Monday, November 10, 2008

Hibernation

This election season was different from the last two, in that the majority of the results were consistent with the results I was working for here at Blue Bexley - Nancy Garland won in the 20th Ohio House District, helping to give Democrats a majority in that body. Issue 5 passed, and the most predatory of lending schemes in Ohio is no longer being perpetrated. Barack Obama, of course, is our next president (and my faith in the legions of volunteers and donors he inspired was borne out). David Robinson did not manage to unseat Pat Tiberi, which is disappointing. Of course, if Pat were to actually be defeated, what would I blog about?

Ay, there's the rub.

The primary objective of Blue Bexley has always been to provide analysis, opinion, and original reporting that focuses on the aspects of reality that would influence the election of Democrats to the offices on the Bexley ballot (local, state, and federal). I've argued for a pro-partisan view of politics, because parties set the legislative agenda, and 'liberal Republicans' and 'conservative Democrats' only get to vote on legislation approved by the caucus more generally. For example, putting a gay-friendly Republican in the Ohio House instead of a quietly homophobic Democrat might seem like the right thing to do if you're a single issue gay-rights voter, but in actuality, a non-discrimination bill makes it to the floor if the Dems have a majority, and doesn't if they don't. Once Dems have a majority, you can lobby and confront individual office-holders. Until then, it doesn't make a difference.

I keep saying "until then." I should say "until now." Democrats have a strong working majority in both the U.S. House and Senate, they're now set to be running the executive branch in D.C. and Columbus, and have gained a majority in the Ohio House. The Ohio Senate is still GOP turf, but their agenda-setting capabilities have been overwhelmed by the Democratic control everywhere else.

So, um, that's that.

The two secondary objectives of BB have been to provide expanded coverage of the interplay between policy, politics, and the Bexley community, and to fulfill the promise inherent in the old joke that Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion.

Coming out of this election, I'm looking at a blog that is less focused on getting Ted Strickland re-elected and more focused on pushing Ted hard on his so-far-underwhelming response to funding and quality disparities in Ohio schools, his knee-capping of the Sick-Law initiative, his power grabs on behalf of the executive branch, etc. A blog that focuses on the details of competing proposals for a new Bexley Public Schools levy. A blog that wonders if the fact that Rusty Klesla is the only original Blue Jacket on the team makes him more or less likely to be the defenseman who gets dealt. A blog that can't help itself and starts trying to raise funds for Jennifer Brunner's 2010 race.

And though it might not be easy to explain or to understand, I'm not sure I'm up for writing that blog. So for now, I'm taking a few months off. If I come back, it may be to continue Blue Bexley. It may be to pivot Blue Bexley. It may be to shut down Blue Bexley and try something new.

By all means, if you can't live without my opinion on something, shoot me an email. I'm not expecting my inbox to overflow, though. Thank you to all who have emailed me, as well as to all of you who have read Blue Bexley regularly, and those who have stumbled upon the site by chance and came back once or twice. I've had a very small but still noticeable influence on electoral politics in Central Ohio this year, and that was always my first metric for the blog's success. Without y'all, that never could have happened.

I hope you and your families enjoy the upcoming holidays, whichever ones you celebrate, from Veteran's Day tomorrow, to Inauguration Day Jan 20.

-Jason aka bonobo

Friday, November 07, 2008

Franklin Co., where vote totals are more like guidelines or suggestions...

In 2004, I got the blogging bug. I posted a diary on DailyKos that showed one Gahanna precinct with more than 4000 votes for W, several times the number of registered voters. This got picked up and started a buzz that ultimately helped fuel the stolen elections meme (I'm sorry about that, but it most certainly would have happened without me).

(I pored over numbers from several BOE's, and I'm pretty sure that Bush's margin was in 2004 was far less than the 118,000 that went on the books officially. I'm also pretty certain that Bush's margin was closer to 118,000 than to 0, and that Bush carried Ohio more substantially than Kerry carried Wisconsin, for example.)

I bring up ancient history, because Franklin County is home to one of the closest congressional races in the country (Kilroy/Stivers), and has a state house race (Marian Harris's race in the 19th), where the margin is currently listed as 40 votes out of more than 65000 cast. It is imperative that the count be accurate, yet what do we get?

1) Franklin County is alone in reporting "overlap" numbers, meaning that for congressional races in which the majority of voters reside in Franklin County, Franklin County puts the votes from all counties in the district into its "county totals." This practice fooled everyone from CNN to ONN into reporting totals that double-counted Union and Madison in the 15th and double-counted Delaware and Licking in the 12th. This confusion was so pervasive that the SOS results website, which was the only major vote count site to have the totals accurately reflect the unofficial results, was 'corrected' yesterday to show the inaccurate results consistent with everyone else. Way to go, Franklin BOE.

2) After having an embarrassing glitch in which the unofficial count included precincts with more votes than voters in 2004, that would never happen again, right? Wrong. Three precincts in the unofficial canvass had more votes than voters this year. This casts doubt on every single one of the precinct-level totals reported. I am not exaggerating or engaging in hyperbole. Let me explain:

The official explanation is that votes "were counted twice." As an example, Worthington 3-D originally had 633 votes counted for 534 registered voters. As you can tell by the odd number of votes cast, we're not looking at a simple doubling of all the precinct's votes. We're looking most likely at a doubling of the machine-votes from election day. The corrected total listed for that precinct this morning is 411 votes, meaning that 222 votes were double-counted.

Now imagine a precinct with 1000 registered voters, 600 of whom voted, 400 of whom voted early/absentee/paper ballot. Now imagine that the election day machine votes were double-counted. The report would show 800 votes (400 + 2*200), for a turnout of 80%. When turnout is listed at 119%, you look for a problem and fix it. When turnout is listed at 80%, you applaud civic engagement.

If these get missed, it will have the effect of slightly amplifying e-day machine voting, and diluting early/absentee/paper voting. If a race has a 40,000 vote margin, this won't matter much. With a 400 vote margin, or a 40 vote margin, it could make the difference.

Out of curiosity, you might ask, are there any precincts that show unexpectedly high turnout that could reflect such a situation? I'll throw out a candidate:

UA Ward 1 2006 turnout 2008 turnout
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-A 52.7% 91.1%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-B 57.8% 74.1%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-C 42.4% 75.2%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-D 50.4% 75.6%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-E 61.2% 84.2%
UPPER ARLINGTON 1-F 54.6% 83.4%


UA Precinct 1-A had average-to-below-average turnout compared to other UA ward 1 precincts in 2006, yet had far-and-away the highest turnout in 2008. In fact, after having good (but not remarkable) turnout in 2006, they had the highest turnout of any of the 854 precincts in Franklin County in 2008. Perhaps they had a couple of really good precinct captains, but perhaps the BOE might want to double-check...

And in case you're wondering, Obama is listed as winning UA1-A 449-390, but Stivers is listed as leading Kilroy 471-321.


Of course, all of this probably pales in comparison to what's going on in the provisional balloting, which is apparently concentrated in certain precincts (inferred by the opposite pattern, where turnout is unexpectedly low given past turnout and turnout in nearby precincts, e.g. Cols 12-B, Cols 42-B, Cols 51-D,Cols 84-G, Dublin 1-F, Prairie-J, Marble Cliff, etc.).

Some of this is due to random variation and the perfectly mundane influence of unknown events, but...

I guess we'll know more next week.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The more things change

The 2008 numbers are nowhere near final, so the tables below will change a bit when all is said and done, but they probably won't change enough to alter whatever interpretation you project upon them. In 2000, there was a hard fought presidential election in which Ohio was a swing state. In the 12th District, the Republican-held seat was open following the retirement of John Kasich. State Rep. Pat Tiberi, the Republican, faced off against Franklin Co. Commissioner Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, the Democrat. Bush won Ohio, and Tiberi took the 12th, losing in Franklin, but running up the score in Delaware and Licking Counties.

In 2008, 4 term incumbent Pat Tiberi outspent his opponent David Robinson 10-1, leading to all major pundits rating the seat "Safe Republican" until the days immediately preceding the election. Robinson was completely unknown before the campaign started, and even began the primary battling a party-endorsed candidate. It was once again a Presidential year, with Obama taking Ohio this time.

How did these very different situations play out?

2008 F
D
L
Tot
Rob. 101140 24221 15620 140981
Tib. 95419 59623 34201 189243
3rd 5873 2589 1504 9966










2008 F
D
L
Tot
Rob. 49.96% 28.02% 30.43% 41.44%
Tib. 47.14% 68.98% 66.64% 55.63%
3rd 2.90% 3.00% 2.93% 2.93%





2000 F
D
L
Tot
O'S. 87255 15594 12223 115072
Tib. 79289 36539 23414 139242
3rd 5793 1658 1259 8710










2000 F
D
L
Tot
O'S. 50.63% 28.99% 33.13% 43.75%
Tib. 46.01% 67.93% 63.46% 52.94%
3rd 3.36% 3.08% 3.41% 3.31%

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Either Franklin Turnout Blew, or

There are a buttload of outstanding paper/provisional/absentee ballots.

Total Franklin County votes cast 11/04: 533,575
Total Franklin County Votes cast 11/08: 490,035 (as of current unofficial FCBOE results)


UPDATE: According to one well-placed source:

"Franklin County BOE is still processing 100K paper ballots. In addition, we are still awaiting their report on provisional ballots."

If that's accurate, then 15-20% of the Franklin vote has yet to be tallied.

What in the hell is going on with the numbers in OH-12???

Every media outlet has a different set of numbers, and most of them don't even make sense. The Franklin County BOE is showing what would appear to be more than 500,000 votes cast in the race (paper + machine), which is obviously ridiculous. The numbers on the pdf labelled 'Franklin County pre-election absentee and election day paper' are the same numbers that the SOS is reporting for all votes from all methods across all three counties (and that Franklin reports elsewhere as the unofficial final result). Assuming that those are the best numbers, the end result was 56-41, but I'm gonna wait for some clarification and precinct level numbers (the Franklin county 'results by precinct' document isn't). Why can't Franklin report the numbers from just Franklin? If they were hoping to avoid confusion, reports of 60% Tiberi totals in the media are a pretty good sign they've failed in that objective.

I will say, there aren't 15 points for Robinson hiding anywhere in this mess. Congratulations to Mr. Tiberi on another victory.

Nancy Garland appears to have won her race by 700 votes, which is a landslide compared to the 12 vote margin Marian Harris is reported as having in the 19th. Congratulations to the Garland campaign, who worked their butts off these last several months. My fingers are crossed for Marian.

I unfortunately have neither the time nor the energy to pursue my curiosity on these matters, but I'll update if and when that changes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Things Are Possible

Really mixed emotions here at Robinson's election night HQ. Dispatch Media and others have called the race for Tiberi (sad) but looking at the numbers, this seems premature. There are a ton of uncounted paper ballots, ballots which should break pretty heavily for Robinson (hopeful), and before everyone had processed the latest updates in their own race, Barack Obama began his speech acknowledging his victory (excited).

Garland carries a narrow lead.

Congrats to Issue 5 supporters. I told you so.

From Somewhere in the Renaissance Hotel

So, the ODP promised wireless access. They couldn't deliver. They did give me a nice media badge, which helped me get back into the hotel after the fire marshall had shut it down. The second floor ballroom, which erupted like a volcano when Ohio was called for Obama, was barricaded by police from the first floor, and the first floor was barricaded from the street.

I've been cut off from the internet since my last post, so I hope nothing else exciting has happened...

In the meantime, I dropped in on Robinson's Campaign HQ, where Nick Barnes, the volunteer coordinator was holding down the fort while everyone else was out looking for a few more votes. That encounter led me to my current location in the Robinson election night HQ, where I finally managed to get online (BTW, a special shout out to Progress Ohio, who provided me with a table and a wireless connection earlier during the parade of polling places.)

Right now, I'm excited about Obama. I'm not a robot. But only one of the three things I want to know has been called - Obama won Ohio (and the shouts I'm hearing right now tell me that the networks have called the whole thing for Barack), but the Robinson race is too early too call, and the Ohio House is trending toward our majority, but...

I'm a numbers guy. I'll write more when I've processed more.

And once again, sorry about the videos earlier. The early reviews all contain the word "nostril."

Voting Problems

There was a debate going on, with Tim Russo on one side, and most everybody else he brings the subject up with on the other: Should you refuse a provisional ballot?

The answer is no. You should not. But that doesn't mean you should simply accept one either.

First of all, I requested and filled out a paper ballot today. If the line at your polling place is long, you will be offered one automatically. Everyone has the right to request one. These are REGULAR ballots and they will be counted tonight. An added bonus? Your vote can't be flipped on a paper ballot (more on that later).

If your ballot doesn't clearly say "Provisional" then it isn't provisional.

If your correct address is in the pollbook, and your driver's license has your picture on it, you can vote a regular ballot*. Ask for the presiding judge if the pollworker doesn't want to give you a regular ballot. This should not still be happening, but it is still the number one problem at the polls.

This info is all over the nets, but just in case...

Oh - Flipping Votes - rumor has it that some Clintonville machines were flipping Obama votes to... Nader.


*There is one exception to this, though I hesitate to even bring it up. If mail to you from the BOE was returned as undeliverable, you need ID that has your current address on it. A DL with your current address will work, as will a bill or other document. A DL with an old address is not acceptable in this extremely rare situation.

Issue 5: Now We Wait

I dropped by COHHIO to chat with Bill Faith and Sandy Theis about the final day in the campaign to keep HB545 intact. Earlier today reports had been coming in of Payday Lending supporters using aggressive tactics at the polls, especially in Central Ohio. Those reports have trailed off, but there is some indication problems still might be occurring in the Mahoning Valley. The general impression of the folks I talked to though, was that the encounters were pushing voters toward a "yes" vote in response to their dislike of the campaigners and tactics of the Vote No side.

I asked Ms. Theis if she was feeling confident given the polling in the last few days that showed overwhelming support for the new regulations on lenders. She said that between the confusing ballot language, being outspent more than 60-1, and looking at the fact that only one referendum in the past 140 years has resulted in more "yes" votes than "no" votes, that it would take all that support just to have a chance.

I'm more confident then she is.

Part of the antsiness might be the fact that things are now pretty much out of their hands. The campaign has no GOTV operation, a relatively small number of volunteers at the polling places, and is relying on free media (including talking to bloggers like myself - even when we're late for the interview...) to keep pushing their message today.

As one supporter said, "Now we wait. There's not much more we can do."

Pivoting from their words to mine...

If you haven't voted yet, or are in a conversation with someone who hasn't, remind them that the bill that the lenders seek to overturn was passed by a large bi-partisan coalition - Dems and Republicans from the furthermost bands of the ideological spectrum voted for this bill. Every major paper (and most of the minor ones) support a "yes" vote on Issue 5, and many people who normally wouldn't care one way or another are voting yes simply because of the intelligence-insulting, brazen falsehoods of the Lenders 'Vote No' campaign.

Thanks.

GOTV and the Garland Campaign

Dropped by a non-descript house in Blacklick, because Liz Brown of the Garland campaign is Staging Manager for the coordinated Obama GOTV effort in this ward. They're making their second sweep of all identified voters, with two dozen volunteers working out of this location alone.


I talked to Liz about the state of the Garland campaign. She's confident that Garland will beat McGregor, and boldly predicted that the Ohio House will not only turn blue, but that the Dems will have a 2+ majority.

We talked about the late tenor of the campaign, which has saturated the airwaves with tough ads on both sides. I expressed surprise that Nancy had closed with an ad hitting McGregor on his tax votes. Ms. Brown handled the question well, giving a textbook defense of negative/contrast ads, and following up by making the distinction between non-issue based ad hominem attacks (The GOP's 'Wolves' ads) and issue-based attacks (going after McGregor's votes in the House).

For a race that everyone is marking as a nail-biter, the folks here seem pretty relaxed. It's hard not to share the optimism.

Parade of Polling Places

I talked to the volunteers pictured on this video. It's supposedly pronounced "Berrick." At least one voter insisted the name changed since last year, but no. In 2006 Ted and Sherrod both got between 75-80% at this precinct. I think our guy will just own this place:



At the Park Trails Clubhouse, they were allocated more than one machine per 100 registered voters (12 machines for 1168 voters). This is a really high machine-to-voter ratio. The reason? Columbus 45-H hast a ballot almost twice as long as mine was in Bexley. I wondered if it was overkill or not enough. Apparently, voting has gone smoothly all day, with lots of activity but minimal lines. It may turn out to be overkill. In case you're wondering, 2006 75% voted for Ted, 87% for Sherrod in Cols 45-H.



At the Canal Winchester Community Center, they have 3 machines for 277 registered voters, and fewer than 70 people typically vote there. By law, each location gets at least three machines, so I walked in and the pollworkers were half asleep. One person was voting. They had a ten minute wait when they opened. Since then, voting has been instantaneous. (Ted took 61% in 2006).


World Harvest Church. I admit it, the place gives me the willies. But it's a major polling location, with 21 machines for 3002 registered voters. I went here because I was curious about Issue 5. The video sucks, but the final shot is of a large "no on 5" placard with two people actively campaigning against the issue.



The video sucks and I'm having connectivity problems. Hopefully mine will be the biggest technical difficulties today. I'm still hearing that after four years of pounding, including one year of aggressive action that finally convinced the Franklin County BOE to make the rules explicit on their webpage and in the "notice of election," pollworkers are still unclear on how to handle ID. I've seen the flowcharts and quick reference guides put out by Brunner. I've always maintained that the training was at fault, not the workers at the polls. I'm not so sure, this time. Anybody who went through the training this year is encouraged to comment.

Line lengths are down all over. Go vote.

How About That Youth Vote?

video

So I realize that 9:30 is not a peak time, but this scares me almost as much as the opening nostril shot probably scares you...

In other news, I'm getting word that pollworkers in Reynoldsburg STILL don't know how to handle a Driver's License with an address that doesn'tr match the pollbook (hint: give the voter a REGULAR ballot, write down the last 4 digits of their DL# in the book)

At my precinct, I requested a paper ballot, I was in and out in ten minutes. People waiting in the hour-long machine line had no idea that it was an option.

When I was pulling out of the parking lot, Nancy Garland was walking up the residential street toward the school. That was surreal.

Already behind schedule, more later...

Bexley Lines, 6:45 am

I walked the block and a half to Montrose Elementary half an hour ago. The plan was for me to vote, come home, and get the toddler up and ready while Mrs. Dr. Bonobo went to vote. We had budgeted about 45 minutes apiece for voting under this plan.

Time for Plan B.


video

Monday, November 03, 2008

Blogging Today, Blogging Tomorrow

Today I have to take care of all my non-political/non-blogging responsibilities so that I have an entirely clean plate for tomorrow (and into Wednesday Morning).

Tomorrow, I'm planning a full day blog blitz, with photos and videos from around Central Ohio, starting with Montrose Elementary School before sunrise and continuing through the ODP victory party at the Renaissance downtown well into the night.

If you primarily read BB via visiting the site or via email (as opposed to using a feed reader), and assuming that you'll want to check in at all tomorrow, you'll want to check back early and often.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Falling Back

I'm out of state tonight, watching McCain on SNL in between attack ads that make Ohio look warm and fuzzy. Of course, the worst of the slime always drops in the last 72 hours, so maybe it's that bad back home tonight, as well.

More negative mailers. Ho hum. Tiberi is getting more personal in his attacks on Robinson. You know what I want to know? After two years of closely watching Tiberi and listening to him speak, it never occurred to me that his "I was a realtor, so I..." line doesn't make a lot of sense. He graduated OSU in 1985, worked for Kasich for eight years, was in the Ohio General Assembly from 1992-2000, when he went to the U.S. House. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he was an assistant on Kasich's staff from '84-'92, and a realtor from 1995-2000. It doesn't mention his tenure in the State House. His Wikipedia entry says that he worked as a realtor upon graduation from college in 1985, but doesn't mention his work on Kasich's staff. That may have been a misunderstanding on the entry-writer's part, as the Fox News candidate biography for Tiberi lists his real estate experience first, before his legislative work. His biography on his official house page lists his real estate experience last, saying "He also worked as a realtor with ReMax Achievers in Westerville." Tiberi has had a day job in legislative politics for the last 24 years, dating back to before college graduation. It would appear to me that he moonlighted from his taxpayer-paid job as a legislator because his legislator's salary (today's State Reps make $59k per year) wasn't sufficient for his needs and/or desires, or because somebody advised him that he needed a "real job" on his resume if he wanted to pursue his political ambition. Does anyone know where I can find out how many clients Tiberi actually had during his tenure as a real estate agent?

You know what? Forget it. I'm not going to spend the next 72 hours looking, and if all goes well it will never again be relevant. Forget I asked.

Anyway.

Does anybody else think John Boehner is about to totally explode? It's understandable that a man who has gone from majority leader to leader of a potentially very small minority (who in all likelihood will oust him as leader), who got left hanging naked on the first financial rescue package, and is stumping for a candidate nobody much likes anymore would be on edge. But this has simply been crazy. He called Obama's actions in the Illinois senate "chickenshit," demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice dispatch prosecutors to Ohio polling places, and proclaimed the DOJ's refusal to do so the result of Obama supporters "infiltrating" key positions in the Republican-run Department. This is his actual behavior. It leads me to imagine him having dreams where he tries to arrest Jennifer Brunner because of a Cuyahoga registration in the name of "Mickey Mouse," but Mickey actually shows up at the polls with ID and loudly proclaims his intent to vote for Obama. Boehner tells the two State Patrolmen he's brought along to now arrest Mickey for voter fraud. When the patrolmen say there's no evidence of a crime, Boehner screams that that they have his eyewitness testimony, goddammit, and what more do they need? At this point both patrolmen peel of their latex masks and reveal themselves to be Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who say "we're on your staff, we're in your caucus, we're running your ground game in the swing states. We're at Hoover and Heritage. Think you know your family, John? Don't be too sure..." He awakens from his dream in a cold sweat, with voice-mail, and that's how we get this week's behavior. Either that or he's always been a raving lunatic hiding behind the partisan hack facade.

