Don’t Believe The Hype- Conservative Republicans Were Blown Out!
by Rick Adams
George W. Bush may be the self appointed “decider” but the voters proved a fundamental truth often forgotten by pundits and politicians alike; the people are the “electors”. After 12 years in the wilderness the Democrat Party came roaring back in last week’s general election capturing both the U. S. House of Representatives (+29) and the U.S. Senate (+6). In Pennsylvania the Republican congressional delegation suffered the loss of 4 veterans; Melissa Hart in the west, Weldon, Fitzpatrick and Sherwood in the eastern part of the state. The number 3 Republican in the U.S. Senate and major Bush supporter Rick Santorum was blown out the water in his reelection bid 58% to 41% in Pennsylvania.
Even more telling on the state legislative level Democrats gained more than 275 seats and snatched nine chambers from the Republicans. Democrats now control both houses of the state government in 15 states. The popular launching pad for future U. S. Presidents, governorships, saw an impressive gain of 6 new Democrats giving the party control of 28 state executive branches to 22 for the Republicans. The implications for the 2008 national election and beyond is obvious with Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush all having ascended to the office of president after serving as governors of their respective States. The Democrats posted gains in every region of the country gaining 140 new state lawmakers in the Northeast, 104 in the Midwest, 67 in the west, and even picked up 21 in the South. In Pennsylvania the Democrats are one contested seat away from becoming the majority in the State House for the first time in many years.
According to a poll commissioned by the National Election Pool the electorate showed some interesting national results; 89% of African Americans, 88% of Jews, 75% of gay, lesbian or bisexual and 70% of Latino voters cast their ballots for the Democrats! In what may be a window to the future, youthful voters, ages18-29 years old, voted for the Democrats 61% to 39%. Pulling a “top and bottom” coup the Democrats captured the votes of 56% of those were high school graduates and 59% of those who had post graduate education! In the ongoing but seldom acknowledged ‘class warfare’ voters whose family income was $15,000-$29,999 went for the Democrats by 63%, those $30,000-$49,999 by 57% and those who earned $50,000-$74,999 by 51%! Self reported independents supported the Democrats by an 18% margin 59%-41%! The gender gap reemerged as women cast their ballots 56% to 44% for the Democrats.
According to a Hart Research poll for the AFL-CIO, union members voted for Democrats over Republicans 74 to 26 percent. Compared with all voters, union members were more Democratic by 48 percentage points. Reagan Democrats have returned home.
Across the country Blacks suffered a setback with an anti affirmative action referendum in Michigan which passed 58%-42%. However referendums to increase the minimum wage passed in 6 states, while conservative backed anti gay marriage initiatives passed in 7 states but they did so by smaller margins than similar measures in the past and did not appear to have appreciably helped conservative Republican candidates. In Arizona voters defeated a measure that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the first defeat of such legislation in 28 initiatives since 1998.
The Republican attempt to dent the Democrats’ commanding lead in support from the African American community faltered. Ken Blackwell running in Ohio and Lynn Swann in Pennsylvania for Governor and Michael Steele running for U.S. Senate in Maryland all crashed and burned! Democrat Congressman Harold Ford running for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee lost but ran a very strong campaign in the former confederate state.
The national mid term elections might have returned a mixed bag of results with the conservative backed referendums winning but make no mistake, the underlining winning themes of the election were largely populist and progressive with voters calling clearly for withdrawal from Iraq, competence, integrity, and economic help for middle and working class families. In fact, according to Michael Tomasky editor at large of the American Prospect, “of the 27 Democratic candidates for the House who won outright Tuesday, only five can truly be called social conservatives. Far more are pro-choice, against the Iraq war and quite liberal.” Voters who did responded to socially and culturally conservative candidates also backed candidates who campaigned for increasing the minimum wage, rolling back oil company tax breaks, curbing corporate greed and stopping the outsourcing of American jobs.
For only the second time in U.S. history a Black was elected Governor, Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and for the first time a Muslim was elected to the U. S. Congress Keith Ellison in Minnesota who is also African American.
African American institutional political power will increase measurably. Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus are going to be full Committee Chairs; John Conyers (MI), will chair the Judiciary Committee, Bennie Thompson (MS), will chair the Homeland Security Committee, and Charles Rangel (NY), will chair the Ways and Means Committee. Among all of the Full Committees of the House of Representatives fifteen members the Congressional Black Caucus will chair Congressional Subcommittees. Three powerful Full Committees; the Government Reform (4), Judiciary (3) and the Transportation and Infrastructure (3) Committees will have multiple Subcommittees chaired by African Americans.
Congressional Democrats are expected to support legislation that for the most part will help improve the quality of life for a majority of African Americans.
Blogger Chris Bowers of MyDD.com recently wrote:
“Wave of new conservative Democrats, my a--, [S]someone tell me again how the new wave of Democrats is overwhelmingly conservative. … Republicans beaten at the top of their game. Republicans broke all of their fundraising and voter contact records this year. They had better maps than ever before. They had a better opportunity to pass whatever legislation they liked than ever before. And they were still crushed.”
Shortly before the election the Democrats advanced "A New Direction for America," comprised of six themes: national security, jobs and wages, energy independence, affordable health care, retirement security and college access for all. These six themes will be promoted along lines much more agreeable to the needs of Black and working people.
Specifically we can expect the Democrats to raise the minimum wage for the first time in over 10 years, to raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,100, up from $4,050, and to halve interest rates on loans taken out by students and their parents. Students are now charged a fixed rate of 6.8 percent and parents are charged either 7.9 or 8.5 percent and these are expected to be lowered to 3.4 percent for students and 4.25 percent for parents. Medicare prescription drugs that so many seniors and others depend upon will now be negotiated by the government for lower prices. Right wing conservative Supreme Court and lower level judicial candidates will no longer sail through congress, and regulatory policies and procedures more friendly to organized labor, which is 40% African American, will be promoted. In short progressive, liberal and Black agendas will find a much more hospitable reception in the new congress.
The largest caucus in the U.S. House of Representative is the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) which will grow to as many as 70 members, 22 of whom are also members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). In fact conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats’ numbers will only grow to about 44 members, the moderate/conservative New Democrats will number a little above 50. If you combine the 70 members of the CPC with the remaining 21 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, many of whom will sometimes support progressive/liberal initiatives; fully 21% of the U.S. Congress is to the left of center with many more potential supporters on any given issue.
Key elements of the electorate moved significantly toward the Democrats; independents, labor, Latinos, libertarians, young people and Reagan Democrats. Given that the country will grow increasingly African American, and Latino in population, and grow politically more independent of the two major parties, the future of the national Republican Party will grow dimmer.
In fact the “white man’s party”, the Republican Party, as now constituted is overly identified with policies opposed to by an emerging majority of the people in this country. A party identified as against goals held important to the 25% of the country that is Black and Latino, that is opposed to a woman’s right to control their own bodies; that is hostile to immigrant’s rights, that is actively against expanded rights for organized labor and that is for the exporting of capital and jobs overseas is doomed to be a permanent minority party in the USA of the 21st century.