Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Analysis; A Look At The Results of the 2010 Midterm Elections

Above, President Obama talks to probable new Speaker of the House John Boehner on election night 2010


It's the economy, stupid!

And it was heard, loud and clear from sea to shining sea. Republicans rode the wave of voter discontent to take control of the House of Representatives last night, but didn't take the Senate. On the House side, Democrats controlled that body, 255-178. It looks as if the the Republican takeover could get the GOP a 242-193 edge (estimated at this hour). the Senate will remain in Democratic hands, with 49 seats (and two independents caucusing with them)in their hands, plus the tie breaking vote of Vice President Joe Biden. You can read about the individual races nationwide, but here are a few thoughts and notes I made overnight.

1. The GOP won the House yesterday, but now they have to deliver. The Republicans told voters that government needs to get smaller and spend less. Not one of the Republican leaders, such as probable new Speaker of the House John Boehner or his #2 Eric Cantor, is specific as to what will be cut. Their job creation plan seems to be hold unto the Bush tax cuts and hope that the private sector reinvests in America and gets the American economy moving again. And how will the House co-operate with President Obama and his administration? They cannot remain the "party of no"- they have to get something done, and they have to do it soon. The 2010 midterm was about change, as were the elections of 2006 and 2008. The Republican House cannot be obstructionist because if they are they'll lose the House as quickly as they won it in 2012.

2. Can the Republican leadership keep it's Tea Party faction on a short leash?. Despite their failures in most Senate races, the Tea Party emerged as a force to be reckoned within the GOP. Tea Party backed Republican candidates won 113 of 129 House races. Many of these new representatives ran on the "strength" of not being professional politicians. Now comes their reality check- politics IS a profession. They have a job to do, and some of the more extreme members can't be concerned with the birth certificate or "secret Muslim faith" of the President, or be involved in whacky schemes to have the President impeached. Sarah Palin and her guy on the inside of Washington, Jim De Mint, let the genie out of the bottle, and now the mainstream of the GOP have to deal with a probable divide from within, conservative vs. ultra-conservative.

3. Barack Obama is a brilliant man, a good leader, but not the world's greatest politician. The Democrats were poised to lose Congressional seats last night; that's what happens in midterms. But losses could have been minimized if the President did a better job of selling his accomplishments to the voters. Much time was devoted to healthcare reform while unemployment hovered at close to 10%. Healthcare reform should have been presented in a way as to show how getting away from employer mandated healthcare could help private enterprise, but the administration's message was weak.

And the President should have been more adamant about job creation. If there was no co-operation given by Republicans and the private sector, he needed to take that to the American people. Instead, he held an olive branch to Republicans instead of a club.

America wanted to see co-operation between the Democrats and Republicans, but it wasn't going to happen. Everything the President wanted to do was opposed by Republicans. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said early on his aim was to make Barack Obama a one term president. The President should have taken him at his word, because now the GOP's plan is very close to being on schedule.

4. The Reagan Democrats of the Rust Belt went to the GOP. This might be the most disturbing factor of the night for Democrats. Part of the coalition that swept Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 went to the other side in large numbers. The Great Recession of 2008 is over, so say economists. But many former industrial workers in the vast area stretching from Pennsylvania to Minnesota, the Great Lakes region, have been living in near depression realities for years. In those states unemployment has topped the unacceptable 9.6% national average for years, and the anxiety of the laid off workers who are living off of their life savings were part of the angry backlash.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews is a Philly guy who "gets it". Early this morning he talked about the need to for America to start making things again, in factories, manufacturing, and in public works. The auto industry in the Midwest was saved by a bailout, but it had been on the ropes for years. The American heartland has always been where America made things, and now we are not. President Obama and the Dems will be OK in New England, the Mid Atlantic, and the West Coast. The Mountain West and the South are owned by Republicans. Obama must get the Rust Belt on the way to recovery, and soon, or he may have trouble winning a second term.