Everyone's coming up with their predictions for the presidential map. I'm interested, but honestly, I think Obama will get between 270 and 300 EVs. As long as that's the case, my main interests are: 1) The two local races- Garland/McGregor & Robinson/Tiberi, 2) Control of the Ohio State House 3) Obama winning Ohio. As a matter of fact, I'd like to see one of those interactive mapping tools for Ohio's 88 counties. Anybody can predict that Cuyahoga and Summit will go for Obama, and Butler and Warren will go for McCain, but what about Wood and Erie? Athens and Jefferson? Hamilton? Beyond that, I'm interested in differences between Presidential margins and downticket margins by county and precinct. For instance, in which counties will McCain do better in his race than any downticket non-incumbent R does in theirs? In which counties will Obama do better in his race than any non-incumbent downticket Dems? In other words, where does Cordray beat Obama?

It's late. Before I start firing off letters demanding that the FBI investigate the Blue Jackets' horrible record in shoot-outs and raving about Gary Bettman's supporters driving the Zambonis, I'll sign off. Y'all should get some rest, too. Those three points of interest listed above? I'm predicting one of them won't be answered by the time the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday.



Friday, October 31, 2008

More Trafficking - Early Voting Apparently Really Really Favors Dems

So, I'm probably going to end up being a big fat hypocrite.
I've got one more shot, then I'm going to end up voting on election day.

While the Cleveland media were talking about waits of more than half an hour in NE Ohio earlier this week, waits were peaking at around two hours at Vets Memorial. I've been by Vets 3 times this week. The first time there was a 90 minute wait, the second and third time there was a wait to get into the parking lot.

Franklin County is providing daily updates of mail-in absentee voting totals on their website, but there is no equivalent source of easy and convenient data on in-person voting. After my experiences this week I was very curious, and lucky me, I got my hands on a spreadsheet showing early in-person voting totals along with mail-in absentee voting.

The usual caveats apply - I can't verify the contents of this (Update - The Dispatch backs it up). Given the apparent source of the data, though, I'm pretty sure that there are readers who can:



These numbers are, to me, jaw dropping. Dems are supposedly outpolling Republicans 10 to 1 at Vets Memorial, 3-2 in mail-in, and 2-1 overall. All told, the early vote breakdown as of 10/29 in Franklin appears to be 44% Dem, 39% Unaffiliated, 17% Republican.


In the Franklin portion of OH-12, In-Person Dems outnumber In-Person Republicans 18 to 1, and mail-in 2-1. There have been 83,394 in OH-12, with thousands of votes continuing to come in. In 2006, there were 150,395 total votes cast in Franklin County in the 12th district race. In 2004, there were 196,249 total votes cast in the OH-12 race in Franklin County. So, it certainly seems that ~40% of the Franklin county vote in OH-12 is already in the bank.

Now, we don't know how these folks voted. Remember, anybody who pulled a Dem primary ballot is a "registered Democrat," but some unknown number of those folks were Limbaugh-inspired troublemakers.

Either way, having that many D's already in means that the Dems will be able to go further and deeper than ever before with their GOTV efforts this year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Every once in a while, I traffic in rumors

I've been given some numbers. I've asked around and found that at least one other person has heard a similar story. Consider this to not be worth the paper it's printed on. But here goes:

Tiberi - 49
Robinson - 44
Other - 1
Undecided - 6

The original source of these numbers is supposedly internal polling on the GOP side. If true, that would put Tiberi pulling less than 50% and with a lead most likely within the margin of error. For those who don't normally obsess over polling, this would be a great result for Robinson, much better than the punditocracy would have predicted. Accepting these numbers means that with a strong finish, good GOTV, and only a little bit of good fortune, Robinson pulls one of the bigger nationwide upsets of the night. Then again, Robinson has consistently been underrated this year.

Same source has Garland and McGregor tied, with Marian Harris pulling away in the 19th.

Anybody with more reliable numbers is welcome encouraged to email me.

OH-12 update - Tiberi begins biennial use of frivolous complaints to spread misinformation

Dang things move fast when you get into the homestretch. I got my hands on a copy of the mailer I referred to earlier. The complete text:


DAVID ROBINSON
YOU CAN T BELIEVE A WORD HE SAYS

David Robinson had a complaint filed against him with the Ohio Elections Commission for lying about his opponents record and misleading voters.

The Iraq War Marine veteran and Purple Heart Recipient who filed the complaint wrote:

"...either David Robinson did not actually research the charges he printed in campaign literature, or he intentionally and dishonestly is spreading false information... Robinson is hypocritically breaking his own campaign promises of running an honest campaign and not deceiving voters."

CASE NO. 2008E-06, Strahle v. Robinson, et. Al

DAVID ROBINSON

WILL SAY ANYTHING TO GET ELECTED.

Vote NO on David Robinson.




Hoo Boy. Where to begin. Let's start with the tried-and-true/tired-and-false line of attack that begins the charge: "...had a complaint filed against him." Someday, Pat's going to have an opponent who has a surrogate who will file a complaint, then send out a mailer that says "Tiberi being investigated for misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in PAC contributions on prostitutes and illegal prescription drugs." And I hope he doesn't complain, because he has set the precedent that one's campaign can file a frivolous complaint, then campaign on the presence of the unsubstantiated charges. See, two years ago, a Tiberi surrogate filed a complaint with the Board of Elections against Bob Shamansky, his opponent, alleging voter fraud, and then Tiberi campaigned on the statement that Shamansky was facing "felony charges." Tiberi now has a pattern of having supporters make unsubstantiated allegations and trumpeting the charges as a reason to vote against his opponent. That's simply dirty politics.

Neither complaint (this year's nor 2006's) was meant to actually go anywhere, and neither one did. This is something you might not realize if you use the Columbus Dispatch as your primary news source on this race.

Second, there is, however, an interesting difference between the 2006 and 2008 complaints: In 2006, Bob Shamansky really did have three residences. Although this is not illegal by any means, the complaint reinforced the same type of image that McCain has had to fight in defending his double digit home count. By contrast, in 2008, David Robinson stated that Tiberi had gotten abysmal grades from the Disabled American Veterans from 2003-2007. The truth is that Tiberi received grades of 0,0,0,66 from 2003-2006, and the DAV didn't release a grade in 2007. Robinson mistakenly credited Tiberi with 5 failing grades, when it was actually 4 failing grades and a missing year. So in 2006 Tiberi used a frivolous complaint to steer the discourse toward a legitimate weakness of his opponent. In 2008, Tiberi is using a frivolous complaint to cover up a legitimate weakness of his own.

Now, the possibility does exist that the complainant, Mr. Strahle, was acting completely on his own, and really did view the fact that Tiberi was prevented from actually earning a failing grade again in 2007 by the DAV's lack of action as a reason to take offense. I don't mean to impugn Mr. Strahle, but I do wonder why he was content to file the complaint and not even show up when the commission took it up for discussion.

Perhaps he was ashamed. It would be understandable. Mr. Tiberi obviously is. Notice how the mailer never suggests that the voter should vote for Pat Tiberi. The voter is told to "Vote No on David Robinson." If the mailer didn't have the required note stating that it was paid for by Tiberi For Congress, you might never know he was involved in this ugly business.

So, let me conclude by saying Vote for David Robinson, the candidate bringing a clean and refreshing campaign to Central Ohio, and not for the other guy, what's-his-name who is pulling the same old slimy tricks out of the playbook again.

Got Hope?

