2017 Virginia Election Live Blog – Governor (?) Northam Edition

8:14PM CNN projects Ralph Northam will be the next governor of Virginia! This was a thumping of Trump and Trumpism. Trump may not want to come back from Asia.

7:50PM At this point, the only question left is what will Northam’s margin of victory be.

7:46PM Fairfax County is starting to come in. Northam has taken the lead. I expect it to stay that way.

7:40PM All but one precinct in Loudoun County are in. Northam is crushing Gillespie 59.50% to 39.37%. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is going to be Northam’s night.

7:29PM: Take this with a grain of salt. Northam is outperforming McAuliffe’s 2013 results in precinct results coming out of Prince William County. Gillespie needs to hold his own here or win. Let’s see how the rest of the precincts come in. Early good sign for Northam.

7:26PM: For those that don’t follow Virginia elections, Northern Virginia will usually come in late. That’s where Northam’s votes are.

7:23PM: Votes starting to trickle in. Mostly red counties and absentee votes. Gillespie 50.8%-Northam 48.1%

7:09PM: Exit polls. Northam leads women by 19%. Gillespie leads men by 8%. Northam leads among 18-29 and 30-44 age groups by 34% and 21% respectively. Gillespie leads much more modestly among those older than 45.

The bottom line is the Republicans are losing voters in Virginia every year. Virginia is getting bluer every year.

7:00PM Polls have closed in Virginia. Too early to call from the Nets. Not surprising. Let’s count the votes!

6:46PM Heavy turnout in Arlington County. Expected to easily exceed 2013 turnout, despite heavy rain.

6:24PM Over 180,000 absentee votes cast. 117,000 of those were in-person absentee votes. That’s a lot!

6:18PM Fairfax County turnout much higher than 2013 gubernatorial election. By 6pm turnout already exceeded 2013. Projected turnout is about 60%.

6:00PM Ok, let’s fire this blog up…

Polls close at 7pm. Here are the counties to keep an eye on for Northam to have a successful night:

  • Fairfax County, the big enchilada. Northam needs to do better than 60% here.
  • Arlington County. Northam needs to do better than 70% here. 75% would be ideal.
  • Alexandria City. Northam needs to do better than 70% here. 75% would be ideal.
  • Loudoun County. Bellweather. If Northam wins this county he will likely carry the state.
  • Richmond City. Northam needs to do better than 70% here.
  • Henrico County. Northam needs to eeke out a win here.
  • Virginia Beach. If Northam eekes out a win here, its game over for Gillespie.


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Apocalypse Now/Election Live Blog

7:46 PM: Ok, here we go. Polls sorta closed in North Carolina. Florida is tight, tight, tight!

7:55 PM: Clinton up in Florida and North Carolina. A lot of votes to count. I’m looking at the county breakdowns.

8:02 PM: Interesting. Northern Virginia precincts coming in early. They usually trickle in late.

8:06 PM: Florida tightening again. I’m looking at the counties still to come in. Hillary Clinton is looking good but there are still enough votes out there to change that.

8:13 PM: Wow! Florida is very very close.

8:15 PM: The real question in Florida is whether the early vote cannibalized Democrat’s total vote or added to it. The answer to that question will determine the winner.

8:21 PM: Interesting. Hillary Clinton is so far underperforming in Fairfax and Arlington counties. More votes to come in in both counties.

8:37 PM: There are enough votes in the Democratic counties in the south east for Clinton. But there are also votes left in the panhandle and midsection. Anybody’s state at this point.

8:45 PM: Ok, my county-by-county look at what is left to come in in Florida estimates that there are enough votes out there outside of Democratic strongholds for Donald Trump to edge Hillary out and carry the state. If that happens, this will be a very long night.

8:51 PM: What the hell is going on in Northern Virginia!

9:05 PM: Trump has taken the lead in North Carolina. Long way to go.

9:27 PM: Panic is setting in amongst Democrats. Florida will go Trump. Ohio is looking good for Trump. Now Virginia is actually looking like a nail biter. I am trying to figure out if there are enough votes in Northern Virginia to save Clinton.

9:34 PM: I think the networks are starting to realize that Donald Trump may – may – become president of the United States. If Florida falls, and Ohio falls, and North Carolina falls, and New Hampshire falls, it will be up to Nevada to save Clinton. Unless Virginia or Michigan fall – then it is all over. This is shaping up to be a stunning night.

9:38 PM: Michigan and New Hampshire are starting to get interesting.

