A Status Quo Election

November 6, 2012 09:26 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Obama wins reelection | House GOP keeps controls | Dems keep Senate leadership

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

America produced a status quo election. Republicans kept their majority in the House, the Senate stayed about the same and incumbent Barack Obama was reelected president. Link to 2012 election results.

President: Barack Obama was elected to a second presidential term, defeating Republican Mitt Romney. Obama won over 300 electoral votes.

Of the election’s seven major battlegrounds, he won at least six. Obama garnered the needed 270 electoral votes even before Florida's final results were known.

How Obama won.

Many of the pollsters were correct after all – the Democrats turned out a heavily Democratic electorate (D + 6), making most pollsters at the state level close to the mark – despite protests from others.

Demographics. Obama won big percentages of Latino (around 69 percent), African American and women (double-digit spread) voters. He lost among white men by a large margin, as expected.

Nationally, Latino voters comprised 10 percent of the total electorate. Obama won 69 percent of their votes while Romney won just 29 percent. In Florida, Latinos accounted for nearly one in every five voters and Obama won them by 21 points.

More than 90 percent of African-American voters supported Obama nationally and were a factor in Obama's victory in Virginia. According to exit polls, African-Americans accounted for 21 percent of those who voted in the state on Tuesday, with 94 percent of those backing the president.


Youth vote. Voters aged 18-29 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and Obama won them by 34 points. According to the latest national exit polling, 19 percent of the electorate was aged 18-29 and Obama won that group by 24 points.

In Ohio, Obama's decision to rescue (bail out) the US auto industry proved to be a major factor – 59 percent of voters in early exit polls favored the bailout. Obama did better than usual in Ohio among a group he usually loses by a lot: white men without a college education.

In Florida, Obama’s choice to offer some young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children the temporary right to live and work in this country legally without the fear of being deported was a factor – Obama won 60 percent of Latino voters, up three percentage points from four years ago, according to exit polls.

Hurricane Sandy earned Obama a lot of good will, especially when New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie praised the president. In early exit polls, 42 percent of voters said the hurricane was an important factor in their vote: More than 60 percent of them voted for the president.

Now what?

Obama said he intends to sit down with Romney in the weeks ahead to talk about how the two can work together.

Health care and the Dodd-Frank financial reforms will now continue – Romney pledged to significantly alter both of those first term Obama landmarks.

The fiscal cliff issues now confront Obama and Congress. The focus now is on whether the newly elected can address the US fiscal mess, reform entitlements (particularly Medicare) and the tax code and immigration reform. If compromise is at hand, GOP members could trade off revenue increases, which Obama wants, in exchange for authentic Medicare reform.

A sensitive issue will be climate change. How will a President Obama not worried about another election confront this topic?

Regulations: Pre-election Obama put a virtual hold on new regulations. If the second-term Obama administration returns to an aggressive regulatory approach, a quick dispute will surface with GOP House members.

Farm bill. The upcoming lame-duck session of Congress will determine if a new farm bill comes this year or is punted until the new Congress in 2013. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signaled an ambitious, six-week Senate timetable for the post-election session set to start Nov. 13. Reid's aim is to keep pressure on lawmakers to reach a bipartisan debt deal by Dec. 21, the expected start of the Christmas recess. That should leave plenty of time to reach a final farm bill conclusion and at least scratch this from the "must-do" list for 2013. Some type of extension of the 2008 Farm Bill is likely no matter what happens on a new farm bill timeline.

On the foreign policy front, the Iranian nuclear program is a key challenge in the months ahead.

House – Link to House races.

House GOP leaders signaled that they do not intend to change. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, "For two years, our majority in the House has been the primary line of defense for the American people against a government that spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much when left unchecked. They’ve responded by renewing our majority."

Of note in Iowa, Rep. Steve King (R) won reelection, turning back a challenge from former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D). Vilsack is the wife of former Iowa Democratic governor and current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Senate – Link to Senate races.

