Matthew Gagnon has put together some cool maps showing the difference between the last gay-rights victory in Maine (when an anti-discrimination law was upheld in 2005) and last week's defeat for gay marriage. The dark-brown communities on this map are places that switched from "pro" to "anti" gay. (I know it's not that simple, but I agree with Gagnon that these cities and towns made the difference in the outcome.) The red line represents Interstate 95.
As Gagnon notes, "The people who were receptive to voting for gay rights in 2005, and thus open to a good argument, but voted against gay marriage in 2009 were middle class suburbanites in the small to medium sized satellite towns that were within striking distance of larger cities and transportation corridors." It's great analysis; go read the whole thing.
More complete results from the gay marriage vote are here, analyzed by Matthew Gagnon of the Bangor Daily News. While the marriage equality forces were stronger in urban areas, winning overwhelmingly in Portland and in 19 of the state's 30 largest cities, Gagnon notes that the campaign to repeal gay marriage won in several middle-class cities in "middle Maine," tipping the balance to the conservative side.
Here's another gay data point from yesterday's election. In Kalamazoo, Michigan, voters passed a law guaranteeing equal rights for gays and lesbians in employment and housing by a 62-38 margin. (Hat tip: Joe My God.) Hooray and all that.
On the same day, voters in Portland, Maine, upheld a law guaranteeing marriage equality -- a much more progressive step -- by a 74-26 margin.
According to State House News Service (subscription required), Gov. Deval Patrick was on the radio this morning saying there is "no comparison" between yesterday's New Jersey/Virginia gubernatorial elections (both won by Republicans) and his own re-election effort next year. "A year is a long time in politics," he added.
He's right, but the New Jersey result can't be comforting, especially if Patrick and advisers are nursing hopes of winning with less than a majority in a three-candidate race. In the closing weeks of the campaign, many analysts suggested that unpopular Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine could win with far less than 50 percent of the vote, thanks to independent candidate Chris Daggett pulling anti-Corzine votes away from Republican nominee Chris Christie.
In the end Daggett, who had polled as high as 20 percent, got only 5.8 percent of the vote, and Christie unseated Corzine, 48.8 percent to 44.5 percent. My hunch is that anti-Corzine independents and Republicans broke for Christie in the final days of the campaign, leaving Daggett with Democrats who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Corzine but would never vote for a Republican.
So I'm updating my prediction from July: Patrick needs to get very close to 50 percent next fall in order to be re-elected. Gambling that the Republican nominee (presumably Charlie Baker) and independent Tim Cahill will split the anti-incumbent vote and allow Patrick to glide in with, say, 44.5 percent, would be a poor strategy for the governor's campaign.
UPDATE: More complete numbers are here,
showing an even split in the Top 10, with the No vote winning in
Portland, Bangor, South Portland, Brunswick, and Scarborough. The Yes
side (against gay marriage) prevailed in Lewiston, Auburn, Biddeford,
Sanford, and Augusta.
Yesterday's repeal of a law allowing same-sex marriage in Maine was largely an urban vs. rural affair. According to almost-complete results on the Bangor Daily News website, the "No on 1" forces easily prevailed in six of the state's eight biggest communities. The biggest cities won by the campaign against gay marriage were Lewiston and Auburn, economically depressed blue-collar areas far from the coast. The "Yes on 1" side swept smaller towns, especially in the northern half of the state. Presque Isle, where voters went against gay marriage by 2-to-1, is in Aroostook County, which forms the state's northern border with Canada.
Here are the winning percentages in the 10 biggest communities (see below)
Portland: No, 74%
Lewiston: Yes, 59%
Bangor: No, 54%
South Portland: No, 64%
Auburn: Yes, 54%
Saco: No, 54%
Westbrook: No, 55%
Waterville: No, 54%
Presque Isle: Yes, 67%
Brewer: Yes, 58%
UPDATE: More evidence of an urban/rural divide: gay candidates prospered yesterday in Chapel Hill, Detroit, and Houston. And Brockton, Mass.
Politico's Patrick Ottenhoff is a little premature in analyzing a Republican victory in the Virginia governor's race (Election Day isn't over yet), but his cautionary note about geographic trends is a good one:
[Republican Bob] McDonnell’s victory in Loudoun and in neighboring Prince William County
will come as a surprise to many armchair pundits, who thought that all
of Northern Virginia had became solidly blue. Many die-hard Democrats
will blame Creigh Deeds’s lifeless campaign and the political
But the truth is that Northern Virginia is often taken for granted as a
powerful Democratic bloc. To be sure, Fairfax County has become solidly
blue, but Loudoun and Prince William counties are more accurately full
of independents who just happen to be supporting Democrats recently.
I'm fascinated by the process by which a solid Republican county becomes solidly Democratic (and vice versa), and I suspect that Northern Virginia may yet become as reliably blue as Massachusetts. But these trends almost never play out as a purely linear plotline.
The Boston Globe's Andrew Ryan reports on a "phantom precinct" in Boston's Harbor Islands where turnout expectations are always low:
“It’s the lonely machine,’’ said Loretta Paulding, the election warden
in charge of Ward 1, Precinct 15, for the last 15 years. “But I do have
to keep an eye on it. And at the end of the night, I still have to
tally up zero, zero, zero.’’
Massachusetts was shut out of the American Planning Association's annual "Great Places" list, released earlier this month. But city and town planners don't have to go far to find inspiration, as three New England spots were honored: Front Street, in Bath, Maine; New Haven Green; and Central Square in Keene, New Hampshire.
