Friday, November 07, 2008

Latinos DID turn out ...

... it just could have been so much more and better here. First the good:

A record 10 million Latino voters helped carry President-elect Barack Obama to victory on Tuesday, supporting the Democrat by a 2-1 margin over Republican Sen. John McCain, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of national exit poll data from Edison Media Research.

The overall percentage of Latino voters was in line with 2004, roughly 8 percent of all voters, the exit polls showed. But this time around, the vote was "more potent" because it swung Republican states to the Democrats, said Andy Hernandez, an Austin-based pollster who specializes in Latino politics.

"Latinos are flipping red states to blue," Hernandez said. "In this election, Latinos contributed to Virginia flipping. They were responsible for Nevada flipping. They contributed to Colorado flipping. And New Mexico went overwhelmingly Democratic, and Latinos were responsible for that."

Obama even had a strong performance in Florida, where Cuban-Americans have historically supported Republicans by large measures, taking 57 percent of the total Latino vote Tuesday, the exit polls showed.

And now the not-so-much here in H-Town:

In Texas, Obama received about 63 percent of the Latino vote, compared with McCain's 35 percent, Hernandez said. Latinos in the state cast an estimated 1.6 million votes, he said. They made up about 20 percent of Texas voters, according to the Pew analysis.

In Harris County, the Latino vote fell short of some expectations amid lower-than-predicted overall turnout (although African-Americans came to the polls in record numbers).

"I'm a little disappointed looking at the (local) numbers that more Latinos didn't come out and vote," said Maria Isabel, a 53-year-old naturalized Cuban-American who helped organize for Obama in Houston. "But my family voted. My children voted. My mother is a Republican from the Reagan days, and she voted for Barack Obama."

I would rather focus on what Democrats did well, so perhaps the local party can get the feedback necessary to improve Hispanic turnout in Houston for 2010 -- when we're really going to need it.

I can't accept that Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, and not Hillary Clinton, was the difference (since it wasn't anywhere else in the United States). We had high-profile Hispanics running in Harris County; Rick Noriega and Linda Yanez and Adrian Garcia all near the top of the ballot, and Garcia won more votes than any Harris County Democrat. There is something we're not doing effectively enough locally to drive Latino Democrats to the polls, and I really want to know what it is.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

McCain-Palin: the recriminations *underwear update*

RNC lawyers are on their way to Alaska to audit Palin's wardrobe expenses.

“I think it was a difficult relationship,” said one top McCain campaign official, who, like almost all others interviewed, asked to remain anonymous. “McCain talked to her occasionally.”

Some of this is the typical Monday-morning quarterbacking when you lose. Some is SNL satire-worthy:

The disputes between the campaigns centered in large part on the Republican National Committee’s $150,000 wardrobe for Ms. Palin and her family, but also on what McCain advisers considered Palin’s lack of preparation for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric of CBS News and her refusal to take advice from McCain’s campaign.

But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.

As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Palin met up with McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, McCain’s top strategist.

On Wednesday, two top McCain campaign advisers said that the clothing purchases for Palin and her family were a particular source of outrage for them. As they portrayed it, Ms. Palin had been advised by Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain aide, that she should buy three new suits for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September and three additional suits for the fall campaign. The budget for the clothes was anticipated to be from $20,000 to $25,000, the officials said.

Instead, in a public relations debacle undermining Palin’s image as an everywoman “hockey mom,” bills came in to the Republican National Committee for about $150,000, including charges of $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue. The bills included clothing for Palin’s family and purchases of shoes, luggage and jewelry, the advisers said.

The advisers described the McCain campaign as incredulous about the shopping spree and said Republican National Committee lawyers were likely to go to Alaska to conduct an inventory and try to account for all that was spent.

That's not even the funny part. And no, I don't mean the crankyanking that happened when Palin thought she was talking to the president of France, either:

At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys' club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. "I'll be just a minute," she said.

You realize what this means, don't you? It means we get to see Tina Fey in just a towel this weekend. Hawte.

Update: Is Africa a country or a continent, Sarah?

Update II: "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast". Sounds more like a couple of grifters to me:

On top of the $150,000 first outlined in Federal Election Commission filings, Palin spent "tens of thousands of dollars" on additional clothing, makeup and jewelry for herself and her family, including $40,000 in luxury goods for her husband, Todd, our colleague Michael Shear reports. The campaign was charged for silk boxer shorts, spray tanners and 13 suitcases to carry all the designer clothes, according to two GOP insiders.

"The shopping continued after the convention in Minneapolis, it continued all around the country," one source said. "She was still receiving shipments of custom-designed underpinnings up to her 'Saturday Night Live' performance" in October. Sources said expenses were put on the personal credit cards of low-level Palin staffers and discovered when they asked party officials for reimbursement.

Good, Bad, and Ugly: more of each

-- The Good: disappointing turnout on Election Day notwithstanding, Harris County voting proceeded with only the most minor of hiccups. Beverly Kaufman added extra polling locations, made technical improvements such as barcode and driver's license scanning that shortened wait times and reduced data-entry error during EV, secured the transfer cases (cardboard boxes) of e-Slates with an improved seal, added two extra seals on the e-Slates themselves that restricted election judges from setting up and activating the ballot boxes until the morning of Election Day, and took other precautions that John Behrman and others have urged, from parallel testing to quarantining of suspect machines. Berhman also was granted additional access to areas and information that were previously deemed ministerial and confidential.

I'm usually the critic, so when a compliment is due I don't want to run a deficit. Good job, Ms. Kaufman and the same to all of your staff, including elections supervisors John German and Randy Roberts and the platoons of assistant clerks.

-- The Bad: Hispanic precincts turned out their vote at 40-45% -- outstanding in any other election year, but lame compared to the countywide average of between 60-65%. No one seems to have a good answer beyond latent racism, lingering disillusionment at Hillary Clinton's primary loss, or lack of GOTV efforts in that community:

Local Democratic Chairman Gerald Birnberg said his party struggled to get former supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential primary candidacy to return to the polls and vote for Obama and the rest of the party's slate. Clinton was immensely popular among Hispanic voters in Texas.

"The head wind was the demoralization of many of the Hispanic Hillary Clinton supporters and that was a reality we faced throughout the election," Birnberg said.

As Democratic political consultant Marc Campos of Houston pointed out, Tuesday's election totals put turnout in mostly Hispanic state House districts at 40 to 45 percent, compared to 60 to 65 percent in mostly white, suburban districts as well as mostly black districts.

Campos, a Hispanic, said his party's efforts to motivate Hispanic voters was substandard. Birnberg disagreed, saying that among other things, Democrats aimed at Hispanic households with a recorded telephone message from Clinton urging voters to back every candidate.

Birnberg pointed out that all countywide Democratic Hispanic candidates won their contests except one, while district attorney candidate C.O. "Brad" Bradford and other black candidates lost.

Regardless, "clearly we must continue to do better year in and year out in the Hispanic community," Birnberg added.

Bob Stein offers another clue, which goes to Paul Bettencourt's strenuous efforts to clerically suppress the vote:

About 100,000 people who voted in the spring Democratic primary failed to vote in the county's general election, according to Rice University political scientist Bob Stein.

"I don't think they're disinterested in politics. I think it's the way we conduct our elections and how we make it very difficult for people who move around a lot to re-register," he said.

Republican Paul Bettencourt, the voter registrar re-elected as county tax assessor-collector, rejected Stein's theory.

About 100,000 other people easily updated their registrations for the general election, he said. Also, he theorized that turnout would have been much higher if Obama or John McCain or their running mates would have campaigned in Houston.

I'll be damned; Bettencourt is right. Obama not only never came back to Texas beyond a fundraiser, he sucked hundred of volunteers out of the state to work in New Mexico and other swingers, and many who couldn't leave spent their weekends calling battlegrounds on Obama's behalf.

I fault the Texas Democratic Party for allowing this to happen. This is where it gets ...

-- Ugly:

(T)he Obama campaign gobbled up the potential volunteer base for a statewide sweep campaign by exhorting Texans to campaign in other states, both physically and over phone banks. But I don't blame the Obama campaign. At least they had something for the vast Texas Democratic volunteer base to do. How can we blame the Obama campaign for making use of this huge volunteer base when the Texas Democratic party did not intend to make use of it?

Can anybody identify a single specific action or statement from the State Party demonstrating that it seriously wanted Obama to put Texas in play?

MoveOn wore me out asking me to work for Obama. Meanwhile I was busy working my precinct for all Democrats. And the TDP apparently sent a mailer to GOTV, which I'm told they spent hundreds of thousands on to send all over the state.

Ah, so the Democratic political advisors specializing in direct mail got remunerated handsomely.

So long as we Texas Democrats continue to listen to the self-inflated consultants and other "pundits" who insist on running targeted campaigns instead of sweep campaigns, we cannot expect a sweep-campaign outcome!

Hellllloooooooooo ...