Now that the election is over, a few post-mortem thoughts:
- My parents used to have a staff CPA whose hobby was mapping elections. He would get maps of the country by county, and color in the map based on the percentages for each presidential candidate. I think of this everytime I look at the electoral map of the US. When you look at the map by county, it seems pretty red. But then you need to remember that most of those red areas (not all) are much less dense; the urban cities are blue. Look at where the pockets of blue are. The country is really pretty divided. This even division is seen in the popular vote. Remember the electoral college can give a lopsided result — it was designed to do that to give states, as states, a larger voice. The popular vote was very close: 59.8 million for Obama vs 57.1 million for Romney. This means that parties that want to win the White House, must appeal to the middle. Your base will go for you pretty much because they don’t want the udder guy. But finding the middle ground is essential for the White House, and despite all the calls that he was an extremist and a socialist, Pres. Obama was viewed as slightly closer to that desirable middle ground than Gov. Romney. An interesting note on this comes from Election Projection: “Remarkably, the much-maligned John McCain garnered 3 million more votes in 2008 than Mitt Romney did this year.”
- What will our leaders take away from the election? That’s a good question. Hopefully, Pres. Obama will work harder to get Congress to adopt compromise positions. He says he will do so. To do this, however, the Republicans need to stop moving the goal posts and agree to compromise for the good of the country. That means ditching Grover Norquist and the Conservative PACs, and doing some thinking for themselves. It means Congress needs to be republican in the sense of our form of government, doing what is right for the country and not depending on polls. The congressional leaders need to work to get their parties to work together and not have gridlock. They need to abandon this notion of doing anything to deny Obama a second term. He has it, nuff said. They need to work to get their party back in the White House, and to do that they must demonstrate they can govern from the middle, not just their base. They need to demonstrably work for the country, not just their party.
- The Republican Party has some soul searching to do. They don’t have a national leader for the party now. Appealing to the Tea Party fringe did not win them the election; a more conservative Romney would not have helped. Either the Republican Party will need to move to the center or it will splinter. Another problem they need to attack is apathy. Again, look at the Electoral Projection link above (they are the R counterpart to Andy Tannenbaum’s D Electoral-Vote.com). Scott notes that a major reason the R side lost was apathy (although this was true on both sides: Romney may have received less votes than McCain, but Obama received 10 million less votes than in 2010). Even with a D candidate that the R’s were strongly against, either the base or the moderates couldn’t get out and vote for Romney. That says something about the candidate, who was supposedly the most palatable of the field. My hope for the Republicans is that they move closer to the Libertarians (i.e., they become less conservative on social issues), while discarding some of the more extreme Libertarian positions (death to the Fed, massive cuts to Defense). That may be their path to success. As for the R 2016 candidate, I predict Chris Christie of NJ.
- The Democratic Party has a different problem. Come 2016, it may be wide open for candidates. Biden will try to run, but if he does I don’t believe he would win the election. He’s a great VP, but I’m not sure he would give the presidential view. The Dem’s winning candidate: Hilary. If she runs in 2016 and the economy is anywhere near decent, I think she has a great chance of victory.
- The Senate elections demonstrated a few things. First and foremost, don’t be a douch about women. Second, although we hate the other guy, we generally like our guy. This is why incumbents win.
- The Congressional elections demonstrate that even more. For as much as we are “toss the bums out”, we happen to like our particular bum. It’s the other bum that’s doing a bad job and should go. In my district, we had a battle between two good bums: Berman and Sherman. My guy lost (Berman) and we have Sherman. But in the end, its all good, as I agree with Sherman pretty much as well.
