Election 2014: What does it mean?

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  • #821 Reply

    Roberto Suro

    Fellow members of the network: I am in England, at Oxford, where it is not yet lunchtime on Wednesday, November 5, and so I am offering some very preliminary thoughts and questions on the U.S. election results in the hope of starting a conversation that will continue as analyses and reactions develop in the days and weeks to come. The voting may be over—except in Louisiana—but the political warfare will continue. Mid-term elections, after all, rearrange the battlefield as much as they decided winners and losers.

     –A diminished president looks for opportunities

    Conventional wisdom had President Obama a big looser even before Tuesday. The last two years of a presidency are never pretty, but Obama’s struggle for relevancy is going to be heartbreaking to behold. Democrats will blame him for their losses. Hillary will be launching her campaign. Getting anything done in DC will require making deals with the Republican leadership. Where can he turn for a little satisfaction? The traditional answer would be foreign policy—the last refuge of executive power.

    But where?

    Given that every other continent presents him with wars, disease, restive rivals and unhappy allies, might he look to Latin America? Not on his own. He barely knows it exists. But can some combination of events and initiatives create opportunities for U.S. presidential action that Obama can’t resist? Is there a leader in Latin America who can give Obama a chance to assert himself with low risk? For example, Raul Castro could put Alan Gross, the imprisoned American agent provocateur, on an airplane to Miami and initiate talks on lifting the embargo. Don’t hold your breath for the Cubans. That is just an example of how a Latin American leader could create an opportunity for Obama to act. Let’s look elsewhere.

    Does Peña Nieto have a card to play?

    –The Third Republican Civil War enters its fifth year

    By far the most important political contest in the United States today is the ongoing civil war between the mainstream and conservative factions of the Republican Party. The conservatives, now often identified with the Tea Party, lost major battles during the primaries by failing to unseat mainstream incumbents in several races. The quick read on the results Tuesday is that the mainstream emerged further strengthened because it will take credit for the G.O.P.’s big wave and because Mitch McConnell will be running the U.S. Senate with a strong hand.

    I do not believe the hardliners will now submit meekly in either the Senate or the House or out in the heartland. But, they do need a new strategy. This is no longer an insurgency. The hardliners can no longer count on making noise, running wacko candidates and looking for polarization on every issue. The novelty has worn off.   They can’t just rant against Obama because everyone including the Democrats is going to be doing that. They are going to need some achievements soon or face marginalization.  Looking to 2016, the conservative right has to be thinking about how it creates a credible candidate for the presidential nomination. The last two Republican Civil Wars were won by the hardliners when they captured the nomination with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

    The obvious hardline candidates are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. (Two Latinos, weird huh?) What are their strategies to get ready for the nomination battle again the mainstream?  That may be the most important question of the next six-nine months. Do they make deals with McConnell? Do they obstruct? What become their key issues? How do they start acting presidential?

    Question: Where is Rubio today?

    Answer: In Bogota, talking trade and security in his capacity as a member of the foreign relations and intelligence committees.

    –Latino Voters

    The electoral map did not create a lot of opportunities for Latino voters to assert themselves because almost all the close races were in states with small Latino electorates.  But let’s look at a couple of places where Latino voters did matter.

    Colorado: This is a purple state that the Democrats hope to turn blue. Obama won here in 2012 with an elegant coalition of Latinos, young people, women and progressives who have moved from other states. Latinos are about 14% of the electorate. According to a Latino Decisions pre-election poll, 89% of Latino voters were likely to vote and 66% were likely supporters of Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent.  Udall was strong on immigration, criticizing Obama’s delay on executive action this summer, and he spent serious money on Spanish-language ads. Meanwhile, national organizations made major investments in getting out the Latino vote here.  And yet Udall was defeated decisively by a mainstream Republican, Cory Gardner.

    Texas: Latinos make up 27% of the eligible voters in Texas now and their numbers are growing fast. This is where the sleeping giant is supposed to shake up national politics by allowing Democrats to gain a foothold in a state that Republicans have owned for two decades. The Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, a job that has real power in Texas, was Leticia Van de Putte. Her maiden name is San Miguel. She is a sixth generation Tejana, a member of the legislature representing San Antonio since 1990 and once a rising star in the Democratic Party.  On Tuesday she was crushed, drawing just 39% of the vote against a nut job Tea Party radio talk show host who was disowned by the Republican establishment. She was swept away along with Wendy Davis, the heroine of the abortion filibuster in the Texas legislature last year, who lost the governor’s race to Republican Gregg Abbott. In terms of raw number Democrats actually lost ground in statewide races after a massive ground game investment that included an effort to capitalize the rising numbers of you-know-who.

    But the bad news for Democrats redoubles. Exit polls show that Abbott, the state attorney general, won 44% of Latino Texas voters.

    Disappointment over Obama’s immigration policies played no role in Texas. There were no Dreamer protests against the Democrats. Pure and simple, this was a major defeat for the Democrats’ Latino strategy. As Karl Rove said more than 20 years ago, if Republicans can consistently pull 40% or more of the Latino vote nationally, they will be unbeatable. If they can pull 44% of the Latino vote in Texas, the Lone Star State will remain red for another 20 years, even after Latinos become the biggest population segment.

    What do the Colorado and Texas races have in common? Democratic candidates in both states made female reproductive rights their signature issues in an effort to win the votes of white women.  In the Latino Decisions poll 5% of Latinos in Colorado and 2% in Texas said such issues were the most important matter facing the Latino community.

    The coalition Obama built in 2008 and 2012  is in shreds today.

    –Whither immigration?

    The current Congress will come back to DC in a few weeks for a quick session to take care of some key budget matters that will keep the government functioning until the newly elected Congress takes office in January.  Prior to the election folks at the White House were promising that Obama would take significant executive action on immigration as soon as the session was over—probably the second week of December—so as not to risk a fight with Republicans which could hold up those key spending bills. What are the circumstances that could cause Obama to break a promise on immigration yet again?

    One strategy for the G.O.P. is to prove that it can govern by getting a piece of major legislation through Congress early next year.  One can imagine a bill, or more likely a package of bills, on immigration that would unify Republicans: heavy enforcement including still more militarization of the border, a very expansionist high-skilled immigration program, a pro-business temporary low-skilled migration program and a legalization of sorts that offers protection from deportation for unauthorized migrants who jump through a lot of hoops but no real prospect of citizenship at the end of the process. (By the way, those bills have already been drafted.) The Republicans would then dare the Democrats to oppose them. And, they would tell Obama as early as today that the deal is off the table if he goes forward with executive action.


    #824 Reply

    Arturo Sarukhan

    publicado en El Universal, el 5 de noviembre…

    Para cuando lean mi columna esta mañana, seguramente ya conoceremos el saldo de las elecciones legislativas intermedias de ayer en Estados Unidos. Y si bien escribo estas líneas horas antes de que inicie la jornada electoral, no hay que ser el oráculo de Delfos para poder anticipar algunos de los resultados de anoche y saber que indistintamente de lo que ocurra en la Cámara de Representantes, el Senado y algunas gubernaturas clave, la mayoría de las cosas no cambiarán en el corto plazo en el paisaje político estadounidense.

    ¿Con qué resultados estaremos amaneciendo hoy? De entrada, sabíamos desde hace meses que la Cámara seguirá firmemente en manos del partido Republicano…

    Sin embargo, en la contienda por las gubernaturas, y en particular dos de ellas, Colorado y Wisconsin, puede haber sorpresas…

    No obstante todo lo anterior, e indistintamente del desenlace de anoche, lo verdaderamente preocupante —para la vitalidad democrática estadounidense y para un país vecino como México que también es impactado por lo que ocurra o no ahí— es que no parece haber gran posibilidad de que la disfuncionalidad y el atolladero político que se vive en EU se trastoquen como resultado de las elecciones.

