Here are 22 quick conclusions from the 2012 elections, which had more than a few big winners and losers:
1. So much for big Super Pac money automatically determining the outcome of an election. Sheldon Adelson would have gotten more bang for his buck if he had visited The Chicken Ranch.
2. Many high profile, outspoken, media-hungry Tea Party/Talk Radio Political Culture rhetoric Republican candidates that moderate voters couldn’t stand went down to defeat. If the GOP had picked some candidates who were less divisive and embraced the longstanding concepts of consensus and compromise there would be stories today about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell becoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. FOOTNOTE: McConnell failed at his self proclaimed number one goal — making Barack Obama a one-term President — which in retrospect was a statement that greatly damaged Republican credibility with swing voters because it enhanced perceptions that a sheer thirst for power versus policy differences were behind Congressional Republicans checkmating some of Obama’s programs.
3. The University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato retains his crown as one of the Kings of serious Political Analysis and Predictions. A new crown also goes to the New York Times’ Nate Silver, who is vindicated after the attacks on him by Fox Newsers and others. Dick Morris remains a joke as a SERIOUS political analyst (precisely why is Murdoch paying him to give such consistently wrong analysis? The collection of psychic predictions run on TMV was much more accurate). But Michael Barone once upon a time seemed a serious stand-back-and-analyze analyst and his Romney landslide prediction makes him appear to be one more partisan hack speaking from the heart rather than from cool, professional analysis. WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan might be wise not write analysis from her gut anymore: her last column said it felt like Romney because ” Republicans have the passion now, the enthusiasm. The Democrats do not. Independents are breaking for Romney. And there’s the thing about the yard signs” and, importantly, “All the vibrations are right.” Could it be she was feeling too many vibrations from her TV speaker blaring Fox & Friends?
4. America is now in a new political era. We now know that Obama’s 2008 election wasn’t simply anti-Bush reaction or because a chunk of voters were captivated voting for the first African-American President. Obama in many ways reconstituted his 2008 winning coalition in an election using some get-out-the-vote and ground game techniques not used by the GOP.
5. The Democrats made a smart bet being the voice of young people, Latinos and women.
6. If Republicans want to win national elections then they’ll have to stop adjusting their strategy and rhetoric to the wishes of Rush Limbaugh. The Talk Radio Political Culture — its patented use of demonizing sound bites, constant anger and rage, exaggeration, creation of unfactual “facts,” and articulation of unproven allegations marinated in political paranoia — isn’t what Variety calls “big B.O” — big Box Office — with many non-Republican Americans. To many Americans, it’s just political B.O. All the world may love a fat man; but all of America doesn’t love Rush Limbaugh.
7. Karl Rove took several self-inflicted hits and his image will never be the same. The heavy wallet guys who gave him millions must now be wondering why their money didn’t have more impact. PLUS: his challenging Fox News’s calling the election for Obama on the air and insisting it wasn’t over a)made him look like a low-rent talk show host or a partisan hack versus a feared political operative b)made him look bad in the end since Mitt Romney conceeded about an hour later.
8.In terms of credibility, Fox News will likely be viewed a bit more skeptically by some of its viewers in the future who aren’t diehard Sean Hannity fans.
9. Voting results didn’t confirm that big, insidious plot of pollsters to pad the numbers for Obama. In fact, the results mirrored many of the polls.
10. The Republicans on many fronts have real credibility problem with the media and a chunk of voters voters. Several reasons: much will be written about the Romney campaign’s seeming disdain for truth in running ads or making assertions that were proven to be true. Prediction: it’ll come out that the Jeep Jobs to China ad that the campaign ran repeatedly despite journalists, politicians, bloggers and auto CEOs saying was false was a major mistake in Ohio and backfired. Plus: the Romney campaign yesterday insisted its internals said it was going to win, told reporters it was in Pennsylvania to expand the electoral map and had a good chance there, that they were pleased with their ground game. Does it now look like any of that was correct?
11. While not a mandate for Obama, the degree of loss of high-profile Tea Party and talk radio types, the durability of Obama’s 2008 winning coalition, and the breadth of states Obama won will spark a bitter battle within the Republican Party between those who feel the party wasn’t conservative enough and those who feel it let itself be in effect hijacked and taken for an ill-fated ride to the far right.
12. Conservatives will argue starting today that if they had only had a candidate that was a real conservative and articulated true conservatism Americans would have responded. But that is a BOGUS argument: when Romney changed his positions on a dime in the second debate to return to his roots as Massachusetts Moderate Mitt and did a Me, Too third debate with Obama on foreign policy, conservatives remained silent. They wanted to win at all costs and conservatism and the articulation of true conservative ideals took back seat. And this is a significant development: conservatives wanted to win so badly they were willing to have what some clearly felt was a stealth conservative — someone at the head of the ticket talking moderate but ready to govern more as a conservative — talk in a way suggesting that conservatives knew their ideas would never get support if they were plainly and proudly championed to the general electorate.
13. Some Republicans will now try to paint New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as the 2012 Charlie Crist, the then-Florida Governor. Christie doesn’t walk away from a fight, now has the aura of someone who can reach across the aisle, and the camera loves him. If they go after Christie they will be making a huge mistake. My advice? Fuggeddaboudit.
14. Obama’s re-election will be a ratings bonanza for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News today — and the next four years.
15. Unless he bungles it, as Andrew Sullivan has noted, Obama’s second term victory and the way it was bolstered by emerging 21st century political demographics mean he will be seen as the Democrats’ Ronald Reagan.
16. Obama political guru David Axelrod gets to keep his moustache.
17. The GOP Republican primary season which almost required candidates to go to CostCo to pick up cartons of red meat to hurl at Republican partisans (particularly in debates) proved to be a detriment: it reduced Romney’s wiggle room, caused him not to pivot to the center until he did it so abruptly it fed into the perception that political principles meant nothing to him, and gave the Dems tons of material to use against him in the general election.
18. Conservatives may insist there was no “War on Women” but voting proved that many women saw it that way and Republicans either change course to take positions that eliminate the perception in their future actions or in the future they’ll have to pencil in loss of a big chunk of women voters — particularly younger women.
19. Young voters can get out and vote and those who assume they won’t are making a huge mistake.
20. Latino voters can get out and vote and those who assume they won’t are making a huge mistake — particularly as the predicted growth of this popular continues to occur over the course of this decade…and century.
21. Once again we see that there IS a center in American politics — a center that doesn’t mean a candidate can’t be assertively liberal or assertively conservative. And politicians and parties who think there isn’t and ignore or denigrate it may be doing so at their political career peril.
22. In terms of some of the high profile candidates that went down to defeat, Republican’s predictions of a landslide for Romney (which were then repeated and believed by many Republicans as Gospel, leaving them to be stunned), the durability of Obama’s 2008 political coalition suggest that in the end Obama did win a mandate. So pure obstructionism may be an even more unwise political strategy this time.
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