet.com
Karen May karen@repkarenmay.org karenmay58@aol.com
Rita Mayfield ritamayfield60@gmail.com
Emily McAsey RepEmily@gmail.com
Michael P. McAuliffe mmcauliffe20@yahoo.com
William “Sam” McCann SenatorSam@frontier.com 
Kyle McCarter mccarter51@att.net senatormccarter51@att.net
Kevin A. McCarthy kevmac37@sbcglobal.net
Jack McGuire jmcguire86@sbcglobal.net Jmcguire86@sbcglobal.com
James T. Meeks senmeeks@sbcglobal.net
Deborah L. Mell deb@debmell.org dmel@hds.ilga.gov
Susana Mendoza staterepmendoza@gmail.com
John Millner johnjmillner@aol.com
Jerry L. Mitchell repjmitchell@comcast.net
Bill Mitchell repmitchell@earthlink.net
Thomas R. “Tom” Morrison  Repmorrison54@gmail.com
Richard Morthland rich@richmorthland.com
Rosemary Mulligan repmulligan@usa.net
John G. Mulroe info@mulroeforsenate.com
Matt Murphy senatormattmurphy@gmail.com
Michelle Mussman michelle@votemichelle.org
Antonio “Tony” Mu√±oz amunoz@senatedem.ilga.gov
Elaine Nekritz enekritz@repnekritz.org
Michael Noland richj@noland.org
Chris Nybo chris@chrisnybo.com
Jo Ann Osmond reposmond@aol.com osmondjoann@aol.com
Harry Osterman hjo17@aol.com
Carole Pankau carole@pankau.org
Brandon W. Phelps bphelps@yourclearwave.com
Sandra M. Pihos sandrapihos42@gmail.com community@sandrapihos.com
Raymond Poe poe@ilga.gov poer@housegopmail.state.il.us
Robert Pritchard bob@pritchardstaterep.com
Christine Radogno cradogno@sbcglobal.net
Harry R. Ramey,Jr. staterepramey55@aol.com
Kwame Raoul raoulstaff@gmail.com
Dennis Reboletti dennisreboletti@sbcglobal.net dennisreboletti@aol.com
David B. Reis david@davidreis.org
Dan Reitz repreitz@egyptian.net
Sue Rezin suerezin@gmail.com
Dale A. Righter drighter@consolidated.net
Al Riley rep.riley38@sbcglobal.net rep.riley@sbcglobal.net
Dale E. Risinger senatorrisinger@yahoo.com
Robert “Bob” Rita robertbobrita@aol.com
Chapin Rose ls@chapinrose.net chapin@chapinrose.com
Wayne Arthur Rosenthal  waynerosenthal@consolidated.net
Pam Roth moffitt@grics.net
Jim Sacia JimSacia@aeroinc.net
Ronald L. Sandack rsandack@downers.us
Martin A. Sandoval msandoval@senatedem.ilga.gov
Angelo “Skip” Saviano skip@skipsaviano.com
Suzi Schmidt suzi@suzischmidt.com
Timothy L. Schmitz info@timschmitz.org ilrep49@sbcglobal.net
Jeffrey M. Schoenberg senator@jschoenberg.org
Darlene J. Senger sengerstaterep@gmail.com
Carol Sente repsente@gmail.com
Ira I. Silverstein isilverstein@senatedem.ilga.gov
Keith P. Sommer sommer@mtco.com
Joe Sosnowski joesosnowski@gmail.com Joe.Sosnowski@rockfordil.gov
Cynthia Soto csoto@ilga.gov maria.zarate08@gmail.com
Heather Steans hsteans@senatedem.ilga.gov
Ron Stephens ron@repstephens.com
John M. Sullivan senjohn@adams.net
Ed Sullivan, Jr. ILhouse51@sbcglobal.net
Dave Syverson info@senatordavesyverson.com
Andre Thapedi rep32district@gmail.com thapedi@sbcglobal.net
Jil Tracy jiltracy@jiltracy.com
Donne E. Trotter senatortrotter@yahoo.com
Michael W. Tryon Mike@miketryon.com
Arthur L. Turner turneral@ilga.gov inezc@reparthurturner.com
Michael D. Unes  repunes@gmail.com
Patrick Verschoore pverschoore@qconline.com
Louis S. Viverito lviverito@senatedem.ilga.gov
Jim Watson jimwatson@localnetco.com
Arthur J. ( A.J.) Wilhelmi senatorajwilhelmi@sbcglobal.net
Ann M. Williams ann@repanwilliams.com
Dave Winters repwinters@aol.com
Karen A. Yarbrough kyarbrough@ilga.gov karenyarbrough@ameritech.net
Michael Zalewski michaelz@ilga.gov

Election Day Live-Blog

*3:30 – It’s time for me to finish the glass of wine and call it a night.  Goodnight friends.  Thanks for re-freshing.

*3:25 – It is still close, but we are AHEAD in MN and WA on gay marriage issues.  Let me repeat that.  We are sweeping ALL FOUR marriage equality votes, with a large percentage of the vote in.  I can’t repeat enough how absolutely huge this is.  We’ve lost 32/32 in the past.  As BD would say “Time’s they are a’Changin'”

*3:16 – V goes to the R, Heller.  Close call.

*3:03 – More updates. right now marriage equality suporters are WINNING in MN & WA.  For those keeping track, that would me, amazingly, 4/4 wins for our side.

*2:56 – YAY.  Allen West (i.e. crazy conservative) is losing by a hairsbreath

*2:56–  From Chait:

Democrats will not keep winning forever. (In particular, their heavy reliance on young and non-white voters, who vote more sporadically, will subject the party to regular drubbings in midterm elections, when only the hardiest voters turn out.) […] But conservatives have lost their best chance to strike down the Obama legacy and mold the government in the Paul Ryan image.

*2:49 – “The Republicans will be in a civil way…and there will be a civil war…why did they lose tonight.”

*2:46 – Is anyone still up to see these final senate seat and marriage races?

*2:43 – Senate R leader: “We will be here to meet him half-way.”  Let’s pay attention to that.  Make sure they actually meet him half way.

*2:41 – Also, it look pretty clear that Obama will win the overall popular vote.  That is big to quell the chatter of those who would not be happy with this election tally.

*2:40 –  A few IL updates: Democrat Bustos beats Schiling; Duckworth beats Walsh; Schneider beats Dold; Fost beats Biggers; and Enyart beat Plummer.  Dems will win overall in IL

*2:32 – Oh, and I didn’t know.  The NH governor is the only female Dem. governor in the country.  There are a few female GOP guvs.

*2:31 –  Reminder: The NH female domination is pulling through. All the women win.

*2:29 – There are basically 3 Senate seats too close to call…all should have gone to Republicans.  This all goes  with tonight’s trend.  Democrats win as much as reasonably possible.

*2:28 – MN marriage vote – awful amendment losing 49% -51% (84%)

*2:21 –  Obama wins Virginia

*2:20 – What’s the take-away from tonight?  My best guess was eloquently summarized by the President tonight.  Unlike most other politicians, Obama hit on basic issues that I would have hit on…

We are an American nation.  We rise together as one nation an one people.

[The campaign] It necessarily stirs up passion and controversy and it won’t change after tonight.  It shouldn’t.  we are just waiting for a chance to argue.

What makes America exceptional are bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.

We are not divided as our politics suggest, we are not as cynical as our pundits believe.

*2:15 – This acceptance speech affected me more than anything he has said in years.    If you listened to it, then you are obviously an Obama-fan.  It’s late.  You wouldn’t have stayed up otherwise.  I’ve been banging my head, thinking about what to say to those who wouldn’t have listened to this.  But, I suppose there is nothing I can say.  If you do not think this man does not want the best for America, then, frankly, I have no words for you.  It’s possible to disagree with his policies.  But it is not possible to pretend, without losing credibility, that this man somehow has anything other than the best for our country in mind.

*1:31 – The MN Sec. of State has said that he projects the marriage ban in MN to pass. *sigh* with over 50% of the vote.  We’ll watch it.  But lets hope that does not pan out.  I am the loudest champion for Midwest values, and I know that this nonsense does not fit in with what I constantly argue is the fresh air that is the Midwest.

*1:32 – Something we should remember.  The last time a Republican won the White House (2004), there were scores of “marriage amendments” on the ballots in key swing states (like Ohio).  The idea was that a majority rejected marriage equality and they would come to vote for that amendment AND the Republican nominee.

This year?  No way.  Marriage equality is winning.  And there is zero benefit for conservatives for rejected marriage equality.  This election is a tipping point.

*1:27 – Andrew Sullivan said this about an hour ago:

We are the ones we have been waiting for. And now we have entrenched it deeply in the history of America and the world. That matters. May the next four years make it matter even more.

*1:25 – Ballot Amendment updates:  Legalization of marijuana will likely succeed in WA, but fail in OR.  MN gay marriage amendment is VERY close…basically tied.  This was the one that I knew would be closest.

Oh, also, a California ban on the death penalty is failing at the moment.

*1:16 – Reality Check: We wont know for sure until tomorrow, but it looks like Obama may end up with 330+ EC vote win.  HUGE.  And they may gain a Senate seat.  The only battleground state the President might lose is  NC.  This was not really close—just as Nate Silver predicted.

*1:09 –  Shortly after President Obama’s first election, the Senate minority leader said that his #1 policy goal was to “make Obama a one-term President.”  Let’s hope his feelings this time around might be something a little different.  Maybe the #1 goal should be to do something worthwhile for the country policy-wise.

*1:05 – Let’s hope the country heeds Romney common sense concession speech.  The election game is over  We have literally nothing to gain for wishing failure on anyone, let alone our President.

*12:55 – Another Senate update.  Neck and neck in ND senate race.  The Democrat is winning…somewhat a surprise.

*12:49 –  If Mitt Romney speaks in 10 minutes (he will) and does not concede, I’d lose immense respect for the man.

*12:46 –  Impromptu celebration in DC.  From friends outside the White House:

*12:45 –  Another MN update – Michelle Bachmann in basicaly tied in 65% of the vote in.

*12:37 – MN update – Reject the ban – 48.5% to 47.9% .   We are wining.  By a hair.  But to pass the ballot measure needs to get to 50%.  Looking good…but still can’t call it.

*12:26 – One development that has not been on the radar:  The Iowa justice who voted that Iowa has to allow gay marriage  is going to be retained in that state.  Several justices were kicked out of office after that vote, and this is a sign that the trends are reversed.  We truly have reached the tipping point.

*12:22 – It looks like VA is going to go for Obama.  It doesn’t really mean much, except that thus far I’ve only missed one state in my personal projections.  However, I think Obama is going to win Florida as well (which I’ll miss) that means I’ll end up 48/50).  And Obama will end up with an even higher EC vote total (over 300).

*12:20 –  Remember Michelle Bachmann?  She ran for President this year and actually won the Iowa straw poll.  With 60% of the vote in, her congressional race is basically tied.  500 vote difference.  This is another reminder of the rule of the night–extremism is being voted down.  Again and again.  Whew.  It’d be great to see her out of the Congress.

*12:19 – FYI – CO and WA will legalize marijuana.  It will be treated like alcohol there…though there may be some problems with federal law.

*12:10 – Reminder: When the election was called for Obama, Nate Silver was 44 for 44 on predicting the states.  Don’t forget, he was hammered by Republicans in the last week.

*12:09 – Wow.  I am still processing these results, but this is an absolutely splendid night so far.  The National Organization for Marriage has been trumpeting for several years how gay marriage always loses at the polls, and so obviously people don’t want it.  But, tonight, we are at the tip of the triangle..finally about ready to go over the over side.  Equality and fairness always win in the end, even if sometimes it takes awhile.  This is America.

*12:06 – Washington post calls same-sex marriage vote in Maryland!

*12:06 – That Maine vote should not be underestimated.  We have never…never…won a full state gay marriage ballot amendment before tonight.  This is huge.  We lost Maine, this very state, just two years ago.  Things are changing.  And those changing are no longer just on paper.  It’s real.

*12:00 – First Ballot Initiative is in the books:  Gay Marriage will be Legal in Maine

*11:56 – NBC is projecting that Obama is going to end up with 1 – 1.5% popular vote lead when it all ends.  This is big, because we will undoubtedly hear a ton of outrage if Obama loses the popular vote–notwithstanding the fact that the reasons for this could be explained.

*11:55 – For those watching Fox News.  Dear God.  I’ve never really seen this.  Karl Rove is trying to get Fox News to rescind its calling of Ohio for Obama.  Yes, even Fox News already called it for Ohio.

*11:52 – FYI – Too close to call right now, but Obama also currently has razor thin leads in Virginia and Florida.

*11:45 – No matter who you supported this time around, we all should raise a glass for our ability to debate this out, get up and make a personal choice, and spend all day watching the tally of our fellow countrymen.  Cheers folks.

*11:40 –  Latest Updates on Ballot Amendments:

Maryland (gay marriage) – 51% – 49% legalize it (78% of vote in)

Maine (gay marriage) – 52% – 48% legalize it (35% of vote in)

Minnesota (prevent ban) – 55% – 45% reject the ban (35% of vote in)

Washington (gay marriage) – 52% – 48% legalize is (48% in)

*11:30 – Salpal provides some critical context out of Nebraska–the one state where a Tea Party Republican actually won a Senate seat:

Deb Fischer is not going to be taken serious in the Senate. Or by me. Yet another disappointment of being a Dem in Nebraska (the top moment, of course, being the ’08 electoral vote to Obama).  I can’t say I was a big fan of Kerrey’s campaign, though his was the only campaign to which I donated (albeit very minimally).

The campaign ran a lot of ads about a lawsuit that Fischer filed against her neighbors over a land dispute (adverse possession). With all of the advantages he could have stressed on the issues, the ultimate effort was spent trying to paint Fischer as a bad neighbor.  It didn’t come off well even to me, one of the faithful. The non-faithful that I spoke with were even less impressed.  He had a lot of endorsements from former well-respected politicians. Eventually, they made even me wonder if he was just another old white guy. Even so, when Bill Clinton called me last night to ask me to vote for his “old friend” Bob Kerrey, I obliged.

*11:28 – For the record, I’ll be cracking open the Dark Brew beer soon.  I’ll be going for the long-haul, as we have a long way to go on marriage votes.

*11:19  – Here’s the reality for the next two years.  President Obama will lead the White House.  Republicans will maintain the House of Representatives.  The Democrats will retain the Senate.

If you were going to summarize the night it is this: Public rejects extremism.  Public rejects say-anything-to-get-elected.  Split government remains.

*11:13 – Obama in OH

*11:11 – Iowa called for Obama.  It’s all falling in line.

* 11:10 – Larry Sabato (the smartest guy in the world on VA politics) finds that Obama is likely to win Virginia.  Wow.

*11:05 – Our President from 2012 – 2016

*11:00 – Denver Post calling CO for Obama.  Game Over.  I’ll officially do it earlier than actual networks, but its done friends: President Obama has been re-elected.

*10:59 – From Andrew Sullivan: If the votes in Miami-Dade come in as expected (the panhandle has largely voted), it’s hard to see how Romney can win Florida at this point. And if he cannot win Florida, it’s over.

*10:57 – NC will go to Romney.  This was a “swing state” but the one that most everyone expected to go to Romney.

*10:52 – It’s about over folks.  Here’s how its going to end.  Florida will be called soon for Obama (or, it may be a recount).  Virginia could go either way.  Obama will likely win CO, OH, and IA–this will end it.

Once that happens, watch the popular vote totals.  Romney still may win the popular vote.  One key reason is that dark blue state turnout is a bit lower, while red state turnout is higher.  From Nate Silver:

It could be that Mitt Romney’s performance in strongly red-leaning states, which were sparsely polled this year, accounts for much of the difference, allowing him to rack up votes without helping himself in the Electoral College.

Mr. Romney currently leads by 27 points in Tennessee, by 22 points in Kentucky, by 16 points in South Carolina and by almost 40 points in Oklahoma.

*10:45 – Tammy Baldwin WINS Senate seat in Wisconsin.  Huge.  She is the first openly gay Senator to win election ever. Wow.  This is all part of the same trend.  Democrats winning the vast majority of these close Senate elections.

*10:44 – Tweet: “Mood inside Romney ballroom being described as “funereal” by some inside.”

*10:43 – Also, for those concerned about the IL teacher’s pension constitutional issue, with 60% of the vote count, so far it is PASSING 56% – 44%

*10:40 – Reminder on IL House races: Democrat Duckworth seems to be winning; Republican Dold is ahead by a touch; Democrats Foster, Enyart, and Bustos are ahead; and Republican Rodney Davis is beating David Gill in Champaign.  The summary: this is kind of a split so far.  Overall there will be more Democratic Congressmen from Illinois than last time, but that’s about all.

*10:38 – Update — I pulled the gay marriage tally in Maryland from the Politico vote tracker.  However, I double-checked and the Baltimore Sun has the current tally VERY different (50.4 -49.6 to legalize it).  I’m not sure how there is such discrepancy  but if I had to guess, I’d weigh the Baltimore Sun more heavily.  In others words, it’s damn near tied. Grrrr.

*10:33 –  Update on Colorado proposition to legalize marijuana (not medical marijuana, all forms of marijuana) — 25.5% of the vote in.  52.5%-47.5% to legalize it.

*10:30 – Current status in 2 Gay marriage votes:

Maine – 17% of vote in – 55% – 45% — legalize it.
Maryland – 32% of vote in – 60% – 40$ — legalize it.

It’s early, but…..get excited.

*10:23 – BIG NEWS: No one has called it yet, but various sources say CNN is basically calling FL for Obama, without actually calling it.  Once that is official: Game.Over.

*10:21 – For the Republicans out there, one bit of good news: Nebraska goes for Senator Deb Fischer (R) beating former Senator Bob Kerrey.  Bob Kerrey was very much a respected middle of the roader, but to no avail.  Fischer breaks the mold of far-right-conservatives losing.  *Sigh* One commentator just noted at the results: “Nebraska, I hope you feel good about yourself.  But Deb Fischer is not going to be taken serious in the Senate, like ever.”

Salpal, what happened?

*10:11 – Exit polls out of IA have Obama up by a bit.  The state just closed.  It’s one of those “small swing states” that Romney needed some of .  There are exit polls, not real vote tallies, but they match the trend we’ve been seeing.

*10:06 – Some have already called the VA Senate race for Democrat Tim Kaine–however, Obama is behind by a bit in VA.  It is always interesting to see which states have Senate races that split with Presidential races, because it is the same pool of voters splitting their tickets.  This is a reminder that, even if Virginia goes to Romney this time, it’s not a hard red state.

*10:02 – Colorado exit polls suggest one of Romney big problems.  He is only getting 25% of the Latino vote.  In comparison, W. Bush got almost double that.  It’s pretty simple: % of Hispanic vote going up every year, % of those voters going to Republicans is going down.  That is not good for winning elections.

*9:56 – There are updated numbers from my own county in Virginia, Fairfax.  It looks like Obama is underperforming just a bit from 2008.  That means that the state is a nailbiter, but it still may tilt Romney.  But don’t forget, Romney has to win VA, FL, and OH, or it’s over.

*9:50 – I mentioned two ballot measures in the election preview out of Florida, both related to religious issues: eliminated all abortion funds and allow public funding of religious projects.  Right now both of those are losing (i.e. separation of church and state principles are winning).  This is the theme of the entire night: moderation is winning.

*9:46 – CBS has called New Hampshire for Obama.  Add that to the list of smaller swing states that Romney needed, but are now all going to Obama.

*9:43 – Fun close race update.  In my election preview I noted that one close U.S. House race to watch was Rep. Allen West in Florida.  Allen West represents the worst of the far right Republican party.  Right now, with 80% of the vote in, he is tied 50-50 with his Democratic opponent.  If West loses, it’d be a good day for moderation.  That seems to be a theme so far tonight–crazy conservatism is getting beat back. It is slightly restoring my faith in electorate’s ability to reject crazy.  We may disagree on the margins, but we can come together and reject things that was too far.

*9:39 – Wisconsin was called for Obama.  Here’s what this means: Romney is running out of swing states.  Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin…called for O.  Romney needed to cobble together a certain number of these states plus the big swing states to win.  But, he’s loosing these smaller ones.  That means that, even if he pulls out these close big ones (i.e Virginia & Florida), its becoming harder for him to find other states that he could add to get to 270.

*9:36 – Two fun facts out in Illinois.  First, State Representative Derrick Smith is currently up 2-1 for the U.S. General Assembly seat.  This is interesting because Derrick Smith was arrested for taking a bribe on tape a few months ago and was kicked out of the House.  BUT, if voters don’t care, he’ll be re-elected.  Second, the Congressman for my hometown of Bradly (now) is Jesse Jackson Jr.  He has not been on the job for half a year, because of “mental health issues.”  He will be re-elected by a landslide.  I am not demonized either man, but if you want examples of where the electoral system obviously fails because voters  do not know details or vote purely on name recognition-these are premier examples.

*9:29 – So it’s looking like “Rape is God’s Plan” Murdock is going to lose.  To re-iterate, this is huge because this was in Indiana–a state where Romney won by 15%.  That means that there is a large gap of people who voted for Romney but not Murdock.  I other words, there are people who are willing to vote for a Republican but will not vote for a crazy social-conservative Republican.  Hint hint..if Republicans want to be more successful, they’d be advised to reject these social conservatives as nominees.  But Murdock–the guy who is going to lose–beat a member of his OWN party (a moderate Republican) in a primary to win the nominee.  They are giving away these seats by nominated extreme conservatives.

*9:21 – Important: PA finally called for Obama.  Remember that Romney kind of made a play for that, but it didn’t go anywhere.  This is even more very good news for O.


*9:19
– Reminder — a lot of the early signs that Obama was over-performing in the few keys states, esp FL, VA, & NC does not mean that Obama will win there.  In fact, the numbers thus far suggest that Romney may still pull out all three, but very closely.  In other words, this is not necessarily over yet…but if you are an Obama supporter, you should be quite encouraged.

*9:07 – MA Senate race has just been called for Warren. An official R loss.  I feel like I need to slow down on these updates, because everything is the same: Democrats over doing about as well as they could hope.  Obama is cruising, and the close Senate races are tipping to them.  I’ll try to look closer and find out anything that seems to be going against that norm.  There are still a few close Senate races, and we’ve yet to hear anything on the ballot measures.

*9:04– Of those big three states, Florida has the most actual votes in –63%.  Obama up by 50-49%.  Also Wisconsin i not called yet, but Obama looks goo there.

*9:01 – Polls close.  Michigan already called for Obama.  That is big.  If they can call it now, that’s yet another sign of where all the trends are going.

*8:52 – You will likely be seeing updates on CNN online all over the place.  Just keep this in mind.  If Obama wins Florida, Virginia, or Ohio, then this race is over.  Romney, essentially, must win ALL three.  If he doesn’t, Barack Obama will be re-elected.

