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GULLIXSON: Lingering frights regarding election night

By PAUL GULLIXSON

The spider webs, tombstones and ubiquitous bloody adornments of Halloween are gone. But there are a few frights that linger out there, and most of them revolve around what is going to happen on Tuesday.

Here are five:

Revenge of the Hanging Chad:

Believe it or not, we could be heading for a repeat of the 2000 election with all the horrors of butterfly ballots and poorly punctured punch cards. This time, however, it’s very possible the Democrat, President Barack Obama, could end up losing the popular vote but win re-election through the Electoral College.

We’re not talking recounts in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties this time, however. It may be in counties with names like Hamilton, Montgomery, and, yes, even Sandusky. All in Ohio.

Paul Gullixson.

The latest Gallup Poll shows Romney and Obama in a virtual tie at 48 percent. RealClearPolitics’ average of numerous polls on Saturday had Obama at 47.4 percent and Romney at 47.3 percent.

But given how states are likely to go, Obama has a presumed edge in electoral votes, leading 247 to 206. Given that, the president may only need to win two swing states — Ohio (18 electoral votes) and Nevada (6 electoral votes) — to pass the coveted 270.

If Obama doesn’t take Ohio — the state that’s gone with every winning president since 1964 — it’s anybody’s guess. A tie in the Electoral College is a possibility, even with Obama carrying Ohio. If he carries New Hampshire and Wisconsin as well and Romney takes the other swing states of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa, it ends locked 269 each. That’s when things get interesting.

The Superstorm that Ate our Brains:

Before high winds and surging waters had even started to make kindling of homes from Virginia to Connecticut, pundits were already arguing about who would benefit more from superstorm Sandy, Romney or Obama.

It helps Obama because it makes him look presidential, it reminds people that Romney wanted to privatize FEMA, and it stops Romney’s momentum from the debates.

No, it helps Romney because it puts Obama on the hot seat, it suppresses voting and it forced the president off the campaign trail.

Who’s right?

Answer: Who cares? At last count, there were more than 90 people dead and tens of thousands without homes, businesses or electricity. Damages are expected to be $30 billion to $50 billion.

As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post noted in his column last week, “It may be heresy to say so (days) before a presidential election, but some things are bigger than politics.” Hear, hear.

The Return of the Do-Nothing Congress:

Despite all the clatter and money spent on Congressional races, it looks in the end that the likely outcome of this election will be … no change.

Although roughly 30 seats in the House are considered toss-ups, Democrats would have to win 26 of them to swing the balance of power. Not likely.

In the Senate, where Democrats hold a 53-47 lead, there are nine seats that are up in the air. Republicans will likely pick up seats in Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. But Democrats are likely to pick up Massachusetts, and, in the end, the balance of power is likely to remain unchanged.

What does this mean? One won’t confuse the 112th Congress with one of the most efficient in our nation’s history. In fact, due largely to deep partisan divisions on Capitol Hill, this was the least productive legislative body in a generation, passing a mere 173 public laws. By comparison, the “do nothing” Congress if 1947-1948 — so named by President Harry S Truman — passed 906 laws.

Overall, the Senate had 84 days in session in 2012 compared to 149 in 2002. The House had 85 days in session compared to 123 in 2002.

If you consider the average baseball game is three hours long, House members spent 34 fewer hours on the floor than the Giants spent on the playing field this season — excluding the playoffs.

And the Giants had a lot more to show for their efforts.

The Budget Ax Menace:

Certainly many people are not inclined to give government any more money these days. But, let’s get serious. If Proposition 30 doesn’t pass on Tuesday, it’s the state’s school children who will pay a hefty price.

K-12 schools stand to lose a combined $5.3 billion, the equivalent to three weeks of instructional days. CSU and UC colleges will each lose $250 million. Santa Rosa Junior College alone stands to lose $6.3 million, equal to about 8 percent of its general fund budget. This is on top of cuts already taken. For example, SRJC has been forced to cut its class schedule by 25 percent over the past three years — in addition to making it more expensive and difficult for older adults to take classes.

Public schools today have far fewer resources than they did when most of us older adults had when we were in school. And children of today will be left with far more burdens to bear than those of yesteryear. Let’s at least give them a decent education.

Don’t answer that phone!

