Some reflections of a political junkie.
1. Non-partisan redistricting and its effects. The pattern is not completely clear. In Iowa, which went from 5 to 4 seats, the Democrats went from a 3-2 majority to a 2-2 tie in a state Obama won by more than 5%. On the other hand, in AZ, which added a seat, and in which the Governor tried to mess with the results of the non-partisan redistricting effort, the Dems went from 3-5 to an apparent 5-3 (assuming Ron Barber holds on to his lead) in a state Obama lost by 10%. On the other hand, nationally Dems drew half a million more votes for the House than did the Republicans yet failed to take control of the chamber in large part because of gerrymandering. This can be seen in states like OH and PA, which Obama won, but in which Republicans maintained large leads in the delegation. I do not think the answer is for our side to gerrymander in return, although with the Texas precedent we could now do that in MN and CO and gain a few seats in time for the next election. The country would be better served with districts that are more compact and do a better job of recognizing subsidiary political boundaries (cities, towns, counties) and having the parties compete more vigorously.
2. Given the gerrymandered districts, moves like that of Ohio Secretary of State Husted to change that state's selection of electors to be like NE and ME, by Congressional district, will be tempting for Republicans to do before the next presidential cycle. Opposed to this will be National Popular Vote initiative. As a political junkie I have problems with both. On national popular vote, remember that when Romney had leads in some national polls, it was because of an overwhelming advantage in the South while losing the the other 3 regions. At least for now the electoral college requires a candidate to appeal across the country to win nationally. I would have less problem with CD voting were the districts not gerrymandered, but remain something of a fan of the electoral college approach because of the clarity it provides.
Please keep reading.
3. The importance of elections other than those for federal office. The real damage of the 2010 cycle was not the loss of the House, as bad as that was, but the loss of governors' offices and state legislatures. This lead to the gerrymandering that allowed the Republicans to control the House. It also led to the attempts to suppress the vote of Democratic constituencies. We need to pay closer attention, even in odd numbered years like next, when Virginia and NJ elect governors, VA elects two other statewide officers and its House of Delegates; and New Jersey elects its entire legislature.
4. It is likely that the current Supreme Court will find the relevant portions of the Voting Rights Act no longer constitutional by a 5-4 vote, which will thus encourage legislatures still in Republican control in the South to continue to attempt to disenfranchise Democratic leaning constituencies - those in the North were already unconstrained for the most part by the VRA. Given Republican control of the House it is unlikely that new legislation or even a constitutional amendment to have a more standardized approach to elections for federal office could be enacted in time for the 2016 election, unless Democrats were able to gain control of the House in 2014. Here I think the issue should be raised and the Senate should act to create a public issue, because there are long-term demographic connections that can really challenge Republicans who choose to try to suppress votes.
5. That the American people have spoken fairly clearly in both their votes and their expressions in polling data on certain issues, such as raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, does not mean that the "wise men" of the "Village" will listen. As wrong as many of them were on the outcome of the election, they are likely to continue to frame things in a way that favors a particular narrative even if that narrative is inaccurate - thus we get endless repetitions of "the fiscal cliff" when in fact there is no cliff. It is not yet clear to me how best we can push back against this.
6. We are in a moment of possible major cultural warfare. We are seeing this from Catholic Bishops, we are seeing it in dead-enders raising issues of secession, we are seeing it in threats of violence. And yet, despite such clouds on the horizon, there were major pushbacks by voters in surprising ways. Not only did marriage equality and marijuana legalization triumph on the ballot, in at a least a few cases the attempted corporatization of public services failed - Jeb Bush's attempt to to amend the Florida Constitution so that tax dollars could flow to religious schools was soundly rejected.
7. Do not assume that large amounts of money unleashed by Citizens United did not have an effect. First, it ensured the nomination of Mitt Romney. Second, last minute infusions had effects down ballot, starting with the AZ Senate race with millions of attack ads dumped in against Carmona to defeat him. Of equal importance was the impact upon some initiatives flying somewhat under the radar: In Washington State the legislature had consistently rejected charter schools, so the big money boys funded an initiative to authorize them. As the big money funders begin to understand how to better target their expenditures, we might start seeing more and more of this.
8. Ground game, technology, and information made a huge difference in the Presidential election. But for Obama to have a successful second term he must use all of them in generating support for his agenda, and in the forthcoming elections at state and local levels and for the Congressional cycle in two years. Currently the Dems have something of an advantage, but if not used it will disappear.
The campaign is now largely over - yes, there are some recount battles.
Now comes the other part of politics - governing.
As we were involved in the campaigns for office, we need to stay involved in the campaigns for policy.
As a political junkie, there is always something to keep my attention.
What about you?