The numbers are rolling in – and things are looking remarkably like the polls predicted. I’m still watching the news hoping some races will get narrower, but let’s be honest. A lot of people I liked took hits today. Some people I dislike took hits today. Some milestones were made. Some things failed. Biggest news is definitely the insane gains the GOP made in the House – I’m hearing it was the biggest gain since the 1940s. Let’s break it down in the rough view of an Arizona college student on the rest of the country.
Progressives took a hit.
Russ Feingold lost after a good 18 years in Congress. I have been a fan of Feingold’s for a while, and I support a lot of the things he did. With him gone there are a dwindling number of champions for the issue of the LRA in east-central Africa. And that’s ignoring his opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the Iraq war, and pork barrel spending and his support for campaign finance reform and healthcare. Jack Conway lost to Rand Paul in Kentucky’s Senate race. I guess this was kind of expected, but I still would have liked to see some new progressives get into the upper chamber. People like Grayson and Sestak, to whom I paid less attention, also ended up losing.
Blue Dogs took a bigger hit.
It’s also worth nothing that more than half of the moderate Democrat Blue Dog Coalition is gone, which leaves the Progressive Caucus with an advantage within the party. But this makes bipartisanship a little harder to imagine.
Corporate Candidates took a hit too.
Linda McMahon, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina all seem to have lost. The businesswomen from WWE, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard spent a combined $230 million of their own money in addition to donations and party contributions. I guess money isn’t all you need to win a campaign?
The House Switched
The House, as widely expected, is red. I’ve heard from 56 to 70 House seats switching to the GOP, but I don’t know what the final count is. Regardless, it’s a massive sweep bigger than 1994′s rout against Clinton. But, looking at how Clinton was able to point the finger at Gingrich’s House in 1996, I’m hopeful that the new House and Obama will find some kind of way to cooperate. I’m also hoping the two houses, with Democrats holding onto the Senate, find a way to work together. I’m also hoping that this lame duck session of Congress will see some steps forward like passage of the DREAM Act. I guess we’ll see!
Problems at the Polls
In Virginia, someone broke into Tom Pariello’s office and mixed up door hangers meant for distribution – resulting in people being directed to the wrong polling location – he lost by a fairly slim margin. There were cases in Iowa and Michigan in which students were told their residency was questionable and denied the right to vote (or were forced to submit provisional ballots). And activists at a predominantly black college polling location in South Carolina harassed voters and tried to discourage voting. These kinds of issues make me sad because it’s pretty clear that they were not denied for any legitimate reason – and in the cases of sabotage and harassment, well that’s always inexcusable.
“Firsts” and “Lasts”
While they are not likely to hold many similar views to me because of my assumptions based on their party affiliation, there have been a few significant steps today. Oklahoma elected its first female governor. Alabama elected its first black, female representative to Congress. The GOP is sending its first black Representative from the South. New Mexico elected the first female Hispanic governor. However – once again the U.S. Senate will have absolutely no black people. I guess this isn’t surprising since there have been six total, two of which from the Reconstruction Era and one of which was appointed for a year.
Oklahoma banned Sharia law…… which is weird. And Washington voted down the millionaire tax, which kinda sucks. And Rhode Island voted to keep the official name “the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” – I’m pretty indifferent about that one. Oh, and the House will not have any Nazi reenactments, nor will the Senate have witches. That’s all for now. As I digest my own local elections (and mull over why people elected businessmen to the Arizona Water Conservation Board), I’ll do another post – Arizona edition. To all of you that voted, thanks for doing your civic duty! Even if I disagree with the way you voted, I love to see a good turnout. I hope to see you all in two years, rocking that booth!