The Final Push: Staring Down the Barrel of the Midterm Elections

Finally! It’s less than 90 hours until this long national nightmare of a mid-term election comes to hideous close. We can’t wait for the relative calm (maybe?) of Nov. 3, when everyone sleeps for a full day before gettin’ wound up for 2012.

Until then, we’ve got lots to do:

1) “Arkansas Week,” 8 p.m. tonight. I join KUAR-FM, 89.1’s Kelly MacNeil, the University of Arkansas’ Hoyt Purvis and host Steve Barnes for a final assessment of the state’s Congressional and constitutional officer races, such as they are. Remember that big exciting Senate race? Not so exciting heading into the final weekend. We look to the 1st District for any final fireworks. Also: Swepco’s 0-3 in court rulings. Check your local AETN station tonight or watch it online here.

2) “Today’s THV This Morning,” election day. Last week, I appeared on the noon show each day for a quick, final summary of all the Congressional races. On Tuesday’s “Morning” show, I’ll be live throughout the morning with some last-minute notes and maybe a guest or two.

3) Midterm Election Watch Party, the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. I’ll be on a panel with a couple of other yahoos to give some final impressions of this year’s campaigns. We’ll also take questions from the audience and enjoy a warm bowl of bean soup before the returns start, er, returning. Fun!

4) Election Night Returns on Today’s THV and Pop up some popcorn, grab a Coke and settle in for a long night. You’ll be on the couch, we’ll be in at the parties, on the phone, online and in studio delivering the latest election night news as it happens. Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins will analyze the county-by-county returns live on Today’s THV and, and I’ll be manning coverage for

5) The Morning After. Hankins and I will be on “Today’s THV This Morning” and “Today’s THV at Noon” to go over the results and, maybe, What It All Means.

And if this year’s elections weren’t scary enough: Happy Halloween!


Blanche Who? Let’s Talk TV on This Weekend’s ‘Sunday Edition’ on 103.7 The Buzz

Clarke Peters, Treme on HBO

Clarke Peters surveys the damage during the first episode of HBO's "Treme."

We’re happy to be back on Blake Rutherford‘s “Arkansas Sunday Edition” radio program beginning at 7 a.m. this Sunday on 103.7 The Buzz. This week, we’re talking TV. Specifically, HBO‘s new drama “Treme,” about life in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The show is from David Simon, the creator of another HBO series, “The Wire,” which many think is the greatest TV series ever. Simon is on my list of dream speakers for the Clinton School of Public Service, possessing a unique vantage point on media, crime, law enforcement, government, the education system — pretty much every major institution of American life.

“The Wire” — his epic, scathing treatise on those flawed institutions — now behind him, Simon’s turned his eye on New Orleans for a look how cultures endure in times of crisis. Critics have said “Treme” might also be the essential drama of the so-called Great Recession, with Katrina as a metaphor for the financial crisis. Whatever Simon’s driving at (episode 4 premieres Sunday night), there’s no doubt that post-Katrina New Orleans, with its devastation, singular music, shell-shocked residents and failed bureaucracies, is a rich canvas for any number of themes, cultural, economic and otherwise.

I could keep writing, but I’ll stop here. If you want to here us geek out on some really good TV, tune in this Sunday.

Also Editor Jim Harris will also be on this Sunday’s show.


The End of ‘The Wire’

Does David Simon’s Sun Vendetta Deaden ‘The Wire’?

More David Simon from this blog

The Warren Stephens Effect: Does His Involvement in the 2nd District Congressional Campaign Matter?

Warren Stephens

Warren Stephens, Tim Griffin's money man

Jan Cottingham of Arkansas Business asks local political experts whether it matters that Little Rock financier Warren Stephens has signed on as Tim Griffin’s finance director in Griffin’s campaign for the 2nd District Congressional seat.

Griffin announced Stephens’ role in his campaign for the Republican nomination on Friday, after incumbent Vic Snyder, a Democrat, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Does Warren Stephens’ clout matter in this race, which has two other GOP candidates and now a void on the Democrat side? In short, yes. But the inevitable Democratic candidate will also enjoy strong backing from the business community.

“It’s big,” Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, said of Stephens’ involvement in Griffin’s campaign. “It indicates that Tim Griffin’s candidacy is very serious, and it indicates strong support from the business community.”

Rex Nelson, long active in GOP politics and now a principal in The Communications Group of Little Rock, said, “I can’t think of anybody on the Democratic side with equal financial clout in Arkansas.”

Both men said, however, that whoever was chosen as the Republican and Democratic nominees would have plenty of financial support, from their parties and from area business people.

The hows and whys available here, including comments from Think Tank blogger Blake Rutherford.


Over the weekend, Arkansas House Speaker Robbie Wills indicates he might be interested in a run from the Democratic side, and Snyder’s wife comments on her husband’s decision [Arkansas Times]

Blake Rutherford says Democrats have a “deep bench” of possible candidates to step into the breach [Blake Rutherford]

Jason Tolbert on Democrat “spin” on Snyder’s retirement [The Tolbert Report]

More on the Expanding Arkansas Twittersphere

If it’s one thing the media (and bloggers) love talking about it, it’s Twitter! None of us can resist spilling hundred of words at a time on a 140-character free service that makes no money and almost no one uses! Well, no one outside the hyper-communicative, anyway.

