Friday, November 05, 2004

New Mexico Faces Yet Another Bout Of Vote-Counting Chaos, Will it Change Anything? 

Yes, there's still 19,000 or so "provisional" ballots remaining to be counted in New Mexico. But media reports are not emphasizing that many of those will be rejected. Probably at least 20% of them and maybe up to 40 or 50%. Let's say 30% of them are rejected. That would leave about 13,300 votes to be counted. The AP has Kerry behind Bush by 8,366. Kerry cannot make up the difference. Unless there are a bunch of missing votes, not an impossibility in vote-challenged New Mexico, or the AP numbers are out of whack, which is not likely, the state goes Bush. Nervous Republicans and heir lawyers have already filed a court challenge regarding provisional counting in Sandoval County. With NM's storied history of election-counting errors, don't rule anything out at this point.

Look at this statement posted on the Dona Ana County clerk's web site: "The unofficial elections results posted on Wednesday, November 3, 2004 were found to contain inaccuracies. The corrected numbers will be posted as soon as they are

This is the same county that fouled up the 2000 vote-count when they posted wrong numbers in the Prez race. As a result, Al Gore eked out a 366 vote win. No wonder Domenici delayed his return to Washington.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

NM Dems: Disgusted, Depressed, Dismayed And Deprived; Alligators Arise As The Blame Game Starts, Plus: Who Got It Right?  

The long knives of La Politica are never allowed to rust. They come out like clockwork immediately following the results. This time is no different as disgruntled D's absorb the shellshock of an Election Night disaster. "This whole campaign was smoke and mirrors," declared one depressed D insider as he analyzed the NM defeat of Kerry. "Where was our organization down south? What happened to the Hispanic vote? And why were prominent NM Democrats not featured in the campaign to beat Bush," he wondered.

(Read my analysis and others of NM Prez race in USA Today.

Here's theCNN exit poll on NM. Note the Hispanic number for Bush. They might be high, but tell the tale.)

There were plenty of fingers pointing to answers the morning after. Much of it focused on the man who made a Kerry victory here a personal mission, Big Bill. "First they are going to blame the governor, then they are going to blame the voters and then they will finally blame themselves," said one insider R about the Dems as he exulted in the Bush victory.

And he's right. Big Bill's TV commercial for Kerry featured him prominently and was a closing spot for the campaign. His personal staff was hands-on with the Kerry campaign and his PAC, Moving America Forward, was to deliver the Hispanic vote. None of it worked.

"Didn't they realize that he (Big Bill) is not popular down south? Bill and his operatives have never understood that area. They almost lost the constitutional amendment there last year. This time They consolidated all the power of the campaign, and they blew it. The whole thing was way overrated and poorly coordinated. People who had already voted were still getting phone calls and the get-out-the-vote effort was nonexistent in some of the rural areas," raged one Dem campaign strategist.

Party Chair Wertheim tried to put the best face on the D downfall, saying they had done all they could. But few were buying and he too was the target of barbs.


Big Bill's White House hopes were also under the microscope in Washington, where one Prez watcher said the failure of Big Bill to deliver NM, a state with 42% Hispanics, will sting. "How can he tell the national D's he can deliver the Hispanic vote nationally, if he can't carry his own state," said one Capitol Hill insider.

Dems raging at Big Bill were passionate. They felt Bush was one of the weakest targets ever. In the heat of the moment, some slammed operatives by name. But it will be Big Bill, the public symbol of the Dem party, who will take the hit. "Poor Bill Richardson," Senator Domenici cockily cooed Wednesday morning as he gloated over the Bush victory.

Others claimed the Kerry loss will reduce the fear factor of the Guv and make opposition more likely in the Legislature, if only among emboldened R's. Other insiders told me the coalition of R's and D's in the state senate has a better chance of surviving in the aftermath of Tuesday's Democratic debacle.

