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2006 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2006 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida

← 2004 November 7, 2006 (2006-11-07) 2008 →

All 25 Florida seats to the United States House of Representatives
  Majority party Minority party
Party Republican Democratic
Last election 18 7
Seats won 16 9
Seat change Decrease 2 Increase 2
Popular vote 2,182,833 1,599,968
Percentage 56.67% 41.54%

The 2006 United States House of Representatives Elections in Florida took place on November 7, 2006. Elections were held in Florida's 1st through 25th congressional districts.

Florida is known to be a moderate-to-conservative state, with more liberals residing in South Florida, and moderates and conservatives dominating both the northern and central regions of Florida, as well as a strong Republican base in Cuban-American portions of Miami. A former Florida Secretary of State made famous in the 2000 presidential election challenged incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, and ended up losing to Nelson. Democrats set their sights on two districts in the Sarasota and Tampa area (the open seats of both Harris and the retiring Mike Bilirakis, respectively), and also on a South Florida district held by one of the Sunshine State's longest-serving congressmen. The primary was held on September 5, 2006. The popularity of outgoing Governor Jeb Bush aided their gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Charlie Crist and helped Republicans win downballot, including Crist's newly elected successor at the Attorney General position, former Rep. Bill McCollum.

The following Congresspeople went unopposed in the 2006 election and thus their election is not reported below:

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  • ✪ What Now? Post-Election Opportunities & Challenges


