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America Not a Center-Right Nation Anymore

President Obama easily won re-election last night, carrying virtually all of the battleground states. Meanwhile, abortion, gay marriage, and recreational marijuana also won big.

To win, Mitt Romney needed to carry all of the states where he was ahead in the polls plus Ohio, Virginia, and either New Hampshire or Colorado. It appears he lost all of those state plus Florida, which had appeared to move into his column.

Despite reports of long lines that kept polls open hours after closing time, including in the Northern Virginia suburbs near where I live, turnout was actually lower than it was four years ago and eight years ago. But it’s an electorate that’s inexorably becoming less friendly to a Republican message that hasn’t changed since 1980. Romney would have won the 1980 electorate in a landslide; he needed everything to go his way to win in this one.

Fox talking head Bill O’Reilly is catching some flak for this:

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly said tonight that if President Barack Obama wins re-election, it’s because the demographics of the country have changed and “it’s not a traditional America anymore.”

“The white establishment is now the minority,” O’Reilly said. “And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”

“The demographics are changing,” he said. “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

If one is charitable about “give them things,” translating it as “serves their interests,” he’s right. While Occupy Wall Street ultimately fizzled, the resentments that fueled it have not gone away. The underclass is disproportionately black and Hispanic; those groups are steadily increasing their share of the population and see the Republican Party as unresponsive to their needs. The gender gap has been around for decades, as the Republicans opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion rights, and even contraception. For young, single women, especially, a GOP that nominates the likes of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin as candidates for major office is anathema.

And “traditional America,” even as seen from the lens of 2000 or 2004, is in fact gone. In those bygone days, an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative was a surefire way of ginning out turnout favorable to Republican candidates. As of last night, that tide has turned.

Ben Smith overreaches only a little in a piece titled “Welcome To Liberal America: Barack Obama, gay marriage, weed, and a new focus on climate change. This is the country, and the Republican Party has to adapt.”

The first post-baby boomer president was returned to the White House with the widest, clearest re-election win since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984, yet a smaller mandate than his own his 2008 victory. And Democrats now have, in Obama, their Reagan: A figure both historic and ideological, who can carry, if not quite fulfill, a liberal vision of activist government and soft but sometimes deadly power abroad that will define his party for a generation.

Obama lacks Reagan’s sweeping victory, and presides over a more deeply divided country than when he took office. But the breadth of his accomplishments have been validated by Tuesday’s vote. ObamaCare is now a firmly rooted component of the nation’s social compact. Americans appear to have accepted his campaign’s argument that he deserves more credit for a nascent economic recovery than blame for it’s slow pace.

[...]

But the 2012 election marked a cultural shift as much as a political one. Ballot measures that had failed for years — allowing the marriage of two men or two women in Maine and Maryland; legalizing marijuana in Washington State and Colorado — were voted into law. The nation’s leading champion of bank regulation Elizabeth Warren handily defeated moderate Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and the nation’s first lesbian senator, in Tammy Baldwin, was elected in Wisconsin. Even climate change, which was absent for nearly the entire campaign, came roaring back with Hurricane Sandy, and was the subject of endorsements for Obama and harsh attacks on Romney.
These measures were passed, and Obama re-elected, by an American electorate that Republicans had dismissed as a fluke of African-American pride and youth enthusiasm, and which a generation of pundits — Michael Barone, George Will — wrote off as a fantasy.

The Romney campaign, in fact, bet its last weeks on modeling showing a more Republican, older, and more white electorate — the reversal of the younger, diverse crowds which propelled Barack Obama to the White House four years ago. But in fact the share of 18-29 year old voters increased by a percentage point, while the number of white voters declined by two. Their votes were more balanced this time, but the change has been unmistakable and irreversible.

The groups on whom Obama depended are the ones that are growing; white men, the core Republican constituency, are a shrinking minority. For the first time In 2011, minority births surpassed white births in the United States, and the longer demographic trend places white Americans in the minority by 2041.

Now, it’s foolish to overreact to a single election result. As I’ve been writing for years, this was always going to be Obama’s election to lose. Re-electing our presidents is America’s default position and Obama has always been a likable, disciplined, effective candidate. A Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren would be an easier opponent in 2016.

At the same time, though, Republicans shouldn’t kid themselves that the only problem this go-around was a poor candidate.

