Republicans grumbled that Mitt Romney and the Republicans were undone by “demographics” (a term that Lee Papa, a.k.a. “The Rude Pundit,” noted has replaced “inner-city” or “urban” as a more acceptable way to describe minorities), but the makings of a progressive coalition of the future were seen Nov. 6, perhaps even more clearly than in 2008, Ed Sills of the Texas AFL-CIO noted (11/7). “Remember the ‘enthusiasm gap’? That was gone by last night. The youth vote was actually larger than in the election that sent Obama to the White House, and Obama won it again. As with organized labor, Latinos were difference-makers in state after state, voting at nearly a three to one clip for Obama, according to Talking Points Memo.” (A Latino Decisions poll on the eve of the election concluded Obama led Romney by 75-23 among Latinos. The news media exit polls in 31 competitive states showed 71% of Latinos breaking to Obama.)
Sills noted, “It wasn’t that long ago that Nevada, for example, was out of play for Democrats, but Latino voters provided a margin there and elsewhere. African-Americans were again overwhelmingly for Obama and voted in large numbers in key states. The Asian-American vote went nearly 3-to-1 for Obama based on exit polling, and by some accounts that vote is growing even faster than the Latino vote. And there was a gender gap, especially in states where Republican candidates made offensive remarks about rape.”
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka told a conference call the day after the election that it was a “mandate for fairness and eliminating inequality.” In Ohio, he noted, 70% of union members voted for Obama; nationally, the figure from an election night survey was 65%; and among members of Working America (non-union members who sign up as friends of and activists for labor), the figure was 66%.
Women were 53% of the electorate and 55% of them voted for Obama, according to exit polls in 31 states. The Latino Decisions poll showed Latinos playing a key role in the swing states of Virginia and Ohio, with 66% and 82% respectively of the Latino electorate voting for the president, Virginia DeFrancesco Soto wrote in The Nation. “While the Latino electorate in both of these states is still in the single digits, 5% in Virginia and 3% in Ohio, Latinos helped tilt these über-tight races for the president,” she wrote. “Moreover, the Latino electorate in what we think of as nontraditional destinations — such as the South and the Midwest — are actually the fastest growing in the country. A decade ago the Latino population in these areas was non-existent. Today it is growing at a rapid clip and will see the expansion of the Latino electorate into the double digits within 10 to 15 years.”
GROWING DEMOCRATS IN TEXAS. Republican leaders are trying to walk back the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the past campaign and explore the possibility of reviving something like the DREAM Act, but they might find it hard to stop the teabaggers from immigrant bashing. A generation of Latino citizens are coming of age and Republicans can’t afford to have them voting 70% Democratic — particularly in Texas, which hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide since 1994 — but a growing Hispanic electorate could change that. (Obama got 41% in Texas — and Mexican Americans weren’t fooled into thinking new Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a Cuban American, has much to do with their interests. Democrat Paul Sadler got 40% and carried many of the same South Texas counties as Obama.)
Democrats would be glad to let the racist attitudes of Republican leaders mold a new generation of Latino Democrats. After all, Democrats harvested votes from Irish Americans for 150 years based on the memories of Republican hostility to Irish immigrants dating back before the Civil War.
News media exit polls were not conducted in Texas, but Latino Decisions polled in Texas and found that 70% of Texas Latinos supported Obama, 71% supported the Democratic congressional candidate and 65% of Texas Latinos voted for Democrat Sadler over Republican Cruz.
In Texas, 48% of US citizens under age 18 are Latino, say researchers at the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of South California. Only two other states have higher percentages of Latinos aging into the voting electorate: California with 51% and New Mexico with 58%. Texas public schools tipped majority Latino last year, according to the Texas Education Agency. When those students become voters, Republicans could find the door to the White House closed to them.
“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” Senator-elect Cruz recently told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’”
MIXED RESULTS IN LEGISLATIVE WARS. Democrats celebrated gains in state legislatures around the country — including capturing control of eight chambers — two years after a Republican wave swept many of them out. John Celock noted at HuffingtonPost.com (11/7) that Dems picked up control of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which has been held by the tea-party dominated Republicans since 2010 and the Democrats gained at least 92 seats in the 400-seat chamber. Democrats also grabbed the Oregon House, where the parties have been tied for the last two years, as well as the Colorado House, the Maine House and Senate, the Minnesota House and Senate and the New York Senate.
Maine voters returned Democrats to majorities in both the House and Senate, putting a check on teabagger Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
Republicans swept into power in both the Arkansas House and Senate for the first time since the 1800s, Governing.com reported. The party also took control of the Alaska and Wisconsin state senates.
