We are now into the second phase of redistricting and the release of census data related to redistricting. In the first phase, we learned from the Census Bureau the changes in the overall population of the states and what they would mean for each state in terms of the size of their congressional data.
In this second phase, we learn about the numbers in each of the states down to the block level and about the racial and ethnic composition of the population. After all of the data is released, the real work begin as legislatures (or in a small number of states, independent commissions) converts this data into the actuall lines.
During this current phase, when I have enough information about local politics and the patterns of population are sufficiently clear, I will try to give a detailed analysis of the possible lines in an individual state (as I did for Louisiana last week). Otherwise, I will limit myself to a general overview of what the data might signify -- both in terms of the state and in terms of future states to be released.
At this point, through two weeks of data release, nine states have been released. In the first week, Virginia, Lousiana, New Jersey, and Mississippi were released. (Given that these are four of the five states with odd-year elections, one has to ask where is Kentucky.) This past week, we got the numbers from Vermont, Iowa, Maryland, Indiana, and Arkansas.
Some overall trends are clear from these first nine states. In the more urbanized states (Maryland and New Jersey for example), the vast majority of counties are showing growth making for minimal population shifts, but there is some loss in the urban cores. In the more rural states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Iowa), most of the rural counties are seeing population loss with the growth in population centered around medium large cities and their suburbs. In mixed states (Indiana and Virginia), we are seeing population growth in the suburban area, mixed results in the urban areas, and population loss in the rural areas. The other trend that we are seeing is growth among the minority population -- especially Asian and Hispanic population growth. While it will depend on the actual population distribution, the tendency of immigrant populations to cluster could mean that this growth will result in some of these states having to make new minority majority or minority influence districts to comply with the voting rights act. Now for some brief comments on the individual states.
Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments about whether or not a vote could be held to recall Senator Robert Menendez. All because tea bag housewife RoseAnn Salanitri felt slighted that the Senator did not write a reply quickly enough to a letter she sent him. Yes, really. Everyone went to court today, and one of the lawyers was the son of Phyllis Schafly, to show you that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
We'll get into the Constitutional issue in a minute, but the practical issue is that even if a recall election is allowed, New Jersey law will require 1.3 MILLION signatures from registered voters to get it on the ballot. That is, by law, 25% of all registered voters in the affected area, in this case, the entire state. They'll have 320 days to collect the signatures, but cannot start until all the appeals have been heard. Doesn't seem reasonable.
New Jersey does have a recall law, and it has been used for state and local officials in the past, but never a US Senator. Here's the frame of the two sides of the argument:
In oral arguments Tuesday, a lawyer for the Committee to Recall Robert Menendez said states have the power to decide whether federal officials can be kicked out of office because the U.S. Constitution is silent on the issue. New Jersey's Constitution allows removal of public officials.
Menendez says a recall of a U.S. senator is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution because it explicitly says the term of a senator is six years, and the federal document takes precedence.
"If, in fact, you were to allow people to pursue a process that would be determined at the end of the day to be unconstitutional," says Menendez, "then the process is unconstitutional and ultimately commits a fraud upon the electorate. I don't believe in perpetuating a fraud upon the electorate."
I'm no lawyer, but I believe that Menendez argument will stand: that this is not an issue of the Constitution being silent, rather the qualifications and term of a US Senator are expressly spelled out.
The people filing this action are not mainstream, even within teabag circles. For information on how far out these people are, click here.
[and more from TMESS2]
As a legal issue, this approaches a no-brainer. In The Federalist Papers (particularly Numbers 62 and 63), the author (believed to be James Madison) emphasizes the virtues of Senators sitting for six years with one-third coming up for election every two years. Among the virtues cited by the author is the immunization of the Senate from momentary passions. This virtue would have been non-existent if Senators were subject to recall at any time during their term. One of the virtues or disadvantages of our legal system is that anybody can file a lawsuit to resolve a grievance. That doesn't mean that all lawsuits involve colorable claims.
