Browsing the archives for the Congressional Elections category.

Money raised versus result achieved: The Senate ’08 sweepstakes

Congressional Elections, Politics, US Elections, US Politics
Excel sheet: US Senate candidates 2008 - results and efficiency of financial investment

Excel sheet: US Senate candidates 2008 - results and efficiency of financial investment

Chris Bowers last week linked through to a site I hadn’t seen yet, noting that The Green Papers has the final popular vote and fundraising totals for all 2008 U.S. House of Representatives election campaigns. They cover all candidates too, not just those of the main two parties.

Bowers does a good job analysing the numbers, and above all, brings the good news:

The final popular vote percentages were 53.08%-42.55%, giving Democrats a 10.53% victory. This is the largest popular vote percentage victory for either party in either a Presidential or Congressional election since 1984 (the next largest victory was Bill Clinton with 8.51% in 1996). It is the first double-digit victory for any party in a national election in 24 years. That, truly, is a historical butt-whooping.

Turns out the Green Papers site has the same data for the Senate races. Fascinating stuff for political geeks. What caught my attention in particular is how the money the candidates raised compared to the votes they got. In short: how did their investments pay off?

So what I’ve done, in turn, is add a couple of columns to the data table, to calculate how much the candidates raised for every single vote they received, and for every single percentage point they won. The file is up at Google Docs. (It would arguably have been better to use the data for how much money they actually spent, but that would involve making a similar effort to The Green Papers’ and gathering the data for 2-4 candidates in each of 50 races from the FEC site onself).

Time then, to declare some winners!

Most expensive Senate race of 2008

As you’ll have guessed, that was the Minnesota race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. The two men raised $20.5 million and $18.0 million, respectively. That translates to $488 thousand and $430 thousand for each percentage point of the vote they ended up winning – which ranks Al and Norm as #1 and 2 when it comes to raising the most money per percentage point won.

Don’t forget that Minnesota’s a fairly populous state, though. When it comes to how much money they had to raise for each individual vote they won, they rank a more modest #10 and 11. Meaning that they had to raise “only” – ponder this for a second – $17 and $15 for every single vote they won.

Most money spent on each individual vote

You’d think that states with small populations would also cost less to campaign in. This is true – up to a point, apparently. The top of this list is filled with candidates from “small” states, who made Franken and Coleman look practically callous about the individual voter’s worth.

Your vote was worth most up in Alaska. Mark Begich raised a total of $4.4 million – which translates to a royal $29 for every single vote he received. His opponent, Ted “bring home the pork” Stevens, was right up there too and raised a stunning $26 per vote – in vain.

Max Baucus from Montana and the two contenders in the New Hampshire race, John Sununu and Jeanne Shaheen, also ended up raising at least $23 per vote.

Continue Reading »


Election night toolkit: data and resources

Congressional Elections, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
  • An Observer’s Guide to Election Night, by our own JoefromChicago. There are 435 congressional races, 35 senate races, and 11 gubernatorial contests today, Joe points out, and “these races merit attention in their own right, but they also may be early indicators of the way the presidential race will turn out”. A convenient list of the races you should be paying attention to as you watch the presidential results come in, ordered by time of night.


  • Swing State Project: Poll closing times & Key races, by DavidNYC. Very handy country map with the poll closing times, and a list of key House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative races, arranged by poll closing times (linked in is also a list of key ballot measures).


  • The American Prospect 2008 Election Night Guide. Comprehensive guide, encompassing six sections, among which an overview of key swing state counties, a list of Senate races that would pave the way to a utopian 60 Dems, a review of bellwether House races, and a number of ballot initiatives to watch.


  • US Election Atlas, by Dave Leip. A long-standing, invaluable elections resource. Browse the results of previous elections going back to 1789 (no, really). Not just by state – results by individual county are available back to 1960.


  • Google Maps Historical Election Results, going back to 1980. Click or zoom into a state or county – the map will show you the winner and moreover, with a click of the mouse you get both the electoral breakdown and basic demographic data (income, age, race/ethnicity). Click on the National Almanac map, which should show up on the right, and you can find additional demographic info on language and occupation by state or group of states. The Google Maps historical election results tool should also be available on Google Earth (h/t Marc Ambinder).


  • Census 2000 Interactive map. Zoom in on states and counties to find demographical data on population density, racial composition and black or hispanic population.


