Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Late Night Election Round-up

As it often does for me, curiousity over a couple of key ballot issues gave way to needing to see the reults before I could shut my brain off for bed (thus explaining being awake at 3:45am EST). Jim Fossett, of the AMBI/Rockefeller Institute Federalism and Bioethics Initiative, gave a great pre-election summary of races directly or indirectly influnced by the stem cell debate over at the AJOB editors blog, which I referenced frequently over the course of the evening.

I figured, since I'm up, it might be fun to beat Jim and the AJOB blog to the punch, and post a basic roundup of election results and key issues. Call it a little late night competition, all in the name of fun and insomnia.

In his great election roundup, Jim listed out a couple of the key Senate races where candidates had announced and different positions on stem cell research, but it was not likely to be the decisive issue of that state election. At last check*, four of those five races have gone to the pro-stem cell research candidate: Cardin (Maryland, D), Brown (Ohio, D), Klobucher (Minnesota, D), and Menendez (New Jersey, D). Virginia's Senate race was not yet called, but with 99% of districts reporting, Webb (D) had garnered 50% of the vote, with a lead of approximately 6500 votes. Close, likely to be challenged, but closer races have been called over the course of the night. (Since it is one of the last races to be called, and the result will tip the balance of power in the Senate, CNN and other sources are taking longer than otherwise normal to call the results in this race.)

And of course, Missouri was ground zero for stem cell politics this election, with McCaskill and Talent both weighing in on the issue, Amendment 2 over whether to allow stem cell research, and the now-infamous Michael J. Fox advertisement. Although I've not heard if he's conceded, yet, CNN and several other media outlets are calling the race close, but in McCaskill's favour. And maybe more importantly, in a very close race (51%/49%, with 97% of districts reporting), Missouri voted to allow stem cell research! This particular amendment result flipflopped over the course of the evening, and is the main reason I'm still awake at this hour - I became emotionally invested in finding out the result! What will be interesting is the research that will come out over the next couple of weeks, indicating whether or not Fox's advert did indeed get people out to vote.

In other key ballot issue news:
Banning Same Sex Marriage
Same sex marriage bans were on the ballot in eight states, with Colorado having two referendums, one to ban gay marriage and one to allow domestic partnership. To say the results are disappointing is an understatement:
  • Arizona, Proposition 107: Yes, 49%, No, 51%, 97% precincts reporting

  • Colorado, Referendum 43: Yes, 56%, No, 44%, 82% precintcs reporting

  • Idaho, Amendment 2: Yes, 65%, No, 35%, 72% precincts reporting
  • South Carolina, Amendment 1: Yes, 78%, No, 22%, 99% precincts reporting

  • South Dakota, Amendment C: Yes, 52%, No, 48%, 96% precincts reporting

  • Tennessee, Amendment 1: Yes, 80%, No, 20%, 98% precincts reporting

  • Virginia, Ballot 1: Yes, 59%, No, 43%, 99% precincts reporting

  • Wisconsin, Referendum 1: Yes, 59%, No, 41%, 95% precincts reporting

With Colorado banning gay marriage, in a separate referendum (#1) they also banned domestic partnerships, which would have legalized
domestic partnerships, providing same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the legal protections and responsibilities granted to married couples under Colorado law. The measure specifies that domestic partnerships are not marriage and do not change the public policy of the state, which defines marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
This particular referendum flipflopped back and forth as tallies came in, but finally seems to have settled on not passing, with 53% of the precincts voting no.

Affirmative Action
In controversial and interesting news, Michigan's Proposition Two, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to
"prohibit the University of Michigan and other state universities, the state, and all other state entities from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."
was passed (58% yes, 42% no). This, of course, stemmed from a 2003 University of Michigan case (Grutter v. Bollinger) that went to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, to the public opposition of the Bush Administration, ruled in favour of affirmative action. Do our resident lawyers know if this proposition, being passed, can be challenged legally, or is this proposition a response to the Supreme Court ruling, in an effort to legally ban affirmative action?

In issues pertinent to women's health, California and Oregon both similar measures attempting to enact parental notification laws for minors seeking abortions. This was Proposition 85 in California, and Measure 43 in Oregon. They had similar language, both wanting to
prohibit abortion for a minor until 48 hours after a physician notifies her parent or legal guardian, except in cases of medical emergency or a parental waiver.
In addition, Measure 43 defined medical emergency to not include incest or rape. Neither of these passed, with voters in both states voting 54% no, 46% yes.

South Dakota's extremely controversial complete ban on abortion, signed into legislation by Gov. Rounds back in March as an intentional challenge to Roe v. Wade, was rejected by voters, with 55% voting no on Referendum 6 (ban on abortion). Interestingly, Gov. Rounds was not voted out of office for signing the legislation, but was instead voted back into office with nearly 70% of the vote.

I'm sure there were other very interesting races and issues in yesterday's election, but these are the things that caught my eye. Oh! And one other thing. While I was passing the time waiting for election results to come in, I decided to see if there was any truth to the truthiness of Stephen Colbert's claim that all of the Congressmen/women up for re-election who had appeared on The Colbert Report in the last year were re-elected. As you may or may not know, both Republicans and Democrats were strongly advised to not appear on Colbert's show, with to-be Speaker Pelosi's video clip advising fellow Democrats to avoid the show getting heavy rotation in most media outlets. And behold, there was indeed truth in the truthiness. Of the 26 Congressional districts that have been featured on the show and up for re-election, all 26 incumbents who appeared on the show were re-elected.

However, if you were a challenger featured in the Better Know a Challenger segment of the show (airing the last two months, as incumbents from both sides of the political spectrum avoided Colbert), the news isn't so good. Only one of the six challengers won their seat - so congratulations to New York's 19th Congressional District (the fightin' 19th!) John Hall (D) for bucking that particular trend. Good news for him, bad news for anyone hoping that there was an actual political bump to appearing on The Colbert Report.

*All facts and numbers in this post come from CNN's Election 2006 coverage, accessed around 03:45EST, unless otherwise noted. Most numbers are unlikely to change at this point, but several elections are close enough that they are likely to be challenged and ballots recounted in the next few days.

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