Not Close


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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179 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    “Overall, then, these nine states, where the race really happened, went decisively to the president.”

    What about the rest of us, who aren’t fortunate enough to live where the election “really” happened? I’m in Maryland. Did we not elect a president here?

    I do hope you’re not committing some leftie counterpart to the conservatives’ “real America” fallacy, in which the election that “really” matters occurs only among rural white conservatives.Report

    • The fact that that’s where the race really happened is entirely a consequence of the Electoral College, has nothing to do with the idea that some demographic types are more authentic or valuable than others.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        In judging whether the election was “close,” one could use the popular vote, which I think you analyzed well. Or one use pick the Electoral College, though it often has perverse results: very close popular-vote elections often look like landslides in the EC, and the popular vote winner can and does sometimes lose.

        But picking a few states that you like and saying it wasn’t “really” a close election — because it wasn’t close there — seems a bit unfair to the rest of us, who voted in the states you’re not as keen on. It’s not nearly as bad as this, but it’s unfair both to Maryland and Texas, to name just a couple of other places that “really” had a presidential election this past Tuesday.

        Granted, if one wanted to make a point about the Obama campaign’s superior organization or messaging or whatever in the swing states, that would be some valid data. But I don’t think it quite fits the purposes you’re putting it to.Report

        • I feel like we’re talking past each other. The reason I think the race really happened in those 9 states is because those 9 states are where both campaigns spent the vast majority of their time and resources. I apologize if I’m not quite understanding you here.Report

          • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

            My feeling is that the only significance whether or not an election was close comes implicitly from thinking toward mandates. And since the presidential election 4 years from now will likely be dicided by a similar list of states, how well one does there would seem to be a more important indicator of the strength of the political victory–since when looking to re-electing a Democrat 4 years from now, those same states will be the judge of how well their support paid off.Report

        • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          I totally discount the popular vote, because that’s not how the candidates campaign. If the popular vote counted — at all — we’d see a totally different campaign strategy — one geared to “swing districts” instead of “swing states”. Reliable districts will be ignored (just as reliable states are now), because why spend money and time on a done deal?Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            If the popular vote counted, election resources would almost certainly have to spread thinner, because GOTV efforts in the South or New England would matter just as much or possibly more than convincing people in swing districts.

            Messaging would necessarily change as a result, with candidates playing more to their bases in the general election and less to the views of voters in swing states.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Um, he’s not. He’s just stating reality. We have a winner-take-all system. Roughly 40 states are, by and large, locked into one party or the other at the state-wide level. So there’s no point in campaigning there. Running up the vote totals or making it closer doesn’t win you anything — it’s a waste of money.

      There are roughly 10 states that can be swung from one side to the other. That’s where Presidential candidates focus their effort. Not because those states are special, or super important, but because you have a chance to flip them from red to blue or blue to red and actually get something (electoral votes) for your effort.

      That’s just how it is. If we elected presidents by popular vote, the system would be different and those ten states wouldn’t have such massive, overwhelming importance. They’re not “real America” or “fake America” — those ten states are just the states where the result is up in the air.

      Romney didn’t go into this election thinking he’d win California or New York, and Obama didn’t think he’d win Texas or Alabama. Those states got, more or less, written off. Everyone concentrated on the tiny handful of states where no one was sure who would win.

      Judging the Presidential election by popular vote is like judging a football team’s season by total points scored versus total points scored against, rather than by “games won/games lost”. Nobody cares if a football team wins 67-0 or 21-14 — they care whether then “win” or “lose”.

      People focusing on the popular vote are like looking at a pair of football teams and saying “Sure, Team A had a 10-2 record, and Team B had a 8-4 record, but Team A had 400/350 points, whereas Team B hgad 390/300 points — obviously Team B won the season because they had a larger point differential”.

      Sure, they did have a larger point differential. But neither team spent ANY game just trying to run up the score, because “win/lose” was the metric that mattered, not “point differential”.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        My comment above is superfluous in light of this, much better, one.

        + 1Report

      • Avatar Stuart says:

        Actually, judging and election by the popular vote is a lot more sensible than judging by the electoral college result. You win or lose the presidency by virtue of the electoral college, so of course it makes perfect sense to campaign in a manner reflective of that reality. But the electoral college result would lead one to conclude that Obama enjoys support from the overwhelming majority of people in this country. He does not. He enjoys the support of roughly 51% of the people. Looking at a county-by-county map would lead one to conclude that Romney crushed Obama like a bug and that the vast majority of the country supports him. That is obviously false. 48% of the people support him. Winning and losing is the measure of nothing other than winning or losing. It is not a measure of how much support a particular candidate has from the nation as a whole. Only the popular vote gives you insight into that in any kind of accurate way. And that is for one simple reason – we vote as individual people – not as counties or as states. That’s not how a candidate wins, but it is how we vote. Clearly, winning 100 counties, each of which has 1oo people in it does not make you more popular or indicate that you have more support than winning 1 county that has 10,000 people in it. If you’re trying to understand ‘the message’ that we sent through our votes (a dubious effort at best), your only hope of learning something valuable is by looking at the popular vote.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Um, no. If you wanted to go by “popular vote” then all the money Obama spent in places like, oh, North Carolina would have been far better spent in New York and California driving up the vote count. Romney would have spent a lot more in Texas.

          It’s pretty simple — getting 10% more Democrats to the polls in the 9 battleground states nets a HECK of a lot less votes than getting 10% more Democrats to the polls in California or New York.

          As I pointed out — my county (a blue one) in Texas cast more ballots than the entirety of Montana. Electoral votes was what both candidates spent money on, not popular votes!

          Again, you’re trying to argue that even though MY team’s record was 10-2 and yours was 8-4, your team is still better because you had 400 more rushing yards, 200 more passing yards, and scored 40 more points over the season than mine.

          In fact, as a good example — the House Democrats number fewer than House Republicans for the 2013 Congress. Get which set got more votes, overall? (Hint: Not the Republicans). Take a look at the Senate — how much of a population do the Republicans represent? The Democrats? (Hint: Again, Democrats > Republicans).Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Um, he’s not. He’s just stating reality. We have a winner-take-all system. Roughly 40 states are, by and large, locked into one party or the other at the state-wide level. So there’s no point in campaigning there. Running up the vote totals or making it closer doesn’t win you anything — it’s a waste of money.

        Don’t patronize me. I’m well aware of how American elections work.

        But to judge whether the election was “close” based on popular votes only in the swing states is still misguided. It’s an indicator of the sheer weirdness of the Electoral College that anyone might be even tempted to make the claim. Not much more than that.Report

        • Avatar DRS says:

          David Frum had an election pool on his site and those readers who accurately predicted the EC win got a chance to write a guest column. A few are up now and some are quite good. I’m linking one of them because it deals with the whole math/pop-vote vs elec vote issue:

          I’m doing this because it seems to me that we’re into the certs-is-a-candy-mint-no-it’s-a-breath-mint stage of the argument over the math, and perhaps a new perspective might help.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          I’m not patronizing you. It’s simple reality.

          Obama and Romney ran entirely on winning those swing states. They did NOT compete to win the most possible votes (aside from those swings states).

          You might as well say that Romney actually won because he won more square acres than Obama, if you’re going to judge “close” by anything other than electoral votes.

          Electoral votes was the goal. It was what both sides were striving for. Number of voters was irrelevant.

          House and Senate seats are good secondary measures, since both parties were trying to maximize the numbers there. By any reasonable account, the Democrats had a fantastically overwhelming win on the Senate side (gaining seats when the original picture was a question of whether they could even keep their majority), and the House Democrats gained a fair number of seats — although gerrymandering makes that a bit of a tough nut to count up.

