The Mid-Terms: TimT’s final wrap

The Mid-Terms: TimT’s final wrap

The worst analysis of the Mid-Terms came from NPR. Apparently, the electorate is the same as 2008, but a different slice turned up this time! I.e., the epochal progressive shift is intact, only the progressives failed to show.

There is a kernal of truth in this that the GOP will ignore at its peril – the demographics remain against them unless they can appeal to Latinos. Aside from Rubio (who won Floridian Latinos by the same margin that he won whites – 55%), the GOP still does dreadfully – 65/35 – even with Hispanic GOP candidates.

The NPR analyst ignored (a) that Obama’s policies were responsible for both energizing conservatives and switching off progressive-leaning independents, and (b) that the electorate (both actual and registered voters) has shifted to the right across the board: there are fewer liberals, more conservatives, and more independents who align with the GOP’s fiscal responsibility and small government message.

What do the elections tell us? First, loony fringe Tea Party candidates, thankfully, don’t do well in statewide elections. Second, hard-line fiscal conservatism is in, whether you’re a Tea Partier or Establishment GOP.

What does this mean for the 112th Congress? Obama, in his press conference, looked like a man who knew what he had to say and do (I heard you and am contrite) but couldn’t perform convincingly (but, I am right and you are confused). He knows he has to work with the GOP, but how can he, given the rightwards tilt of a party that was already too conservative for him?

Actually, it makes me optimistic. Having a Tea Party right wing strengthens Boehner’s hand to negotiate genuinely bipartisan solutions with pragmatist Democrats. Here’s a look at the menu:

  • 1. Taxes. The obvious compromise is a 2-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for all;
  • 2. Healthcare. A House bill to repeal ObamaCare will mean nothing. However, fixes on the supply side, eg tort reform, might be possible. The personal mandate will still be a major problem;
  • 3. Deficit. Both sides can review discretionary funding and mandated benefits;
  • 4. Economy. There are few bullets left to fire. Congress and the Administration can work together with urgency to clarify, and limit, the regulatory burden on business arising from ObamaCare and financial reform and so free up the $2 trillion pile of cash corporations are sitting on;
  • 5. Unemployment. This is treacherous ground for the GOP. If they do not extend unemployment benefits, there will be a lot of very angry families of the long-term unemployed. If the economy improves too much, Obama’s prospects improve. If they don’t, can the GOP avoid some of the blame?
  • 6. Immigration. There’s an opportunity for a bipartisan approach linking enforcement with reform. Unlikely, but it would help the GOP with Latinos and provide Obama with a win. Obama would have to drop the Arizona suit;
  • 7. ‘Cap and trade’ and card check are dead;
  • 8. Unfortunately, there will be no stomach to tackle Social Security or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Tim Trevan (TimT)

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