*8:42 – Quote just now from Mike Huckabee, “Chik-fil-A day was a dress rehearsal for today […] I still think MItt Romney wins when its all over.”  Ummm, what?

*8:35 – Connecticut Senate race called for the Democrat, Murphy, over WWF star Linda McMahon.  So the last minute Obama/McMahon t-shirts didn’t work.

*8:32 – My Virginia county, Fairfax, is entirely in, and the results are nearly identical to 2008.  I suppose that is good for Obama, after all, he won VA in 2008.

*8:29 – RUMORS: Senator Scott Brown (R) not doing well in Massachusetts  with Warren doing well.  This, in combination with results out of FL and Missouri are not good for Republican Senate hopes.  It is pretty clear that the Democrats will not lose the Senate.

*8:27 – Those who followed the “polling wars” might have notice that, these early indicators, if they hold, will vindicate Nate Silver and those who relied on the state polls–Obama performing well as they called.

*8:22 – EXIT POLLS out of CNN suggest incumbent D Senator in Missouri (McCaskill) is up 7% to Todd “Women Can’t Shut That Whole Thing Down” Akin.

*8:17– Great news for President Obama.  EXIT POLLS in OH suggest African-Americans may may up %17 of vote in OH. In 2008 it was 8%.  Obviously, 95% of that increase will go to the President.  That means he can lose the white vote even more and still pull it out.

*8:15 – 16% of actual vote counted in FL – Obama 50.7% – Romney 48.5% — This will likely still tilt toward Romney.  But the fact that this isn’t coming in smoothly for R is troubling for his team.

*8:10 – Senator Bill Nelson will win re-election in FL.  That was expected, but some R’s held out hope that if this was a big Republican year, then Connie Mack might squeak it out. Not so.  None of this means anything concrete. But ALL signs that we’ve gotten so far is that Democrats are doing about as well so far as they could have hoped.

*8:00 – Poll closings, Obama wins MA, MD, IL, DE, ME, RI; Romney get OK

*7:58 – 800,000 absentee OH votes counted so far — Obama – 61%, Romney 38%.

*7:56 – Reality check.  Even though polls in Virginia closed and hour ago, it will not be called for quite some time.  Why?  Because there are still long line at some places.  You can still vote so long as you are in the actual line at 7pm.

*7:44 – So what is the main thing from these very early evening results?  Virginia.  It is 49% – 49% in current models.  That is dangerous for Romney, because it is a must win for Romney and basically a luxury for Obama.  And the fact that this is close suggests that Romney might have trouble in places where he was behind but need a bit of a surge to sweep ahead (i.e OH).

Also, no worries about these current electoral college vote tallies.  Romney will be ahead most of the night, because Obama will gain about 100 electoral college votes at 12pm, when California, Oregon, Washington, etc. close their doors on the West Coast.

*7:37 – Apologies for the scattered updates.  Just got off the phone with my Grandma–a mandatory call on election day.  Both she and her husband (late 60s) cast a vote for the President.  I was somewhat surprised, considering Kenny is not a Democrat.  That is perhaps the best evidence we have yet that Obama may have captured enough swing voters to pull this thing out. 🙂

*7:35 – A surprise.  CNN EXIT POLLS suggest NC tied 49% – 49%

*7:32 –  WV projects for Obama.  No surprise.

*7:19 – Bottom line, these numbers, if true, are not good for Romney, because VA is a must-win.

*7:16 – EXIT POLLS: Kaine running ahead of Obama, which suggest that even if Obama doesn’t squeak it out, then Kaine might still pull it out.

*7:13 – EXIT POLLS: CNN predicts VA is tied 49% – 49%

*7:09 – First calls of the night: Romney gets KY and IN.  Obama wins VT.

*7:07 – EXIT POLLS: CNN suggest VA turnout was 39% Democrat and 33% Republican. If true, that is a great sign for Obama and Time Kaine – the Senate candidate.

*6:53 – A rogue member of the Romney team leaked that they had Obama up by 5 in OH in their own internal polls.

*6:46 – Interesting fact.  If things go as expected today, New Hampshire will become the first state with all of its Senators (2) and House members (2) as women.  They will also likely have a female governor.

*6:37 – The main TV coverage will begin around 7pm EST in most places.  That kind of marks the turning point in the day from early speculation to when things start getting real.  In preparation for tonight, I’ve splurged and purchased a $4.99 “vintage” 2012 Trader Joes dark ale. I know, reckless. It’s only to be popped when we can all take a deep breath.  Of course, I’ve got plenty of wine to hold me over til then, as we may be staying up late.  I encourage everyone to have a special drink of choice at the ready, no matter what the outcome, in salute to democracy and the American way.

*6:25 – It’s official Obama wins Guam by 72%-27%.  A bigger margin than in 2008. His reward?  Zero electoral college votes.

*6:15 – EXIT POLLS: Slightly more Republican electorate than 2008.  If it is only slightly, then the Romney team will not be happy.  They were suggesting that most polls were a bit off because there would be a larger swing in 2012 compared to 2008.  The closer to 2008, the better for the President.

*6:10 – CNN project about 18% of voters are 18-29.  That is basically the same as 2008 and GOOD news for Obama.  There was real concern that younger voters wouldn’t be nearly as excited this time around.  If those numbers hold, that’d be impressive for my generation.

*6:07 – Polls have closed in half of KY and IN (split time zones).  Romney will take both states, so it doesn’t matter much.  But the IN Senate race is interesting, in involves “Rape is God’s Plan” Murdoch — that comment likely blew his chances, but we will have to see.

*5:55:  More results from the big competition:

Fellow player (and former Illinois Senate candidate) Alexi Giannoulias told a pool reporter that after four 12-minute quarters, Obama’s team won by “like 20,” with a score of “like 102, 105, 108 or so to 80-something.”

Obama was player-coach of his team, which also included Giannoulias and former NBA player Scottie Pippen.

*5:51 – EXIT POLLS: Who is better in touch with you?  Obama 52-44 ; Who can better handle the economy? Romney 51-47

*5:50 – EXIT POLLS:  First exit polls suggest Romney winning NC & FL; Obama winning OH, NH, PA, MI, NV.  Toss ups are VA, CO, IA.  For those playing at home, that would add up to an Obama win.  BUT these are exist polls and only exit polls.

*5:40 – The exit poll data is still mostly bottled up.  Though the AP is reporting that exit poll data suggest 60% of voters said economy was most important, only 40% said they were better off than 4 years ago, and 50% blamed Bush for economy.  The bottom line: we knew this already.  It doesn’t help.

*5:30 – From John L two minutes ago, a D poll watcher in Wisconsin:

We hit 1000 voters just now, and everyone cheered!! (Factoid #1: in 2008 this heavily Democratic polling location had 1100ish votes total. Factoid #2: We still have 3.5 hours to go this year before polls close) #forward

*5:25 – Data is slowly trickling in.  First thing, oddly enough, is that 15% of voters sa

*5:15 – Some reports suggests turnout in Cuyahoga, County in Ohio will beat 2008.  This is Cleveland-territory and Obama country, so the more voters here the better.

*5:06 – WI officials say turnout looks to be just a touch over the 2008 totals.

*5:03 – VA Board of Elections say turnout this year is higher than in 2008. Take-away–Hard to say, but its probably better news for Obama.

*5:00 –  Will there be a split between the popular vote and the electoral college?  A perspective:

As Plouffe pointed out to me yesterday, Obama’s popular-vote margin last time was inflated by the organic enthusiasm for him in deep-blue states where the campaign spent no money on advertising or organizing. This time, however, that enthusiasm does not exist to anything like the same degree, and so Obama’s margins in places like New York and California will be pushed down — even as the organic anti-Obama fervor in deep-red states will be greater than it was in 2008, depressing his popular-vote performance even more.

*4:46 – The first exit polls will be leaked in 15 minutes or so.  Remember this should all be about demographics.  You’ll hear a lot of speculation from both sides, so brace yourself for some anxiety no matter who you are supporting.

*4:31 – Need some background tunes as you refresh blogs and news site?  Try The Fix’s election playlist HERE on Spotify.  It includes gems like, “Look at Miss Ohio,” Alice Cooper’s “Elected,” “The Final Countdown,” and more

*4:20 – Some have voiced concerns that in one polling place at a school there is a homemade mural of President Obama on the wall.  That’s inappropriate.  But it can be fixed and is not likely to do much damage (How many votes will honestly be changed because of a painting on the wall?).  In reporting on the outrage over the story Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto just said (not jokingly), “I wonder why a school of any sort would be having portraits of presidents.”  Ummm.  Really?

*4:10 –  Weirdest polling place story of the day.  Man dies while voting, is resuscitated, and asks, “Did I vote?

According to Houston, the man — who had a tracheotomy in his throat — gulped down a few more breaths and then told her there are only two things that are important to me: “That I love you and that I finished what I came here to do … vote.”

*4:05 – Is Florida looking good for Mitt?  A Washington Post story notes:

That’s because the Democrats’ huge 2008 advantage on that front has shrunk to a more manageable level. Four years ago, 354,374 more Florida Democrats than Republicans voted early or absentee before Election Day – while in 2012 that margin is down to just 161,884, according to an analysis of state data compiled Tuesday by David Johnson, one of the state’s premier party strategists.

*4:01 – Another reminder, besides the Presidential race, Senate races and House elections, there are several interesting ballot measures that you will want to make a mental note of.  First, CO, WA, and OR have marijuana legalization propositions.  This is not medical marijuana but all marijuana–it would be treated like alcohol.  Should be interesting.  Second, Michigan has a union  issue that is attempting to prevent legislation like that which passed in Wisconsin.  Third, Florida has two issues steeped in the separation of church and state: cutting off all abortion funding and allowing public funds to seep to religious groups.

Fourth, and closest to my heart, are four marriage equality votes.  MD, WA, and ME may allow gay marriage after today.  MN is fighting to prevent a change to their constitution to ban gay marriage.  Polling in all states are close.  We are strongest in WA, then MD, with ME and MN very tight.  I’d be ecstatic if we took all 4, but 2/4 may be more likely.  Do not forget that these votes have repercussions beyond these 4 states.  That is because there is a chance the U.S. Supreme Court might take up the Prop 8 case, potentially ruling on how the U.S. Equal Protection Clause fits in with this marriage issue.  There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding the applicability of state referendum on constitutional interpretation, but it is clear that it matters.  Justices who might lean in our direction (i.e. Kennedy) will have a helluva lot more lee-way if we pull these out, than if we lose and have an 0-36 track record on statewide public referendum.

*3:39 – Illinoisans might be proud to know that, as I type this, President Obama is playing basketball with Scottie Pippen, Randy Brown, Former state Treasurer Alexi G, Sec of Ed. Arne Duncan, and more.  It’s tradition.  Last minute campaigning is for the birds.

*3:35 – It is about time I set down my own predictions for the final electoral college vote.  My guess: Obama – 292 ; Romney – 244 — For those who can’t see the map, I have Romney taking swing states of NC, FL, and CO with Obama winning the rest.  Virginia and Wisconsin were close, but I ultimately have them going to Obama.  Even if they swing the other way, Obama still wins with 271.

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*3:10 – As the countdown to the release of exit polls get closer, many are reminding people that they are often wrong.  Besides the high-profile John Kerry example, there is this: The exits polls in the WI recall had the Governor losing by 1 point  He ended up winning by seven.

*3:01 – Just saw a few tweets suggesting that Nate Silver’s high confidence in Obama win might have lead some unenthusiastic Dems to skip voting.  In other words, they didn’ t think their vote was needed.  Does this hold any water?  My gut says No.  The unenthusiastic vote is not going to know much about Nate Silver anyway.  That point is easily forgotten among all those who obsess over politics.

*2:58 – In case you didn’t know the best bet for all Illinois-related details is always CapFax.  This is the place to check, especially later tonight when the returns slowly come in.

*2:11 – The Results are IN!   The Chicago Bears just moved up two spots to #3 in ESPN’s Power Rankings.  Whew.  We can all breath a sigh of relief now.  Back to the real world everyone. 😉

*1:59 – One more thing about exit polls.  The first information that is released (5pm) won’t say anything about the exact vote percentages (i.e. x% for Candidate A).  Instead they will only be about turnout and demographics (i.e. 55% elderly voters).  That is because they cannot release info. on the actual percentage of votes cast for each party until the polls close in each state (i.e. 7pm EST for the first group).

Also, the demographic numbers are likely to be skewed, because they are taken disproportionately from people who vote earlier in the day (i.e. older people).

*1:35 – Kaylee shared an article that will likely terrify/anger/stress Obama supporters.  We will be seeing a lot of this today.  Look Here

* 1:30 – Has the Romney team given up on OH?  From The Note:

All the body language from the Romney campaign suggests that they see Ohio as a long-shot.  […] If you want to know if Romney can pull off a Pennsylvania surprise, watch the following counties tonight: Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery. Obama carried all of them by at least 54 percent. Romney can’t win the state and lose those suburbs by that kind of margin. Also, check out the Philadelphia margin. Last time, Obama racked up 83 percent and logged over 574,000 votes from the City of Brotherly Love. Again, if Romney is to prevail, he can’t come out of the city down 400,000 votes.

*1:22 – Craving more details about how things might shape up?  If so, you already know that Ohio will be key, so read this article that includes 4 fancy charts/maps about how the Ohio vote has worked in the past: HERE.

*1:18 – Quick update: the first real data we will get will likely come in about 3 hours and 42 minutes (5pn EST).  That is when the quarantine on the exit polls will be lifted and journalists will share the details.  The same rules apply regarding the unreliability of these numbers.  So there is no reason to dismay entirely or crack open the champagne.  However, trends in the swing states in that exit data will very quickly spread across the social media world.  Until that time, anything you hear is just anecdotal.

*1:05 – You may have heard about the Chris Christie-Romney feud over the last week that some suggested hurt Romney’s chances in this tight election. The basics: NY Gov. Christie (the guy who was Romney VP choice all along, until he switched to Ryan at the last second) has said many nice things about President Obama in the last few days. That continued this morning when Christie didn’t mince words and said:

“All this other noise, I think, are coming from know-nothing, disgruntled Romney staffers who — you know — don’t like the fact that I said nice things about the president of the United States. Well, that’s too bad for them. When you get to the end of a campaign and it’s unsure of the result, those who fear that they may be blamed if things don’t go well try to look out for other people to blame.”

*12:20 – A meme floating around Twitter now: “Election Day- When Americans flock to the polls to help Ohio decide who will be the next President.”

An Ohio pundit explains her state:

That any one state should posses such outsize power over the country’s political destiny strikes me as outrageous on its face, but that this state should be my own birthplace, the very cradle of American mediocrity and overzealous lawn ornamentation, is positively terrifying. […]

One aspect of the Ohio character that ought to prove comforting to the rest of us as we await their decision about our lives is that they usually try to do their best, at least under the circumstances. By this I mean if they’ve managed to rake their leaves that week, their aunt doesn’t need a ride to bingo night, their dog isn’t coughing up wormer on the front porch, and they have correct change for a pack of Camel Lights. Short of these distractions, Ohioans make an effort. They show up. They apply themselves. Unless they’re drunk. And even then, unless they’re very, very drunk, they give things an honest shot. So here’s to them.

For my part, I’m confident that the average Ohio-native is similar to the average resident of my Midwestern hometown of Bradley, IL.  And while I could easily throw stones at my lovable home-towners, at the end of the day they mean well and work their asses off.  We could be in far worse shape.

