Explaining the election results

So, Democrats lost a bunch of seats in the house, a few in the Senate, and most importantly proposition 19 failed.

What we know:

Democrats had control in Congress and the Executive the past 2 years. In those two years they passed Health Care Reform, they significantly lowered taxes for 95% of the population, they ended major combat operations in Iraq, they passed wall street reform, they saw the economy start to gain jobs after losing 4 million jobs in the previous administration, they passed the “stimulus package”, they expanded worker rights, SCHIP, they passed credit card reform, they took steps to make government more transparent, they expanded veteran services, they passed legislation to increase lending to small businesses, they passed legislation reducing lobbyist access to the executive branch, they opened stem cell research, they passed the HFSTH Act which offered mortgage modification to help stave off foreclosures, they made it easier for minorities to get loans, they closed secret Bush-era detention centers, they signed in new car tax credits, and I’m sick of listing stuff…

On the other hand the perception of the economy is that it is shit.

Anyone know how to explain this behavior?

The most salient narrative is that when the economy is bad, the party in power always loses. The odd thing about this time around though, is that the agenda for the past 2 years has been to help the middle and working class economically, and a significant amount of legislation was passed that did exactly that.

I guess I’m trying to understand why people behaved the way they did this election. Does the current perception of the economy trump everything else?

Back and forth. Back and forth.

Hegel swings back and forth.

These are good questions. Keep in mind, though, that there was nothing rational in the way many people voted. After all, they are going to get a government that will make things so much worse, and a lot of the people elected are so stupid, craven, and greedy that they will be easily manipulated into promoting agendas that are very unfriendly to most people, including the complete dismantling of anything left of the New Deal and the Great Society. I just don’t think that people get what’s going to happen yet. They honestly don’t know. They’ve got those whirling target glasses firmly fixed on their eyes, thinking that they were voting out the ones responsible for their anger and frustration, but instead voting in so many who actually do represent the mindset that began the slide in the first place: deregulation and privatization. When Wall Street gets its greedy hands on Social Security, the game will be over; and yet almost half of seniors voted for the legislators who want to decimate their previously secure entitlements. Interesting, huh? And very very sad.

So maybe he’s got this…but do We the People?

[i]Why Is Obama So Calm Right Now?
by Jonathan Cohn, “The New Republic”

A lot of liberals are going to be panicking on Tuesday night. President Obama probably won’t be one of them.
At least, that’s the impression I get from Ron Brownstein’s latest column for National Journal. Brownstein compares two interviews he did: one with then-President Clinton, just before the 1994 midterms, and one with Obama, just last month.

Brownstein recalls a “tormented” Clinton lashing out at congressional Republicans, second-guessing his own strategic decisions, and cursing the distance his office placed between him and the voters. Obama, Brownstein says, is “at peace.” The president readily concedes his failures as a communicator, Brownstein says, but he’s already moved on to the very practical questions of how to work with a Republican Congress–and, when it comes time, how to run against it.

“The latter response may be more emotionally healthy,” Brownstein says. “Whether it’s politically wise is another question.” Yes it is. And I’m not sure I know the answer.

To be sure, we’ve seen Obama act this way before. He didn’t panic when Hillary Clinton surprised him in New Hampshire and kept fighting until the final primaries. He didn’t panic when John McCain tapped Sarah Palin and jumped ahead in the polls. He didn’t panic when the financial system collapsed, the auto industry was near liquidation, or his health care bill was about to die. In every one of those cases, Obama or the causes he supported prevailed.

And there are some good reasons not to panic. Obama and his allies have accomplished an entire term’s worth of legislation in just two years. Financial regulation, direct student lending, the Recovery Act, and health care reform–that’s a record of accomplishment unmatched in recent history. Losses were inevitable at the midterms. Why get worked up?

But if it’s reassuring to see Obama in his familiar posture, it’s also a little unsettling–because, well, maybe this time is different.

If you believe, as I do, that the primary factor in determining election outcomes is the economy, then tomorrow’s results have been a foregone conclusion for some time now. The midterms were more or less out of Obama’s control the day he signed off on a stimulus too small to create robust job growth. But what’s true of this election will be true of the election two years from now. And with a Republican Congress blocking new economic initiatives, Obama won’t have much ability to create jobs–or even help those who can’t find any. If the economy continues to recover this slowly, the Republicans won’t merely solidify their hold on Congress in two years. They’ll also be in a position to win the White House.

Yes, it’s possible the Republicans will overreach, particularly if their gains on Tuesday are of historic proportions. In fact, Obama may be counting upon the GOP leadership to go too far–to assume a mandate for conservative governing that doesn’t exist. And he may be counting upon the American people to rally behind him once that happens. One constant in Obama’s record is his assumption that American people will act like political grown-ups—that, when presented with a choice between a party that takes governing seriously and one that does not, they will choose the former.

But will the American people react that way? It worked out that way in 1995 and 1996, with a less popular president and (arguably) a less radical set of Republicans. But, again, that less popular president also could run for re-election on a strong recovery that was creating jobs and raising incomes. When the economy is poor, voters have other priorities in mind. Just look at the polls right now. Americans say they trust Obama and the Democrats more than the Republicans, but that they are more likely to vote for the Republicans anyway. Who’s to say they wouldn’t vote the exact same way in 2012?

I keep thinking back to that email that circulated in late 2008, when Obama was behind in the polls. It had a picture of him speaking at the convention with the caption “I’ve got this.” Part of me thinks he still does. And part of me doesn’t.[/i]

Obama hasn’t got this because he hasn’t got many of the American people. Only 40% of the electorate voted in this election, and most of them were older rightwing white people. The rest are completely disillusioned because they don’t feel that anyone in government is worth voting for.

What this means is that at least 60 per cent of the American people trend liberal and just can’t make themselves vote for candidates who have betrayed them or worse. I’ve been voting, but I’ve had to hold my nose every time. I always felt as though my choices were Very Bad Candidate and Much Worse Candidate.

One must take a closer look to make sense of this election. If you look closely, you see red states getting redder and swing states
which go one way or another turning a bit more red. However one must remember the cliche which however is true, all politics is local.
Very rare is the election which actually become a game changer, this election is not a game changer. the only result of this election will be
complete and absolute gridlock in washington. the GOP has one play and one play only in their playbook and that play is lower taxes, they stand
for nothing else. So they will block obama for all their worth because they don’t have any thing positive to offer America. The party of no just
became the party of no, hell no. So in the end, this election was about GOP cynical politics and nothing more.

Kropotkin

I think the election was more about who didn’t vote than who did. Many liberals and progressives did not vote. The truth about America is that most people trend liberal and feel very betrayed and cynical to the point where they don’t vote. It’s true that the Republican party will only stand for more of the same, but now it will be more bizarre, virulent, and toxic than ever; e and it will be saying a big resounding NO to anything that benefits people and doesn’t contribute to the wealth and power of the rich and corporate, even at the expense of jobs, unions, livelihoods, healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, child welfare, food and water safety, the environment, women’s and human rights, roads, schools, and on down the line.

Even though I love and admire Bill Moyers as one of the last good journalists alive, I wish I could hold his calm air of grace during these difficult times. Here is his latest gift, speaking on Howard Zinn and democracy, which is the domain of the public who must stand up and fight for it. It’s that public and that fight that is missing right now, in my view.

alternet.org/news/148720/bil … impossible

The republicans have been caught in the “careful what you wish for” scenario. Their ability to turn our current mess around isn’t going to be a bit better than the democratic congress provided. Actually, it will be worse because they have no clear policies. They thought that just saying no to everything would be sufficient. The house will vote all kinds of bullshit because they know that it will die in the senate - exactly the same way it has gone for the last two years. If the blue dogs created problems for Pelosi, the repubs are faced with trying to corral the tea baggers. The using tea party anger is about to bite them in the butt. All I see is more gridlock. The real purge will be in 2012, and it will be both parties. It will take another year of stasis before the voters wake up and use their vote to put pragmatic get-things-done people in place.

