If there was anything Republicans should have been surprised about in this month’s elections, it was their rout in the Senate. Not only did Republicans lose races against vulnerable Democratic incumbents in GOP leaning states—Missouri, Florida, Montana—but they also lost almost every competitive open race and failed to hold a vacant one in Indiana.
I want to thank every American who participated in this election whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time—by the way, we have to fix that," President Obama said as he kicked off his victory speech last week by throwing a bone to the liberals who spent much of the past year fighting Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. The laws didn't end up tipping the final results but certainly disenfranchised scores of voters and created a needless hassle for others across the country. In Northern Virginia, long lines forced voters to wait three hours past the time polls were set to close, while in Florida voters rushed to vote the weekend before the election to take advantage of the reduced early-voting window.
As Democrats continue to bask in the post-election schadenfreude of watching Republicans weep and gnash their teeth at losing the presidential election, the sense that conservatives are the architects of their own misery is only enhancing liberal glee. It seems the initial shock hasn’t warn off: In a conference call with his fundraising team, Mitt Romney is still blaming his loss on those freeloading Americans who wanted stuff.
In the Empire State, winning elections doesn’t always translate into power it seems. Next year, Democrats will likely have a majority of seats in the state’s upper chamber. But they aren’t likely to control it. It’s one of the stranger outcomes of the latest election.
After kowtowing to every conservative whim during the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney could have eased into retirement, maintaining the moderate, nice-guy image he cultivated during the final month of the campaign. Alas, rich uncle moneybags needed to bash the 47 percent on his way out the door. "The president’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said Wednesday on a conference call with his donors, portraying African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young voters as moneygrubbers whose votes were up for sale. His post-election takeaway squashes any lingering doubts about who the real Mitt is. For Pete's sake, he's no longer running for office, so we can stop wondering whether the 47 percent video represented his true beliefs.
We’re about to find out, in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, whether President Obama plans to govern the way he ran for re-election—and whether, as a result, he just might become the kind of president liberals hoped he’d be in the first place. The single most surprising thing about the 2012 campaign (unless you’re a Republican still shell-shocked over the outcome) was that the “man from Kumbaya” completely rejected the Bill Clinton re-election model. It was the polar opposite of triangulation: This time, the Democratic incumbent won with a resonant message of liberal populism.
Earlier in the week I wrote about the increasing conservative complaint that too many Americans are mooching off the labors of genuine hard-working job creators. Well now Mitt Romney himself has extended this analysis to the ballot box, telling his big donors in a post-election conference call that the reason he lost was, essentially, that Barack Obama bought off those moochers with promises of free stuff. When the 47 percent video came out, I couldn't have been the only one who wondered just how many times he had delivered that riff; it seems unlikely it was the first and last time he said it. But now the election's over, and he isn't stopping. Romney seems appalled that Obama would be so diabolical as to pursue policies that were beneficial to people who then went to the polls to vote for him. It's worth quoting at length:
When the “47 percent” video first hit, there was a question as to whether this was the “real Romney,” or someone pandering to the prejudices of the Republican donor class. If you stepped away from the passion of moment, you could easily see a scenario where Romney felt that it was in his best interest to adopt another bit of right-wing rhetoric, for the sake of cash and support.
I think most people can agree that Kentucky's Mitch McConnell is one of the most innovative Senate Minority Leaders in recent memory. His insight—that the opposition party can obstruct and force the majority party to bear the public’s discontent—helped give Republicans a House majority in 2010, and gave the GOP a fighting chance in this year’s presidential election (see: Mitt Romney’s late-game promise to bring bipartisanship to Washington).
Yes, this is a post about the 2016 presidential race. Before you turn away, I'm going to say loud and proud that despite all the people crying "I can't wait until this is over!" in the last few weeks, despite the Bronco Bama girl, despite the torture endured by the citizens of Ohio, I am sorry the election is over. Sort of, anyway. Why? Because I write about politics for a living. When the World Series ends, we don't expect sportswriters to say, "I sure am glad that's over!" So yes, even though in the coming months and years I'll be writing a lot about policy, I'm also going to write about politics, including upcoming elections. Deal with it.
Now that that's off my chest, Benjy Sarlin makes an interesting observation about the suddenly moderating Republicans who are publicly saying their party has to find a way to be more friendly to more kinds of people if it wants to win back the White House in 2016: "It's hard to believe now, but the popular punditry [after the 2008 election] — as now — was that Republicans needed to moderate their policies and tone to compete with Obama. Several Republicans considered likely presidential candidates made big bets on this new era of bipartisanship and went bust." The ones who took a stance of implacable opposition ended up leading their party, none more so than Mitt Romney. So is the same thing going to happen over the next four years?
Pat Robertson, possibly fending off a hurricane. (Flickr/Daniel Oines)
If we're going to count the losers of the 2012 election, the religious right has to be high on the list. Its members said they would turn out in extraordinary numbers to fight that infidel in the White House, but Ralph Reed's turnout push fizzled. Gay marriage is now legal in three more states than it was on November 5, with more sure to come. In response, some on the religious right are wondering whether this politics thing just isn't working out for them. It isn't that they failed to get their message out, said influential religious-right quote machine Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, "it's that the entire moral landscape has changed. ... An increasingly secularized America understands our positions and has rejected them."
We've heard this kind of thing before, and Ed Kilgore warns that the religious right's stranglehold on the Republican Party hasn't lessened at all:
Today a pair of leading Republicans—and potential presidential contenders for 2016—offered some indications that the party might actually have a conversation about its future that goes beyond nominating Marco Rubio and grudgingly submitting to immigration reform. In interviews with Politico, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky had some bracing things to say about the GOP’s failures and future—though only one of them (guess which?) suggested anything more than an image makeover.
On election day, Colorado and Washington passed initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. The future of both laws is uncertain, due to the fact that the drug is still illegal under federal law, which makes the creation of a legal market complex, to say the least. Nevertheless, within a few days, prosecutors in Washington dismissed hundreds of misdemeanor marijuana possession cases, even though the new law doesn't officially take effect until December 6. Which is an indication that in the short term, the laws may have a substantial impact on the work of law enforcement, and the relationship of citizens to the police, in those states.
We don't know that for sure, of course. But the Seattle Police Department is already showing how hip it can be. As we learn via Romanesko, the SPD has a blog run by a journalist, who wrote a piece called "Mariwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use in Seattle," that is, to say the least, not the kind of thing you usually expect from an employee of a police department. Here's an excerpt:
My favorite exit-poll factoid this year comes near the end of the quadrennial Edison-Mitofsky questionnaire, as reported on the NBC News web site. The pollsters asked people leaving their voting places whether Barack Obama’s policies, and Mitt Romney’s policies, “generally favor[ed]” the rich, the middle class, or the poor—and respondents could give more than one answer. Among Obama supporters, 86 percent said that Obama’s policies favored the middle class, with another 25 percent saying that they favored the poor. Only 12 percent of Romney’s supporters, by contrast, believed that Obama’s policies favored the middle class while a whopping 74 percent said that they favored the poor—not a good thing in Romneyworld.