Election outcome clearcut; the future, not so much by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The following entry is being cross-posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. It was originally post on November 7, the day after the election.

Last night’s outcome was clearcut and gratifying, but the future is as complicated as ever. President Obama performed beyond many expectations in the electoral votes, garnering nearly 100 more than Romney before final numbers are in from Florida.  Obama carried all the swing states but North Carolina. He won among women, minorities and young people – everyone but whites, especially rich white men.  Romney, whose party is on the wrong side of demographic destiny, led among the elderly and those who oppose abortion, gay marriage, citizenship paths for illegal immigrants, and more progressive taxation.

Compared to the brilliant 21st century political “Moneyball-on-steroids organizing approach of the Obama campaign, Romney’s micro targeting of voters and get-out-the-vote operation were almost of the Gilded Age.  All the money advantage, spawned by Citizens United, went for naught.

Ironically, the numbers-driven Romney, who emotionally at the end seemed to think he had a path to victory, was beaten by a bloodless brain trust of quants that knew what it needed to do and executed the game plan to perfection (save for the first debate debacle.)

Fortunately for the President, he also won the popular vote, albeit by less than in 2008. Had he lost that, even while winning the electoral vote, his detractors would have tried to delegitimize his Presidency.  Winning with just over 50 percent, with nearly half the voters opposed to him or his policies and other millions of registered voters not caring enough to go to the polls, he is not in the same position as last time to claim a clear mandate.

The American people, while dissatisfied with the pace of the economic recovery, apparently believe the trend line is in the right direction.  Last night, the President asserted “We are not as divided as our politics suggest.”  Mitt Romney, in his gracious concession speech,  said, “We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”  Even John Boehner said, “If there is a mandate, it is a mandate to fund common ground.”

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who would have been Senate President but for the preservation of the Democratic majority in the upper branch, was more acid, saying,” it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.”

It is still unclear whether the defeat of extremist Republicans Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, both in states that went for Romney, will loosen the hold of the Tea Party on the Republican leadership and incentivize moderation.  Had Mourdock won, the prospects for change would have been a lot less.

The next step is for the President to reach out immediately to longstanding critics in the House and Senate so the nation can avert the plunge off the fiscal cliff implicit in the sequestration budget or in simply kicking the can down the road.

The day after the election, the stock market dove more than 300 points. This morning the Wall Street Journal averred, “the republic will survive.”  Under Obama 1, we avoided the fiscal cliff and did survive.  In Obama 2, we need to prosper.

I welcome your comments in the section below.