[ Silence ] >> Good afternoon everybody. My name is Charlie Wheelan. I am a senior lecturer here at the Rockefeller Center. We have just had a presidential election as you all know. It would appear to me that we have about 50 million people who are pleased with the outcome, about 50 million people who are not terribly pleased, and far more than a hundred million people who are happy that the campaign is over and that we don't have to pay any attention to Florida to know who won. So obviously we've reelected President Obama and at first glance, the rest of the electoral landscape does not look like it's changed a whole lot. The senates are going to control that Senate or the Democrats are going to control the Senate once again. Republicans will continue to control the House and the legislative leadership as far as I know is going to be unchanged. But if you look pass the headlines, and that's what we're here to do, there are a lot more interesting things happening in and around this election. So the composition of folks we're sending to the Senate is noteworthy I would say. There are four states that had referendums on the ballot regarding gay marriage. All of those outcomes were-- appeared to be dramatically different than the 30 some referendums on that issue that had come before. There are two states that legalized personal use of marijuana, which not only tells us something about evolving attitudes towards that drug, but it also sets up and this hasn't gotten much attention an interesting confrontation between the states and the federal government because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. And that's going to be an interesting situation to watch, both on the drug policy level and the federalism level. And while I have asserted that we're all happy the campaign is over, the important stuff, all the hard decisions related to governance are just beginning. I would argue, and let's see what the panel has to say, that this was a particularly backward looking campaign in the sense that neither candidate presented much of a plan for dealing with many of the issues looking forward. It's much more a referendum on Barack Obama's first term and going the other direction, referendum on Mitt Romney's competence to be president. Very little in terms of planning for issues like budget problems, unsustainable entitlement issues, immigrations, or a whole host of other issues that are coming at us and where the status quo is not necessarily tenable if we choose to do nothing. I would add further that the reason the candidates did not discuss a lot of specifics is that the reasonable options we face, regardless of your political opinions, are all unpleasant. If they were not unpleasant, then we would have solved the problems already. [laughs] What the means metaphorically is that on issues like the budget, voters have been told for the better part of a year that they can lose weight by eating ice cream. To my mind, this has not been a campaign that has squarely addressed the unpleasant realities that await us. And yet, on an increasing number of issues, it's going to get more dangerous and more damaging to do nothing. All the while, the two parties, and particularly the Republicans, are going to be dissecting Tuesday's results to figure out what it means, if anything, for the long run direction of the party. To discuss all of this and much more, we are lucky to have three esteemed members of the Government Department. Each will give brief remarks on their area of expertise and then we'll open it up to a panel discussion where they'll answer questions and we can have a discussion about what this all means. I'm going to introduce the panelists in the order in which they will speak beginning with Brendan Nyhan on the far side. Brendan Nyhan is currently an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College. His research focuses on political scandal, misperceptions about politics and healthcare, which I would think is very broad field, and applications of social network analysis and applied statistical methods to contemporary politics. Before coming to Dartmouth, Nyhan served as RWJ Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. In 2004, he co-authored the New York Times bestseller All the President's Spin. He is an avid blogger and currently serves as New Hampshire campaign correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore and a PhD from the Department of Political Science at Duke. Second nearest to me is Joe Bafumi who is an Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth here. He was a 2010-2011 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow serving on the Senate Budget Committee staff. Bafumi teaches courses in American government, public policy and quantitative methods. He's published in several scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis and PS: Political Science & Politics. He received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University. And then we will finish up with Linda Fowler in the middle. Linda is Professor of Government and Frank J. Reagan Chair in Policy Studies here in the Government Department. She teaches courses on American politics and has published widely on topics ranging from congressional elections and candidate recruitment, voter learning in primary elections and congressional oversight of US foreign policy. Beginning in 1995, Linda Fowler was the director of the Rockefeller Center for nine years here at Dartmouth. She's close to my heart in that respect 'cause I was on the Advisory Board at the time that created the Policy Minor in which I now teach. So I was involved in creating my own job, if that's not illegal somehow. Before-- it probably is. Before coming to Dartmouth, she was a professor of political science in the Maxwell School at Syracuse. She served as a staff member in the US House of Representatives and an aide to the Administrator for Water Quality at the EPA. She graduated from Smith College and received her M.A. and PhD from the University of Rochester. So with that, I will turn it over to Brendan and we'll proceed on with the comments. >> All right. Well thanks everybody for coming out. We're just going to say a few words, each of some initial thoughts on the elections to hopefully leave time to hear your comments and questions too. I just want to lead things off here with a big picture of political science take on what happened on the presidential election. I see a couple of my students from the presidency class so this will not be news to them. But the perspective we have on presidential elections is very different from the one that you typically hear in the media. The stories that tend to be told about why presidents succeed or fail and particularly why they have high approval rates or low, why they win reelection and they don't tends to be about the stories they tell or the narrative, right? He is connecting with voters or he's not. His messaging is working or it isn't. And what I think that that perspective misses is the role of what we tend to call the fundamentals. So in this case, it's state of the economy. President Obama has presided over a fairly weak period economically. But the economy right now is in a range in which incumbents tend to be narrowly reelected and that's what we saw. So if you took an average of the forecast published in political science before the election using primarily economic factors, you would have predicted a narrow Obama victory. That model average forecast is about 50.3 percent of the 2-party vote and Obama got 51.1. So, they came very, very close. And so what that suggests is that the state of the economy is structuring a lot of what we've seen. So you'll hear a lot about-- right now, you'll hear a lot of stories about why Obama won and Romney lost that say things like well, Obama's odds defined Romney over the summer. Or, Romney made this or that mistake, there was a gaffe, you know, 47 percent whatever these things are. But a lot of that stuff ultimately didn't move the numbers. If you actually look at the polls, they're quite stable over the whole course of this election. We see that-- we see Obama getting one big bump around his convention speech and that starts to decline off and that first debate comes in as that bounces, it's fading off, right, and Romney makes his games at that point. But after that, things kind of re-equilibrated back to more or less what we expected which was a narrow Obama victory. Now, the problem with this of course is it's not that exciting on a day-to-day basis, right? So imagine you're the media. We the political science just tell you well, the odds of you know, Obama winning are pretty good and they haven't changed that much from yesterday but they want to sell newspapers, right? So they have to say, you know, this gaffe is a game changer. What this candidate said yesterday is going to change everything and it almost never does. It almost never does. That's not to say that there isn't something a candidate could do that would destroy their chance of winning or losing as we'll talk about with the congressional raises, that is possible. But that tends to happen less frequently at the presidential level. That's the-- you know, the folks who get to that point are-- tend to be better politician. And you know, just one last point before I pass to my colleagues. You know, the stories that are told-- I mentioned about messaging. Particularly, there are often stories told about political skill. So the politicians being good or bad politicians and I think it's worth noting that people thought Mitt Romney was a really bad candidate. He didn't have good favorable, unfavorable numbers, he was seen as stiff and unable to connect, so on and so forth. He's going to do about as well as we would have expected a generic challenger to do in this economy. Which, considering where he started out, is pretty well. And let me draw an analogy to you to maybe close this parallel to this race which is 2004. I've been calling this bizarre 2004, this whole election, because you have a challenger who's perceived as a rich, out of touch elitist from Massachusetts running as an incumbent with a middling economic record. So in 2004, people thought of John Kerry the same way, right, he's not a very strong candidate and he actually slightly outperformed what the fundamentalist models predicted. So I think that underscores the, you know, the fact that at least in presidential elections, these underlining structural factors seem to matter most. >> So thank you all for being here and thank you to the Rocky Center for putting this event together. I mostly want to focus on the most predictable crisis that we're facing after this election and have been facing for some time, and that's the fiscal crisis or the budgetary crisis. And the Rocky Center by the way has been great in terms of putting on events that help us focus on this impending crisis with people like Alice Rivlin and Senator Gregg and others here. This is an important, enormously important issue that we need to focus on a lot in coming months. We now have a debt level that rivals or comes close to rivaling the World War II debt levels. It sort of depends on how you calculate debt that the federal government owes itself. But we're looking at enormous debt levels and we're looking at trillion dollar deficits far into the future. And we will not be able to grow out of it economically like we did in that post World War II era. We were very lucky after World War II. You know, we have this enormous debt but we also had an intact manufacturing base that would allow us to produce goods that we could export around the world to places that didn't have that kind of manufacturing base. They were destroyed in developing nations all throughout the world in the war. We also had a growing demographic that was creating more demand and so we could outgrow that debt level. And today, that's not going to happen. We're not going to have those kinds of growth levels, economic growth levels on the future. And we also have a structural budget problem with the entitlements that are owed to people in the future, things like Social Security and Medicare as well as other entitlements like Medicaid. The entitlement obligations are enormous. The shifting demographics are such that we have many fewer people that will be paying into the system, many more people collecting as the boomers retire. That's already-- boomers have already retired and they will continue to in very large numbers. So this creates enormous deficits, enormous debt and the question is well, first question, is this really problem. And the answer is, yes, and I think most people would understand that. For one, we have to pay a lot every year to service the debt. We have to pay interest on the debt. It's estimated that by-- in about 10 years, which isn't really that long, the cost of servicing the debt will be the fourth most expensive obligation that we make every year after Social Security, Medicare and national defense. That is money that will not be spent on homeland security or education or any of a variety of things that the American people value. Further, as our debt level grows and our deficits grow, our credit rating will suffer. It has already suffered and will likely continue to suffer. If we have growing deficits and debt, that will mean that the cost of future borrowing will be higher. It's also been shown that high deficits and debt, particularly high debt can lead to lower economic growth which means a lower quality of life for Americans. And because Americans creates such demand for products all throughout the world, if we are suffering quite a bit, if we are say Japan in the future, enormous debt level, sluggish economy, and we will probably be importing fewer products throughout the world and relegating many people all throughout the world to poverty where otherwise we might be creating [inaudible] middle classes all throughout the world. So this is not only bad for us, it's bad for the world economy. The recent history of how we got here is pretty interesting and worth reviewing quickly. It wasn't long ago that we could be pretty optimistic in the '90s, we had the peace dividend, right, and lower defense spending because of the end of the cold war. We had tax increases that brought in more revenue and we had compromised budgets between Democrats and Republicans after '94 along with the strong economy that led to surpluses. There was a tech boom and bust that softened the economy at the end of the Clinton Administration that would reduce revenues somewhat. Bush had some campaign promises that he honored to his credit but they were costly, things like tax breaks and Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind. Couple that with 9/11 and the wars that followed and increased spending in homeland security and surpluses turned to modest debt or mass deficits and growing debt. Bush tried to tighten spending but it wasn't long into or it was a little bit toward the end of his administration that the housing sector began to crack and not long before 2008 that we had a financial meltdown that led to the great recession that we are experiencing today. This great recession, decrease in employment dramatically. If people aren't working they're not paying revenues, right, and so we don't have money coming in. Meanwhile, a fewer people working, more people in poverty means more people eligible for governmental benefits like Medicaid and food stamps. So more money going out, less money coming in, huge deficits, right? We're averaging trillion dollar deficits these days and for the foreseeable future. Accumulated debt levels have skyrocketed to levels unseen since that World War II