          People insisting on judging whether the election was “close” based on popular vote totals are identical to people trying to claim total yardage gained identifies the best football team, not their win/lose record.Report

  2. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    I think determing whether or not the election was “close” depends more on what political consequences one thinks it will have.

    To the degree that I don’t think the election gives Democrats much momentum going forward, whether their President and several Senators won popular support outright, I would say that it IS close in that sense.

    Most state chambers are still controled by Republicans. Most states have Republican Governors. And Republicans are still over represented in the Senate, and have control of the House, all of which leads me to believe that even if the President won somewhat handily by contemporary standards, the 3 point margin by which he won will have a similar percentage impact on how the country is actually governored over the next two years.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Not for long, here, if Kane has anything to say about it…Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      And not in Maine. Both houses, which turned red (along with the governor at 37%) last time turned blue. Folks here have not liked how Republicans handled things; and even in the redder parts of the state, the more extreme Republican candidates (tea party candidates) were the ones booted out of office. Moderates did okay.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        The Colorado House, which went narrowly red in 2010 (one seat, by ~250 votes) switched back to blue. One of the consequences of that will almost certainly be passage of a civil-union law for same-sex couples. Last session, the Republican Speaker of the House didn’t have the votes to defeat a civil-unions bill on the floor (a handful of Republican members from relatively liberal districts supported it). Instead, he resorted to his procedural prerogatives to keep it from being heard, and in a special session called specifically to deal with that bill, had it killed by assigning it to an inappropriate committee where he could keep the Republican members in line.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      Instructive: Check the vote counts for the House of representatives. The Democratic Reps got more votes than the Republican ones, despite the GOP having more seats.

      As for the majority of states — again, one of those states is Montana, which I believe has fewer people in it than the county in Texas I am part of.

      It’s difficult to work these sorts of things out. However, in the end — Obama won more electoral votes, he won the popular vote, the Democrats picked up Senate seats in defiance of original expectations (23 D seats to defend, 10 R seats), and Democrats picked up House seats.Report

  3. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    The plain truth is that although an increasing number of voters are turned off by what Republicans represent, that doesn’t mean they’ve become lefty converts. A lot of them are still will always be pretty nervous about not comfortable with a big part of our agenda, and we have a lot of work ahead to get them more solidly on our side in clarifying what we should be doing through the framework of the law, vs. other possible venues, just like our Republican brethren. Otherwise, we’ll find that we’re jumping to the conclusion that Americans are more on board with our message than they actually are.


    • Avatar superdestroyer says:

      I think you underestimate the number of automatic Democratic Party voters. Do you really think that the Democrats can ever screw up enough to be voted out of office in places like Maryland or DC.

      The politics of the future is the one party state where elections are moot and people will find other ways to influence the government. A question for the future is what happens is a large percentage of the population start cheating more on their taxes?Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Here’s the main thing that I remember from 2004 and the “Permanent Republican Majority”.

    John Kerry was, truly, an awful, awful candidate. When Bush won in 2004, he also picked up Congressional seats and *SENATE* seats.

    Republicans interpreted this as Bush being given A Mandate and, between 2004 and 2006, did all sorts of things that I throw in Koz’s face when he starts talking about Republicans being the party of fiscal sanity and whatnot… and then, well, I’m sure you remember what happened in 2006.

    If Barack Obama were a strong, strong candidate and if Mitt Romney were almost as strong a candidate, then I’m pretty sure you’d be right. From where I sit, however, we just saw a replay of 2004.

    Because Mitt Romney was an awful, awful candidate.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Keep in mind: there were additional dynamics to the race insofar as there were a great many Republican Rape Theorists talking about their various Rape Theories. This got a *LOT* of airplay and if I were a fence sitter in New Hampshire, I could see myself saying “I cannot vote for the Republican Party if they have Todd Akin as a senator…” and having something that happened across the country as swinging my vote.

      This election could just as easily be interpreted as a smackdown against those awful, awful social conservatives that keep saying awful, awful things about people for whom we have much sympathy/empathy as an endorsement of Barack Obama.

      In 2008, I think that Hillary Clinton would have won the White House in a walk… but I don’t think that she would have had a nigh-filibuster proof Senate nor have picked up as many congressional seats as Obama did. In that, I think that Obama was the absolute best candidate the Democrats could have fielded.

      Can you look at the Republican field and find even a single candidate that would have done better against Obama than Romney did? (Chris Christie was a name thrown about early in the summer, I recall.) If you can’t imagine a single candidate doing better than Romney did… well, maybe you’re right.

      From where I sit, Romney was one of the weakest candidates for President the Republicans could have cobbled together. He was a Republican Kerry… except, well, Obama didn’t do quite as well against him (House/Senatewise) as Bush did back when he got re-elected.Report

      • Avatar mark boggs says:

        “This election could just as easily be interpreted as a smackdown against those awful, awful social conservatives that keep saying awful, awful things about people for whom we have much sympathy/empathy as an endorsement of Barack Obama.”

        I’m with you here. As tepid as my feelings about Obama are, I can guarantee you my feelings for the GOP are infinitely more negative.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I don’t understand your second-to-last paragraph. Is there a “not” missing from the first sentence?

        Anyway, among the candidates who had boomlets: Bachmann, Cain, Perry, Newt, Santorum, I think they would all have been even worse candidates. The first three because they were so clearly under-qualified, and the last two because their essential unpleasantness couldn’t have stayed hidden.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The guys who actually ran for the nomination this year were… (shudder).

          The bench held a handful of guys who would have done better than Romney in the general election, though. Huckabee comes first to mind.

          (And I read the second-to-last again and it makes sense to me, I think… but if it makes more with a “not”, put that in there.)Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            The bench held a handful of guys who would have done better than Romney in the general election, though. Huckabee comes first to mind.

            To the extent that the GOP Rape Theorists had an influence on the national election, Huckabee would have been toast in the GE: he totally had Akin’s back after that disastrous CBN interview. In fact, Huck was only one of (I think) two prominent GOPers who stood by Akin. (The other one might have been Jim DeMint– I can’t recall. I could be wrong about that.)

            I am curious why you think Huck would have made a stronger GE candidate than Romney. I mean, I think Huck very likely could have turned out to be a strong contender in the primary: he’s much more affable and less provocative than, say, Santorum. But I’ve never seen any evidence that gives me the impression he could be a strong GE candidate.Report

            • Avatar ktward says:

              I don’t know why I said that Akin interview was on CBN. It wasn’t. I am really screwing stuff up today.Report

            • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

              I think Jon Huntsman would have been a fantastically strong candidate, if he could have made it through the Republican primaries…Report

              • Avatar North says:

                He’d have shattered his base if he has (by some miracle) been nominated.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                One hopes that such is coming sooner than later.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Well yes, if the GOP is ever to actually become the libertarian small government aligned party in anything but slogans it would be necessary.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                They’d also be a pretty pointless party. I know it’s probably rude to say on a Libertarian blog, but let’s face facts — while some libertarian ideas have popular appeal, a lot don’t.

                By the time Libertarian idealogy is watered down enough for enough people to buy in, the actual libertarians would have left.Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

                I would disagree strongly that this is a libertarian blog. Some of us are, some of us aren’t.

                The rest of your comment is basically correct.Report

              • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

                I would disagree strongly that this is a libertarian blog. Some of us are, some of us aren’t.

                Of course, Gary Johnson got half of his national vote total from LoOGers…Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                Do you mean that Republicans wold have come out in droves for Huntsman, or that he would have given you a harder choice?Report

              • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

                I would have been an Obama guy regardless (he maps pretty well to my own ideological preferences), but I think in a general election setting we would have been able to knock him over pretty easily.

