National election news covered through the eyes of UW students and faculty.
December 31, 2012 at 7:00 AM
We have filed more than 400 posts on U.S. presidential, state, and local politics over the past 12 months. It’s been an incredible experience as journalists, educators, and citizens. We’re now going to take a break, but we’ll be back in four years for the next presidential rodeo.
Nearly one year ago, on Jan. 14, I boarded an airplane with three University of Washington students and headed across the country. Our mission was epic: to spend a week on the ground reporting on the South Carolina 2012 Republican Party presidential primary. It was our first gig for UW Election Eye, a new blog partnership of the UW’s Department of Communication and The Seattle Times.
One week later I had a pretty good idea who was going to win the 2012 presidential election. Arizona congressional representative Trent Franks told me so.
Franks, one of the nation’s most conservative congressional members and a favorite of the tea party movement, was standing by Newt Gingrich’s bus as Gingrich spoke to supporters in his last stop of the state’s primary. A few hours later Gingrich would win his first statewide race in his life — a double-digit victory over Mitt Romney that upended the Republican primary for a time.
Franks was one of the few members of Congress to endorse Gingrich. A former speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich does not have many friends in high political places these days. But Franks is one of them, and he was traveling with Gingrich on the campaign trail.
I spoke with Franks for 10 minutes while Gingrich held court inside a restaurant. Franks told me why he supported Gingrich and why Barack Obama had to be defeated. I thanked him for talking with me and turned to walk away.
That’s when Franks surprised me.
He took hold of my arm and said, “Hold on, I’ve got one more thing to say.” I was listening. He stretched out his index finger and said “The 1 percent. We hear a lot about the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Mitt Romney is a caricature of the 1 percent — rich, out of touch, doesn’t understand most of America. If Republicans nominate Romney in the midst of this terrible economic time, we’re going to lose. That’s why I’m here. We will lose if we pick Romney.”
That’s when I knew: If a diehard conservative, a red-blooded Republican who would do anything to get rid of Obama, thought Romney couldn’t win, then Romney almost certainly wouldn’t win.
That moment is one I’ll not forget. It was one of the hundreds of up-close-and-personal experiences, all over America, that defined UW Election Eye.
November 7, 2012 at 8:49 AM
SEATTLE — Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) beat former Governor Tommy Thompson (R) last night to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate. Baldwin is the first female Senator to represent Wisconsin.
And with the race still close to call, former State Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) is still narrowly edging out Councilmember Vernon Parker (R) for Arizona’s 9th District for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Baldwin’s win and Sinema’s competitive showing represent more than the success of two women. These women embody representational progress at the intersection of gender and sexual orientation.
In the United States, we have a representative democracy. That means, instead of us all gathering as a nation to deliberate politics as was done during Ancient Greece, we elect politicians to represent us, and to deliberate politics on the modern-day forum of the Congressional floor.
But representative democracy can have another meaning: The idea of self-representation. The idea that beyond our ideas and ideologies being represented, there is the idea that we as people with different genders, races, ethnicities, education, occupations, religion, geographies, and sexual orientations are physically represented.
Self-representation is important because not all politicians are alike. For example, women in Congress do bring something different to the table than their male colleagues. A recent article in New York magazine showcased the differences:
“For a forthcoming paper on female lawmakers’ effectiveness, three political scientists crunched all 138,246 bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives over the past four decades. They found women introduced twice as many bills on civil rights and liberties bills; many more on ‘family’ concerns; and significantly more on labor, immigration, education, and health. In other words, it’s about much more than who is paying for my birth control. They note that despite a century of discussion about health-care policy, it took a female speaker of the House to make universal health care happen.”
Therefore it is not unreasonable to think that members of Congress who represent different sexual orientations may also put forth issues and legislation that are different than other members, and that are also of concern to the people they represent–be it representation of their constituency or self-representation.
The role of self-representational politics is embraced by select politicians. For example. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has said, “There are still so few women in Congress…so you really do have to represent much more than your own state…Women from all over the country really do follow what you do and rely on you to speak out for them.”
Of course, the task to represent these segments of the population should not only fall on these politicians, nor should it automatically fall on them based on their identities alone.
That said, Baldwin’s win last night, and the potential success of Sinema, mean that the 113th U.S. Congress is slowly becoming more representative of all Americans.
November 7, 2012 at 1:32 AM
SEATTLE — Jay Inslee had not taken take the stage at the Seattle Westin tonight to proclaim victory in the Washington gubernatorial race, but that didn’t matter to the boisterous crowd surging up to the stage. Magnified on large screens on either side of his podium, voice cracking after weeks of hard campaigning, Inslee was barely audible over the frequent cheers of campaign workers and supporters.