*12:10 – We will hear a lot about various shenanigans over the course of the day. But here’s a fun one that made the rounds this week in case you hadn’t heard.  Republican Senate Candidate Linda McMahon (former WWF president) has been pretending that she and President Obama are on the same side…passing out shirt, flyers, and more.  In realty, President Obama cut ads for her Democrat opponent.

Anything for a few last minute votes from confused voters…*sigh*…Sometimes honesty is not the best winning-a-campaign policy.

*11:45 – Reminder: FOUR huge gay marriage related issues are on ballots today.  I’ll be talking more about that later  However, for those who want some validation about how far we’ve come, Charles Murray just tweeted this: “So I stared at MD’s gay marriage prop, greatly conflicted between strategic objectives and gay friends in loving relationships, and then said, “What the hell,” and voted yes.  The gay couples I know behave as the Jonathan Rausch‘s of the world said they do.  So I gave up.” (In other words, he voted for marriage equality)

This won’t mean much unless you realize the Charles Murray has been a stalwart of the conservative movement for decades.  An icon in many circles.  When we win guy’s like this, it’s game over.  Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how many more years its all going to drag out. 🙂

*11:41 – FYI: Romney and Ryan are campaigning today until the very end in PA and OH.  Obama is staying at home in Chicago.  Make of that what you will.

*11:25 – Focusing only on the predictions of Nate Silver might be unfair.  Here’s a helpful article the lists all the major predictions by well-known pundits, etc.  Some notable conservative calls:

Dean Chambers, UnskewedPolls.com: Romney 311, Obama 227. “Many others in the media project very favorable maps and projections for Obama but those doing so fail to realize or accept how heavily-skewed polls distort any average or analysis that relies on them.”

Karl Rove: Romney 285, Obama 253. He’s got Romney winning Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, and Florida.

Ross Douthat, New York Times: Obama 271, Romney 267. ” In general, I think that the political class tends to overestimate the power of the Hispanic bloc, whose influence is growing more slowly than many pundits and strategists acknowledge. In general, I think that the political class tends to overestimate swing voters’ sympathy for strident social liberalism, and to imagine a lockstep support for legal abortion among female voters that doesn’t actually exist.”

*11:18 – So when will get the first real indication of how things are going? It will likely be leaked exit polls. These are polls conducted of people leaving the polling place throughout the day. Undoubtedly some will make their way online, prolly around 2-4pm EST. They will suggest how the candidates are doing in the state compared with projections. People will make a big deal of these leaks. However, be warned, they have been very wrong in the past. Most notably, in 2004, John Kerry looked very strong in the exit polls. One high profile commentator called him “Mr. President” after seeing those polls. At the end, not so.

*10:04 – The final word from Nate Silver:

In poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast.

As any poker player knows, those 8 percent chances do come up once in a while. If it happens this year, then a lot of polling firms will have to re-examine their assumptions — and we will have to re-examine ours about how trustworthy the polls are. But the odds are that Mr. Obama will win another term.

*9:59 – Interested in news out of Nebraska?  Salpal provides the scoop in her usual witty fashion:

# of minutes I sacrificed in order to grab coffee before I headed to the polls: 6.5
# of muffins purchased in the same coffee trip: 1
# of people ahead of me when I arrived 20 minutes before the polls opened: 10
# of fanny packs worn by poll workers: 3
# of female U.S. Senate candidates that I voted for: 0
# of Mormons that I voted for: 0 (I think)
# of Dads that opted to sit at a cafeteria table instead of a screened voting booth in order to vote with a grade-school-aged daughter: 1
# of Article III judges voting 15 people behind me: 1
# of “I voted” stickers received upon voting: 0 (I got hosed!)
# of hours I may leave early from work under the silent guise of going to vote (see above: no sticker): 1.5

P.S. – The not-receiving-a-voting-sticker issue has been plaguing several areas this cycle. We need an investigation.  Stat.

*9:40 – Here’s the final tally from the last set of national (popular vote) polls that will be conducted this election.  NOTE: At the end of the day, the popular vote doesn’t really matter.  It’s all about those swing states.  Repeat to ourselves: Ohio, Virginia, Florida…Ohio, Virginia, Florida…Ohio…

*9:27 – In case you missed it.  A few thoughts were shared last night on the simple paths to victory for each candidate and the current projections.  Look HERE.

*8:49 – For those keeping track at home. Adored, maligned, but undoubtedly clever political statistician Nate Silver ends with Obama having a 91.6% chance of winning. If you unfamiliar with all of this, Silver’s model is on the high-end of projections. Though, this should not be taken as a sign that Obama automatically has this in the bag.

*8:32 – One last reminder. Don’t just vote yourself, but ensure those around you do as well.
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*7:39 – Anything interesting/uninteresting happen are your polling place? Or did you vote early?

*7:38 – My own voting is now complete. Far more people in line than I’ve ever experienced, but then again, I’ve never lived in a swing state before. In and out in about an hour. A few quick thoughts…

-Do they always ask you to verbally state your address? VA has a voter ID law (to kill the evil that is voter fraud *sigh*). However, even after handing my ID over with address on it, the polling worker held the ID and asked me to verbally say the address. I vaguely remember this in IL, but I did not have to show ID in Illinois, and even then the address on my ID did not match my current address. Being forced to say the address out loud this morning shocked me a bit, because it is not at all hard to image some people (especially those who move around a lot) flubbing it under pressure.

– I’m 99% confident that President Obama won my precinct. I truly had no idea of the partisan make-up of my neighbors, and so I was surprised at the diversity at the elementary school where we voted this morning. Reston is in Fairfax County, near the tippy top of Virginia. Relatively speaking I live in the slums of Reston. However, we are best known as being the 2nd most affluent county in the nation (behind the county immediately to our left, Louden). Also, we are a swing part of the swing state–the candidates spent many a minute in Fairfax. A quick summary of the situation:

For decades, Prince William and Loudoun County, its neighbor to the north, were outside-the-Beltway behemoths that gave Republicans something of a firewall in presidential elections. In 2008, that firewall collapsed. Obama swept all of Northern Virginia, winning Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park. Collectively, Obama won Northern Virginia by 234,079 votes. In the rest of the state combined, he edged Republican John McCain by 448 votes. If Republicans hope to retake Virginia at the presidential level, they will have to chip away at Obama’s dominance in the state’s population centers such as Loudoun and Prince William, the fastest-growing localities in the state.

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*7:05 – Oh, and Hart’s Location–just a hair behind Dixville–reported a 23-5-3 Obama win (the 3 were for Libertarian Gary Johnson–the more Libertarian votes nationwide, the worse for Romney). Amazingly, Dixville was able to cast those votes in 43 seconds flat.

*7:00 – Here we go…Dixville Nitch reported a tie this year. Five votes to five. First Time Ever.

*6:30 – About 250 people in front of me now. I certainly like the demographics of this VA precinct for O. Two twentysomething young women holding hands in front of me, oddly enough..obv trying to send some kind of mesage.

*6:00 – VOTE

*5:45 – Merry Christmas.

Election Eve Live-Blogging

*6:15: Those just joining this election might be asking, “So who is going to win?” There are a gazillion prognosticators, but I’ll try to summarize very briefly. The vast majority of in-depth pollsters and aggregate magicians suggest that President Obama holds a slight, but clear, lead in the states needed for him to reach 270 EC votes and beyond. However, a few dissenters–and many conservatives–argue that the polls are underestimating Romney strength. Specifically, they point to a somewhat skewed result between individual state polls and the overall national polls. The national polls are much closer, with Romney leading in some and Obama leading in some. The polls of most individual swing states that matter, however, have Obama leading.

It is possible for the national popular vote to go one way and the swing states to go another. But, in the end, many don’t think that will happen. Instead, some suggest that the states polls are wrong for one of two reasons: (1) They are overestimating Obama’s support in early voting, and/or (2) They are overestimating Democratic turnout in their models. Both are plausible.

