Nite Owl Notes

Just watched the president’s speech, and thought it was a very impressive effort for someone who had to be bone-tired. Critics will call it non-substantive, but it provided about as thorough a “communitarian” message as one can imagine, in recognition that he defeated a candidate and a party that rejected government as an instrument for solving problems, and rejected the relevance of many millions of Americans to growth, prosperity, and even democracy. Besides: give the guy a break. He can get practical next week.

I haven’t had a chance to really assess the conservative reaction, other than the very public freakout of Karl Rove to network projections that Obama had won Ohio. Some will blame Romney, some will blame Sandy, and some, of course, will claim fraud and vote-buying. It was not a good sign that John Boehner made a point of reiterating the fanatical opposition of any tax increases, a position that makes a mockery of all of Mitt Romney’s professions of bipartisanship, late in the campaign and in his concession speech tonight. I still see no signs of any serious reflection among Republicans of the shortcomings, moral and political, of conservative ideology. But we’ll know more in the next few days.

In terms of late returns: Obama has moved well ahead in the national popular vote and should continue to gain as late urban boxes and the Pacific Coast states check in. So there will be no “split decision.” The networks have called Virginia for Obama, putting him over 300 electoral votes, and it still looks like he’ll eventually win Florida, which means that Obama took every state he won four years ago other than Indiana and North Carolina. I think we know now that the polls were more accurate than the pundits and the spinners during the last few weeks, and that the Obama GOTV effort was indeed as good as advertised.

In other late returns, Heidi Heitkamp still has a tiny lead in North Dakota with virtually all the votes in; Jon Tester still has an impressive lead with a lot of votes in Montana remaining out. Dean Heller has taken the lead over Shelly Berkley in Nevada. Democrats have held onto the governorship of Montana, and Republicans held onto the governorship of North Dakota.

Jay Inslee has a narrow lead in the Washington gubernatorial race, but as we know from past elections, that state counts mail ballots postmarked by Election Day, so the final results could be a long time coming.

Here in California, the momentous struggle over the gridlock-busting Prop 30 is, as expected, coming down to the wire, but it’s now narrowly ahead with a little over a third of the vote in (one might expect the earliest counted votes, mail ballots, to be somewhat more conservative than those cast today). It also looks like the union-busting Prop. 32 will lose. It’s too early to call a number of close congressional races in California, where the House map was roiled by a new nonpartisan redistricting system. But at the moment, several incumbent Republicans are in potential trouble, including Dan Lungren, Mary Bono-Mack, and Brian Bilbray. Vulnerable Democrats Jerry McInerny, Jim Costa and Lois Capps seem to be in good shape. Republican Tony Strickland has a tiny lead over Democrat Julia Browning in a hyper-competitive open Republican district. It’ll all be clearer in the morning.

That’s it for a few hours, but we’ll have plenty of final election coverage and post-election analysis on Wednesday.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.