Thursday, November 05, 2009

Top Ten Fridays - Lessons From Tuesday

I know it's Thursday, but I'll be on a plane tomorrow. If the cognitive dissonance is too much for you, you can wait until tomorrow to read.

The pundits have discussed Tuesday's election results to death, but I have seen very few interesting observations. Mostly, the analysis is drawn along partisan lines. The Weekly Standard thinks it was a referendum on Obama. Jim Wallis thinks it represents a nebulous rejection of the power of money in politics.

It's neither (though especially not the latter, which is a ridiculously self-serving conclusion). With that, here are my ten observations.

1) Re: NY-23. Very statistically minded sports fans, when attempting to predict future results, look beyond wins and losses. Games decided by small margins (e.g. 1 run in baseball) are essentially toss-ups, as the better team is no more or less likely to win a close game over a weaker opponent. The same can be said for elections.

NY-23 was, essentially a tie. What does this tell us? That a Democrat can win in a Republican leaning district? Yes. That a conservative movement candidate cannot? No. The truth is, both sides can take comfort in the fact that they identified ideologically viable candidates, and may feel free to anoint similar candidates in the future.

2) Low voter turnout once again favored the status quo in Minneapolis. Ironically, however, the variety of party affiliations has only served to reinforce the unilateral stranglehold of the Democratic party. Green Party candidates split votes with independents, Flag Party members, People Against Cats et al... Simply split votes. The lack of a real Republican presence in this city has allowed this to happen, and those residents who don't live on the Southwest side are getting the worst of it.

3) Whether or not Tuesday's election was a repudiation of Obama, it certainly heralds the return of ideological norms, or indicates that they never went away in the first place.

4) The Washington Post doesn't hold court over Northern Virginia the way it did even three years ago. Between their incompetently crafted opinion pieces and "straight" political reporting, they have usually managed to push the numbers. Not so in this case.

It's not that people aren't reading the Post. It's that people are contextualizing it. As a stand alone paper, it's a persuasive piece of work. Against the backdrop of a Google Reader or news digester (drudge, RCP), it is simply one voice in the choir. This is a great development, and its happening all across the country.

5) Just because poll numbers do not indicate that people cast their vote to repudiate Obama, doesn't mean this wasn't a repudiation of Obama's ideas. When people cite health care as among their top three issues (it hasn't been so in the past), and then vote for Republicans, there is some pretty easy math you can do, if you are willing to pick up a calculator.

6) California is still liberal. This will not change, especially when businesses begin to jump ship.

7) In response to the successful referendum against gay marriage in Maine, the gay power groups were understandably frustrated. Many have taken to op-ed pages to declare the inevitably of their cause, since those in opposition to the practice will be dead soon. Suffices to say, this is off the talking points. Those who eagerly anticipate the death of other human beings tend to float to the political margins in accordance with their viewpoint. Bloodthirsty gays are only popular in Twilight.

8) R.T. Rybak has precisely no interest in leading this city. If he is elected governor, he will have no interest in leading Minnesota. He's one of those types, which isn't necessarily awful, except that he isn't competent enough to pull it off. He can't campaign and lead at the same time. As such, his fallback is to make a big splash about irrelevant issues (see: bottled water).

9) Barack Obama is tone deaf. Clinton responded swiftly to the mere suggestion he might be souring the prospects of his party nationally. He took action, triangulated, and did his able best to grovel back into the good graces of American voters. The White House issued a press release about how unimportant the elections were .

10) People still don't pay attention. How many people didn't even know there were elections on Tuesday? 60%? That's terrible.


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