Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Election Observations For 12/12/12


The Dividist cannot let this date slip by without a post. We were out of the country in November, watching the election unfold from afar. Since then we neglected the blog. But we are back now, we have no excuses, and using this semi-mystical date for motivation, time to weigh in on what the election wrought.  Here for your reading enjoyment on 12/12/12 - a dozen observations on the election just past, sprinkled with some predictions for the election to come.

1) Divided government and gridlock won an overwhelming mandate.

Before the election -  We had divided government with a Democrat in the White House, Republicans with a 49 seat majority in the House of  Representatives, and the Democratic Caucus with a 6 seat majority in the Senate.

 After the election -  We have divided government with a Democrat in the White House, Republicans with a 33 seat majority in the House of  Representatives, and the Democratic Caucus with a 10 seat majority in the Senate.

Even thought the Democrats marginally improved their numbers in both houses of Congress, the balance of power is unchanged, with President Barack Obama reelected and each party controlling one branch of the legislature.

It was a stunning victory for the status quo and divided government. Some are dismayed at the prospect of continuing gridlock in Washington. Leave it to the Daily Show to explain there are worse things than divided government and gridlock:

Specifically the thing that is worse than gridlock...  is no gridlock.

2) We will have divided government through 2016.

Obviously we will have a Democrat in the White House for the next four years. The Republicans blew a realistic opportunity to take majority control of  the Senate in 2010, then squandered  an even better opportunity to take control of the Senate in 2012. They still have an outside chance to take the Senate in 2014, but that seems unlikely given their propensity to nominate clown candidates to compete for what would otherwise be competitive or safe seats.  That only leaves the question of the House of Representatives.

The House has always been the domain of Tip O'Neal's dictum "All politics is local" and historically difficult to flip.  Chris Cilizza offers interesting graphics explaining why that is the case.

Generally it takes a nationalized "wave" election to flip majorities in the House. The last three times the House flipped majorities was in 2010, 2006, and 1994. There are common threads in all three elections: One party controlled the executive and both legislative branches going into the elections; The party in control overreached while in power; The electorate reacted by flipping control of the House to the party out of power. We have divided government going into the 2014 election. There is little or no chance of a nationalized election reaction against Republicans in power - because - mostly they're not.  House Republicans are just slowing Obama and the Democrats down, which is exactly why the electorate put them in charge of the House in 2010.  John Boehner will still be Speaker of the House in 2016.

3) In the next two years Nancy Pelosi will predict that Democrats will take the House in 2014. 

She'll be wrong. Just like she was wrong when she predicted that Democrats would keep the House majority in 2010, and when she predicted they would win the House in 2012. We need this reminder so that when she makes that prediction we'll know that she can be safely ignored. This is not a "stopped watch" situation. Nancy Pelosi will never be Speaker of the House again no matter how much she wants to be.

4) Karl Rove and Dick Morris are also really bad at predicting election results.

Karl Rove got it wrong. Dick Morris got it really wrong.  Even Fox News was embarrassed.  Karl Rove and Dick Morris can be safely ignored in all future elections. Just in case you were not ignoring them this time.

5) Nate Silver may be a unrepentant liberal partisan but he is one hell of a statistician. 

Nate Silver's analysis, methodology and predictions can never be ignored.  BTW - Nate Silver agrees with the Dividist about Republicans keeping control of the House in 2014.

6) The Dividist is not as good at predicting elections as Nate Silver.

While the Dividist expected that Barack Obama would be reelected before he was elected in 2008, and the Dividist predicted that Republicans would maintain majority control of the House, the Dividist also long expected the Republicans to take majority control of the Senate in 2012. The Dividist's predictions can be ignored or not at your discretion.

7) No matter what the Tea Party started out to be in 2010, they are not that now. 

The Tea Party started out as a reaction to the reckless unrestrained spending and massive government expansion during the One Party Democratic Rule of the first two years of the Obama administration. In 2010 the Tea Party movement stood for restoration of fiscal sanity. They were instrumental in restoring balance to our Federal government by helping Republicans retake the House majority. They changed the complexion of the Senate by helping elect fiscally conservative, articulate, independent minded, libertarianish Senators like Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Scott Brown, and  Marco Rubio.  Scott Brown lost in 2012 but Jeff Flake is of the same mold and joined the Senate in 2012.  The Senate is better for having them in it. But... In 2010 there were also the Tea Party Senate candidates Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Linda McMahon, and Ken Buck. In 2012 the Tea Party was responsible for nominating Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Linda McMahon again.  The simple fact is that the GOP missed their window of opportunity to take the Senate majority in 2010 or 2012 because of  these Tea Party clowns.

8) BTW... Massachusetts.... Regarding your new senator... 

... good luck with that.

9) We are completely F*cked in California

California citizens are already saddled with some of the highest income, sales and corporate taxes in the country. Despite this, the state is virtually bankrupt due primarily to the irresponsible spending and fiscal mismanagement of our mostly Democratic state government.

Nevertheless, in November we voted to increase taxes on ourselves and elected a veto proof Democratic Party Supermajority in our legislature. Really. We actually did that. The Democratic Supermajority will now share power with our  Democratic governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown providing unconstrained Democratic One Party Rule in our state.  The Democrats are already promising to overreach. There is no hope for this state. Our only consolation is that Illinois is worse off than we are. Maybe.

10) In 2012 the United States is 3% more racist than it was in 2008

It is right there in the numbers. In 2012 Barack Obama received 65,593,667 or 51% of the popular vote vs. Romney's 60,859,379 and 47.3%. In 2008 Obama received 69,498,516 or 52.9% of the popular vote vs. McCain's 59,948,323  45.7%.  Since we have been reliably informed by scholars and pundits that racism is the motivation for voting against Obama, it is a pretty straightforward calculation. Obama received 3.904,849 fewer votes than he did in 2008 out of 126,453,046 votes cast. A clear 3.09 % increase in racism.  It is quite sad really.  Don't blame me. I voted for the guy. I just don't understand what is wrong with the rest of you people.

11) Barack Obama has additional options after he completes his second term.

As noted in the beginning of this post, the Dividist and Mrs. Dividist recently returned from an adventure tour of Ethiopia for most of November.  Everywhere we went, when identified as Americans, locals would give us a big smile and say "Obama!".  Our President is wildly popular in Ethiopia:

Obama gift shop, Obama trucking, Obama boat captain,  &girl with Obama button

 If the President wants to continue running a country after he is termed out here, he hs options. He would be elected Prime Minister in Ethiopia in a landslide.

12) The President's Mandate.

The President and David Axelrod clearly ran a very smart and effective campaign. But now, during the "Fiscal Cliff" debate currently unfolding on Capital Hill, the President and his flacks are making the claim that the the election was a mandate to increase taxes.  That's not what they ran on. Sure President Obama did repeat the "tax the rich" mantra during the campaign, but they also did everything possible to avoid meaningful discussions of Simpson Bowles, the deficit, the economy, and unsustainable entitlement spending.

So what did the Obama campaign actually run on? Based on their advertising and campaign rhetoric, the Obama campaign stood on three pillars:
  1. Republicans hate women
  2. Republicans hate Hispanics. 
  3. Mitt Romney is a dick. 
You cannot argue with success. It worked. But claiming a mandate on that platform is a bit of a reach.

If there was any mandate delivered by the electorate in 2012, it was a mandate for restraint, compromise, and four more years of divided government. The Dividist is good with that.

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