Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Farewell & Best Wishes

Someone cue up "Happy Trails."
This is my last post.
With the election over, I am headed off to a new assignment. I will be working with Chris Satullo, editor of the Inquirer Editorial Board, on a year-long project dealing with the Philadelphia mayor's race.
When I started this blog in April, it was drawing about 140-odd visitors a day, some of them quite odd. In October, it was up to about 900 unique visitors a day. I offer thanks to all of you who took the time to stop by.
Things I liked about blogging: the chance to report and comment in real time and the ability to link to the good work of others.
Let's be honest, blogging is a parasitic exercise. We stand on the shoulders of the folks -- in my case, mostly political reporters -- who do the hard work of harvesting facts and offering analysis.
One thing I disliked about the blog: Most of the comments are anonymous. I'd prefer a system where everyone takes public ownership of their views, instead of hiding behind a curtain. That said, I rejected only a handful of comments, mostly because they contained falsehoods or were obscene. The rest I let flow.
Now, with a final bow of thanks, I depart.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Thanks to all who participated in my "Be A Pundit" contest. I got more than two-dozen entries and lots of good guesstimating on the final results.
The killer for many entrants was the Casey-Santorum race. It ended up being an 18-point blow out by Casey, but all my pundits guessed it low. The guy who came closest gave it to Casey by 14% .

Rendell-Swann was easier. The final result looks like it will be Rendell by 21-point spread. Seven participants got that 60-40 spread about right.

Turnout was the wild card. In 2002, it was about 3.581. I expected higher turnout this year, but never guessed it would be that high -- it was 3,997,000 votes, with 99% of the vote counted. I suspect it will equal 3.999 or 4 million by the time the official vote is counted. I had three entrants who came close to nailing it.

How did my pundits do collectively? Well, on average we thought that Rendell would beat Swann 59.4 to 40.6, so we were real close. On average, we thought Casey would be Santorum 54.5 to 45.5, so were off by 7 points. As to turnout, we had it pegged at 3.810 – a good guess, but not cigar. It was 100,000+ higher.

Now, onto the winners.
Since no one nailed it exactly, I went for the three would-be pundits who came closest collectively to being right. Sound the trumpets. Here are my winners:

Jim Shomper Jr.
He had Rendell-Swann nailed at 61-39
He has Casey Santorum at 55-45
He had turnout almost nailed at 3.935

Jim McGoldrick
Jim had Rendell-Casey at 61-39.
He had Casey-Santorum at 54-46
He came closest to turnout at 3.940

Neil Oxman
Neil was low on Rendell-Swann 58-42
He came closest of all the finalists with Casey-Santorum 57-43
His turnout guess was low 3.820.

As an aside, Oxman was the media consultant who did the Rendell campaign, which is proof that the worst place to get a perspective on a campaign is close up.

Congratulations, gentlemen, you each are winners of a $25 gift card to Borders (which I will expenses as "lunch with source') and a signed, suitable-for-framing certificate from the National Pundits Association.

I have several laurels to hand out to other entrants who were on mark with their guesstimates.
Marie Whitehead came closest to nailing total votes cast at 3.999. Congratulations, Marie.
Jon Bart came closest to Casey-Santorum with a 58-42 guess. Good work, Jon.
Adam Bonin & Sam Mee were right in there with their Rendell-Swann guesses. Adam was one of the overall winners in my May pundits contest. My compliments, gentlemen.

Thanks to all participants.

Come And Get "Em

Post-mortem's aplenty post-election.
We enter the what it all means portion of the proceedings.
Here are the highlights:

Lynn Swann: He never had a chance.
Rick Santorum: His own worst enemy.
Bob Casey Jr.: A nice Catholic boy.
Ed Rendell: Master of all he surveys (by the immortal Roderick Random)
The Republicans: Ruling party smackdown (by Dick Polman)
Pa. State House: GOP control hanging by a thread.
Sage-like Analysis: A post-election podcast featuring moi and Tom Fitzgerald ponders what it all means. My day-after column on Rick Santorum, which provoked lots of pro-Santorum emails accusing me of being intolerent of intolerence.

Back at Work

I haven't posted since late election night because my mother, Dolores Ferrick, died suddenly on Monday, Nov. 6th. I worked Election night and the next day, but took off the rest of the week to tend to her personal affairs and to the funeral.
Thanks to all those who offered their condolences.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Final Post of the Morning

Rendell-Casey murderlize their opponents.
Casey has a 19-point lead, Rendell a 20 point lead.
Voter turnout will be about 3.9 million votes - 300,000 more than in 2002.
Republican Congressmen who go down:

PA4 Melissa Hart
PA7 Curt Weldon
PA10 Don Sherwood

PA6 TCTC -- trending Gerlach
PA 8. I predict Murphy unseats Fitzpatrick in a squeaker.

Back in the morning.

An Astonishing Thing

About last night's election is this...
But, first the latest AP results:

7,879 of 9,372 precincts - 84 percent

x-Bob Casey, Dem 1,922,962 - 59 percent
Rick Santorum, GOP (i) 1,338,963 - 41 percent

7,879 of 9,372 precincts - 84 percent
x-Ed Rendell, Dem (i) 1,970,457 - 60 percentLynn Swann, GOP 1,304,792 - 40 percent

As I was saying, the astonishing thing is that Rick Santorum spent $20+ million and he is getting only 1 point more than Lynn Swann.
Santorum never broke 40 percent in the public polls. He finally broke it last night, but by one point.
It looks like the final Casey margin will be 600,000+
The final Rendell margin could be 700,000.

On the congressional front, there is a surprise:
U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, the Republican incumbent, has lost PA4. This was not a race she was supposed to lose.

Here is CNN's total, with 98% of the vote recorded.
Updated: 12:02 a.m. ET

Altmire 124,302 52%
Hart 114,707 48%

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tectonic Plate Update

With Rendell and Casey leading the way, with turnout higher than expected, the question remains what trickle down effect will it have for other Democratic candidates?
Well, it's early, but I do feel some trickle.

Let's look at the congressional races.
In PA7 in Delco, Joe Sestak has handily defeated Incumbent Rep. Curt Weldon:
Latest AP results:
TP PR Sestak Weldon
Chester 44 0 0 0
Delaware 355 197 53,976 42,934
Montgmry 48 25 10,420 6,379

Totals 447 222 64,396 49,313

In PA6, there is a surprise in early returns: Lois Murphy is ahead of Jim Gerlach in Berks County, the most conservative part of the district. No returns, though, for Chester County, which is Gerlach's base.
The latest AP results:
TP PR Murphy Gerlach
Berks 106 25 8,963 8,418
Chester 126 0 0 0
Lehigh 1 0 0 0
Montgmry 101 17 5,778 4,152
Totals 334 42 14,741 12,570

In PA7, another surprise. Pat Murphy holds a narrow lead over incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in early returns. This was the seat most pundits (including me) gave to Fitzpatrick.

Patrick Murphy, Dem 42,586 - 51 percent
Michael Fitzpatrick, GOP (i) 40,380 - 49 percent

In PA10, Don Sherwood is going down, down, down:
The latest AP results:
355 of 530 precincts - 67 percent
Christopher Carney, Dem 65,154 - 55 percent
Don Sherwood, GOP (i) 54,091 - 45 percent

Cool Graphic Alert

The folks at have developed a great graphic that summarizes the status of the national races, plus local ones. Take a look for an update on the local Congressional races.
This page is updated every five minutes.

Turnout UpDate

That wasn't your imagination today.
The polls were more crowded than usual.
Let me take Philadelphia as a bellweather. The city has already reported nearly 13% of the vote. If the trends hold, a total of 500,000+ votes will be cast in the city this election.
This would equal 52% turnout, which is about a nine points above what it was in the last gubernatorial election in 2002.
More to come on this as other counties report real totals.

