Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Psephology Rocks: Holiday Grab Bag Edition

Well, there's lots to talk about post-Election Day, not only in America, but there's a few bits and bobs from around the world worth touching on as well.  We'll start local and work upwards:

Local:  Well, I went three for three in my City Council Endorsements- Botchway, Salih took the At-Large Seats and Susan Mims took the District B Seat. The District B race between incumbent Susan Mims and student Ryan Hall was less of a contest than I think people were anticipating, as Mims won handily 59% to 41%.

I had nothing in particular against Hall, per say- but I feel like if Raj Patel who was another student who ran a few cycles back (I want to say 2010?) had serious money and a serious platform behind him and didn't win, then Hall was going to be a long shot. He checked all the right progressive boxes for Iowa City, but he was running against an incumbent who might not be uber-Progressive, but not say, Terry Dickens either. I think Hall would have had a better shot against Dickens than he had against Mims- but the precinct by precinct results are somewhat telling:

IC3, which covers the West Dorms had a whopping 46 votes. Hall won 67%-33%. IC5, which covers the East Dorms had a whopping 55 votes- but Hall actually lost this precinct by a single vote. IC19, which covers Johnson-Van Buren-Dodge areas south of Burlington Street also had a whopping 46 votes and Hall won again, 61%-39%. IC7, which covers the Hawkeye Campus area also went to Mims by a wide margin. I don't know if a student will ever get elected to the City Council but if any of them are considering jumping in next time, you have to, have to, have to, get out the vote in Precincts 3, 5 and I would say 19 as well. 7 would be a nice bonus, but it also includes Walnut Ridge which I'm not sure would flip for a student, but you never know.

(In general, I wasn't that impressed with Hall's website. He spoke in broad metaphors, while Mims in her candidate profile cited specifics- plus that Press-Citizen article I linked too above drops a nice little surprise in at the bottom: Hall works for current Council Member Rockne Cole which raised some questions about possible conflict of interest- Hall said had he won and the City Attorney advised him that there was a conflict, he would have resigned. Which raises the question: what would have been the point of it all? Don't get me wrong: props to Hall for standing up and getting involved- Lord knows, I'm just a dude with a keyboard here- but if you're going to do the thing, then you've gotta come out and play like Iowa did against Ohio State last Saturday because as a student you've already got a ton working against you locally and Hall didn't do that.)

Interesting bit of history might have been last night in Iowa City too, I saw a tweet go by (I think from Mazahir Salih's husband, I'm guessing) saying that Mazahir Salih was the first Sudanese woman to be elected to office outside of Sudan and a basic (though not exhaustive) search of the internet this morning seems to back that up. If so: awesome! (Side note: both Sudans do pretty well for representation for women in their national parliaments- South Sudan comes in at 29% of their seats and Sudan has 31%.)

Other interesting things around the county: University Heights voted for a hotel tax to possibly get a hotel all up in their little enclave and Tiffin turned down a library levy to increase the annual operating budget of the Tiffin Public Library- which surprised me, because I didn't honestly know that Tiffin had a public library.

State and Regional: Looking around the geographical neighborhood, it's sort of a mixed bag of delights. Dallas County approved 1-cent sales tax and now the question becomes whether or not Polk County is going to do the same thing. I checked Omaha.com and didn't really see anything from Nebraska that caught my eye- Kansas City voters approved a massive overhaul of KCI, so they're going to have a shiny new single terminal airport down there, I guess. In Saint Louis, Prop P passed with ease, giving cops and firefighters a raise.

The Medium White North saw some impressive firsts in local races...  Melvin Carter was elected as St. Paul's first mayor of color and in the 8th Ward of Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins won more than 70% of the votes to become the first transgender woman of color elected to public office in the nation. Cool thing about local races in the Cities: it's all done by ranked choice voting. (Oh and voters voted the Mankato School District some more dinero. Shout out to my former employers, lol.)

National: Good news everyone, the Democratic Party seems to have life left in it yet! Ralph Northam was elected Governor in Virginia, Phil Murphy took New Jersey- holding Virginia for the Democrats and picking up New Jersey from outgoing Republican Governor Chris Christie. The bigger news out of Virginia is probably the 16 seat pick-up the Democrats made to erase a massive GOP majority and give them a 50-50 split. Democrat Justin Fairfax took the Lt. Governor's slot for the Democrats becoming only the second African-American to win a statewide office since Reconstruction.* and they also held the Attorney General slot as well. (Plus: Danica Roem became the first transgender state legislator ever!)

Washington flipped to all blue as well, as an open Senate seat went to the Democrats, giving them full control of all legislative houses/Governorships along the West Coast. They flipped a GOP state house seat in New Hampshire, won the Mayor's races in St. Petersburg, FL and Manchester, NH and flipped a couple of deep red seats in Georgia. (Maine approved a Medicaid Expansion by a wide margin, New York said no to a Constitutional Convention and Ohio shot down a measure to limit prices on prescription drugs purchased by the state. Texas had seven constitutional amendments on the ballot as well that all passed.)

So, all in all, I'd say good news. This bodes well for 2018, but like the wise man said: "Don't get cocky."

We'll see how it plays out over the next year or so, but for right now, today, color me cautiously optimistic. My general gut feeling is that voters want politicians to do the business that needs doing and get turned off (after awhile) by ideological swings to the extreme ends of the spectrum. You go too far with the ideological crazy and voters will slap you down. I think an unpopular President might be more of a liability for Republicans than they think- and with their failure to deliver on repealing the ACA and a looming potential failure on tax reform, their base might be pissed by November of next year. Unpopular President + Pissed of GOP Base = Democratic Congress. (At least that's what it seems like to me- of course, once in control, the Democrats could easily shoot themselves in the foot by pursuing a potentially partisan impeachment of the President**- but for right now, I think the message to the GOPers has to be: get your shit together or pay the price next November.)

International: Biggish news out of Kyrgyzstan of all places, but it looks like they're headed for the first peaceful transfer of power between Presidents since they gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The elections were...  well, from what I can tell, 'free-ish' seems to be the best way to describe them, but 'free-ish' is a refreshing change of pace from how things usually go down in the regional. Though, interestingly enough looking at this article about Sooronbay Jeenbekov's victory, I guess there were allegation of interference in their election as well- though from Kazakhstan and not Russia.

Kenya's election mess continues. Uhuru Kenyatta won the re-vote ordered by the Supreme Court, but opposition candidate Raila Odinga actually withdrew from the election two weeks before it all went down at the end of last month and now there's an effort underway to annul the second vote as well. No idea if there's going to be more twists and turns in the story, but keep an eye out on it nonetheless. Mercifully, the process seems to have been largely free of the widespread violence of elections past.

*You know what I'd like, I'd like to read a story about an election down south and have it be for like the 100th African American to win a statewide office since Reconstruction. That's an America I hope to live in some day.

**I think any impeachment will be partisan, no matter what these days. But it'd be nice to have actual hard evidence instead of vague charges of 'collusion.' What's the simpler explanation: that Russia fucked with voting machines in Wisconsin and Michigan or that the Democrats ran a candidate who didn't bother to go to either state after the Convention and lost both as a result? Collusion gets to be an awfully vague word, because you come close to implying that voters are idiots for believing everything they read on Facebook- but the problem is that the dumb shit on Facebook cuts across ideological boundaries. For every alt-right conspiracy theory spun out of thin air, you can find another one from the left about vaccines or climate change or some shit like that. Coming to the conclusion that Russia influenced are election because people believe anything on the Internet these days might be a correct conclusion, but the implications aren't going to be ones that a lot of voters are going to warm to, I think.

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