  • Ancestries by state, tables derives from the US Census Bureau’s American FactFinder. OK, so only very tangentially relevant, but very interesting. (Keep an eye on those Hillary-loving people of “United States American” – i.e., non-ethnic – ancestry in the Appalachians and the Border South, which are very unlikely to go Obama.)


  • Cleveland Plain Dealer Data Central, for all your political data from the state of Ohio. Aside from the interactive map of county-level results back to 1960, which overlaps with the above resources, there’s an interactive map that breaks down the voter registration and demographics on both congressional district, county and ZIPcode level. And a map and table showing how voter registration has gone up or down since 2004 by county. And a useful explanation, with map, of how Ohio may be a swing state, but inside Ohio there really are but a dozen of swing counties.


  • Counties to watch according to Marc Ambinder in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado and in Florida, Virginia, Ohio.
Comments Off on Election night toolkit: data and resources

An Observer’s Guide to Election Night

Congressional Elections, Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

Finally, the election campaign is nearing its demise, and its death throes will be televised! But what to watch? And more importantly, how to watch? The presidential election will, of course, attract the most attention, but there are also 435 congressional races, 35 senate races, and 11 gubernatorial contests across the nation. These races merit attention in their own right, but they also may be early indicators of the way the presidential race will turn out, especially in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada. Most networks won’t focus on races below the senate level, so the internet (which, as you may have suspected, is a series of tubes) is the best place to follow the local contests. I’ll be checking in with NPR. Here then, is a convenient list of the races that you should be paying attention to as you watch the presidential results come in:

Continue Reading »


“Politics Ain’t Beanbag:” Illinois Edition

Congressional Elections, Politics, US Elections, US Politics
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Elvis)

Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Elvis)

It is common for political candidates to link their opponents with an unpopular or discredited figure from the opponents’ political party. Barack Obama, for instance, has joined John McCain so thoroughly with George W. Bush that McCain had to remind Obama in the last debate that “I am not President Bush.” In 2006, many Republican congressional candidates seemed to be running against Nancy Pelosi rather than their Democratic rivals. And so there is nothing particularly unusual about a television ad, run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), attacking Marty Ozinga, Republican candidate in IL-11, in which the voice-over intones: “Republican Marty Ozinga and his companies gave 23 grand to Rod Blagojevich.” If true, it’s a contemptible instance of bribery and corruption. The ad, however, omits one small detail: Rod Blagojevich, governor of Illinois, is a Democrat. Yes, that’s right: the DCCC, in an ad supporting Democratic congressional candidate Debbie Halvorson, is accusing Democratic governor Blagojevich of taking a payoff.

The governor wasn’t altogether pleased to be the victim of friendly fire. “Mr. Blagojevich, himself a former congressman, is said to have ‘gone ballistic’ when he first heard of the spot.”

Continue Reading »

Comments Off on “Politics Ain’t Beanbag:” Illinois Edition

Finally! A Political Wife Says “Sayonara…”

Congressional Elections, US culture, US Politics

This can be filed under “Well, that’s not really a surprise” category.

Terry Mahoney, wife of Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) has filed for divorce, according to the Palm Beach Post. — Politico

Silda and Eliot Spitzer on a Very Bad Day.  Nonetheless, they just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.

Silda and Eliot Spitzer on a Very Bad Day. Nonetheless, they just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary.

You’d certainly THINK it wouldn’t be a surprise. But actually, this is one of the very few incidences I can remember when the aggrieved wife sent the no-goodnik packing.

Hillary Clinton? Nope. Silda Spitzer? Nope. Suzanne Craig? Nope. And on and on and on — Joe lists some of the others here.

They have their horrible press conferences where they stand to the side and look miserable and humiliated (is this really necessary? can’t the guy just apologize on his own?) and yet they STAY. Why?

Thats Terry under Tims armpit.  Surprisingly hard to find a photo of her -- every one Ive found has Tim front and center and then shes off in a corner somewhere.  Foreshadowing, anyone?

That's Terry under Tim's armpit. Surprisingly hard to find a photo of her -- every one I've found has Tim front and center and then she's blurrily off in a corner somewhere. Foreshadowing, anyone?

