Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What hath the midterms wrought?

So, what do we know about the election results?

Well, New Mexico just installed a teabagger in the governor's mansion, so where does that leave us? Well, I can be glad that I decided against a second career in the police, or as a teacher, when I got out of the military.

Then again, I'm working in a hospital, and Medicaid cuts are pretty much a certainty, so little comfort there.

GOP lapdog Steve Pearce got his old job back as Congresscritter, so at least our newly-crowned Governor Martinez won't be lonely.

On the national front, the candidates endorsed by Sarah Palin didn't fare as well as some people expected: if you discount the ones who were already shoo-ins before the Palinator bestowed her blessing on them, her batting average was about 0.5 or so. (It hardly matters - even if she'd had a 100% failure rate, her followers have long since proven themselves to be invulnerable to little things like "logic" or "reason.")

Jerry Brown has been reelected as governor of California, with just a little gap of twenty-seven years between his second and third terms.

(I know Ahnold hasn't been working out as much as he used to, but who would have thought he could be beaten by a 72-year-old former Jesuit seminarian and law clerk?)

Harry Reid held onto his seat, despite a particularly mendacious campaign by teabagger favorite Sharron Angle. In fact, the Tea Party candidates didn't do well overall - not a single teabagger picked up a contested seat in the Senate, with national jokes like Angle, Joe Miller and Christine O'Donnell going down in flames. (Admittedly, Kentucky elected Rand Paul, but that's more a symptom of inbreeding than anything else.)

To counteract the GOP depression brought on by Reid's continued presence in the Senate, Alan Grayson lost his House reelection bid, which probably gives John Boehner as much of an erection as he can get since that horrible melanin overdose.

Regarding the "traditional wisdom" of Grayson losing because he was an "outspoken liberal," Southern Beale pointed me to an analysis by Digby, who said:
Regarding Grayson, well, we have a little controlled experiment. His neighboring first term Democratic congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas, in a very similar district, took the opposite approach to Grayson. She ran as hard to the right as she could get away with, never had a controversial thought much less uttered one, was rewarded with big money and support from the DCCC --- and she lost too. This race was bigger than both of them. Florida is turning hard right.
But more than that, having landed on Digby's Hullabaloo, I was led to this statistical recap of the election by Ed Kilgore.
Finally, something must be said about the electorate that produced these results. According to national exit polls, 2010 voters broke almost evenly in terms of their 2008 presidential votes; indeed, given the normal tendency of voters to "misremember" past ballots as being in favor of the winner, this may have been an electorate that would have made John McCain president by a significant margin. Voters under 30 dropped from 18% of the electorate to 11%; African-Americans from 13% to 10%, and Hispanics from 9% to 8%. Meanwhile, voters over 65, the one age category carried by John McCain, increased from 16% of the electorate to 23%.

These are all normal midterm numbers. But because of the unusual alignment of voters by age and race in 2008, they produced a very different outcome, independently of any changes in public opinion. Indeed, sorting out the "structural" from the "discretionary" factors in 2008-2010 trends will be one of the most important tasks of post-election analysis, since the 2012 electorate will be much closer to that of 2008. That's also true of the factor we will hear most about in post-election talk: the "swing" of independents from favoring Obama decisively in 2008 to favoring Republicans decisively this year. Are these the same people (short answer: not as much as you'd think), or a significantly different group of voters who happened to self-identify as independents and turned out to vote?
Or to put it another way, the party in power always loses in the midterms. It is as it always has been. Nothing new going on here.

And in barely related news, McDonald's has brought back the McRib sandwich, which is an interesting coincidence: with Republicans on the rise again, pork is back in fashion. Imagine that.

Update (11/4/10): It has been suggested that Ahnold wasn't running against Jerry Brown; Meg Whitman was. Noted. However, I refuse to give up on a perfectly good joke based strictly on something as minor as "reality."

1 comment:

Nance said...

"...which probably gives John Boehner as much of an erection as he can get since that horrible melanin
overdose." Can't you just see this guy at a tanning bed? That says about all I need to know about this jerk's judgment.

I actually feel pretty good today about the outcomes. I'll be fascinated to see how Obama handles himself. He's been going to school on Clinton pretty hard lately; even his "humble" speech sounded like Clinton's and neither of them meant a word of it. As one pundit I read today put it, the Democrats didn't really lose so much as they had the playing field leveled again.

The next two years are going to be fascinating! How long will it take Rand Paul to make himself utterly irrelevant. How's Boehner going to handle the monsters he helped create? How can we re-energize the young Dems? And who will we find ourselves facing in 2012?