                He is attractive, rational, very very conservative, but not loony, and very white. Had he one, I would have been sad, but not worried for the future of the republic.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              (I ask you to keep in mind: I’m a libertarian who would actually vote for a real live Democrat instead of voting for a libertarian in an election where Huckabee was running.)

              Huckabee is “likable”. He’s a good communicator. He’s a big spender. He gives speeches like a pastor. I think he could do the whole empathy thing and tear up when he needed to. He strikes me as a very, very dangerous Republican indeed.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                He’s been very well trained. Not by the best, but then again, the best aren’t Republican.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                I totally agree on Huck’s likability and he is indeed an excellent communicator. (Dude does The Daily Show with no qualms. It’s always an interesting and thoughtful interview.) He’s an innately gracious man. He’s authentic and genuine. In almost every respect, he’s a stark contrast to Romney and most of the rest of this primary’s field. (With the exception of Huntsman. Huntsman’s equally as upstanding as Huck.)

                But Huck can barely hold his own through a GOP primary. I really don’t see how his Christian evangelical chops would carry him through a ge.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I think that had Huck run this time, he would have been an Anti-Romney with staying power. He didn’t work in 2008 because of the fiscal conservatives pitching a fit and the social conservatives pitching one themselves and everybody agreeing to disagree on McCain/Palin.

                The rumor I heard about why Huck didn’t run this time was because he misjudged that Palin would and he (perhaps correctly) judged that he and Palin would have destroyed each other in the primary early, leaving everything else open for Romney.

                It is to laugh.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                Come to think of it, I think I heard that same rumor. My gosh, that seems so long ago now! What a chuckle.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                He strikes me as a very, very dangerous Republican indeed.

                I used to think that. I totally thought that during the ’08 primary. I just don’t think so anymore. Maybe I’ll change my mind again if he decides to run in ’16.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I am with JB on this one. As near as I can tell from interviews, I like Huckabee as a person just fine.

                As a President? I find the prospect terrifying.

                If the charge against Romney was that he believes nothing at all, I fear that Huckabee may believe certain things just a little too much.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Ugh. I’ve really, really disliked Huck for a while now. I was willing to give him a chance, there aren’t enough base players in the world.

                but after stumbling on his show one night, just in time to hear him tell a caller claiming to be atheist, “How can you be moral?” Huck lost all potential for moral standing with me.

                How can he be moral and presume that one has to subscribe to God to hold moral values? That’s not morality, that’s bigotry against atheists.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                No question, Huck’s more … blunt on his radio show than he is elsewhere. But Christian evangelism/fundamentalism is what it is. These folks really cannot comprehend that morality does not stem from religion. Their religion, to be precise. I was raised as one, so I’m well-versed in the stuff.

                Those kinds of opinions don’t make me dislike people, it just makes me not want them in positions to craft public policy. Mostly I just dislike assholes. Santorum would be a good example of an asshole.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                I am with JB on this one. As near as I can tell from interviews, I like Huckabee as a person just fine. As a President? I find the prospect terrifying.

                Actually, I think you’re with me on this one. JB thinks Huckabee is a nice dude, and near as I can tell he doesn’t find the prospect of a Huck Presidency all that terrifying. Otoh, I think Huckabee’s a nice dude but I definitely am terrified by the notion of a Huck Presidency.

                I’m simply no longer worried there’s much danger of a Huck Presidency.

                Then again, maybe we’re all on the same page and just running around in circles.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Actually, I think you’re with me on this one. JB thinks Huckabee is a nice dude, and near as I can tell he doesn’t find the prospect of a Huck Presidency all that terrifying.

                Allow myself to quote myself: (I ask you to keep in mind: I’m a libertarian who would actually vote for a real live Democrat instead of voting for a libertarian in an election where Huckabee was running.)Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                Sorry, JB. My bad. We pretty much seem to be on the same page, except you think there’s a [much?] higher potential for a Huck presidency than I do.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Huckabee’s America’s Christian Democrat.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Huck’s status as a Baptist pastor would have been crucified by the left. “Soldiers for Christ,” those sort of quotes. Theocracy!

                And he has his own Willie Horton, some guy he pardoned as governor who killed again. [Dunno his race.] So that’s bad for the righties.

                In theory he’d have done better than Romney, but I don’t think so.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                Hey, look at that– I agree with TVD! Miracles really do happen. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer says:

                I think Huckabee could have gotten the nomination (he’s basically Santorum with the douche meter dialed back), but there’s no way someone that socially conservative could have won this year. Huckabee is like, FOR REAL against abortion. He would have hemorrhaged women in the swing states.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Will what Markos has to say sway ya?
              This was in 2008, you know. Huckabee also had Reverend Wright’s back — he’s got a way of not being a total dick about things.

              amusement of the moment: Mitt Romney’s “diary”

          • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

            Huck would be an interesting test. He’s very likable and genuine; I can actually listen to his radio show for long periods without getting mad at him. But his positions come very much from being a right-wing evangelical Christian. If we observe that Romney’s surge came when he abandoned everything he’d said to get the nomination, and guess that Huck would honorably stick to his guns, I’m not seeing that Huck would have done better than 48%.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Romney got the turnout he did because people didn’t like Obama (see, for example, John Kerry in 2004). Imagine a race where not only did Republicans not like Obama *BUT* people also liked the candidate.Report

              • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

                I’m picturing one where the Republican, unlike Mitt, scares people. Obviously, Huck does better on that axis than Santorum, who’s not only scary but mean.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                To be sure: it’s also easy to imagine Republicans who would have done *WORSE* than Romney (which is an important distinction between him and Kerry) but, and here’s the point, that shouldn’t detract from how Romney was an awful, awful candidate.Report

              • Avatar ktward says:

                Romney was a super awful candidate. But the whole primary field was super awful. (Huntsman should have taken a hint from Huck and just stayed out of this race altogether, come back in ’16 when, presumably, the GOP has its act at least marginally more together.)Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                I dunno, imagine a race wherein the Republican candidate at the first debate didn’t cast himself as a moderate distant from the excesses of his base, but a deep red, dyed in the wool, evangelical Christian that tends to fuel the excesses of the base.

                But a likeable one.

                There’s a double issue for folks like Huckabee — Bush was a disappointment. The evangelical wing of the truly believed he was one of theirs (which I deeply suspect he is), but got into office and didn’t do any of their laundry list of concerns (because they tend to be deeply unpopular outside of the GOP base).

                How does Huckabee square that circle? Will the base except him “faking moderation” for the masses, after not just the disapointment of Bush but now Romney?

                Frankly, I think Romney’s greatest strength was that he made himself into a “generic Republican” — which always polls better than the real thing (this is true of generic Democrats too) because you can project your own believes onto him.

                You could see it in endorsements where the argument kept boiling down “Ignore what he said on Date X, focus on Date Y, in the end I know he’s on my side”.

                Huckabee….I can’t see him pulling that off.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You could see it in endorsements where the argument kept boiling down “Ignore what he said on Date X, focus on Date Y, in the end I know he’s on my side”.

                This is where the whole “oozing empathy” thing comes into play.

                Romney’s personality was… off-putting. Corporations are people. I like to be able to fire people. That sort of thing. I mean, hey, I understand what he was going for and I may even agree with what he was going for… but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be in charge of spinning on his behalf.

                When Romney seemed to go out of his way to come across as a plastic technocrat that oozed “I don’t care about what you care about”, Huckabee secretes the opposite… mucus. Whatever it is you want to call that trail behind him. He’d get the benefit of the doubt *BEFOREHAND*.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Oozing empathy doesn’t fix unpopular positions, which is Huck’s problem.

                As noted, he was one fo the few republicans defending Akins.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith says:

            Just to toot my own horn a bit, I predicted all of this last yearReport

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              On the other hand, you also predicted Romney winning 52% of the popular vote….Report

              • Avatar wardsmith says:

                That was as I recall a kind of alternate reality thread, or I misread. Please double check and get back with me.Report

              • Avatar Russell M says:

                you cant claim credit for alternate reality predictions without also claiming Alter-yous failures. unless alter-you is really from an evil universe. in that case just chuck him in the furnace and blame that guy for the bad calls.Report

  5. Avatar MFarmer says:

    The victory clearly puts responsibility on Obama and the senate to lead. Boehner is signalling that he’s willing to be led. I think Obama and the Democratic senate have to put forth a plan in writing that they think will help solve the fiscal problem, then a plan regarding the economic stagnation. Campaigning and pop-culture posing are over, and our system demands that governing take place now. We unfortunately have a statist system that requires central plans, so Obama and Reid must get busy.Report

    • Avatar MarkD says:

      Boehner has signalled he wants to be led. He has also signalled he only wants to be led down the road he chooses.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        “Boehner has signalled he wants to be led. He has also signalled he only wants to be led down the road he chooses.”

        Not really. He came up with a compromise, and it should be attractive to the Left — it’s a beginning in the elimination of corporate welfare. Obama should call Reid, Pelosi, Boehner and McConnell, set up a vist to Camp David, and then get down to business — lay some LBJ mojo on’em.Report

        • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

          Actually, he proposed a complete non-compromise.

          He offered nothing that he hasn’t offered before, in previous budget battles, and during the deficit “default crisis.” He hasn’t moved his position one whit. Granted, his tone was somewhat softer and less belligerent, but there has been absolutely no substantive change in position.

          Obama’s negotiating position is very, very strong. Come January, all of the Bush taxcuts will expire, the defense budget sequestration will occur, and the payroll taxes will revert to their normal levels–without his having to lift a finger. The Democrats can then propose a “middle-class tax cut,” which the Republicans can either support or oppose. If they oppose them, that’s a political problem for the Republicans. And if they support them? They will henceforth be known as the “Obama tax cuts.”

          So what’s coming from the Congressional leadership right now is simply bullshit and bluster. It took Obama four years to get to this point, but all of the negotiating leverage is in his hands. This will not play out the same way as before.Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            From your lips to [insert deity of choice or leave blank]’s ears.Report

          • Avatar MFarmer says:

            Before it had to be revenue neutral, but now he says they can raise revenue — that’s different. You guys want to find every reason for inaction on Obama’s part. Obama needs to put his plan out there and get with it, compromising and doing big things.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer says:

              He can’t just be a Hollywood President — he has to go to work now.Report

            • Avatar ktward says:

              You guys want to find every reason for inaction on Obama’s part.

              Who guys? Obama’s spent the better part of the last two years being taken to task by the left for “inaction”. Near as I can tell, everyone on this thread has spoken with varying degree of optimism or certainty that, post-election, Obama’s inaction will now turn into confident action.

              But crikey, POTUS isn’t king. There needs to be a modicum of cooperation from the legislative branch or stuff doesn’t get done.Report

            • Avatar Russell M says:

              But when Boehner says raising revenue he is talking about the expected increase in tax collection from lower rates. as we all know tax cuts do not pay for themselves. to be clear: Boehner is not talking about raising rates or any actual increase in collection. he is talking about the mythical increase that republicans always use to sell tax cuts.

              so no, agent orange has not moved. he is just using fictional math to make it look like he has moved. and only in the village does such logic sell.Report

    • Avatar joey jo jo says:

      The Great Orange Boner is willing to be led. That is the funniest thing I have read on the intertubes today. 4 thumbs up. Go back to what he said after he said he was “willing to compromise”. He quadrupled down on hijacking. Yet you are somehow implying that his actions constitute “governing”. This whole burden shifting is completely transparent and almost as dumb as suggesting that one man or party can “create” bipartisanship. If one could unilaterally do those sorts of things, I would be married to Scarlett Johannsen.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      You’ve ignored McConnell. If the Senate Republicans so choose, Reid can’t deliver legislation. I don’t see the Senate Republican being put in a position where Boehner is the only one calling the shots on that side. And I’m really interested to see if Reid and Democrats are willing to reform the Senate rules.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        The last four years have convinced Reid to pursue filibuster reform (finally!). I think that merely requiring traditional Mr-Smith-reading-from-the-phonebook filibusters, with all the attendant nuisance, and inconvenience, and (most importantly) visibility could be enough to mute the increasing overuse of this tactic by the minority to block the majority. And it will revert to what it always was in the pre-Gingrich Congress–a way for the minority to signal intensity of belief, and increase their negotiating leverage.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Reid’s committed to axing the motion to proceed. Supposedly there’s supposed to be some reform to the filibuster proper.

        Offhand, I wouldn’t expect anonymous holds, blue slips, and painless filibusters to remain. Too many new Senators hate the massive dysfunction, and Reid has clearly reached the end of his rope. He obviously wants to keep something that allows the minority to slow the process when necessary, to make time for ‘calm deliberation’ and all the rest — but I suspect the days of “Legislation failed, 57-43” are probably over.Report

    • Avatar ktward says:

      Boehner is signalling that he’s willing to be led.

      That remains to be seen, as MarkD and jjj have pointed out. But for the sake of argument, I’m happy to take the most charitable view possible and agree with you entirely. The question that still remains: will the GOP House members actually allow Boehner to be led by [gasp!] Obama? Even in the new Congress? I have serious doubts about that, but I’d welcome any convincing argument otherwise.

      Concerning the Senate: it will remain unacceptably dysfunctional and largely useless without filibuster reform. There’s a lot of talk now about Reid taking that on post-election, but that’s something else that remains to be seen. I admit, I’ve never had much confidence in Reid.

      Campaigning and pop-culture posing are over, and our system demands that governing take place now.

      I couldn’t agree more. But I doubt that the gridlock realities that have plagued the 112th Congress are going to magically disappear just because the election is over.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yes indeed but right now at this moment the outcome of gridlock is inverted from the outcome from gridlock during the 112th Congress.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        All Boehner has to do is negotiate, and then release his caucus to vote their concscience. It would only take 15 or so Republican votes crossing over to seal a budget deal, and I think there are good prospects of finding that number of genuine legislators willing to compromise.

        I don’t envy Boehner his position. Half his caucus is of the “no compromise, and burn all bridges” school of politics. And with Eric Cantor willing to play that tune, Boehner’s speakership is at perpetual risk. Would he be willing to risk his speakership to get these issues off the table? Time will tell, but I think that there’s enough old patriot left in the gent that it’s a distinct possibility.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Quite right. Boehner is in a very tenuous position and he may even be the canary in the coal mine. If the tea party revolts and heaves him out of his speakership then we’ll have a pretty good idea of where the GOP is headed for the next couple years.Report

        • Avatar ktward says:

          It would only take 15 or so Republican votes crossing over to seal a budget deal, and I think there are good prospects of finding that number of genuine legislators willing to compromise.

          I’m not so sure about that. As I explained below to North, I’m not convinced the House pols have much incentive to bow to wider post-election pressure, such as it ever is.

          According to a certain rightwing pundit/operative I just read (gah, I’ll have to see if I can remember where this was …), the House GOP kept the same number of Tea Party hardliners. I’m not sure if that’s true or not. I mean, I know they lost Joe Walsh (IL), but maybe they gained a TPer in another district. Question being, is the GOP majority in the House for the next Congress now more moderate, if even just slightly? I haven’t seen that breakdown yet. I’d be tickled if it is.

