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Begich Wins

The AP reports:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has lost his bid for a seventh term. The longest-serving Republican in the history of the Senate trailed Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by 3,724 votes after Tuesday's count. That's an insurmountable lead with only about 2,500 overseas ballots left to be counted.

Welcome, Sen. Begich.

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Ted Stevens' Senate Fate on Hold

Republican senators were planning to vote today on whether to remove Ted Stevens from the party conference and divest him of his committee assignments. That bit drama has been postponed until Thursday in light of the uncertainty of the election's outcome. Mark Begich holds a narrow lead and there are still tens of thousands of absentee and other uncounted ballots waiting to be tallied.

Although Jim DeMint says there are enough votes to kick Stevens out of the conference, "Senate Republican leadership aides said it was unclear if DeMint had enough votes to approve the resolution." While it would be fun to see if Republican senators really want to pal around with a convicted felon, it would be more reassuring to learn that Alaska's voters didn't actually send a felon back to the Senate.

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Center-Left v. Center-Right

Flipping through the various broadcast and cable news networks on election night, I was struck by two things. First, the remote control is the greatest technological advancement since indoor plumbing. Second, Chris Wallace and Karl Rove on Fox News, desperate to find a silver lining in the public's wholesale rejection of Republican governance, loudly proclaimed throughout the night that the United States was still a center-right country, based on exit polls showing more voters who identified themselves as conservative than liberal.

The "center-right nation" theme has been picked up by other conservative pundits since November 4 (unsurprisingly, since most of them can't think for themselves and need Uncle Karl to hand them their daily talking points). Turns out, it's not true. [more ...]

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How Hillary Would Have Done

This is a silly parlor game of course but I like Poblano's post about it so I will discuss it here:

If America had woken up last Tuesday morning and magically found Hillary Clinton's name on the ballot in lieu of Barack Obama, might she have won by 11 points? Perhaps. She certainly proved herself to be an exceptionally compelling candidate, even if her execution and staffing decisions were sometimes wanting. But what would Clinton's numbers have looked like if she had actually endured ... you know ... a campaign?

More . . .

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Texeira On The Emerged Dem Majority

Ruy Texeira looks at the exit polls:

First, a few words on how well the Democrats did with the white working class (WWC). They lost these voters by 18 points, a significant improvement over 2004 when they lost them by 23 points, but somewhat worse than I thought they'd do based on preelection polls. In my paper with Alan Abramowitz, The Decline of the White Working Class and the Rise of a Mass Upper Middle Class, we allowed as how Democrats needed to get the WWC deficit into the 10-12 point range to be assured of a solid victory. As it turned out, they were able to achieve a solid victory even with a higher deficit than 10-12 points. This is because the simulations we were working with made pretty conservate assumptions about white college graduate support for Democrats and about minority turnout and support for Democrats. As it turned out, minority turnout and support were through the roof and white college graduates also exceeded our conservative assumptions. So an 18 point WWC deficit was in the end adequate for a solid victory, rather than a squeaker as I thought. And a 10-12 point deficit would have translated into a true landslide.

[More . . .]

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Howard Dean Resigns

Detractors of Howard Dean's work as chair of the Democratic National Committee (all he did, after all, was to deliver strong Democratic victories in two successive elections, ultimately helping the Obama campaign flip red states blue and turn much of the formerly red west a nice shade of purple) won't have Dean to kick around any more.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who rose to national prominence during a failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, will not seek a second term as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, clearing the way for a loyalist of President-elect Barack Obama to be named to the soon-to-be vacant post. ...

Dean's future remains cloudy although he has been mentioned as a possible choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services in an Obama Administration. Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is also being mentioned for that job.

Chris Cillizza handicaps Dean's possible successors.

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Obama Adds Progressive Blogger/Advisor to Transition Team

Huffington Post reports that Barack Obama has added Mike Lux, a blogger at Open Left and advisor to the Clinton transition team (among other accomplishments) to his transition team.

Veteran Democratic official Mike Lux has been tapped by Barack Obama to serve as an adviser and progressive liaison during the transition period, the Huffington Post has learned.

Lux, who worked on the Clinton administration transition efforts in 1992, confirmed the hiring but, citing a need for clearance, declined to offer further information.

More Lux credentials below:

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Beware Phony Inaugural Ticket Scams

Some fraudsters are peddling phony tickets to President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration. The Washington Post reports the only source for tickets, which are free, is the Congressional Offices. They are setting up a website with information.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has printed about 250,000 tickets to the Jan. 20 swearing-in ceremony at the west front of the U.S. Capitol.

The tickets are free and will be given to members of Congress and to President-elect Barack Obama's presidential inaugural committee, once that is established. Those who want to attend the ceremony should contact their local member of Congress to request tickets.

