Boehner’s House “Mandate”: Gerrymandering a Democratic majority

Last week, Americans voted not just for President but also for their Representatives and Senators. Results were mixed. In the Presidential election, Obama edged out Romney in both the Electoral College (332 to 206) and in the popular vote (51% to 48%). In the Senate, Democrats overcame all odds and not only held onto but actually expanded their majority. However, in the House of Representatives, Democrats only picked up 4-8 seats out of the 25 seats they needed to retake control of the House. (Four seats remain undecided: AZ-2, CA-7, CA-52 and LA-2.)

Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH-2) took solace in keeping the House. “We’ll have as much of a mandate as he [President Obama] will to not raise taxes.”

How is that the same electorate shows up at the polls and hands victories to the GOP in the House and to Obama and the Democrats in the Senate?

In fact, Boehner is wrong. There was no mandate for the Republicans to keep control of the House. In fact, a majority of Americans voted for a Democrat to represent them in the House of Representatives. According to Dan Keating at the Washington Post:

  • Democratic candidates for the House got 54,301,095 votes (48.8%) while
  • Republican candidates for the House got 53,822,442 votes (48.5%).

But if that is the case, why did more Republicans get elected than Democrats?

According to Ezra Klein,  

What saved Boehner’s majority wasn’t the will of the people but the power of redistricting. As my colleague Dylan Matthews showed, Republicans used their control over the redistricting process to great effect, packing Democrats into tighter and tighter districts and managing to restructure races so even a slight loss for Republicans in the popular vote still meant a healthy majority in the House.


In most states where Republicans controlled redistricting, the Democrats’ share of House seats was far beneath their share of the presidential vote. (Dylan Matthews)

That’s a neat trick, but it’s not a popular mandate, or anything near to it – and Boehner knows it. That’s why his first move after the election was to announce, in a vague-but-important statement, that he was open to some kind of compromise on taxes.

For example, here in Pennsylvania, the Republicans control the Governor’s mansion, the State House and the State Senate, and they used their control to gerrymander the state so that while the Democrats got a majority of the votes (53%) they only took 5 out of 18 seats (28%). They do so by packing Democratic super-majorities into a few districts. Brady won PA-1 with 85.0% of the vote, and Fattah won PA-2 with 89.4%. These huge margins represent wasted votes that potentially could have elected additional Democrats had the districts been drawn differently.

More after the jump.
The situation is not symmetrical in the few states controlled by the Democrats.

This isn’t as true for Democratic-controlled redistricting, and not just because Democrats ran redistricting in only six states. Democrats are just worse at gerrymandering when they get the chance. While Democrats outperformed their presidential vote in House races in Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts and Illinois, they underperformed in Arkansas and West Virginia.

This suggests that it’s going to be tough for Democrats to make big gains in the House until 2022, when the districts are drawn again following the Census. And for that to happen, they’d have to do quite well in the 2020 state legislature elections.

 

The First and Latest Republican Nominees’s Home State Tsuris

In our article The State of the Home States, we pointed out that if Romney had won the election, he certainly would have had to do so without his homestate of Massachusetts and that James K Polk was the only President to have been elected without carrying his homestate. Polk, lost his home state (North Carolina) by 4.78% (3,945 votes) and his state of residence (Tennessee) by 0.1% (123 votes).

In fact Romney’s defeat in his home state was greater than Polk’s. According to Smart Politics,

With just 37.5% of the vote to his name, Romney barely moved the needle on John McCain’s performance in the state in 2008. The Arizona U.S. Senator won 36.0% of the vote in Massachusetts four years ago — losing by 25.8% to Obama.

The only presidential candidate to suffer a larger home state loss than Romney was the first-ever Republican nominee, John Frémont of California in 1856.

Frémont only captured 18.78% of the vote (20,704 votes) while James Buchanan carried the State of California and its 4 electoral votes. In the next election, the Republican party fared better; its nominee Abraham Lincoln carried his home state and won the election of 1860.

Video Romney highlights after the jump.

Voting Irregularities in Pennsylvania: We’ve Got To Fix That

In this video, a Pennsylvania voter shows how the voting machine misinterpreted Obama votes as Romney votes.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

Meanwhile, in one precinct in Wynnewood, according to NPR, voters were turned away if they did not have photo id despite a Pennsyvlania Supreme Court ruling staying implementation of that law.

On Wednesday, State Rep. Babette Josephs will be discussing the problems encountered in last weeks election. As the President said in his victory speech Tuesday night,

“We’ve got to fix that.”

Details after the jump.
State Rep. Babette Josephs is calling on the state’s top law enforcement official to investigate the Department of State and all 67 county elections boards for the widespread irregularities many voters faced Nov. 6.

As Democratic chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, which oversees election law, Josephs and others will discuss her petition and the number and type of issues voters experienced on Election Day at noon Wednesday, Nov. 14 in the Capitol Media Center.

From reports of electors not allowed to vote even though they had voted for years, to faulty machines and the dissemination of misinformation, Josephs said it is clear there were problems at both the state and local level, and it is important to find out how these incidents happened and to learn from them.

“If we are to preserve freedom in these United States, we must learn from these problems,” Josephs said.

Those also expected to attend Tuesday’s news conference are people who have experienced trouble voting and will tell their stories.

Video: Netanyahu Congratulates President Obama

— by David Streeter

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated President Barack Obama on his victory last night. During his remarks with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, the Prime Minister noted that the security relationship between the United States and Israel remains “rock solid” and that he looks forward to his continued cooperation with the President. Netanyahu also released a statement in which he said that “strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever.”

Exit Polls of the Jewish Vote

A Century of Jewish Voting in America

One silver lining in the election for the Republicans was the Jewish Vote. Romney was supported by 30% of American Jews in this election, compared to 69% for Obama. Traditionally, Jewish voters lean Democratic and the last Republican to do this well was George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 with 35% of the vote.

Three Organizations, Three Polls, Similar Results

The Associated Press’s National Exit poll this year was based on a survey of 26,565 voters including 4,408 who voted early or absentee. Only 2% of these voters were Jewish, so the sampling error on the Jewish vote is plus or minus 4.3%.

J-Street which describes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people” did their own surveys.

JStreet notes that “President Obama’s 70% share of Jewish voters lines up exactly with the historic trend of support that Democratic Presidential candidates have received in the last 10 elections.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s survey shows similar results:

The survey, a national sample of 1000 Jewish voters, as well as a 600-person sample of Jewish voters in Ohio and a 600-person sample of Florida Jewish voters, shows Jewish support for the President dropped from 78% in 2008 to 69% last night.

The Republican share of the Jewish voted jumped nationally from 22 percent to 32 percent — an increase of almost 50 percent — and is part of a trend in which Republicans have gained market share among Jewish voters in five of the last six national elections. The ten-point gain is the largest gain since 1972.

“The RJC is encouraged by the gains we made in 2012 and by the continuing movement in the Jewish community toward the GOP. Despite the discouraging election results, we’re pleased by the gains we have made in the Jewish community,” said Matt Brooks.

It could have been worse

According to JStreet, “Tens of millions of dollars spent by Sheldon Adelson, the RJC, and others attacking President Obama on Israel backfired – 27% of Florida Jews said the ads made them more likely to vote for the President, and 63% said the attacks made no difference whatsoever.”

In fact, a survey of Jewish voters in Florida conducted by the Mellman Group around Labor Day showed Obama’s support as low as 61%.

This newly-released information shows the dramatic improvement in Obama’s Jewish vote performance in Florida between late September (then 61% for Obama, 33% for Romney) and Election Day (currently 68% for Obama in Florida, according to GBA Strategies; 66% for Obama in Florida, according to the AP exit poll). The shift during that 5-7 week period amounted to a shift in favor of the President’s Jewish vote margin of as much as 117,000 votes — a tremendous victory for NJDC’s targeted, strategic voter contact effort in Florida, and a mass rejection of the smear campaign waged by Republican Jewish groups.

In other words, Obama gained ground even as the RJC spent over eight million dollars on their “Buyers Remorse” advertising campaign.

National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC)  President and CEO David A. Harris commented:

Knowing what we know of the state of the Jewish vote in late September, we are tremendously proud of what NJDC and our friends were able to do to put facts into the hands of so many Jewish Florida voters to make sure they were not taken in by this multi-million dollar effort of lies and smears against our President. We now know that over six weeks, a shift in the Jewish margin from Democrats to Republicans of up to 117,000 Jewish Floridians was stopped with the facts — plain and simple. NJDC mailed almost 400,000 pieces of fact-based mail into Florida in the final weeks of this campaign, and we called almost 70,000 Jewish households in Florida — all strategically, efficiently targeted at those persuadable Jews who could possibly fall victim to the smears circulated against the President. During that same time we ran print ads in Florida, and online banner ads, sponsored emails, and more — most only visible to residents in Florida, some only visible to carefully targeted, potentially undecided Jewish households. Through social media efforts and newly-unveiled websites and crucial web videos as well in the final days before Election Day, we powerfully targeted these undecided Florida Jews.

These were just some of the pieces in our strategic arsenal. But seeing the data today from GBA Strategies and the AP exit polls, and looking back at the data we were privy to 5-7 weeks ago from The Mellman Group, we can now say authoritatively that our work made a tremendous difference; we helped Florida’s Jews have the facts they needed to reject the lies and distortions being peddled by Republican Jews. The same can be said in Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — the other battleground states where NJDC waged a carefully-targeted campaign. Following our efficient, strategic effort, we’re thrilled with the results: an overwhelming majority of American Jews have once again supported President Obama, and they have overwhelmingly rejected the campaign of smears and lies from the right.

Resounding Victory for Women


New Hampshire is the first state to have an all female delegation: Senator Kelly Ayotte (R, not pictured), Governor Elect Maggie Hassan D), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D).

Maggie Hassan will be the country’s only Democratic woman governor.


(TPM) Voters Tuesday elected a record number of women to Congress, thanks largely to gains on the Democratic side of the aisle.

In the Senate, where every incumbent Democrat won re-election, there will be a record 20 women Senators come January – a net gain of three. Women will also set a new record in the House of Representatives with 78 women elected – a number that could rise as a final handful of races are called.

In addition to the 12 Democratic women already in the Senate, Democrats will welcome newcomers Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and Mazie Hirono from Hawaii. While two Republican women retired — Texas’s Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Maine’s Sen. Olympia Snowe — Republican Deb Fischer won in Nebraska.

The gains, of course, could have been even higher if not for a few losses. Democrat Shelley Berkley lost an uphill challenge to incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. In Utah, Republicans had hoped Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love would become the first black, Republican woman elected to Congress. Love fell short in her challenge to incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. In addition, both parties a few female incumbents in the House.

— by Sari Stevens and Audrey Ann Ross

HARRISBURG, PA – President Obama’s reelection is a historic victory for women’s health, driven by a substantial gender gap, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC said Wednesday morning.

“This is a resounding victory for women. More than ever before, women’s health was a decisive issue in this election. Americans on Tuesday voted to ensure that women will have access to affordable health care and be able to make their own medical decisions,” said executive director Sari Stevens.

“This election sends a powerful and unmistakable message to members of Congress and the Pennsylvania legislature that the American people do not want politicians to meddle in our personal medical decisions, and that politicians demean and dismiss women at their own peril.”

Women’s health issues played a defining role in the presidential election, with preliminary data showing candidates and advocates nationwide aired broadcast ads 46,141 times highlighting the issues — a 350% increase in spending from 2008. Throughout the campaign, these issues have presented one of the starkest contrasts between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Obama vowed to fully implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure that millions of women get preventive care at no cost, require insurance companies to cover birth control, protect funding for Planned Parenthood and federal family planning programs, and protect access to safe and legal abortion. Romney took the opposite position on all of these issues, and then tried unsuccessfully to cast himself as more of a moderate on women’s health in the final weeks of the campaign.

More after the jump.
In Pennsylvania, pro-choice candidates scored major victories with the stunning election of Rob Teplitz in the open seat of retiring Jeff Piccola, Steve Santarsiero’s crushing defeat of tea party challenger Anne Chapman, Matt Smith’s victory in the seat of retiring Senator John Pippy and Dave Levdansky’s defeat of far-right incumbent Rick Saccone in a moderate Western PA district.