          But yeah. Boehner’s had a really tough time as Speaker. It’s been ugly. Probably explains all the crying. 😛Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Most of the House GOP are sitting in districts so safely Republican that it would take a serious democratic wave to even make them uneasy. I think Sam Wang crunched the numbers and came up with something like 55/45 Democrats/Republicans in the popular vote to put the House into play right now.

            As noted, the fewer Democratic House members represent something like half a million or so more voters than the GOP majority does.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      I agree with both MFarmer and also the follow up comments here. Boehner has indicated he’s willing to be led and yes he has staked out that he’s only willing to be led down the road he chooses. This, I submit, should be viewed not as an absolute but as his initial bargaining point and that is a healthy stance to take in my eyes.

      We shouldn’t forget that flat out obstruction (which is the GOP’s only other alternative) is a very distasteful prospect for all parties concerned but especially for the GOP. The Dems, you can be sure, will have the big across the board spending sequestrations* but the GOP will also hate those sequestrations AND hate the defense cuts AND hate the tax cut expiration. The whip is in Obama and Reid’s hands right now. If the GOP plays games like in the past with the debt limit or health care reform and behave in a publicly obviously obstructive way then the Dems can just throw their hands up and the status quos will be worse (from a right wing perspective) and will be blamed on the GOP.

      No, Obama and his party are holding almost all the cards here and I’m earnestly hoping he plays them sensibly. In 2000 or 2004 if Bush and his party had actually tried to deal with healthcare they might have cut or reduced it as a priority and also reformed it in a manner they would like. Now is the time to lay out some center left principles on the deficit. If the left does this and addresses the issue in a manner they can stand (if not love) then not only will it be taken from the GOP as an issue but the mantle of party of fiscal responsibility may pass from the GOP’s grasp for a generation. Coupled with the GOP’s existing loss of the mantle of adult foreign policy party and we could be looking at a massive long term gain for the left (and for the country).

      The key is to screw up our collective noses and eat our broccoli. Right now, in the best way we find to eat said broccoli with as much noise or cheese sauce or salt or what have you as we can add to make it palatable to our principles. It doesn’t matter so long as the damn vegetable gets eaten. There is never going to be a better time to deal with the debt question than now and I can’t think of anything we could do that would devastate the GOP more than the Democratic party cleaning up this mess. It’s the cruelest thing we could possibly do to them.

      *And they’d hate to have a recession blow up the economy though it’s hard to say whether the impact would last through to 2014.Report

      • Avatar ktward says:

        I don’t want to come off like a Debbie Downer because in the main I am genuinely encouraged by the outcome of this election, on several levels.

        But there remain some big Ifs that temper my optimism: If Obama better steels his spine; If Reid takes on filibuster reform; If the House GOPers finally ditch the obstruction. I have a lot more hope for the first two Ifs than I do the last one. Thanks to gerrymandering and the demands of fundraising that start shortly after their short term starts, I’m not convinced that House pols really have all that much incentive to respond to any post-election pressure.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          We coulda pulled off the whole thing, if the margin had been closer. There’s enough..,. problems in the Republican side that we could have found a few to switch.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Oh yes indeed Ktward, no doubt about it there’s a million things that could go wrong. But the default, the “If there’s no deal than this” is so abhorrent to every power group of the GOP that it gives Obama an enormous advantage going in.

          My biggest fear is that Obama goes insane somehow and lets them kick the can down the road half a year or so. If he does the GOP gets to do the debt limit increase stunt again. If Obama defers this one or accepts some stopgap without addressing the debt limit I’ll be convinced that he’s an utter political incompetent with a historically world class campaign staff.Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            My biggest fear is not Obama going insane vs. growing a spinier spine (though hey, anything can happen). My biggest fear is that the gerrymandered state of The House will continue to gift the GOP majority with zero accountability for their obstruction.

            The Senate has its own problems with dysfunction, but unlike House seats Senatorial seats can be held to account come election time. Which is pretty much what played out just a few short days ago. Also too, given the particular Senatorial make-up of the new Congress, there’s reason to feel encouraged that filibuster reform will finally happen.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        Judging by Boehner’s statements, what he’d REALLY like is to “compromise”. Obama agrees to extend it all until the summer, and in return, Boehner gets leverage due to the next debt ceiling raise.

        And also there can be no tax increases. He’s open to more revenue, but only if it happens from an improved economy or Laffer-esque magic.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    Nate Silver on the future, and an Republicans having a structural disadvantage in the electoral college:

    Based on a preliminary analysis of the returns, Mitt Romney may have had to win the national popular vote by three percentage points on Tuesday to be assured of winning the Electoral College. The last Republican to accomplish that was George H.W. Bush, in 1988.

    The worry for Republicans is that Mr. Obama won Colorado by nearly five percentage points (4.7 points was his margin there, to the decimal place). In contrast, Mr. Obama’s margin in the national popular vote, as of this writing, is 2.4 percentage points. We estimate that it will grow to 2.5 percentage points once some remaining returns from states like Washington are accounted for, or perhaps slightly higher once provisional ballots in other states are counted. But it seems clear that Mr. Obama had some margin to spare in the Electoral College.

    Had the popular vote been a tie – assuming that the margin in each state shifted uniformly – he would still have won re-election with 285 electoral votes, carrying Colorado and Virginia, although losing Florida and Ohio.

    Close depends on how you look at things; winning depends on the EV, as laid out in the constitution.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      My prediction was that Romney would carry both Florida and Colorado based on strong, well-organized networks of social conservatives in both states. Florida in particular with a relatively dense rural population and a whole string of well-organized and active megachurches as focal points of communities stretching the length of I-4 seemed likely to be able to tap in to the religious/social-con base which the Romney campaign made its primary targets.

      My theory that I’m mulling over is that in the debates, especially the first debate in which did Romney improved his profile and polling performance so substantially, Romney attempted the pivot to a public posture of moderation and reasonability. This worked because a) I believe that at heart, Romney is really a moderate sort and he found that the moderate suit fit a lot better and more comfortably than did the fire-breathing suit, and b) a public posture of moderation and reasonability appeals to the moderate, reasonable voters in the middle of the political spectrum. But at the same time, the pivot towards the center re-awakened the suppressed fears and mistrusts of Romney that the social-con right always felt for Romney, that he isn’t really one of them, that he’s really a squishy moderate and not a true red-blood conservative, that the political centrist who governed Massachusetts with technocratic competence and no discernable ideology would be the real guy they were being asked to vote for. Romney’s weak “me too, yeah-what-he-said” performance in the third debate would have drawn a highlighter over that very concern within his own base.

      If that’s right, I don’t think we can quantify whether Romney lost more than he gained overall — but within the pro-Romney delta of the post-debate polling dynamic might be found the seeds of greater than anticipated apathy within the Republican base.

      Damn, I should save this stuff for Monday night’s LeagueCast. Sugar can’t just be giving it away.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        I think Colorado is edging into leans blue territory. There are a lot of evangelicals in the state, but I think as a percentage they’re shrinking.

        (OTOH, Romney’s Project ORCA not only seemed designed by an idiot, but implemented by one too — it apparently wasn’t working at all in some states. If it makes you feel better, judging by the design of it, it wouldn’t have mattered if it did work).Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          And they wonder why I consistently say that the computer talent runs Democratic.
          This? This was the best the Republicans could find.Report

          • Avatar ktward says:

            True for comedic talent too. I could certainly point to plenty of exceptions, but on the whole Republicans have a rather stunted sense of humor. They really struggle with irony.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              It’s because their “humor” is really bullying… of the “can’t you take a joke” variety.
              They want to use humor to punish people, to herd people back onto the reservation.
              They’re the ones making fun of “sluts” and “the homos”.
              Problem is? Most folks aren’t bullies.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            My favorite moment on that was RedState whining that they couldn’t find any Drupal or Scoop programmers to upgrade their servers for free, whereas Daily Kos had lots of experienced volunteers.