- Proposition-wise, it was a mixed bag. Prop 30 passed, which is good for parents of UC and CSU students. 38 went down to defeat. The death penalty wasn’t overturned, meaning there are still higher prison costs (but 36 did make 3-strikes better). 35 passed, demonstrating that a badly written law that is more punitive can whoop the ass of an appropriately crafted law by the experts. Measure B passed (condoms in adult films), meaning that LA county has just driven out another industry (or driving it underground). However, I’m noticing that many articles are getting things wrong, such as this Gawker article that states: “Los Angeles already requires adult film actors to wear condoms in shoots approved by the city; Measure B will expand that requirement beyond the city limits to surrounding areas, including the infamous Porn Valley where most of the country’s porn industry is based.” Gawker fails to realize that the San Fernando Valley is already part of the City of Los Angeles, and thus the LA City law applies to productions in the valley. The major difference between the city and county ordinances is enforcement. So, hopefully, it won’t hurt the economy that much. This is more of a concern for the county portions of the high-desert, Ladera, and perhaps those cities that lack any ordinances (Malibu, WeHo?). Measure J didn’t pass, but I expect to see it again in a few years. What is striking, looking at the state results, is the divide between the urban and more liberal coastal counties and the more conservative central and eastern counties. The divide in California isn’t North/South, folks, it is East/West.
- To me, the fascinating result of the election was in PR, which voted overwhelmingly for statehood. Will Congress act and make Puerto Rico our 51st state? Somehow I doubt it, as it doesn’t benefit both parties. They want balance, and there is not another state they could add to achieve it (Guam? Oh please. DC? Fuddgedaboutit). They would need to split Texas or California, and that’s unlikely to happen.
- I found it very useful during this election to try to see all sides. I did not follow FiveThirtyEight.com (primarily because it fell under the NYT Paywall). Instead I followed Andy Tannenbaum’s excellent Electoral-Vote.Com… and, based on Andy’s recommendation, an equally data-driven blog from the other side, Election Projection. They gave me different views of the same number, and I felt I had a more realistic projection. I also, by the way, listened to not only CBS, NBC, and ABC last night, but Fox as well. Fox was actually quite interesting, as they were exploring why the other side called things too early. I actually agree with that — calling the election 1/2 hour after the polls close in California is just wrong.
- Does this election mean the US is doomed? You might think that, reading the pundits from the other side. But I’m hopeful that this will help us regain the middle ground. I have a strong belief that our leaders — from all parties — are working for the same goal: a safe, strong, and secure American. As Obama and Christie demonstrated after Sandy, we can come together when we want to. Let’s build on that.
- One thing we must not do: resort to name calling. I will admit I was wrong when I made fun of Pres. Bush back in 2004 and 2006. That just feeds the fires of partisanship. I’m already seeing some Romney supporters doing it again. Obama isn’t the devil; the country isn’t doomed; most taxes will not go up; the country is not going to hell. A single president does not have that power; that’s why we have governmental checks and balances… and congress. Take a deep breath, and lets start working… together.
Lastly, to all of my friends who were supporters of a side that lost…. Back in 2004, I took comfort in the song below. With a minor word change or two, perhaps it will help you: (source: Austin Lounge Lizards, “The Drugs I Need”).
You say the last election didn’t turn out like you planned.
You’re feeling blue and clueless, you just don’t understand.
You’re sad, sulky, sullen, moping and morose.
You’re woefully weak and weary, semi-comatose.
You stare at your computer screen devoid of any joy and hope.
You’re so depressed. You can’t get dressed. You’re noose-ing up a rope.
Just remind yourself when you can’t stand it any more:
That we’ve been through some crappy times before.
We’ve been though some crappy times before
Slavery, unbridled knavery and the civil war.
Don’t stop caring, stop despairing, get up off the floor.
Because we’ve been through some crappy times before.
Intolerable intolerance has swept across the land.
The gospel thumping homophobes have got the upper hand.
They are peeping though the windows and they are creeping through the door.
But we’ve been through some crappy times before.
We’ve been through some crappy times before.
McCarthyism, Prohibition, and the World Wars.
We’re up a the creek, the boat is leaking, still we will reach the shore.
But we’ve been through some crappy times before.
Though we hear reassurances that everything is fine.
It’s been a while since we heard a canary in this mine.
When you think it’s really bad, it gets a little worse.
But keep on looking forward, though we’re going in reverse.
You shout out that the emperor’s not wearing any clothes.
He lies so much that you could hang your laundry from his nose.
The fox is in the hen house and the wolf is at the door.
But we’ve been thought some crappy times before.
We have been thought crappy times before.
Indiscretion, floods, Depression, Vietnam and more.
The sun has set but don’t forget another day is in store.
Because we’ve been thought some crappy times before.
The election is over… until the next one (oh boy, a mayoral race in Los Angeles). We now return you to your regularly scheduled cat videos.