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Election Day

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A Cuyahoga County Board of Elections voting booth on a table at a polling place in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, during the March 15, 2016, primary election.

Election day is upon us. Soon, we’ll be treated to extreme over-interpretations of a handful of electoral events in unrepresentative states. Let’s call this an open thread for all elections today.

What I’ll be watching: the Virginia legislative races, of course. The community of gamblers so degenerate they feel the need to bet on stuff like this seems to think a Democratic victory is likely in both houses, and polling evidence seems to back this up. This shouldn’t be surprising; they’re only a couple of seats down in the Senate, which was elected pre-Trump, and they drew just short of a tie with the old, gerrymandered House of Delegates map. The new court-ordered map, which the Supreme Court let stand presumably because the gerrymander was rejected by lower courts on racial, not partisan, grounds, is allegedly worth about six seats for the Democrats, so if they match the 2017 performance that’d be roughly a 54-44 Democratic advantage. Good reasons to be hopeful here.

The red-state gubernatorial races. In three deep red states, one with a Republican incumbent governor (Kentucky) another with a Democratic governor (Louisiana) and a third open seat (Mississippi) the governor races should be quite close. If you want to maintain a faint glimmer of hope that McConnell can be beat next year, a Beshear victory is very important, as he’s pledged to restore voting rights to something like 4% of the population. (Kentucky is one of the only states that, at present, bans convicted felons from voting for the rest of their lives.) If you want to have any hope at all for a McConnell defeat in 2020, a Beshear victory is crucial. I’d probably rank the Democrats in Mississippi and Louisiana as underdogs, based in part on the 5 R advantage in the first round of voting in Louisiana, and an archaic Jim Crow era law that might allow the Mississippi House to install the Republican candidate even if he loses the popular vote. Bevin is unpopular enough that I’d rate Kentucky as more of a coin flip. On the other hand, I did see a TV add for Bevin the other day, which literally featured Bevin’s face morphing into Trump’s, and back again. Enough to save a governor with a 32% approval rating? In Kentucky, maybe.

New York City is contemplating a switch to ranked choice voting in local races. The assumption appears to be that this should be a relatively easy victory.

Back in Washington, tax-cutting Initiative 976 is a big deal, in a bad way, and should probably be favored to pass; polling suggests while report has dropped quite a bit since the summer it’s still ahead. This latest brainchild from noted office chair thief Tim Eyman would be devastating for funding for transit agencies across the state, as Heidi Groover reports here. It’s drawn opposition from progressives, of course, but also from the typically reactionary Seattle Times editorial board. Amazon, presumably aware that a continued robust investment in transit infrastructure is part of what makes this location work for them, is spending big on the “no” campaign.

Of course, there are local races everywhere, so watch those. Here in Dayton they’re not very interesting. I voted for the outsiders for the city council, not so much because I want them to win, but because I’d like the incumbents to win by a slim enough margin that they might actually conduct themselves as if losing their seats i the future is a possibility. This is probably not realistic.

For some far more consequential and exciting local elections, Seattle has you covered. The seven “district” seats on the city council are up (the other two seats on the council are city-wide, and up in 2021). Only 3 of the 7 incumbents are running for re-election. These races have become far more expensive and charged than usual, as tech companies generally and Amazon in particular have (for the first time) invested a staggering amount of money in these seats. So, too, has the larger business community. The “amazon” candidates and the non-amazon candidates are actually both pretty diverse groups, but the dynamics of unprecedented massive PAC spending have flattened that. On the left side, D3 incumbent and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant has long been in considerable tension with the left-liberal labor Democrats on the council, particularly the AL members not up this year, who endorsed one of her opponents in the primary. They’re now campaigning alongside her, as the corporate candidate who did make it through is such an obvious corporate tool that they’ve put their differences aside. I’m particularly invested in D4, where the favorite is particularly reactionary on land use issues and campaigned against the latest Sound Transit expansion back in 2016 (something he’s attempted to scrub from the internet now) is running against Shaun Scott, who I’d rank as the most impressive DSA-affiliated candidate I’ve ever seen. (The last DSA candidate to stand for Seattle City Council, Jon Grant in 2017, was a particularly egregious left-NIMBY; Scott is nothing like that.) Given that D4 contains UW’s main campus, Scott could have a punter’s chance here, but it’s an uphill battle, and maddeningly many of the other progressives in the primary declined to endorse him. A Scott victory would almost certainly be the most emotionally satisfying outcome of the night for me.

I’d rate team not-Amazon as strong favorites in D1 and D2, team Amazon as moderate favorites in D3 and D4, and D6 and D7 as more of a coin flip, with maybe a slight edge to the amazon candidate in D6 and the non-amazon candidate in D7. (D5 is a bit different, as the tech/ business community and progressives both support incumbent Deborah Juarez, as her opponent, Ann Davison Sattler, is an unhinged wingnut whose signature policy proposal is, quite literally, rounding up homeless people into concentration camps. Juarez should win and this nutbar should lose, but she did manage to win the Seattle Times editorial board endorsement, in full troll mode.)

Treat as an open thread for any and all elections taking place today; please do post in comments about other important elections we should be following; if I have time I’ll elevate some of them to the main post.

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