As a last point, even if somehow a court found that the Constitution was silent on this issue, the Constitution does give Congress primary authority to regulate federal elections. My own read of current federal statutes is that recall is inconsistent with the statutes governing Congressional elections. However, if a state court did find that recalls were authorized, I would expect a very quick fix from Congress.
Today in towns large and small across New Jersey, polls are open for residents to vote on school budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Most years, this garners a 15% turnout, but this year may well be different.
Chris Christie was elected last year on a platform of fiscal "responsibility." So, in one of his first proposals, he cut $820 million from the state aid that normally goes to local school districts for FY 2011. He asked for teachers to not get their contracted pay raises, and to contribute to the health care. As an aside, it turns out that Christie is spending an additional $2 million on salaries and perks for his staff than Corzine did per the AP, including doubling the amount of his staff earning more than $100,000/year. But back to the school budgets.
The majority of people reading DCW attended public schools. Sure, some of you went to private school, and some were home schooled, but I'm sure most of you went to public school. And since you're reading this remember...if you can read, thank a teacher. School teachers nowadays normally pay for some supplies out of their own pockets: it's so ubiquitous, there's a special above the line deduction for it.
In cutting state aid, Christie puts the school districts in a bad position. In general, they need to raise taxes to cover the loss in aid, but even in so doing, they are facing layoffs because they cannot make up the difference given their tax bases.
Will people vote no on the budgets? If so, property taxes will not rise, but further municipal cuts will be necessary. It's possible that in some locales, class size could double. Is there waste? Probably, but why hang so much of it on school children, who don't have the ability to vote? If the budgets pass, does this mean that people regret electing Christie, or only that many fewer people voted? If the budgets fail, what happens to education in New Jersey? Currently, it's ranked #5 in the nation.
So here's my favourite comment on the whole situation:
I am a Republican and a teacher. Christie's assault on public education while increasing his patronage payouts to his 34 subordinates making over $100,000 has led me to do something I never thought I would do - vote Democratic.
Simply another political hypocrite who wants to bust a union so Republicans do not have to run against union money. All Christie supporters, please at least be honest about that. He is not bringing down property taxes, he is destroying public education, he continues the political patronage that is commonplace in Trenton and has successfully created the "strawman," the teachers.
However, in politics and life,this to shall pass.
Lets vote against our budgets tomorrow so we can hurt the kids, destroy the union, and support Christie in his move to "share sacrifice" with higher paid subordinates. Man of the people!
About says it all: we'll see what those who vote say, and how many of them turn out.
This was nowhere on my radar until I received an email (H/T Helen). We're all focused on the health care vote in the Senate, but after that, we need to think about protecting our 59 or so votes (NO - I do NOT count TLB) for issues going forward. One stalwart, INCREDIBLY DELICIOUSLY PROGRESSIVE Democratic vote belongs to Frank Lautenberg. Here is an overview of his voting record. And it's a long record, beginning in 1983, and continuing to today, with a two year hiatus earlier this decade.
Frank Lautenberg is 85, and will turn 86 in January. He's a class II Senator, meaning he's not up for re-election until 2014.
Helen sent me an actuarial chart indicating that SSA says Frank only has a 55% chance of living to serve out his term. I immediately discounted the information because he's healthy for a man his age, I detest ageism, and I come from a family where people regularly live past 100. That's the personal side.
On the political side, Bob Menedez is chair of the DSCC, and he might feel differently. The GOP hasn't won a Senate seat via election since 1972, which means most people in Jersey don't remember ever having a Republican senator representing them.
Think Ted Kennedy, think Tim Johnson. Men who, in the face of serious incapacitation, held their Senate positions. The Senate has no minimum attendance rule. Once elected, you can serve out your term so long as you are alive. We all miss Uncle Teddy, and Johnson is back at work, having been re-elected as the Senior Senator from South Dakota.