It’s true that Mitt Romney is not a natural politician; after all these years, he’s still incredibly clumsy and awkward on the stump. And the vagaries of being a Republican running for office in the most liberal state in the union and then running for the presidential nomination of a party whose nominating electorate is hard right twisted him in knots, embracing so many contradictory positions that even he seemed not to know what he stood for. But the fact of the matter is that Romney was far and away the best candidate in the 2012 Republican field. I would have preferred Jon Huntsman or Gary Johnson; but not only did they have no chance in hell of getting the nomination but there’s zero reason to think they’d have done better than Romney. And nominating Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or Herman Cain would have turned last night into a rout, with Utah, Alabama, and Mississippi as the only red states.

Nor is there a lot of hope that a Ronald Reagan will ride to the rescue in 2016. I’m not convinced that Jeb Bush wants it bad enough to subject his family to two years of hell. Chris Christie has been branded a traitor for his embrace of a hated Democratic president in the eleventh hour of a campaign they told themselves was close. Even if he could get the nomination, though, I’m not sure the country really wants a grumpy fat man as its president. Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are smart, young, enormously talented, and bring instant credibility on diversity issues. But they’ve got some baggage as well.

Since football analogies are de rigueur in political post-mortems, it’s time for the GOP to throw out Ronald Reagan’s playbook. Eventually, the game passed Tom Landry and Don Shula by, after all, as other coaches either stole their best ideas or figured out how to beat them. Nobody’s running the Flex Defense any more. Or the Run and Shoot.

Since 1992, certainly 1995, the Democrats have been moderate on taxes. They’re no longer advocating 70 percent top marginal rates; indeed, we’re fighting over whether returning to the rates of Ronald Reagan constitute socialism or communism. And, as of this administration, there’s no credible argument that Democrats are weak on defense. Indeed, Obama has been more ruthless in using drones and targeted killings than George W. Bush. But Republicans still believe the old myths, so are still trying the same tired messages.

While I was never a Social Conservative, I was generally receptive to the social conservative message. I grew up in an era where married women, my mother included, stayed at home with the kids. Even a decade ago, living in the rural South, homosexuals were either closeted or flamboyant and degenerate. But even in middle age and with that cultural baggage, my own views on women’s and gay issues put me well outside the GOP tent.

I’m a few days from my 47th birthday and have voted Republican in every presidential election in which I’ve been eligible to vote (and only voted for two Democrats ever, Howell Heflin for Senator and Don Siegelman for governor   both for idiosyncratic reasons). Yet I voted for Romney reluctantly and mostly because of a complex web of personal loyalties that are unlikely to exist in 2016.

The 1980 model Republican Party will not win the White House ever again. Since 1860, when the Whigs fractured and died, our two major parties have managed to survive and even thrive by constantly re-inventing themselves. After a string of defeats, the Democrats rebooted in 1992, nominating a Southern moderate and jettisoning the more unpopular parts of their agenda, at least at the national level. At some point, the GOP will do the same. The only question is how many more elections they’ll lose clinging to a “traditional America” that’s a distant memory.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Janis Gore says:

    A thoughtful piece, James. Thank you.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This is a bit of a logical leap.

    How many Southern and Mid-Western blacks support abortion, gay marriage and recreational marijuana? How many blacks at large abortion and gay marriage? Hell, how many blacks in California support abortion and gay marriage? What percentage of Latinos over age 30 support abortion, gay marriage and recreational marijuana? What percentage of Latinos at large support abortion and gay marriage?

    But what percentage of blacks and Latinos vote automatically for the Democrat candidate and, germane to last evening, voted for Obama?

    You can’t possibly miss those dichotomies and those disconnects. They’re as obvious as black and white, pun intended.

    It’s a conservative nation that because of lock step partisan voting by identity is governed largely by a left-wing government.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 63

  3. An Interested Party says:

    If one is charitable about “give them things,” translating it as “serves their interests,” he’s right.

    If one is a bit more realistic rather than bending over backward to be charitable, his words don’t need translation at all and can be taken exactly as they were said…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 2

  4. LaMont says:

    If one is charitable about “give them things,” translating it as “serves their interests,” he’s right.

    But we all know that that is not what he meant. And that, in essence, is why one party will continue to play the Reagan playbook. They have a serious case of kidding themseves and believing their own BS. I for one, don’t think that Republicans will change their tune. As long as there is a Fox news channel and rush limbaugh that cares about ratings at the expense of educating republican constituents – how can they? In fact, at least in the immediate future, it will only get worse becuase to change would mean people like Rush, who has a major influence on the republican base, will have to go out of business!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 52 Thumb down 2

  5. Janis Gore says:

    Let’s go all Aretha Franklin here, and say we want some respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. James Joyner says:

    @An Interested Party: @LaMont: I agree that O’Reilly is spouting the typical Limbaugh BS that it’s all about dependency on government. I don’t know whether he believes that or is just playing to his crowd. I’m just saying that there’s an analytical sense in which what he says is right, removing the silliness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  7. superdestroyer says:

    What our post does not consider is what happens in a country when the Republican Party is no longer relevant. If one is a middle class white, private sector employed voters and looking at the models that the Democrats want to follow, one would ask if there is any place left in the U.S. for oneself.

    The long term question for the Democrats is how are they planning on paying for the coming entitlement state given the changes in the U.S. Can a country of immigrants from the third world, children born to single mothers, and a few elites generate the tax income necessary to fund all of the spending that the Democratic Party will demand? Also, what will be the unintended consequences of the coming increase in taxes, regulations, social engineering along with the changes to the culture of the U.S. due to changes in demographics.

    The progressives have achieved their long term goal: a one party state where most Americans are happy as long as they get enough goodies from the government.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 63

  8. sam says:

    “At some point, the GOP will do the same”

    Perhaps, but the party is white, southern, old, and frightened. I don’t see those folks going gentle into that goodnight. I see a political bloodbath in the GOP future. Wouldn’t surprise me if it went the way of Whigs.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @James Joyner:

    Are you really going to claim that the number of people dependent on the government is going to go down? Are you really going to claim that a country where more than 50% of the children are born to single mothers is going to be able to compete in the global marketplace? Are you really going to claim that as less than 50% of Americans pay income taxes, there will be no effect on politics or governance.

    Americans have decide that they have no use for conservatives or conservative politics, The real question is what happens as the U.S. becomes a one party state where progressives are the one, dominate political force.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 45

  10. Janis Gore says:

    @superdestroyer: There you go talking down to people again.

    What a classless, hateful toad you are.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 7

  11. Steve Metz says:

    Your experience is different than mine if you think Herman Cain could have won Alabama or Mississippi.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  12. superdestroyer says:

    @Janis Gore:

    I guess asking questions about the future if talking down to people. Conservative politics is dead in the U.S. The only question is what will occur in the future given the coming one party state and given the demographic changes of the U.S. Considering that the Obama Administration wants to accelerate the demographic changes, is there is future in the U.S. for middle class married whites?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 32

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The gender gap has been around for decades, as the Republicans opposed the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion rights, and even contraception.

    Not to mention the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

  14. Steve Metz says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You seem to suggest that social and economic conservatism are inextricably linked. I don’t buy that. I myself am an economic conservative and a social liberal. I like to think that may be the way of the future and may have more appeal to young people (which I’m not). Basically, the capture of the GOP by social conservatives drove me away from the party.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 1

  15. Janis Gore says:

    @Steve Metz: They’re not just social conservatives, they’re also throwbacks.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It’s a conservative nation that because of lock step partisan voting by identity is governed largely by a left-wing government.

    Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @Steve Metz:

    There are not enough economic conservatives/ social liberals to elect someone dog catcher.

    Politics in the future in about entitlements, who gets what, and who pays. Everyone else in the political discussion is moot.

    My guess is that the Democrats will begin to downsize the U.S. commitments and limit spending on discretionary items because that is money that cannot be spent on entitlements. The question for the future is what are Americans willing to give up to increase the level of entitlements.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 34

  18. Mr. Prosser says:

    @superdestroyer: Lighten up. I see the changes coming on. I see them in my 27-32 year old nieces and nephews who are vets, active duty, goth and very middle class. All are quietly grinding it out and getting things done. Are they doing it my way? no, but it works in these times and that’s enough. I see the change in my students: who is moving on and who would rather play Black Ops in the basement. I can see the future winners and losers and the winners aren’t all entitled white kids. My descendants will be browner and I’ll love them. By the time I’m 80 (15 years) things will be way different and, in my opinion, better. Get used to it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 58 Thumb down 7

  19. Murray says:

    “Romney would have won the 1980 electorate in a landslide;…”

    Really?

    Keep in mind that if the Reagan tax code was imposed today, Romney and the right wing punditocracy would call him a radical leftist out to destroy America.

    The country hasn’t moved left, it’s the GOP that has moved far right.

    P.S: That photo is a good illustration of what’s wrong with the GOP vision of the presidency. The President is commander in chief of the armed forces, not of the American people.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  20. LaMont says:

    @James Joyner:

    I get what you are saying. My argumement is that O’Rielly and Limbaugh’s lack of analytical sense comes at the expense of republicans, as a party, possibly changing any time soon. It unfortunate but true.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    If you look at places like Santa Ana California; El Paso, Texas; Detroit; or Baltimore, it is hard to get excited about the future. Do you really think that a country where more than half the children are born to single mothers and 1/3 of high school students drop out will really be able to compete in the global marketplace.

    The U.S. is headed to being like a South or Central American country with a small elite and a massive underclass. The real question is how will the U.S. change as it becomes more like Mexico or Brazil.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 34

  22. Steve Metz says:

    @superdestroyer:

    A new book by the Cato Institute argues that about 20% fall into the economically conservative/socially liberal camp and currently don’t feel comfortable with either party.

    I normally despise Carvelle but I think he was spot on last night when he argued that the GOP needs to find serious leaders to shape its agenda rather than Tea Party flakes, talk radio spouting heads, and pundits.

    And I think James was right on when he noted that politics is ALWAYS about interests and the distribution of power. Unfortunately the contemporary right has convinced themselves that’s illegtimate when anyone else does it but legitimate when they do it. Which is part of its problem.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 0

  23. swearyanthony says:

    Bear in mind that the Republicans, regardless of ideology, have shown themselves to be utter nihilists. And Romney ran the most shameless dishonest campaign I have ever seen. Until they confront that, and actually start behaving like grown ups, they deserve to lose everything.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 3

  24. Jen says:

    I still believe it is a center-right nation. The problem is the Republican Party has expunged all, or nearly all, of its center-right candidates, derisively calling them RINOs and worse. If there are no center-right candidates (emphasis on the word center there) then there is nowhere for a center-right voter to go other than to the Democrats. We’ve already seen the party ID numbers decline, as Republican voters ran away from a party label and called themselves Independents, even as they continued to hold their noses and vote Republican. Now, they appear to have had it with even that minor gesture. I know, I’m one of them.

    The problem for the Republican party is they have no bench team of young moderates. They have eaten their own young and now wonder why they are losing. And they’ve successfully alienated the next generation of voters too. It will take a long time to climb out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. The question is, will they even try?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 0

  25. Rob in CT says:

    On some issues, I’d agree America is more of a “center left” country. But on others… I don’t think the American voter has moved much. They were always further left than the GOP thought during their time of ascendency, and they’re not as far left as liberals would like.

    Anyway, after all the noise, the result is to keep the status quo (basically). Obama in the WH. Dem control of the Senate (though a slightly more liberal group there). Republican control of the House.

    So, while I’m generally pleased with the outcome, I’m not exactly doing backflips here. Why would the dynamic of the past 2 years change, exactly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  26. superdestroyer says:

    @Jen:

    I think that the U.S. is no longer a center-right nation and has never really been a center-right nation. Most voters who would call themselves conservatives or Republicans support big government, high levels of spending, and an ever expansion of entitlement. The argument is just over who pays for the size ans scope of the government.

    What has happened to the Republicans is that most people have realized that the U.S. does not need two parites when the issues are over entitlements and how to pay for them. There is no reason for two political parties in the U.S. when the only differences are over who pays for them.

    IN the future, politics will be within the Democratic Party as the power bloccks in the Democratic Party over who much entitlements will expand and who pays for them. There is no room for anyone who is a fiscal conservative in the future of politics of the U.S.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  27. bk says:

    Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio are smart, young, enormously talented

    Well, they ARE relatively young, I will grant you that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 4

  28. Scott says:

    @Jen: I was going to right my own post and then I read yours which I agree with. The Republican Party is not the same as in Reagan’s time. I don’t even call them conservatives but radicals. They are not even fiscal conservatives. They don’t want to govern because they want government to fail to prove their point. To be trite, I didn’t leave the Republican party: it left me.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  29. Rob in CT says:

    So silly, sd. The question of how much to spend and who pays for it has *always* been key in US politics. Even before “entitlements.”

    Tarrifs and Internal Improvements. Whigs vs. Democrats. Over 150 years ago. You could look it up.

    What sort of fantasy world do you have to live in to think that you can avoid such questions?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  30. C. Clavin says:

    I strongly disagree….think this country is still center-right.
    Equal rights for gays is a conservative value.
    Ending the drug war is a conservative policy.
    Getting out of the way of a womans right to make decisions about her own body is the conservative thing to do.
    Having an honest discussion about climate change instead of ignoring science is conservative.
    Reforming a broken Immigration policy is conservative.
    The Conservative Project has much to offer.
    Todays Republicans are not Conservative. They have bastardized what is thought of as Conservative.
    Perhaps the Republican brand has been damaged to the point where now real change, Conservative change, can happen. I’m not sure we are there yet.
    I’ll be over here waiting.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 2

  31. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    You should look up what percentage of the GDP that the federal and state government consumed when the Whig Party existed. As the percentage of the GDP that the government at all levels goes north of 40%, there is no need for two political parties. Politics is about who gets the goodies and who pays. David Axelrod knows to get as many people as possible addicted to government spending while limiting the taxes to as small a group as possible. That is why the U.S. is becoming a one party state. There is no way for a group to survive is they are seen as outside the powerful groups that control the spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  32. george says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Actually the GOP is adicted to government spending as well – the military is tax payer funded.

    But if the Democrats become dominant, they’ll have internal splits – big tent coalitions tend to work when you’re behind, but fall apart when you’re on top, and then looking to have your issues implemented (which are often opposed to the issues of others in the same big tent).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  33. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Equal rights for gays is a conservative value. Asking people to fill out a government form and deciding what benefits they will receive based upon the race/ethnicity/gender group they answer if not conservative.

    Ending the drug war is a conservative policy. Elimiating the food and drug act is not conservative. Having children use drugs is not conservative. Regulating Aspirin as a higher level than Heroin is not conservative. Providing drug treatment to everyone who ruined their own life is about as far away from conservative that anyone can get. Externalizing the costs of one’s bad decisions unto taxpayers is not conservative.
    Getting out of the way of a womans right to make decisions about her own body is the conservative thing to do. This is actually a fairly strong argument. However, having single mothers stick taxpayers with the cost of the children if not conservative. Women having multiple children with multiple fathers is not conservative. Having children without getting married is not conservative. Having married couples who planned for the future pay higher taxes to fund women who could not control themselves is not conservative.

    Having an honest discussion about climate change instead of ignoring science is conservative. However, being against anyform of energy production is not conservative. Wanting to eliminate heavy industry in the U.S. is not conservative. Refusing to consider the ecnomic impacts of environmental regulations is not conservative. Speeding millions per acre to clean up land with almost no value is not conservative.
    Reforming a broken Immigration policy is conservative. Open borders and unlimited immigration is not conservative. Making illegal aliens eligible for government benefits is not conservative. Forcing American citizens to learn Spanish or other languages is not conservative. Eliminating lab sciences and AP classes to fund ESL and special ed is not conservative. Forcing whites to go bankrupt trying to live in good neighborhoods with good schools is not conservative.
    The Conservative Project has much to offer. It looks like what the conservative porject has to offer is higher taxes, bigger government, and fewer good neighborhoods with good schools.

    What you described is why conservative politics is dead in the U.S. and why politics is now about entitlements and how to pay for them.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 32

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @george:

    Since the Republicans are addicted to govenrment spending, the voters no longer needs them. GW Bush left office with a 20% approval rating because he wanted a bigger government and wanted to pass out more government goodies. The Republicans are irrelevant because the U.S. does not need two big spending, big government parties.

    The question for the future is how high can government spending go and who will pay for it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 14

  35. john personna says:

    I’ll make my standard reminder that “center-right” and “center-left’ are innumerate. A population always has a center, and cannot also be centered somewhere else.

    That said, the center on social issues seems to have genuinely moved.

    We didn’t get a straight tax vote in this election, so that might take some time to settle. I think the Norquist pledge actually held down Republican poll numbers on the economy. Maybe it’s just me, but I think locked inflexibility is not attractive.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  36. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    How would tax increases and increased government spending help the Repulbicans. How does a larger public sector and a smaller private sector help the Republicans. The Republicans problem is refusing to make any meaningful cuts. Since the voters do not want budget cuts, there no need for a second political party to be around to rubber stamp the tax increases of the majority party. That is why the U.S. will soon be a one party state with very high taxes (on the top 10%), massive government spending, and will still have a huge budget deficit.

    Americans are not willing to give anything up to balance the budget and are willing to run massive budget deficits forever. That is why the U.S.no longer needs the Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

  37. Mike says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Yes. And, what percentage of republicans want to deport Latinos, whether they are here legally or not? I just can’t seem to understand why the Latinos won’t overcome their hatred for the gays and their dislike of abortion and vote republican. I just don’t get it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @superdestroyer: I suggest you look at Texas as the way we will go if the Republicans get their way. No safety nets, little regulation, no state income tax. It also has a high level of poverty and drop-outs. Plus, the education down there stinks. Remember the bozos who were against any education that taught logic and criticism? Didn’t want them to start thinking differently from their parents. Do you really think a first world country is going to be able to maintain a science and technology base on a population of religious fruitcakes? Good luck.