Democrats appear to have actually expanded on their current 53-to-47-seat edge. But neither party appeared to be in a position to gain the seats necessary to win a filibuster-proof 60-seat majority.

Connecticut: Former wrestling executive Linda McMahon (R) lost to Rep. Chris Murphy despite spending millions of her own money.

Florida: In Florida, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson defeated Rep. Connie Mack, even though the state contest for president was close.

Indiana: Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly defeated GOP conservative state treasurer Richard Mourdock, who plunged after saying he believed that pregnancies that result from rape reflect the will of God.

Maine: When GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe announced her retirement, that paved the way for the loss of a GOP seat to independent former Maine governor Angus King. King has not said with which party he will caucus but is widely expected to side with Democrats.

Massachusetts: Democrat Elizabeth Warren bested incumbent Scott Brown.

Missouri: In Missouri, GOP Rep. Todd Akin was abandoned by national Republicans, including Mitt Romney, after saying that pregnancies rarely result from from "legitimate rape." He lost to Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, who was once thought to be one of the nation’s most endangered incumbents.

Montana: Sen. Jon Tester (D) faced Rep. Denny Rehberg in a race not yet called.

Nebraska: State GOP Sen. Deb Fischer beat former senator Bob Kerrey (D) to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D).

Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) held on and won against Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).

New Mexico: Martin Heinrich (D) easily beat former Rep. Heather Wilson (R.).

North Dakota: Democrat Heidi Heitkamp appears to have garnered an upset in the North Dakota Senate race, leading Republican Rep. Rick Berg by about 3,000 votes with 97 percent of precincts reporting. Late returns had Heitkamp ahead with 50.5 to Berg’s 49.5 percent. The seat replaces Sen. Kent Conrad (D), who will retire in January.

Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) defeated state treasurer Josh Mandel.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey (D) defeated coal executive Tom Smith, who spent more than $17 million of his own money on the race.

Virginia: Democrat Tim Kaine defeated George Allen in Virginia’s Senate race – the nation’s most expensive Senate race. The contest for the seat held by retiring Sen. James Webb (D) was close for months.

Wisconsin: Democrat Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin defeated GOP challenger Tommy Thompson.

The future

Republicans are going to have to change to win national elections. And state elections when it comes to Senate races. In the years ahead, more of what we have seen the past two elections will continue relative to the voting public – fewer marrieds, more secular, more ethnically diverse.

A GOP analyst summed up the elections this way: "Hats off to the Obama campaign turnout. I know for a fact GOP turnout was higher in a lot of key counties than it was for (Sen. John) McCain. Having said that, Obama was equal to if not excelling to the task. The first President in history to be reelected with 43 months of unemployment over 8 percent. To me, that's astonishing. The grand bargain is back in play. Boehner will have to play the cards he's dealt and House Republicans must pivot away from politically charged oversight to conciliatory governing. And finally, we have to have a better slate of candidates in the 2016 primary; which we will. P.S.: The GOP is well-advised to once and for all dispense with lectures about rape, abortion and how we need to throw every last illegal out. The electorate has changed in the last decade and we haven't."

House Ag Committee to see few changes


The combination of retirements and election defeats will change the look of the House Ag Committee in the new Congress, but not to the extent seen in 2010 when there were some 20 new members on the panel. Those defeated in reelection bids Tuesday included Reps. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and Rep. Robert Schilling (R-Ill.) with redistricting the major factor in those races. Other members did not get a chance to face voters after losing primary battles, including Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Tim Holden (D-Pa.). Rep. Mike MacIntyre (D-N.C.), was defeated in the primary but opted to run as an independent in a race that has yet to be declared while Rep. Joe Baca (D-Ca.) was also in a race that has yet to be declared. In addition, Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.) retired.


Senate Ag Panel members breeze to wins


While there will be three new members on the Senate Ag Committee due to the retirement of Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and the primary loss by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), remaining members up for reelection this year won their contests. Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) all handily won in their bid to stay in the Senate.



NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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