Allen Concedes, Democrats Take Senate

Sen. George Allen has conceded the VA Senate race to James Webb, giving control of the Senate over to the Democratic Party.

Allen did the right thing by conceding, as it was clear that the margin in the race was simply too large for him to have any ground to contest the race. Allen may yet have a political career if Sen. John Warner of VA retires in 2008 as it is expected that he will. By bowing out on a gracious note, Allen leaves himself the possibility of political redemption later on.

Election Analysis – Minnesota

Again, thank heavens Pawlenty won. Mike Hatch would have been a disaster for this state. While Pawlenty’s margins were razor thin, it’s still a victory. In fact, it’s a considerable victory, as Republican turnout was likely depressed in this election. When the bottom fell out of the Kennedy/Klobuchar race, it undoubtedly hurt the rest of the Republican ticket. That seems to show in the other statewide races — Kiffmeyer and Anderson were trounced. GOP voters just didn’t show up to the polls yesterday in as large a number as they normally do. What this means is that Pawlenty was able to get enough crossover support from Democrats to pull off his narrow win — if he had just gotten the GOP base, Hatch would have trounced him by several points.

Bachmann did better against Wetterling than I would have expected. I suspect that both Kennedy and Wetterling were hurt by negative advertising. Going negative is always a risky political strategy, and when Kennedy and Wetterling did it as challengers, it ended up hurting them rather than helping.

The big shocker was the Gutknecht/Walz race. It wasn’t close, Walz soundly trounced Gutknecht. Obviously the early reports that MN-1 was safe were completely and totally wrong. Again, I think that turnout is key in that race. The GOP turnout was probably much lower than it should have been. Two other factors seem to have been in play. The first is that Gutknecht was far too complacent, and many Republicans are blaming him for running a campaign that was lackluster at best. He thought he had a safe seat, and while conventional wisdom would have said that was true, every smart politician runs like they’re 10 points down. Gutknecht didn’t do that, and it cost him.

The second one is that the demographics of the First are changing. Rochester is trending more and more Democratic. Immigration is changing the demographics of cities like Worthington. It’s a less safely Republican district than it has been in the last few cycles, and redistricting made it much more diverse than it was. It’s quite possible that a smart GOP candidate can knock off Walz in the next electoral cycle, but it’s going to take a lot of work.

No doubt about it, the Republicans got trounced in Minnesota, even harder than they got trounced nationally. Ron Carey hasn’t been able to pull off what his predecessor did, and that’s hurting Minnesota Republicans. The Minnesota GOP is going to have to work hard at fixing their problems and increasing turnout. Minnesota will be firmly in the spotlight in 2008, and while the GOP has suffered a major setback, that doesn’t mean that Minnesota will forever be a blue state — just that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

Virginia The New Florida?

It looks like Allen has a less than .1% lead against Webb in the VA Senate race. If the predicted strength in GOP absentee ballots is right, Allen could squeak by, but it looks like this race is going to be a very contentious race. Undoubtedly there’s going to be a flurry of recounts and litigation overt this race — one that should never have been this close had Allen not made several unforced errors. I’m with Michael Barone on this one, had Allen made this an ideological contest rather than a person one he could have easily defeated Webb. Instead, this race is one of those infuriatingly close ones that could take days or even weeks before a final result is determined.

Pawlenty Ahead, Gutknecht Down

Well, looks like the situation has reversed itself from earlier tonight. Gov. Tim Pawlenty is now very narrowly ahead of Mike Hatch in the gubernatorial race, and Democrat Tim Walz is building a sizable lead over Gil Gutknecht in MN-1. Michelle Bachmann appears poised to defeat Patty Wetterling in MN-6.

Pawlenty’s lead is very tenous, but he’s managed to come up from behind, and it seems likely that Hatch will lose, if by the narrowest of margins. The Walz lead is a bit perplexing to me. The early reports indicated that the GOP had strong turnout in MN-1 — which may be true, but that turnout appears to have benefited Pawlenty rather than Gutknecht. It’s possible that Gutknecht will pull enough of a margin in his home turf in southeast Minnesota, but with Rochester and Olmstead County trending more Democratic, that’s not as certain as it may have been in past elections.

It all turns on where the remaining votes remain. Pawlenty, Gutknecht, Kiffmeyer, and Anderson all need some significant help in order to stay in office. Pawlenty seems to have good odds, but today is not a good day for Minnesota Republicans.

UPDATE – 11:15PM Central: The trends are staying steady. Pawlenty is slowly gaining. Gutknecht appears headed for a loss.

The Star-Tribune has called the auditor’s race for Rebecca Otto. Again, that’s a testament to Democratic voting strength, assuming that people are voting straight party line on those statewide positions. If that’s true, it also means that Hatch is doing poorly with DFL voters — and the county and precinct-level figures seem to point in that direction.

WaPo Rescinds Cardin Win

The Washington Post has rescinded their call for Cardin in MD, as that race continues to be tight.

