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!