It was when President Obama’s speech began to be live-streamed onto the same screens, alternately with the image of Inslee, that the latter succumbed to a long day and cries of “Obama! Obama!” and left the stage with his family and his supporters. Obama’s victory speech was punctuated by periodic bursts of applause and cheers by the crowd. On a night when the governor’s race remains too close to call with certainty, Democrats had no doubt about who their president will be for the next four years. As Obama ended his speech with the words “… we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America,” the crowd erupted in arm-waving, emotional approval.
Celebration at the landmark Seattle hotel was not confined to candidate races. Supporters of Referendum 74, which legitimizes gay marriage, also had cause to celebrate. “All LGBT youth will know that they’re loved and accepted by our society now,” said supporter Aaron Horton. A University of Washington student from Spokane who has helped work on the referendum campaign for the past six months, Horton added that he is excited at the prospect that he will not be constrained from marrying the person he chooses. “I’m excited to know that no one can tell me who to love,” he said.
November 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM
SEATTLE — Missouri has been a real-world experiment in politics. The question: Can a candidate push the rhetorical envelope, become a pariah of their party, and still win?
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (R) has taken up this charge while running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) for Senate. Akin has caught national headlines for several controversial comments.
The biggest of which happened in August during a local TV interview when Akin was asked whether he supported abortion in the case of rape. In response Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Previously during the Republican primaries, Akin said that federal student loans have given America “stage 3 cancer of Socialism.”
And before all of this, back in 2008, Akin claimed that women who were not pregnant were still getting abortions from “abortionists…the very bottom of the food chain of the medical profession.”
But after a long election season, Missouri voters gave us the answer: You can push the envelope, but you’re not going to win. As of just past 7PM PT, NBC and FOX have called the race, and McCaskill has won.
Akin can now commiserate over the fallout of ill-fated rape comments with the likes of GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who lost his bid tonight in Indiana after recently saying, “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” and Clayton Williams, a Republican candidate for Texas Governor who ran and lost against Ann Richards in 1990. At an event, Williams related bad weather to rape when he said: “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
Let it be known candidates of 2014 and beyond, be mindful of your words because just saying “I misspoke” afterwards does not heal all political wounds.
November 6, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Update: Reports have confirmed that the Pennsylvania voting machine in question has been taken out of commission.
Multiple states across the country have tried to preempt voter fraud this election cycle. Largely driven by Republican legislators, these preventative measures have been decried as attempts at voter suppression, specifically of groups who tend to vote Democrat. Now, a video posted by a Pennsylvania voter threatens to not only prove the existence of voter fraud, but expose it as a direct Republican Party ploy for more Romney/Ryan votes.
The video, linked below, shows the poster attempting to select the Obama/Biden ticket on an electronic voting machine in central Pennsylvania, only to have the Romney/Ryan tab above it highlighted instead. The user, who mentions his background as a software developer in the video’s description, tried to determine if this was a screen calibration error. To test if the signals were simply swapped, he selected the Romney/Ryan tab on purpose and waited for the Obama/Biden tab to light up instead. It did not. He then tried to see if the touch pad sensor was off by half an inch, and selected the Jill Stein tab below the Obama one. As intended, doing so only highlighted the Green Party choice. No matter how the voter poked and prodded, he was unable to select the Democratic presidential ticket.
Unfortunately, his attempts at troubleshooting the voting machine happened off screen and the video shows only the original rerouted vote for Romney/Ryan. That’s enough ambiguity for any one to raise an eyebrow. But whether this is an isolated machine glitch or a plot to alter Democratic votes into Republican ones in a swing state, a larger, national conversation about electronic voting is overdue. Hundreds of comments have voiced speculations about the video on both YouTube and Reddit, but other than the overwhelming cries of “OH DEAR GOD REPORT THIS TO AN AUTHORITY,” users are engaging in some serious paper ballot nostalgia.
Voter fraud, or just voting machine malfunction?
In this case, it appears to be the latter. It is now being reported that the voting machine in question has been taken out of service.
The topic of electronic voting machines has often stirred debate: while there are efficiencies, there are also inevitable glitches that all machines–voting or otherwise–encounter.
November 6, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Dixville Notch, NH is famous for being the first community in the U.S. to announce its election results. What was the result in 2012?
As I was wrapping up my Monday night, preparing for a long Election Day ahead, I turned on the TV to catch up on the latest news and was shocked with what was on the screen – how were they already announcing election results?
Dixville Notch, an unincorporated village with a population of twelve located in very northern New Hampshire, has a tradition of being the first in the nation to announce election results. The vote is taken at midnight when all the eligible voters in the town — ten people total — gather in the town ballroom at The Balsams Hotel and cast their ballots, each in their own individual voting box.