            It was a conspiracy to deny RedState influence on the net. This was right after RedState had sold out, so it was whining that there wasn’t anyone volunteering to do it for free.

            Also, in an amusing tag, someone noticed the entire site was running in debug mode.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I know I got scoffed here for it, but there were a lot of writer’s at TAC who said they were going to sit this one out; and I still think there were a lot of conservatives in places Romney really needed to win who felt the same way.

        Analysis will show us soon, I suppose.

        But we’ve had two elections where the young turned out. That’s usually considered the mark that they’ll no be reliable voters; though I do wonder if this more a myth then a true thing.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          three if you count 2006. But there’s also 2010, if you’ll recall (where I was overly optimistic).Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            Well, I think the ‘two elections’ meme stems from presidential elections, or at least that’s my sense of it, and I’m often wrong. The real question will be if Obama’s machine can turn them out for the mid-terms, and turn them into consistant state-level voters, not just national.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        On the “all politics is local” theory, the Colorado Republicans took a beating in the press last spring over their handling of a civil-unions for same-sex couples bill. The Republicans held the state House narrowly (one seat, ~250 votes), but didn’t have the votes to defeat the bill on the floor. The Speaker used his procedural prerogatives to keep it from coming to the floor before the session ended, claiming, “We just ran out of time.” When the governor called a special session to provide him with more time, the Speaker sent the new version of the bill to a committee where he had stacked the membership, and the bill was killed. I suspect that incident alone was enough to let the Dems reclaim the Colorado House, and probably added a bit to the number of people voting against the Republicans in other races.

        One of their larger county parties neglected to file required paperwork for several months and the Republican Secretary of State arbitrarily reduced the fines they owed by an order of magnitude. And of course, there was the whole can-they-really-be-this-incompetent fiasco for the Republicans in the 2010 race for governor. At some point, having so many things that make you look bad pile up, the whole brand gets damaged.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    LBJ won decisively, too.Report

    • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

      But LBJ made one of the classic blunders, which was getting involved in a land war in Asia. History doesn’t recall if he went in against a Sicilian when death was on the line.Report

      • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

        History doesn’t recall if he went in against a Sicilian when death was on the line.

        It’s quite possible that JFK did that.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:


      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        You know who else won decisively…Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        But the serious answer is a question.

        How confident are you (the plural impersonal pronoun American Liberal you) confident in your coalition?

        The anti-Bush coalition was easy. The Pro-Obama coalition looks like it worked well enough.

        But what is going to happen when those personalities are no longer in play? When some hard potentially alienating policy decisions will have to be made?

        You’re not going to be able to balance the budget at the top end of the business cycle with just tax increases on the rich. You can’t deliver good efficient government services and still have government employment as a catch-all jobs program. You can’t make pot smoking de facto or de jure legal and simultaneously make cigarette smoking de facto or de jure illegal. Etcetera etcetera

        As I’ve said before look to the Fenty v Gray DC mayoral contest to see some real divides in the modern Democratic party.

        As long as the Republicans remain idiots, (and more specifically, completely ignore populations within 20 miles of an urban center) those divides don’t matter much. But if the Republicans ever get their act together…Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          But if the Republicans ever get their act together…

          I think that the republicans have to shatter before there’s ever any real movement.

          A conservative/populist party on the one side, a technocratic/liberal party on the other.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            I really think they need to bury the talk radio in order to do that.
            I can’t believe that whole thing has lasted this long.

            Imagine if a Democratic candidate drew great inspiration from The Wall, and spoke at length about it in every public address.

            Maybe not even that would grate on my nerves as much.Report

        • Avatar American Liberal says:

          Actually, I think the liberal coalition is still fragile.
          Our support among ethnic minorities is driven mostly by GOP stupidity; There isn’t any magic reason why black or Latino people wouldn’t be happy to vote for authoritarianism.

          The task ahead is to destroy the myth of “rugged individualism”, of Darwinian social competition, in favor of a culture of cooperation and shared identity.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            That is so inane.
            And I say that as someone who used to look forward to reading your comments (I even read your blog a few times), because I enjoy discourse with principled liberals.
            Something happened to you, bro. Seriously. Pull it together.

            The two archetypes of human relationships are the competitive and the cooperative, and any healthy relationship is going to be some mixture (ie, not a suspension, pun intended) of the both.

            Which is to say, it’s not an either/or proposition.Report

            • Avatar LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

              Er…are you sure you aren’t confusing me with someone else? I don’t have a blog, that I know of.

              That being said, what I meant is that the myth of the rugged individual- as witnessed in all the “you didn’t build that” frenzy- is destructive to the sense of community and patriotism that we rely upon.

              Of course it isn’t an either-or. Few things in life are. But I assert that we have been seduced by this myth to a dangerous degree and need a course correction.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            No reason at all.

            Especially not some sort of past history of being regularly, reliably abused by authority figures over a lengthy period of time.Report

        • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

          As long as the Republicans remain idiots

          So we’re good for a decade or so at least.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:


            Though if the economy continues to show an anemic recovery (or outright stall and roll back downhill – and there are plenty of external factors that can cause that), the tolerance for idiocy may be a lot higher in 4 years.Report

  8. Avatar DBrown says:

    There is zero doubt that President Obama and the Democrats won hands down – hell, against all odds they picked up seats in both houses. Also, the President gets to both secure his Health plan and, if a opening(s) occur (not so unlikely), gets to select one and possibly two supreme court judges. Not a grand slam for their team but three run triple with a man on base, only one out in the ninth (top, since the 2012 election is still waiting.)

    The ground game, minority, and youth vote spell deep trouble for the Republicans for 2012. Also, right now, only Ryan appears strong for the Republicans and that spells trouble for them – he is the dream candidate for the Democrats (besides dumb he just does not understand the idea of compromise. He has two really great ideas (the Medicare and SS reform) and utterly dropped the ball – that is why I called him stupid.)Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    Elias, have you seen this post by Sam Wang on the effects of redistricting on the House?

    Did I underestimate the tilt of the playing field? Based on how far the red data point is from the black prediction line, the “structural unfairness” may be higher – as much as 5% of the popular vote. That is incredible. Clearly nonpartisan redistricting reform would be in our democracy’s best interests.


    • Yeah. 2012 among other things really underlined that we need a national non-partisan election oversight board/committee/body.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      Or you know, the Democrats could have just won in 2010 when everybody going in knew the stakes were going to be control of the 2010 census redistricting process.

      Maryland had no problem in increasing its state’s Congressional Democratic representation.Report

  10. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I think it was a solid win despite a poor economy, against a weak challenger. And the Democrats certainly did better in the Senate than anyone expected given that the seats up were the ones from 2006 and so were already predominantly Democratic. They even outperformed Nate Silver’s predictions!

    I can understand the 2004 comparisons, but the electoral vote margin was a lot wider this time (2004 came down to one state; Obama could have lost several of the state he won and still taken the election). If you look at popular vote and electoral vote together (other 50% of the vote, plus over 300 EVs) it and 2008 are the strongest victories any party’s had since 1988.

    Besides which – Obama’s tried bipartisanship before and we know the Republicans aren’t interested in it. He has nothing to lose from claiming a mandate and going for everything he can get.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      He has nothing to lose from claiming a mandate and going for everything he can get.

