51 Matters

Remember that 51 senators is substantially different from 50. Big picture, 50 Senate seats plus Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote made Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. He and his caucus controlled the calendar, what came to a vote. But the committees had equal numbers of Democratic and Republican members. That meant issuing subpoenas required agreement between the parties. Nominees couldn’t be voted out of committee on straight partisan votes. There were workarounds for some of these issues. But they were complicated and time-consuming. So in addition to decreasing the clout of Senators Manchin and Sinema and positioning Democrats marginally better for retaining the Senate in 2024, the difference between 50 and 51 senators is a big deal on the basic nuts and bolts of running the Senate, getting judicial nominees confirmed and more.


Save Your Brain: Don’t Watch TV on Election Night

Something came home to me last night that I’ve realized for a while but crystalized for me in a new way. If you’re into elections and want to watch results on election night you should never watch them on TV. Ever. If you were watching last night’s election on TV you probably had the sense the race was a close run thing with the lead bouncing back and forth, with Herschel Walker possibly mounting a comeback after weeks of coverage that made Raphael Warnock appear a favorite to win a full term. If you watched the results through my curated Twitter feed of election number crunchers, though, you saw something very different: from the very first returns it looked likely — and then with growing clarity — that the results would roughly bear out the polls, which showed Warnock with a modest but significant lead. The final results this morning show Warnock beating Walker by just shy of three percentage points, almost on the dot of what the consensus of polls predicted.

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I’m a bit of a broken record on this. But it’s true enough to bear some repeating. Raphael Warnock and Mark Kelly are two incredibly able politicians. Until 2018 and 2020, Democrats hadn’t been elected to Senate seats in Arizona and Georgia for decades. They’ve now both done it twice, in two consecutive cycles and under dramatically different political conditions. Of course, these aren’t feats of superhuman political powers. This is the direction of these states. But they are only on the cusp of being purple states. To chalk up two consecutive wins you need to be doing everything right. And both of them did.


Georgia Live Blogging #2

9:36 PM: Okay, the man has spoken. Dave Wasserman of The Cook Report says it’s done: Warnock defeats Walker.

9:29 PM: I think Warnock continues to have the inside track. The uncertainty is that we don’t know precisely the makeup of the votes in those blue counties where lots of votes are left. Those could be heavily same day and actually lean to Walker. So there’s still some uncertainty. But it’s a significant uncertainty in an overall context where signs really point to a Walker win. In North Georgia Walker has put up numbers he needs to win. But in the rest of the state the pattern is Warnock making modest but consistent gains on his November totals. It would be a surprise if that pattern didn’t continue in metro Atlanta. But who knows?

9:06 PM: Not clear to me how much visibility there is into these early counts out of the Atlanta area counties into what’s election day and early. You could speculate that they’ve only counted the Warnock-leaning earlies so far and next up is Walker. But I kinda doubt that. I think this is Warnock’s unless something wildly unexpected happens.

9:01 PM: We finally got a big chunk of the vote in in DeKalb County. Still only around ~50% reporting. But starting to show the numbers that put Warnock ahead. At this point this is where the remaining votes are, this and similar counties. So even though Warnock’s overall lead is razor thin it should grow.

8:37 PM: Have said it over and over. But it’s still the same. Warnock probably wins tonight. But we don’t have the votes in metro Atlanta. That will tell the story. Walker needs a strong showing in metro Atlanta, relative to expectations. Doesn’t seem likely. But run-offs are unpredictable. Just to give a sense 5% of the vote in in DeKalb, 55% in Fulton, 53% in Gwinnett, in Cobb 23%.


Georgia Live Blogging

8:32 PM: One of the people I follow just put together the numbers and found that in all five counties with more than 10k total votes Warnock is bettering his November margins. That’s a clear indicator.

8:27 PM: It’s hard to do a methodical analysis in real time. But I keep seeing completed red-rural counties where Walker is falling off his margins from November. The differences are quite small, a percentage point or two. But remember, he came in second in November. So falling back is bad. That’s not the story in every county. But it’s more than not from what I can see. The picture seems to be crystallizing in Warnock’s direction. That’s my read at least. Definitely need to see the big metros to be on firm ground.

8:16 PM: Same picture. Basically a re-run of November 8th but with Walker seeming to be very slightly underperforming his November numbers in the now completed red rural counties. Advantage Warnock but far from done. If you’re the Walker campaign you have to be hoping that Warnock underperforms on his home turf in metro Atlanta. That’s not what you’d expect. But run-off turnout is unpredictable. So by no means can you rule it out.

7:58 PM: Gist so far seems to be this: There was some thought that demoralization on Walker side might lead to the bottom dropping out and a solid win for Warnock. That’s now what we’re seeing so far. It’s very close, based on what we’re seeing so far. In the completed counties, which are almost all red rural counties, Warnock’s is very slightly improving his margins. That sounds like he’s on the road to another close victory. But the big metros are still an open question. And surprises there in either direction could change things substantially. The thing to remember is that Walker was ahead by a tiny margin in November. So broadly speaking percentages that are a replay of last month are good for him.

7:46 PM: We’re in the early numbers and all the vagaries of early voting and election day voting makes it hard to make sense of early numbers. That makes you reliant on the few completed or near completed counties. That removes questions about different kinds of voting from the equation. So far that’s only small red counties. They’re showing a tight race but in most cases Warnock very, very slightly improving his margins from November 8th. Given that he was ahead of Walker in round one (but under 50%) that’s obviously a positive for Warnock. Still early though and there’s a lot we don’t know about election day in the more populous counties.



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