Despite Wisconsin voting for Barack Obama for president and Tammy Baldwin for senator, Republicans regained control of the state legislature as they flipped two seats in the state Senate. The Wisconsin Senate swung from Democratic control in 2010 to a Republican majority after the 2010 elections, then back to Democrats after the recall elections this past summer. The Senate was not in session under Democratic control, but Democrats did get access to previously secret redistricting records.
Only Iowa, Kentucky and New Hampshire will now likely have divided state legislatures. The three states represent the lowest total with split control since 1944, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Although Republicans control the Virginia House and the state Senate is tied, NCSL considers the state to be undivided since the Republican lieutenant governor casts a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, Mike Maciag noted at Governing.com.
GERRYMANDERING KEEPS GOP IN CONTROL OF US HOUSE. Democrats won roughly 49% of the House vote, compared to 48.2% for Republicans, the Washington Post reported. But despite losing the popular vote, Republicans will have their second-biggest House majority in 60 years and third-biggest since the Great Depression.
A recent study at FairVote.org found that Republicans were clearly favored in 195 House districts, compared to Dems being favored in 166, Aaron Blake noted at the Washington Post’s The Fix blog (11/12). “Some of this is because Democratic voters are more concentrated in urban areas, but it’s also because the GOP drew some very favorable redistricting maps in important states like North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania,” Blake wrote.
CRACKS IN THE NO-TAX WALL. The incoming House will have less than a majority of House members following Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, The Hill reported. The outgoing House has 238 anti-tax pledgers and Norquist’s organization still claims 219 members of the incoming House have signed the pledge — one more than the majority in the 435-member body — but The Hill reports that some of those members have renounced their support, dropping it below the 218 threshold.
On the Senate side, the numbers have dropped from 41 supporters to 39 — less than the 40 needed for a filibuster.
BALDWIN DECLINES GOP BUDGET ADVICE. The day after Tammy Baldwin was elected senator in Wisconsin, her fellow Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he hoped he would be able to work with Baldwin and explain the “facts” of the budget to her. “Hopefully I can sit down and lay out for her my best understanding of the federal budget because they’re simply the facts,” said Johnson, a businessman who rode the Tea-Party wave in 2010 to unseat Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). “Hopefully she’ll agree with what the facts are and work toward common sense solutions,” he added.
But Baldwin, who has been a member of Congress since 1999, told HuffingtonPost.com she majored in math and political science in college and served on the Budget Committee her first six years in the House. “And I am very confident that when proposals come before the US Senate, I will be able to evaluate them as to how they benefit or harm middle-class Wisconsinites. A yardstick of ‘does it create jobs,’ ‘does it lower the deficit’ and ‘does it help grow the middle class’ is an important one. I’m quite confident that I have those abilities,” she added.
NO MANDATE FOR AUSTERITY HAWKS. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC (BoldProgressives.org) noted that three candidates who supported the Bowles-Simpson plan and were endorsed by the authors of the plan that would slash Social Security and Medicare benefits while lowering corporate taxes went down in flames in the election. US Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) was defeated by bold progressive Annie Kuster; Bob Kerrey, a Democrat, found that promising to cut Social Security did not mobilize voters on his behalf, and he lost to his Republican opponent; and Brendan Doherty (R), failed to unseat Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.).
An election-night poll conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates showed strong opposition to elements of the Bowles-Simpson plan:
• Protecting Medicare and Social Security from benefit cuts is more important than bringing down the deficit (73% to 18%).
• 64% favor maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits by increasing taxes on the rich.
• 68% oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age.
• 69% oppose reductions in Medicaid benefits.
• 84% oppose reducing Social Security benefits.
• 65% oppose eliminating all taxes on the offshore profits of US corporations.
’NET EVENS SCORE ON TALK RADIO. Media monopolists such as Clear Channel (which owns more than 850 radio stations and is partly owned by Bain Capital) have given conservatives a massive lead in talk radio stations, but Internet-streamed radio is helping liberals even the score. On the Monday before the election, Paul Maloney of Radio and Internet Newsletter noted at kurthanson.com (11/8), radio streaming aggregator TuneIn.com, which claims that 40 mln people listen to it each month, published a graphic showing that in seven of nine “tossup” states won by President Obama, people spent more time in October listening to programming classified as “liberal” than to “conservative” programming. Only Nevada and New Hampshire saw slightly more conservative “engagement” (as TuneIn calls it), yet were captured by Obama. North Carolina, which went for Romney (but Obama in 2008) had more listening to liberal programming.
Overall, average daily listening for the month tilted more towards liberal/Democratic programming, with 86 minutes per listener, to 76 minutes per listener for conservative/Republicans, Maloney noted from the TuneIn report. Iowa and Florida, the states with the highest margin of “liberal” listening over “conservatives” listening, and also had the most overall listening (over 200 minutes daily per listener in Iowa’s case).
Internet radio may be more in demand as Clear Channel switched its liberal talk station in Portland to sports talk (11/12), the same day Stephanie Miller announced on her show that CBS Radio planned to switch KPTK in Seattle from liberal to sports talk at the end of the year. Last January, Clear Channel replaced many of the liberal talk shows on its Green 960 station in San Francisco with conservative talkers. Listener protests prompted the station to put some of the liberal talkers on overnight, but Miller has noted that ratings for Glenn Beck’s show remain a fraction of her show, which it replaced.
If you lose your liberal talk station, or if you live in the great expanse of the country that never had a liberal talk station, get an iPod Touch or rival portable media, such as Samsung’s Galaxy players. Then you can listen to progressive talk shows at all hours, either live, if you have Internet access, or on podcasts, which you can download at “wi-fi” areas, such as most public libraries, coffee shops or McDonalds restaurants (see “Portable Internet Player Offers Progressive Lifeline,” 815/12 TPP).
RELIGIOUS RIGHT’S EPIC FAIL. The general election results were a resounding defeat for the Religious Right, as the results showed that God just isn’t that much into partisan politics.
At ThinkProgress.org (11/13), Jack Jenkins of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative wrote that the Religious Right imploded in five ways during the 2012 election:
1) Evangelicals failed to produce a viable candidate. “While [Rick] Santorum won the support of many evangelicals, his passionate embrace of evangelical positions on abortion and contraception made him unappealing to many women voters. In the end, the machinery of the Religious Right failed to produce a candidate that fired up conservative Protestants, forcing the Romney campaign to work twice as hard to excite the GOP’s evangelical base.”
2) Conservative efforts to shift the Catholic vote flopped. Catholic Bishops launched a “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign criticizing the Obama administration’s requirement that insurance policies cover contraceptives and urging Catholics to cast their votes in support of “religious freedom.” “The effort failed miserably,” Jenkins wrote. “Not only did Obama win the Catholic vote overall in 2012 (50% of Catholics voted for Obama while 48% supported Romney), but Pew Research found that the vast majority of American Catholics (78%) knew little to nothing about the bishop’s expensive campaign. Instead, Catholic voters appeared more supportive of the efforts of Sister Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus who spoke out against Paul Ryan’s budget.”
3) Evangelical voter turnout efforts fell short. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition targeted Ohio this year in an effort to increase evangelical turnout, promising to go “all in” by sending voter guides to churches and launching a “major push” to get evangelicals to the polls through a robust get-out-the-vote effort. But Obama actually performed better among white evangelicals in Ohio than he did in 2008. Despite all the energy expended by the Religious Right, their turnout efforts failed to have any marked impact on the most crucial state of the general election.
4) Traditionally evangelical candidates lost en masse because of radical views and bad theology. Conservative Christian Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin caused a stir within the Republican Party when he spoke about “legitimate rape,” but evangelical leaders were quick to come to his aid. But when Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who attends an evangelical church, referred to women impregnated through rape as having been given “a gift from God,” voters across the country – including many evangelicals – began asking questions about this new breed of politician. Ultimately, voters decided that Akin and Mourdock’s radical theology was simply too extreme: They and several like-minded candidates suffered a series of staggering defeats all across the country on election day.
5) The efforts of anti-gay religious leaders didn’t stop voters from supporting marriage equality. When marriage equality amendments were put on the ballot in Maine, Maryland and Washington this year, conservative Christian groups moved quickly to try and dissuade people from supporting the freedom to marry. Undaunted, pro-marriage equality activists capitalized on groundswells of support among religious groups and ran ads featuring pastors and other religious leaders endorsing same-sex marriage. In the end, Americans voted in favor of marriage equality in three states and voted down a ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
“The 2012 election season appears to have been an ominous one for the Religious Right, and – if the trend continues – may very well signal the end of their traditional dominance of Republican politics,” Jenkins wrote. “Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, has already voiced the opinion that the Religious Right is hemorrhaging support across the country, and should put less focus on abortion and gay marriage and give more attention to issues such as immigration reform, poverty, and increasing adoptions and foster care opportunities. Whether or not religious conservatives can make that shift remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, the Religious Right looks to have already lost persuasive power with many American voters.”
