Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blue Bexley

A few months ago, when I got started doing Blue Bexley, I believed that Dems were focusing too narrowly on certain races, that the area I lived in was too liberal to be represented by Republicans at all levels above City Council, and that even if we were looking at popular incumbents generally perceived as moderates, that making these races close would spread out the Republican defense.

Well, Bev Campbell ran a very close race, one that still has not been officially called by the Dispatch, but even on this blog she's done more to win this race than I did.

After I posted that Bob Shamansky was within the margin of error on the only independent poll, it appears that he has been defeated by a spread well outside of the margin of error on that poll.

Emily Kreider finished in between these two candidates, with approximately 45% of the vote. Most disappointing to me is that David Goodman (admittedly with a hometown advantage) ran stronger than any other Republican here in Bexley.

So even though Democrats have decisively taken the U.S. House (with the help of Ohio Dem Zachary Space), might have taken the U.S. Senate (with the help of Ohio's Sherrod Brown), taken the Governorship, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Treasurer races here in Ohio, and overwhelmingly passed an increase in the minimum wage...

And even though the Republican Party had to sink a million dollars into protecting an incumbent State Senator, an incumbent U.S. Representative had to hoard his considerable war chest and run a campaign that will permanently stain his reputation...

Even though I saw my writing and ideas have a small but noticeable effect on both the old and new media coverage of these races, as well as the campaigns themselves...

Even though I achieved all of the modest goals I laid out in late August...

Blue Bexley is still feeling like a big loser this morning.

I honestly believed that the candidates I wrote about not only deserved to win, but had come to have a legitimate chance at doing so, and I'm quite disappointed by the results. In all honesty, if there had been victories, I would have allowed myself to privately take a little credit, despite the fact that many many people put much more of themselves into the campaigns. In that spirit, however, I feel that I bear some of the blame.

So, Blue Bexley means something else this week. If you would like to bask in the glow of a resounding Dem Election night, this won't be the place. If you do visit, expect some autopsies and data runs (I'm a data geek by trade) for the next week or two. Then we start on 2008.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'll comment when I get an answer on absentees

Right now, approximately 323000 votes are being reported by the Franklin County BOE.
As of the primary on MAy 2, there were approximately 741000 registered voters in Franklin County.

So with 4% of precincts left to report, 43% of Franklin County voters have voted, in an election that everyone predicted to hve 51%-55% turnout. So I'm curious (or pick your adjective), are the reported 100,000 absentee votes included in the running totals? If not, all of the local races are up in the air. If so, things are not looking great for Shamansky, Kreider, or Campbell, although Bev has kept it close all night.

Congrats to all the Dems From Strickland to Space who have already been called tonight. I'll post at least once more tonight again tomorrow.

Kick Some

It is time for bed. I'll be getting up in 5 hours to pass out sample ballots in the rain 101 feet from the polling place at Capital U. From there I'll be bouncing around getting ready to leave for Minnesota. If that goes really well, I may have time to post from the 2000 acre hotspot at CMH. If not, I'll probably be full duplex out of the loop until I'm in my hotel in Minneapolis around dinnertime.

For everyone who will be working for the Kreider campaign, the Shamansky campaign, the Campbell campaign, on the ground, on the phones, or at the polls, kick some elephant ass, and I hope you'll tip one back for me at your celebration tonight.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Apology To Dispatch First, Then Disbelief toward Tiberi

I wrote about Candidate Match earlier, saying that I thought it was a neat tool, but that there was a big problem with the 12th District Comparison. I said that it was almost certainly an error on the part of Dispatch Media, but I later received a response from Jon Schwentes at Dispatch Media, and I owe them an apology:

