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07
On the day after, we’re as split emotionally as we are politically.
 
Democrats celebrate President Obama’s historic reelection. America has now twice elected a black man to the highest office. His win validates his policies: the stimulus, auto bailout and financial reform. Health care reform will survive. He will fill Supreme Court vacancies. He will preside over America’s inevitable economic comeback.
 
North Carolina Republicans celebrate their rise to total power. They now can shape the state’s future. They can set about the transition, which James Carville once defined as a Latin word meaning “the time when you stop screwing your enemies and start screwing your friends.”
 
North Carolina Democrats face a tough climb out of a deep hole. But there is hope. They lost the governor’s race simply because Governor-elect Pat McCrory faced little competition. The legislative and congressional districts were rigged against them. North Carolina proved that it’s a real presidential battleground state. Democrats on the Council of State overcame McCrory’s tide. North Carolina is becoming more urban, younger, darker and more socially tolerant – all trends that favor Democrats.
 
It is a time to remember Larry O’Brien’s dictum: “In politics, there are no final victories and no final defeats.”

 

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06
Albert, arguing, said, You’re wrong. Folks don’t care if politicians lie and steal – they expect them to do that. What’s more, they’ll vote for a crook who can fix the potholes in their street over a bungling saint every time.
 
I chalked that up to an otherwise garrulous man’s streak of skepticism but Eric the lawyer said, You took a couple hundred polls this year and your conclusion is we prefer crooks to saints – that’s discouraging. It looks like folks would at least be a little worried about what else the crook might steal.
 
Albert grinned. Shrugged. Said, They all steal.
 
Up in New York, the bluest of states, last week an Obama supporter published an editorial in the New York Times saying Mitt Romney is the most dishonest candidate ever to run for President. At the same time, across the country, a Romney supporter in red-state Indiana called Barack Obama spiteful, petty and second rate in Real Clear Politics.
 
During the summer Obama’s folks ran an ad saying a man’s wife died of cancer because Romney closed his mill, leaving him without health insurance – and Republicans ran an ad with Obama saying what sounded like, ‘If you own a business, you didn’t build it.’
 
There wasn’t a lot of truth in either ad but if you try telling that to either a Romney or Obama supporter – you’ll run head-on into a stone wall.  
 
It’s hard to tell if politicians are more dishonest now than, say, a hundred years ago but it does seem clear this is one election where regular folks aren’t letting a little duplicity stand in their way – as long as the potholes get fixed.
 
 

 

 

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06
I woke up yesterday feeling Romney would win but after a dozen calls from people asking about polls in Ohio (not one of which shows Romney leading) I went to bed thinking, Every single poll can’t be wrong.
 
This morning, at the crack of dawn, I got Dick Morris’ predictions saying all the polls were dead wrong and Romney will win ten swing states plus Pennsylvania and Minnesota and clobber Obama 325 to 213 in the Electoral College – and I thought, Dick wouldn’t say that unless he took his own poll. And he’s a good pollster.
 
Then, after I got to the office, I opened the newspaper and read about three new polls by NBC/Wall Street Journal, ABC/Washington Post and PEW Research – all showing Obama winning.
 
At lunch Mike, the twenty-something young Republican political consultant, who’d spent all morning furiously ‘tweeting,’ stopped punching buttons on his iPhone and blurted out, This uncertainly is driving me crazy.
 
Eric who’s Scottish and a lawyer and theologian to boot looked up from his plate.
 
Well, he said, You could look on it as a test of faith.
 
Mike plopped down his phone. The last thing I need is some kind of test – I  just want to win and get it over with.
 
Then, Eric said, You might as well rely on the Redskins Rule.
 
The Washington Redskins final game before the election has predicted who would win the White House in every election since 1940 – except once.
 
If the Redskins win the incumbent wins. If they lose, the challenger wins.
 
This year they lost.
 

 

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06
The baffling question is how Mitt Romney lost. If ever this was a challenger’s race to win, this was it.
 
The economy is bad. Obama is an activist in an anti-government age. He has never done a good job of selling his record. He was not a great candidate this year. He bombed in the first debate. And, oh yes, he’s African-American.
 
All that makes me antsy about tonight. But the overwhelming evidence is that Obama will win.
 
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight now puts that probability at over 90 percent. And it’s not just Superstorm Sandy, he says, but a slow, steady rebound for Obama over the last month.
 
Yes, I hear the Republican bluster about momentum and crowd excitement. But George McGovern and Michael Dukakis had big, enthusiastic crowds at the end, too.
 
Then there’s North Carolina. The Obama campaign wouldn’t have sent Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama to North Carolina the last weekend if it didn’t see a good chance to win here.
 
Perhaps the worst sign for Romney: Dick Morris predicts he’ll win a landslide. If Dick’s wrong, he’ll be screaming “fraud” by midnight. And raising money on it tomorrow.
 
If Romney loses, there are two explanations: the damage Obama’s ads did to his brand in the summer and the damage the Tea Party has done to the Republican brand in the last two years.
 
And if he loses, the Tea Party will be on the warpath to push the GOP even farther right – nationally and in North Carolina.
 

 

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05
Worst rationale for voting for Romney: maybe Democrats will cooperate with him, unlike Republicans who refused to work with Obama.
 
D.G. Martin asked about that argument when he interviewed Carter, Tom Drew and me on WCHL last week.
 
That rewards obstructionism. It rewards Washington Republicans who set out from the beginning of President Obama’s administration to destroy him, even if they destroyed the country in the process.
 
Four years ago, when President Bush and Henry Paulsen were begging Democrats to bail out their stimulus program, Democrats responded. But bipartisanship collapsed when the tables turned.
 
If Romney wins and Democrats act like Republicans, how long will it take for Republicans to whine over the loss of bipartisanship?
 

 

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04
A TAPster who has no use for John Tedesco finds common ground:
 
“Have you taken a good look at one of John Tedesco's yard signs in his campaign for State Superintendent?  At a stoplight today, I finally took a moment to read one.  Here's what it says:
 
“’JOHN TEDESCO: Our Children Deserve Better.’
 
“For once I completely agree with the guy. 
 
“Messages on yard signs should be simple, blunt, unambiguous.  How could any campaign manager – or candidate, if he's running his own campaign – let a message like that find its way onto thousands of signs planted across the state?”

 

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02
Confused by the polling superstorm? Confounded by contradictory pundits? Then get a dose of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog. a deep, dense statistical analysis of the presidential race.
 
This week he plumbed the national and battleground-state polls. His conclusion: “Obama remains the favorite in the Electoral College.”
 
More:
 
“Mr. Obama is not a sure thing, by any means. It is a close race. His chances of holding onto his Electoral College lead and converting it into another term are equivalent to the chances of an N.F.L. team winning when it leads by a field goal with three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, and sometimes they will.
 
“But it turns out that an NFL team that leads by a field goal with three minutes left to go winds up winning the game 79 percent of the time. Those were Mr. Obama’s chances in the FiveThirtyEight forecast as of Wednesday: 79 percent.”
 
Most political discussion is dominated by hunches, guesses and speculation. The best antidote is good data and good analysis of the data. Since I’m not paying a good pollster for that, I find Silver to be the next best thing.

 

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01
For years the Democratic Party’s marched onto political battlefields and vanquished Republicans, winning every Governor’s race in North Carolina for two decades and, except for one brief hiatus, holding control of the State Senate and House in an iron grip for over a century.
 
But this election Pat McCrory’s led Walter Dalton in the polls from day one and that’s never happened before. Democrats have also struck the flag in three of four key Congressional races, in the 8th, 11th, and 13th Districts, and that’s never happened before either. Only in the 7th District are Democrats holding their own.
 
The picture is even bleaker in the State Senate and House. Democratic leaders have been so swamped by Republicans Phil Berger and Thom Tillis it looks like Republicans may even add to their majorities.
 
To be sure, Republicans have been handed many gifts: Obama’s unpopularity, Perdue’s foibles, an off-year election sweep two years ago that allowed them to draw Republican districts this election.
 
But demographically the Democrats’ strength hasn’t vanished – there’re still more Democrats than Republicans in North Carolina and key Democratic groups like African-Americans are voting heavier than ever this election.
 
So what happened to the vaunted Democratic Machine?
 
One obvious answer is President Obama’s unpopularity. But Democrats like Jim Hunt and Mike Easley won with unpopular Presidential candidates leading their ticket. On the other hand, Hunt and Easley ran away from unpopular national tickets while this election Democrats have embraced Obama.
 
Another possible reason is political machines don’t run on best wishes or good will. They run on money. For years, Democrats had plenty – if some enterprising rascal wanted to ‘play’ in state government he had to ‘pay’ with contributions to Democratic campaigns. Governor Perdue’s unpopularity (and trailing Pat McCrory in the polls) dealt a blow to half that equation and Republicans flattened the other half when they won majorities in the State Senate and House.
 
The day after the last election Democrats should have been sitting in a room having a dead-serious conversation about finding a new way to pay for their campaigns – instead, only one major Democratic candidate (Congressman Mike McIntyre) has raised enough money to go toe-to-toe with his Republican opponent. McIntyre’s also run away from the national ticket. And he’s the only Democrat running neck and neck with a Republican opponent in a swing district.
 
There may be a lesson there for Democrats.

 

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01
Here’s more fuel for the Paul Newby redistricting-recusal fire (see my blog yesterday). A lawyer notes recent comments by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner and the contents of the N.C. Code of Judicial Conduct.
 
O’Conner, a Republican appointed by Ronald Reagan, has strongly criticized SuperPac participation in state judicial races, the type that has paid off big for Newby:
 
“You can get decent judges by election. But what you get these days is large campaign contributions when you have elections. And I don't think we should have any cash in our courtrooms. It doesn't belong there.
 
“How can the judge be expected to be absolutely fair and impartial if the donor is before him in the court?”
 
Then there’s Canon 3 of the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct:
 
“A judge should be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence in it. A judge should be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism.”
 
Regarding disqualification of judges, the code says:
 
“On motion of any party, a judge should disqualify himself/herself in a proceeding in which the judge’s impartiality may reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where…(t)he judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings.”
 
If Newby wins Tuesday, expect to hear more about this.

 

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31
Last spring an old friend, a pollster, came to Raleigh and predicted without blinking Romney was going to win and I said, Why’s that? and he said, It’s simple. A lot of people who voted for Obama last time won’t vote for him again but I don’t know anyone who voted for McCain who is voting for Obama this time.
 
Over the summer Obama did his best to make the election complicated, calling Romney a greedy bone-crushing capitalist, anti-women, anti-middle class, anti-senior citizens and adding Romney was a liar and flip-flopper to boot.
 
By fall the swing voters were asking themselves if Romney might turn out to be a worse President than Obama then they watched the first debate and decided whatever Romney’s flaws, bungling the economy worse than Obama wasn’t one of them – so, in the end, it looks like the election has turned out to be simple.
 
Swing voters only needed the answer to one question.
 

 

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