Here is the 9:22 p.m. AP summary of major Pa. races:

U.S. Senate
663 of 9,372 precincts - 7 percent
x-Bob Casey, Dem 130,997 - 65 percent
Rick Santorum, GOP (i) 69,617 - 35 percent

644 of 9,372 precincts - 7 percent
x-Ed Rendell, Dem (i) 141,939 - 70 percent
Lynn Swann, GOP 60,281 - 30 percent

These are statewide numbers, but they are heavily tilted towards Philly because of the speed with which they produce election results.

The Rendell Landslide

Network exit polls indicated Gov. Ed Rendell will murderlize Republican Lynn Swann.
If the early projections carry through, Rendell could end up with a 700,000-vote margin over his GOP challenger.
The CBS poll carries no head-to-head numbers as of yet, but a look at the interior numbers hint at the dimensions of the Rendell victory.
The key -- as always -- is in the Philadelphia region, where Rendell is projected to win Philadelphia by a margin of 86%-12% and in the Philly suburbs, where is is projected to win by 69%-30%.
The strong Rendell-Casey showing in this area could spell very bad news for Republican incumbents lower on the ticket. But it is too early to say that for sure.

For the record, according to the exit poll:
Rendell has a comfortable lead in every area of the state, except for the Republican "T" that runs up central Pa. and across the state's northern tier. Swann is winning this area 54%-45%.

But Rendell is way ahead among women voters, who favor him 63%-32% for Swann. He leads among all income groups, among labor union members. He appears to be getting 21% of the Republican vote and 68% of the Independent vote.
The only sub-group carried by Swann in these early exit polls are evangelicals, who favor the Republican 60?-40%

Again, no actual returns, but the exit polls show Rendell a big winner.

A Casey Blowout in Pennsylvania

Up live and blogging...

CBS News exit polls give Bob Casey Jr. the win in Pennsylvania.
The networks are cautious about calling these races, so this means the spread is well above their margin of error.

The CBS poll indicates a Casey blowout. Though the exit poll, as currently published on the network's website, does not give the head-to-head numbers, you can look at the interior runups and see the following:

Casey is defeating Santorum in every area of the state - except for the Republican "T"
The exit poll indicates he will win Philadelphia 85%-14%, win the Philly suburbs 59-40 and win the Pittsburgh media market by 60-40.

Other highlights:
Casey has a huge lead among women voters: 59%-40%, among all income groups, among labor households. He is currently getting 71% of voters who identify themselves as independents.
The only sub-group Santorum can call his own is evangelicals, who favor the Republican in the CBS poll by a margin of 61%-39%.

Translated into votes, this poll indicated a Casey margin of over 500,000 votes.

However, keep in mind that no actual vote totals have been posted as of 8:43 p.m.

Collective Wisdom

I've been reading a wonderful new book by New Yorker writer James Surowiecki called "The Wisdom of Crowds." It is Sorowecki's paean to that much-maligned commodity called collective wisdom.
In it, he posits that the mass of people are usually right and that they are wonderful predictors of outcomes. In fact, better predictors that public opinion polls, that emit writ-large results from small samples.
Collective wisdom is the idea that drives such projects as the Iowa Electronic Markets, where people place bet on outcomes of (to give one example) political races.
I have my own version of the Iowa market -- albeit with a much smaller crowd. It's my Be A Pundit Contest, where I offer prizes to the person who can come closest to predicting the outcome of today's U.S. Senate and gubernatorial race.
To put it another way, I've got my own crowd and I've taken their bets, added them up and divided them by the number of entries to come up with their collective wisdom on the races.
Here are the results of that mathematical exercise.
We can check it against actual results tomorrow.

U.S. Senate
Bob Casey Jr. 54.5%
Rick Santorum 45.5%

Ed Rendell 59.4%
Lynn Swann 40.6%

Total votes: 3,810,000

Rise and Shine

It's Election Day in Pennsylvania.