era but again, we're not going to be as lucky with economic growth in the future as we were post World War II. Also, the structural budget issues that I mentioned with entitlements and the changing demographics will hurt us even further. So, it's a dire situation, you really can't be pessimistic enough, so what has been done to try and solve it? Well, Obama issued an executive order creating the fiscal commission, what we know as Simpson-Bowles. It was suspect before its creation because the Senate first tried to create such a commission to give the opportunity to present to the Senate floor a grand budget bargain that could be passed in an up or down vote and the Senate failed to do that so the executive order created a weaker commission than the Senate would have created. Nonetheless, they went to work and others did too like the Bipartisan Policy Center assembled a commission to try and deal with the budget situation. Partisan plans tried to advance their own take on how to deal with the situation. Together, if we look at all these plans, there are a lot of impressive ideas for how to solve the fiscal crisis or at least try and get the physical situation under control. Their ideas relating to Social Security, Medicare and national security, revenue policy, we can talk about that more in Q&A. A lot of interesting ideas. Essentially, we know how to bring the situation under control if we really wanted to but we haven't been able to. No plan has gained support. Polarization, divided governments made that very difficult. Republicans don't want to raise taxes. Democrats don't want to deal with entitlement issues. There have been a variety of other efforts that have sputtered like the gang of six for Obama-Boehner negotiations. Nothing really has come forth to solve the fiscal crisis. We did in August of 2011, have to raise the debt limit and so we got the Budget Control Act, which among other things deemed the budget resolutions that the Senate has not, Senate or House have not been able to pass through both chambers. The Senate hasn't even brought it to, hasn't even passed it through its own chamber, its own resolution. Has even had it marked up in a while. The debt limit also decreased spending by about 900 billion dollars for over 10 years and so that's a-- when you have trillion dollar deficits every year and you're cutting 900 billion or a little more than that, over 10 years, you're not really dealing with the situation very well at all, right? But they cut it over 10 years and increased the debt limit about that much in 2011. And they said that anything-- they created a commission that was supposed to find an additional 1.2 trillion dollars in reductions to then increase the debt limit again in 2013. They called this commission the Super Committee. The Super Committee has failed to come up with any grand budget bargain. And the budget control access, if they cannot come up with the bargain, what would happen is across the board cuts or sequestration, equal cuts in security and national-- security and non-security spending in 2013. As written in law right now we are to expect that we will have those across the board cuts with some exceptions. Across the board cuts are very, very severe. Expiring tax cuts as well as expiring unemployment benefits and a debt limit increase. All these things together comprise the physical cliff that is so often discussed. If all those things were to happen, we would have the most dramatic decrees in the deficit in a single year in the history of this country. We would also have another recession, right? That kind of dramatic policy all helping in one year, taxes, spending policy, all happening in one year would very, very likely drive us into another recession. So this election was all about what to do, right? Is there a mandate? Well, it doesn't seem it. For one, we have the status quo prevailing in the House and the Senate and in the White House. We have the parties that were in power before the election, they continue to be in power after the election. So what will happen? It's likely that they will try and delay the provisions in the Budget Control Act. If they are to come up with a grand budget bargain, it will not be early in 2013 so they're going to kick the can down the road a little longer. The question is, will they, before it's too later, will they come up with some kind of bargain? I'm heartened by the fact that some people like Alice Rivlin and Senator Gregg who've come to visit us are optimistic that something can happen. It make take some kind of a mini crisis like a stock market crash to force the politicians in D.C. to compromise and come up with a bargain. Hopefully, if we're lucky, we'll do it without such a crisis that will hit our 401ks pretty hard. So these are the kind of issues that I'm happy to answer your questions about, as well as other issues relating to the election during the Q&A and I've taken much too much time so now I'm going to hand it over to my colleague Linda Fowler. >> Well, now that you're completely depressed, we can talk about the Congress which certainly won't cheer you up. As we know, this Congress has had the lowest approval ratings since anybody started counting, and one would think when the institution of the Congress is at 9 percent that you might have an election in which the voters threw the bombs out but in fact that isn't what happened. The pundits' take on this election is status quo. This was a status quo election. The same parties that controlled the House and Senate are still in control. There was a slight amount of movement. It looks as if the Senate will have 53 Democrats instead of 51 with 2 independents caucusing with them instead of one independent caucus and that the House will have somewhere between 234 or 235 Republicans compared to 200 or 201 Democrats. And all of this contrast really sharply with the big swing elections we had in 2006, 2008, and 2010 where we had a large number of newly elected freshen coming into the Congress, which always reminded me of a famous saying in one of the federalist papers by James Madison which effectively said, when you have high turnover in the legislature, the lawmakers will be more likely to be led astray by demagogues. So it's necessarily a good thing to have turnover but what was quite troubling about this election, particularly given the low approval of Congress, was that only about 50 of the seats were viewed as competitive, that 50 seats were not contested, where you had I think 25 seats were Democrats didn't have a candidate and another 25 where Republicans didn't and what's more, you had of course as a round-- as the result of a round of gerrymandering we had fewer open seats because there were some retirements but not a massive amount of retirement because of changes in the census that predicted some states losing seats and some other states losing-- gaining seats. And sometimes in those elections, you get a big turnout, a bunch of retirement and that didn't happen either. But beneath the appearance of relative calm or status quo, I think you can observe a number of important shifts that will have bearing on some of the issues that Joe was referencing. The thing that's important of course is there has been much talk now about how the electorate has changed and the whole story post election was demographics, demographics, demographics and how the Republicans have to deal with that. The fact of the matter is it isn't just in the presidential election that we see that in the swing states. But this is quite a striking thing in the Democratic caucus now. It's the first time ever that the white men have not been a majority in the Democratic caucus. And we also see notable increase of women in both the House and the Senate. There are four newly elected Democratic women and one woman to replace the two retiring Democrats-- Republican women. And so we're up to a total of 20 which is not as many as most women would like to see. But it's reversing a kind of a stable pattern where it's-- where actually in 2010 women actually lost representation at the House. And it appears that women were winning in open seats. The old days, when women got the nominations to be sacrificial lambs, those to appear to be over and so, some of the most competitive Senate races in the country as well as House races were being fought over open seats by women. And so the place looks different and it's continuing to look different. Women also have somewhere between 5 and 6 more seats in the newly elected House. There is some dampening of the Tea Party influence. I think everybody is quite aware that Michele Bachmann barely squeaked by her race with about 3 thousand 32 hundred votes. It looks as if Allen West will lose his seat. He hasn't conceded yet and the race is very close in Florida. And that Walsh in Illinois, another very vocal Tea Party representative has lost his seat. So, I don't think the two Tea Party movement is a phenomenon that it's expired. But it certainly doesn't have the same bite that it did. And the most reason for that of course is that we're now up to five Senate seats that the Republicans should have controlled as a result of the 2010 and 2012 elections that they don't control because of Tea Party influence in primary races and so, the most obvious ones are Mourdock in Indiana and Mandel in Ohio and Todd Akin in Missouri. Those are all seats that should have gone to Republican senators. And it's hard to imagine, again, sort of putting this in context, political scientists wanted to say one of the best predictors of how many seats a party is going to lose, look at how many seats are in play. This was a very advantageous year for Republicans because there were 23 Democratic seats in play and only 10 Republican seats. So the Democrats started off at a huge disadvantage and it's just fairly astonishing that not only do they still control the Senate but they've picked up seats. I think the other thing that-- certainly, the conventional wisdom thought that a lot of these races would be influenced by money in the aftermath of the Citizen United Case. In the 2010 elections, what we saw were groups coming in late and dumping money into elections and making a difference. Not very many corporations were involved with that because they were very unsure about what the law actually meant, so it was mostly driven by individuals but this time, the amount of independent expenditure money which is well over a billion dollars, as near as we can track it, was thought to be, to make a big difference. And I think a lot of people thought, okay, the old Will Rogers' joke, we have the best Congress money can buy was really going to be a reality after this election. And so, this is one of those cases where what we thought was going to happen again as with changing hands in the Senate didn't happen. It appears from what, as near as I can tell, that 2 of the 10 races that-- where you had major independent expenditure groups operating, two of those were-- the candidates who were supported by these groups were victorious and in both cases, I think an argument could be made that the money didn't make a difference at all. One was Nebraska where the independent money was actually, there wasn't very much of it and I think Fischer, the woman who took over the seat, is somebody who would have won anyway. The same would be true of Cruz in Texas. They really didn't need that money to win. And maybe there are four House races where this money made a difference. And so one way, like I said, well for this hundred billion dollars, the rate of return was about 1 percent in terms of what the people-- what people were funding these races actually had to show for it. But in the end, what seems to have been going on that the efforts of groups like this were trying to nationalize the race to capitalize on disaffection with Barack Obama in a number of swing states. And yet, all of these candidates, Missouri being most notable, went for the Senate can-- the Democratic Senate candidate. And I think a lot of what was going on is that most-- not most but a great deal of that money was wasted. It was spent on very high salaries for consultants, multiple advertisements when one or two might have done the trick, you know. A lot of the ads were-- there were such saturation that the economists in the room would say probably the margin of return on the tenth ad in the last 30 minutes was probably not very great. So the effort to nationalize these races turned out to not work as well as many people feared because the money was spent so inefficiently. I think though despite the fact that a lot of the things that we thought should have happened and didn't, and the fact that this really didn't change the playing field very much, I think it really did matter in terms of the big picture for two reasons, and I'd be interested in your reaction to this. The situation in Congress has changed for two reasons. One, the President had a tough reelection fight. He had to abandon his "I'm above partisan politic stance" and fight for his reelection. I don't think there is going to be much more of the post-partisan stance. I think he had a very hard lesson. And what it takes if you're going to be president of this raucous, diverse, colorized country and that he's going to have to behave differently in his second term. And he may have even developed a little bit of taste for it in the last couple of weeks. But the second thing is the train has shifted in the debate over, particularly over deficits. The status quo is now an option that is very unappealing to both parties. And there is a-- and I think they both know they can't kick the can or just wait for the voters to decide this issue in the next election. Voters, this is an issue where voters are going to take their cues from political elites, not the other way around. And so the mandatory spending cuts, the expiration of tax cuts, all of these things make the status quo something that I think is inherently advantageous to the President. So for all the difficulties that he had in his four years in office, I think what's been demonstrated is that the gridlock strategy that the Republicans pursued very effectively. It really didn't achieve the goals that the GOP had in unseating Obama and taking over the Senate. And so there is a brief time for reflection I think where insiders like Judd Gregg are telling us that there is a lot of movement out there. And although the election doesn't really create any sort of resolution about which direction the country should take, it hasn't really-- it doesn't interfere, I don't think, with the Congress being part of some kind of a solution. >> Great. Thank you very much. I will-- we have microphones somewhere, I believe. We'll send those around. So if you have a question, please raise your hand and then wait for the microphone. So right down here in the right. >> Oh, it is on. Hi, Professor Bafumi, is this on? >> I can hear you. >> Okay, a couple of questions related to deficit and the economy. First of all, what kind of an impact is the winding down and ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan going to have on that because I mean, we hear all these figures about trillion-dollar-cause and things like that. And the second thing is, yeah, you were pretty gloomy in your whole assessment but there are some really good strands in the American economy and can you talk about what those are that will help us out of the situation that may not be entirely dependent on what the Congress does? >> Sure. >> As for me, I didn't think you were nearly gloomy enough. [Laughter] >> Maybe I'm somewhere in the middle, so. >> If you mentioned healthcare. >> Well, in terms of wars winding down, they'll