Saturday, November 9, 2013

Election 2013 Postmortem and other thoughts

Long time since I have written as this was a slow summer politically...but as things are starting to ramp up, it is time to begin anew.

Election 2013

The results of last week's elections in VA and NJ were not very surprising.  NJ Governor Chris Christie was reelected by a broad coalition, including women and minorities, and has set the stage for a potential presidential run in 2016. Many see him as the best possible GOP candidate as he has won the governorship in a blue state (twice) and shows the ability to attract moderates and suburbanites, qualities many GOP candidates are sorely lacking.  Christie's issue will be satisfying the hard-core conservatives who increasingly dominate Republican electoral politics in the key presidential primary states.  The boisterous NJ Governor will have his hands full campaigning among southern evangelicals and anti-immigration activists.  Major talk radio hosts who do have considerable influence describe him as a RHINO (look it up) at best and a traitor to conservative ideals.  The next two years will be telling as the 2016 invisible primary ramps up.

In Virginia, the Democrats captured the governor's seat.  Former Clinton aid, Terry McAuliffe, beat the GOP tea-party backed candidate and a Libertarian who took 6% of the vote.  The vote was closer than recent polling showed, but demonstrates that once solidly red Virginia has gone decidedly purple fueled by the liberal Washington DC suburbs. Many are saying that McAuliffe's successful campaign was a test run for Hillary Clinton in 2016 as he appealed strongly to suburban women and traditional Democratic constituent groups. Again, time will tell.

The City of Boston elected a new mayor.  After over 20 years, Mayor Menino is retiring thus paving the way for Mayor-elect Marty Walsh.  Walsh's election on Tuesday with strong backing from labor again demonstrates the power of organization and door to door GOTV efforts overwhelming city councilor John Connolly's rather hapless and unorganized campaign.  Union shoe leather will trump newspaper endorsements and the accolades of the punditocracy almost every time.

In other news, the Casino went down in East Boston, Mayor Lantigua may be going down in Lawrence (pending a recount with ballots under police guard), and New York City is now going to be governed by a liberal true believer in city hall.

National Politics

There have been two major items of note on the national scene, the roll-out of of the ACA (aka Obamacare) and the government shutdown last month.  Each party has been affected negatively by these.

The Shutdown was pinned squarely on the GOP by the public and Congress's already abysmal rating continue to sink.  Ironically, it temporarily distracted from the very poor launch of the ACA.  In short, governmental dysfunction continues and the "can" has only been kicked down the road. Politically it hurt the GOP more - does this prompt the Democrats to "hope" for another shutdown next year...say closer to the November 2014 midterms?  Does the GOP hierarchy put down the open revolt of the tea party faction?  Some sort of real Republican Party split, although unlikely, cannot be discounted in the next few years.

The Democrats in general and President in particular have been hurt by not only the very real National Exchange website issues, but even more so by people getting their policies cancelled after repeated assurances that "if you like your plan, you can keep it."  The Administration is trying to back-peddle and parse words on that infamous line now, but the damage control effort does not seem very convincing.

Some polls now show Obama's approval falling below the 40% threshold - approaching George W. Bush territory.  Second terms are usually problematic and Obama's second term is no exception thus far.  This does not bode well for immigration reform which is perhaps his biggest initiative and would be a real legacy accomplishment if he can shepard it through a hostile congress.

Neither party is acquitting itself well.  Recent polling shows that over half of Americans are open to a third party and a general malaise about our political culture is very evident.  A quick note - it is VERY unlikely that a third party can make a serious run at any major office for a host of reasons.  Also, third parties as a concept poll well, but in practice perform very poorly and act as spoilers at best.  However, stranger things have happened in politics and if well-known elected officials of both parties decided to break off to form a moderate centrist party that could well be something...nah!

And now for something completely different...

It is still a year before the 2014 midterms, but The Prof is all over it and will be reporting frequently.  And getting back to local politics, there will be a competitive governor's race in Massachusetts in 2014, culminating 360 days hence.

By the way - this marks my 100th post since launching this site in 2009.  Looking forward to the next 100!


The Prof