SKINFLINT RESTAURANT MANAGERS PUT PUBLIC HEALTH AT RISK. Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter, campaigned against President Obama and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which he complained would cost an extra 10 to 14 cents a pizza to provide health insurance for his employees. Setting aside the implication that many of the employees now involved in the preparation and delivery of Papa John pizzas have no recourse to health care if they have communicable diseases, Schnatter said the new law would cost his business $5 mln to $8 mln annually, but he would have to pass the increased cost to his customers. He said many franchise owners would reduce employee hours below 30 hours a week so they could avoid having to cover those workers. Darden Restaurants, parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, has said it would try to keep hourly workers under the 30 hours a week that would qualify them for insurance. The CEO of Applebee's New York franchise said he would not hire anyone new at his 40 restaurants, which already employ hundreds of people, to avoid providing them with health care. Keep those skinflint restaurant managers in mind when you pick up a phone to order a pizza, or decide on a lunch destination, and don’t be afraid to ask whether the people involved in the preparation and delivery of your food have health coverage before you put yourself or your family at risk.
‘DEFICIT HAWKS’ SEEK BIG TAX CUTS FOR BUSINESS. Ahead of negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and what promises to be another fight over raising the debt ceiling, 63 CEOs representing the largest US corporations, including several Wall Street firms, launched a campaign to supposedly “fix the debt.” However, Rebecca Leber of ThinkProgress.org notes (11/13) that this campaign calls for additional corporate tax cuts by switching the US to what’s known as a “territorial” corporate tax system, along the lines of that proposed by defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
According to a report by Institute for Policy Studies (ips-dc.org), the corporations involved could gain up to $134 bln in windfalls if Congress approves such a system, which exempts foreign earnings from the US corporate income tax. The 63 companies that are publicly held could gain up to $134 bln in windfalls. The biggest potential winner is General Electric, which would earn $35.7 bln on its overseas earnings of $102 bln.
ALBUQUERQUE WAGE INCREASE MAY BE FLEETING. In Albuquerque, 66% of the city’s voters approved a $1 increase in the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and tie it to inflation, with tipped workers also getting an increase to 60% of the regular minimum (11/6). By 11/9, the city council was considering overturning the will of the voters and rejecting the pay increase for 40,000 of the city’s workers, Laura Clawson noted at DailyKos.com (11/13), citing a report of KRQE Channel 13 in Albuquerque.
SENATE DEMOCRATS MULL RULES CHANGES. With Republican use of the filibuster and other procedural obstructions at record levels, Senate Democrats will have to consider whether to change the rules when the new Senate organizes in January. Senators guard their personal prerogatives and Majority Leader Harry Reid does not have the power that Lyndon Johnson had when he was Senate Majority Leader in the 1950s. Reid can’t order senators around or intimidate them the way LBJ did. But the obstruction in which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has engaged for the past four years, and with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and new Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) going into the Senate with the expressed intent of blocking Democratic legislation and refusing to compromise, even the old timers will have to admit that rules changes are needed — at least on judicial nominees, which have been backlogged by Republican holds and filibusters. With 82 judicial vacancies, including 34 nominees that are cooling their heels, many of them for months, the Republican obstruction is putting a real strain on federal courts.
The key to making the rules change is Joe Biden. As president of the Senate, he’s the one who would decide whether a rules change requires a simple majority at the beginning of a session, as the Constitution implies, or a two-thirds majority as the previous rule requires. The Senate majority could adopt the rules over Biden’s objection at the beginning of the 113th Congress, but it’s less likely to do that. So adoption of Senate rules at the start of the session in January will be a sign of whether Obama and the Dems have decided to play hardball with the Republicans.
We think the Dems ought to change the rules to eliminate anonymous holds and unanimous consent requirements and require that filibusters actually require speeches — and that cloture to shut down filibusters require 60% of the senators in attendance for the vote, not 60% of the Senate membership, as the current rule requires. Some Democrats will be reluctant to give up the power to stop a reckless majority, but when Republicans get control of the Senate and the White House, they’ll change the rule to their advantage in a New York minute.
JOBLESS BENEFITS AT RISK FOR 2M. The expanded federal unemployment insurance program that provides benefits to millions of long-term unemployed Americans is set to expire at the end of December. If Congress fails to extend it, roughly two million Americans could lose their monthly unemployment checks.
States provide unemployment insurance for the first 27 weeks after a worker loses his or her job. After that, the federal government has provided benefits under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program passed in 2008. Currently, 5 mln Americans have been out of work for longer than six months, and of those, virtually everyone who has been out of work since the end of July stands to lose their benefits at the end of the year. Even more could lose benefits by April without a renewal of the EUC program, the *Washington Post* reports:
Republicans have previously created fights over unemployment extensions, arguing that the program creates a culture of dependency and causes beneficiaries to stop looking for jobs. Despite those claims, the EUC program requires recipients to search for jobs while they receive benefits, and studies have shown that recipients of unemployment insurance look harder for jobs than those who don’t benefit from the program.
From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2012
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