The polls officially close one minute after the voting concludes (this year only lasted 43 seconds), taking advantage of the fact that New Hampshire law allows a precinct to close as soon as all registered voters have cast their ballots. The results are immediately broadcast around the country, often leading the morning news cycle on Election Day.
The middle-of-the-night voting ritual is done for both the New Hampshire primaries and general elections, and is best known for the latter of the two.
This tradition of being the first to vote began in 1960 with the Kennedy-Nixon election and has since been able to boast 100% voter turnout, making it one of few locations in the nation to do so. Neil Tillotson was the founder of this voting ritual and as the town moderator, he was always the first voter until he passed away in 2001 at the age of 102. He had been fascinated with politics since seeing Teddy Roosevelt give a speech in Vermont. Years later he put Dixville on the map and engrained it in politicians’ minds by establishing the Dixville Notch voting tradition.
However, this unique honor comes with competition. A handful of other small communities in New Hampshire have tried to steal the distinction. The second-best known is Hart’s Location, which actually began their late night voting in 1948, twelve years before Dixville, but discontinued it in 1960 citing too much media attention. Hart’s did come back in 1996 for another midnight vote, but ultimately the title goes to Dixville for now. These days, the two are usually announced simultaneously.
While these results are exciting and well-publicized, they are not always correct. In their inaugural vote of 1960, they had Nixon winning the presidency by a vote of 9-0 and in 1992 had Bush winning by 15-2 against Clinton. However, they nailed it in 2008 with a 15-6 vote in favor of the standing President Obama and correctly determined Romney in the 2012 New Hampshire Republican primary.
This year the vote came in at a dead heat between Obama and Romney each collecting five votes, a first for the Dixville Notch residents. It Hart’s Location, the vote came out as a clear win for Obama with a 23-9 lead over Romney. As nearly every news organization has reported, if there is one thing we can gather from these midnight results, it’s that we are all in for a long – and historic – night.
November 6, 2012 at 10:26 AM
A Seattle resident working this month in Ohio takes time from a busy day at the office to answer a few questions about how it feels to be in the most watched battleground state in the country.
CLEVELAND — My friend Scott Phillips is a Ballard-based writer who also works for an insurance company in Seattle. This month he’s in Ohio to help process the claims of victims of Superstorm Sandy. He took the time from a busy day at the office to answer a few questions about how it feels to be in the eye of the electoral storm today.
Will: What’s it been like to listen to the radio or watch TV there? Has it been saturated with ads? How’s that feel as someone who’s visiting from a non-battleground state?
Scott: During the past few days, the political ads have really ramped up here. Almost every television ad is sponsored by the supporters of Romney or Obama, on almost every channel. I even heard from a co-worker that the Monday Night Football ads were all political, which seemed unsavory to all of us.
As someone from a non-battleground state, being in Ohio and witnessing the sheer volume of political ads here feels kind of insulting. It feels like my own vote is useless to my country, as both candidates are obviously dropping lots of campaign money in a limited number of places, and my home state is not one of those places.
Will: Have been people talked about the election with you? If so, what’s been the general tone of their talk? Excited? Burned out?
Scott: Few people here are talking about the election. Most of them are burned out by the ads, and just want this campaign to be done with so they can get on with their lives. One co-workers received a call last night from a Romney campaigner asking for her vote, and she hung up in disgust. Most people here feel like they are being manipulated for their vote only because they live in a swing state.
November 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM
Seattle — As I filled out my voter’s ballot for the 2012 presidential election, I couldn’t help but think of two words: Gangnam Style.
Ranked number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts is the new hit from South Korean rapper, PSY. The viral YouTube video, “Gangnam Style,” has people dancing all over the globe, including a parody of presidential candidate, Mitt Romney:
With nearly 7 million views on YouTube, “Gangnam Style” has more views than the total amount of likes on the vice presidential candidates’ Facebook pages, combined (for both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan). (more…)
November 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Some Europeans say that they should be able to vote for President in the United States, because whoever gets elected has a huge impact on the whole world.
SHORELINE — How do people outside the United States perceive the election and the presidential candidates? Do they follow American politics? Specifically, do they follow presidential politics? I thought it might be interesting to get a glimpse of the outside point of view, so I asked. I spoke with my parents, who live in Finland and are very keen on the news and current events. I also asked my cousin to report what she observed from Belgium, where she’s lived for many years.
Let’s see what they had to say.
November 4, 2012 at 7:00 PM
How health care in the 2012 elections will impact your day-to-day life.
Tanning, abortions and your wallet.
These are just three things that will be affected by this election.
The federal government is rolling out the Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare, in stages. But the biggest changes are set to be implemented in 2014. That is, if the president is re-elected.
“This is the most critical election since 1964 as far as health care is concerned,” says Roger Stark, a health-policy analyst at the Washington Public Policy Institute. (more…)