As we saw in Philly, vote early and vote often.

It looks like Republican weather. There is rain predicted for the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, but it's expected to be mostly dry in the rest of the state.

I wonder if this storm front was ordered up by Karl Rove, that clever devil.
Just a thought.

I will be blogging frequently today and will be blogging live tonight as the election returns come in. So, stay tuned.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Take Off That Party Hat

For all those Democrats icing the champagne, here comes some ominous news, courtesy of the Pew Foundation Polling Machine, aka Pew Research Center for the People and Press.

Here the lead graph:

A nationwide Pew Research Center survey finds voting intentions shifting in the direction of Republican congressional candidates in the final days of the 2006 midterm campaign. The new survey finds a growing percentage of likely voters saying they will vote for GOP candidates. However, the Democrats still hold a 48% to 40% lead among registered voters, and a modest lead of 47%-43% among likely voters.

Here's the rest.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Coup de Grace

From Websters:
Main Entry: coup de grace
Etymology: French coup de grâce
... a decisive finishing blow : an act or event that puts an end to something.

From the AP:
Sherwood suit deal described
By Michael Rubinkam
Associated Press
ALLENTOWN - U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood agreed to pay the ex-mistress he is accused of abusing about $500,000 in a settlement last year that contained a powerful incentive for her to keep quiet until after Election Day, a person familiar with the terms of the deal told the Associated Press.
Sherwood, a Republican from northeastern Pennsylvania, is locked in a tight reelection race against a Democratic opponent who has seized on the four-term congressman's relationship with the woman. While Sherwood acknowledged the woman had been his mistress, he denied abusing her and said he had settled her $5.5 million lawsuit on confidential terms.
The settlement, reached in November 2005, called for Cynthia Ore to be paid in installments, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is confidential. She has received less than half of the money so far and will not get the rest until after Tuesday's election, the person said yesterday.
A confidentiality clause requires Ore to forfeit some of the money if she talks publicly about the case, according to this person and two other people familiar with elements of the case.
It is common in settlements for payments to be made in installments and for the parties to be held to confidentiality.
Sherwood admitted no wrongdoing, a standard provision in such agreements, this person said.
Sherwood, 65, a married father of three who is considered a family-values conservative, had one of the safest seats in Congress until Ore sued him in June 2005, alleging he physically abused her throughout their five-year affair.
Reached by telephone Wednesday, the congressman and successful car dealer said: "I can neither confirm nor deny because this was a private settlement. If I'd like to talk to you about it, I can't."

Become A Pundit! Win A Prize!

Time is running out. Be sure to enter my Pundit Contest.
Pick the winners of the statewide races in the Nov. 7th election and become a certified Political Pundit, plus win a $25 gift card to Borders.
In order to win, here is what you must do:

1. Correctly predict the winners of Pennsylvania's Nov. 7th election for Governor & U.S. Senate and list the percentage of votes each candidate gets. (For the record, the candidates for governor at Democrat Ed Rendell and Republican Lynn Swann; the candidates for U.S. Senate are Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and Republican Rick Santorum
2. As a tiebreaker, you must also predict the exact number of votes, rounded to the nearest thousand, that will be cast statewide in the race for U.S. Senate, which is the race that tops the ballot this year. (For the record, there are about 8 million registered voters in in Pennsylvania.)

Sample Entry:
Tom: I want to be a pundit!
Here is my prediction for the Nov. 7th election:
Bob Casey Jr. -- 54% of the vote Rick Santorum - 46%
Ed Rendell -- 58% Lynn Swann - 42%
Total votes cast: 3,773,000

The deadline is 11:59 p.m., Monday, Nov. 6th. Do not submit your entry via a posting. Send it to my email address: Include your name and address.
The winner will be announced in this space at noon, Wednesday, Nov. 8th. The vote total will be based upon the latest Associated Press count as of 11 a.m. that day.

