The results are in – mostly
Well, the election is over and despite the best efforts to get out the vote by whatever means necessary, the Republicans won a resounding victory. As it currently stands, the Republicans hold both the House, at 243 to 179, and the Senate, at 52 to 45. That’s a pickup of 13 seats in the House and 7 seats in the Senate.
Additionally, there are three undecided Senate races; Alaska, Virginia, and Louisiana awaiting final counting of all ballots, recounts and, in the case of Louisiana, a run-off election in December. In the House, there are 13 undecided races awaiting final decisions; one district in Washington State (which will be a Republican victory since both candidates are Republican), seven districts in California (Republicans may pick up a couple more), one in Arizona (possible Republican pickup), one district in Maryland, one district in New York, and two districts in Louisiana, both probable Republican pickups but which will await the results of the December run-off elections.
Republicans also picked up three governorships’, gaining Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, and Arkansas, while losing one in Pennsylvania, for a gain of three. Republicans now hold 31 governorships’ to the Democrats’ 17. There are two still undecided; Vermont, where the Democrat leads, and Alaska where, interestingly, the Independent candidate Bill Walker leads the Republican Sean Parnell 48% to 46.6%. The final tally is likely to be 31 Republican, 18 Democrat, and 1 Independent.
There were the usual election problems; voting machines that didn’t work properly, claims of voter intimidation, voter fraud, and assorted other issues. I was at my parents’ house before, during, and after the elections. While there, my dad, a Democrat, read a disturbing article he found in the daily newspaper. The article claimed that Republicans had mailed intimidating letters to voters claiming that we know whether or not you have voted in the past and if you don’t vote this year we will want to know why. It also purported to have sent the voters a “report card” of their voting activity in years’ past.
I found the article interesting and alarming because it was almost word for word identical to an article I had read the previous day in the New York Post, this one claiming that identical letters had been sent to voters in New York by the New York State Democratic Committee. My personal opinion is that when you have two pretty much identical articles, one that purports to emanate from the Republican Party and one from the Democratic Party, something is wrong.
I have been trying to find the article in the Arizona Republic (the newspaper) so that I could link to it for this article. I have been unable to do so. All I have found thus far is this piece from a blog site, which contains a quote that I remember from the newspaper article, but does not actually link to it. It is obviously a partisan Democratic blog, judging from the foul language it uses with regard to Republicans in general.
I did find an article on the Huffington Post that stated that both sides were using this tactic, but did not give concrete examples to demonstrate their postulate. The article listed as examples Democrats in New York and Kansas and Liberal groups in Oregon, which are unlikely to be Republicans. The only other example mentioned was an unnamed super PAC in Alaska, which apparently must be the Republican example, since everyone knows that Republicans are the only ones with super PACs, no-doubt funded by the evil Koch Brothers.
Although apparently, the six non-profits that the Koch brothers run are not super PACs, and the two top super PACs, as listed by OpenSecrets.org, which bills itself as “the nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy”, are the Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC which are both Liberal, not Conservative. Campaign finance is an extremely complicated topic and is something I will take up in a later article. It is much simpler to decry the evil Koch brothers and leave it at that.
Be that as it may, the political landscape has changed. No matter what happens with the unresolved elections, the Republicans have widened their lead in the House, and taken control of the Senate. From now on, at least until 2016, when the typical low-information voter claims that Republicans are in control of the Congress, they will unwittingly be correct.
So what are the Republicans going to do with that power, and what will President Obama do to accommodate himself to the new reality?
I don’t expect any change from President Obama, based on his actions to date, and my read of his character. Compromise does not seem to be in his nature, and negotiation does not seem to be his forte. True, he did say that he was “eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible,” however it remains to be seen exactly what that means.
When President Clinton lost control of both houses of Congress during his administration, he adjusted his leadership accordingly. No, he didn’t become a conservative, and yes, he did try to block things he didn’t agree with, but he was willing to compromise, and frequently got together with Republican leadership to negotiate.
Like President George W. Bush, when he held both houses of congress, President Obama has, to this point, vetoed little if any legislation. I expect that will change, just as it did for Mr. Bush when he lost control of the congress. Technically, Mr. Obama lost control after his first two years in office. Practically however, he never had to worry about vetoing Republican bills until now since Harry Reid effectively did so for him by not allowing any companion bills to the ones passed by the House to even make it to the Senate floor.
It is my expectation that Mr. Obama will “work with” the Republican congress in the same manner as he has “worked with” Republicans throughout his administration. He will tell Republicans what he wants done, and then, if they do something else, will complain about how Republicans in congress refuse to work with him. “Bipartisanship,” to Mr. Obama, consists of Democrats proposing legislation and Republicans going along with every jot and tittle. That is not going to happen this time around. This time, Republicans are going to send him bills and he will have to sign or veto them. I expect that his veto pen will see a lot of action.
I also expect to see a continuation of the President’s attempts to “get around” congress via executive order. I expect to see him attempt to goad the Republicans into impeachment proceedings (which I hope the Republicans are able to resist). Finally, I expect the Supreme Court to see a lot more activity regarding the constitutionality of the President’s attempt to wield supreme executive power over and above the powers delineated to him by the Constitution.
If Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate, as minority leaders, are able to continue to get the Democrats to toe the party line, this will undoubtedly lead to two more years of gridlock, as Republicans do not have to votes to override a Presidential veto. Then, in two years we will see if the public blames the Republicans for, in turn, not getting anything done, or if they blame the outgoing Democrats for continuing to be obtuse and uncompromising.
After the 2008 elections, Democrats predicted the demise of the Republican Party. They told Republicans that “elections have consequences; we won – get over it.” It remains to be seen if, after the 2014 elections, Democrats still believe that. My guess is that this time around Democrats will say that the situation is different. That this time, even though Republicans “did well” at the polls, it really doesn’t count, because voter turnout was lower than during the 2008 or 2012 elections that the American people really haven’t spoken. Or if they did, they said something else. Besides, it was mostly white males who voted leaving blacks, Hispanics, and women “disenfranchised” when it comes to the Republican congress.
Democrats still speak for “the people.” Republicans are still “extremists.”
Indeed, the apologists are already coming out of the woodwork. The Democrats lost because many Democrats stayed home. Why? Well apparently they thought, for whatever reason, that they simply didn’t need to show up. The President has made it quite clear that he didn’t lose – because he wasn’t running. Republicans talk about a mandate to stop things Mr. Obama has been doing (or not doing), but it is clear that Democrats do not believe that. How can there be a mandate when many Democrats didn’t vote?
So, what happened on Election Day? For whatever reasons, Republicans did well. What that will translate into remains to be seen.