save us some money and that's a good thing. Obama's talked about, you know, taking half of those savings and spending them to renew our own infrastructure and education systems and that sounds great, but all of that spending has been deficit spending. So it's not really, you know, it isn't any-- no portion of the spending on the wars is money that is being taken in with revenue. So if they're all used for savings, that's going to be good from the perspective of getting us into a better fiscal situation. If, on the other hand, only a portion of those are used toward relieving our deficit situation and others are spent in other ways, you know, that obviously isn't going to be quite as good, although those who want to spend in infrastructure, education do say that they're better for a long term economic growth and long term economic growth will help us deal with a substantial debt burden. Anything we can do to grow the economy is going to be good for dealing with the fiscal situation. It will bring in more revenue and it can help us. Eventually, if we get things under control enough we can maybe pace the growth of the debt with higher economic growth. There are, you know, the economy is still an enormous economy, very wealthy country. This goes in our favor. We are however going to, you know, the road of Japan and then Greece and we have to do everything we can to prevent that because it will mean lower quality of lives for ourselves and our children and it will reverberate all throughout the world. So it is scary. I think that being pessimistic and trying to get people in D.C. to do something about this as quickly as possible, not waiting until there's a stock market crash, would be very good for us all. >> Right there in the front. [ Pause ] >> Thanks for your comments, all of you. I appreciate the input. The fiscal cliff, would each of you define exactly as you think through it how it's going to be introduced, passed, and soon signed in time for January 1st and is it just a question of null and voiding that act? Or does it involve re-emphasizing what we do fiscally? And how we go about balancing the budget or never mind balancing budget, how we go about getting rid of the fiscal cliff? >> Right, just, you know, how-- right. This is a tough question and it opened one that's what we're all grappling with, how-- including people in D.C., the leaders of the chambers, the President. You know, for one, they are-- the President was very clear about this in the debates. They are not going to let all the provisions of the Budget Control Act come to place, right? They're not going to allow those enormous spending cuts. They're not going to have all those tax cuts expire. What they will do no doubt is to buy themselves more time. So I think the first piece of legislation we'll see is one that kicks the can down the road a bit. Something like the Budget Control Act did. The Budget Control Act was a measure that kicked the can down the road a bit. They're going to pass another bill like that, no doubt, into law. That will then give them additional time to come up with a grand budget bargain. And when that happens and how it happens, given divided government and polarization is the open question, if nothing else, well I guess there are two options if they don't do it in the old fashion way of deliberation, compromise, come up with a solution. They don't do it at all and then we, again, we go the way of Japan and Greece. Or we experience, as I mentioned, a stock market crash that mobilizes the American people to get these legislators to do something because when we're here hit in our pocket books and we will be with the crash like that, the 401ks and otherwise, we're going to get those politicians to do something about it. And we saw this with TARP and other instances. Hopefully, I'm, you know, I'm hopeful that it'll happen in the old fashion way of deliberation and compromise long before there is any kind of crash or anything that's destabilizing to our economy. >> This is one of those crises that Congress created and Congress can change it any time it wants. And personally, I think kicking the can down the road in the short run is probably the smartest thing to do. That's not what I personally prefer by the way but basically, you can't rewrite the tax code in a couple of weeks with a Lame Duck Congress, that's just stupid. You can't trim a trillion dollars out of a complicated budget like the defense budget and the discretionary budget. And what's more, the BCA that Joe is referencing exempts entitlement spending. And we all know that it's Medicare and Medic Aid that is really driving the train over the cliff eventually and neither or none of this really forces any effort to address those things. So my-- so if I were the President, this is what I would do. I would embrace Simpson-Bowles or something very like it. I would put it on the table and then I would say, this is the option and I'm not signing anything that isn't this. And I think we know from the past that it will be the Republicans in Congress who will be blamed for it and the pressure will be on them, and we know from the polls that Republicans in Congress are viewed much more negatively than Democrats in Congress even though they both are to blame for what's been going on. And so, if I were doing the politics of it, I would do a game of chicken. >> I'd be glad to have you do it. >> Personally, I don't think the fiscal cliff is as scary as many people do. It-- no, it takes a long time to-- for these-- I mean the defense budget doesn't just drop by, you know, 100 million dollars or 100 billion dollars on January 1. It takes awhile for those cuts to kick in. The tax cut-- the tax rates that will be expiring around next year is in, you know, they're not on 2012 income, really. And the one that would go into effect automatically would be the [inaudible] of those Social Security, tax reduction rates and those need to go back up where they were. So I'm not as alarmed about this and if the markets need to impose a little discipline on the lawmakers, I say let them do it. >> Yeah, I think Linda's point is important there. We often speak about these things in metaphorical terms and fiscal cliff is a very dramatic image. It doesn't actually correspond to the way the policy works, right? So nothing-- unless there is some sort of a crazy market crash like Joe is describing, you know, the policy piece is going take a while to kick in. Most economies think this is not a time that you want radical-- the kind of austerity that would be imposed by the provisions in the so-called fiscal cliff but it's not a cliff in a sense, you know, we're not driving over a-- and when you drive over a cliff, right, you're done, right? But if we-- by January 2nd if they cut a deal instead of December 31st, nothing really happens, right, it's messier and so forth but it's not a catastrophe. >> Yes, next, right there. I mean I will say the thing that scares economists is healthcare cost. And interesting, most of the interesting work on bringing healthcare cost is done here at Dartmouth as you've probably seen in other respects. >> Hi, I just like to get each panel members' response to a question about the Citizen United decision, how it affected the election this year and do you anticipate President Obama having an opportunity to select a Supreme Court nominee with the retirement or resignation of one of more Republican type people on the court. And I'll just throw one last thing in. Regarding the election in Ohio, was it not the Citizen United decision with heavily pouring in of money that made it such a tight race in Ohio and in particular the Senate race involving Sherrod Brown where but for the fact that a count of money was thrown in by the Democrats and foot soldiers on the streets doing enormous kind of work to get out their vote that might have made the difference on it. A lot to that question but I'd like to hear what each one of you-- how you would respond. >> Thanks. I think the point that you made at the end there as far as the influence of money is the important one. In Ohio, there was a lot of money on the air from both sides. And the best research suggests the TV ad effects are short lived and that in a lot of cases campaigns are essentially fighting to a tie. And so while the super pack seemed to play this dramatic role in the selection in terms of what people saw on TV that for instance in the presidential race the net balance of spending was quite even between the two sides when you add the campaigns and the independent groups together and that's why we saw an outcome that was consistent with what, for instance, the economic evidence would suggest. So I think it's important to remember, right, that a lot of these ads, you know, they're fighting to a tie essentially. You know, it's and it's hard to know how much of an effect the spending has had. You know the fact that, for instance, the candidates that cross roads, GPS back mostly lost, doesn't mean the ads weren't effective because of course any group could only spend money on candidates they knew would win, right, for Congress, right? That would be very easy. You can have 100 percent success rate, just spend money in all the safe seats, right? So we don't know that the money didn't make a difference but all the best research suggest actually that the effect of money is often overseen in campaigns. So that's one point and I'll defer to my colleagues on the others. Supreme Court justices. >> Well, certainly there are a lot of judges who are over the age of 70 which is a very young age. [laughter] And I'm sure they're all in their prime but certainly, with 4 years to go, certainly the prospect is quite possible. It's quite likely that one or the other of the judges most likely to retire would be so-called liberal or democratic judges. So I'm not sure that if Obama gets to nominate another judge or two that it would necessarily change the balance of the court. That said, I think that there are a lot of ways to get a more transparent finance system. When the court issued Citizens United it basically made a-- it invited Congress to change the rules about transparency. And there is something called the Disclose Act in the Senate which was filibustered. But there are also some things, it's never been clear to me why the protections for social welfare organizations which crossroads says it is, why the IRS rules would necessarily allow that to continue to be a way of injecting a lot of money, anonymous money into the campaign process. I guess I find myself agreeing with Newt Gingrich in some ways. The problem is if there's not-- not that there is too much money in the campaigns but that there is too little in places where it really, for me-- it's there isn't enough of it in some races. So with a high profile race like the presidency where you have candidates basically able to be pretty even, where it matters is in lower races and what is most troubling to me are in state elections. Montana, for example, which had its very astringent campaign law overturn because of Citizens United was just inundated with ads for the state legislature, the governor's races and so forth, and I think it's very problematic in judicial races, many of which are subject to election. So I think the problem isn't the amount of money but sort of where it can make a difference and it tends to make a difference in lower profile races where it's much harder to see, to track what's going on. So I have kind of mixed sentiments about Citizens United. I think there are some ways within the way that the court has defined free speech that we could get more transparency. We could change some of the regs. The FEC, for example, is actually more responsible for some of the more egregious loopholes in the campaign finance rules than the court in my view. And it's been a joke as a regulator really since it was created. Think they don't even have a working majority right now, do they, because there had been vacancies that have been left on the field. >> Well, why don't we take more questions instead, you know, unless it's-- >> Why don't we go in the blue, second in from the aisle next to Vincent there? >> Professor Fowler, I think in your initial statement you mentioned the change in demographics, do you think that had a significant effect in the presidential and congressional races? And do you expect perhaps if it did that the Republican Party would change its message in the next election to better address the new demographics? >> Oh yeah, I think demographics mattered a lot in the fact that we're seeing a number of western states that had been very Republican beginning to shift. And if you begin to look at sort of some of the states that we think of now as red states, in Georgia for example, the difference between Romney and Obama was only about 7 percentage points. So some of these red states are not so red and some of the blue states are not so blue. And, but I think the coalition that Obama has assembled is a volatile one. Low income, low education, minority voters and young people and independent women are hard to mobilize and we saw the effects of that in 2010. They stayed home and you had basically the field left to the Tea Party and Republicans and I think that's very likely that that will happen again because the effort that the Obama campaign and the state parties made was just extraordinary and there aren't the resources available in an off year election. But over time I think that-- it was easy I think for Republicans to dismiss the Obama victory in 2008 as kind of this romantic flight that we all took. This was a historic election, it was a-- for many people it was a feel good election and finally, kind of getting over this terrible scar of race that's marred our history since the beginning. And so it was easy to dismiss Obama as a celebrity candidate and so forth but I think, you know, the second time around, I think that's really driven home the extent to which it's-- it really is a different world out there. That said, in 2008, I've sat on a similar panel like this one with a newly elected senator named Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio who was Romney's debate coach and obviously, did a very good job. And he said, well this 2008 election sends us a message, we're looking at 60 seats in the Senate and with Democratic control of the House and whatever and boy, we'd really got to go back and search our souls and figure out how to reach out to minor voters. And I think he was speaking sincerely but obviously, that message didn't take in 2008 and I'm not sure it will now. I think Romney was actually the best candidate the Republicans had and I think he will be blamed unfairly for being a bad candidate. But that's how it would be used to say we don't have to pay attention to this. >> Let's go over to this side right here. Right, the one right there. >> You talked about the groups that would be hard to mobilize again in 2014 but it seemed that they were mobilized this time maybe, in my mind, because of the threat of the voter ID and voter suppression. I mean I heard report say, blacks were coming out not so much for-- they were really angry at having voter suppression. And how much do you think this really played in those swing states, the threat of voter suppression even here in New Hampshire. >> There's been some political science research that have shown that these voter-- these laws do suppress turnout among groups that are or prevent from voting groups that tends to be more democratic. And so, that's why you see the Democratic Party trying to fight some of these laws and the Republican Party is for them. It sound all very sensible but sometimes they do disenfranchise voters and it tends to be Democratic voters. What, you know, what that will mean for coming elections as these laws are instituted and increased in number throughout the states, it probably will mean more of a struggle for Democratic constituencies. One more, let me just quickly because it relates I think to both questions. One of the most interesting groups out there right now are Latinos, in this last election. Latinos were more likely to vote for Obama in 2012 than in 2008. They were also more likely to turn out. Now, put this in perspective. African-Americans turned out 30 percent in 2008 according to exit polls, 30 percent in 2012, they were about 2 percent less likely to vote for Obama in 2012 and 2008 as almost every group was. Less likely, it was a culture race, makes a lot of sense. Latinos who were more likely to turn out, they went from 9 percent to 10 percent turnout from '08 to '12. And they voted about 4 percent more likely. Last I saw 4 percent more likely for Obama. Latinos are becoming king makers in a sense, right? 