November 12, 2012
Public opinion polls consistently show that the American people have a very low opinion of Congress as an institution, and are disgusted with partisan gridlock. Nevertheless, they returned to office a very high proportion of incumbent legislators, as is usually the case. Massive cognitive dissonance? That could be part of it, but a bigger reason is the artificial constraints on voter choice imposed by our semi-institutionalized two-party system.
And so, it appears very likely that very little will be accomplished in Washington after the new Congress convenes. There is a good chance that the current lame duck Congress will come up with some kind of compromise to prevent the "fiscal cliff" doomsday scenario from coming about on January 1. But after the new members are sworn in, all bets are off. Another two-year round of partisan warfare is very likely -- fiddling while Rome burns.
At least two of the Republican defeats in Senate races can be traced to the Tea Party effect. Indiana's Richard Mourdock, who defeated incumbent Senator Dick Lugar last spring (quite tragic, I thought), lost to Democrat John Donnelly, by a margin of about five points. In Missouri, meanwhile, Todd Akin lost his bid to unseat Claire McCaskill. In both cases, the GOP candidates were undone by foolish comments about rape and pregnancy that symbolized the Republicans' regression into 19th-Century thinking about such sensitive matters of social policy. In 2010 it was Sharron Angle (who lost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid) and Christine O'Donnell, in Delaware. I'd venture to say that without the Tea Party, the Republicans just might have a majority in the Senate. Here are the newly-elected senators in the 113th Congress:
|New Republican senators||New Democratic senators|
|Ted Cruz (TX)||H Heitkamp (ND)|
|Jeff Flake (AZ)||Tammy Baldwin (WI)|
|Deb Fischer (NE)||M Heinrich (DE)|
denotes change of party control.)
|Tim Kaine (VA)|
|J Donnelly (IN)|
|Elizabeth Warren (MA)|
|C Murphy (CT)||Mazie Hirono (HI)||Angus King (ME)|
In the House of Representatives, the Republicans will have at least 233 seats and the Democrats will have at least 195. Seven seats have yet to be decided for sure. Among the close races of special note, Minnesota's Michelle Bachmann barely held on to her seat, California's Mary Bono Mack (widow of Sonny Bono) lost by a few points, and Florida's Tea Party favorite Allen West lost by about one point. He is accusing the Democrats of committing voter fraud. See politico.com.
The Congress page has been updated, subject to revision as virtually-tied elections are resolved. I had thought that most of the top party leaders in both Houses would probably stay the same, but I just read that Nancy Pelosi may consider stepping down as the Democrats' leader.
There is NO truth to the Facebook rumor that all 900,135 registered voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio voted for Barack Obama. As I wrote, "I assume that's a joke. Obama received about 421,000 votes in Cuyahoga County." See boe.cuyahogacounty.us.
On the other hand, it does appear to be the case that every single voter in 59 localities in Philadelphia voted for Obama. See philly.com. I assume this will trigger an investigation, or maybe not. It's almost the same thing that happened four years ago with McCain versus Obama. Might such extreme results have something to do with the Black Panthers who were reportedly intimidating voters?
According to the 538 Blog at the New York Times, the most accurate national poll was TIPP, on behalf of Investors' Business Daily. The blogger found that the Rasmussen polls were biased toward Republicans, "overestimating Mr. Romney's performance by about four percentage points, on average." Likewise, the Gallup showed that Romney was ahead by about six percentage points until the final days of the campaign. A black eye for Rasmussen and Gallup. Hat tip to David McGee.
Larry Sabato called Virginia and Florida for Romney, but says he is "glad we got 48 or the 50 states." He was taken by surprise just like many other observers. That marks a slight drop from his forecasting accuracy two years ago. See centerforpolitics.org.