9:42 PM: I haven’t done a county-by-county look at North Carolina yet but if Virginia is a yardstick, and it is, Trump will win North Carolina.

9:45 PM: There are just enough votes left in Fairfax County for Hillary Clinton to eke out a win in Virginia. The problem is there are enough votes left in the red counties for Trump to compensate for what’s left in Fairfax. Virginia is on the cusp of a shocker.

9:51 PM: I’ve seen enough of the outstanding votes in North Carolina to comfortably predict that Trump will win it.

9:57 PM: Wisconsin is now in play?? Can’t be!

10:00 PM: Nevada just closed. Let’s see if my analysis of early votes from yesterday was right.

10:14 PM: CNN calls Missouri for Donald Trump. I remember the days when Missouri was a bellweather.

10:22 PM: Clinton MAY pull off Virginia but there are still red counties yet to report with an equivalent number of votes outstanding.

10:26 PM: CNN projects Donald Trump will win Ohio. Not unexpected.

10:33 PM: Clinton pulling away in Virginia. She should be able to win in a nail biter. This does not bode well at all for her night.

10:39 PM: CNN projects Hillary Clinton will win Virginia in a squeaker. If she lost Virginia, it would have been lights out early. As it is, she may lose this election in Michigan.

10:43 PM: Looking at county-by-county outstanding votes in Michigan, I think Donald Trump will win the state.

11:08 PM: CNN projects that Donald Trump will win North Carolina. With Florida all but assured (I called it at 8:45pm), the race now moves to New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa.

11:15 PM: I have ignored Pennsylvania all night. CNN thinks Trump has a shot there. That’s downright crazy.

11:34: CNN finally projects that Donald Trump will win Florida. Donald Trump now has a very plausible path through New Hampshire, Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin.

12:08 PM: CNN projects Donald Trump will win Iowa. I was sitting for a while in stunned silence after I saw the lead flip to Trump in Pennsylvania. We are very very close to having a reality start with a lot of baggage be the president-elect of the United States. It is a very surreal time.

12:24 PM: It looks pretty clear that Wisconsin will go to Trump. And Pennsylvania may be going Trump too. I am looking at the county-by-county numbers in Pennsylvania and it does not look good for Clinton. This is a remarkable turn of events.

12:34 PM: CNN projects Hillary Clinton will win Nevada. This was her firewall in a conventional map and would have sunk Trump even if he won Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. However, now Trump has opened up a number of additional paths to 270 by leading in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

12:59 PM: CNN’s John King does not think there are enough Democratic votes left in Pennsylvania, Michigan or Wisconsin for Clinton to catch up to Trump. If that is the case, that is a remarkable rust belt sweep by Donald Trump that turns on its head decades of Democratic dominance in these states. Simply remarkable.

1:32 PM: I am waiting for the Nets to call Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Both now look like a lock for Trump. Michigan will probably also go Trump but everyone is waiting for the remaining votes from Detroit to come in.

1:43 PM: Some networks have called Pennsylvania for Trump. CNN has not yet called it but its now a foregone conclusion. Donald Trump is on the cusp of the presidency. I never thought I would ever write that sentence.

2:06 PM: Interesting. John Podesta just announced that Hillary Clinton will not speak tonight and told her supporters to go home.

2:29 PM: CNN projects that Donald Trump will win Wisconsin. When Pennsylvania is called, he will be the president-elect of the United States.

2:39 PM: The Associated Press has called both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for Trump. Clinton has called Trump to concede the election. It’s over. The United States has a new president-elect. What a strange world we are now in.

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Looking at Nevada Early Votes

The conventional wisdom on the 2016 elections is that even though Donald Trump is leading in the polls in Nevada, the Democrats have voted in such high numbers in Clark county that they have built an insurmountable lead over Donald Trump. In other words, the early votes have beat the polls. This conventional wisdom comes primarily from Jon Ralston, widely considered the Nevada political guru.

So, I decided to take a look at the actual early vote totals  from the Nevada Secretary of State. It turns out the conventional wisdom may not be true. Here are the raw numbers.

In 2016, in Clark county, it is true that the Democrats have a lead of 72,672 early votes (early in person voting, absentee and mail-in voting) over the Republicans. However, its worth keeping in mind that in 2012 in Clark county, the Democrats had a 70,708 early vote lead also. If you look across the state, in 2016, the Democrats have a early vote lead of 45,618. In terms of percentage of votes, for 2016 across Nevada its 42.1% Democrats, 36.18% Republicans and 21.72% others. In 2012, however, the Democrats had a early vote lead of 48,227. In percentage terms, that translated into 43.8% Democrats, 36.96% Republicans and 19.24% others. So, the Democratic percentage of early votes in 2016 is less than it was in 2012. So, where is the surge?