5.) The 2012 election cycle begins now, and I think the President's challenger will come from the New Jersey . The power struggle from within the Republican Party to produce a challenger to Barack Obama begins in earnest today. The mainstream GOP has a nominal leader in John Boehner; the Tea Party is for all practical purposes led by Sarah Palin. Get ready for oil mixing with water.

The conventional wisdom is that Sarah Palin would be a weak candidate for the Republicans to run against the President; her negatives are higher than Obama's. The party insiders dislike Mitt Romney, a man who's positions seem to change with the direction of political winds. Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee would just reinforce the perception of the GOP as a Southern party.

I really think the Republicans will try to catch lightning in a bottle and urge Chris Christie, New Jersey's governor of less than a year, and a former federal prosecutor, to run in 2012. He's become a rock star among Republicans despite his lack of a track record, because of his tough talk and in your face style. He could run strong in the Mid Atlantic region as well.

And I don't think it's a crazy idea; Obama and Palin had little experience on the bigger stage, and found themselves on national tickets in 2008; one is President of the United States, the other is now the leader of an effective populist movement.

As I said on another board late last night, Tip O'Neill had it right; all politics is local. And I think New Jersey and it's governor are about to get a national spotlight put on them starting today.


Sue said...

I agree with all your analysis, but not so sure about Christie. The republicans don't have a leader right now, in 2008 they had no leader, so I guess anything is possible...but a president Chris Christie??? UGH!

The GOP has alot to prove within the next 2 years. Gonna make for some great blogging!

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Hey Sue....I think it COULD be Christie because who else do the Republicans really have?

There are no figures out there on the GOP side who are both electable in 2012 AND create a buzz.

And honestly, I think the premiere of the documentary THE SOPRANO STATE that portrays Christie as a super hero- Eliot Ness corruption buster last month is part of the plan.

It was no coincidence.

Yes, we will have some material for blogging for the next two years and beyond.

Sue said...

reading all the blogs AND listening to Ed Schultz has me so confused. I did not care much for Obamas speech this afternoon, he said the dirty word "compromise" again and seemed so detached and sullen. Then we have Boner and Cunter on TV saying they will NOT compromise. I don't want to critisize Obama just yet but if he gives in to those thugs I will not be able to control myself. For now I am trying to stay calm and let things fall into place.

One thing positive is the voters know better than to put crazies in the Senate, so we held on. The House will be having elections again in 2 yrs so if the thugs don't work, they will be OUT!

I guess it makes some sense about Christie running but I keep remembering a psychic on The View who said 2012 race will have 3 women candidates, no Obama, all she said was Obama would not be around....YIKES!

tnlib said...

Good analysis. But I think there are signs that the GOP big shots, now that they have used the Tea Party to their advantage, really want to put a little distance between them. I've read in a couple of places that they want to stop Palin's presidential bid.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Sue....have that psychic call me before I go buy my lottery tickets today, OK? It's my way of restoring my economic future.

Leslie...there's a lot of acrimony between Palin and the Republican establishment. They realize the truth- the woman's an idiot who's future should be on reality TV.

And it looks like the civil war in the GOP has started already...Tea Party people are screaming "no compromise, ever", while most insiders are saying Boehner may have to meet Obama halfway as far as job creation. How they do it remains to be seen.

One more note- a political war is breaking out here in NJ; it seems Gov Christie and Senator Menendez hate each other like poison....and it's real, not a feud manufactured by the media. Menendez will move up in seniority in the new Senate (and is the de facto head of NJ's Dems) while the drumbeat for Christie to run for President in 2012 has already started (see Paul Mulshine's column in today's online version of THE STAR-LEDGER).

Sue said...

I love Sen. Menendez...President Menendez sounds so presidential, he'd make a good one, yes??

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

I like Bob Menendez a lot too. New Jersey Tea Partiers want to have him recalled, and started a court case to do so. It most likely can't go anywhere because he's a federal official and not state, and there is no provision for recall in the US Constitution, only impeachment.

Me thinks the biggest problem the Tea Party has with Bob is that he's one of very few Cuban Americans who isn't Republican.

Glad he's on our side.

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