I’m not surprised, as the Cardin prediction seemed a little premature to me. Steele has run a very tight campaign, and the old idea that majority African-American districts will go overwhelmingly (as in 90-10) Democrat won’t hold true in this race. Steele has run a very strong campaign against the very weak Cardin, so having him beat the prognosticators would be quite satisfying indeed.

Say Hello To Speaker Pelosi

It seems all but inevitable that the Democrats will now gain control of the United States House of Representatives. That isn’t a huge surprise, and over the long term, it’s probably beneficial to the Republicans in two ways:

The first is that Nancy Pelosi is emblematic of the liberal left, and conservatives outnumber liberals by a significant margin. Even though I can’t stand Bill O’Reilly, he’s been harping on the difference between “San Francisco values” and mainstream American values. Pelosi stands on the wrong side of nearly every issue, and she’s a poor advocate. She’ll give the Republicans a nice punching bag for the next two years. Furthermore, the Democrats are winning based on fielding some very conservative candidates — the parties may have shifted, but the ideologies really haven’t.

Secondly, the Republicans need a kick in the ass. I’m a conservative first, and a partisan second, which is why the loss of the House doesn’t disturb me as much. The GOP lost touch with their Main Street values and got far too involved in the K Street culture. The 1994 revolution was all about cutting the size and scope of government. We have betrayed those values. We ran on improving government, and we haven’t done that.

The GOP needs to rediscover its own values. They need to rediscover the spirit and the policies that drove them into power in 1994. Again, this is not time for partisan whining. We lost, and we lost big. We can’t blame the Democrats. We have only ourselves to blame. We can win, but only by staying true to our values — which is the lesson the Republican Party needs to learn before 2008 when the slate gets wiped clean.

Gutknecht Looks Solid, Pawlenty In Trouble (UPDATED: Gutknecht Falls Behind)

It’s looking like Gil Gutknecht wasn’t as in danger as the polls had him – he currently leads Tim Walz by a healthy margin of 53-47. That could change, but it’s been holding fairly steady. I’m still thinking that Gutknecht will win, and it won’t be as close as the polls were indicating.

Bachmann has a healthy 5-point lead, and it seems like Wetterling is going down. That’s a bright spot in a dark evening.

What truly irks me is that Pawlenty is down, and not by a small margin. I refuse to believe that the people of Minnesota would elect the likes of Mike Hatch. It’s early in the evening, and the outstate votes remain to be counted, but that just is not sitting well with me. Hatch is not only a mean-spirited, thin-skinned hothead, but he’s ethically challenged as well. As a future attorney, he’s one of the stereotypical 99% that gives the other 1% of us a bad name. I don’t think that Hatch will win, I can’t believe that Hatch will win, but if he does, I will be quite irate.

UPDATE – 9:45PM: Gutknecht/Walz is down to a 2% spread — so it’s possible that Walz is still in play. I’m skeptical, and the information I’ve gotten indicates it won’t be that close, but everything is still very much up in the air.

UPDATE – 9:50PM: At least the movement with Hatch/Pawlenty is moving the right way. I really hope Hatch doesn’t win, I have to live in this state for at least the next three years…

UPDATE – 10:00PM: Pawlenty keeps closing, but I’m still worried. Surprisingly, all the other GOP statewide offices are getting hammered. Even the Star Tribune endorsed Patricia Andersen, and she’s losing by a wide margin. I’m not sure what the story is there — I suspect that a lot of GOP voters only voted for Pawlenty or alternately Hatch isn’t doing well with Democratic voters in a period of high Democratic turnout. It’s also possible that the metro areas (which get counted first) are distorting the vote. I’ve known Mary Kiffmeyer informally for a while, and she always struck me as a dedicated public servant — I would hope that she and Andersen would be able to keep their jobs. Short of abject partisanship, I see no reason why they shouldn’t have been reelected.

UPDATE: 10:20PM Central: Pawlenty is closing the gap, although Hatch is still ahead. However, Gutknecht is falling behind Walz. I’d still be somewhat surprised if Walz won, but it’s looking like this could be a night of many surprises.

Klobuchar Wins

Pretty much everyone has called the MN Senate race for Amy Klobuchar — which is hardly a surprise. What’s truly disgusting about tonight is how many abject losers have been elected to the Senate. Bob Casey Jr., Bob Menendez, and now Klobuchar are all terminally unprepared for such an august office. It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to lose to such a bunch of schlubs.

I will give Klobuchar some credit, compared to the other two losers, at least she has some accomplishments to her name. Then again, that’s like being elected as the Nicest Smelling Person in the sh*t shoveling industry.

The big question now becomes which one of them takes the Mark Dayton Award for Biggest Moron in the Senate?

He’s Up, He’s Down, He’s Up, He’s Down

The Allen/Webb race still is insanely close, but with 90% reporting, Allen has a 2% lead. I’d be tempted to call the race, but it’s already gotten close so many times that anything could happen. Allen’s had at least a slight lead for most of the evening, so it seems likely that Allen could squeak by, but it may be a long time before we have a definitive answer.

Double ugh…

UPDATE: 9:08PM Central — Triple ugh… now it’s closing again…