Wednesday, November 05, 2008

winners and losers

This election has nontrivial repercussions for a number of players and groups around the country. I think it's a good to take a moment to consider who the big winners and losers are at the end of the day.

The winners:

Women. With the election of Barack Obama, Roe v. Wade is guaranteed to be preserved at least for the foreseeable future. The moderate liberal quartet in the Supreme Court is aging fast, with 2 or 3 expected to retire in the new president's first term. Under John McCain, that would have almost assuredly meant the tilting of the Court hard to the right, but President Obama will likely maintain the balance, maintaining the right to privacy, and with it, the right to an abortion. Speaking of abortion, a referendum to ban it in South Dakota went down in flames along with a referendum granting legal personhood to zygotes in Colorado. Also, the election also saw a dramatic rise in the number of women office holders, including Bev Perdue as NC governor, Jeane Shaheen as NH senator, and a half dozen or so representatives.

The sick and disabled. Stem cell research funding passed in Michigan, a pretty big deal considering that's the home of some high-quality major public universities. Medical marijuana also passed there.

Katie Couric. Of all the journalists who covered or affected this election, the anchor of CBS News stands almost alone in fulfilling one the charges used to justify putting freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights: giving voters an important insight into the abilities and character of major office candidates so the voters can make an informed decision. Say what you will about her performance as an anchor, she exposed Sarah Palin as a poster child for mediocrity, and possibly saved us all from the nightmare of a Palin Administration. It likely saved her career as well; notice that no one's talking about the possibility of ousting Couric as anchor anymore.

Chuck Todd. Todd has done a great job filling the late Tim Russert's shoes, showing a mastery of the facts, a facility with explaining complicated electoral matters, and a pleasant on-air demeanor that should, in a fair world, cement his place as Russert's successor.

Bill Clinton. There is perhaps no one who benefited more from George W. Bush's epic collapse than Big Dog and his legacy (aside, of course, from Barack Obama). Clinton went from a political liability in 2000 to a boon in '08.

The voting public. Remember how people around the world and here at home viewed us as dipshits and rubes after Bush won re-election? How our reputation was sullied, seemingly without any hope of remedy? How American tourists have frequently reported an increasingly icy reception even from people in countries long considered our allies?

You done good, people.

[added 11/7/08 5:30 pm] the pollsters. We spent a lot of time second-guessing them, denigrating their past performance, talking up the Bradley effect and Shy Tory effect and Wilder effect and every other effect we could think of. Neither candidate claimed to be "listening to the polls," as if "polls" is another word for "Bolsheviks." And lo and behold, the pollsters predicted the race within their sampling error almost to a man. At least, they did outside of the 14 point Republican overperformance at all levels in Alaska, which hopefully someone will look into.

The losers:

Gays. The horrible irony of massive turnout among Obama's newest core constituencies in California, African Americans and Hispanics, caused a gay marriage ban to pass there along with several other states. Imagine what it would be like to wake up one day and find out that the government has nullified your marriage and all legal benefits deriving from it. That just happened to thousands of people on the West Coast.

Moderate Republicans. John McCain's choice of running mate was a slap in the face to them, and they were massacred in the last 2 elections, leaving only the hardcore wackos with virtual free reign of the party. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, intimated that the key question deciding if you're still welcome in the party will be "where you stood on Sarah Palin," as in, her detractors can take a hike. The Republican party is likely to tack right before it turns to the center, leaving moderate GOPers without a party for the time being.

Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulis. Their deplorable handling of the debate won't be quickly forgotten, and it wouldn't surprise me if the new Obama Administration finds itself much more willing to grant exclusive interviews to Katie Couric and Brian Williams.

George W. Bush. The lopsided loss of the presidency and the brutal purging of Republican congressmen and senators over the last 2 cycles (at current count, a total of 14 senators and 50 congressmen) has cemented his status as the primary cause of the collapse of the Republican party, and the its relegation to the status of regional party of a diminishing South. The one real electoral gift he had bequeathed the party, his massive inroads in the Hispanic vote, got torched when his party decided to use them as a whipping boy in 2005, plummeting the GOP's share of the Hispanic vote from 44% in 2004 to 32% in 2008. Hispanics are not going to forget that treachery and the huge protests in response to it, likely cementing the Hispanic vote for the Democrats for a generation.

Big business/lobbyists. It's a lot harder to curry favor with the president when he can raise a billion dollars without your help.

UPDATE: Bah! forgot one. added above.

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