It is impossible to hold a national election, like the one just concluded, without looking at who won and who lost. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and it is intended to remind you of some people and issues and it’s the beginning of an analysis which will be going on for quite some time. The long knives are already out among Republicans, so we will sit back and watch as they pick their own winners and losers.
1) Jim Axelrod, David Pluffe, Jim Messina and the rest of Obama's re-election team. They are huge winners. They held their 2008 coalition together. They built a sophisticated turnout machine. They expanded the size of their base and they built an electoral firewall in the industrial Midwest which crushed the Republicans.
2) Joe Biden- you might not think this is obvious since he will still be vice president, but Biden spent a year crisscrossing the country and building support among key coalition constituents. He is ridiculed and mocked by Republicans, and many in the corporate media, but his blue-collar story, down-to-earth conversations and command of issues served the campaign very well.
3)Unions- it is conventional wisdom to declare unions dead and their influence waning. However they were a key component in turning out voters. The Service Employees Union, the United Auto Workers and other trade unions played a key role in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. (Obama's Electoral College firewall) Union members and households, white working males, went for Obama in these states and enabled him to carry the states which Republicans thought would be in play.
4)Nate Silver- The New York Times poll analyst came under withering criticism late in the campaign for consistently calling this contest for Obama. His models did not see the election as a toss-up or too close to call or a tie which could go either way. He concluded Obama had a 75% chance of being re-elected. Even after the first debate, Silver still said Obama’s chances were over 60%. He never gave Romney more than a 40% chance of winning and most of the campaign said it was closer to a 30% chance. He predicted President Obama would win at least 300 electoral votes. (He is currently at 303 and when Florida is decided, he will have 332) He was excoriated by the punditocracy and political journalists because he wouldn't accept their "guts" vs. his numbers. Silver was absolutely spot-on and his stock couldn't be higher.
5)Women-there will be more women in Congress. Obama's re-election guarantees the provisions in his health care reform legislation expanding access to contraception will remain. Equal pay laws will be enforced by the Labor Department as well as other discrimination protections for employees. Funding for food stamps, affordable housing, head start and other programs which women use in large numbers will be in better shape under Obama than under Romney and Ryan. Obama's health care reform will be a huge benefit for women and children.
1)Super PACS- Karl Rove alone raised over $300 million and what did he get for it? The Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, Obama won, and turnout was not better for Republicans. Gay marriage laws passed in two states as well as two states which legalized possession of marijuana. There is no issue Rove supported which was successful. Rove is not alone. (Rove also is a loser as a political pundit and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. His predictions and projections and analysis of the campaign supported a Romney rout and consistently missed the same mark Nate Silver hit out of the park.) B.T.W. of that $300 million which Rove raised, what was his cut? 10%? He made millions bilking billionaires out of their money with nothing to show for it except his own enrichment. What do you think happens the next time he comes with his hat in his hand?
2)Senator Mitch McConnell- the Kentucky senator famously proclaimed his goal in the Senate was to deny President Obama a second term. How'd that turn out senator? McConnell presided over a Republican filibuster machine which blocked and stopped every Obama initiative, prevented federal judiciary posts and regulatory agency posts from being filled and derailed Obama's jobs bill and other attempts to turn the economy around and get people back to work. What is his new goal? Deny Obama a pleasant retirement?
3)Paul Ryan-Ryan was supposed to energize regressives who might not trust Romney. He was supposed to put Wisconsin in play. He was supposed to imbue youth and vigor into the race in contrast to Joe Biden. He was going to add intellectual heft to the ticket. In the end, he turned out to be ineffective and his choice further alienated women and seniors as well as working class white males.
4)Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers et.al.- Adelson gave Romney $52 million and gave more to Rove and his buddies. The Koch brothers gave a similar amount including $11 million secretly given to defeat Proposition 30 in California. (which passed) All that money got them four more years of Obama, a democratic Senate to confirm Obama Supreme Court nominees, a stronger EPA and Consumer Protection Bureau, full implementation of Dodd/Frank and Obamacare and more. If this is an example of their fiscal judgment, how did they get so rich and who would listen to them again? (Honorable mention to Linda McMann in Connecticut who spent $100 million in two elections and lost both.)
5)Gallup/Rasmussen- for months Gallup had Romney ahead by as much as 10 points over Obama. Rasmussen has similar findings. They are now totally discredited. (Nate Silver declared Gallup polls to be outliers which were not accurate or consistent) While regressives continuously sighted Gallup and Rasmussen to prove they were winning and Obama was toast, in the end both polling organizations were totally out of the mainstream and their information almost looked like they made it up. Whenever you hear about, or read a Gallup or Rasmussen poll in the future, carry a very large saltshaker.
6)New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan- Dolan, and the Catholic bishops, came up big losers in this election. They screamed bloody murder about having to offer contraception as a part of health plans given to employees of hospitals, schools, and social service agencies they run. They framed it as a first amendment issue. They publically attacked Obama, preached against him and called on Catholics to flood the White House with complaints. The result? Over 50% of Catholics voted for Obama and those provisions will permanently be a part of the health care landscape. Even worse for Dolan et.al. They were virtually silent on Ryan's budget which shredded the social safety net for poor and working poor families in this country. They allowed Ryan to claim his budget was well within Catholic teachings. It took 5 nuns on a bus tour to call attention to how Ryan's plan violated Catholic social teaching. (the same nuns attacked by the Vatican for being too progressive. The Vatican had nothing to say about cutting food programs and shelter in the name of balancing budgets.)
7)Hanbaugh/Fox News-despite over 600 radio stations...despite millions of listeners and ditto heads...despite an entire news network devoted to defeating anything progressive...despite no progressive competition and despite four years of constant attacks on Obama, the regressive echo machine come up empty once again. Thousands of hours of programming filled with lies, attacks, hate and distortions, Obama is re-elected and some of their favorite candidates, who reflected their misogyny the best, were defeated. Nothing they predicted came true. No issue they supported actually won. Issues they claim are opposed by a majority of Americans...abortion, contraception, gay marriage, gays in the military, Iran, Afghanistan, Benghazi...on every one of these they are and were on the wrong side of the electorate. The growing Obama coalition wants nothing to do with them and is not influenced by them. Now, Obama just has to require the FCC to mandate, as a part of obtaining a radio license or renewal, a certain percentage of all programming must contain local content and local origination and the competition, which these free marketers all say they desire, will put most of them out of business.
8)Tea Party- In the last two elections, the Tea Party has cost Republicans at least five seats in the Senate. The defeat of the two troglodytes in Indiana and Missouri, Mourdock and Akins, are just the latest examples of how the Tea Party and its adherents are foisting unacceptable and unelectable candidates on their party. We can only wish them continued success.
9)Mitt Romney-Romney tried to invent a new style of politics where facts are unnecessary. He ran from every political position and was a political windsock. Romney opposed the auto bailout and demonized illegal immigrants. He wrote off 47% of the electorate as irresponsible. He tried to etch-a-sketch himself into the White House. In the end, his auto bailout position cost him the industrial Midwest. His immigrant bashing resulted in 7 in 10 Hispanic voters voting for Obama. His cynicism, that he could say anything, take any position even if they contradicted each other, and voters would still vote for him, was crushed by Obama. At the end of the day, Romney was an empty suit who failed to connect to average Americans. He owned the number one issue in the campaign, the economy, and yet couldn't close the deal because of his inability to convince Americans who he was. His loss is our gain if it results in campaigns where integrity and honesty truly matter. (Ok, ok, I'm too naive and idealistic, but one can hope!)