Think also of Robert Byrd. The image burned in my mind of him is not the tapes of him filibustering back in the 60's, but rather of the frail man in a wheelchair, sitting for hours in the sun, awaiting Vicki Kennedy's limo and the buses. Waving his flag. I have an unshakable belief that through sheer force of will, Senator Byrd will stay in the Senate until he can vote for health reform. I am unconvinced that it is "his issue" or even that he has strong feelings on the issue: I believe he will vote yes, if for no other reason than to channel Ted Kennedy.
The current law in Jersey says that the Governor can appoint to an open Senate seat, and as of January that position is in Republican hands.
Helen's question was: should Lautenberg step down and let Corzine make an appointment before he leaves office?
After examining the polling in both states for the better part of five months, it is fairly clear that these races have virtually no national implications. In New Jersey, the election last night was as much about Jon Corzine as 2006 and 2008 were about George W. Bush. That is to say that each was about an unpopular incumbent. Corzine had not, as FHQ mentioned yesterday, broken the 45% barrier in polling all year and he needed to round his percentage of the vote share up to get there last night. The Democrat's chances hinged completely upon Chris Daggett's ability to siphon off votes from Christie and make 44 or 45% the winning total. When Daggett came up well short of where FHQ and most other monitors expected the independent to end up (He pulled in about half of his expected share; 5%.), Corzine basically had no chance. As was talked about on The Monkey Cage earlier today, someone viewed negatively and behind in the polls has to attack and bring his or her opponent down to their level. Lee Seligman put it better: "It’s not so much that attackers lose as that losers attack." Corzine had to attack, but in the end couldn't bring Christie down to a beatable level.
The end result in Virginia was the same -- the Republican won -- but the process of getting there was very different. I don't think that Chris Christie or Jon Corzine were particularly great candidates, but in the commonwealth, Bob McDonnell just outclassed Creigh Deeds as a candidate. McDonnell basically held an advantage throughout the year no matter which Democratic candidate was pitted against him; an advantage that crescendoed rapidly when the votes began to be cast a day ago. Deeds, seeing that McDonnell had been spotted an edge, was essentially in the same position John McCain was in a year ago relative to Barack Obama, except the Democrat was without a presidential-level campaign team. [I'm not talking about folks from within the Obama administration. I'm talking about campaign staff that is steeped in experience. McCain had that. Deeds did not.] FHQ isn't here to throw Deeds under the bus. I just think that McDonnell was in the position of being able to take the high road (as most frontrunners are) through the thesis ordeal. Deeds' campaign, meanwhile, latched onto that story and quickly became associated with it to the point that once the issue faded there was no previously constructed message on which Deeds could lean.
One other thing that might also be mentioned (that I haven't seen discussed anywhere) is how the primaries in this race played out. The parties tinkering with their presidential nomination rules would be wise to take note of this. FHQ won't argue that the Democratic primary battle hurt Deeds. It didn't. But Bob McDonnell was ceded the Republican nomination. In the absence of competition, the former attorney general was never forced to run to the right. Not only did that not provide Deeds or any other Democrat with any fodder for the general election campaign, but it also helped McDonnell, even with the thesis out in the open, to foster a more moderate image. In the end, it isn't the primary battle that's negative so much as the easy road to nomination is beneficial.
I'm a day late on the updates in New Jersey and Virginia, but it was all for a good cause. Of course, we wanted to do our yearly homage to Halloween, and what better way to do that than in the context of the gubernatorial races in the Garden state and the Old Dominion. [I still like last year's celebratory Halloween post better.]
I had the pleasure of talking with my two favorite New Jerseyans tonight about their thoughts on the gubernatorial race in the Garden state. Both are politically knowledgeable and extremely independent thinkers who spend five to six months out of the year out of the state taking in the rest of our beautiful country. If I had to guess -- and they certainly aren't terribly up front about this -- one is a Democratic leaner and the other is a Republican leaner. And that's if I was forced to guess.