The dems are in good shape for 2012 because there won’t be the exaggerated in-fighting in the primaries to select candidates and the repubs won’t get anything but more fractious splintering. No matter how much corporate money Rove collects, they won’t be able to overcome their own failures.

People who dismiss Obama as a second term president are fools. He is a more than able politician or he would have never become president. The fact that he is bringing Plouff back says that the quiet groundwork is going to be in place well before election time. I think the republicans in their big win may have bitten off way more than they can chew…

The locals voted to institute a proposition against “puppy-mills” that is going to cost millions over the years, but then they voted for every goddamn proposition that said “cut tax”. Bye emergency services, bye street upkeep, bye functional local government…Pupply mill busting is now literally our entire budget, well that and the 100Million to buy police cars…LOL

The fucking idiots got small government exactly backwards. Take it from a guy with a black flag avatar, you get rid of the police and anything resembling an enforcer, and you keep fire, health, road, and utility people. The idea is to live cooperatively without the hassle of government and authority, not to live in chaos despite the hassle of executive intrusion.

I like your attitude. It must be hard living in Missouri right now. But yours is not the only state that went red-crazy. Texas went even further red, and life is going to get very very difficult for immigrants, women, children, and the poor… and very very good for the rich Reep cronies.

Pennsylvania went over to the dark side too. Natural gas now owns the government, and environmental protections are going down the drain.

Insanity rules in so many states now it’s unreal.

Anyone know how to explain this behavior?

I’m sure media influence has a lot to do with it. Just look at the most popular news networks and the narratives they’re selling…

Absolutely. The media is completely corrupted by corporate influence now.

“You can’t wash your hands in a cynic.”

No tell a lie, that never made sense: you can’t wash your hands of a cynic is better.

Either way, I don’t get your point. ???

Just saying that cynicism is a useful trait to indulge, especially when it comes to the media. I’m from the UK and our media is far from unbiased. It just isn’t as bad as most.

It’s a bad joke cynic/Sink. Bad pun.

At least you have The Guardian. Love their cryptics, anyway. At first it was an adjustment, because I had been doing the Scottish Herald cryptics. But then all of a sudden they started requiring a monthly fee, so I switched to The Guardian, which is free. I’m getting used to it now, so all is well.

Well I’m an Independant reader, but its all good. You can’t be liberal without allowing that everyone is right to some degree. :slight_smile:

Glad your exercising your mind, the cryptics are a good way to do that when the news fails to make you think other than to raise a Vulcan eyebrow. :slight_smile:

I still like P.J O’rourke’s comment: Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, go out and get elected, and then prove it."

[i]Spending blitz by outside groups helped secure big GOP wins
Hedge fund moguls helped bankroll groups’ attack ads, sources tell NBC News
By Michael Isikoff and Rich Gardella

"A tightly coordinated effort by outside Republican groups, spearheaded by Karl Rove and fueled by tens of millions of dollars in contributions from Wall Street hedge fund moguls and other wealthy donors, helped secure big GOP midterm victories Tuesday, according to campaign spending figures and Republican fundraising insiders.
Leading the GOP spending pack was a pair of groups — American Crossroads and its affiliate, Crossroads GPS — both of which were co-founded by two former aides in the George W. Bush White House: Rove, and Ed Gillespie.
Together, the groups — which are not formally part of the Republican Party — spent more than $38 million on attack ads and campaign mailings against Democrats, according to figures compiled by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign spending in congressional races.

A substantial portion of Crossroads GPS’ money came from a small circle of extremely wealthy Wall Street hedge fund and private equity moguls, according to GOP fundraising sources who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity. These donors have been bitterly opposed to a proposal by congressional Democrats — and endorsed by the Obama administration — to increase the tax rates on compensation that hedge funds pay their partners, the sources said.

