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Soup’s On!

After a big feast, the bones of whatever animal was consumed can be gathered and boiled down for soup.  Elections are a feast of sorts, if you prefer blather to meat, and it’s customary to make some kind of broth from the whole experience.

Why bother?  Those of us who are “into it” love to analyze trends and learn whatever we can along the way.  The next election will be shaped by these lessons more than anything else.  And if we’ve learned one thing in this deeply divided America, it’s that election season is pretty much forever.


First, let’s start with my predictions.  I don’t have any reason to be embarrassed, except I thought that the Democrats would lose a few Senate seats rather than gain.  The Republican loss of 8 US House seats was pretty weak, showing thin coattails for Obama – something the party is criticizing him for.  But the rest went about as I predicted.

The most surprising thing?  A year ago everyone expected the “Citizens United” ruling to be influence the election more than anything else.  While it did unleash $380M in independent expenditures for Romney (nearly $6 per vote obtained) it appears to have been an utter waste.  Perhaps the Supreme Court was on to something when they unleashed this beast – the best defense against excessive election spending might be a very jaded electorate.

Overall, about $43 per vote was spent on this bad boy.  Did you get your money’s worth?

Much has been made about Nate Silver, the guy who used actual math.  There’s no point in going over this again, except that everyone who either doubted him or was surprised by the result should simply get out of politics and/or be fired as a pundit.

Democrats feel a need to celebrate this big win, but that seems very wrong.  At a national level, what we did was hold even.  The only reason people feel like it was a big win is that the “other side” bleated constantly how we would lose.  Celebrating too much now makes it look like somewhere deep down inside we believed them – a mistake we should at the very least not be proud of.  Let’s be happy but hungry for actual progress, please.  There’s a lot more to do.

Here in Minnesota, the DFL controls the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office for the first time since Rudy Perpich lost in 1990.  What this means is being very carefully considered by the party leaders, who are not giddy nor salivating – but appear to be taking it very seriously.  I hope that the spirit of Rudy Perpich comes back.  He was a man who had 10 innovative ideas every day, and 1 of them was absolutely brilliant – the problem was figuring out which was the great one. He gave us the “rainy day fund” and had other initiatives like the Office of Waste Management to actually help businesses comply with environmental regulations, not just drop the hammer when they screwed up.  Those of us who believe government can be a great force for good have an obligation to reform and reinvigorate it!

Back at the national level, one of the surprising things to float through the media even as the ballots were being counted was the “fiscal cliff” that will come to negotiations in December, stretching into 2013.  Where was this talk during the election cycle?  It’s as if someone flipped a switch and we suddenly went from a long series of non-issues that were either stupid or simply made up to the most critical problem facing those who we elected – once the thang was over.  Wha?

On that score, Speaker Boehner has already sounded very conciliatory, supporting major tax reform.  This is a big deal because Grover Norquist has insisted that reform goes against his silly anti-tax pledge, given that someone’s taxes are likely to rise.  However, tax reform could be the best issue the Republicans could dig up right now.  Boehner is still betting on tax cuts spurring growth, a strange fantasy in this economic situation, but he’s quickly moving away from obstructionism.

Much has already been made of how demographics are against the Republicans.  America is changing, and they have to learn how to change with it.  What’s also against the Republicans is that the slow process of restructuring the economy is on a pace to end this Depression more or less on schedule in 2017, meaning we’ll be back in a bull market and nearly full employment.  Obama will look like a genius four years from now even doing little.  We could be looking at 30+ year run of Democrat hegemony similar to how Republicans have controlled the debate since about 1980.

What more is there to say?  Plenty.  But this is enough for some good soup to savor through the cold winter months.  Want to add something to the pot?  I’d love to hear your closing thoughts on this election!

12 thoughts on “Soup’s On!

    • I feel that we prevented something bad more than we did something good. The fight for marriage equality is going to be harder ahead than most people think, IMHO. But we’ll see.
      Besides, I’m skipping things that everyone else is talking about. Unlike most pundits who talked about the election being “razor tight” (thus proving they simply repeated each other rather than think) I take my own path.

  1. The Marriage Amendment was the biggest thing in my life! I say it deserves a mention!
    But this was gold: “Overall, about $43 per vote was spent on this bad boy. Did you get your money’s worth?” 🙂

    • OK, I should have said more. But a DFL legislature does not mean marriage equity is around the corner. Many of those legislators come from districts that did not support the “No” side, and they will not want to support a change right away.
      There is a lot left to do!
      Thanks for the quote, tho. 🙂

  2. Agree on Nate Silver. The delusion was amazing, those who drank the kool-aid looked really stupid.

    • The first rule in politics is to never let a vote take place without knowing the outcome. If you’re going to lose, find a way to declare a moral victory and/or carry on the fight. If you’re going to lose by one, make any deal you can! If you’re going to win, stop making deals. If you’re on the outside, load that winner up with pork!
      Rove not only could not predict the election, he wasted a ton of money. Stick a fork in him and let the air out! The rest of those clowns are not doing their party any service by not being able to call this thing, either. It was embarrassing to watch, even from the other side!

