Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Thoughts

1) Money can't buy elections. Many people feared that unlimited money from billionaires and corporations would tilt elections toward Republicans, but at least for high profile contests this is not true. Money can't save inferior candidates like Romney or Indiana's unlovable Mourdock. Huge outside spending in the Ohio senate race did not move the polls one jot; the final outcome of Sherrod Brown's victory was about what the polls have been predicting since last summer. I worry that such money could be used to buy state house elections, which could be used to gerrymander districts and gain control of the House, but nobody can buy the Presidency, a senate seat or the governorship of a major state.

2) America remains very closely divided between the parties, and fantasies of complete realignments are just fantasies.

3) Voters pay little attention to the details of what politicians do. Voters worried about the deficit went for Romney, even though his budget plan would explode the debt. Elderly Floridians worried about Medicare went for Romney, apparently not believing his pledge to privatize the system. The appalling behavior of Republicans in the House cost them only a couple of seats, which means they will be back again next year, threatening to bring the country to a halt if they don't get their way. Issues of identity and the general tone of politics matter much more than the details of anyone's plan.

4) The country seems remarkably patient about the economy. The first signs of a real recovery were enough to save Obama, even with unemployment still high and most people dissatisfied with how things are going.

5) Republican attempts to woo Hispanic voters are not going very well, and will not go well until they change their tone about immigrants.

6) The nation's amazing shift in attitudes toward homosexuality continues; the victory of marriage equality in Maryland, a blue state but  not really a liberal one, underscores the magnitude of the change.

7) Democrats showed real loyalty to Obama; he won 92 percent of their votes this time, better than the 89 percent he managed in 2008.

8) Obama got about the same percentage of the white vote as Michael Dukakis did in 1988, but he won because the country has gotten less white -- the electorate was 85% white in 1988, and 72% white yesterday-- and because he did slightly better among blacks and Hispanics.

9) There is a real political gap between men and women in this country. I am not sure what this means, but it strikes me as significant.

No comments: