The high-order bit: Well, thank God that’s over with.

Other random thoughts in no particular order:

  • Credit where credit is due — John Kerry’s decision to concede the election today was the right call. Waiting until it was apparent that the Ohio provisional ballots wouldn’t put him over the top was perfectly reasonable. But once it became plain that the numbers just wouldn’t add up the way he wanted, Kerry did the right thing. In eschewing legal action and drawn-out recounts in the face of a decisive loss of the popular vote, Kerry performed a valuable service for his country. I thank him for that. (And the many right-wing commenters who were sure that Kerry and the Democrats would drag the nation through a litigation cesspool owe them an apology. Graciousness in victory, guys.)
  • In spite of his stumbles in September, Kerry ran an effective overall campaign. The results were closer than I expected. (I’d been expecting Bush to pull down 290 EC votes and around 53-54% of the popular.) Kerry’s reputation as a strong closer remains; Bush just proved that he’s one as well.
  • Many blogs have been compiling lists of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. One loser I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere is Ray Fair. His econometric model was predicting a serious Bush landslide, 58%+ of the popular vote. That didn’t happen. Looks like Dr. Fair’s equations need a bit more tweaking.
  • Due to the very high turnout, Bush has received a larger absolute number of votes than any President in history. I do wonder, though, whether Kerry received the largest absolute number of votes of any losing Presidential candidate in history.
  • Although at this point it looks like the GOP has gained 3 or 4 seats in the Senate, those numbers may overstate their effective gains. Two of the Democrats who were replaced by Republicans were Georgia Senator Zell Miller and Louisiana Senator John Breaux. Both men were among the more conservative members of their party caucus, and supported the President on a number of key votes. Having those seats in Republican hands is an improvement, but not as much as replacing more consistently left-wing Senators would have been.
  • And on that point, I find that “Senator John Thune” rolls euphonically off the tongue. Say it with me — Senator Thune. Senator Thuuuuuuuune… Ahh. That feels good.
  • Two things that were predicted that did not happen: widespread civil unrest in the face of a Bush victory, and terrorist disruption of the elections. I think both sides can be happy about that.
  • This election was the one where the Internet truly came of age as a media channel. Without the dramatic lowering of communication and coordination costs driven by Internet technology, the Swiftvets probably wouldn’t have been able to reach critical mass. There was a time when they only had a quarter of a million dollars in the bank, much of it from a handfull of doners. The Internet played a key role in gaining them early publicity and in supporting their fund-raising efforts. The blogosphere’s exposure of CBS and RatherGate threw a major wrench into the Kerry campaign’s efforts to drive Bush off-message following the GOP convention, and cost the old-line media a lot of credibility in the public eye. More subtly, the increase in communication speed caused by the Internet seemed to be constantly catching people off guard. Stories that were supposed to drive the media cycle for a week were thrashed through in a few days. This affected both campaigns, and watching the adjustment to the new faster pace in preparation for the next election will be interesting to say the least.
  • It is not yet time for gay marriage on a national scale.
  • As it appears that Justice Rehnquist’s cancer may be more serious than first thought, it’s quite possible we’ll open up the new legislative session with a down-n-dirty Supreme Court nomination fight. Since Rehnquist is a conservative justice this isn’t likely to change the balance of power in the court rightwards in any major way, but the fight will be a sign of how things will play out later should one of the more liberal justices step down.
  • The GOP now has a true mandate to govern both in domestic and foreign policy. The razor-thin margin after 2000 made claiming a popular mandate difficult — losing the popular vote and a number of Senate seats isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. 9/11 and the 2002 elections helped, but more on foreign than domestic policy. This election was different. The Republican victory was decisive on almost every level: they kept the White House; they expanded their margin in the House; they expanded their margin in the Senate; they picked up two governorships and at least one more state legislature. (Update: I should have done a bit more reading before writing the preceeding sentence. Although the GOP almost completely swept the table at the national level, they didn’t do so well at the state level. At best they picked up 1 governorship, and they lost a bunch of state legislatures. Prior to this election they controlled 21 state legislatures fully to 17 for the Democrats, with the remainder split. Now each party has full control of 17 legislatures. Colorado in particular was a state-level bright spot for the Democrats.) And a lot of those races were fought on domestic policy issues. The GOP has been given a vote of confidence by the American public. Now let’s see what they do with it.

[Anne adds:]

Having one party control both the presidency and Congress makes me uncomfortable to a degree. But I don’t think too much crap can come through simply because there are larger, bipartisan issues at stake over the next 4 years (the war, among others).

I think Kerry’s concession shows class, and his comment to Bush that the country is deeply divided and “we need to do something about that” is going to be well-received. He is correct, and I sincerely hope that the GOP and the Donks can close the gap.

Honestly, more than anything else I’m relieved that there’s no post-election litigation or rioting. I was concerned that we would have social chaos in the wake of a close election (regardless of who seemed to come out on top). Having the courts decide an election, and the presence of shenanigans at the polls, undermine the integrity of the voting process. That’s bad for everyone, and should be avoided at all costs.

[Kyle adds:]

Two more bonus thoughts:

  • The GOP’s poor showing in Colorado (lost a House seat, a Senate seat and both houses of the state legislature) damages Governor Bill Owens’ chances of gaining the Republican nomination for President in 2008. His inability to deliver the votes outside the Presidential ticket calls his party-building abilities into question.
  • More generally, I wonder if the overperformance of the national ticket over the state tickets in so many states is a result of lots of voters who supported Bush due to the War on Terror but support Democrats on other issues. Such voters would be expected to vote Republican for the national offices, but it’s difficult to see how the control of a state legislature impacts American foreign policy — so they’d be likely to vote Democratic in such races. And indeed that seems to have been the case. An unexpected side effect of Bush Democrats: they voted for Bush, and then in the other races they voted for Democrats. This suggests that the Democratic Party could rebuild itself quickly if they manage to expel the hard left from their ranks and rebuild their credibility on national security issues. A hawkish Democrats would probably do quite well in 2008.
Leave a Reply