But most D's, while enraged, were also fearful." We need candidates and a message voters can connect with," said one. Meanwhile, at the Oval Office, Karl Rove was relishing the triumph of his NM campaign strategy, in which Bush lost big Bernalillo County but boosted conservative turnout elsewhere. It was a bold gamble and he won. "Maybe we have new math, or maybe we just need new blood,' mourned an Albuquerque D badly in need of Prozac.


I spent Wednesday wiping egg off of my face, after predicting a Kerry victory in NM. I was right on Bernalillo County (Kerry won) and dead wrong on he national outcome. I had plenty of company, none more surprising than State Sen. "Lightning Rod" Adair who dispatched an Election Day e-mail saying Bush would lose the election. What?? That's right.

The hard-right conservative, a co-chair of the NM Bush campaign who fancies himself as one of the nation's foremost experts on Prez politics jumped ship. He said Bush would lose in the Electoral College 254 to 284 and drop Ohio and New Mexico along the way. Wrong, Rod. All this had some R's fuming. "It was an act of treason. It again showed that Rod is more concerned about Rod than the party,' blasted an R operative.

One who has gloating rights over Adair is ABQ Journal pollster Brian Sanderoff, who once again had all the major winners finishing at the top of his pre-election poll. Adair has questioned Sanderoff's integrity in blistering e-mail attacks. But now it is Adair's integrity being called into question as Bush supporters wonder just whose side he was on. Will Adair now dare to take credit for the Bush victory here? As always, stay tuned.


My panel of experts fared pretty well with their pre-election predictions. Veteran R Bruce Donisthorpe came the closest predicting here last week: "Nationally, Bush wins. Electoral College 279-259, taking Ohio and Florida in close contests." Bruce nailed it. He also predicted a 1,000 vote win for Bush in NM. It will be larger, but his call was close.

Green Steve Cabiedes was another prognosticator who deserves a tip of the hat. The prediction: "The political numbers cruncher likes Bush seeing W getting 284 electoral votes to Kerry's 254. He scores Florida and Ohio for Bush." Steve may be the closest when it's all over.

Kurt Lohbeck got the winner right but his 300 electoral vote prediction for W was too high. However, he did predict a gain of two seats for the R's in the Senate. They got four. Greg Payne was the best pundit on the Wilson-Romero Congressional race. He said: "I score it for Heather with 54% to Richard's 46%." He had Heather right on target and Richard just one point high. Nice call. Lohbeck, Payne and Donisthorpe also correctly predicted Senate Minority Leader Daschle would be defeated in South Dakota. Hey, that's why we pay them the big bucks.


I will probably be a bit light here in the next week or so as I, like you, come down from the frenzy of the campaign. But stay tuned for updates. The wonderful world of La Politica is a never-ending journey into the unexpected. I will have some more comment Friday at 8:30 p.m. on KNME-TV's "In Focus" program, hosted by Kate Nelson. See you then.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Emotional Roller Coaster Election Night; Battle Goes Into The Wee Hours And Will Rage In Days Ahead 

It was a surrreal night and morning. I am writing you shortly after 5 a.m. after 12 straight hours on the air at KANW-FM, and still New Mexico remains undecided, although Bush had a lead of over 10,000 when we concluded. It will be hard for Kerry to overcome such a lead with the estimate 40,000 ballots still to be counted. The night was exhilarating as the contest remained so close all night and all morning. But in the end my longtime broadcast colleague Scott Scanland and I were disappointed. Not so much over the results, but that once again we have a disputed election that will lead to further political division.

What happened? So much. Southern NM roared from the beginning totaling up big margins for Bush. The Hispanic North underperformed for the D's, responding, some said to Bush's conservative message on things like abortion and family values. Kerry appeared to carry Bernalillo County by 5,000 or more votes, yet he appears to have lost the state. Very unusual. Turnout appeared to be near the 70% mark, higher than four years ago, but not enough to push Kerry over the top, not with reluctance demonstrated by many D's who went to the polls Tuesday.

