Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Right Result (though not for the Right)

In the end, President Obama won surprisingly easily. A number of right-wing and conservative bloggers, pollsters and pundits such as Dick Morris and Michael Barone, who predicted a victory for Republican challenger Mitt Romney, were left with copious amount of egg on their faces and it's probably fair to say most of the rest of the world (possibly excluding Israel and Pakistan) breathed a sigh of relief.

I was also pleased to see Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack come unstuck and wish her successor, Dr Raul Ruiz, well. He may need it in a House of Representatives which is the last bastion of Republican control in the main houses in Washington. Projections that the Republicans would capture the Senate also turned out to be well wide of the mark.

So where did the Republicans go wrong? Mitt Romney is a decent and honourable man - of that I have no doubt but then so was John Major. The problem Romney had was that the GOP had become the party of the "old white man" which was fine when America was 95% white but it's now 72% white and falling. Among blacks, asians and hispanics, the Republicans were routed (blacks voted 93-7 for Obama). Obama could afford to lose the white vote by 10-15 points because he had such huge majorities elesewhere and the changing demographics are changing State politics. Thanks to the growing hispanic population, California is now a Democrat bastion while even places like Texas, Georgia and Alaska are moving away from the Republicans. Trying to build a GOP majority in 2016 looks far from obvious.

Where does that leave us? The elephant in the room during the election was the so-called "fiscal cliff", a combination of millions of dollars of spending cuts and tax rises meant to address the gigantic national debt and deficit being run by the US. The impact of such a fiscal tightening on an already anaemic global economy would, it was feared, plunge the UK and Europe back into recession but not addressing the problem is no answer either.

Since the election, as is often the case, the mood has changed from adversarial to conciliatory and it is to be hoped that will continue. Apart from a few loons on the fringe, Republicans cannot gainsay the President his victory but it takes two to tango. My guess is some sort of deal will be reached but how long it will last and whether it will be the basis for a lasting economic recovery is very much open to question.

Looking ahead to 2016, it seems probable both parties will go through an exhausting primary process. The Republicans aren't short of choices - Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie are all mentioned and any one of them could sail through the sea of electoral hazard to victory.

On the Democrat side, I doubt Vice-President Joe Biden will run given his age and I suspect Hillary Clinton won't either. The two I would like to see are Mark Warner and Kirsten Gillibrand.

If you want an even longer shot for the future, how about Malia Obama in the 2040 Presidential election? Well, it's a thought...

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