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 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



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.


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.