In Senate District 15, Teplitz closed out the final two weeks of the race with a major TV ad buy highlighting opponent John McNally’s out of touch views on women’s health, specifically his opposition to legal abortion in cases of rape and incest. McNally went so far as to oppose sex education in public schools and protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, positions highlighted in Planned Parenthood’s direct mail to a universe of 25,000 predominantly republican and independent women voters. “Rob trusts women to make their own health care decisions, and Rob won on Tuesday because voters want a strong advocate for women to represent them” said Stevens. Planned Parenthood PA PAC invested $50,000 in the Teplitz victory.

Representative Steve Santarsiero scored a resounding victory Tuesday night, proving once again that the voters of the 31st House District will not tolerate politicians with extreme, out of touch views on women’s health. His opponent, Anne Chapman, was the embodiment of that dangerous agenda. During the Republican primary, Chapman vowed to defund Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services – centering her campaign around limiting women’s access to health care and involving politicians in women’s personal health decisions. Chapman was so out of touch with the 31st district, she aligned herself with the Todd Akin view of women’s health through her opposition to legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Akin was another casualty of the Tuesday election, falling to Claire McCaskill after showing callous disregard for victims of rape.

A significant investment was also made on behalf of Matt Smith who was elected Tuesday night, demonstrating that Western Pennsylvania voters will not tolerate politicians with extreme, antiquated views on women’s healthcare.
In Senate District 37, the republican candidate, D. Raja, would have gone too far in interfering in personal health care decisions best left to a woman and her doctor – including support for an intrusive Pennsylvania mandatory ultrasound bill. Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC communicated with a universe of 25,000 female voters about the out of touch views of Raja, and Matt Smith’s strong support for women’s reproductive health care.

Additional victories for women’s health were in the election of Democrat Sean Wiley in the retiring seat of Jane Earll in Senate District 49 and Mark Painter over anti-choice Tom Quigley in House District 146.

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC worked hard to educate voters across Pennsylvania about what was at stake in this race for women’s health. The PAC spent a record $250,000 on state races, with the biggest investments on behalf of Matt Smith in Senate District 37 and Rob Teplitz in Senate District 15. Over 250,000 pieces of mail, 80,000 phone calls and 10,000 door to door knocks were generated through months of efforts.

Nationally, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Vote’s spent more than $15 million dollars to educate voters in key battleground states, employing television and radio ads, direct mail, online ads, tele-townhalls, and a variety of other methods.

  • All of the messaging throughout the Planned Parenthood Action Fund campaign focused on Mitt Romney’s positions in his own words — to repeal the birth control insurance benefit, repeal coverage for preventive care, eliminate the nation’s family planning program, defund Planned Parenthood, and overturn Roe v. Wade – contrasted with President Obama’s strong record for women’s health.
  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes also invested in 20 Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial races to elect candidates with strong records and positions on women’s health.  
  • In the final four days of the campaign, the Action Fund and local Planned Parenthood advocacy organizations collectively ran neighborhood canvasses in 22 states and phone banking operations in 24 states. In just these four days, the groups made more than 845,000 calls, knocked on more than 100,000 doors, and organized more than 2,000 volunteers in key states including Virginia, Ohio, Montana, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

“Planned Parenthood Action Fund fought hard in this campaign to protect the programs and policies that millions of Americans, especially women, rely on to lead healthy lives,” Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC said. “We will focus on working with lawmakers at all levels, from all political parties, to ensure that millions more Americans can get the health care they need, while Planned Parenthood health centers provide the essential health care that one in five American women has relied on Planned Parenthood for at some point in their lives.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its 74 affiliates nationwide are underscoring their commitment to helping women, men, and young people lead healthy lives with a new tagline “Care. No matter what.” The refreshed logo and new tagline, which went live earlier today on websites and social media properties, are part of Planned Parenthood’s ongoing effort to reach millions more patients with quality, affordable, confidential health care.

“As a trusted and essential provider of health care in every part of the country, Planned Parenthood stands ready to serve the millions of people who will soon have access to health care under the Affordable Care Act — to provide millions more with care, no matter what,” Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates and PAC said.