44 percent voted for Bush in 2004. That was enough to put him over the top, 37 percent or so, somewhere in the 30s, voted for McCain, not quite enough. Now Romney got only 20 something percent of the Latino vote and, you know, it didn't pull it off. Had he gotten anything close to what McCain had gotten I think he may have been the winner and he was, you know, it's a much closer race than many supposed. In fact, the fundamentals are right about predicting the match up when we just look at the national popular vote but if you look at the electoral map, small adjustments, even with that same popular votes, small adjustments could have given Romney many more electoral votes, maybe even 270, things like had he picked Portman he may have been more easily carried Ohio. Had he forgotten about Wisconsin, left Wisconsin's side, left Pennsylvania's side and used those resources in Florida and Virginia and New Hampshire too, that would have given him 270 electoral votes. So it was actually much closer than some supposed and so a group doing that, Latinos doing what they did made the difference. And that's something that Obama is going to be thinking a lot about when he's thinking about immigration reform and other policies important to Latinos. And it's also something that the Republicans are going to think long and hard about. They're going to think about what their position on the DREAM Act and immigration reform and other policy areas that are important to Latinos. >> Right here on the aisle, please. >> Thank you. Forty eight years ago I had the opportunity to attend a similar kind of event after the Johnson-Goldwater discussion and Oliver Quayle who was Goldwater's pollster was the speaker at the great issues course that night and he pointed out that 30 percent of the eligible voters don't vote, 30 percent vote for the Democrats because they always have, 30 percent vote for the Republicans because they always have, 5 percent vote on emotional issues, they like the look of the Kennedy family. Mr Nixon had a 5 o'clock shadow, and 5 percent actually looked at the issues and study the issues. I guess my question is, in the past 48 years and perhaps only in the past 4 years has that ratio changed? How many people actually look at the issues as opposed to those that look at the individuals and the feel good and like demand? And of that, how many people fully understand the issues? I think the questions here are interesting. We're all worried about the fiscal cliff but I'm not sure if we took a test many of us could actually define what it is we're worried about. >> Well, you know, so the American public scores fairly low on tests of what we call political knowledge in various forms. And that hasn't changed. I think the people who follow politics closely are probably better informed at least about the details than ever before. There's more information that you can get your hands on if you really want to know, right? There's a certain form of informational inequality. There's a very interesting bid of research by Markus Prior of Princeton about how cable television induced more informational inequality because before cable television you had to watch the news because it was the only thing on at the times when they ran the news, right? So you couldn't avoid it and when everyone got a newspaper you had chanced encounters with information you might not have been exposed to, right? But when you take away those things that put information in front of people, you get wider disparities. Now, as far as why people vote, you know, do a lot of people vote on the basis of party, yes. But for many of those people, that's a standing decision based on their issue positions, not all, not all, but many and it's a way-- it's a very efficient way to organize our political system around a bundle of issues. It's not perfect, right? But, you know, and-- so party plays-- has this dynamic relationship with people's views on issues, right? So in some cases you believe in an issue so strongly you'll change your party label because of it, right? So we've seen a couple of issues like that in the last few decades but in other cases, people will go along with their party on some issue, right. They'll reconcile that difference by coming into alignment with their party on an issue. So, you know, I guess I would just-- I would question the premise that voting on the basis of party is an uninformed kind of voting. Some political scientists actually think it's the smartest kind of voting, that we overemphasize the importance of the person, and that, you know, the way we view the political system often is very party-centric, particularly in Congress. And so, there's actually a very sophisticated argument for voting on the party label and paying no attention to who the person is at all, right? I don't know if any of you have seen these ads for candidates who promised to be independent and say, "I won't vote the party line. I'm going to stand up for insert state here", right? But that's not what they do in practice, right? Even the most moderate members of Congress are quite reliable, party line votes most of the time. >> There's a different between a Republican in Massachusetts and a Republican in Wyoming. >> Much less than they used to be. >> Less than they used to be. >> Much less than they used to be. >> I'm going to inject before we take another question. Everything we've talked about is getting people to Washington, D.C. The problem with these campaigns and this is coming from a policy standpoint is that the Democratic candidates did not prepare their supporters for the notion that you were going to have to cut entitlements. That's just math. Simpson-Bowles is quite clear on that. The retirement age is going to go up. Healthcare spending is going to go down in terms of its growth. That may mean you spend more out of pocket and maybe you have fewer choices. Meanwhile, the Republicans have not informed their supporters that revenues are going to go up. And so, when you have a campaign that reinforces those preexisting beliefs that are incompatible with the facts on the ground, then you arrive back in D.C. less prepared than we were before to confront the budget problems. So, that to me is the bigger problem at the campaign, less about who would actually propel to Washington. Wade John [phonetic], way back there. >> I was very encouraged to hear Linda Fowler embrace Simpson-Bowles 'cause I think if Barack Obama had embraced Simpson-Bowles when it first was proposed, first of all, the country would be in better position right now and he probably would've cruised to a reelection. I don't think, you know. >> No. >> Okay. [laughter] Well, I don't think Romney could've embraced it because he couldn't have gotten the nomination if he embraced it. >> That's true. >> But I think if-- I hope Barack Obama will embrace it. Number one, do you think he will? Number two, do you think the congressional Republicans would have the-- would be stubborn enough to fight him on that? Because I think if they do, I think especially with the demographics that they're facing, the demographic challenges they're facing, I think they condemn themselves to be a minority party for a very long period of time. >> How many times have we seen the Republicans written off after Goldwater, after Watergate? How many times have we seen the Democrats written off after the Reagan landslide, after whatever? >> '94. >> What's remarkable about our two parties is how resilient they are. They may do all the wrong things and eventually get it right. I can't get into the heads of the people who are advising the president. I think it's fair to say that the president after his grand bargain with John Boehner fell apart in August of 2011. He got burned and wasn't about to go with Simpson-Bowles at that point, and I think he felt there was enough time that he could wait, they all felt they had enough time after the election. I think what everybody in Washington is looking for right now is political cover. There are a lot of senators who are aware that they are up for reelection in 2014, they don't want to be the next Richard Lugar. And so that really ties some of their hands including the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. There are also a lot of Republicans in the House who've signed pledges. Many, a hundred I think with Grover Norquist who basically is taking it upon himself to decide what constitutes a tax increase. So, I think the only way they can get enough political cover is if the president provides it, and if they can all make the case that had they not done this it would've been so much worse for their respective constituencies. But I share Charlie's view, none of these things look like they really-- you can avoid the fiscal cliff without doing anything in the short run about the biggest problem which is healthcare. I think Social Security is relatively easy to fix and we have an expert sitting here who can tell us how to do it, but they think the healthcare one is much more problematic. And I think the revenue fix is-- People always credit Ronald Reagan with, you know, having stimulated the economy and laid the foundation for the boom in the 1990s by cutting taxes. In my view, that's wrong. That what really made the difference were two things, both by Republican presidents, one was the Reagan Tax Reform Act of '86 that got rid of a lot of the distorting deductions, and George H.W. Bush who negotiated the PAYGO rules, and which kept a lid on tax reductions and spending increases for a decade until the Republicans [inaudible] during the Bush year. So, I think we actually know how to do this. I actually think we've done it. There are presidents there. And, so maybe if you can wrap some of this in Ronald Reagan, maybe that will make it more palatable. Let's not forget it. It was Reagan who was party to amnesty for illegal immigrants. >> [Inaudible] Mark? [ Pause ] >> In California, this year there were some reforms in place for the elections like they had a nonpartisan draw line of like congressional districts and a reformed primary system where the top two candidates regardless of party went on to the general election. So like if you could comment on how effective these reforms were and if they'd be worth implementing in other states. >> Well, that will be interesting to see. I mean I haven't looked at this yet. It'll be interesting to see if those candidates that emerge from those kinds of contexts tend to be less partisan candidates and maybe it attenuates this sort of polarization that we have today. I don't know that it does 'cause I think past-- I don't know about this election but in past elections because Louisiana has a similar system for example, I think that it's been shown that very ideologically extreme candidates still can emerge from those kinds of systems. As to whether or not they did this time around I'm not sure. But if it's in fact that shown that such institutions will allow for less polarized candidates then it sounds like it might be a really good idea. >> But the-- I mean, you know, again the evidence. So, the tendency is to blame polarization on gerrymandering. So, as the political scientists at the table on the front, we just have to say no, no, no, no, no, right. So, if that were true, the senate would be much less polarized in the House, and they've polarized almost at parallel, right. You can't redraw state lines, right. And yet the Senate doesn't look any better than the House. It's somewhat different institutional rules but the polarization trends we've seen are very, very similar. And the best available political science evidence says, gerrymandering is at best a small part of polarization. >> Gerrymandering or primary systems don't seem to be a good predictor of polarization either, right? >> Right, right. >> Which gets to the other part of the question. >> That's right. >> So, you know, what does cause polarization and a lot of theories out there. Well, it might be something as simple as the end of the Cold War giving us an international context which was less international external threat, and so we could divide much more on issues than we had before, even domestic issues possibly. >> The end of race dividing the Democratic Party in the south is the story I would tell. And so, there used to be essentially a three party system in Congress and that went away. And that held-- we-- a lot of our politics are structured around the mythical Golden Age or the mid-20th century when we had three parties, but that's an aberration in American political history, not he norm. We're returning to a norm which is sharp polarization. >> A regional realignment with not only the south but in this part of the country too becoming more democratic. And so, these things contribute to polarization as well. >> But there are other commission models out there. The one in Iowa seems to have red-- had the effect of reducing the incumbency advantage for House elections. And, so House races in Iowa are more competitive now than they were prior. So a lot of it depends on kind of what the reformed change really, how it works on the ground. >> Andrew? >> I appreciate your remarks on the fiscal cliff. I think we should take it because it's the only policy option we have available that resets the amount of revenue we collect to something that could approach covering the amount of money we spend. On this last issue of gerrymandering, there's a great article in slight today about just how-- I mean I leave the gerry-- the link between gerrymandering and possible polarization aside. We have two national elections. We elect the speaker of the House and we elect the president. We choose to do the congressional districts to elect the speaker of the House. We choose to use the senate districts to elect the president through the Electoral College. The surprising thing is that the Electoral College way of adding things up should favor the Republicans, and 60 percent of the votes there went to the Democrat. The arrangement in the House shouldn't necessarily favor them but the Republicans retained control. And if you look at the map in places like Virginia or Pennsylvania, you see that they have a very small minority of their congressional delegation is Democratic even though they went in the same national election for the Democratic president, and it's because of extreme gerrymandering that is the result of the Republicans controlling the state house in those two states as a result of the 2010 elections. Without that gerrymandering, you don't have the House in Republican hands and you actually have the opportunity for the will of the people, which happen to go democratic this time, to actually