Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ten things to watch tonight in the returns

My poll duty completed, I'll excerpt and link this from Richard Dunham in the Chron's DC bureau regarding election results this evening. (It leans a little too much to the right, but -- as we always do in Houston, a blue city inside a purple county in the middle of a red state -- we'll roll with it.) Let's start with #5, #6, and #7, since they are locally relevant ...

5. Breakthroughs for gays and lesbians?
Gay and lesbian groups are looking closely at elections in Houston and Maine. In Houston, City Controller Annise Parker is trying to win a spot in a mayoral runoff. If elected, she would become the first out-of-the-closet lesbian to run a major American city. In Maine, voters will decide whether to overturn the legislature's endorsement of same-sex marriage. Note: Gay marriage has been defeated in every single statewide election thus far. Will today be any different?

I predict 'yes, today will'.

6. Will Houston elect a City Council member as its mayor?

It's been 41 years since a former councilman was elected mayor. Remember Jim McConn? So while Peter Brown leads in the polls and has deep pockets, history is not on his side.

7. What will happen to the supporters of Houston's third- and fourth-place finishers?

Only two candidates in Houston's race to replace outgoing Mayor Bill White can make a runoff, and the losers' supporters could play a pivotal role in the runoff. Roy Morales is the only conservative Republican in the race and, if he loses today, his supporters could be decisive in a close race. Likewise, Gene Locke or Peter Brown's African- American backers or Annise Parker's community activists could tip the balance.

My prediction, like Muse's, is Parker and Brown in a run-off, with the Locke and Morales endorsements as high up in the air as tonight's finish.

1. Can the GOP “sweep” the Big Three races of the day?

Those are the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races and the special U.S. House election in upstate New York. Virginia's a gimme. State Attorney General Bob McDonnell is headed toward a landslide win — despite Obama's fairly high approval ratings in the Old Dominion. New Jersey is a toss-up. And the Republican has actually dropped out of New York's 23rd District race (and endorsed the Democrat). GOP hopes are pinned to the candidacy of Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. If conservatives are charged up and beat the Dems in all three of these races, you can't help but call it a very bad day for Obama.

Two out of three -- Virginia and New York, but not New Jersey -- will still be interpreted as 'not bad' for the Repubes.

Rest here.

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