As I was driving into work this morning I was listening to an interview with a guy who does focus groups, and he was saying that each time they tested one of McCain's (or allied groups') negative/contrast ads, it strengthened the resolve of those already categorized as McCain supporters, but moved undecideds and even "leans McCain" voters toward Obama. On the other hand, independently produced positive ads for Obama were scoring off the charts all around. The media guy was hypothesizing that the effectiveness of negative ads in a campaign is inversely proportional to the general unease of the electorate.

This had me thinking about my last post, in which it seems that Pat Tiberi is going negative at the end, in a move that is both risky and traditional. I was thinking that now would be the perfect time for the Robinson campaign to put a positive ad like "Air Robinson" up in front of the public.

As it turns out, they were a step ahead of me. While "Air Robinson" is an inherently visual ad, how do you go that positive on radio? You do it with a radio ad like this one:

Abbey For Robinson.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tiberi "Feeling the Heat" in OH-12

This morning, I saw Robinson signs in parts of town where I'd never seen yard signs, period. Later this morning, somebody emailed me a link to this video:



Of course, I'd seen it before, it was posted here before (I think) it had even made its official debut, and I knew it was great. What was important was that other people (folks not connected with the campaign) were sending the link.

Later in the day, I found out that Tiberi had launched very Tiberi-like attack: a negative mailer arriving in the final days of the campaign. From what I hear the gist of the mailer is that Robinson is like Pinocchio, justifying the assertion by re-iterating the claims made in the complaint that was unanimously rejected by the screeners at the Ohio Elections Commission.

Now, I'm certainly not dismissing the potential effects of the mailer, as I've seen attacks such as "my opponent didn't vote in special elections some years" and "my opponent has three houses, therefore anything he says about where he lives is a lie" gain traction and contribute to the defeat of Dems. I will be debunking this mailer as soon as I can get my hands on a physical copy or a decent scan, but for now the existence of the mailer is good news.

Why? As recently as last week I was discussing this race with someone who has been watching it as closely as I have, and we agreed that in the absence of public polling, the best sense of the state of the race we could get was Tiberi's behavior. The logic behind this was that the person with the most up-to-date polling on the race was likely to be Tiberi himself. Tiberi's behavior up until then had been that of an incumbent who expected to win comfortably.

The negative mailer, however, is more consistent with a candidate who thinks he's in a race. You don't voluntarily raise the name recognition of a challenger, and acknowledge that people are listening to his/her message, unless you really believe that people are familiar with your opponent and listening to what they have to say.

You might write this off as wishful thinking, but tonight I actually got some confirmation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website has a story up (attributed to Politico, but I haven't found it there yet) that talks about the negative effect McCain is having on Republican congressional candidates. That story contained this precious gem:

In Ohio, a perpetual battleground state, Obama’s strength outside Columbus threatens Rep. Pat Tiberi, a typically safe incumbent who is feeling the heat this fall, according to two lawmakers familiar with his plight.
Multiply sourced confirmation that Tiberi is "feeling the heat." Better yet, the worry is not so much about expanded African-American turnout in Columbus (which is where most people have looked at Obama's potential effect on this race), it's the fact that Obama is running so strong outside of Columbus.

Time to turn it up to 11.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Absentee Vote Panic Attack

Let's say, hypothetically, that 5% of the absentee ballots don't get turned in on time, but people still want to vote. Perhaps they just wanted the option of voting absentee, so they asked for a ballot. 5% of 1.2 million is 60,000 provisional ballots based on absentee voter ballot applications. Given that absentee ballots can arrive as late as Nov. 14, and that absentee ballots trump subsequent provisional ballots (I think, help me out, here...), those 60,000 votes might have to stay in limbo for the entire ten days in which a valid absentee ballot could arrive. That's close to 1% of the expected number of total votes. A margin of less than 1% either way in the presidential election in Ohio is quite conceivable. And I just pulled 5% out of a hat. If the number is ten percent, we're looking at the margin of Bush over Kerry in 2004.

That hypothesized 1% is in addition to provisionals based on residency/registration/ID issues, which have accounted for 2-3% of votes cast in recent elections, although many of those can be cleared up more quickly, and one could expect some overlap. In fact, there are possibly people who will move during October and cast a provisional ballot at their new address, after requesting an absentee ballot from their old address, leading to both ballots being challenged on residency grounds.

And, of course, you'll remember recounts in Bev Campbell's and Mary Jo Kilroy's races two years ago. There's more than one race on the ballot.

I think I need a hug.

The Dem Ticket, All the Way Down


The image above is the generic "sample ballot" listing the candidates and issues endorsed by the Franklin County Democratic Party. For those of you who have not been around the blog, I operate under a modified version of Reagan's 11th Commandment... I don't like to help the GOP. If I'm not a fan of a particular Dem candidate, I tend to simply ignore them. After this election, when Dems have big majorities in both federal chambers of Congress and (k.o.w.) the White House, I might have the luxury of engaging in party-internal position-taking at that level. At the state and local level, I'll most likely stick to picking and choosing Dems to support.

In general, I also stick to commenting on races I can vote in. I like to feel that I have standing to comment, and I simply don't have the capacity to be informed about other folks' ballots at a Jeff-Coryell-Level.

Finally, there are many races where, like most people, I simply haven't invested the time to add anything of substance to whatever discussion is going on. While I ignore races when I don't like the Dem, the majority of races that I ignore are simply due to time and information constraints.

At the end of the day, I almost always vote pretty much exactly how the flyers of the type above suggest, but I often get a bit uneasy toward the bottom, so I'm following up with some additional resources.


The blue highlights on this image represent unqualified endorsements from Blue Bexley, for candidates and issues on the ballot in Bexley. Obama is a patently obvious choice, and Robinson and Garland have been covered extensively here. Cordray has done an excellent job in his last post and current post, and I expect him to be an excellent AG as well. Ed Leonard took over for Cordray in the Franklin County Treasurer's office, and has worked his butt off to keep up those standards. Paula Brooks is an excellent County Commissioner, and John O'Grady will be as well. Maryellen O'Shaughnessy is back on the ballot in Bexley this year running for countywide office after her stint on the Columbus City Council, and I'm happy for the opportunity to vote for her again. Although I had initially been ambivalent about the 10th Court of Appeals race, I believe that (R-New Albany & current State Senator for Bexley) David Goodman's use of misleading and very ugly robocalls, and subsequent defense of the content of those calls, displays a troubling sense of ethics and judiciousness on his part. Troubling, at least, in a candidate for the bench. As a result I find myself giving an unqualified endorsement to his opponent, Judge John Connor. As for the ballot issues, you're welcome to read my previous post on those.

Jim Karnes is highlighted in gray, meaning that he is an incumbent who has given me no reason to believe that he shouldn't return to the office. He is running for re-election as Franklin County Sherriff, and I will be voting for him.

Jan Gorniak and Kristen McKinley are first-time office seekers, Dr. Gorniak for Coroner, and Ms. McKinley for the State Board of Education. Given that they are both political newcomers, you may want to visit their campaign websites, listed in the links below. Ms. Gorniak (a forensic pathologist) appears to be more qualified for the position than her opponent (an internist with a private practice she will maintain in Fairfield County). Ms. Mckinley will be going up against the very formidable Larry Wolpert, a term-limited Republican legislator. Mr. Wolpert might start out knowing exactly what he is doing, moreso than Ms. McKinley. Unfortunately, I really don't like what he'd be doing. Mr. Wolpert has been in favor of changing accountability requirements for school districts, claiming that it's not fair for districts to be held responsible for special populations' test scores. In other words, Mr. Wolpert favors "Come on, can't we leave some children behind?" Ms. McKinley is supported by the major labor groups making endorsements in the race.

