Obama wins! Here's a few random disconnected thoughts.
First off, I am greatly relieved that the gains of Obama's progressive coalition (most crucially Obamacare) will not be rolled back and that he will have 4 more years to make slow, frustrating, incremental progress. I'm glad that the birthers and the Muslim-baiters lost and that their simmering xenophobia against the president wasn't validated. Romney's gracious concession speech took some of the sting out, but man was he the wrong guy at the wrong time. I'm also ready to clear out some space in my head to think about something other than electoral politics. Consider this a mental spring-cleaning post.
The space of issues addressed in national elections is so narrow. On many of the most crucial topics there is either a bipartisan consensus or a conspiracy of silence: climate change, the war on drugs, the war on terror, incarceration, voting rights, the surveillance state, campaign finance reform, etc. This silence is a structural problem during elections, but for the other 4 years it's incumbent on us the citizenry to shift the debate and push these topics into the conversation. That's sort of where my head is right now.
Obviously, last night was a big break through for LGBTQ rights. Our first openly gay Senator and (possibly) 4 states legalizing marriage equality (!!!). Change seems so slow for so long and then it comes on so fast. And 2 states outright legalizing marijuana (not just the medical kind)? Wow. Is that the first shot in the war on the war on drugs?
I am also grateful that the tidal wave of Citizens United dark money did not put Romney o'er the top. In fact, the election proved pretty handily that the marginal value of that last ad buy in Ohio is pretty much zero. Maybe the tide of plutocrat-cash will recede a bit. In CA ballot initiatives it looks like Three Strikes has been reformed (yay!) and Prop 13 amended (yay!), although the Death Penalty survived (boo!).
If Obama were smart he would push immigration reform first thing in January. The big media narrative is that Romney lost due to demographic changes and that the R's will have to evolve or die. This might make a big bipartisan bill doable. We'll see. Best pundit line of the night: "Romney self-deported himself from the White House" with his far-right shift on immigration in the primaries.
Here are a handful of interesting takes on the results:
- The Republicans Bet Everything, and Obama Won It All, Jonathan Chait
- America Not a Center-Right Nation Anymore, James Joyner
- How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File, Conor Friedersdorf
Finally, the polling averages were pretty bang on. If I'm reading it right Nate Silver went 51-for-51 (just barely calling FL for Obama) and so did Pollster. A lot of conservative pundits were waaaay off, and I'm not sure if that's just industrial-strength epistemic closure and the Fox Bubble, or more a function of needing to boost Team Red in the homestretch. I kind of suspect it was the former.