In 1970, Washington became the first — and remains the only — state in the country to legalize elective abortions by a popular vote.
A generation later, and 40 years removed from the landmark United States Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that extended abortion access nationwide, Washington is once again poised to stand out.
With 21 states having adopted bans or severe restrictions on insurance companies from paying for abortions, Washington is alone in seriously considering legislation mandating the opposite.
The Reproductive Parity Act, as supporters call it, would require insurers in Washington state who cover maternity care — which all insurers must do — to also pay for abortions.
The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. A similar bill in the New York state Assembly has been introduced each session for over a decade but has never received a public hearing.
The Nate Silver Election: The pollsters and the pundits got it right, and Dick Morris is still looking for a Romney landslide
Call it the Nate Silver election.
The New York Times’ acclaimed and assailed FiveThirtyEight blogger, who analyzes polls with his way-cool special algorithm, has been telling us for some time that President Barack Obama was going to win a second term.
This brought him all sorts of opprobrium from conservatives livid that he could be so blithely be predicting certain victory for the beleaguered incumbent when polls showed Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney were virtually tied in the popular vote.
But the critics were totally missing the point. Elections in this country are decided by the meshuganah electoral college. And those swing state polls were making it clear, although by the narrowest of margins, that Obama was going to once again be the One.
Silver, and much of the mainstream media, got it right. The polls were tight, but the analysis suggested correctly that Obama was going to win again. The much-maligned narrative wasn’t “skewed” — it was on target.
The obsessive focus on polls this time around was no doubt over the top. But given the tightness of the election, the intense passions surrounding it and insatiable thirst of so many to know who was going to win, I’m not sure it was a major war crime.
Ian Millhiser:Why Americans Actually Voted for a Democratic House
Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.
The actual partisan breakdown of the 113th Congress will be very different, however. Currently, Republicans enjoy a 233-192 advantage over Democrats, with 10 seats remaining undecided. That means that, in a year when Republicans earned less than half the popular vote, they will control a little under 54 percent of the House even if Democrats run the table on the undecided seats.
There is a simple explanation for how this happened: Republicans won several key state legislatures and governors’ mansions in the election cycle before redistricting, and they gerrymandered those states within an inch of their lives. President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 5 points, but Democrats carried only 5 of the state’s 18 congressional seats:
Similar stories played out elsewhere. Obama won Virginia, and Democrats took 3 of 11 House seats. Obama won Ohio, but Democrats carried only 4 of 16 seats in Ohio’s House delegation.
Candidate Popular vote Percentage Electoral votes (270 to win)
Barack Obama 59, 303,530 50% 303
Mitt Romney 56, 808,491 48% 206
All that talk about not winning the popular vote is over. It’s an electoral landslide and a clear margin of victory in the popular vote.
In other results Republicans gain in the House of Representatives, and the Democrats are up one in the Senate:
Senate: Democrats 54, Independents 1, Republicans 45
Before: 53 / Now: 54
Before: 2 / Now: 1
Before: 47 / Now: 45
House of Representatives: Republicans 226, Independents 0, Democrats 184
Before: 193 / Now: 184
Before: 0 / Now: 0
Before: 242 / Now: 226
Still undecided: 25 seats
How those 25 remaining seats go will likely decide the levels of cooperation in the next House — will the GOP net up, or will they net down? A lot will be decided by the remaining seats still out in California and other states.
Last week I tried to explain the Electoral College to a very bright teenager from France. She’s attending my daughter’s high school for a couple of weeks as part of an informal exchange—last year my daughter spent a couple of weeks attending her lycée in Nantes—and when she returns home she’s supposed to write a report about the presidential election. She’d heard that Americans do not elect their president by popular vote, but she had trouble understanding exactly how we did elect them. Over a dinner of truite amandine (I was trying to make her feel at home), my girlfriend and I answered her questions. (My daughter was busy making phone calls for Obama, bless her heart.)
We explained that in the U.S., people don’t elect presidents; states do. Not every state has an equal share in the vote, but the state shares aren’t entirely proportional to population either. Each state gets as many electors as it has U.S. representatives (a population-based allocation) plus U.S. senators (two for every state, regardless of its size). That gives small states an advantage. “So big states have a disadvantage?” she asked. Well, no, we explained, because every state except Nebraska and Maine awards its electors on a “winner-take-all” basis. Small states get an advantage, but big states get an advantage, too. It’s in the medium-sized states where individual votes get diluted. And these “electors”? Qui sont-ils? They’re actual people, chosen at the state level to represent one candidate or another, but there’s no federal law requiring them to, and nobody’s ever been prosecuted for voting for somebody else instead, as some oddball “faithless elector” will do now and then (most recently in 2004).
At about this point a puzzled frown appeared on our French guest’s face, and I could tell that she was thinking: C’est stupide.
Oui, bien sur. Foreigners can never understand why American voters put up with the Electoral College, and I’m hard-pressed to come up with any explanation other than this. We Americans love our Constitution so much that we can’t bear to change even the stupid parts. It took 74 years and a bloody Civil War to get the Constitution to say that human beings are never property, so don’t expect fast action changing a system of choosing presidents that makes most people’s eyes glaze over—even if it is an affront to most contemporary notions of democracy.
It is time to make your view known. How will this story end? Give us three numbers, and see how your wisdom stacks up against everyone else’s (and reality). Give us Obama’s electoral vote total, his percentage of the popular vote, and the number of Senate seats won by the Dems (and affiliated independents). Three numbers. Nice and easy.
And we’ll use the polling feature for the straight winner.
A group of people who have accurately predicted the winner of the popular vote in the last four presidential elections thinks President Barack Obama is headed for a second term: the American people.
Fifty-four percent of Americans think Obama will win the election, compared to 32 percent who predict a Romney victory, according to Gallup polling released Wednesday but conducted before Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast. Eleven percent have no opinion.
Back in May, 56 percent believed an Obama win was likely in November, 36 percent thought Romney was likely to win, and 8 percent had no opinion, according to Gallup.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday found a similar result: 53 percent of registered voters believed Obama would win, compared to 29 percent for Romney.
Read more: politico.com
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are among the politicians whose past criticisms of the Electoral College system would draw new scrutiny if there is a split verdict in this year’s presidential election.
National and swing state polls suggest it’s possible Republican Mitt Romney could win this year’s popular vote while Obama triumphs in the Electoral College — potentially marking the second time the rare split in outcomes has occurred in the last 12 years.
The last time it happened was in 2000, when Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote but lost where it mattered. George W. Bush won Florida’s disputed recount, propelling him to 271 electoral votes — one more than he needed to take the White House.
The outcome triggered an intense — if shortlived — debate over reforming the Electoral College. Today, lawmakers in Washington are no closer to agreeing on whether to change the rules of how someone wins the presidency.
Here’s a snapshot of where top lawmakers have came down on a controversial issue that’s once again in the political spotlight.
If the election were held today, President Obama would win more than 52 percent of the popular vote, an increase that could be attributed to the release of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” video, according to political calculus done by Nate Silver of The New York Times’ Five Thirty Eight blog.
Silver charted our Romney video, along with three other events he considers the most important political news of the last month: the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the attack on the US Consulate in Libya. His conclusion:
By Sept. 17, the date when the video of Mr. Romney’s remarks was released and received widespread attention, the momentum from Mr. Obama’s convention appeared to have stalled (although not necessarily reversed itself). Mr. Obama led in the popular vote by 4.1 percentage points on that date, according to the “now-cast.” Since then, however, Mr. Obama has gained further ground in the polls. As of Thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points in the “now-cast,” a gain of 1.6 percentage points since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public.