The remaining judicial candidates are highlighted in lavender. I'll be voting for all of them, with varying levels of enthusiasm, but none reluctantly. Judicial races are perennially the most difficult to get a handle on. This is why the Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has produced an interactive statewide guide to judicial races. It's an excellent source for the biographies and basic statements from the candidates. For a more extensive look at each of the Democratic candidates, please visit their campaign websites, listed below.

Candidates and issues not highlighted are not on the ballot in Bexley, and as such I have no for-publication opinion. I will say that I don't know of any reason to contradict the FCDP's endorsements in those races.

So yes, I am voting a straight Democratic ticket. In some years, only the Yellow Dogs do so, but this year, we've got a good slate.

Newcomers:

Judicial Candidates - Supreme Court:
Judicial Candidates - 10th Court of Appeals:
Judicial Candidates - Court of Common Pleas:
Judicial Candidate - Court of Common Pleas - Probate Division:

Monday, October 27, 2008

BTW, Go Lions!

I've been remiss in not remarking at all this year on Bexley High School Football, although with my track record, that probably assisted them in their spectacular achievement:

First ever appearance in the state football playoffs.

Bexley plays on the road against undefeated Logan Elm in the first round this week.

(Speaking of Saturday... did you know that Early In-Person Voting can be done on Saturday from 8am-5pm at Vets Memorial? Or Sunday from 1pm-5pm? Weeknights until 7pm?)

Back on topic, sort of... Is Seth White endorsing?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Robinson-Tiberi Debate Post

Thursday Night (lo, those many nights ago) I had the pleasure of being in the studio audience when Pat Tiberi and David Robinson had their second debate live on WOSU. The most pleasurable part was probably watching Mike Thompson moderate a debate, it was the best performance by a moderator that I've seen in quite a while. Although Robinson was better on the issues and held his own on style, it was probably not the game-changer (to use one of the most over-used terms this cycle) I'd hoped for.

See, Pat was being Pat. And Pat is well aware that a lot of people like that. If I'm going to continue writing about politics, it is imperative that I figure out why. Pat mentioned the name "Nancy Pelosi" 9 times during the debate, by my count. I'll have to watch the video when it goes up, but that might be more times than he uttered "Ohio." It was definitely more times than he uttered "middle class," "foreclosure," or "unemployment."

Pat pointed out that G.W. Bush is not running in this election. I'm pretty sure that Ms. Pelosi won't be on my ballot either, but that didn't slow Pat down one iota. I simply don't understand who responds to this, but somebody must. I heard that McCain was blasting Pelosi in Zanesville this weekend. Tiberi has been an advisor to McCain re: campaigning in Ohio, so it's quite possible that McCain was merely following Tiberi's advice: What Central Ohioans care about above all is... Nancy Pelosi.

Pat blamed Ms. Pelosi for, among other things, putting an "artificial deadline" on the first financial rescue bill because she wanted to recess for "the Jewish Holidays." Apparently this deadline is artificial either because "Jewish Holidays" are artificial holidays, or because Pat thinks that the spiritual injunction against members of the Jewish faith laboring on Rosh Hashanah is a frivolous reason to schedule a recess.

When Pat was asked about bringing jobs to Central Ohio, he couldn't blame Nancy Pelosi. He implied that the blame belongs to... Ted Strickland. He said that Congress couldn't be held responsible for the lousy business environment in Ohio that apparently has nothing to do with years of one-party Republican rule and continued GOP majorities in both state chambers, but apparently has to do with the fact that Ted Strickland hasn't cut taxes during a budget crisis. Pat's position is that Congress can do some things to bring jobs to/keep jobs in the U.S., but that it's irrelevant because they'd just go to South Carolina anyway.

Every time he was asked about his responsibilities, he blamed Pelosi, the U.S. Senate, or Ohio politicians. He even claimed to be giving his opponent a "civics lesson" when he claimed that the House didn't get a chance to vote on a bill because the Senate didn't have a filibuster-proof majority. Robinson pointed out that the bill hadn't actually made it out of committee in the Senate, a point which Pat conceded. If Pat had continued his "civics lesson," he might have explained that while a minority party in the Senate can keep a bill from passing in the Senate, a majority party, in this case the GOP, can move a bill out of committee on a straight party line vote.

But all in all, it wasn't Tiberi's arrogance, or his lack of personal accountability, or his Fox News partisanship that bothered me the most. I'm used to these things, and I'm somewhat resigned to the idea that he gets a pass on these things from many folks. In fact, in terms of TV debate tactics, they are all pretty strategically effective. What bothered me most was Pat's take on what is supposed to be his signature issue: Entitlements.

Pat is screaming that the Social Security Trustees are insisting that the system has needed to be fixed for years, but that Congress (excluding, presumably, Pat) has not taken the warnings seriously. Pat's idea of serious? Calling Social Security a "sacred bond," insisting that the promise is not keepable, and offering not even the vaguest of proposals for preserving Social Security. He took a cheap shot at Robinson's hometown ("raising the retirement age might be easy for you growing up in a wealthy community like Arlington...") when it was suggested that the retirement age should be looked at, andthat incremental cap increases would go a long way toward bridging any shortfall. He denied wanting to privatize Social Security, despite his support for Bush's plan in 2004 that was widely seen as a privitization scheme. He insisted that he "didn't want to Privatize Social Security", he wanted to "make it Better." Many conservatives believe that privatizing SS would, in fact, make it better, and Pat offered no specifics on how his vague and generic "make it better" ideas would be different than Bush's 2004 plan. He did say that he thinks SS should be more like the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, which is popular among its members. I can guarantee you, however, that it is not nearly as popular in a market freefall as it was a few years ago. How can Pat get away with claiming to be in the "serious" minority when he has absolutely no ideas that he's willing to share with the public and dismisses other people's ideas out-of-hand? It's because he favors creating a bi-partisan commission like the base-closing commission to come up with ideas. First of all, this means that he is serious about having other people come up with ideas. Second, Pat is again showing that he was fine with party-line votes when he was in the majority, but prefers bi-partisan power-sharing when he is in the minority. While I happen to agree that a bi-partisan set of recommendations are going to be the only way to modify SS in the face of demographic changes, it happens to be a tad bit too convenient for someone who supported the Karl Rove notion of a GWB mandate for conservative SS reform to want a bi-partisan commission now.

But you know what? That pales in comparison to Medicare. Medicare is a much larger problem looming on the horizon than Social Security, and no serious discussion of entitlements should focus on SS over Medicare. Pat voted for what I believe is the largest Medicare spending increase ever, in the form of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Pat vehemently defended preventing Medicare from negotiating for better drug prices on the grounds that "seniors want choices." Pat does not favor a national health care system in which the healthy young people paying into the system at least get their own health care needs covered while subsidizing the much greater costs to care for senior citizens. In short, Pat says he favors a high-cost, quality-prioritized-over-affordability, comprehensive health care program for an exploding senior citizen population. Which would be a defensible position, except that Pat thinks that the amount we're spending will lead to an extraordinary crisis, and he is vehemently opposed to increasing taxes or fees to pay for it. This may be a politically popular contortion, and it is certainly not unique to Tiberi, but it is absolutely the embodiment of the problem, and it in no way resembles being "serious" about solving anything.