Needless to say, I was excited to have the opportunity to speak with them once I found out they were passing through on their way home to vote on Tuesday. Sure, it is nice to look at poll numbers -- representative ones at that -- but the chance for a two respondent poll was too much to pass up.
The results? Bad news for Corzine.
The money quote? "We're going home to vote; not to vote for someone, but to vote against someone."
President Obama was efficient at "banking" early votes a year ago. A year later, Jon Corzine, the incumbent Democrat Obama is trying to pull over the finish line in this race, has a couple of unbanked votes trekking the final leg of their yearly odyssey across the United States coming home to the Garden state. No, my friends aren't necessarily the bellwether that a state like Missouri has been on the presidential level, but they are a pair of what Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling has identified as grudging voters; arguably the face of this election on Tuesday.
Further north in New Jersey, the race for governor is shaping up to be a potential all-nighter. [Well, we have to have at least one every election cycle, I suppose. It won't be in New York City or Virginia.] FHQ will resist the urge to say that Corzine has comeback from the dead in this contest. Sure, the governor has inched up slightly of late, but he can't claim to have momentum other than to say that the race is tighter in a traditionally blue state. Fine, that could be considered momentum to some degree, but it pales in comparison to the negative momentum Republican Chris Christie has had in the surveys that have been released over the last handful of weeks. His descent since the end of September (at least in FHQ's measure -- see below) has been a marked contrast to the steady state that was typical of his summer in the polls. [There's no doubt that others saw a more pronounced gain for Christie during June and July.]
This will be the first New Jersey gubernatorial election wherein a Lieutenant Governor is also on the ballot. Actually, elected or appointed, Jersey will have its first person in that position. Our friends over at PJVoice interviewed her. I've reprinted their introduction below, and you can read the entire interview (and see video of Loretta Weinberg) here.
By the way, you may not know the name of the Lieutenant Governor of your state, but I'm betting you know the names "Andre Bauer" and "David Paterson" -- you never know...
Next week New Jersey will be electing not only a Governor, but for the first time a Lieutenant Governor as well. Until now the President of the New Jersey Senate or the Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly would become Acting Governor in case of a gubernatorial vacancy.
This year both of the Democratic candidates for Lieutenant Governor are renowned Jewish women: Loretta Weinberg in New Jersey, and Jodie Wagner in Virginia. Our Alan Tuttle recently interviewed Loretta Weinberg.
Loretta Weinberg was born February 6, 1935, in New York. She graduated from the University of California with a BA degree in history and political science. She is widowed, with two children and two grandchildren. Her political career started with her being the Assistant Administrator to the County of Bergen and then a member of the Teaneck City Council. She was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1992, and held that seat until appointed as State Senator in 2005, a post which she has held until now.
She has a champion of Jewish Women’s Involvement in the Political Process project sponsored by the CRC, the National Council of Jewish Women's Essex County Section, and the Northern NJ Region of Hadassah mentoring women interested in running for office, advising them with strategies and fund-raising tips.
Our readers in Pennsylvania are accustomed to seeing people from New Jersey come to our side of the Delaware River and lend a hand in during close elections. Loretta Weinberg is a veteran of close elections having won the Democratic Nomination to New Jersey State Senate seat by 112-111 at the Democratic caucus leading up to the November 2005 special election. Polls indicate that the race in New Jersey is too close call. Volunteers are invited to contact Corzine/Weinberg campaign offices throughout New Jersey.
While Virginia is quickly being supplanted by the three way race in New York's 23rd congressional district in terms of competitive interest, New Jersey is not; buoyed by a three way race of its own. Of course, things were seemingly back to normal on Tuesday, a day after a Suffolk poll found incumbent, Jon Corzine ahead by an unseen-to-that-point 9 point advantage over Republican Chris Christie. Today, though, it was back to the within the margin of error polling leads that have marked this race in the Garden state for the last few weeks. Both Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling found as much in the state, though PPP's margin between the two major party candidates was technically outside of the margin of error.
A nine point Corzine lead? According to a new Suffolk survey of the Garden state, that is the case. However...
It was Suffolk's first poll in the state for this race.
The sample size is on the small end; only 400 people.
There were a lot of undecideds (14%). The last time there was anything in the double digits for undecideds was the September 9 Rasmussen release (10%). Let me add some context: that was "You Lie!" week.
Is the poll something to be dismissed? No, but it should certainly be treated as an outlier. At one end of the spectrum (an extreme application of the margin of error), if Corzine cedes five points to Christie, the Republican has a one point edge. If you were to do Monte Carlo simulations given the data in this poll, that particular outcome wouldn't come up very many times though.
Thursday was a busy day in the New Jersey governors race. Not only was it the day of the last debate between the three main contenders, but we were also treated to three new polls in the race*. The take-home message from those surveys? Corzine and Christie have deadlocked just below the 40% mark, and at least today, independent Chris Daggett has consolidated much of the rest. Across the three polls the independent averaged just over 17% support and passed 20% in the Rutgers/Eagleton poll.
I scoffed at the notion a week or so ago that Daggett could reprise Jesse Ventura's run to the Minnesota governor's mansion in 1998, but today's polling looks an awful lot like the home stretch survey work in that Minnesota race a decade ago. No, there isn't same day registration/voting in New Jersey as there was in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but there is a new (absentee) vote by mail process in the Garden state that could potentially help Daggett in that respect. But the independent hasn't been as vocal as Jon Corzine has been on that front. Sure, the Daggett folks have been nice enough to retweet several FHQ microblog postings on Twitter, but Corzine has been using the service to urge folks to utilize the vote by mail process while Daggett has not. [In between mentions of Obama's visit a day ago, Corzine has been informing folks about how many days are left in the vote by mail sequence. 5 more days apparently.]
FHQ mocks the Corzine camp, but Survey USA was nice enough to ask a "have you voted" question in the survey released today. And though only 8% of the respondents had, Corzine had banked slightly more votes than Christie (44-39) with Daggett trailing at 16%. Christie led Corzine by a similar margin among the 92% of the respondents who had not voted (by mail).
A new Rasmussen poll has Governor Corzine down by only 4 points.
The latest numbers show Christie getting 45% of the vote, Corzine with 41% and Daggett at nine percent (9%). Over the past week, support for Christie is down two points, support for Corzine is down three points, and support for Daggett is up three. The number of undecideds is up a couple of points to five percent (5%).
However, the race may be even closer than those numbers suggest. When voters are asked their initial choice, 38% name Christie, 38% Corzine, and 16% prefer Daggett. But 57% of Daggett’s supporters say they could change their minds before election day. That dwarfs the number of swayable Corzine and Christie voters.- Rasmussen
It looks like Daggett may make the difference in who comes out as the winner.
The chatter around the New Jersey gubernatorial race this Tuesday three weeks before the election centered on whether independent Chris Daggett could actually win the election in the Garden state. 77% of the new Quinnipiac survey's respondents thought not, but that didn't keep the good folks at NBC News' First Read from wondering aloud about the possibility. Well, at the very least it didn't prevent First Read from making a flawed connection between Jesse Ventura's win in the Minnesota governors contest in 1998 and Chris Daggett in 2009.
Yes, environmentally, Minnesota had an electorate that was seemingly against both major parties down the stretch in that race whose candidates were deadlocked in the polls. However, New Jersey and Chris Daggett are missing two very important ingredients from the Ventura formula: money and election day registration. [Oh, and if the Minnesota ballot in 1998 was anything like this -- which is a heck of a lot better than this -- Daggett will have had something Ventura did not: a ballot problem.] Does any of this mean Daggett cannot win? Well, there is an awful lot of mounting evidence, but I suppose the idea can't be completely dismissed.