The bottom line: Most betting suggests anywhere from a 55-80% chance of Obama winning. The king bee of all political statisticians, Nate Silver, currently argues that Obama has an 86.3% chance of winning. He’s come under attack recently for the confidence his model has in the Obama win, but who knows. Silver, who made his name in sports stats, previously suggested that Obama’s chances right now are like being ahead by a field goal in a football game with 2 minutes left–the odds are in your favor, but you could certainly still lose.

Alternatively, Drudge currently suggests that Romney’s internal polls have him ahead or tied in all the key states. Someone will be right and someone will be wrong tomorrow. For those of us who get anxious easily, this reality is no comfort.

* 4:40 – You will see many complex analyses and maps in these last few hours. Tomorrow will be a flurry of discussion regarding winning certain states, losing others, and the 538 different paths to victory. However, the map below is likely the best, simple explanation for what really matters.

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You’ll notice the bottom line: Romney has to win all swing states early to stand a chance, particularly Virginia, Florida, or Ohio. If he loses any of them, it is basically over. If he wins them all AND wins Pennsylvania, then Romney will win. Otherwise, the closes scenario is Romney wins all three of the big ones, loses PA and then we wait to see if he wins enough of the five smaller swing states.

*3:55 – FYI: There are two counties in NH that will be bringing in the first results–Dixville Notch (about 10 voters) and Hart’s Location (about 36 voters) will take their tally, per tradition, at exactly midnight.  The two tiny towns actually race each other to see who can announce publicly first.  Dixville Notch usually wins, but Hart’s Location townsfolk plan on lining up alphabetically at midnight to save time.  Last year Obama swept Dixville with 100% of the vote.  However, Republican registration is up this year, so it could go either way.  See here

*3:53 – And so it begins. 

Election Day Hour-By-Hour Guide

Due to the incessant chatter on Facebook & Twitter, the closeness of the race, and the fact that I now spend 12 hours a day in front of my computer at home (alone), I have never been more focused on an election in my life.  And that is saying something, because I’ve been a political loser since I first learned  to differentiate the colors red and blue.  In any event, just like 4 years ago, in preparation for the big day I’ve created a quick home-made viewing guide.  For simplicity’s sake I discuss only the Presidential race, key Senate races, and Ballot initiatives.  I have omitted close House races (except in IL), because there are dozens and dozens.

Feel free to print this off as a checklist while watching the returns on Tuesday.  🙂

Election Day 2012 – As it Unfolds
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
-Eastern Standard Times-

*6am: VOTE – Tell others to vote.  Post a FB status about voting. Shame co-workers and classmates into voting.  This is especially important if you think those others will vote for the same people you will.  But, even if not, still encourage.  It’s over the top cliche, but it must be said: This Voting Thing Is Kind of Important.  We do not live in Iran.  President Obamadinejad will not win a crushing 98% of the vote no matter what the actual tally.  This is not just some symbolic act of patriotism, it’s what guides our whole system.  Do it.  (Yes, this is true even if you do not live in a swing state…Presidential politics isn’t everything, in fact, its often not even the most important thing.)

*6am-7pm: You have several options here.  More than likely you will want to call off sick from work and/or skip your classes.  The anxiety will likely be too much to take anyway, so it’s best not to tax the mind.  A nap will probably be needed around 6:45am, as soon as you get back from the polling place.  When you wake up from that nap around 1pm, you’ll slowly want to prepare snacks, get into comfortable clothes, and feed the dog.

Also, you’ll want to pay attention to reports on weather conditions and turnout numbers.  I’ll talk more about this later, but here’s the current line: Turnout matters far more for Obama.  It may not be as strong as 2008, but if there is a marked drop, he is in trouble.

Lastly, throughout this time, come back to this blog and post some comments about your voting experience, perceptions, etc.  I’ll  be sitting at this screen biting my nails like a moron and in need of as much calming influence as possible.

*7pm: The first polls close: Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia .

-Presidential Race: Romney will take GA, IN, KY, and SC.  Obama will win VT.  All eyes here will be on VA.  In fact, the early signs out of VA will tell us a LOT about how the night will go.  The VA polls will likely be ‘too close to call’ at first.  However, if Obama is holding his own or leading here, then Romney is in trouble.  Both candidates can win even if they lose VA, but it is far more important for Romney.

[NOTE:  Be careful not to read too much into the numbers that first come out with a small percentage of precincts reporting from each state.  We are rarely told exactly which precincts have reported.  They could be D or R strongholds and thus skew everything.  In other words, don’t read too much into the results until a substantial % of precincts have reported.  Also, some states will be called by the networks the second that the polls close, but that is because the vote is overwhelmingly in one candidate’s favor.  None of the swing states will be called that early, it will take a bit longer.]

-Senate: The VA Senate race is also huge (perhaps the closest in the country)- Allen (R) v. Kaine (D).  Allen is a former Senator who lost 6 years ago.  Kaine is the former head of the Democratic National Convention (and close ally of Obama).  The fate of Kaine & Obama are likely tied to one another in the state, however, it is not imposible for Obama to lose VA and Kaine to still pull out the win.  Also you might be interested in keeping an eye on the IN Senate race where Tea-Party backed Murdock (R) (the guy who made the rape/God’s plan comment) seemed to be losing at the last minute to Donnelly (D).

*7:30pm: More polls close: North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia

-Presidential Race: Herein lies the key to the entire election: O.h.i.o.  If Obama holds OH it is incredibly dificult to see how Romney gets to 270 electoral college votes.  This one won’t be called for awhile after polls close, but is by far the mostly likely state to decide everything.  WV is going to Romney.  NC, while considered a swing state, is likely to also go to Romney.  Keep an eye on the vote margin in NC, however.  If it is neck and neck, that means that Romney is underperforming a touch, which might spell trouble.

-Senate: Shouldn’t be many shocks, though if the Republican’s overperform than OH incumbent Brown (D) might be a surprise loser to the young state treasurer, Mandel (R)

*8:00pm: Huge swath of states will close their polls: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee

-Presidential Race: Romney will add most southern states to his column immediately, AL, MS, MO, OK, and TN.  Obama will take CT, DE, DC, IL, ME, MD, MA, NJ, PA, and RI.  Romney made a last second ploy in PA, but it likely won’t matter (McCain did the same thing). The two keys here are NH and FL.  NH doesn’t have too many EC votes, but in an election that could literally tie, those votes matter.  FL is the real key here.  I’ll say this, if Romney does not win FL, he will not win the election . I cannot see how he loses this state (the swing state with the most EC votes) and cobbles together enough wins in other states to pull this out.  As with Virgnia, this is one of those that matters hugely for Romney.

At this point, the three most important states will all have stopped voting: VA, OH, FL.  We are already likely to know a bit about the state of things in VA and OH.  But from this point on focus intently on all news regarding those three states.

-Senate: MANY important Senate races ending now.  CT will be an interesting one to watch, former WWF CEO Linda McMahon (R) is trying for the seat again, though she’s been down a few points in recent polls against Rep. Murphy (D).  If the Republicans have any chance of taking over the Senate, they will definitely need to be winning these races.  If they don’t seem to be pulling some of these out at this point, then its highly unlikely they will take over.  The FL Senate seat should stay with incumbent Nelson (D), but if the Republican have a great day, its not out of the question for Rep. Mack (R) to upset him. The ME race is interesting, as Independent candiate Angus King will likely win.  He has not said which party he will caucus with, though most suspect the Democrats.  The MA race is perhaps the most high-profile one in the country with incumbent Brown (R) trying to fend off Harvard Prof. Elizabeth Warren (D).  The latest polls have Warren pulling ahead by a few points.The MS Senate race should also be looked at closely to see if Todd “legitimate rape” Akin (R) is able to somehow mount a comeback (unlikely) against incumbent McCaskill (D).