      Was this true of Dubya in 2004? I think he quickly found that, no, he did have stuff he could lose.

      Obama, for example, has the Senate.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Inversely, there’s stuff he can gain. Like the House.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Not until 2022, unless the GOP manages to shoot itself in the foot even worse than of late.

          As for losing the Senate — difficult. This was a nightmare year for the Democrats, with twice as many seats up as the GOP. 2014 and 2016 look much better. 2016 is probably ironclad, as all the Democrats in the Senate up for re-election won in 2010.

          2014 had Obama’s 2008 coattails, but there aren’t as many seats up for grabs on the D side.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            Not until 2022, unless the GOP manages to shoot itself in the foot even worse than of late.

            I presume you mean the next census. But there are two mitigating factors: migration patterns and attrition of GOP voting blocks do to old age. Somebody’s gotta buy their houses.

            I think there’s also one other interesting thing about this election — folks still blamed Bush for the economic collapse; shows an electorate with a longer memory. That may mean that what House Republicans do over the next year, and the extremism of the candidates they put up in 2014 will have an outsized impact on their electoral prospects come 2014.Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW says:

            In 2014 the seats from 2008 are up. That was the year Democrats got a supermajority. It seems like they would have major scope for losses.

            Checking Wikipedia, there are 13 Republican and 20 Democratic seats up for election in 2014. All the Republican ones are in right-wing states, and several of the Democratic ones are as well. It will be extremely hard for the Dems not to lose seats then.

            In my view, that’s all the more reason to get as much done now as they can.Report

            • Avatar Russell M says:

              hey the democrats were supposed to lose MO,MT,IN,ND,and VA this year. if the last 2 elections have taught us anything it is that the quality of candidate and the party positions mean more then ever.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        I’m not suggesting that Obama start wars and torture people.

        Bush didn’t lose before he could entrench a lot of nasty things into American political culture that would have been unthinkable a few years earlier. I’m hoping Obama can entrench some good ones. Getting a good immigration reform bill passed, for example, would be worth subsequently losing the Senate.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      By winning the House in 2010, the GOP received a mandate in 2010 to stop Obamaism. That mandate was renewed in 2012.

      He can be president, our head of state, but his agenda is kaput. At least until 2014.


      Wait until you find out what’s in Obamacare. Passing it was the easy part. Now comes the pain.

      • Avatar DRS says:

        He won, TVD. He doesn’t need your approval to be president. Shouldn’t you be filling out your forms for food stamps right about now?Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          Sigh. I don’t know why, but this brought a wave of happiness over me.

          There’s food stamps to help the disadvantaged, so that no one, not even TVD, has to starve!

          What an amazing nation we live in. Jesus would be proud of how we take care of the poor and weak minded.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW says:

        The only thing that was renewed in 2012 is the evidence that the US is sorely in need of a non-partisan electoral boundaries commission, so that “partisan and breathing” isn’t the only requirement for re-election to the House.Report

      • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

        “His agenda is kaput.”

        Rather than bore you Tom, I’ll be cryptic: failure is one thing, a failure to learn is quite another. This applies both to Obama, and his political adversaries’ assessments of him and his capabilities.

        I suggest you let Obama worry about his agenda. The one you should be worrying about is the Republicans. If their dwindling base fools them into thinking that they can rely on an agenda of full court obstruction again, and pin hopes on conventional wisdom for gains in 2014, I see some more bad days ahead for the GOP.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          I expected this response. Y’all voted for the unicorn, I din’t. You wouldn’t listen, you just yelled and shouted and scorned and you got your victory dance. Now you learn.

          It’s not like I’m not going to suffer either. I already have, bigtime. Now it’s your turn, you lunatics. There was no stopping you, and that’s why I scarcely tried. You have no idea what you’ve done. But you will.Report

          • Avatar DRS says:

            Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, obviously, but on the whole, nicely tantrumed, TVD. By the way, Obama won.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Of course Obama won. Now we pay for it.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Aren’t you supposed to be working out how to apply for foodstamps? Are you gonna blog the experience?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Hell, no. I don’t believe they’re a “right,” and nobody trumpets accepting charity, esp if they could struggle by without it.

                This is the mentality I’m speaking of:


                What are my rights?

                The SNAP program is a nationwide entitlement program. This means that as long as you meet the rules for SNAP/food stamps, you have a legal right to receive them.

                Bold face theirs. You’ll never get what I’m talking about. Well, actually you do get what I’m talking about, and more’s the pity. See, I’m sure tempted to take the handout, exercise my “legal right.” But it’s unpatriotic. It’s wrong, and it’s the end of a functioning society.

                In the UK, they call it “the game,” and everybody knows what it it means.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                You know, I couldn’t care less whether you apply for food stamps or not, but you’re the one who made a big hoo-hah about it a very short time ago. Is this some kind of weird attention-getting stunt? Are you really reduced to faking outrage over rational instructions about a national government program to show off? Even tantrums can get tedious after a while, you know. Oh, and by the way – Obama won.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                It was one sentence and a passing thought, as I recall. if only you read the more serious stuff as seriously.

                Yes, Obama won–did you read the link to the new American work week? 29 hours, one hour short of being forced to buy your employees some Obamacare. As if laws and government can outsmart the rich.

                That of course would be the serious part of the discussion, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to be interested in that.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                Okay then, it’s an attention-getting stunt. I kind of thought so but I do try to give the benefit of the doubt. And Obama still won.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                yeah, part of the rules are 2 years in 5, sucker. At least in my state, last i checked.
                *was on food stamps while serving my country. This was considered part of the program.Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              I know this is probably a can-o-worms I’m better off not opening, but how, bless his heart, had TVD suffered so?

              And how, might I ask, is this suffering Obama’s fault, and something Romney would have redressed?Report

          • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

            I remember a time, when the remnants of the old left had been routed by conservatives back in the eighties. They couldn’t believe that their orthodoxies had been rejected by the electorate. Couldn’t fathom that there was any different way to engage reality other than what they had always believed. Stunned liberals wandered around, mouthing things like “You have no idea what you’ve done.”

            Full circle.

            The cycle will go back and forth, and sometime in the future, those types of words will be mouthed by an old guard of liberals weaned in the current time.

            It is the same drama queen bullshit, whether it comes from a liberal or a conservative, Tom.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Seeya at the bottom of the fiscal cliff, Mr. Nevada. No way to know for sure yet, but I do think there’s a good chance we just leaped off it ala the UK and the PIGS of Europe.

              And I don’t think his supporters are really aware of the true price of Obamacare: few have read the damn thing.Report

              • Avatar Russell M says:

                have you ever considered that we did know what we were voting for? that we did support the semi-universal coverage because it is better than what we have now?

                and the wording on the Snap website about how as long as you meet the requirements you have a right to them? we all pay into the system over our lives. so having the right to be able to eat when meeting Snap’s financial guidelines pisses you off? WHY? Because having our government of, by and FOR the people help the people when they need it runs counter to FYIGM. I am so sorry that your ideals will not feed you in a time of need but good lord give up. Snap, Medicaid, Medicare, SS, and Tanf are not evil programs to lull Americans into state-slavery. They are some of the best answers we have to the problem of poverty. if you have a better way then show us where it is in practice and works. National Health Care works in most of Europe and Canada while spending half what we do per capita. where does free market health care work? Nowhere, that’s where.Report

              • Avatar Russell M says:

                “See you at the bottom of the fiscal gentle slope”

                there fixed it for ya tom. the “Cliff” meme is total shineola because what happens on Jan 1st if there is no deal made? the gov will spend 1.2trillion dollars less over 10 years, and taxes will go up for everybody. but if a deal is made jan 2 to just save the parts Obama wants to save? golly gee no disaster. the fiscal gentle slope is not the republican debt ceiling hostage negotiation. welching on our promised debts=Disaster. taxing more and spending less for a few days or months(lowering the debt as a consequence)=a bad hair day as far as i can tell.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

                “I don’t think his supporters are really aware of the true price of Obamacare: few have read the damn thing.”