Dear Mr. Sullivan:
Thank you for your inquiry regarding our interactive CandidateMatch feature.
The Dispatch Media Group sent questionnaires to all of the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate and U.S. House candidates who earned a spot on Ohio's 2006 general-election ballot.
This year, as in 2004, Rep. Tiberi's campaign staff objected to the CandidateMatch format. As a result, this year, as in 2004, it chose to respond to each question with "Am ambivalent or have no opinion either way" -- as something of a protest, I presume.
Like you, I wish the Tiberi campaign had taken a different approach -- one that would have better served Ohioans trying to make educated decisions on Election Day.
Again, I appreciate your interest in our political coverage -- and in CandidateMatch in particular.
I'm curious -- did you find CandidateMatch helpful in the races for governor and/or U.S. Senate?
If you have any suggestions on ways we can improve the feature, please let us know.
Jon Schwantes
Corporate Director/News Convergence
The Columbus Dispatch/Dispatch Media Group

The Dispatch was not at fault, nor did they make a mistake. The system still works unfairly in Tiberi's favor for scoring purposes if the user isn't paying attention, but...

Just to be clear, if a candidate doesn't answer a particular question, it will either be marked as such ('candidate did not answer'), or an answer will be assigned based on public statements from the candidate, and clearly marked as an 'assigned' answer. The Tiberi campaign did not throw the survey away, or send it back with a statement that they refused to answer.

They actually filled in the bubbles and submitted the questionnaire.

So, when someone says, "I strongly believe that adult women should have unrestricted access to abortion, but my friend here disagrees, where does Pat Tiberi stand?" You can tell them that

Pat Tiberi is ambivalent on the question of unrestricted abortion.

Death Penalty? Pat has no opinion either way. It's not that you don't know his opinion, he simply does not have one.

Flat Tax? Ambivalent. Some days Yes, Some days No.

Is there a single issue that Pat cares about? Nope. But at least he's not lazy. He did care enough to take the time to say "I don't care" 30 separate times.

How lucky can you get?

16 hours until polls open, and people across Ohio have been treated to headlines showing that the big-name races are projected to be blow-out victories for Dems. Fortunately for you, if you're reading this, you probably care about the races for OH-12, State Senate 3, and/or State House 20. And those aren't going to be blow-outs.

Emily Kreider has been neck-and-neck with Republican incumbent David Goodman throughout this race, even with Goodman's million dollar campaign budget. Bob Shamansky is becoming a very trendy pick in house race projections. For those of you who follow the NCAA Mens' Basketball Tournament, this is shaping up like one of those 12-5 games. For those of you who don't, that means a class of game where the favorite doesn't win nearly as often as one would expect. Bev Campbell has started to really push back against the negative ads of her opponent, and appears to have a legitimate shot at knocking off Jim McGregor.

It comes down to this: If everybody votes, we win. So please, do what you can to make sure everyone you know votes. If you're one of the local readers, sit back for a second and reflect upon how exciting it is to have close matchups up-and-down the ballot. Today's politics doesn't allow for many elections like that, enjoy the one you're getting. Being in-district this year is one of those blessings you're supposed to count.

Speaking of which, it has been a really great experience blogging these races. Every once in a while, you find yourself at the correct place at the correct time. Blue Bexley will, of course, continue post-election. The slogan says "creating and maintaining," and there's plenty of work to be done.

Who knows how many misinformed voters the Dispatch has unintentionally created in OH-12

(update appears above) ACK! The Dispatch Media Group has a website called OhioElects, which overall is a very nice resource for election-related info (including things like Ad-Watch and links to all the Columbus Dispatch & ONN election-related content, etc.).

They also have a little survey/calculator app called Candidate Match, where you fill out a 30 question survey rating your agreement/disagreement with each of 30 statements, as well as the importance you attach to the issue. They had each candidate fill out the same questionnaire, and in each race a candidate score is created by looking at how closely you matched on an item (exact match = 100pts, 1 off = 50, 2 off = 0, 3 off = -50, 4 off = -100). Each item score is multiplied by two if you rated the issue 'extremely important,' and multiplied by 0 (eliminated) if you rated the issue as 'not important.'