And, finally, there’s the frightening prospect of receiving more of those robocalls between now and the time polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. They’ve been pretty annoying this year, particularly for a number of the local races here in Sonoma County.

Given the volume of election material sent out, particularly the hit pieces, checking the mail has been equally annoying. I thought political donations were down?

Santa Rosa City Council members Susan Gorin and John Sawyer are going to end up spending nearly half a million dollars combined in their race for the 1st District supervisorial seat.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Michael Allen is on target to spend nearly $1 million in his bid for the 10th Assembly District seat, outspending his opponent San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine nearly 3-1. In addition, two independent expenditure committees have poured in nearly $500,000 to help Allen win. Levine also received a boost of $250,0000 from two independent expenditure committees.

Then there’s all the money being spent on the state propositions. Molly Munger, the chief proponent of Proposition 38, has so far doled out $44 million for her cause. Meanwhile, her brother, Charles Munger Jr., has spent $36.5 million in getting Proposition 32 passed and defeating Proposition 30.

My advice: Between now and Tuesday, expect more tricks than treats in the mail — and on the phone. And don’t go to bed too early on Tuesday.

Paul Gullixson is editorial director for The Press Democrat. Email him at paul.gullixson@pressdemocrat.com. Call him at (707) 521-5282.





14 Responses to “GULLIXSON: Lingering frights regarding election night”

  1. School Time says:

    I would really like to see a “business style” audit of the California school system. There are trainloads of money already coming into the system but for some reason it does not make it down to the classroom or even the school level.

    Although I voted Obama for the larger policy, I want to see a Romney style reorganization of our schools from the boards and unions on down to reallocate the money to where it is really needed… not some administrator’s lexus payment. Our public servants need to relearn the meaning of servant.

  2. Western Cluebird says:

    The differnce between conservatives and liberals is that the liberals don’t prepare for disaster, then sit around crying and squaking for government to come rescue them.
    Conservatives believe in being prepared and self reliance as well as being able to help their neighbers.
    P.S. People are still waiting for FEMA and their power to come back on.

  3. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC, History will say that Obama was one of our better presidents. You say gridlock, and talk about stimulus, yet Republicans were not against this, the argument was about the size and the makeup. I wish Obama had not extended the Bush tax cuts, but he did it as a compromise with Republicans. Obama won this election partly because of Sandy and FEMA’s response to it; people saw the basic difference between Republicans and Democrats – the belief that the Federal Government CAN play a positive role to better the lives of Americans.

  4. Reality Check says:

    LBR.

    Obama’s reelection is entirely appropriate. He will now be accountable for the mess he’s responsible for.

    As to gridlock, huh. Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the stimulus act, several jobs’ creation and green energy acts, extended unemployment, payroll tax cut, and so on. This guy has been a cornucopia of deficit spending and regulations.

    You want Republicans to sign on to for program. Why? To share the blame?

    Two years ago Obama had it within his power to end the Bush tax cuts, which after all were about tax cuts for the rich. He chose to extend them for two years. Again, he will face the same choice. Man up.

  5. Lets be Reasonable says:

    So, are the Tea Party folks going to continue to create gridlock in DC after Obama wins and the Senate stays Democratic? Or will the few moderate Republicans left in Congress ignore Norquist and get down to doing the Country’s business?

  6. GAJ says:

    Average Class Size was far higher when I went to school in the 60′s.

    Here’s a chart from 1970 to 2009 showing a drop in class size from about 23 in 1970 to about 18 in 2009.

    http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2011/04/14/200592/the-false-promise-of-class-size-reduction/

    When I was in middle school in Connecticut in the late 60′s I recall at least 6 rows across and 5 rows deep.

    Of course, back then, it WAS pretty much Reading, Writing, Science, History and Arithmetic…oh, and wood shop, metal shop, and even car repair in the HS.

  7. Sarkyfish says:

    Mockingbird: noun A rather common bird (Mimus polyglottos) related to the thrashers, which is remarkable for its exact imitations of the sounds of others with no known thoughts of its own.

  8. John Galt says:

    @Mockingbird- Just because you keep claiming to be a moderate doesn’t make it so.

    Your dismissal of Mitt Romney’s real efforts, with his own time and resources is really cheap. I know that it is mostly because you are ill-informed, so let me help you.

    1. Governor Romney and his wife donated $4 MILLION to charity in 2011 from $13.7M in income. Mormons are counseled to be generous in their offerings, but the law of tithing (which comes from the Old Testament) only prescribes 10%. Which means that the Romneys gave an additional 25% of their income to charity. While I’m sure some of that probably went to the Mormon church, chances are quite good that a chunk went to other causes.

    2. Do you even know what the Mormon church does with the offerings that it’s members give? Let me clue you in to just one of the worthwhile uses of those funds:

    http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/47826/After-Katrinas-fury-relief-on-a-grand-scale.html

    When Hurricane Katrina hit, trucks with supplies were rolling from LDS facilities immediately. Those trucks arrived before the national guard was even letting aid into the affected area. According to this article (dated roughly 3 weeks after Katrina):

    “As of Sept. 13, 140 truckloads of commodities and supplies, about 5.6 million pounds or 2,800 tons had been shipped into affected areas; with thousands of LDS volunteers giving 9,204 manpower days helping 1,606 Church members and 3,226 people not of the LDS faith, according to Garry Flake, director of Church Emergency Response. In addition, some 3,500 volunteers served Sept. 10-11.”

    And unlike the Red Cross (by all means a worthy organization with low overhead and lots of volunteers), LDS Humanitarian services are all volunteer- meaning 100% of humanitarian donations go to help people.

    http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/humanitarian-services/news-features/lds-church-assessing-storm.html#.UJiZ72l26ME

    Notice how within a day of the storm passing the LDS church was able to dispatch 500 missionaries to help in the area? Let me point out that those missionaries paid their own way to be there.

    So really- quit disparaging the LDS church and Mitt’s choice to make donations to it. It is honestly one of the most effective ways to support humanitarian efforts, due to its all-volunteer nature. Even the lean and mean Red Cross still takes almost 8% off the top for operating cost.

    Hyper-critical…. geez!

  9. j galt says:

    The last time gallop had the race at 48-48 was oct.03 Paul. That is hardly the most recent! But honesty seems to escape you!

  10. Frank says:

    “Public schools today have far fewer resources than they did when most of us older adults had when we were in school”.

    yes we also had half the government

    “And children of today will be left with far more burdens to bear than those of yesteryear”

    yes again lets cut back government to yesteryear levels

    its always more taxes
    never accountablity on spending tax payer monies
    tightin-up-the-belts, time to show the Moonbeams of this State we had enough and stand our ground
    no new taxes

  11. Frank says:

    Katrina Disaster was the result of enviornmentalist you know like Seirra Club filing a lawsuit agaisnt corps of engineers
    see Mocking the Corps of Engineers tired to rebuild the dikes back in i think it was in the late 70s but were stopped cold in there tracks
    as for bummer doing a better job, i think u need to find a better news source
    the poor people on the East coast are having a tough time and are suffering with 20 degree temps, and no power still, fo r the most part.

  12. Snarky says:

    How about we discuss the usual political climate around us.. the USUAL politics in California from the South to the North.

    Lets talk about today’s example, everyone:
    ——————-

    “Ex-Santa Fe Springs Councilman Gets 2 Years In Pot Shop Bribery”

    LA Times, online
    November 5, 2012 | 2:05 pm
    ———————

    The article pointed out that, amusingly, the man “struggled to contain his composure” which was a nice way of stating that the government criminal was about to cry like a baby.

    Just another example of your CRIMINAL government at work, folks.

    VOTE NO ON PROP 30.

  13. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Hey, Sarky, let’s hear your defense of Bush and Katrina. Sour grapes because Obama is doing a better job and helping people? That he’s more organized? That he appointed competent people at the head of his agencies? That it’s taken him less than day while Bush couldn’t get organized in three weeks? That that truck full of supplies that Romney “helped” load for his photo ops disappeared? (and that the Red Cross didn’t want). It would have been more of a photo op if he wrote a CHECK for a million dollars to the Red Cross but he’d rather support his Mormon church with his charity.

    I always thought Gullixon was a little too conservative for me and a union basher. I’m a moderate but I put people first, always.

  14. Sarkyfish says:

    Obama supporter rambles on, and on, and on.