Add our Arkansas Business sister publication, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, to those encircling the microblogging phenom, focusing on the growth of the service (Pew numbers) and a prominent NW Tweeter, Elise Mitchell, who we follow on Twitter here and who in her spare time runs Mitchell Communications Group of Fayetteville:

Despite its sophomoric moniker, Twitter is really a business tool, she said, which can be used to build a community around shared interests. The hook? Twitter’s microblogs, called tweets, limit you to 140 characters, so you’ve got to be succinct.

A recent post on Mitchell’s page read: “Looking for ways to measure ROI for businesses of social media participation? Great blog post:”

“I assure you, you will get more out of it than you ever put into it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s not the only one in her shop who’s Twittering, as you can tell by the company blog. Meanwhile, we’ll note some new additions to the Arkansas Twittersphere, and you can see my Unofficial Official Arkansas Twitter Directory for more.

John Brummett: He started this month, but I only caught up with him a week or two ago. Be patient. He’s not quite figured out linking, and sometimes he refers to Web sites without naming them!

Bud Jackson: Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s lottery henchman and political gun for hire. But: Intrigue! He might not let you follow him! So far, we’re lucky.

Robert Herzfeld: The Saline Couty Circuit Judge is getting his feet wet, holding forth on “Lost.” Just what is the deal with that crazy island?

Skip Rutherford: Chief Friend of Bill and Think Tank Dad is musing on the city’s best desserts, some political matters and goings-on at the Clinton School of Public Service, where’s he’s Dean.

The Northwest Arkansas Times: The formerly independent newspaper has been under Walter Hussman’s thumb for years now, but that hasn’t stopped them from Twittering! See also: WholeHogSports.

Mark Martin: The Republican state rep has been getting hammered by Maximus for his bad spelling (glass houses …) but keeps on keeping-on.

Steve Arrison: Presumably the same Arrison at the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, but sadly no updates yet — unless we’ve been blocked. Horror!

KNWA: The Nexstar-owned Northwest Arkansas TV operation has two flavors so far, KNWAWeekends and KNWAFOXDirector (Bruce Thomas). One is more active than the other.

Dana Sargent: TV anchor at another Northwest Arkansas TV station. It’s okay if you’re impressed.

The Youth Vote: Will It Finally Matter?

Lots being made about this year being the year that the youth vote gets out and really matters in a presidential election. And of course the conventional wisdom is that the youth vote will benefit Democrat Barack Obama.

“Today’s THV” is doing a segment on the youth vote tonight at 5 p.m., based on today’s panel discussion at the Clinton School of Public Service, featuring five Clinton School students discuss their perspectives on the 2008 race. You can read more about the THV piece here. It appears to focus on what’s driving the youth vote this year.

I’m wondering to what extent the youth vote will show up this year. A Gallup Poll survey on Friday reported — surprise — little evidence of a surge in the youth vote:

Gallup polling in October finds little evidence of a surge in young voter turnout beyond what it was in 2004. While young voter registration may be up slightly over 2004, the reported level of interest in the election and intention to vote among those under 30 are no higher than they were that year.

What’s more, 18- to 29-year-olds continue to lag behind Americans aged 30 and older on these important turnout indicators.

As a result, 18- to 29-year-olds now constitute 12% of Gallup’s traditional likely voter sample, basically the same as the estimate in the final 2004 pre-election poll (13%). Gallup’s expanded likely voter model, which defines likely voters differently (on the basis of current voting intentions only), estimates a slightly higher proportion of young voters in the electorate (14%). However, even if the share of the youth vote were adjusted upward, doing so has little or no impact on the overall Obama-McCain horse-race numbers using either likely voter model.

The story notes that it’s still possible that “the 18- to 29-year-old share of the likely voter electorate will grow in the final days of the election.” The so-called “ground game” currently taking place in many of the toss-up states (our neighbor to the north, Missouri, among them), might be a big driver in that regard. We simply won’t until the votes are counted.

But there’s some clues here in Arkansas. This, from the Harrison newspaper today:

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, 7,379 people had voted early in Boone County, representing some 34 percent of all registered voters and shattering the record of 5,726 who voted early in 2004. And early voting continues through today.

Of those votes, 1,042, or 14 percent, have been cast by voters in the age range of 18 to 35.

For comparison, in Baxter County where about 8,700 early votes had been recorded Saturday afternoon, only 663, or about 8 percent, were cast by voters in the 18 to 35 age range.

In Pulaski County, some 22 percent of about 67,000 early voters by Saturday afternoon were in that same age group.

Maybe the kids are alright after all.


Students get involved in presidential elections [ASU Herald]


Be sure to watch Jeff Hankins and I Tuesday night, as joins with Today’s THV for live coverage of the presidential race.

(A version of this post also appears on The Ladder and