Don't miss this opportunity to become a pundit. Email your entry today!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Kerry Sampler of Botched Jokes

What they wrote for John Kerry to say in Pasadena:
“Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

What he said:
"You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

What they wrote for John Kerry to say at the Shriners Convention:
"What is this, an audience or an oil painting?"

What he said:
"What's all this, this audience and its oral panting."

What they wrote for John Kerry to say at the Ted Kennedy roast:
"But, seriously, Teddy, you've built bridges to new ideas all your life....

What John Kerry said:
"But, seriously Teddy, all your life, there've been bridges, you see, and you have crossed most of them....with new ideas, I mean."

What they wrote for John Kerry to say on the Jay Leno show:
"Jay, you are the only guy with a longer face than me!"

What John Kerry said:
"How's your face, Jay? I mean, is it longer or not?"

What they wrote for John Kerry to say at the Union League comedy night:
"Take my wife, please!"

What John Kerry said:
"Please, Theresa's my wife. Take her!"

What they wrote for John Kerry to say at the Gridiron dinner:
Two guys are out walking their dogs and pass by a bar.
One says: Let's go inside and get a drink
The other says: But look at that sign, it says no dogs allowed.
The friend says: Watch this. He puts on sunglasses and walks into the bar with his dog.
A few minutes later, the friend decides to try it.
He puts on sunglasses and walks into the bar with his dog.
He sees his friend sitting drinking a beer, with his German shepherd at his side.
He goes up and asks for a beer himself.
Bartender says: Sorry, pal, no dogs.
The guy says: It's my seeing-eye dog.
Bartender says: But that's a chihuahua.
The guy slaps his forehead and says: You mean, they gave me a Chihuahua!

What John Kerry said:
"I have a joke that I hope you will find amusing. It's about two blind guys and they have a German shepherd, see, and the other has a Chihuahua.
At any rate, they are passing by a tavern. And they are wearing sunglasses, I think.
And one of them goes into the bar. Wait! Wait! I think the guys are not blind really. Yes, that's it. It's a ruse, you see. At any rate, they are thirsty and they want to drink a beer. Now, let me see, what happens next....

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Donald Segretti Moment

The mailings went out to homes all over the Philadelphia suburbs, apparently targeting areas known for support of Democratic candidates.

The brochures compared and contrasted the public stands of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr. The message was clear: on a number of hot-button issues, such as gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research and gun control, the two candidates hold similar positions. So why draw the contrast?

Well, the sponsor of the brochure was a group called the Progressive Policy Council, which stated it's mission iis to "advocate for progressive public policy solutions for contemporary social issues."

Still, for many recipients, it was a head scratcher. What was the point? Was this a liberal group urging progressives to sit out the election, rather than choose between Casey and Santorum -- implying there really was no difference between the two pols?

It sure looked that way, until people began scratching below the surface. For one thing, when people went to the web address listed on the brochure nothing was there (as of Monday). Later, notice went up saying, in so many words, "Watch This Space."

A check of clips turned up zero on the Progressive Policy Council. And I do mean zero. It's rare, to say the least, for a non-profit advocating policy to never, ever get a mention, especially since the brochure said it was headquartered in Arlington, Va. in the heart of the Beltway.

What is this ghost of an organization? Well, the sheet's been lifted, thanks to, a site sponsored by the Talking Points Memo. Reporter Paul KIel posted an item yesterday that disclosed that the person who filed for the corporate charter for the group in June was a guy named Jason Torchinsky.

Torchinsky is a lawyer with a mega-Washington law firm. But, more important, he is a former Bush-Cheney Campaign political operative. He was on the campaign's payroll in 2004. He is also involved, according to the clips, with the Voting Rights Legislation Fund, another Republican front group involved in ways to suppress voter turnout.
So, what we appear to have here is a Republican-financed phony mailing from a non-existent group seeking to suppress Democratic turnout. It's a dirty trick -- though that's the cleaned up version of what Donald Segretti and his merry pranksters called this kind of stuff.

They called it (explicit language alert) ratfucking.