Why Election Day Is Important

A friend asked me this fall why I am so excited about Election Day.  After all, many campaigns have insulted the nation’s intelligence for months, and the Democrats are going to have a very rough outcome.  So why the excitement? 

I answered because elections matter. 

The process matters. 

Besides, it is an important tradition. 

I refuse to let those who tried to dumb-down the debate, or undermine and belittle the election process to rob me of this historic moment.

Much like a storm chaser in Kansas does not want to see the barn destroyed by a tornado, yet wants to see the funnel cloud make contact with the ground, so do I like to see elections play out against the great canvas of the American electorate.  What is about to occur, for better or worse, is another chapter in our national story, and we get to experience it.  Living the moment means feeling both the bad and the good.  Tonight will be proof of that.

It has been almost 30 years to the day that I cast my first ballot.   Though President Carter lost that year (Nov. 4th) despite my support, the memory of going with my dad to the polls in Hancock, Wisconsin after he got off work will always be treasured.  One of his fellow workers, Leslie Wetmore, gave me the thumbs up for casting a ballot.  They came from a generation of proud service in World War II, and liked to see young people fulfilling their civic responsibility.

Then it was home where mom had dinner waiting, and a night of television coverage of the election.  It was a rough election outcome for me. I recall before going to bed that night mom saying as she stood in the doorway to my room that perhaps everything would work out with Ronald Reagan as the new president.  She knew I was upset, and tried to see the positive.   The classic mom.

Now at the age of 48 Election Day still has a certain pace.  I walk to my polling place, and folks from the neighborhood will be out and about doing the same thing as I am.  The election officials will banter about this or that and pleasantries will be made.  Everybody seems to know each other at the polls.  When all the bombast and outrage has been removed from the airwaves it comes down to the simple act of voting with friends and neighbors.   It is after all, an American moment.

I walk to a booth and before voting  always say a short prayer of thanks for the land we live in, and the freedoms we have.  It may sound corny, but its true.  Then I mark the ballot. 

As odd as it may sound to some every election year since James and I met over a decade ago he makes sure our home has political themed bunting, and other items up to reflect the national moment.  This year he sewed red and blue cloth into banners that now hold my political button collection that will be on display for the evening.  A small group of friends will drop by to watch the returns come in from around the nation.

Since every election night lands in the cool weather of November we serve some type of  hearty food to be enjoyed around the television.   This year a harvest dinner with lots of veggies and meat will cook in a large roaster and be ready when folks arrive.  Desserts on election night will make the sugar high last all the way until Alaska starts to count the ballots.  Should it be any other way? 

I love the epic event quality when the all-news stations report this story.  Even local stations will ramp up the coverage, and the way they report the outcomes.  News teams will have assembled the latest computer graphics aimed at dazzling us with the results.  (Hello CNN!)   After all, what could be better than to see Christine O’Donnell defeated with some snazzy new graphic?

So while some have sullied the election with antics, slurs, outbursts, and absurd amounts of money no one  is going to deny me the pleasure of reveling in an American moment.  While some candidates this campaign season have talked of the American ideals,  I actually feel them and live them. 

After all, Election Day is important.  It is a grand tradition.

It is for me.

Hopefully, for you too.

Madison Pundits Make Political Predictions For 2010 Midterms

David Blaksa gives his Election 2010 predictions, and then posts those of other political pundits from Madison on the eve  of the mid-term elections.

The listings are on the bottom of Blaska’s post on the Isthmus website.

Election 2010 Like Hurricane Katrina


Gallup’s historical model suggests that a party needs at least a two-point advantage in the national House vote to win a majority of the 435 seats. The Republicans’ current likely voter margin suggests that this scenario is highly probable, making the question of interest this election not whether the GOP will win the majority, but by how much. Taking Gallup’s final survey’s margin of error into account, the historical model predicts that the Republicans could gain anywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible. 

It should be noted, however, that this year’s 15-point gap in favor of the Republican candidates among likely voters is unprecedented in Gallup polling and could result in the largest Republican margin in House voting in several generations. This means that seat projections have moved into uncharted territory, in which past relationships between the national two-party vote and the number of seats won may not be maintained.

Campaign Ads To Be More Aggressive in 2012

Brace yourself……if you thought it was bad this year…..

Buoyed by the impact their blistering, anti-Democratic campaigns have had this year, two of the largest new conservative groups helping Republicans are planning to keep pushing their agenda in the lame-duck session of Congress that will begin in two weeks and are already laying the groundwork for a more aggressive campaign in the 2012 presidential race.