I just took it myself, and it accurately indicated that my positions were much closer to Strickland's than to Blackwell's, closer to Brown's than Dewines's (although not as dramatically as in the governor's race), and closer to Bob Shamansky than to Pat Tiberi.

But this last one was kind of a shock, as my agreement score with Pat Tiberi was much higher than with any of the other Republicans. How could this be? It turns out that instead of marking all of Tiberi's items as unanswered, or answered by the Dispatch based on public statements, Every Tiberi item was rated neutral. Every single one.

They had turned Tiberi into the ultimate moderate, who thought that all issues were important, but had no strong opinion on any of them.

So what happens when an undecided moderate in OH-12 comes to Candidate Match? Well, if they pick "somewhat agree" with nearly every liberal position, and "neutral" for 1 issue that has unclear partisan divisions (e.g. Push for a Palestinian state, Path to Citizenship), well then, Candidate Watch says Tiberi's your guy. If they are anywhere to the right of our perfect left-center respondent, they are overwhelmingly closer to Tiberi.

I'm sure it's an accident, but it's a massive stacked deck. If you know anyone who has gone or might go to the site to help them make up their minds, please warn them that the 12th district matchmaker is WRONG! I've emailed the CD, and hopefully they'll fix it, but who knows.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Catching up

One blog I subscribe to is Ohio2006, aka Ohio2006Elections, aka Ohio Elections 2006 (okay that last one only appears in my mistranscribed blogroll entry). In ten days, it will not be known as any of those things. It will disappear and YellowDogSammy will start a new venture, OhioDailyBlog. If you have an interest in Ohio politics, I highly recommend that you add it to your newsreader software when it goes live in 10 days. If you don't have or use newsreader software, OhioDailyBlog might be a reason to start.

Another Blog I subscribe to is Jill Miller Zimon's WritesLikeSheTalks. Not just because she found the picture of my daughter on my old blog and called her 'gorgeous,' (although that was a testament to her perceptiveness), and not just because she can wallow through a mucky paragraph of legalese and entertain you as she scrapes it off her shoes, but because she has the energy and devotion to go after something like Issue 3 with 56 straght days of reasons to vote against it. That's blogging.

For me on Issue 3, though, I only needed one reason. As soon as I saw the ad campaign that had multiple commercials talking about Learning and Earning scholarships, and not mentioning gambling, even indirectly, one single time, I knew I would not vote for it. If you don't think the public will support an idea given that they actually know what it is and understand it, you are spitting on democracy when you campaign for it anyway using deception. Same thing with Smoke-Less Ohio. If you need some people to believe that you want to make Ohio smokeless when your plan constitutionally guarantees that will never happen, then I will not vote for your proposal.

We're seeing it time and again this cycle. Issue-backers and candidates who do not believe that voters will choose them on their own merits, or even based on the actual shortcomings of their opponents, are resorting to gross distortions. I'm still a bit in shock at the brazenness of these tactics.

Most candidates don't simply make things up. I've accused the Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board of doing so, even as I have been careful to note that the job done by the reporters at the CD this season has actually been quite good. They were put in a somewhat awkward position while analyzing David Goodman's latest ad. They pointed out the numerous misleading statements, finding very little positive to say about the ad (they liked Emily Kreider's newest ad better). When they got to the part in the ad where Goodman quotes the Dispatch's endorsement, specifically using the just plain false assertion that Ms. Kreider has made 'shrill and sometimes ill-considered attacks,' AdWatch had to tread very carefully. Call the claim false, and they were calling out their bosses as liars. Call the claims accurate, and they'd be just as guilty as their bosses. What did AdWatch do?

"The Dispatch endorsed Goodman, and the citations in the ad are accurate"

It is true that Goodman is telling the truth when he says that the Dispatch said that. No claim is made as to the accuracy of the original assertion. It would've been nice to see an explicit refutation of the charge, but the lawyerly way in which the accuracy of that portion of the ad was assessed leads me to believe that an implicit rejection was being made. That's a start.