Maybe the wives of politicians have already resigned themselves to the possibility of their husbands fooling around — certainly seems to be an occupational hazard. Maybe the kind of people who would put up with a politician husband at all are the ones who are especially attached to the perks — and especially averse to losing those perks by divorcing. Maybe politicians are better than other people at convincing their wives to stick around once they mess up — all that public speaking helps, ya know? (Unless of course they don’t want to stay married, like Rudy — then they convey the news in a press conference.) Maybe it’s not actually that unique to political couples — maybe it just seems that way, but in fact these couples stay together after misbehavior at about the same rate as non-political couples.

Who knows.

It’s awfully refreshing to see someone finally refuse to play the game, though. Good luck, Terry.

Comments Off on Finally! A Political Wife Says “Sayonara…”

Tales of Electoral Hijinks, Part 3: Congressman Continues Proud Tradition in Florida District

Congressional Elections, US Elections

There must be something in the water in FLA-16, a water-bounded district that spans south central Florida from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico and that embraces the northeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Or perhaps it is the influence of the moon, or a peculiar alignment of the stars. Whatever it is, surely there is some mysterious power at work in these environs. How else is one to explain the bipartisan madness that affects its elected representatives to congress?

How YOU doin?

Rep. Tim Mahoney: "How YOU doin'?"

This is the district, after all, that elected Mark Foley to the House of Representatives. Foley, for those two or three benighted souls out there who have just returned from a lengthy Peace Corps mission to Burkina Fasso or who have been in a coma for the past two years, was the Republican congressman who resigned in disgrace on the eve of the 2006 mid-term election when it was revealed that he was exchanging sexually explicit instant messages with male congressional pages. Once the press published the messages, Foley suddenly remembered something very important that he had failed to mention to his constituents: that he was, in fact, gay and that he liked to send sexually explicit instant messages to congressional pages — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, actually there is, but Foley explained that the lurid IMs were the result of a drinking problem and the lingering after-effects of molestation at the hands of priest when Foley was an altar boy. That and presumably the whole homosexuality thing, I’m sure.

Continue Reading »


Tales of Electoral Hijinks, Part 2: Ore-gone in Sixty Seconds

Congressional Elections, US Elections

This is a cautionary tale that demonstrates the truth of the old adage: love is fleeting, but paying for your girlfriend’s abortion is something you’ll be able to cherish for the rest of your life.

pro-life, but not fanatical about it

Mike Erickson: pro-life, but not fanatical about it

OR-5, in northwestern Oregon, stretches from the suburbs of Portland to Corvallis and includes the state capital of Salem.  It’s a true swing district, where Bush the Younger barely defeated both Gore and Kerry in the last two presidential elections but with a Democratic representative in congress.  Congresswoman Darlene Hooley was first elected to this district in 1996, and would have been a heavy favorite for re-election this year.  In February, however, she unexpectedly announced that she would retire at the end of her current term, creating a rare open seat that Republicans were eager to pick up.  If the GOP was going to grab a Democratic district north of the Mason-Dixon line, it would have been OR-5.

For the GOP, this unique opportunity demanded that it unite quickly behind a candidate with impeccable moderate-conservative credentials who could appeal to the centrist tilt of this district.  And that’s exactly what didn’t happen.

Continue Reading »

1 Comment

Tales of Electoral Hijinks, Part 1: Staten Island Follies

Congressional Elections, US Elections

Don’t you just hate it when a routine traffic stop results in the revelation of your second family, the destruction of your career, and the end of a local political dynasty?  Yeah, I hate that too.

Am I, like, in trouble or something?

Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island): Family man

GOP congressman Vito Fossella had the distinction of representing the only district in New York City that apparently contained any Republicans.  NY-13, which consists of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, had previously been represented by Susan Molinari, the perkiest damned Reagan Republican ever to appear on the American political stage.  In a 1997 special election, Fossella replaced Molinari, who left the House for a brief-but-perky stint with CBS news, and he was re-elected by comfortable margins to the congressional seat thereafter.  Safely ensconced in Washington, Fossella had a rather undistinguished legislative career, which, apparently, contrasted sharply with the torrid private life that he conducted during his free time.

In the early hours of May 1, Fossella was pulled over by an Alexandria, VA patrolman and arrested for driving while intoxicated.  According to the police report, Fossella, when asked to recite the alphabet from D to T as part of a field sobriety test, responded: “D, E, F, H, G, H, I, J, L.”  Oooh, so close!  The congressman later recorded a 0.17 blood alcohol level, twice the legal limit and good for an automatic five-day stay in the pokey if convicted of driving while intoxicated.

Continue Reading »