For now, let's find out today what Kerry says and how the Bush team goes forward. Let's keep our eye on the NM vote-counting. History says it is not quite over. I will check back in with you on all the incredible events in the days ahead. I welcome your comments and emails.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

It's Here! Election Day 2004; Mother Nature Could Again Decide NM As Storm Hits; Election Night Starts at 5 P.M. On KANW 89.1 FM; Oh, What A Night!  

We may or not have another deadlocked Prez race in NM like 2000, but one aspect of that famous election is already repeating: bad weather. And It's hitting just where it did four years ago: SE NM. In a late night Election Eve interview, KRQE-TV meteorologist Mike Hernandez told me the brunt of the early winter storm today will be centered in Lincoln County (Ruidoso, Cloudcroft), one of the most Republican counties and right where a more severe storm dampened voter turnout in 2000. It may have cost Bush NM as the storm stayed away from the Democratic North. Gore won by just 366 votes. Hernandez says this time the Democratic North is in the clear. It will be cold there but no snow today and clearing skies.

Lincoln has only 14,000 registered voters but is 56% GOP. If weather keeps them home there, and the race is razor-tight, Mother Nature could be a deciding factor as many think she was last time. Voters in "Little Texas" as we call the SE, are a hearty bunch, but the storm will keep some voters away. Will it again be a deciding factor? We will know in a matter of hours.


81,785 voters cast ballots at early voting location sites in Bernalillo County. About 68,000 absentee ballots will be cast in the state's largest county. I am projecting a turnout of 256,000, or about 72% of registered voters. That's high and I expect it to help Kerry win the county by about 8,000 votes. The Senator should carry NM by a similar, if not larger margin. My final NM prediction percentage wise is Kerry--50%, Bush-48%, Others--2%. Nationally, I expect Kerry to break 300 in the Electoral College, win Florida and win the national popular vote as well. I am projecting a voter turnout statewide of about 70%, or 700,000 voters. (I am not counting 134,000 "inactive" voters on the rolls)

The early Bernalillo vote broke about 55% for the Dems. Tonight watch how ABQ Dem Congressional hopeful Romero does iin that vote. If he loses it by more than a couple of points, he will very likely lose the election to incumbent Wilson. Kerry should carry the early vote and the vote cast on Election Day. If he doesn't, game over. The absentee vote will not heavily favor the R's as it has in the past because the D's have learned how to work it.


This is it. And we an hardly wait. Join me starting at 5 p.m. on 89.1 FM (heard throughout north central NM)as we track every race from Prez to judges. We do not expect the absentee votes from Bernalillo County to be in until after midnight, so this is going to be a long one. However, my experts, lobbyist Scott Scanland, D Lenton Malry, R veteran Bruce Donisthorpe, Green Steve Cabiedes and State. Rep. Rick Miera, will have results from the rest of the state that will help us help you get a a handle on the Prez battle. Also, we will have early results from selected precincts in ABQ. We will stay on the air as long as the Bernalillo County Clerk is counting votes.


I started this blog in October of 2003 and many dramatic events have carried us forward. Frankly, I got lucky. I never dreamt there would be so much fascinating political news. Neither did I expect all the help and guidance I have received from you, my loyal and deeply appreciated readers. Many people ask me if I make a lot of money doing this. The answer, of course, is no. Not that I haven't surprised my highest expectations. Wonderful sponsors like Enteprise-rent-a-car came aboard before we even were three months old. Many more followed and it has been deeply gratifying.

But most rewarding has been the opportunity to have such direct participation in the political give and take, make new friends, and humbly learn that I have a lot to learn. I will try to be here Wednesday, but if our radio broadcast goes into the wee morning hours, that may not be possible. Thanks to all of you for your interest, comments and your valuable time.


