Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Seven Observations about the Elections

1. While the national popular vote tally was was quite close, the electoral college was not. The incumbent garnered 303 votes, while the challenger only grabbed 206 (with Florida's 29 electoral votes yet to be declared for either side).

2. President Obama lost only two of the states he carried in the last election, Indiana and South Carolina, which are the two most Republican-leaning states that he won in 2008.

3. With several House and Senate races yet to be determined, it looks as if the composition of Congress will remain unchanged, with the Demos holding the Senate and the Repubs controlling the House.

4. I'm hoping to see some solid academic analysis in the coming months of the total net effect of the Tea Party on the Republican Party's electoral campaigns. It seems clear enough that in case of the Indiana senatorial contest, which is the only one I followed at all closely, the Tea Party basically cost the Republicans a seat in the Senate.

5. Whatever the net effect of the Tea Party on Republicans' electoral prospects, it seems clear that the Party is going to have to change its strategic direction to some extent (beyond cynical attempts to limit exercise of the franchise), in light of changing demographics, if it is to prosper in future elections. The New York Times has an interesting column on that issue here.

6. The US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision does not seem to have much effect on outcomes, though it certainly did feed the coffers of local TV networks across the country (the Supreme Court's contribution to economic stimulus), while condemning millions of innocent Americans to a form of torture by repetitive airing of inhumane videos. Citizens United remains a lamentable constitutional ruling, but it did not have the dramatic impact that many of its opponents feared.

7. Since it appears that President Obama won the popular vote as well as the electoral college contest, I don't foresee any big push to get rid of the electoral college, which is unfortunate. And given the structure of the Senate, there's still no hope for filibuster reform. (I say, go back to the old system and make filibusterers actually hold the floor, as Jimmy Stewart did in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.)

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