A scorecard compiled by NBC News shows the ad barrage appeared to mostly pay off: Republican candidates won nine of the 12 Senate races and 14 of 22 House races where American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent money.
That had the groups’ leaders gloating Wednesday about what they described as their pivotal role in the election results.

‘A decisive blow for freedom’
“Thank you, America!” read the banner headline on a blog posting by Steve Law, president of American Crossroads, on the group’s website. The posting proclaimed that the organizations’ team had “struck a decisive blow for freedom” with the election results. “Together we not only retired House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, we also achieved the largest House seat switch since 1938!” Law wrote.

While it is hard to calculate exactly how much of an impact the Crossroads groups had in an election that was tilting Republican for a variety of reasons, their efforts helped fuel an substantial overall spending advantage by outside GOP groups. Overall, outside Republican groups outspent outside Democratic groups, $245 million to $191 million — a $54 million edge.

The Crossroads affiliates and similar groups were formed after a controversial Supreme Court ruling in January that permitted outside political groups to collect unlimited contributions from corporations, labor unions and other wealthy donors and use them directly on campaign ads. In addition, groups that were organized as nonprofit “advocacy” organizations (such as Crossroads GPS) did not have to disclose the identity of their donors.
As a result, the airwaves this campaign season were flooded with millions of dollars in attack ads, paid for by secret donors. Out of nearly $300 million spent on congressional campaigns ads by both parties, 42 percent were funded by undisclosed donors, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Just behind the Crossroads groups in outside spending on the GOP-side were the Chamber of Commerce ($31 million) and the American Action Network ($14 million), according to Sunlight Foundation figures. Neither disclosed the identity of its donors.

While outside Democratic groups belatedly tried to mimic the GOP efforts, they fell short. America’s Families First Action Fund, a group founded by a number of former Democratic strategists that operated much like American Crossroads, wasn’t organized until last summer and spent just $5.5 million — $1 million of which came from a non-disclosing nonprofit affiliate, according to the Sunlight Foundation. The big outside spenders on the Democratic side were labor unions such as AFSME ($10.7 million) and the SEIU ($10 million.)

Groups coordinated spending, insiders say
In addition to the spending advantage, outside GOP groups like the Crossroads groups, Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth coordinated their efforts, divvying up which groups would spend in which races at which times. The groups’ leaders would meet and talk regularly in sessions often led by Rove or one of his associates, according to the two GOP fundraising sources familiar with how the organizations worked.

The coordination could be seen in spending patterns in key Senate races.

In Illinois, for example, GOP winner Mark Kirk benefited from $5.5 million in attack ads from the Crossroads groups targeting his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias.

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, the Crossroads groups didn’t spend any money, but the Chamber of Commerce spent $748,000 on attack ads that helped defeat Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. (Feingold, ironically, was co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law whose restrictions on advertisements by outside groups was overturned by the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, paving the way for the creation of groups such as American Crossroads.)

The long term impact of the spending by the outside groups during this election will be to lay the groundwork for an even bigger effort during the presidential campaign two years from now. That will substantially diminish the role of the two political parties, according to campaign finance experts.
Other than running primaries, “who needs (political parties)?” asked Brett Kappel, a Washington lawyer who specializes in campaign finance laws. Contributions to the parties remain “heavily regulated,” under strict limits and must be publicly disclosed, he noted.

“After this election,” Kappel said, “all of that can be outsourced to unregulated entities that don’t have to disclose their donors.”'[/i]

That is my favorite part of this entire election. The candidates that were supposed to be a conduit of local grassroots anger and frustration aimed against wealthy and powerful interests changed the way midterm elections were done by inviting national corporate and political financing into historically local and low-budget races.

I need to find a Tea Partyer, tell them they did it, and then laugh in their face because they got coopt owned.