We will start early Tuesday, Nov. 2 to bring you the important East Coast results. Top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland and other experts will join me for rapid-fire results and analysis on 89.1 FM. It's all made possible by Pfizer, Enterprise rent-a-car, Bill Campbell Realty, NM Legislative Reports and John Moore & Associates. Be sure to join us as we call all the NM races.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

USA Election Eve: Power Hangs By A Thread; My All-Star Prediction Team Leans Bush, But Don't Bet The Ranch, And: KANW-89.1 FM Special At 5 P.M. Today 

Now it's just hours. Power hangs by a thread. The stakes are as high as they get. War and peace. A moment in time that will be frozen in history. But the heck with all that for a moment and let's have some fun! It's time to send my political pros out on the limb and make them predict this most unpredictable election. Not that we are putting any pressure on them. We wouldn't dare come back here this week and point out the error of their ways. Well, of course we will. But there's always that chance that someone will get it right. Don't forget our Election Eve Special today at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM in ABQ. Right now, let's go out to the field for the final plays.


Top Dem NM Lobbyist Scott Scanland, now in the game for 25 years, says this is the toughest call of them all. But in the end its Bush who takes the prize and he won't need NM to claim it.

"Kerry is finishing better in NM than Bush. Kerry wins NM by two points with the help of the Guv. Nationally, I thought Kerry had the big Mo to carry him through but Osama is changing my mind. I will be watching Wisconsin. I think Bush wins FL & Iowa but loses Penn & Ohio. I believe it is fear vs. Bush hatred. I think it will be an early night though, if Bush wins Penn or Ohio and FL, it's over. Kerry can win Pa. and Ohio and it still won't be his unless he wins Wisconsin."


GOP Political consultant and state legislative candidate Greg Payne (his opponent is D Michael Corwin) says it's Bush in NM and in America. "I score it 296-242 in electoral votes. Bush wins NM by two points, the same in the nation. It will be the war on terror and Bush doing a better job in portraying himself as the person who will wage that war most aggressively. As for Wilson-Romero: "The turning point was the KOB-TV debate when she soundly defeated him. I score if for Heather with 54% to Richard's 46%.," declared Payne. He also threw in a bonus pick and predicted Senate Majority Leader Daschle will be defeated in South Dakota


UNM Poly Sci prof Gil St. Clair leans R, but he thinks Kerry will win New Mexico. He points out there has been a big boost in voter registrations, a third of the new registrants are 18 to 24 years old and that bodes well for Kerry here. "The deciding factor will be turnout," said St. Clair


Veteran politico Kurt Lohbeck practices magic on the side and it would take a magician to call this one. Let's see what he pulls out of his hat.

"I predict a very narrow Bush victory in New Mexico. Bush will win the election nationwide and garner closer to 300 electoral votes. I was going to predict that if Kerry won New Mexico by 5000 to 10,000 votes, then Romero would win the Congressional seat. But with my belief that Bush will win NM I now see Heather Wilson winning re-election."

Lohbeck's bonus prediction was a pick up of a couple of seats for the R's in the U.S. Senate--53 R's, 46 D's, one indy. (Daschle goes down).


Former ABQ Mayor Jim Baca, one of the state's most experienced campaigners, throws in the towel on the ABQ Congress race. The lifetime Dem says Heather is going back to D.C. with a 52% to 48% win. Baca has Kerry winning NM by the biggest margin of any All-Star. He scores it 52% for Kerry, 47% for Bush and 1% for Nader. The former Land Commissioner stayed out of the national fray.


The Green Party's Steve Cabiedes will be one of that 1% that he predicts will vote for Nader in NM. But he predicts Bush will carry the state by the slightest of margins,just one-half of one percent. Bush--49.5%, Kerry--48.5%. The political numbers cruncher also likes Bush for the whole game seeing Bush getting 284 electoral votes to Kerry's 254. He scores Florida and Ohio for Bush and says Hawaii will surprise as it goes for the GOP. Steve's bonus prediction was on turnout. He sees it hitting 70% of registered voters statewide, up from 63% in 2000. He pegs voter turnout in Bernalillo County at 72% of the registered, up from 68% four years ago.