                I have, Tom.

                I have also spent a few years in management on the provider side of health care. I have “read” current health care law, you might say, in pretty good detail.

                The ACA has problems. The current healthcare status quo has problems. The ACA is the kind of problem fix that you get when a problem is allowed to fester to the point that things have. The Democrats now own the problems of the ACA. The Republicans own the festering. I know which position is the political and moral high ground, and I think you do as well, Tom.

                The Republicans were once the adult party, not any more.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                There’s really no discussing assertions like that last bit. The Unicorn Party won again, as it has in Europe for quite awhile now. There’s no competing with fantasy.

                As for Obamacare, the thrill of the high price will remain long after the quality is gone.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                Problems can be solved, if there’s a will to solve them rather than simply continuing to sulk and pout and blather about “unicorn parties” – honestly, when you’re repeating 4-year-old memes, doesn’t that give you a hint that you should update your schtick? – but they’re not going to solve themselves. It would not be a bad thing for Americans to get to know how major pieces of legislation work so they can begin the endless feedback loop that will keep the pressure on.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not a 4-yr-old meme, DRS. Obamacare is just hitting the fan as we speak. It was impossible to warn its supporters off it: no argument was sufficient enough not to be ridiculed and dismissed.

                Here comes. Open wide and say thank you.

                BTW, I loved the burrito quote. Made my day.Report

              • Avatar DRS says:

                I meant the unicorn imagery = 4-year-old meme. Do try to keep up, will you? And as a Canadian my country has had health insurance since before I was born. It’s really not the end of the world.

                Burritos are too important to take lightly.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

                Waitaminute Tom, you either want an adult convo or not. Are you aware of the actual cost of health care currently baked into the cost of every good and service that is bought and sold in this country? Are you into having a convo about what we get for the coin we actually spend?

                Have you ever worked at an ER intake? At an outpatient facility? I have. There are huge problems with our current system, the biggest of which is the fact that way too freaking many WORKING PEOPLE can’t get insurance or access to anything but ER care.

                Let me go all allcaps again, we are talking about WORKING PEOPLE, NOT LAZY POORS SITTING ON A COUCH WAITING FOR A HANDOUT.

                If you wanna have a discussion about fixing structural problems in the delivery of healthcare, be my guest. But talking, as you have, about how “we just leaped off it ala the UK and the PIGS of Europe,” isn’t adult convo, it’s fact-free whining.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not atall, Mr. Nevada. Unicorn Party Europe teeters on the edge as we speak. Just as the flaws of the model are being exposed, we jump into it.

                As for Canada, we shall see. I’m not completely skeptical, mind you: It’s not that socialized health insurance is impossible, it’s that every culture isn’t compatible with every political scheme. What works in Denmark might work in few other places, although what doesn’t work in one place—Unicorn Europe—might be because it can’t work anywhere.

                The smug social-welfare schemes of the West are but generations old: anything can last 60 years. Hell, the Soviet Union lasted 70.

                In the meantime, we as a nation voted in Obamacare without 1 person in 100 truly understanding its impact and cost. And “not 1 person in 100,” probably applies to our Congress as well, not just the general public.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

                Well Tom, yer 1 in a hunnert number looks made up to me, but as an order of magnitude estimate, I am more than willing to grant it. Now I ask you to use your perspicacity to tell me what the percentage is of folks who understand the actual costs of, much less “voted for,” our current system.

                Until you give an alternative to the present bankrupt (and yes, it is as fucking bankrupt as anything in Europe) and deeply immoral system, your arguments against the ACA are partisan flatulence.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                Mr. Nevada, I was with you until your issue of “flatulence” there at the end.

                I’m actually trying to work toward a discussion of a communitarianism that is workable for America. Thought we might do it here @ LoOG, in a joint and co-operative inquiry, not an adversarial one.

                I can scorch the earth as well as the next guy if that’s the way you want it.Report

              • Avatar Sierra Nevada says:

                A communitarian solution that is workable for America? Whatever, man, I’d rather talk about a solution that:

                -Finds a way to drive down the percentage of folks whose only option is to use the ER as a primary care facility.

                -Can get through the legislative process.

                The ACA accomplished the latter, and I believe is a dead lock to accomplish the former. Now you can maintain that the ACA is not going to be viable economically, and you may or may not be right, but I maintain that the present system is economically bankrupt and immoral.

                US healthcare is a literal dead end for large segments of the population, and is killing our economy. Gimme another option that can survive the legislative process, and I’m all ears.Report

              • Avatar Murali says:

                I’m actually trying to work toward a discussion of a communitarianism that is workable for America. Thought we might do it here @ LoOG, in a joint and co-operative inquiry, not an adversarial one.

                If you’re going to want any anti-communitarian for your discussion I offer myself.Report

  11. Avatar superdestroyer says:

    The Democrats have a tight enough lock on enough states that the Republicans no longer have a realistic chance of winning the White House.

    So the question becomes can the Republicans survive as a legislative only party where they will have no influence on the executive branch or the judicial branch? My guess is that anyone really interested in political power or the ability to influence policy will quickly leave the Republican Party and that the U.S. will become a one party state.

    The future of the U.S. is that political control will be transferred to “clouts” inside the Democratic Party and that elections will be an afterthought. See California as a good example.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Ecch, the GOP had the good fortune to gerrymander themselves into continued viability based on the last census.

      The GOP began as a splinter group, peeling away from the moribund Whig Party. Back in the 1960s, the Democrats faced a mass exodus of southern voters after the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed: they were forced to rebuild around what had long been an elitist Republican constituency in the Northeast and California. Over time, the Democrats and Republicans have come full circle: now they represent the exact opposites of their original postures.

      The GOP will do just fine, once they’ve evicted the old snapping turtles from their pond. Takes a long time to get them all out, for they take a good deal of catching and many hold senior positions within the party. But it seems clear the GOP will be forced to attenuate their more-odious positions in the wake of this election.

      The GOP’s problem isn’t the politicians themselves: it’s the unelected movers and shakers who are causing the problems the party now faces. For too long, the GOP has tolerated Fox News where it should have made efforts to rise above Murdoch’s cheap populism. If I were advising the GOP, (I used to be a Republican) I’d tell them to cultivate a more sophisticated set of friends. Fox News was never a good exponent of conservatism anyway. Murdoch is now old and out of fashion.

      C’mon, folks, where’s the gracious elitism of WFBuckley these days? Erick Erickson, that fetid Pillsbury Doughboy of the Rantin’ Right, should be sent packing. He’s a nobody and so are his little coterie of trolls. Dump him. I’d have a quiet meeting with Billo and Hannity and tell those squareheads to Get Right and Quick: their schtick is getting older than last week’s manicotti.

      Same for those pinheads over at Weekly Standard, though in fairness, they aren’t quite as eaten up with the dumbass as Erickson, though Matt LaBash is pretty close. Buckley was the glue which bound the schizophrenic bits of Conservatism together. I’d put together a coalition of modern fiscal conservatives and foreign policy thinkers who would revisit the basic principles of Burke and Madison. Conservatism without all that xenophobic, know-nothin’, reee-lijis, gay-hatin’ bullshit.Report