get to federal government to move in a coherent policy direction. You would only have the holdouts on the Republican side in the Senate standing in your way. And you could actually move legislation like we did between 2008 and 2010. There were reasonably serious legislative accomplishments in that particular Congress. And I'm just wondering what political scientists think is the best way to get around the problem of gerrymandering. >> Well, we can't agree on how to measure it because it's very difficult to disentangle from incumbency effects in the House. And incumbency is the most powerful predictor of vote. It's also difficult to separate it from the quality of challengers. And this year, it was diff-- you know, there were all these seats were there were now challengers. And some people would say that was because of gerrymandering in those districts, and other people would say, well, it's just that the communities are very homogenous. So, you have some people like Robert Putnam saying that people are tending to live in like-minded communities and so it's getting very difficult in some parts of the country to draw heterogenous districts, even if the politicians wanted to. I think gerrymandering did make a difference. We now have the father of one of my students newly elected to Congress yesterday by 1 percent and he said that this had been a district that was held briefly by a Republican. And thanks to the Illinois legislature, the Democrats picked up four seats. We know that Republicans picked up seats in Texas thanks to creative gerrymandering and we know there are other examples of this around. It's probably no more than 15 to 20 seats. So it isn't quite enough to prevent the kind of policy-- majority you'd like to see but it's not zero. >> Can I add one point? So, I think the thing that's tricky about gerrymandering is it's easy-- so, you know, gerrymandering was used to lock in incumbent protection in these places where the Republicans picked up a lot of seats in 2010, right. So it does look extreme when you look at the map. But if you think about the Democrat who would replace them in those seats, so if you imagine-- we can even have chalk. Okay, now, it's a real academic lecture, right. If these are the Ds and these are the Rs, right, maybe you can protect an R here but if you're getting a D here, if that person isn't gerrymandered in, there's still this huge gap between them, right. It's not, you're typically not getting replacements in the middle that would reduce the polarization between the two parties. >> Gerrymandering is not homogenous districts, it's selectively heterogenous districts that put one party at a-- in a mixed district that they have no hope of winning. That's what gerrymandering is. It's allocating the minority party in such a way that they can't get full representation. That's what happened. >> Right. I don't want zero Republicans in the district. I want 49 percent so I can waste them all there. [Laughter] >> But sometimes they screw up and they lose those races, right. That's part-- that's one of the other reasons that it's not as effective as it seems. >> As a new [inaudible] from Illinois, Joe Walsh was deliberately targeted in the gerrymandering, right. They said we can draw this district to get rid of him. And he was drawn and all the campaign literature said, you know, Democrats can win here 'cause we've [inaudible] Joe Walsh and Joe Walsh is now gone. Now, he did a lot of that himself. Right here, please, on the aisle. [ Pause ] >> Do you have any comments as to the prospect of the filibuster rules in the Senate being changed so that something might be accomplished in the next four years? >> Amen! [Laughter] I think people forget. >> It was a question. [Laughter] >> I think people forget that the constitution says, "Each chamber is a judge of its own rules and makes its own rules." And we become so accustomed to saying that legislation and congress needs a 60, you know, a 60-vote majority. In the senate, we forget how recently that's become the norm. I think there is serious talk afoot about more-- about doing some rules changes and, but the Democrats will have to be willing to take their chances. You know, they have been unwilling to rein in Republicans' use of this or they were the ones who objected to Trent Lott trying to-- what was it, the nuclear option years ago in preventing filibusters of judicial nominations, which I actually thought was a good idea. I think there should be a presumption that presidents ought to be able to nominate people that they think are good, potentially good judges. And it was the Democrats who didn't want to, you know, who were reluctant to do that. Right now, the only legislation we have in the Senate that is filibuster proof are the budget resolutions. That's why we have the fiscal cliff on taxes by the way because the Republicans couldn't get the Bush Tax cuts through the senate in 2001 or '03 because of filibusters. So they passed them under resolution-- budget resolutions which meant that they would expire in 10 years, and that's why they were renewed for two and now they're done. So, there are mechanisms to do that. But in many ways, there are a lot of efforts in-- around the country to institutionalize super majorities, particularly where taxes are concerned. So, I don't know-- right now, I don't have a sense of what the climate is for there but I know there is a talk about it. >> Right down here in font. [ Pause ] >> Someone here touched on questions about the Supreme Court. I was curious, do you anticipate major changes in cabinet positions and such? >> Well, yeah, go on. >> I mean, last I heard Hillary Clinton was looking to step down. If that hasn't changed, I would expect that that would turn over. And typically, when presidents are reelected there are quite a few turnovers, quite a few seats that turn. And so I do think there will be a different cabinet. It will be interesting to see who replaces Hillary Clinton in particular. Maybe it'll be Senator Kerry from Massachusetts. >> Geithner. >> Geithner, right. He's been talking a lot and I think he's been wanting out for a while. And so it'll be interesting to see who replaces him. I think there will be turnover. Yup. [Inaudible Remark] Let me say-- oh, go ahead. >> Please wait for the microphone. >> Thanks. I just like to come back to just the 2010 elections. And don't you think President Obama and his political aide's bare responsibility for the failure of those elections in light of the fact this was redistricting year, every 10 years after the census is taken. And the Republicans really figured it out that this would be a significant way to come back into power in terms of taking over state legislatures, governorships, and then setting up the redistrict thing to favor themselves so strongly. And also, to try to suppress the vote of democratic, you know, traditional democratic voters. So that it was a combined strategy they thought, you know. You know, and the other overriding question is, do you think the attempts to restrict voting or voting suppression are immoral? Thanks. >> Well, let met take-- I'm always telling my students in Gov III, we invest way too much a power in our minds to the presidency. The president is not the government. And I think we greatly think that the president is capable of doing more things than is appropriate. In this case, we know the presidents almost [inaudible] seats in an off year elections. In this year, we-- and we know that Republican voters are more likely to turn out in off year elections because they tend to be low salience elections and young people and minorities and independent, undecided women, tend to stay home. That wasn't unique to 2010, it's happened a number of times. So, to blame that on Obama and his staff was it unlucky for the Democrats? You bet. But I think there are just a lot of factors at work there that you can't just say, the president could have done something differently. That said, this president has been criticized for not extending his ability to raise money and his ability to organize two House races. And there's a lot of resentment of that in the House. And you can contrast that with George Bush in 2002 who campaigned very vigorously in House seats and actually increased his margin in the House by some percentage. A small number of seats but it was positive. So presidents can change these things at the margins but I don't think there was going to be a large democratic majority left in the House because the Democrats had two wave elections in 2006, 2008. They were holding a lot of seats that they really didn't-- that didn't really belong to them in the sense of party alignment. So, and this is where Brendan talks about, it's the fundamentals. You really have to take that into account. >> And if I can just say-- can I just add? Can I just add one more thing to that? If you want to blame the present's staff, you know, the fundamentals like for instance Joe is one of the people who've worked on midterm election modelling and those tended to predict about a 4-year 45 seat loss in the House. The Democrats actually lost around 65. And, you know, I've done some research to suggest that the difference may be attributable to healthcare reform, right. So, the president paid a policy cost for healthcare reform in the sense that the Democrats who voted for it did systematically worse and were perceived as [inaudible] and systematically worse than 2010 election, right. So, it depends how you trade off politics against policy, right. If you think that's one of the most important legacies of Obama's first term as many of his supporters do then maybe that's a cost you're willing to pay. That might explain why the Democrats did especially bad. We've expected them to lose seats but they did even worse than we expected. >> So the voter suppression piece? >> Oh! >> Is it immoral? >> [Inaudible] the big issue of voter suppression and restricting people trying to vote. That was the other part of my question about, is it immoral in a sense in this country to bring out that these attempts to restrict voting suppress votes of certain minority groups. Is there a question of morality about these attempts? >> Yeah. I see there are like three or so questions. We only have like 7 minutes. So, maybe we could just quickly we all agree that any kind of voter suppression is immoral. I don't think anyone would disagree with that here. Let's get those other questions before we're out of time here. >> That's right. >> Uh-oh. >> Uh-oh, here we go. >> Our colleague is coming for us. [Laughter] >> Well, you know, because the US is a big power in the world. The people around the world pay attention to the presidency elections and the people around the world want to know whether the results of the presidency elections affect international relations. But this time the candidates didn't talk about-- didn't discuss much about foreign policy or they basically agreed with the important foreign policy. So, my question is do you think the foreign policy, US foreign policy will change? If you think it will change, in what way? >> He told Putney [phonetic] he'd have more freedom after the election, right, if you guys remember that video clip. Will it change? I mean, you know, the Bush foreign policy changed much less than almost anyone expected. So, you know, the story of foreign policy to the extent that I understand it and I defer to my colleagues on this is very similar from the-- even the Bush Administration through Obama at least on the anti-terrorism side. So, I don't see why we'd expect significant changes. >> I would agree. >> I think it's going to be event driven. If there are changes it's because the world is a very volatile place and something will crop up. >> Right here. [ Pause ] >> I don't know if you can do it, but can you comment on what New Hampshire looks like now that this election is over? Is it going to be different than the legislature was the last year or two or am I asking you beyond what you [simultaneous talking]. [Laughter] >> Well, certainly having a Democratic majority in the Lower House will be different from the Republican majority. And I think there's a perception that O'Brien was a polarizing figure as a Republican speaker that there are more conciliatory ways of dealing with one's colleagues in the chamber, not just Democrats but Republicans, I think he was-- but that's a temptation when you have a veto proof majority. You know, you just think you can do anything and I think he was seduced in that way. The Senate is very close. It could be tied. I guess it's probably going to be 13-11. And, but I think in the end the perception in the state that the Republican legislature was behaving in a very fringe way was really harmful to other candidates on the ticket. I think Lamontagne just had the baggage of this Republican legislature. And so, when Maggie Hassan was depicting him as this dangerous, you know, radical, it played into that sense that oh, he is one of them, so he's going to be like them. Now, my favorite provision that the Republicans introduced to the legislature was that every bill that a lawmaker sponsored, they had to indicate where in the Magna Carta a provision was justified. And I thought that was kind of quaint but it also suggests the extent to which some lawmakers were simply not very much in touch with reality. [laughter] I'll leave it that. >> Well, we take one more to finish up. All right, well terrific. Oh. >> There's one over there. >> We'll do the last one right there. You get the closing word. Don't ask a complicated question. [Laughter] >> So, for Brendan, I mean is there a fundamental that says what percentage of growth, economic growth you need in order to get back to non-deficit budgets or spending? [Inaudible Remark] >> Well, it would be enormous with the def-- we're running trillion dollar deficits and so the kind of economic growth we would need would have-- would be enormous. Not anything that we would expect. I think economic growth was something. It was over a little over 5 percent after World War II. Do the economists in the room agree, is that about right? You know, it was much greater than we would expect in the near future I think. Presidents and federal governments do a lot less to spur economic growth than we pretend just like they, you know, do or just like presidents can do a lot less about midterm election outcomes than we often think. You know, there's that pendulum that swings back and forth. I mean, economics is a lot that goes into predicting growth. We will not without political will deal with the fiscal situation. It is a very serious situation. If we don't do anything, we will very likely go back into a recession. If we kick the can down the road and don't deal with it adequately in the next couple years, we will go the way of Japan and Greece, and so many other countries. We can see the road ahead. We will have declining qualities of life and that will reverberate all throughout the world. The healthcare issues are big issues. There are others that we have to deal with. If we do, I think, you know, there are solutions out there, Simpson-Bowles and others. If we do, I think we can get back on track and we could have strong economic growth. Optimism helps economic growth. Predictability helps economic growth. If we can create and pass a plan that allows for a stability and predictability and optimism then I think we'll do very well. And if we don't, I think we see the way we'll go. We can look at countries that have made the mistakes that we're looking to make in the near future. And so that's what we want to avoid. >> Thank you all for your time. Thank you to the panelists for sharing with us. [ Applause ]



United States House of Representatives elections in Florida, 2006[1]
Party Votes Percentage Seats +/–
Republican 2,182,833 56.67% 16 -2
Democratic 1,599,968 41.54% 9 +2
Independents 69,141 1.79% 0
Totals 3,851,942 100.00% 25

District 1

United States House of Representatives, Florida District 1 map.png

Three-term incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Miller had an easy time seeking re-election in this staunchly conservative district based in the Florida Panhandle. Miller, who was initially elected in a special election in 2001 to replace Joe Scarborough, took advantage of this district’s large military population based around the Naval Air Station Pensacola with his membership on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the naturally conservative tendencies of western Florida to easily defeat Democratic challenger Joe Roberts.

Florida's 1st congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Miller (inc.) 135,786 68.54
Democratic Joe Roberts 62,340 31.46
Total votes 198,126 100.00
Republican hold

District 4

FL04 109.gif

Incumbent Republican Congressman Ander Crenshaw, a fixture in Florida politics since the 1970s, has represented this North Florida and Jacksonville-based district since 2001. Given the district’s strong Republican lean, Crenshaw faced no real challenge in Democratic nominee Robert Harms and easily won another term.

Florida's 4th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ander Crenshaw (inc.) 141,759 69.67
Democratic Robert J. Harms 61,704 30.32
Write-ins 16 0.01
Total votes 203,479 100.00
Republican hold

District 5

FL05 109.PNG

Incumbent Republican Congressman Ginny Brown-Waite was able to take advantage of a Republican wave and a gerrymander in her favor to defeat Democratic Congresswoman Karen Thurman to win a first term in 2002. Seeking a third term, Brown-Waite faced challenger John Russell, whom he handily beat, albeit by a thinner margin than she is used to in this fairly conservative district.

Florida's 5th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ginny Brown-Waite (inc.) 162,421 59.85
Democratic John Russell 108,959 40.15
Total votes 271,380 100.00
Republican hold

District 6

United States House of Representatives, Florida District 6 map.png

Encompassing North Central Florida, this conservative district is represented by nine-term incumbent Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns. Stearns, seeking a tenth term, faced off against Democratic candidate David Bruderly. Though Stearns defeated Bruderly by a wide margin, it was not the margin of victory that Stearns is used to in this gerrymandered district.

Florida's 6th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Cliff Stearns (inc.) 136,601 59.88
Democratic David E. Bruderly 91,528 40.12
Total votes 228,129 100.00
Republican hold

District 7

FL-7th District-109.gif

Incumbent Republican Congressman John Mica, initially elected in 1992, sought his eighth term in this conservative district that stretches along the coast of Florida from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach and peeks into the Orlando Metropolitan Area. Mica defeated Democratic candidate John Chagnon in a landslide.

Florida's 7th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Mica (inc.) 149,656 63.08
Democratic John F. Chagnon 87,584 36.92
Total votes 237,240 100.00
Republican hold

District 8

Fl08 109.png

Republican Congressman Ric Keller, seeking a fourth term in this moderately conservative, Central Florida-based district, faced off against businessman Charlie Stuart, a moderate Democrat. Though Keller held onto his seat in the midst of a Democratic wave that was sweeping the country, he won by only a few points.

Florida's 8th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ric Keller (inc.) 95,258 52.79
Democratic Charlie Stuart 82,526 45.73
Independent Wes Hoaglund 2,640 1.46
Write-ins 20 0.01
Total votes 180,444 100.00
Republican hold

District 9

Fl09 109.gif

After serving twelve terms in the United States Congress, Republican incumbent Congressman Michael Bilirakis declined to run for re-election. His son, Gus Bilirakis, a member of the Florida House of Representatives emerged as the Republican nominee and squared off against Phyllis Busansky, the Democratic nominee and a former Hillsborough County Commissioner. The district has a tilt towards electing Republicans, so Busansky’s campaign was not given much of a chance at first. As the campaign progressed, however, it received national attention from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Though Bilirakis defeated Busansky by a ten point margin, Busansky’s performance was a large improvement over past years and outperformed her expected performance in the polls.[2]

Florida's 9th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gus Bilirakis 123,016 55.91
Democratic Phyllis Busansky 96,978 44.08
Write-ins 19 0.01
Total votes 220,013 100.00
Republican hold

District 10

FL10 109.gif

In this district, which is the only congressional district in the state to lie exclusively in one county, has been represented by incumbent Republican Congressman Bill Young for several decades. A former Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Young has been overwhelmingly re-elected year after year. In 2006, despite the moderate nature of his district and the acidic environment for Republicans nationwide, Congressman Young swamped Democratic nominee Samm Simpson.

Florida's 10th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Young (inc.) 131,488 65.93
Democratic Samm Simpson 67,950 34.07
Write-ins 7 0.00
Total votes 199,445 100.00
Republican hold

District 11

FL11 109.gif

Rather than seek a sixth term in this liberal district based in Tampa, incumbent Democratic Congressman Jim Davis opted to run for Governor, creating an open seat. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, the daughter of renowned Florida politician Betty Castor, ran for the seat and won the Democratic nomination, defeating Florida State Senate Minority Leader Les Miller. She faced Republican candidate Eddie Adams, an architect, in the general election, which she won by a convincing margin.

