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2012 Election Recap: A step up for Dems in the Senate

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Even if Florida doesn’t go for Barack Obama, he’ll have more electoral votes in both terms than George W. Bush and a larger percentage of the popular vote than anyone in 20 years. Yet the GOP and the media treated Obama as if he didn’t have a mandate in 2008 and are hinting the same treatment in 2012.

Obama has truly earned this. Treat him like any other president.

Teabaggers have a much easier time winning a House seat. Small amount of people, especially if the GOP has drawn redistricting to your advantage. The number of governors races the GOP won in 2010 meant more GOP House seats in 2012.

Republicans understand this, Dems are trying to catch up.

As we saw in 2010 and 2012, teabaggers are bad at running for Senate seats. Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock found ways not to get elected to the U.S. Senate.

The GOP could still hang onto the House in 2014, but without a significant change in the dynamic, either the teabaggers stop running for the Senate or society starts embracing the teabaggers, the House is the only area the GOP can find happiness.

The phrase that kept going in my head throughout Election Night was “step up.” Yes, the Dems picked up a few Senate seats, but they made some good trade-offs on seats that didn’t lose.

Chris Murphy over Joe Lieberman: step up. A potted plant over Joe Lieberman: step up. That was just Connecticut, a blue state. Tim Kaine over Jim Webb (Virginia): step up. Heidi Heitkamp over Kent Conrad (North Dakota): step up. Okay, Heitkamp isn’t so much a step up on Conrad, but she’ll have more enthusiasm to want to stay in the Senate.

Two other races involved moderate Republicans switching over to “Dems” in the middle. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Richard Lugar (Indiana) will trade out for Angus King (I-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN). They may not be pure votes on every topic, but will vote for the Dems on the big issues, such as Supreme Court nominees.

2006 and 2008 brought a bunch of new Democratic senators, and so 2012 and now 2014 will be big years for new Dems to defend their seats. Every Dem on his/her first term got re-elected.

Some of those senators may have been helped by Obama coattails in 2012. The ones running in 2014 won’t have that luxury.

Traditionally, the party in power doesn’t do well in the second term midterm. The economy might make the difference; the GOP will likely still hold the economy hostage.

Despite the screaming of the “fiscal cliff” — and the Canadian media seems even more worried about this than the U.S. media  — the temptation is to end all the Bush tax cuts, something Obama should have done in 2009, and let the automatic cuts kick in. Obama has tried not hard not to look angry, but he needs to look tough. As the late Bob Marley would have put it, “Get up, stand up. Stand up for your right.”

If Obama lets the Bush tax cuts go, then he can negotiate any “middle-class” tax cut.


Written by democracysoup

November 9, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Election Day 2012: Obama, yes. Senate, probably. House, upset?

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If you accept that it will take longer to recover from Hurricane Sandy as opposed to a typical hurricane, then you could accept that the depressive recession of 2008 will take longer to recover from than a typical recession.

The question that has been asked is which party has done more to help that recovery. Every job bill in place was passed while the Dems were in control of the House. Most economists though the initial stimulus was undervalued thanks to tax cuts that didn’t help. One presidential candidate has a plan to reduce the deficit, one has a plan that will raise the deficit.

The race is about who will be president on January 20, 2013 and beyond. But the race is also about Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell and how much power they will have in Washington.

Regardless of where you stand, get out and vote. True, some forces (i.e., GOP) have made voting more difficult to accomplish. Nothing scares a politician like voting.

Here is a breakdown of the White House as well as the two houses of Congress: House and Senate.

White House

You can’t blame the pundits and political media for being a little punch-drunk at this point in the campaign. “What if we have an Electoral College tie?” “What if Mitt Romney wins more of the popular vote because Hurricane Sandy brought down numbers in blue states?”

We won’t and it doesn’t matter.

Ever since Romney won the first debate, the tone of the coverage has turned to “Romney just might win.” If you are going uphill, you have to be well over 50% to overcome an incumbent. The best route for Romney is to have financial ties to companies that run voting booths.

Bellwether states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio — will decide this election. Right now, those states point in the direction of President Barack Obama. “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” may be what sinks the former Massachusetts governor.

Anybody who runs for president is desperate on some level. John McCain had moments of not being desperate, like when he told the woman that Obama isn’t a Muslim. Romney saw behavior such as that and has gone for the jugular every chance he has had. Romney’s deceiving ads in Ohio over Jeep production was the latest symptom of his desire to do what it takes to be president. The more desperation at the end, the more you know you won’t win (unless you cheat).


The GOP enjoys a 25-seat advantage in the House of Representatives. Most of those turnovers in 2010 went to teabaggers, er, Tea Party folk. The best way for the Dems to gain control back is to take back those teabagger seats.

One teabagger the Dems would love to beat that has a chance to lose is Joe Walsh (IL-8). Allegations of failure to pay child support and his over-the-top manner puts his seat in danger against Tammy Duckworth. The former soldier in Iraq who lost three limbs ran for Congress back in 2006 but lost a different seat. If you are looking for a symbolic seat, this is as good as any of them. A Duckworth win could prove interesting for the Dems; can’t see a scenario where Walsh wins and the Dems take back the House.

A seat that would be mostly about bragging rights would be Steve King (IA-5) vs. Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture. King’s views on just about anything (rape, science) infuriates the Dems. Getting rid of him would be a moral victory for Pelosi, et al.

House races are more difficult to assess unless you are on the ground. Since most House races go to the incumbent, any upsets you hear along the way are almost certain to go in the Dems column. Even if the GOP keeps the House, look for the difference in margin. If a Democratic president wins another term in office, there should be some coattails in the House of Representatives.


The Democratic Party currently has/controls 53 seats (51 Dems, 2 Independents) while the Republicans have 47 seats. Tie goes to the vice president.

The Dems are almost certain to lose Nebraska and North Dakota but would gain a nominal win in Maine. Angus King is expected to go along with the Dems. That would put the Dems at 52.

The Dems have 5 seats that could see an upset vs. 3 for the GOP. So on paper, the Republicans are in good shape for a takeover.

Elizabeth Warren has to win in Massachusetts for the Dems to have a really good night. As offensive as Richard Mourdock was on “God intented to happen,” that statement alone wouldn’t guarantee a win for Joe Donnelly. If you hear the name Joe Donnelly multiple times, the Dems will have a good night.

Shelley Berkley is another name where hearing it is a good sign for the Dems. Dean Heller was appointed to fill out the term of John Ensign, who had a disgraceful streak thanks to his mistress/employee and financial scandals.

If Richard Carmona gets mentioned more than once, Harry Reid will still be Senate Majority Leader.

Scott Brown’s return to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat for 6 more years would be an early sign for a successful GOP evening. Linda McMahon, George Allen, and Tommy Thompson would also bring joy to the GOP — all 3 of these seats are Dems or Dem-leaning. Tammy Baldwin would be the first openly gay U.S. senator if elected in Wisconsin.

The Badger state would be a sign of the times. If Thompson wins the seat, both U.S. Senate seats would have gone from Dem to GOP in just 2 years.

If you are looking for a reason to stay up all night, Hawaii could be the decider as the GOP thinks it has a shot with Linda Lingle going for Daniel Akaka’s retiring seat.

D stands for Democratic and defense: 15 Dems and an independent will probably defend their seats vs. 5 for the Republicans. Throw in the 5-3 advantage for tough seats to defend, and you can see why the Democratic Party was seriously sweating the 2012 race for control of the Senate.

Races that will likely go from Democratic to Republican

Nebraska — Ben Nelson (D)/Bob Kerrey (D) vs. Deb Fischer (R)
North Dakota — Kent Conrad (D)/Heidi Heitkamp (D) vs. Rick Berg (R)

Races that will likely go from Republican to Democratic

Maine — Olympia Snowe (R)/Charles E. Summers, Jr. (R) Cynthia Dill (D) Angus King (I)*
Massachusetts — Scott Brown (R)/Elizabeth Warren (D)
* King is likely winner and would probably side with Dems

Races the GOP would love to steal

Connecticut — Joe Lieberman (I)/Chris Murphy (D) vs. Linda McMahon (R)
Hawaii — Daniel Akaka (D)/Mazie Hirono (D) vs. Linda Lingle (R)
Ohio — Sherrod Brown (D)/Josh Mandel (R)
Virginia — Jim Webb (D)/Tim Kaine (D) vs. George Allen (R)
Wisconsin — Herb Kohl (D)/Tammy Baldwin (D) vs. Tommy Thompson (R)

Races the Dems would love to steal

Arizona — Jon Kyl (R)/Jeff Flake (R) vs. Richard Carmona (D)
Indiana — Richard Lugar (R)/Richard Mourdock (R) vs. Joe Donnelly (D)
Nevada — Dean Heller (R)/Shelley Berkley (D)

Races that you might hear a flutter of thought, but the incumbents are likely winners:

Florida — Bill Nelson (D)
Michigan — Debbie Stabenow (D)
Missouri — Claire McCaskill (D)
Montana — Jon Tester (D)
Pennsylvania — Bob Casey, Jr. (D)
Washington — Maria Cantwell (D)

Races that you will likely hear very little about on Election Night

California — Dianne Feinstein (D)
Delaware — Tom Carper (D)
Maryland — Ben Cardin (D)
Minnesota — Amy Klobuchar (D)
Mississippi — Roger Wicker (R)
New Jersey — Bob Menendez (D)
New Mexico — Martin Heinrich (D) replacing Jeff Bingaman (D)
New York — Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
Rhode Island — Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
Tennessee — Bob Corker (R)
Texas — Ted Cruz (R) replacing Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Utah — Orrin Hatch (R)
Vermont — Bernie Sanders (I)
West Virginia — Joe Manchin (D)
Wyoming — John Barrasso (R)

Everyone loves freedom, except for Mississippi on abortion

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We celebrated freedom in these United States this week. Freedom in Mississippi is hanging by a legal thread, as the state’s draconian laws that essentially eliminates abortion in the state are temporarily put on hold.

If you needed to get an abortion in Mississippi, you only had one option — in the capital, Jackson — which still meant a significant drive from anywhere else in the state.

The Republicans in Mississippi decided that one abortion provider in its state was one too many, and passed laws making it virtually impossible to perform the medical procedure. Requiring hospital privileges, something that isn’t necessary, was the key point of the Mississippi legislation.

The old stat that gets tossed around is that 85% of all U.S. counties have no abortion services; that statistic hasn’t improved. Roe v. Wade might still be the law of the land, but in many parts of these United States, the Supreme Court decision doesn’t even apply.

Mississippi isn’t surrounded by the most enlightened of states: Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. Factor in laws that require an overnight stay or limit teenagers from crossing state lines and women in that part of the South really have it rough.

You can get an abortion, especially an early-term abortion, in the United States, but getting that abortion is not as simple as wanting one.

This law, and the other similar laws, hurt sexual freedom in Mississippi and other states, but they also hurt economic freedom. If you can’t use your freedom to plan your family, you can end up with kids when you can’t afford them. Given the low benefits people in Mississippi and surrounding states receive, poor is as poor does.

We have learned throughout American history that even if laws are passed in Washington, often they come to the South and die. Black men had the right to vote thanks to the 15th Amendment, though the South got away with not allowing many blacks to be able to vote for the next 100 years.

Thanks to a judge’s ruling, the lone Mississippi abortion clinic can stay open, though little has been done before this point. One is too few, but still better than none.

Americans are good at talking about the idea of freedoms, but in reality, people aren’t nearly as free as they should be, especially compared to the rest of the First World. The European Union allows its citizens to go freely to live and work in another country; Americans, Canadians and Mexicans don’t have that freedom. Single-payer health care allows Canadians, Europeans, and others to pursue their own dreams without having to be tied down to a job for health insurance.

Poor Americans who are conservative want to keep taxes low on the off-chance that they might someday be rich. But they live in the First World country where that is the least likely to happen. And that was true long before the Great Recession of 2008.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that states cannot pass laws posing substantial obstacles or undue burdens on a woman’s right to an abortion. Having one abortion provider in a state larger than Rhode Island would seem to be an undue burden. having none would definitely be an undue burden.

This isn’t to say that the American dream is an abortion provider on every corner. Reasonable access can be in the eyes of the beholder, though the largest city and capital of a U.S. state should have more than one provider, and political intimidation shouldn’t be used to reduce Americans freedom.

The next step comes July 11 when a federal judge hears from both sides on continuing the temporary injunction. If not, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization will be put out of business and more than just symbolically, Mississippi will become the first state in the country where economic and sexual freedom don’t exist.

President Obama needs to sell us on Obamacare, even if we have to wait until 2014

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You might be ready to forgive John Roberts for his flub of the swearing-in of President Obama in 2009.

Roberts was the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision that upheld the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). For those who were hoping that Justice Anthony Kennedy was going to save the day, yikes.

“The fundamental problem with the court’s approach to this case is this: It saves a statute Congress did not write,” Kennedy said from the bench. “The court regards its strained statutory interpretation as judicial modesty. It is not. It amounts instead to a vast judicial overreaching.”

Not that a White House should excel in marketing, but the Obama Administration has done a horrible job at marketing this legislation. At stake was a tax, but it wasn’t called a tax. And so those that used the legal system to destroy health care reform came one vote away from accomplishing their goals.

After the ruling, President Obama explained to the American people why the legislation has helped some people, and will eventually help most of us.

When most Americans can’t take advantage of the health care reform, the opponents drive the message. You can argue that the government isn’t in control of health care or that there are no death panels, but without visible proof, your argument isn’t that strong.

Now that Obama doesn’t have to worry about the Supreme Court, and he wants to get re-elected, the president should show the American people why Obamacare will help them … even if that help isn’t coming until 2014. His inability to sell Obamacare cost the Dems the House in 2010; if he can’t get that marketing engine going, his chances of still being president will diminish.

What Dems should learn from Scott Walker’s recall win

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Scott Walker gets to remain as Wisconsin’s governor, though control of the state Senate, if only temporarily, goes to the Dems.

Those that opposed Walker’s whack on unions lost out for a few reasons. In the momentum of the crowds in and out of the Capitol in Madison, Walker would have been the third governor in three recalls to lose his job.

Whatever you might have thought about Tom Barrett, running the same candidate looked more like sour grapes. Think back to Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California in 2003.

And Dems in Wisconsin couldn’t reproduce that spirit that launched all those protests, again Walker outlasted the anger.

Of course, the massive money imbalance didn’t help.

The White House didn’t make a push for the recall vote. Mitt Romney didn’t either, but the recall isn’t his fight. You would think this would have been the perfect place for Joe Biden to shine here. Whatever you might think of Obama, he gets a lot of bad advice, and he seems to listen to it.

The MSM and pundits are screaming that this translates well to the fall elections. Uh, no. Too much will happen between now and November. Obama and his team will make it to Wisconsin between now and the fall election.

Wisconsin used to be a pretty sure thing for the Dems, and they still act this way. Ask Russ Feingold if things have changed in the Badger State. The Dems should fight hard to win Wisconsin. Obama’s home area is within 90-120 minutes of the Wisconsin border. However hard the Dems think they need to fight in Wisconsin, crank it up by at least 10%.

The pundits also fought hard to ask whether Scott Walker was fought on policy and not corruption. Where was that sympathy for Gray Davis in 2003?

How bad were things for Dems in Wisconsin? “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” rained on Wisconsin’s Democratic faithful — before the results arrived.

Yes, the crowds around the Capitol building were awe-inspiring. But when the Dems had the opportunity to do something about that, they resorted to in-fighting and reduced enthusiasm. Yes, getting outspent in multiples (Walker — $30.5 million; Barrett — $3.9 million) is disturbing. Whining about it doesn’t help get those unions back to where they were.

Ontario’s brothels ruling proves Canada is way more clued-in than United States

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A practical, unanimous ruling saying that prostitutes have the right to protect themselves in their work. The Ontario Court of Appeal, the province’s highest court allowed for brothels, but solicitation is still illegal.

Prostitution is legal in Canada yet its society hasn’t fallen apart. Unless you count the Toronto Maple Leafs (hockey joke).

Canada also has figured out gay marriage and single-payer health care. Sigh. Watching the U.S. Supreme Court possibly bring down Obamacare before it had reached the masses makes you wonder why we haven’t all moved to Canada by now.

For more on Ontario and brothels and why they won’t kick in right away, check out our take from our sister blog,

Iowa’s ag-gag law bad for democracy and food safety

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You have to wonder if corporations have more rights than people in this post Citizens United world. Iowa’s new ag-gag presents a new concept of “agricultural production facility fraud” designed to intimidate employees who see poor practices.

Several states want to do the same thing, making it more difficult for whistleblowers to react to really bad food practices. The reaction from the pro ag-gag people is borderline Orwellian, which makes “Animal Farm” more ironic than we care to admit.

For more on this baffling legislation, check out this column from our sister blog,

Written by democracysoup

March 13, 2012 at 7:34 am