PA Jewish Teens Campaign In Ohio For Romney, Obama

Pennsylvania teens too young to vote are voicing their opinions
Nearly 100 Jewish teens go to Ohio to participate in the Election

— by Carly Lundy Schacknies

They can’t yet cast a ballot, but that isn’t stopping Claire Akers, Jessica Cohen, Rachel Ellis, Hannah Frank, Kassidy Garcia, Emily Gorby, Micah Rabin, Danielle Salisbury, and Jeremy Witchel from Pittsburgh, Jack Mangurten from New Kensington, Marissa Snyder from Upper Saint Clair, Ellie Sullum from Clark Summit, and Johanna Ure from Wyomissing and the nearly 100 Jewish teen leaders from across the country from getting involved in the political process on November 5 – 7, 2012.  They are attending BBYO, Inc’s program, Voice Your Vote: An Issue Summit on the 2012 Election and Civic Responsibility, in Cleveland, Ohio.

On Election Day, the teens will choose their preferred candidate and will hit the campaign trail to advocate.  BBYO has worked with the Romney Ryan and Obama Biden campaigns to assign the teens to some of Cleveland’s busiest polling locations.  

More after the jump.
The Summit participants are members of BBYO’s high school leadership programs AZA (for young men) and BBG (for young women) and the Bukharian Teen Lounge in New York.  In Cleveland, the teens will learn about the issues being debated in this election cycle through a series of bipartisan learning sessions.  They will hear from guest speaker Frankie Goldberg, a Cleveland Juvenile Court Judge Candidate and BBYO alumna, and BBYO’s Jewish educators about how they can continue to be involved in the political process while maintaining their Jewish values.

“It’s so important that today’s young people understand how to approach the political landscape and the responsibility to do advocacy while staying true to their Jewish values,” said Aleeza Lubin, BBYO’s Director of Jewish Enrichment for the Midwest states.

As the results come in, the teens will watch and tally towards 270 at their own Election Night Watch Party.  They will also connect live with their peers at BBYO’s other community watch parties in Washington, DC, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Pittsburgh and Westchester, NY.  The community events are all open to the entire community and feature partnerships with local youth movements NCSY, NFTY, USY, as well as HEA Youth Programs, Jewish Student Connection, and CAJE.

BBYO’s programming is teen inspired and led, and the summit is no different.  Sofie Jacobs, 16 years old, from Rockville, MD, Sierra Lash,16 years old, from Oakland, CA , Brad Honigberg, 17 years old, from Mequon, WI, and Gary Levine, 16 years old, from Dallas, TX, AZA and BBG members who are serving as program coordinators will facilitate, with staff support, a variety of sessions during the Summit.  

“People think that teens don’t care about politics, but they’re wrong.  We care about having an active role in our future and this is a great opportunity to not only witness, but also shape history,” said Sofie Jacobs.

Before returning home, teens will learn how they can continue to stay involved in the civic and political process.

Who Is Committing Voter Fraud These Days

Voter ID is a solution to a non-existent problem. Pretending to be someone else, going to the polling place where anyone might recognize you, and voting has high risk for low rewards. The perpetrator will probably go to jail and for what: the possibility of gaining a single vote.

However, voter fraud does exist. Here is what has been going on and who was responsible.

Fill in the blanks: Ballot Tampering by Oregon Republicans

(Willamette Week) A Clackamas County elections worker is under criminal investigation for tampering with ballots, WW has learned.

The underlying allegation is that the woman, whose name has not been released, filled in blanks on ballots turned into the county for the Nov. 6 general election.

Sources familiar with the incident say their understanding is that the woman filled in a straight Republican ticket on the ballots where preferences had been left blank by voters.


Taking out the trash: Discarding Dem. Voter Registration Forms

(TPM) A Pennsylvania man employed by a company working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by investigators from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office on Thursday and charged with destroying voter registration forms.

Colin Small, a 23-year-old resident of Phoenixville, Pa., worked for Pinpoint, a company hired to register voters on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia. Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice.

Leading Them Astray: Sending Dems to wrong polling place.

(TPM) Democratic officials in Arizona asked federal and state authorities late Sunday to investigate robocalls from Republican Jeff Flake’s Senate campaign that told registered Democrats to vote at the wrong polling locations.

Brahm Resnik of Phoenix television station KPNX first reported on the calls on Sunday, interviewing a Democrat named Mary Crecco and at least six other Democratic voters who received them. Crecco said she believed she was purposefully told to go to the wrong polling location miles away from the correct one because she is a Democrat.