Despite months of uncertainty, on October 6th Barack Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney. There were ten other notable winners and losers in the 2012 Presidential election.
Leading the parade of winners are Senate Democrats: There were 33 Senate seats up for election and Republicans only had to defend 10 of them. GOP leaders were confident they would win enough seats to ensure a 50 plus vote majority. Instead they lost two seats (Massachusetts and Maine). Kudos to Senator Patty Murray who led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Women: 2012 turned out to the year of the woman. 55 percent of all females voted for Obama, and an astonishing 68 percent of single women preferred the President. Five women were elected to the Senate (Baldwin, Fischer, Heitkamp, Hirono, and Warren) bringing the total number to 20. The number of women in the House of Representatives increased from 76 to 82. New Hampshire became the first state to have a female governor (Hassan) and an all female congressional delegation (Senators Ayotte and Shaheen and Representatives Kuster and Shea-Porter). In addition several high profile Republican male lawmakers lost because of their misogynistic comments: notably Akin, Mourdock, and Walsh.
Hispanics: Obama garnered 71 percent of the Latino vote, a fact that probably explains why the President carried all the swing states except for North Carolina. Hispanic participation increased to ten percent of the electorate. 31 Latinos were elected to Congress: Senators Cruz, Menendez, and Rubio and 28 Representatives. As a result, Republicans as well as Democrats favor immigration reform.
GLBTs: According to recent estimates roughly 9 million Americans (3.8 percent) identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. 76 percent of the GLBT population voted for Obama. Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate and GLBT candidates won around the nation including Mark Takano in California and Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona. Gay marriage was legalized in Maine, Maryland, and Washington and Minnesota turned down a constitutional amendment denying Gay marriage.
California: Obama won 59 percent of the Golden State’s vote and Democrats picked up four house seats. (Bera, Brownley, Peters, and Ruiz). (Observers credited this accomplishment to California’s even-handed redistricting.) In addition, California passed two measures to increases taxes (Proposition 30 and 39. And, in the newly redistricted state assembly and senate, Democrats won a super-majority.
Leading the legion of losers were Karl Rove and his Super PACs (American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies). Rove raised $300-400 million but had little to show for this; a 5.7 percent rate of return . Donald Trump tweeted: “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.”
The Romney Campaign Team has to shoulder much of the blame for Mitt’s loss. Romney was the overwhelming favorite of the Republican establishment but he struggled to win the nomination. Then his campaign let Obama define him as a “vulture capitalist.” Romney’s team mismanaged time at the Republican convention and let Clint Eastwood steal the show. Romney won the first presidential debate by blaming Obama for the struggling economy and then Mitt wandered off message. His campaign invested millions in Project ORCA a high-tech GOTV tool that failed on election day. And on and on.
Fox News: was the scene of an epic election-night Karl Rove meltdown. After Labor Day it provided haven for wildly inaccurate predictions of a Romney victory. Meanwhile it steadily lost ground to MSNBC.
Arizona: Even Florida, with its long lines, even longer ballot, and obstructionist Republican Governor, paled in comparison with Arizona where fear of Hispanic voters caused draconian voter suppression. At this writing, hundreds of thousands of ballots remain uncounted – most of these were cast by Latinos.
Crotchety White Men: In retrospect, the Romney campaign strategy was made clear when he invited Clint Eastwood to speak at the Republican convention; it was a blatant appeal to crotchety white men. Because of this, and sub rosa racism, Romney won 59 percent of the overall white vote and 62 percent of white men. Romney-Ryan doubled down on the 2008 McCain-Palin strategy.
On September 17th a videotape was uncovered where Romney told donors, “47 percent of the people…who are victims…my job is not to worry about those people.” But Romney didn’t stop there. In a November 14 call to campaign donors, Romney “attributed his rival’s victory to ‘the gifts’ the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama’s first term.”
Earth to Mitt: You lost because you are a crotchety white man! Your time has passed! White men are a rapidly diminishing percentage of the electorate. Get used to it!
Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org