  3. As a gay Minnesotan myself, I take a little bit of a different view.

    First, I think that the DOMA case currently headed for a Supreme Court decision will be pivotal in legalizing same-sex marriage in MN. If the 2nd circuit’s decision is upheld, that will mean that marriage, and not “civil unions” or some other variant, will be that much more important. Only a marriage license will be able to make same-sex couples whole in terms of the federal government’s eyes.

    But beyond that, I think the GLBT community in MN has many, many other issues that we are concerned about from our legislature, that we need to press for just as vocally. All Minnesotans, gay or straight, need to have a robust, vital health insurance exchange set up, and soon. We need a long-term solution to our structural budget problems that our state economist has repeatedly pointed out. All of our children need K-12 schools that are properly funded (no more shifts).

    I think those priorities are extremely important too; time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    • Thank you. I was going to run down a list of things that the DFL has on its plate, but that list is huge. What will matter most is a combination of long over-due simple reforms, major things we know are pending (like the implementation of Obamacare & exchanges) plus whatever various groups start pressuring for.
      I don’t see anything more important than correcting the permanent imbalance in our state budget, but of course I would say that. Still, it’s very important – and the “Minnesota Miracle” has been tinkered with to the point where it’s not recognizable. I think there are a lot of “unfunded mandates” foisted on counties right now that the state can and should pick up the tab for – funded out of a restructured (progressive!) income tax and focused on reducing property taxes. I think counties are the place to look for a real reform in state and local relations.
      And, of course, pay back K-12 and look at the whole situation carefully for major improvement.
      Once we get the state’s house in order we can start talking about new directions and new things, but I think that the fundamental stuff will take huge gobs of time – and should be done with a lot of public engagement to be done well.
      There are also a ton of civil rights issues out there, mostly in the same-sex area but not exclusively, that we have to deal with. I know of a few native issues pending, too. At least those don’t cost us.
      Really, the list is huge. I’ve been listening to other people to get a handle on what will be the most pressing as well as thinking it through. It’s a lot of stuff.
      Will same-sex marriage be part of our mix? We’ll see.

  4. Obama won by tearing Mitt Romney down. That is okay for politics. But 1/3 of the policy making apparatus is Republican, so we Republicans still have a say. Politics always has something for everyone and John Boehner is the leader now for Republicans.

    The founding parents knew what they were doing. The House of Representatives is closer to the pulse of the people.

  5. From 1933 to 1994 the House of Representatives was in Democratic hands all years except the 1947 Congress and 1957 Congress. I think Democrats felt entitled to the House. That is partly why politics has been so bitter since 1994.

    In terms of policy take 2 programs. Social Security and medicare. Those 2 programs go to people not based on need. That is why those 2 programs are so large. You could make Social Security and medicare just to benefit those in the lower fifth of the retiree incomes, but that is not how it is designed. You can’t take away programs from current retirees or those about to retire. Can they be reduced for future retirees and can we expect them to save more on their own? That is the idea of more personal responsibility and less welfare state.

  6. There is a gender gap. Obama won a majority of women. When you break down the women’s vote by race, the results are different. White women, by a majority voted for Romney. Women who are people of color voted for Obama.

    That’s an interesting result. It would appear that Obama’s effort to appeal to women did not persuade white women. Republican gaffes about reproductive rights and choice on abortion apparently mostly affected minority women.

  7. It is true Obama won a majority of voters 18-29.
    If you factor in race, Romney won a majority of white young people, 51-44. With Obama winning only 44 percent of white young people, you would not be able to say he did a good job with that group. He did win 91% of young African Americans and 74% of young Latinos.

    Here in Nevada Obama won 57% of women voters. That is pretty good. Nevada has a very large percentage of divorced women and divorced omen tend to support Democrats more.

    I would add that exit polling results are both interesting and troubling when you see large differences among sub sectors of the electorate. Causation and correlation again are 2 different things. If one has a causation theory, you don’t always know what direction it goes in.

    Romney won voters 45 -64 years old. Many of these are baby boomers are we aren’t all dying off in 10 years. We can’t predict whether 18-44 will remain tending to vote Democratic in 10 years.

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