#Defense2012 — Live Election Coverage

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks to supporters during an election night party Nov. 6, 2012, in St. Louis, Missouri. McCaskill defeated Rep. Todd Akin, R-M0., for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)

Throughout the night, the reporters of Defense News will be updating this post with election results, analysis and breaking news. For our committee scorecard, click here.

You can find us on Twitter using the #Defense2012 hashtag, or at our individual feeds: @marcusreports @aaronmehta @paulmcleary @bennettjohnt @cavasships

6:50 a.m. (Wednesday, Nov. 7) — The Morning After: Familiar faces return to Capitol Hill; Rep. West in tight race

As Intercepts anticipated earlier this morning, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., easily won re-election. That means nothing is likely change much for that panel. The biggest question as the sun rises on the morning after election day is what — if any — the Defense Department’s most friendly congressional committee will play in striking a deal that would void $500 billion in cuts to planned Pentagon spending over the next decade. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House panel’s Strategic Forces subcommittee secured another term, as did shipbuilding industry ally Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif. As expected, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also won easily. Less clear is whether HASC member and fierce Obama critic Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., will return to Washington in January. Several prominent media sites this morning list his race with Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy as a 50 percent to 50 percent tie; some media outlets have declared Murphy the winner. But MSNBC shows West trailing by around 3,000 votes, and a Florida law requiring a re-count could be triggered if the final count is within 0.5 percent or less of all votes cast in a particular race.

12:20 a.m. — HASC leaders cruising toward victory

Major media outlets have yet to formally declare House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., or Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., winners, but both are well ahead. Check back tomorrow morning for updates. Like the polls, Intercepts is closed for the night. — John T. Bennett

12:08 am — Races that are too close to call

Ohio 10 – Rep. Michael Turner (R) vs. Sharen Neuhardt (D), N.C. 7 – Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R), Fla. 18 – Rep. Allen West (R) vs. Patrick Murphy (D) — Marcus Weisgerber

11:34 pm — Bill Young wins again

Republican C.W. “Bill” Young has won another term in Congress in a contest that was surprisingly tight for a veteran friend of the defense industry.

Young, who has served in Congress since 1973, will likely keep his hold as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. Young has been a proponent of increased defense spending, and was the lead author on the House defense bill that added $3.1 billion onto the White House budget request. — Aaron Mehta


President Barack Obama will have a second term. CNN called the race for the incumbent just shy of 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 6. Both Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney are expected to speak later in the evening. For the military and defense sector, Obama’s re-election means he will be tasked with negotiating legislation with a GOP-controlled House and a Senate with a slim Democratic majority on a broad deficit-reduction bill. Obama has said he opposes $500 billion in cuts to planned defense and domestic spending that would kick in Jan. 2 if such a bill is not enacted before then. But Obama and GOP lawmakers differ over what should compose a deficit-reduction bill. Obama has said he would veto any legislation that does not include new federal revenues. While some Republicans earlier this fall began talking about ways to boost revenues without raising taxes, much of that party remains steadfastly opposed to any new federal revenues. Avoiding those automatic cuts, which are part of the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” will be among the first major tests of Obama’s second term.  Please see our coverage of what Obama’s re-election means for the defense sector soon at DefenseNews.com.  — John T. Bennett

11:00 pm — Democrats keep Virginia Senate seat

Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has defeated former GOP Senator George Allen, keeping the seat soon to be vacated by Sen. James Webb in Democratic hands. Webb was a vocal Senate Armed Services Committee member, and given the massive military and defense-sector presence in the Mid-Atlantic commonwealth, Kaine very well could seek SASC membership. Virginia lawmakers long have been close allies of the Navy and the shipbuilding sector.  — John T. Bennett

10:41 pm — Bartlett losea

Senior Republican House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has lost his re-election bids.

Bartlett, chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee, was beaten by Democrat challenger John Delaney. — Marcus Weisgerber

10:36 pm — Tim Ryan Elected to New District

Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, has easily carried the state’s 13 district, formerly the seat of fellow Democrat Betty Sutton.  Both are House Armed Services Committee members, with the shuffle the result of the elimination of Ohio’s 17th district, which Ryan used to represent, as a result of the most recent census.  Now Sutton is competing in a very competitive 16th district, where she trails by 4 percentage points with 27 percent of the ballots counted. —Zachary Fryer-Biggs

10:28 pm — Sen. McCaskill defeats Rep. Akin in bitter race

Senate Armed Services Committee member Claire McCaskill has defeated GOP Rep. Todd Akin in a race that went national due to the latter’s controversial comments about rape. The loss means Akin will leave Congress; he is retiring from his House seat. Despite his rape comment, Akin continued to fight and some Republicans gave him a shot at ousting McCaskill. She has developed a reputation for forcefully and bluntly pressing Pentagon officials on big-picture pictures while supporting programs that are good for Missouri. Akin is the outgoing House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee chairman. Had he won and taken a seat on SASC or the upper chamber’s Appropriations Defense subcommittee, it would have given the shipbuilding industry another ally on a key panel. — John T. Bennett

10:17 pm Map closes for Romney

With Obama now projected to carry Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, the electoral math that would send Romney to the White House is looking more wishful than likely.

As the NYT’s handy tool demonstrates, Obama has 221 paths to a win, vs. only 31 for Romney with 4 potential ties at the moment.  But more significantly, these results demonstrate that there has been no major push by the Romney camp into more moderate territory, with many of the margins resembling what Obama did in 2008.  If that holds true across the remaining battleground states, there’s little chance Romney can come from behind.

If we assume that Wisconsin and Nevada go to Obama, a seemingly safe bet given demographic shifts and polling data, Romney would essentially have to sweep the remaining states to win the election.  He could only give up either Iowa or Colorado, but would have win Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina.  NC is likely assured (despite surprisingly close early returns) but Ohio seems to be in the likely Obama camp, which makes the rest of the math irrelevant.

Also significant: if Romney is underperforming Republican hopes, further down-ballot candidates are going to continue to face problems.  Thus far we haven’t seen any significant surprises, with little movement in the two chambers of congress. — Zachary Fryer-Biggs

10:13 pm — Kaptur re-elected, could become top Dem on HAC-D

The AP has officially called the race for Ohio’s 9th district a win for incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur. The 66 year old Kaptur will continue to represent the city of Toledo and surrounding areas for a 16th term.

Based on seniority, Kaptur is likely to take over as the top Dem on the House Appropriations Committee. Norm Dicks, the current ranking member, is retiring. She also sits on the Defense subcommittee (Fun fact: Kaptur is actually the first woman to sit on the subcommittee) but is unlikely to take it over. — Aaron Mehta

9:37 pm — Blunt HASC Dem wins re-election

Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., has won an easy victory, meaning a House Armed Services Committee veteran who has talked of finding a defense-cuts avoiding deal will return to the lower chamber. During a raucous August HASC hearing about sequestration cuts, Andrews went on a rant that was memorable for its bluntness. During the rant, Andrews called for a massive legislative plan that would reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion. He pulled few punches, calling for the inclusion of things Republicans oppose like additional Pentagon spending cuts and tax hikes for the wealthy. He also said a big deficit-reduction bill would have to include cuts to several high-profile domestic programs favored by his fellow Democrats.

9:33 pm — Four Republicans, two Dems on HASC retain seats

Four Republican and one Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee have won re-election, including two subcommittee chairmen.

Mac Thornberry, Texas, chairman of the emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee, Randy Forbes, Va., chairman of the readiness subcommittee, Rep. Joe Wilson, S.C., and Rep. Mike Conaway, Texas, have all won.

Thornberry – who ran unopposed — has been advocate of increased cyber awareness and information sharing. Wilson also ran unopposed. Democrat Dutch

Ruppersberger, MD, ranking member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and member of the House Armed Services Committee, also retained his seat. — Marcus Weisgerber

9:05 pm — Obama takes Michigan’s 16 Electoral votes

CNN is reporting Obama has won in Michigan and will take that state’s 60 Electoral College votes. Romney’s campaign had (slim) hopes of stealing the GOP candidate’s birth state.  — John T. Bennett

9:04 pm — Chatting up the Army

If Democrat Elizabeth Warren hangs on to beat Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, she better get used to chatting up the General Dynamics folks in Taunton, Mass., where the Army is putting together the hardware for its new battlefield communications network. There has been some back and forth between Congress and the Army over funding the network over the last few months, fights that Brown has been involved in, in a big way. — Paul McLeary

8:48 pm — Defense sector ally returning to Senate

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has won re-election, several media outlets are projecting. While Nelson is not a member of either Senate defense panel, he is considered a Pentagon and industry ally. And, importantly, he sits on the Senate Budget and Finance committees — both will have a big role to play in avoiding the sequestration Pentagon cuts and in crafting a “grand bargain” deficit-reduction bill during the new Congress.  — John T. Bennett

8:31 pm — Combatant Commands for Obama?

The electoral map of Florida is currently showing lots of blue in Tampa (Central Command) and Miami (Southern Command). Not too surprising since both are Democratic strongholds, but I wonder what the districts that the host Northern Command in Colorado and the Pacific Command in Hawaii show?  — Paul McLeary
8:19 pm — Obama has early lead in Florida, but Panhandle still voting

With 53 percent of Florida polling sites reporting, CNN reports President Obama has a 50 precent to 49 percent lead over Romney. The GOP nominee had been leading in the polls. But the Florida panhandle is still voting, and it’s typically more red than blue.  — John T. Bennett

6:52 pm — FAA: Airspace over Chicago will remain restricted until Wednesday afternoon

The Federal Aviation Administration just tweeted that the airspace over Chicago — where President Barack Obama is awaiting the results of today’s election — will remain restricted until Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. CST. Guess the president plans to stick around for a while. — Marcus Weisgerber

6:41 pm — Report: Romney writes only one speech (allegedly)

MSNBC reported that GOP nominee Mitt Romney finished his victory speech this afternoon. He did not craft a concession speech, the network reported. This is a tad hard to believe since Romney was trailing in the last batch of polls and Electoral College projections.  — John T. Bennett

6:19 pm — Why you should be wary of exit polls

In the pair of hours after most businesses close on the east coast and poll results begin rolling in (7pm) en-mass, you’re going to hear a lot about the exit polls that have been conducted.  They’re will be references to informative numbers, without those numbers ever being released.  News outlets do this to appear knowledgeable, to push the story forward, but they don’t release the actually numbers before the closing of many of the polls for fear of interfering with results.

But even if those numbers were released, you should read them with a healthy scoop of salt.  The problem that research groups have never quite figured out is how to effectively sample the electorate.  Most importantly, the total number of voters polled tends to be relatively small compared to the mass of data available from polls conducted over the past several weeks.  The result: exit polls are notoriously unreliable (see Wisconsin recall election) while state polling data has been a bit more consistent.

As hard as it is to wait, we won’t really begin to get meaningful data until the 7pm hour.  The key here will be seeing how several states break as results come in.  Given that national and state polling data includes a rolling average (an average over several days), these polls don’t fully account for voter trends at the close of the campaign.  With much attention given recently to stronger polls for President Obama, the first polls will give us an indication of whether that trend line has continued.  If so, and if there are no obvious indications of large-scale statistical bias in prior polling, it could be a long night for Romney, as well as a number of Republicans lower on the ticket how will be impacted by larger voting trends. — Zachary Fryer-Biggs

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett