Tag: 2014 Midterms

A Hard Truth: Social Issues May Not Be Losers

 

Republican strategists may need to face up to an inconvenient truth: conservative social positions are no longer a thorn in the GOP’s side. We can win with them. Without them, it’s tough to say.

For some, this is a hard pill to swallow. Many Republicans are quite attached to a progressive social narrative, and strategic considerations have long been the justification for telling religious conservatives that they’re on the wrong side of history. Whether that’s true still remains to be seen. This most recent election, however, showed us Democrats desperately trying to gin up some resentment over social issues, and losing. Meanwhile we saw pro-life, pro-traditional marriage conservatives winning across the map, sometimes in fairly blue states.

Nonvoting Your Preference

 

President Obama’s post-midterm press conference was incredible in many ways. After a grudging acknowledgement of GOP gains (being too ungracious to offer congratulations), Obama declared: “Still, as president, I have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work. So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.”

This attempt at Bartletesque rhetoric went over like a lead balloon, since the real world does not conform to Aaron Sorkin’s imagination. Pundits have been picking over the meaning of the “two-thirds” remark since the moment it left the President’s lips. (My own interpretation: He was trying to diminish the GOP’s mandate, by suggesting that Tuesday’s GOP victories represent the will of only a small fraction of Americans.) But regardless of the President’s intended meaning, I would argue that there is an important truth in his remark.

The Five Stages of Democratic Grief

 

Tuesday night clearly revealed the Five Stages of Democratic Grief, played out in vivid beauty on MSNBC and the rest of the networks. If you haven’t watched the supercut of the MSNBC panel on election night, you should. Since then, we’ve been watching the stages of political grief play out with our friends across the aisle.

Denial: “What wave? There’s no wave. There is no way the Republicans will increase their House majority or take the Senate. Barack Obama may have lost a few of the idiot red-state nutjobs, but he’s still remarkably popular. He killed Bin Laden! He restored America’s standing in the world! He saved Detroit! People love Obamacare. They love it. It’s so popular that every Democrat campaigned to preserve it in its current form. With Ferguson, Trayvon, immigration reform and Kim Kardashian’s endorsements, our voters are charging to the polls in record numbers. Did you see Lena Dunham’s “Turn Out for What” video? The kids love her. Bill and Hillary both went in to close these campaigns, and they’re the most popular people in America. Besides, all Republicans are tone-deaf Todd Akins and their campaign technology consists of clipboards and fax machines. We’ve got this.”

We Are Witnessing the Failure of Identity Politics

 

Troy’s thought-provoking post the other day on the laughable claim that the Democrats were on the verge of a 40 year ascendency got me thinking about the calamitous state of the Democratic party after the midterms. They have brought this catastrophe upon themselves by embracing identity politics in a country fundamentally concerned with issues.

Image: Siege of Sparta by Pyrrhus

Those Turnout Blues

 

After nearly every election, there’s a wringing of hands over voter turnout, and this past week’s contests were no exceptions. Unlike Argentina and Brazil, for example, America does not require its eligible citizens to vote. As a result, presidential elections in our country generally feature voter turnout in the 50-60% range (sometimes a bit higher or lower), and off-year elections are typically significantly lower. Hence, we are getting the usual post-election moaning about how the results would have been different if only more [fill in the blanks] had turned up at the polls. In other words, we would have won if more people had voted for us. Duh!

I, for one, don’t worry too much about turnout. For example, Democrats whine that their natural constituencies are less likely to vote in off-year elections. So what does that mean? They haven’t heard about them? It’s hard enough to vote every four years, much less every two? They can’t find their polling places? Whatever the reasons, if someone doesn’t care to vote, that’s his business. If someone doesn’t care enough about the process or the candidates or the office to cast a ballot, does it really weaken us? Would we be better off to find ways to coerce or demand electoral participation?

The Day After the Day After

 

Because they’re like sports writers with three-fourths of their copy written before the end of the seventh inning, the post-election punditry poured out predictably on the air and over the Internet before cleaning crews at the local Marriott could plug in the Hoover to suck up the victory confetti.

Everybody had an answer for everything. Some had answers to questions that weren’t even asked. And, of course, there was the inevitable discussion of “What does it all mean for 2016?!?”

One of Tuesday’s Big Winners: Science

 

See what I did there in the headline? If I’ve learned anything about modern political communications, it’s that the use of “Science” as a proper noun ends any and all arguments decisively in favor of the speaker. While Ezra Klein is declaring that the biggest loser in this year’s election was the climate (because Ezra Klein is a person who’s paid handsomely to be wrong in print), I’m actually much more bullish about the scientific literacy of voters. Why? Because of this bit of good news from two unlikely places. As reported by NPR:

An effort to label genetically modified foods in Colorado failed to garner enough support Tuesday. It’s the latest of several state-based GMO labeling ballot measures to fail. A similar measure in Oregon was also defeated by a narrow margin.

Trouble For Hillary

 

Barack Obama said that he was pretty much done campaigning and that, while he was not on the midterm ballot, every single one of  his policies would be. Republicans, rightfully so, ran with this. Obama is an unpopular President who has failed to live up to his own promises, ones only deities can deliver (receding sea levels, planet healing). He has all but failed to provide the leadership he claimed was so sorely lacking in the country and around the world during George W. Bush’s eight years.

Candidates distanced themselves from Obama, who also distanced himself from them, opting in the closing weeks of the elections to remain largely in the background, campaigning for governors and fundraising in living rooms, closed to the press.

The Franken Fallout

 

asl franken victory

Despite all evidence to the contrary, including historically suspect local media polling that indicated Al Franken would win by about 10 percentage points in his US Senate re-election bid … Al Franken won his re-election to the US Senate by 10 percentage points.

At 53%, for the first time a majority of breathing, sentient Minnesota adults said Al Franken is the one man who best represents our hopes, dreams, and interests in the upper chamber of the legislature of the most powerful country in the world. Behind Spam, the Vikings’ four Super Bowl losses, and Walter Mondale giving the tagline “Where’ the Beef?” new life as a national catchphrase, this may be the most embarrassing thing to ever come out of Minnesota.

Polling Bias

 

shutterstock_118832743-2As I was scouting the returns on Tuesday evening — in preparation for and during the Ricochet podcast — I noticed that in a number of races the polls were way off. No poll that I know of predicted anything like the landslide Tom Cotton achieved in Arkansas; none suggested that the Senatorial race in Virginia would be a cliff-hanger; none gave Scott Walker anything like the margin of victory that he received in Wisconsin. I could go on.

There were, however, so many races taking place that I was unable at the time to discern whether this was a general trend, and by the time that I had a few moments free to look into the question (which is to say, this morning), Nate Silver had run all the numbers. Here is a taste of what he has to say:

For much of this election cycle, Democrats complained the polls were biased against them. They said the polls were failing to represent enough minority voters and applying overly restrictive likely-voter screens. They claimed early-voting data was proving the polls wrong. They cited the fact that polls were biased against Democrats in 2012.

I Don’t Get the Joke

 

CloudWilliamPledgeCirculating on Facebook is this apparently long-running joke on Slate “in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.” In this world, America’s midterms would be covered thus:

WASHINGTON, United States—On Tuesday, voters in this country of 300 million, the world’s second-largest democracy and most populous Christian nation, will head to the polls for elections that will determine control of the upper house of the legislature and serve as a referendum on the country’s embattled ruling regime. While international monitors expect a mostly free and fair contest, questions have been raised about why the equivalent of the GDP of Montenegro is being spent on a contest to determine the membership of a body expected to accomplish little over the next two years. Human rights observers have also noted a troubling rise in anti-immigrant rhetoric stoked by far-right nationalist candidates.

President Barack Obama’s ruling party will almost certainly lose seats, but whether or not the opposition is able to take over the upper house will be determined by closely fought races in the nation’s torrid southeastern swamps, central agricultural region, and even frigid Arctic villages thousands of miles from the capital…

Savor This

 

Conservatives been kicked in the teeth for the past eight years.

In 2006, our unbiased press sold a trumped-up “culture of corruption” to a public already weary of Iraq and a flawed Katrina recovery. The Democrats rode that discontent to seize the House and Senate. The morally vacuous duo Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi spared no time teaching America what corruption really looked like, not that the press noticed.

Member Post

 

I’ve come across a number of items for potential Ricochet discussion, but I’ve been too busy (or lazy — pick one) to post lately. Here are some links that may be of interest. Please feel free to steal them for real posts. “Anti-Violence Activists Charged in Vicious Attack” Nikole Ardeno and Emanuel Velez, both 30, […]

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Obama, The Day After

 

President Obama will hold a press conference today in the wake of last night’s tidal wave of Republican Senate and Congressional victories. His reality-distortion field will be in overdrive; the humiliating defeat of an election defined almost entirely by opposition to his agenda will be bullishly reinterpreted as an opportunity for America to realize — once again — just how much they’ve disappointed him.

First, you’ll see his barely-contained contempt for the voters. After the briefest nod to their unhappiness, they’ll be described as angry, disaffected, and easily fooled by dark money and deceptive television ads. If only America was smart enough to understand his vision. If only they had his advantages of godlike wisdom and preternatural intelligence they’d understand what a terrible mistake they’ve just made. He’ll be very sad for them, really.

Member Post

 

What now for the democrat party? Are they still relevant as a party? Is the democrat party dead? Is liberalism dead? Will they work across the aisle with the new, overwhelmingly victorious majority? Will they change? Evolve? Will they take a long hard look at what the party stands for, follow the will of the […]

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A Bad Night For ObamaCare

 

shutterstock_137110268On December 24, 2009, sixty US Senators — all Democrats or independents caucusing with them — voted for the Affordable Care & Patient Protection Act. A scant five years later, only 33 (55%) of them are still in office. That’s an attrition rate of 45%, 15% per election, among members of body famously designed to be insulated from popular whim.

To be fair, there are a number of reasons for this that have nothing to do with ObamaCare: some senators have died; some have taken appointments in the Obama administration and been replaced by ideological clones; others elected during the last major wave reached their natural age of retirement. Still, it’s a historically high number.

Contrast that with the 39 Republicans who voted against ObamaCare: 27 (69%) of them are still in office; 9 (23%) retired; two lost primaries; and one resigned. In all, Republican attrition during the same period has been about 11% per election (see below for details).

What Should We Expect From A Republican Senate?

 

It looks like the GOP will take control of the Senate. That’s a good thing. However, based on a number of conversations I have had over the past few weeks with conservative activists, I think a large segment of the Republican base is going to find the next two years deeply disappointing.

Even if Republicans win every senate race in play, they will not the have the supermajority required to either break a democratic filibuster or override President Obama’s inevitable vetoes. Let’s face it: Republican control of the Senate is unlikely to result in the repeal of Obamacare, entitlement reform, or securing our borders. Absent a Damascene conversion on the part of the President, substantial conservative policy making its way into law is simply not in the cards. So what can conservatives reasonably expect from a GOP Senate over the next two years?

I Care What People Say. And Peter Should Not Gloat.

 

shutterstock_112011077I’m writing this before the polls have opened, but — by the close of the day — either Republicans will control Congress or the entire modern polling enterprise will be understood to be a complete fraud from top to bottom. I’m pretty sure it will be the first, though the second would certainly be interesting.

My interpretation of this putative victory — and I don’t think this is controversial — is that we’ve got a nation of disgusted, fed-up Americans on our hands, not an electorate that’s suddenly enamored of gloating Republicans. In other words: we’ve got one shot at this. If we screw it up, it’s the last shot, and not just for us.

I spoke this morning to an American, Uncle M., whose judgment about life and politics is sound. I said — cautiously — that perhaps there might be some movement after the election toward solving a particular absurdity in US tax code, though we’d been alluding to a wide range of problems. Uncle M. said, in his calm way (he is not prone to drama), “Nope.”