This pretty much exemplifies one of the paradoxes of modern politics. The first arrow out of the typical politician's quiver is an attack on "typical politicians." David Robinson is offering a platform right out of the mainstream on current issues: Expand alternative energy, re-examine trade deals in terms of labor and environmental standards, support for health-care and taxation plans in line with Barack Obama's. Pat is offering up the argument that people don't like Congress because they think it's partisan, gets little accomplished, is ignoring real problems, and attempts to solve the government's problems at the expense of citizen's well-being, and by gosh they're right! It remains to be seen whether a majority of voters in the 12th think that a) blaming the other party exclusively for 'partisanship,' with a complete disregard of the irony, b) blaming everyone besides House Republicans for his and their inability to get things accomplished, c) claiming to think really hard about real problems, and d) favoring a tax plan that redistributes wealth from the middle-class to the wealthy, packaged together in the form of an individual who has been in that reviled Congress for 8 years already, is the best way to communicate that displeasure to Washington.

From what I hear, most people who know Pat personally, like Pat personally, and there's certainly something to be said for that. I don't know Mr. Tiberi personally, just through his voting record, his public statements and appearances, his campaign materials, and his debate performances. Every year he grows more partisan, more mean-spirited, more orthodoxically Republican, and less in touch with the character of his district. It's possible that some folks would tend to agree with David Robinson on the bulk of the issues where the candidates differ, and would be better represented in the most literal sense by Robinson in Congress, but are planning to vote for Pat because, well, they like the guy. Something for those folks to consider - He may not have gone to D.C. as a typical politician, but D.C. has undeniably turned him into one, and the process is accelerating. It may very well not be in Pat's personal best interest to get re-elected. It may be tough love, but he won't be in the booth with you when you cast your ballot.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

'Vote From Home' Volunteers Won't Be Prosecuted

That's the good news. The bad news is that their votes and registrations are being tossed out, although Prosecutor O'Brien is hinting that this will not be the case for presidential campaign staffers. I don't have details yet, but the upshot seems to be that the registrations are deemed to have been illegal, but there was no intent to commit voter fraud, so charges won't be pressed. Why were their registrations illegal? It's really not clear. It appears that you are legally a resident of Ohio for voting purposes if you have been in the state for more than thirty days, and if you have powerful friends defending you.

The college students were obviously scared spitless of prosecution, and I can't really blame them. But what we just saw happen is a right wing group came in, made a complaint, got 5 Ohio votes for Obama (I'm guessing) thrown out, quite possibly disenfranchised 8 others who will probably not be able to validly vote anywhere now, and all without ever creating any sort of standard for what sort of intent is required beyond thirty days of physical presence in the state (I take that back. The standard is now 'something more than nothing, but also something less than what would commonly be thought of as "residence." Guess right or face jail time. '). How many more people will voluntarily let their ballots be destroyed rather than argue with the prosecutor the GOP referred them to?

Noise Builds, Part 2 - Daytime, Nighttime, Anytime

Catch the debate on WOSU tonight at 8pm, either alone at home or at the Short North Tavern with other folks.

Catch Michelle Obama in Bexley tomorrow morning at Capital University, where the power of Hope will eliminate any lingering infestation of McCooties. Both campaigns have now placed Capital in Columbus. Sigh.


Throw some dough at Nancy Garland tomorrow evening, and meet Lee Fisher. Remember that the state rebates up to 50$ per person/$100 per couple for political contributions to state candidates. Nancy's campaign is an excellent place to put your free $50 this year.


Oh, and if you were wondering what the Governor is doing while the Lt. Governor is meeting the public? He's filming commercials for Nancy, is what he's doing:



Get up Saturday morning and help the Franklin County Democratic Party put labels on 100,000 pieces of literature. That's right, One Hundred Thousand. For all y'all who have been hesitant to volunteer because you don't like actually talking to people, well, you've found your thing.



And on Saturday evening, some well earned R&R with Jazz Keyboardist Brian O'Neal.


Although whoever scheduled that during the OSU-PSU game really ought to be quite embarrassed.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. If you're looking for something to do, try one of the following:

The Garland Campaign
The Robinson Campaign
The Obama Campaign
The Franklin County Dems

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey Mr. Tiberi,

Any guesses on who might be somewhat insulted when you say:

For my daughter and her class, for the teacher to be held responsible for not only the way she learns, but that child next to her who might be from another country, maybe from Somalia where she may be coming from a country where she wasn't educated, or her parents aren't educated, they may be illiterate, and to hold the same standard for my daughter growing up in American household and an illiterate coming from another country...is a little bit problematic.

I'll give you a hint, Pat. It's the Somali community.



Update: If you'd like to see more of the wit and wisdom of Pat Tiberi, there's a debate-watching party tomorrow night (Thursday) at 8pm at the Short North Tavern (674 N. High). Supporters of David Robinson will be there to watch David wield his sling.

We've Got Issues

There will be long lines in Franklin County. Not everywhere, but in some precincts. Perhaps yours. One way to avoid losing the franchise yourself is to vote early. Please, vote early.

If, like many, you find yourself lamenting the best laid plans when November rolls around (next week!), you will have to get to your polling place. The very least you can do for Democracy is to vote quickly. I'll be linking to some sample ballots later on, but for now, please familiarize yourself with the ballot issues. Voting for candidates is easy, it's the issues that hold you glued to your touchscreen.

The Secretary of State's official guide to 2008 Statewide Ballot Issues is available here. If that's too much for you, here's the Blue Bexley short version:

Issue 1: Sets clear, consistent, and early (125 days out) deadlines for the ballot access procedure of issues like... most of those listed below. On the one hand, the law as written here would have made it much easier to understand the Payday Lending petition saga. On the other hand, HB545 would have given the Lenders several more months to charge their current rates. The bottom line is that people were voting on Issue 5 this year before it was even legally certified to be on the ballot. That's not really acceptable. BB says: YES on ISSUE 1.

Issue 2: Authorizes $200m in bonds for continued environmental/revitalization purposes. Fiscal libertarians probably don't like this. Pretty much everyone else loves it. BB says YES on ISSUE 2.

Issue 3: Affirms water rights for landowners. As near as I can recall, this was part of a compromise to get the Great Lakes Water Compact enacted. Nobody seems to think that this amendment will do much of anything. I don't like addressing non-existent problems in the Constitution, so I'll be voting against this. If you think you have a better reason to vote for it, you probably do. You have my blessing. BB says VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE on ISSUE 3.

Issue 4: Don't get me started on this. Issue 4 has been withdrawn from the ballot in exchange for promises I suspect won't be kept in any meaningful way. Suffice it to say that you should be voting for a Dem in your U.S. House race if you want any hope of action on a federal Sick Day Bill. BB says: Grrrr

Issue 5: Did you know that 50,000 cute little kittens will drown if Issue 5 passes? That the government will take away your right to own property and will arrange all marriages? The simple truth is that the payday lending industry is built on greed and exploitation. Not only was the reform passed as HB 545 reasonable, sympathetic lawmakers practically begged the industry to negotiate a compromise, and they refused. If passing Issue 5 and forcing these companies to charge bad-credit-card rates of interest instead of 391% APR ruins the industry, I have very little sympathy. On the other hand, the folks who claim that capping interest rates will put them out of businees have also claimed so many outlandish things that I don't know if I even buy their most basic argument. BB shouts from the rooftops: YES on ISSUE 5.