One drawback for out-of-towners planning to attend: "Tickets will not be given out until one week before the inauguration." Maybe the airlines will offer last minute inauguration fares? I don't think so either, but I thought I'd throw the idea out there.

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Bush-Busting Policies for Obama to Add to His List

Barack Obama's Transition Chief John Podesta says stem cell research and drilling are among the top George W. Bush-issued executive orders he will reverse when taking over the White House.

Grits for Breakfast has one they'd like see Obama take action on: the new FBI snitch/snooping guidelines approved last month. You can read them here (pdf) or a summary here.

Seems like a good time to start a list. What executive orders or other Bush-authorized decisions would you add to that list?

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Bipartisanship and the Well Functioning Democracy Part Two

(Part 1 is here)

A substantial victory margin for Barack Obama and two strong elections for the Democratic Party unquestionably constitute a mandate. But a mandate to do what? In a broad sense, it is a mandate for change. In specific terms, the answer is somewhat less clear.

Paul Krugman argues that the mandate is for “a new era of progressive policies” because “this year’s presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies — and the progressive philosophy won.” That is certainly true with regard to the progressive changes that were at the forefront of the election: a tax policy that requires the wealthy to shoulder a greater burden while providing middle class relief; health care reform; investment in the nation’s infrastructure; more robust regulation of the financial industry; withdrawal of troops from Iraq; a foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy over aggression. It is less clear that voters intended to send a mandate to enact a broader progressive agenda.

[more ...]

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It Was Republican Policies, Stupid

The problem with political reporters is they know so little about politics. Even the smart ones. Ron Brownstein writes:

If Obama is shrewd enough, there's a lesson for the new president in the failure of the old one. Bush and his chief political strategist, Karl Rove, dreamed of cementing a lasting Republican electoral majority. Instead, Bush has left his party in rubble.

The 2008 election represented a final grade on Bush's bruising and polarizing political strategy. . . . His legislative strategy centered on minimizing dissent among congressional Republicans; his electoral strategy revolved around maximizing his vote among Republicans and conservative independents. Through Bush's first term, that approach generated undeniable successes. . . . But through Bush's second term, this insular strategy grew unsustainable. By targeting so many of his policies toward the priorities of his conservative base, Bush ignited volcanic opposition from Democratic voters and steadily alienated independents.

This analysis is simply and undeniably wrong. How Bush got his policies through is not what has caused the Republican electoral debacle. It was the performance of his Republican policies. If Bush's policies had been successful, Republicans would be expanding their majorities TODAY. It is ironic that political reporters never can accept that elections are judgments on the efficacy of the policies of the governing party, not the process by which policies are enacted. More . . .

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Penny Pritzker as Commerce Secretary?

Andrew Travers in the Aspen Daily News writes about speculation (see Newsweek, for example) that Barack Obama will name Penny Pritzker as Commerce Secretary. Pritzkger was the national financial chair of the Obama campaign. The Pritzker (and Crown family) ties to Aspen go back decades.

Pritzker’s wide-ranging business and civic achievements include starting Classic Residences by Hyatt, a successful luxury retirement development, working to improve public schools and serving as CEO of Pritzker Realty Group. Earlier this year, Forbes ranked her among the 500 wealthiest people in the world.

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Let the Resignations Begin

Update: Michael Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is also leaving early. He's going to Kirkland and Ellis.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey yesterday announced the resignation of Thomas Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Anti-Trust Division.

Barnett was confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division on Feb. 10, 2006. He became acting Assistant Attorney General on June 25, 2005, and previously served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General since April 18, 2004.

I suspect many of Bush's political appointees had their resumes out before the election. It's not like the handwriting wasn't on the wall.

In addition to an Attorney General, Obama will appoint 93 United States Attorneys, one for each district. These jobs are political plums. They don't always (or even mostly) go to trial lawyers. U.S. Attorneys rarely try cases themselves (Patrick Fitzgerald is one exception who comes to mind), they run the office and implement the agenda of the new Attorney General and the Administration. [More...]

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Post-Mortem on McCain: Steve Schmidt Interview

Ana Marie Cox has an extensive interview in the Daily Beast with Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist of John McCain's campaign.

When he knew McCain would lose? September 29.

On the future of the Republican party:'

“The party in the Northeast is all but extinct; the party on the West Coast is all but extinct...there has to be a message and a vision that is compelling to people in order for them to come back and to give consideration to the Republican Party again.”

Lots of good quotes here -- on leaks, on Palin and more.

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Rep. Artur Davis Says No Cabinet Position for Him

Alabama Rep. Artur Davis, whose name has been floated for months as a possible Obama Attorney General pick, says he's not interested. He'd rather run for Governor of Alabama.

Fine by me, as I wrote here back in May.

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