Florida's 11th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Castor 97,470 69.65
Republican Eddie Adams, Jr. 42,454 30.34
Write-ins 18 0.01
Total votes 139,942 100.00
Democratic hold

District 12

Fl12 109.gif

Incumbent Republican Congressman Adam Putnam, a member of the Republican leadership in the House, sought and easily won a fourth term in Congress, defeating independent candidates Joe Viscusi and Ed Bowlin.

Florida's 12th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Adam Putnam (inc.) 124,452 69.12
Independent Joe Viscusi 34,976 19.42
Independent Ed Bowlin 20,636 11.46
Total votes 180,064 100.00
Republican hold

District 13

FL13 109.gif

Two-term incumbent Republican Congresswoman Katherine Harris opted to run for Senate rather than seek a third term, creating an open seat. The 13th district, based in Southwest Florida, is fairly conservative, but a competitive race emerged between the Republican nominee, car dealership owner Vern Buchanan, and the Democratic nominee, banking executive Christine Jennings. Though Buchanan appeared to be victorious on election day by a 350 vote margin, Jennings requested a recount. Though the recount did not change the outcome of the race, Jennings filed additional complaints due to the fact that 13% of Sarasota County residents did not vote in the Congressional election, an unusually high number and the fact that the touch-screen machines did not provide a paper trail.[3]

Believing the matter to be unsettled, Jennings sued to challenge the results of the election in court, noting the "pervasive malfunctioning of electronic voting machines."[3] A Florida circuit judge rejected her lawsuit in December 2006, ruling that her allegations of lost votes in Sarasota County were "conjecture." Jennings met further failure in June 2007, when a Florida state appellate court ruled that Jennings did not meet the "extraordinary burden" of proving the lower court judge was wrong.[4]

Though Jennings fought the results further by appealing directly to the United States House of Representatives, this action, too, caused her to walk away empty-handed. After a three-person House task force was created to evaluate the election,[5] the task force voted along party lines to refer an investigation into Florida’s 13th district House race to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).[6]

In February 2008, the committee and the House accepted the findings of the GAO that no machine error affected the outcome of the election, going a step further to pass HR 989, which affirmed the findings of the committee, accepted the results of the 2006 race and formally dismissed Jennings' challenge of the election's results. Jennings formally dropped her challenge shortly thereafter to focus on her 2008 rematch against Buchanan.[7]

Florida's 13th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Vern Buchanan 119,309 50.08
Democratic Christine Jennings 118,940 49.92
Total votes 238,249 100.00
Republican hold

District 14

United States House of Representatives, Florida District 14 map.png

After winning his first Congressional election in 2004 to replace Porter Goss, incumbent Republican Congressman Connie Mack IV sought a second term in 2006. Mack's district, based in the Gulf Coast region of Florida, is solidly conservative and overwhelmingly gave the Congressman a second term over Democratic candidate Robert Neeld.

Florida's 14th congressional district election, 2006)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Connie Mack IV (inc.) 151,615 64.37
Democratic Robert M. Neeld 83,920 35.63
Write-ins 4 0.00
Total votes 235,539 100.00
Republican hold

District 15

FL15 109.PNG

In this Space Coast-based district, incumbent Republican Congressman Dave Weldon sought election to a seventh term in Congress. This district, though undoubtedly conservative, gave Weldon a smaller margin of victory over Democratic nominee Robert Bowman in 2006 than in previous years, likely due to the anti-Republican sentiment nationwide.

Florida's 15th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dave Weldon (inc.) 125,965 56.29
Democratic Robert Bowman 97,834 43.71
Total votes 223,799 100.00
Republican hold

District 16

FL-16 congressional district.gif

Incumbent Republican Congressman Mark Foley was considered to be a shoo-in for re-election until the House page scandal involving Foley became public knowledge. The Congressman resigned on September 29, 2006,[8] thus cancelling his re-election bid. The Republican Party of Florida selected Florida State Representative Joe Negron to replace Foley, though Foley's name remained on the ballot. Though Negron launched a successful campaign to urge voters to "Punch Foley for Joe!", indicating that voters should "punch" Foley's name on the ballot to vote for Negron,[9][10] he was ultimately unsuccessful on election day and fell to Democratic nominee and businessman Tim Mahoney.

Florida's 16th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tim Mahoney 115,832 49.55
Republican Joe Negron 111,415 47.66
Independent Emmie Lee Ross 6,526 2.79
Total votes 223,799 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican

District 17


This majority African-American district based in southern Broward County and eastern Miami-Dade County has a very strong Democratic tilt and has been represented by Congressman Kendrick Meek since his initial election in 2002 and was previously represented by Meek's mother, Carrie Meek, for ten years. Meek was overwhelmingly elected to a third term with no Republican or independent challenger.

Florida's 17th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kendrick Meek (inc.) 90,663 99.97
Write-ins 23 0.03
Total votes 90,686 100.00
Democratic hold

District 18

FL18 109.PNG

Incumbent Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a respected member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, represents a marginally conservative district that encompasses much of Miami, the southern suburbs of Miami, and the entire Florida Keys. Seeking a tenth term in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen easily defeated Democratic nominee Dave Patlak in the general election.

Florida's 18th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (inc.) 79,631 62.15
Democratic Dave Patlak 48,499 37.85
Total votes 128,130 100.00
Republican hold

District 21

FL21 109.PNG

Incumbent Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart decided to run for an eighth term in Congress in this district composed of the western suburbs of Miami. Conservative due to the large presence of Cuban-Americans here, this district is a Hispanic-American majority district and has regularly sent Congressman Diaz-Balart back to Washington with solid victories. 2006 proved to be no different, and Diaz-Balart defeated Frank Gonzalez, though by a thinner margin than is usually achieved in this district.

Florida's 21st congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart (inc.) 66,784 59.47
Democratic Frank Gonzalez 45,522 40.53
Total votes 112,306 100.00
Republican hold

District 22

FL22 109.PNG

This district, which stretches from northern Broward County to northern Palm Beach County, marginally leads towards the Democratic side, but incumbent Republican Congressman Clay Shaw's pragmatic and moderate profile in Congress enabled him to continually be re-elected. This year, however, Shaw faced difficulty in his bid for a fourteenth term. Florida State Senator Ron Klein, previously the Democratic leader in the Senate, ultimately defeated Shaw in the general election by a thin three-point margin.

Florida's 22nd congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ron Klein 108,688 50.88
Republican Clay Shaw (inc.) 100,663 47.13
Independent Neil Evangelista 4,254 1.99
Total votes 213,605 100.00
Democratic gain from Republican

District 24


Incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Feeney, initially elected in 2002 and re-elected unopposed in 2004 in this hand-crafted, gerrymandered district, hardly faced a challenge from Democratic candidate Clint Curtis. Feeney, however, was marred by allegations of corruption brought about by Curtis, a computer programmer who claimed that Feeney asked Curtis to create a software to "steal" votes using touch-screen voting machines. Feeney treated Curtis like a gadfly, sending out mailers featuring Curtis with a tin-foil hat[11] and refusing to debate him. Polling, however, indicated that the race was tight, with a Zogby poll showing Feeney at a 45% level of support and Curtis attaining 43%.[12] Ultimately, though, on election day, Feeney swamped Curtis, winning all four counties in the district. The surprisingly close race, however, indicated that Feeney could be brought down with a serious challenger.

Florida's 24th congressional district election, 2006)
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tom Feeney (inc.) 123,795 57.94
Democratic Clint Curtis 89,863 42.06
Total votes 213,658 100.00
Republican hold

District 25

FL25 109.PNG

This district, with a Hispanic-American majority and based in South Florida, has the tendency to support Republican candidates. Incumbent Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart has represented the district since its creation in 2003 and had not faced a close call so far in his career. In 2006, however, though Diaz-Balart defeated Democratic opponent Michael Calderin by a solid margin, it was a thinner margin than usual.

Florida's 25th congressional district election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mario Diaz-Balart (inc.) 60,765 58.47
Democratic Michael Calderin 43,168 41.53
Total votes 103,933 100.00
Republican hold


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Another election mess in Florida", The Economist, December 9, 2006
  4. ^ "Jennings Dealt Setback In Voting Machine Challenge" Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, CBS local news (, June 18, 2007
  5. ^ Phil Davis, "House Panel to Consider Florida Contest", Associated Press, April 17, 2007
  6. ^ Aaron Blake, "FL-13 task force will turn over investigation to GAO", The Hill, May 3, 2007
  7. ^ Lesley Clark (February 26, 2008). "US House dismisses challenge to Jennings' claim to seat".
  8. ^ "Three More Former Pages Accuse Foley of Online Sexual Approaches". ABC News. October 5, 2006. Archived from the original on October 11, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2006.
  9. ^ "Florida's 16th District: Tim Mahoney (D)". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2006.
  10. ^ "November 7, 2006 Washington Monthly Election Day Blog". Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2006.
  11. ^
  12. ^

See also

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