Issue 6: Ohio is going to have to undertake a far more sweeping overhaul of the ballot initiative process, fall victim to Constitutionally guaranteed monopolies, or come up with a casino plan of their own. It has become obvious (even before Thomas Suddes made essentially the same argument) that these are the only three possible outcomes. I don't see the overhaul happpening, and I'm not sure I'd even support it if it were to be proposed. I really didn't expect to ever encourage the legislature to come up with a casino-licensing plan to submit to the voters, but I'm pretty sure that if they don't, we'll end up with our Constitution bought-and-paid for by gambling interests. It may already be too late, as this issue has a real shot at passing. Pro-gambling folks, I concede. I'll back you up on a reasonable casino plan. But for now, BB says NO on ISSUE 6.


To Recap: YES,YES,WHATEVER,GRR,YESSS,NO

Local issues:

Not being a Columbus resident, I'm a little uncomfortable making this sugestion but... if you live in Columbus and have to vote on the 6 bond issues totalling 1.7 billion dollars in long-term spending, you're probably going to vote 'yes' on all of them or 'no' on all of them. Me, I'd vote for all6, but that's easy for me to say when I'm not paying for any of it. My advice: Pick one at random in the booth. Read it carefully, and decide how you're going to vote on it. Then put the same vote next to the other 5 and move on. Okay, I'm kidding. Sort of. If this method truly offends you, you're probably the sort who cares enough to read up a bit in advance.

Bexley seems to be issue free this go-round. Not even a liquor license. BB says: I like it like that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Weeks and the Noise is Building, Part 1

Barack- He's going to Hawaii for two days to visit with his ailing grandmother. I'm hoping she'll be in D.C. visiting him on Jan. 20, 2009. Most pundits have placed their chips on an Obama victory, which has led to a conventional wisdom corollary: Ohio is just not that important anymore. In defense of this position, Obama is leading outside of the MoE in all of the states Kerry took, and appears poised to take New Mexico, Iowa, and Colorado as well. That gets him to 270 without Ohio, with enough room to spare a NH upset. To the extent this holds, people think that Ohio for McCain doesn't get McCain to the White House, and Ohio for Obama only happens if Obama has already sewn things up elsewhere.

How does this irk me? Let me ennumerate: 1) There is still a possibility that McCain will win this election. Nobody has called it for Obama in a guarantee sort of way. And while Obama might be able to win the election without Ohio, McCain cannot. If Obama wins Ohio, Obama wins it all. If McCain wins Ohio, holds most W states, and a Bradley Effect emerges in states where the margin looks big but the support for Obama is still under 52% (PA, MN, or MI), well... 2) Ohio matters so much, in part, because Ohio has always mattered. If Obama wins without Ohio, expect a whole lot fewer visits from either side in 2012. 3) You'll see many more Republicans and fellow travelers offering up the "Ohio isn't important, Obama will win anyway" chestnut. You'll be tempted to think that it is simply the tactic of lowering expectations. You'd be wrong. The majority of U.S. House seats currently occupied by Ohio Republicans have a legitimate chance to end up in control of the Dems. If McCain turns out more voters than Obama, most all of these seats will stay in the GOP column. Remember how Strickland and Brown promised to fight for a federal Sick Days Bill? Ain't gonna happen without some more muscle on the Hill. The GOP knows that most people think of this as a Presidential Election, and if they can convince Obama voters that they don't need to vote, they can prevent what they really fear happening in Ohio. 4) If McCain's Ohio campaign in 2008 outperforms W's in 2004, and if Obama wins decisively in the popular vote nationwide, what do you think the national and international view of Ohio will be? Seriously, it would require Kerry voters from '04 switching to McCain in '08 despite a national climate favoring Dems. There are many reasons that this could happen. I guarantee you that everybody outside of Ohio will fixate on exactly one.

McCain's hopes for victory, the GOP's hopes for enough strength in Congress to prevent Obama's agenda, Ohio's reputation, and Ohio's future political relevance all depend on the vote in Ohio. The vote in Ohio depends on your friends, your family, and your neighborhood. It depends on free and secure access to the polls on election day. It depends on targeted GOTV efforts on election day. So yeah, maybe Obama could win without Ohio, and maybe you yourself are gonna vote anyway or have even already voted. You do know that this is bigger than that, right?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Supreme Court Backs Brunner, Dispatch Rails Against Hyper-Partisan Court

The first part is true, the Supreme Court has vacated the temporary restraining order that the GOP thought would help them stem the overwhelming tide of new voters for Obama. The second part is just a guess. The Dispatch is convinced that Brunner is acting as a partisan if she continually rules against the GOP when they complain. The problem is, even republican judges and appointees tend to think that the GOP are wrong on the merits almost all of the time. The Dispatch seems to think that a non-partisan SOS rules for one party half the time, and the other party half the time.

It's nice that instead of putting the Dems into a position where they ask Brunner to kick half the Republican candidates off the ballot, knowing that the Dispatch would support her kicking half of them off, a much more rational solution (aka the rule of law) was settled upon.

Vuja De?

Ever get the feeling that what you're experiencing now is an exact duplicate of something you'll be experiencing again in the future? It's kind of a sickening feeling...

National Democratic operatives pulled out of Alabama’s 3rd District shortly before Election Day in 2002, conceding the newly redrawn open seat to the GOP so they could reallocate resources to districts in other parts of the country where they thought they had a better shot of winning.

The decision was made in part based on polling that showed Democratic nominee Joe Turnham underperforming among the district’s African Americans — who make up about 30 percent of the voting-age population — according to Rep. Artur Davis , the state’s only black representative in Congress.

The Democratic Party got a bit of a shock on Election Day that year: Turnham did better than expected with black voters and lost to current Rep. Mike D. Rogers by less than 4,000 votes out of more than 180,000 cast in a race that also included a libertarian candidate, leaving Democrats to wonder whether they might have picked up that seat if only they had kept their resources in place.

That was written in CQ Politics today. The story speculates about the effect of increased African American turnout due to the historic nature of this election this year.

In case you're wondering, the Demographics of OH-12 include:
African-American alone or in-combination with one or more races: 23%

Number of new Franklin County registrations in 2008 in OH 12:
38,322

And Vuja De? Nothing but a made-up term for a silly delusion, right?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Transient Campaign Workers Register to vote in Franklin County

Ryan Meerstein is a political operative. As a teenager, he ran races in Pennsylvania, then attended college in PA. He played basketball in college against teams like Otterbein, so he had been in Central Ohio before he got the gig running Bush's 2004 Central Ohio office. He voted in Columbus in November of 2004. Then he left and did more political gigs. He was with the RNC inside the beltway, then worked on a Tennessee senate campaign. During the primaries, he was running a South Carolina campaign for Rudy Giuliani. If he voted for Giuliani in the Primary, he didn't do it in Ohio. Ryan hasn't, according to the admittedly spotty Franklin County voter file, voted in Ohio since he was here working on a campaign in November 2004. He is currently at the head of the McCain campaign in Ohio, working out of Columbus. On Sept. 26 he registered to vote. On Oct. 14, his absentee ballot was received in Franklin County. By December, Mr. Meerstein will be gone again.

Why is it okay for Mr. Meerstein to flit into Ohio every four years, register, vote, and leave? How many McCain staffers have registered to vote for the first time in Ohio during the last two months, and won't be here 30 days after the election? McCain staffers like Paul Lindsay, who arrived from D.C. at the same time as Meerstein and registered in Ohio for the first time on Sept 3. Lindsay registered at the same address as McCain staffer Jason Levine, a New Jersey native and Beltway professional who came before the primaries. Think he's signed a renewal on his lease?

Think about this when you read the stories about how the Franklin County prosecutor has opened an investigation against people who have come from out of state and are in Ohio working and volunteering for "Vote From Home."