Lest the above examples suggest that the APA has quaint, small-town taste, I should point out that other winners this year include Chicago's Lincoln Park and New Orleans's Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
Last year, two Massachusetts sites were on the list. Downtown Salem was named a Great Neighborhood (its "eccentric street grid, and profusion of archetypal old houses belie a humming, mixed-use district"), and Boston's Washington Street grabbed a Great Street designation (for its South End section, not for embarrassingly empty Downtown Crossing).
In 2007, the first year of the awards, Northampton's Main Street was the only Bay State recipient.
Aspen, Colorado, has had a bit of trouble adopting an instant runoff (IRV) election system -- the same system that will be used to determine Oscar winners next year. According to the Aspen Daily News, election officials erroneously used the vote-counting formula favored in a fellow leftist enclave:
"- On election night, TBI [True Ballot Inc., which tabulated votes on
election night] used a tabulation program configuration that was
different from the one it had tested in the public Logic and Accuracy
Test and that reflected the IRV tabulation rules of Cambridge,
Massachusetts, instead of the IRV rules approved for Aspen's election
by the Aspen City Council. As a result, the vote tally reported in the
Plaintiff's mayoral race on election night was incorrect.
The Electoral Map has a good rundown of the fastest-growing and fastest-shrinking congressional districts in the US. The upshot is that the Republicans are likely to make short-term gains after redistricting in 2012, thanks to new seats in red states like Texas, but the long-term picture may be different:
Democrats moving to states like Texas and Arizona
might make those states more competitive and give [the Democratic Party] more seats at
the state level.
Of note to Massachusetts is that none of the 25 "big shrinkage" districts are here, though most of our industrial-state rivals in the North have at least one district that's lost tens of thousands of people so far this decade. Illinois has five, and Michigan and Pennsylvania have four each.
Maybe we'll catch a break and not lose another seat in 2020?
The Boston Globe reports that Apple Computers has worked out a deal to provide every high-schooler in Maine with a MacBook laptop computer. (It will cost the state $240 per year per computer.)
If people form attachments to computer companies the same way they form attachments to political parties, this could mean a whole new generation of Mac loyalists in the Pine Tree State.
I'm not particularly alarmed, but I've been under Apple's spell since the early '90s. Others, however, may be upset that Maine public schools are interfering with parents' rights to guide their children toward one true operating system.
Political pundit Charles Cook warns Democrats that 2010 may be the "Year of the Angry White Senior," leading to big Republican gains in midterm congressional elections. His reasoning is that younger voters (particularly those under 30, who went for Barack Obama by almost 2-to-1 last year) and minority voters tend not to bother going to the polls without the dangling carrot of a presidential race:
Put simply, older voters dominate midterms and have consistently
been Obama's weakest age group... [M]idterm
electorates typically skew older and whiter than those in presidential
According to exit poll data, voters over 45 comprised 54 percent of
the total electorate in 2004 and just 53 percent of the electorate in
2008, but they were 63 percent of all voters in 2006. And diminished
turnout on the part of African-American and Hispanic voters, which was
a factor in 1994, looks like a double whammy for Democrats.
Now, an older electorate isn't always deadly for the Democrats. In 2006, there were several states in which Democratic Senate candidates actually did better among older voters (see Minnesota and Ohio) or, at least, suffered no major age gap (see Missouri and Tennessee, the latter contest featuring a black Democratic nominee).
Still, Obama's "change" campaign may well have opened up a generational rift that will continue into next year -- especially now that the GOP is apparently abandoning its historic skepticism toward Medicare and is now arguing that health care for "the greatest generation" is its top priority.
UPDATE: New poll gives the Republican Party a 13-point lead among seniors. (The Democratic Party leads by a single point in the overall population.)
Next year's Oscar winners will be decided, for the first time, through an IRV (or instant runoff voting) system, replacing the winner-take-all system that predominates in American politics.
The idea is to prevent award winners that are championed by a small sliver of voters but disliked by a majority of Academy members. (With the number of Best Picture nominees going from five to 10 next year, it would have been theoretically possible for a movie to take the prize -- and to become an answer in trivia contests and crossword puzzles for decades to come -- with only 11 percent of the vote.)
This could be an opportunity for the IRV system to gain some traction with the public and perhaps be implemented by some more local governments -- except for the fact that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has always been secretive about its election results. I would love to know which Best Picture winners actually won a majority of the vote, and which ones took a plurality while two better films split the vote, but I've never seen this data anywhere. I presume that the Academy is protecting the reputation of the "accidental" winners, like the one from 1976.
FiveThirtyEight's Tom Schaller provides some historical perspective on the phenomenon of US Senate seats being passed from family member to family member -- a hot topic in Massachusetts now, given speculation about nephew Joe Kennedy or widow Vicki Kennedy as candidates to succeed the late US Sen. Edward Kennedy.
According to Schaller, "nepotism in the Senate is today at historical lows in American history." His data show that "dynasty seats" made up more than 60 percent of the Senate circa 1800 (when senators were appointed by legislatures, not elected by citizens) but are now less than 10 percent.
New England has historically had a large share of dynastic senators, but New Hampshire ousted one last year (John Sununu, son of a governor) and will see another retire next year (Judd Gregg, another son of a governor). Rhode Island kicked another one out in 2006 (Lincoln Chafee, son of a senator), and Connecticut's Chris Dodd (son of a senator) is thought to be in serious jeopardy in next year's election.
If a non-Kennedy is elected senator from Massachusetts next year, the region will have gone from five dynasty seats (out of 12) to just one in less than four years.