Here is another interesting number to keep in mind. In 2012, the number of active registered voters in Nevada was 1,258,409. In 2016, the number of active registered voters are 1,464,819. That is an increase in registrations of 16.4%. If we look at the total number of early votes from 2012 and also 2016, we see that there were a total of 65,008 new early votes in 2016 (770,059 early votes in 2016 versus 705,051 early votes in 2012). In other words, a 9.22% increase in early votes against a registration increase of 16.4%. That is a significant enthusiasm gap. Let’s break that number down by party affiliation. In 2016, the percentage increase in the early votes from 2012 is 4.99% increase in Democrats, 6.91% increase in Republicans and 23.3% increase in others. The enthusiasm is marginally on the side of the Republicans in early voting, not with the Democrats.

What does all this tell us? Well, it tells us that the Democrats are not going into election day in Nevada with what has been widely reported as an insurmountable lead in early votes. Now, remember that Obama won Nevada in 2012 with a 3% margin. So, its still possible Hillary Clinton will carry the state. However, judging by numbers across the entire state, it is not clear to me that there is a reasonable basis for saying that the polls are wrong. Once again the echo chamber of the press has taken one report and magnified it without looking at the actual numbers.

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For Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin and his dad, Tracy Martin

This evening a six member jury in Florida found George Zimmerman not guilty in the murder of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Though a verdict was delivered I can’t say justice was served.

A teenager walking home was profiled, followed and shot to death at point blank range by George Zimmerman. No one has been held accountable. That cannot be justice.

I do not pretend to comprehend all the complexities of race relations in America. However, I do think it is obvious that if Trayvon Martin was white, instead of black, George Zimmerman would have never assumed he was “suspicious”, never gotten out of his car, never followed him, and never ended his life. Trayvon Martin would be alive today. The bottom line is this: a man with a gun killed a teenager who was committing no crime because the boy was black – and the man was not held criminally culpable. As a parent, as a minority, that is a chilling and frightening outcome.

Tonight in America, justice was not served.

Over a century and a half ago, the minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker spoke about his belief that the scourge of slavery would someday end:

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

Parker was right. Slavery did end and justice was a step closer.

However, nearly a century of Jim Crow laws followed. Over a century after Theodore Parker spoke, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr echoed his words in his call for justice at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King said:

And I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing “We Shall Overcome” because Carlyle was right: “No lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: “Truth pressed to earth will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne.” Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: “You shall reap what you sow.” With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!”

The arc was bending still toward justice. But less than a year after Dr. King spoke those words, an assassin’s bullet took his life.

A half a century hence, we are still not there. Justice remains unequal and elusive for many in the black community today. Jails in America are filled today with black men serving time on far less evidence than what George Zimmerman was facing. No fancy lawyers and expensive trials, just a quick arrest and a plea before heading to jail.

We are not there yet. There is no justice tonight.

So, I weep for Trayvon Martin. I weep with Tracy Martin, his dad. I weep for my country.

I take heart though that things will not always be this way. We will have stops and starts but I believe my daughter will inherit a better world – a moral universe closer to justice. I believe we will get there. Slowly. Slower than I want and much much slower than a lot of our fellow citizens deserve. Slower still to pay the debt we the living owe Trayvon Martin.

As Bobby Kennedy said on the night Dr. King was taken from us, let us “dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

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A Letter To The Ethicist

Months before General David Petraeus resigned as Director of the CIA, an anonymous reader wrote a letter to the New York Times’ Ethicist column complaining about an affair his wife, presumably Paula Broadwell, was having with a “government executive”. In response to the letter, Chuck Klosterman of The Ethicist wrote:

The fact that you’re willing to accept your wife’s infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it’s so over-the-top honorable that I’m not sure I believe your motives are real. Part of me wonders why you’re even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times.

Your dilemma is intriguing, but I don’t see how it’s ambiguous. Your wife is having an affair with a person you happen to respect. Why would that last detail change the way you respond to her cheating? Do you admire this man so much that you haven’t asked your wife why she keeps having sex with him? I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That’s not ethical, either.

It seems to me Klosterman hit the nail on the head.

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