That development is causing Democrats to reassess their early financial plans for President Obama’s re-election campaign while forcing them to balance the administration’s demands for more transparency in campaign finance against the pressure for liberal groups to do more to counteract the strength of their conservative counterparts.

Officials with the two conservative groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS — which are on track to spend well over $50 million combined this year, a sizable part of it from undisclosed donors — said they would continue advertising against Democrats as Congress returns, when decisions loom on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and immigration.

Election 2010 In Perspective With Nation’s Political Past

If the predictions are right there is going to be a historic-type election taking place across America come Tuesday night.  This morning a most interesting newspaper article put Election 2010 in perspective with our nation’s political past

The country has seen similar gyrations before. Financial panic in 1893 set the stage for a series of sharp swings in the 1890s. Republicans won a landslide in 1894, picking up 135 seats, but then lost 48 seats two years later, despite Republican William McKinley’s triumph in the presidential race.

Then, in 1910, labor unrest and divisions within the GOP cost the party 57 House seats that year and 28 in 1912. World War I and its aftermath created a period of almost continual seesawing, with only one election (1916) seeing fewer than 20 House seats changing hands.

A realignment similar to 1894, but to the left, came in 1932 when voters wracked by the Great Depression elected Franklin D. Roosevelt as president and tossed out 101 Republicans from the House and nine from the Senate. That election, the third in a series of big swings in party support that began in 1928, marked the start of a Democratic dominance of Congress that lasted for decades with few interruptions.

But until now there has been only one other prolonged stretch—from 1946 to 1952—in which either party lost more than 20 seats. A wave of post-war strikes and President Harry Truman’s low approval ratings helped Republicans gain 55 seats in 1946, and their first House majority since 1928.

Two years later, voters reacted to a “do-nothing Congress” by tossing out 75 Republicans. The GOP regained the House in 1952, but lost control in the next election. That drought would hold until Republicans roared back in 1994.

Election Questions For America To Ponder

The larger questions other than who will win on Tuesday night, are the questions that will not have an answer when the lights go out on the television studios across the country after the ballots are reported.  Some very serious concerns about we are as a nation, and what we want will linger well into the future.    The answers to the questions will chart where we go, and how we fare as a nation.  Many will think about the candidates they support come Tuesday, but few will consider the larger themes at play.

The see-saw nature of the nation’s politics raises a question: How can the country solve its long-term problems—deficit spending, an underfunded Social Security system, spiraling health-care costs—when voters seem so uncertain which party should lead the charge?

This fall’s election has generated dozens of House races, from the suburbs of Denver and Chicago, across the South, and up the Ohio River Valley into New England, where voters who rejected Republicans in the past two elections are threatening to throw their support back to the GOP. In many cases, they’re returning to the same candidates they rejected earlier.

The phenomenon is on full view in Indiana, where Democrats are fighting to keep three House seats they won in 2006. Voters in all three districts have a history, going back more than a century in some cases, of rejecting incumbents in moments of strain.

“We know what we don’t want better than we know what we want,” said Steve Ellison, a commercial real-estate broker who hosted a campaign event in his Mishawaka home for Republican challenger Jackie Walorski, who is trying to unseat two-term Democrat Joe Donnelly in the state’s Second District. “I suppose that helps explain the schizophrenia.”

Some involved in politics today wonder if the current volatility will become part of the country’s political fabric. Changes in the U.S. electoral map, with Republicans increasingly controlling the South and the Democrats dominant on the coasts and the industrial Midwest, plus changes in the makeup of the two parties, have deepened the country’s political divide over the past 40 years, they say.

“You used to have clear liberal and conservative wings within each party, but that is less and less the case,” said Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia who ran the National Republican Campaign Committee from 1998 to 2002. “Now, the parties are sharply drawn along ideological lines.”

The result is a larger and more restive bloc of unattached voters, razor-thin margins in presidential votes, and frequent upheavals in control of Congress.

Amid all this, polls show voters themselves appear uncertain over what they want from elected officials. A Zogby International poll of more than 1,000 likely independent voters last month found that more than 70% wanted candidates who are “flexible” and “not afraid to be independent of their party.”

But another survey, by the Allegheny College Center for Political Participation, found more than half of all registered voters wanted elected officials to shun compromise and stand firm on principle. Among likely Republican voters, those favoring no concessions topped 70%.

Analysts who dissect voting trends say the swings of partisan support being seen now, particularly among independent voters, is evidence more of serial disappointment than of chronic indecisiveness.

“You don’t see voters changing their minds so much as independent and moderate voters looking for the same thing and never getting it,” said William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton who studies governance issues at the Brookings Institution. “So you have a series of negative elections and rejections of the status quo.”