Despite the passing of the decades Dem activist and pollster Harry Pavlides still has the utmost passion for the game. And on this one he breaks with the consensus view and says it goes to Kerry in NM and the nation. And talk about getting specific, take a look his predicted finish. In New Mexico, Kerry--50.71%, Bush--47.0%, Nader & others--1.71%. Harry has Kerry taking the Oval office with an electoral vote total in the 290's with a popular vote for Bush of 49%, Kerry 48% and others 1%. His bonus prediction is a heads-up."Keep your eye on the Wilson-Romero race. If we get a huge turnout spike that race could be in play," offered Pavlides.


Political junkie and ABQ Weekly Alibi managing editor Tim McGivern gives up on Romero, but still likes Kerry.

"Kerry and Bush in New Mexico is a dead heat. Kerry should be able to pick up many of the undecided to leverage his three-point deficit in the Journal/Sanderoff poll.
The question is: How many of those undecideds stay home?

Nationally, I wouldn't be surprised if Kerry takes all of the Midwestern battleground states--Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Nobody has been hurt more by Bush's policies than working people in the Rust Belt. Coupled with discontent over Iraq, it could be a surprisingly easy win for Kerry, with Bush lucky to break 260 electoral

As for Romero-Wilson, Sanderoff's poll (51-43 for Wilson) should put a frown on the collective faces supporting Romero.Romero's going down, probably by 52-48, give or
take a point,"opined the busy journalist.


All year we have gone to veteran NM R consultant Bruce Donisthorpe to bat clean-up after the NM caucuses, the primaries and the Prez debates. We asked him to pick up the big stick for us one more time and give us the final word on Campaign 04' on this most special American Election Eve.

"The NM Presidential race is too close to call. I'm guessing that Cheney's and Bush's late visits put the GOP over the top and the Republican ticket wins by 1,000 votes. If Kerry expects to win here, he's got to show up to claim his prize before the polls open. Dems are banking that Clinton takes the ticket over the top. I'm not sure that's enough because Clinton is the past and Kerry is the future and he's not here."

Nationally, Bush wins. Electoral College 279-259, taking Ohio and Florida in close cotests. This will be the closest race since 1960. Bush takes the win with a strong performance in 30 states throughout the south, southwest or Rocky Mountain states. Bush wins national popular vote by 49% to 48% for Kerry. It could be closer in the final count.

Congresswoman Wilson wins re-election with 52% of the vote. Heather has been one-step ahead of Richard every day of this campaign from fundraising, to message development, to advertising to turnout. Congressman Pearce will win with 54% of the vote. Pearce enjoyed a huge money advantage and never trailed in this race.

Bruce's bonus prediction was on the U.S. Senate which he keeps close eye on for his business clients.

"GOP retains control of the US Senate, perhaps pick up a seat or two and go from 51 to 53. The Republicans had an edge in the South where the Dems had to defend five open seats and Bush ran strong," said swami Bruce.


None of my All-Stars said they would take their predictions to the bank and some actually tried to wiggle out with cries of "toss-up." But eventually like true team players they all came through and I thank all of them for helping today and during the past 13 months as we have covered this campaign without a break. We are nearing the end of an exhilarating ride which has created great political memories for all of us. Long Live La Politica!


Time to fish or cut bait. And that's just what I will ask my panel of expert insiders to do Monday at 5 p.m. on KANW 89.1 FM. Our hour long Election Eve special will feature top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland, ABQ Tribune managing editor Kate Nelson, Dem insider Terry Brunner and GOP State Senator Joe Carraro. Tune in and see if they can predict the big races right.


We will start early Tuesday, Nov. 2 to bring you the important East Coast results. Top NM lobbyist Scott Scanland and other experts will join me for rapid-fire results and analysis on 89.1 FM. It's all made possible by Pfizer, Enterprise rent-a-car, Bill Campbell Realty, NM Legislative Reports and John Moore & Associates. Be sure to join us as we call all the NM races.

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