    lea mas aqui

    #827 Reply

    Eric Rojo

    For those of us who have opposed Obama since the 2008 election, the results of this midterm “shellacking” (using his own words) are a vindication of the American electorate that finally woke from a bad illusion where HOPE and CHANGE turned out to be hollow promises with regressive and nefarious results. However, we are not out of the woods yet, there is urgent need to set policies that will bring back a solid growth economy, with good paying jobs. We need to ensure that North America is fully competitive in partnership with Mexico and Canada. We need to solve our lack of leadership in the world and do our part to bring order to the chaos created by simplistic and naive perspectives on foreign policy. We need to support our allies, so they can support us in defeating ISIS and all other groups that are exploiting our weaknesses.

    The overwhelming rejection of Obama’s policies -as he said “I am not on the ballot, but my policies are”- by those who voted, and by those who intentionally did not cast a ballot, (his previous cheering gallery), the expansion of the republican majority in the House of Representatives, the number of Democrat senators and governors reject in traditionally “blue” states and gaining a solid majority in the Senate; are a very short moment to rejoice in victory. More important however, is the mandate to bring our nation back to a productive and constructive course of governability.

    The first order of business when the ‘lame duck’ congress meets is to pass a real budget and not a series of continuing resolutions. There are many productive bills that the house passed, some bipartisan some not, that have been languishing under the unilateral obstructionist dictatorship of Harry Reed in the senate. Allowing some of these bills on the floor of the senate would show some good will. Given Reid’s track record, there is little hope for any good will, but perhaps his fellow Senators will see wise to elect a better minority leader. Someone who is a true leader and is able and willing to go back to the days when the Senate was know as the greatest deliberating body in the world.

    The Republican leadership in both chambers will have to work in ensuring that the radical and ignorant extremists are brought to play well with the moderate majority. Otherwise, the Reid gridlock will be replaced by a different but equal level of insanity.

    Republicans, with this very limited mandate, have an opportunity to show that we are the party of the majority, of the middle class and equality. That we in fact are the party of Lincoln, and we have a little more than a year to prove it. Whatever is achieved, or not, in 2015 will set the stage for the 2016 election. I believe that the 2016 election will be a watershed not only for who will be President, equally as important who will represent the changing majority in the Congress for years to come.

    As to migration and immigration reform, both sides have laid their challenge. Obama in his infinite arrogance already told the Republican leaders what he will do: whatever he wants using executive power, in particular with respect to undocumented immigrants. The expected response was: do it and be ready for a long fight. Most issues that Obama is pretending to resolve on his own, require congressional action -someone needs to remind him that we are not a dictatorship yet-The election results are ringing hollow in his know-it all presumptions.

    And, while many of us care very much about immigration reform -temporary worker permits and a choice of residency- as it will solve critical economic* and human issues (plus it will stop being a cry of the ignorant who either talk about “amnesty and border security, or path to citizenship” only to suit their political perspectives with no real concept of what any of their pronouncements mean). At the end of the day, it is not the most important issue for most Americans, except that it tends to radicalize those on the right who have no other substantive issue to run their mouths on; as those on the left, when they are out of intelligent arguments play the race card.

    Yes, ISIS and Ebola (along with the Tooth Fairy) will come marching down the only border the United States has (as the maritime borders, both borders with Canada (CONUS and Alaska) have been magically erased by our post 9/11 collective emotionalism that also fails to remind us that not all undocumented people came across this one border, and that at least half entered legally, and continue to do so.

    And, we must keep in mind that in spite of all the noise about our dysfunctional government and lack of bipartisanship, the cold truth is that is the way our democratic system was designed to work. Our funding fathers purposely set up to avoid kumbaya that would give us a harmonious road to perdition. as a matter of fact, we are more civilized that in the XIX Century (no fist fights in the floor of congress, no duels, and no civil war). so I ask, what are our critics talking about??

    *BTW (our economy needs Mexican labor, or it has to come from somewhere else)

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