Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Post-Election Musings

Well, that was certainly fun. I had a cold last night and kept drifting off and then waking up to see more good news for the Republicans.

I'm amazed that Thom Tillis won. It seems that we were being inundated with anti-Tillis ads claiming that he'd cut education spending to give tax breaks to millionaires. I just couldn't see that an anti-Obama message would trump that.

Can this be the last we ever see or hear of Charlie Crist? This is a man who went from claiming that he was a Reagan Republican to saying he was an independent to hugging Obama. Let him just slither off the public stage and rest his orange complexion in front of his fan.

And wouldn't it be a sweet irony to see the Democrats in the Senate overthrow Harry Reid? His blocking of tough votes coming to the floor to protect Barack Obama backfired against all the Democratic senators he was trying to protect from having to take backfired and blew up in his face. A suitable punishment would be for him and Obama having to spend an eternity in a small room with no exit in Sartre's vision of Hell being other people. But instead, the Democrats will reelect him and then have to suffer his leadership at least for another two years.

And even Nate Silver is having to admit that there was a "significant Democratic skew" to the polls with about a 6-percentage advantage for the Democrats. And there was also a bias in the polls for the governor's houses. They all had Brownback being toast in Kansas. Apparently, Kansan Republicans still aren't ready to elect either a Democrat or a mystery candidate pretending to be a candidate. And winning in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. That's amazing. The pollsters were buying into the Democratic belief that their turnout magic would work when Obama wasn't on the ballot and was actually a drag on any politician who had embraced him metaphorically or otherwise.

Polling gives us all something to pay attention to in the long days before an election, but the profession hasn't really done itself any good. Would anecdotal reporting have done any worse than relying on poll-driven reporting this election? I doubt it.

So now President Obama is left like Clinton was in 1994 trying to prove that he is still relevant. Of course, he's relevant. That's how our system works even though he's tried to govern as if the legislative branch were irrelevant. Though it doesn't sound as if he's learned any lesson from the nation's revulsion at his record.
The Republican capture of the Senate culminated a season of discontent for the president — and may yet open a period of even deeper frustration. Sagging in the polls and unwelcome in most competitive races across the country, Mr. Obama bristled as the last campaign that would influence his presidency played out while he sat largely on the sidelines. He privately complained that it should not be a judgment on him. “He doesn’t feel repudiated,” the aide said Tuesday night.

And it seems that playing the race card just didn't work without having Obama on the ballot. The Democrats cynically stoked fears of racism to try to drive black voters to the polls and it just didn't work. As the WSJ writes, blacks just haven't benefited from having a black man in the White House as much as the Democrats assured them that they would.
What is becoming harder to explain is why black Americans would feel any gratitude for the results of Obama Administration policies.

The last six years have been rough on middle class incomes broadly, but even worse for African Americans. Consider some basic economic statistics.

At the start of the President’s first term, the unemployment rate was 12.7% for blacks and 7.1% for whites. Four years later in January 2013 the numbers were 13.8% and 7%, respectively, which means that the black-white employment gap had widened. Today black unemployment is down to 11%, but it’s still more than double the white rate of 5.1%.

Or take the labor participation rate, which measures the share of the working-age population that is employed. The participation rate has sunk to lows last seen in 1978 for all Americans—62.7%, and for whites it is a tick better at 62.8%. But for black Americans it is a full percentage point lower at 61.7%. In December 2013 the rate fell to 60.2 for blacks.

Then there’s the black poverty rate. According to the most recent Census data, the overall U.S. poverty rate fell to 14.5% in 2013 from 15% a year earlier, but among blacks it was unchanged at 27.2%. When Mr. Obama took office, black poverty was 25.8%. By comparison, the white poverty rate was 11.5% in 2009 and 9.6% in 2013.

Median household incomes have fallen for nearly everyone under this President, but blacks are again slightly worse off than other groups. The median black household income fell to $34,598 in 2013 from $38,409 in 2009. For white households it fell to $58,270 from $62,545. Thus the black median household income was 61.4% of the white median in 2009 but had fallen to 59.4% in 2013—one more racial gap that has widened.

This dismal record helps explain why Democratic appeals to blacks this year play up racial fears rather than economic opportunity. Mr. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have taken to palling around with Al Sharpton to denounce criticism of the President as racially motivated and voter ID laws as a Republican conspiracy to disenfranchise blacks.

After a Democratic pollster circulated a memo noting that more than half of black voters were unaware that an election was coming up on Nov. 4, Democrats took the race-baiting to new lows.

Coach K says that Obama would have been a bad coach based on how he's telegraphed his tactics on ISIS to the enemy.
In previously unreported remarks at the Association of the U.S. Army conference last month, Krzyzewski told an audience of hundreds of military officers, defense contractors, and Army supporters that Obama has disrespected the U.S. Army by not using its infantrymen to fight in the war against ISIS. Making matters worse, Krzyzewski added, was Obama’s decision to reveal America’s playbook to our enemies by publicly declaring that the United States will not use “boots on the ground” in the current fight against ISIS.

“I know it’s upsetting to many of you when you hear ‘no boots on the ground.’ It upsets me too, because that’s like saying I’m not going to play two of my best players,” he said in his speech accepting the 2014 George Catlett Marshall Award, AUSA’s highest honor. “Because that’s what you are trained to do. And for decades and decades, the fact that we are a free country and we don’t play home games here is a result of having boots on the ground. That’s the problem.”

After a round of applause, Krzyzewski explained why Obama’s public announcement that he won’t use ground troops against ISIS was just bad coaching - because it allows the other team to stop preparing for it and gives them added confidence.

“It’s about letting your opponent know we are going to use our best players. And whether we use them or not, that’s up to the coach. You never tell your opponent you are not going to use [them], like I’m not going to play Grant Hill, J.J. Redick, -Christian] Laettner,” he said, rattling off the names of some of his biggest stars at Duke.

The former Olympic coach then turned the metaphor to international play, comparing Obama’s words to saying, “‘Hey Spain, I’m not going to start Lebron [James] and Kobe [Bryant] tonight.’ I don’t think you do that. Now how much I play them? Let the guy try to figure out how much I’m going to play them.”

More than just foolishly telegraphing his strategy, Obama – a famously intense college basketball fan -- is also neglecting using the players that have succeeded in the past, Krzyzewski said. That would be the U.S. Army. A West Point graduate and former coach of the Army Cadets, Krzyzewski called on the Army to stand up for itself.
Wooh. That's harsh criticism at Obama's supposed sweet spot.

Remember when Obama claimed he was LeBron? Yeah, that's a real laugh now. All Democrats have now are this column by James Oliphant trying to claim that "Obama is a lousy politician" because he's above political games and is a realist who governs in gray, not black and white. What a laugh! He's totally governed as a partisan and it worked enough for him to gain reelection, but it turned out that he couldn't postpone implementation of his signature legislation forever. Just imagine if Obamacare's implementation had not been postponed until after the 2012 election.

And now we have some new GOP stars such as Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, and Joni Ernst who have demonstrated how to run and survive all the War on Women garbage attacks. Their campaigns will be models for the future. And the Republicans have some female stars now who are making a bit of history, as Jim Hoft notes, such as Mia Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress and Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman in Congress. And Joni Ernst is the first woman elected to federal office from Iowa. And she's a combat veteran to boot. And Susana Martinez cruised to an easy landslide in New Mexico.

And that vicious Southern racism is spreading across the country into Iowa and Illinois. And those vicious South Carolinians voted for a black Republican. Imagine that!

Byron York enjoys pointing out five Democratic myths that have been exploded by the voters.
In the end, Tuesday's vote represented a repudiation of virtually every notion Democrats embraced in recent weeks as they tried to disregard the growing evidence that they were headed for a historic defeat. Now, the vote is in, and the voters' message can no longer be discounted.

Ross Douthat writes on the same theme.
In this particular case, what was overestimated and misjudged was the permanent effectiveness of the Democratic blueprint from 2012, whose mix of social-issue appeals and tech-savvy voter targeting was supposed to work in tandem with demographic trends to cement a new socially-liberal, multicultural coalition, and render the G.O.P.’s position entirely untenable absent a major ideological reboot. That blueprint really was effective in ’12, and the underlying demographic trends are real, and one bad midterm election does not prove that the coalition cannot hold together, as Republicans may learn to their cost two years from now. But from a lot of the commentary after Obama’s re-election, you would have thought that the combination of ethnic-interest appeals on immigration policy, “war on women” rhetoric on social issues, and brilliant get-out-the-vote operations run by tech-savvy Millennials (who, we were told, were too liberal to ever build a website for a Republican) posed a kind of immediate and existential challenge to the G.O.P., requiring immediate capitulation on a range of fronts, with no time for finesse or calculation and no room for resistance.

No so, as it turned out. Events have intervened, Republican politicians and their party have managed to adapt, and — as often happens — issue appeals that resonated in one political context have turned out to be less important than the fundamentals in another. The politics of immigration, for instance, turned out to look somewhat different once the issues were a sweeping executive amnesty and a child migration surge rather than the DREAM Act and the vague promise of something bipartisan and “comprehensive.” The politics of contraception turned out to be pretty easy to finesse by G.O.P. politicians with an ounce of savvy and no Akinesque tics, and the politics of abortion absolutism, as pursued by Wendy Davis and Mark “Uterus” Udall, turned out to be maybe not the way to turn Texas blue or keep Colorado from turning red. The turnout surge among minority voters that was crucial to Democrats in 2012 wasn’t easily replicated, notwithstanding efforts to use Ferguson and Trayvon Martin as rallying points. That amazing Democratic get-out-the-vote operation, staffed by geniuses and whiz kids, turned out to matter a lot less to who voted, and for whom, than more old-fashioned indicators like the president’s approval ratings. And nobody, but nobody, cared how many millions liberal billionaires spent trying to make climate change an issue.

Again: It’s one election, it’s a midterm (with the lower, whiter turnout that entails), the long-term structural forces still look good for Democrats, their presidential coalition can still be plausibly reassembled by Herself in 2016. But sufficient to the day the election thereof. And on this day, in this election, the Republican Party successfully told liberalism’s arc of history to get bent.

Timothy Carney nails it. Obama seems to be good at only one thing.
What did Obama do well? Get people to vote for him, mostly. How did he do this? Through gimmicks and posturing. His data-heads found that bringing Beyonce and Jay Z to rallies sparked the interest of exactly the sort of young voters who might stay home but will certainly vote Democrat if they show. He found that talk of battling the special interests was a winning message.

In other words, Obama is the best product marketer in America, but he only learned how to sell one product: Obama.

In this light it makes sense that Obama ran for president after only a couple of years in the Senate. You want an accomplishment? He got elected to the Senate.

When Obama was asked in 2008 about executive experience, he answered that he had led a giant presidential campaign.

This, it seems, was the entirety of politics for Obama: getting people to vote for him. Successful politics begins there. Obama’s politics end there.

I'm going to enjoy the afterglow of yesterday's victories today because I'm sure I'm going to be infuriated at Republicans soon enough. I've lived long enough to have seen both Republican and Democratic swings in elections. Neither party will gain a permanent majority. That is what our system is designed to prevent. And that is a good thing.