[EXTRA: If you enjoy seeing one of the more ridiculous, radical members of the House, Rep. Allen West (R) sweat it out, he’s facing a spirited Democratic challenger in Florida.  For those of us who like moderation, it would be sweet to see this man lose his seat.]

-Other:  Two marriage equality amendments on the ballot.  Keep a close eye on a ballot measure in ME that seeks to allow gay marriage in the state.  Voters in the state voted down a similar measure two years ago, so it will be very interesting to see if there has been enough of a change of opinion since then.  Here’s the thing, we’ve been up in the polls there at the same rate that we were up in the polls last time around, but we lost last time around.  So this will be a huge test case to see if, even though opinion seems to be shifting nationwide, voters are actually changing their mind and not secretly stepping into the booth and voting against equality for their neighbors.  Also, voters in MD will be deciding whether to keep the law signed by their Governor this year to allow gay marriage.  MD offers our best chance at winning, I think.  I’ll be on pins and needles.

There are two interesting ballot initiatives out of the state of FL that piqued my interest because of their connection to a concept near and dear to my heart: the separation of church and state.  The first bans all federal funding for use on abortions, including in cases of rape.  The second repeals a previous amendment that banned use of public funds for religious groups.  Essentially, these are two hot-button items drawn up to stir up the religious feuding in the state.  It’ll be a good barameter to how these issues are playing at the moment.

-Illinois:  Those back home in IL have a considerable number of contested House elections.  After all, this is the first election since the Re-districting, which, in our case, was controlled by the Democrats.  The hot races include incumbents Walsh (R) likely losing to Duckworth (D), Dold (R) facing an uphill battle against Schneider (D), and Biggert (R) struggling to survive against Foster (D).  You’ll notice these are are Republican incumbents who may very well lose to Democrats, in other words, the state’s delegation will likely tilt more Blue after this.  Also, there are few toss-ups that could go either way, (Davis (R) v. Gill (D), Schilling R) v. Bustos (D), and Enyart (D) v. Plummer (R)).

*8:30pm: Arkansas closes
-Romney wins.  Move along.

*9pm: Another wave: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming

-Presidential Race:  Results will be streaming from all over at this point.  We may essentially already have elected Obama if states like VA and OH are clearly in his camp.  Though, its unikely for them to be called this early.  If nothing else, we will know the main trends. If Romney is performing well there, then he may be in for a good night.   One thing to note, in 2008 OH was called for Obama at about 9:25pm.  If something similar happens here, then it’s probably over.  Though, I expect networks to be far more careful this year.

From this group give Romney AZ, KS, LA, NB, ND, SD, TX, and WY.  Give Obama NY, MI, NM.  CO is the most important here, as it’s one of the swing states that has a decent chance of going to Romney.  MN is an interesting case that should go to Obama, but, if Romney is having a good night, things might be different.  Ditto for WI.  This was original thought to be pretty safe for Obama, but its a toss-up now.  This is VP candidate Ryan’s home state, so it very well could fall for the R ticket.

-Senate:  The NB Senate Race should go to Fischer (R), but if the Dem’s do decent overall, there is a chance former Senator Kerry (D) could get his seat back.  The AZ race is a toss-up, with Flake (R) desperately needing to hold off Carmona (D) to keep the R’s Senate hopes alive.  Also, there is an interesting race in ND, where the Democratic candidate Heitkampt (D) has at least a shot at taking the seat against Berg (R)–not a common thing in the red state of ND.  The WI seat is the one I will be watching closely.  It’s tight, but Tammy Baldwin (D) may become the first openly-gay U.S. Senator in history is she pulls it out against Tommy Thompson (R).

[EXTRA: Another House race to keep on the radar if you enjoy watching some radical get their cumuppence, keep an eye on Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R) face the toughest reelection of her Congressional career.  She’s thrown a ton of money into the race, and still should win, but it’s not out of the question for her to be knocked off]

-Other:  MN has a proposition on the ballot to change their constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying.  Gay couples will not be able to marry there regardless of the outcome, but beating back this one will send a strong message.  Of the 4 gay marriage-related ballot measures, I think this one is the biggest uphill battles for my team.

Also, observers might be interested in a hotly costed CO measure that would legalize marijuana–it’s be treated like alcohol.  Importantly, this is NOT a medical marijuana measure–its the full monty of legalizaiton.  It would still bump up against federal law, causing a range of legal issues, but it’d be a sign that the long-term direction of this issue might be moving toward legalization.

Those interested in labor issues will also want to watch a measure in MI to preserve certain union rights constitutionally. This is likely a pre-emptive step to prevent what happened in WI happening in MI.

*10pm: Polls will be closing in Iowa, Montana, Nevada, Utah

-Presidential Race:  What matter here is not so much the states that have polls closing, but the status of the races in VA, FL, and OH.  Have any of them been called?  If so, but how much?  We may be getting very close to having selected the president for the next four years OR we could know that we are in line for a very long night.

Of the states here, Romney will take MT and UT.  IA and NV are toss-ups, though almost everyone expects Obama to win NV.  IA will be closer.

-Senate: There are hot races in NV and MT.  Nevada is  toss up between Heller (R) and Berkely (D).  And MT is fight with incumbent Tester (D) and Ehnberg (R).  These could go either way, watch close.

[EXTRA: On the let’s-watch-radical-Republicans-sweat-it-out watch, Rep. King (R)–one of the leaders who has stoked fury after gay marriage was legalized in IA (and is a windbag)–is facing a somewhat tough re-election against the wife of the former governor, Vilsak (D).  King will likely win, but it’d be nice to see a surprise here].

*11pm: The states on the Pacific will be bringing this election to a close: California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington.

-Presidential Race: Obama will take all of these states except ID.  Of course, at this point we will just be looking to how the swing states are shaking out.  That will be all that matters on a presidential level.  In 2008, at 11pm, Obama was named the next President by all networks.

-Senate:  Nothing all too interesting here, the HI seat may cause fireworks, but Hirono (D) should beat Lingle (R).  Focus your attention on the races that will still be “too close to call” at this point.

-Other:  WA voters will be deciding whether to keep a law passed by their legislature and signed by the governor legalizing gay marriage.  I have great hopes for this one, but I’ve been burned every single time a gay marriage issue has been on the ballot in the past, so I’m trying not to overplay my optimism.  We shall see.

Also, WA and OR also may legalize marijuana.  For those keeping track, that brings a total of three states that may do so: WA, OR, and CO.  From what I gather, these propositions are tight, so you’ll want to pay attention if this issue matters to you.

*1am: Alaska officially ends it all.  They will vote for the Republican ticket even though they do not have a home-stater on the ballot this time around.

So what else will be going on at this point?  Hard to say.  I’d guess that we will have selected the president for the next four years by now.  Some states might still be counting, but someone will likely have already crossed the 270 threshold, that is particularly true if Obama seems to be winning.  In other words, Romney has fewer paths to victory; he needs to take more of the swing states than Obama.  And so, if Romney is  doing well and might pull it out, then we will need to watch until these later state tallies come in.  On the other hand, if Obama wins some of the big early swing states, then it is likely over and the later tallies won’t matter as much.
Beyond that the things to pay attention to now are the intersting ballot measures and the key Senate races that are extra close.

Also, if you started drinking wine, whiskey, or beer earlier in the night (likely at the point when some negative news came in), then at this time you might begin yelling at the TV or computer screen.  Or you could be cracking open the champagne.

Get Excited.

P.S. I’ll be glued to the computer and this blog for 24 straight hours on election day.  In lieu of an election party, I hope that you come back here and share your thoughts throughout the day in comments.  It’s the best alternative to being in a room full of other people discussing the results as they roll in.