    (And don’t throw Texas’s economy up at me. Texas is an extractive-based economy. When the water runs out, they’re hosed.)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  39. gVOR08 says:

    So – Bill O’Reilly still thinks brown people are coming to take his stuff. Ben Smith is still a twit. Michael Barone and George Will are still partisan hacks. James Joyner still thinks his party will sensibly reevaluate their situation. But we were never a center right nation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  40. Mike says:

    @superdestroyer: Um, you’ll leave?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. jukeboxgrad says:

    the party is white, southern, old, and frightened. I don’t see those folks going gentle into that goodnight. I see a political bloodbath in the GOP future.

    Number of presidential elections since 1988: six. Number of times the GOP has won the popular vote: one. They need to change their approach, but they’re not going to.

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  42. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The progressives have achieved their long term goal: a one party state where most Americans are happy as long as they get enough goodies from the government

    I’m pretty sure most of us, even the white folks, are hard working and employed folks who simply do not wish to pull up the ladder behind us. Besides, all things equal there is a 96% chance that you make less money than me, and I certainly don’t mind paying for your kids’ schools and police protection.

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  43. Rob in CT says:

    You should look up what percentage of the GDP that the federal and state government consumed when the Whig Party existed. As the percentage of the GDP that the government at all levels goes north of 40%, there is no need for two political parties.

    Oh, I’m well aware that number has grown quite a bit over the years. The punctuation marks were the Civil War, WWI, the response to the Great Depression, and especially WWII. There was of course a drawdown after WWII, but things never reset back to what you apparently pine for (pre-New Deal, it seems). So here’s the thing: this business about Conservatism being dead… if so, it’s been dead for 70 years. So… what, for 70 years the zombie corpse has shambled along? I guess you could argue that. But it requires a very narrow definition of conservatism.

    We’re not going back to the Gilded Age. For mostly good reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  44. jukeboxgrad says:

    a one party state where most Americans are happy as long as they get enough goodies from the government

    I guess you must be thinking about “goodies” like this:

    Thanks to Utah politicians and the 2002 Olympics, a blizzard of federal money—a stunning $1.5 billion—has fallen on the state, enriching some already wealthy businessmen

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  45. Mike says:

    @superdestroyer: Wait a minute. What? So, the progressives/liberals/one party democrats, who want income redistribution/socialism, will also further increase income inequality? At the same time? Stop watching Fox.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  46. Rob in CT says:

    It sure looks to me like the pollsters & aggregators came out looking pretty good. There was no “skew.” The whole party ID thing was exactly what the reality based community said it was: indies were up mostly because republicans were down. This meant that a ~+6 Dem ID was correct, and also meant that indies going for Romney wasn’t enough (and was mostly a reflection of R-leaners not wanting to ID as R, but still voting R).

    I wonder if this will lead those on the Right, whatever their ideological convictions may be, to question their sources of information? Perhaps being spoonfed things you want to hear isn’t terribly useful? Dems had to go through this in 2004 to an extent. And you ultimately got the rise of the data-driven poll analysts, like Silver.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, Nate’s good but eventually in baseball he was caught and surpassed by other modelers. PECOTA, his baby, actually wasn’t the best projection system. Nowadays, the projection systems are all pretty similar and do pretty well in the aggregate (there is more variance, because of the nature of the game). Nobody is way out ahead of the pack. But when PECOTA was born, it was miles and miles better than “oh, that guy is a feared hitter. Look at all those RBIs!”

    Similarly, 538 blows “I was talking to a guy at the Applebee’s salad bar and this is why I think X will win the election” out of the water.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  47. Just Me says:

    I think on social issues you can argue the US is shifting its center to the left.

    I am not convinced they are shifting to the left when it comes to fiscal matters.

    At some point the “everybody gets a chicken in every pot” way of promising crap to people is going to hit a breaking point.

    There isn’t a magic money tree in DC and there aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay for it.

    Taxes are going up and they are going up for everyone.

    Give it 4 more years and the GOP isn’t going to be dead-I think calls like that are plain dumb. I do think the GOP needs to focus on how we spend money.

    I don’t believe the GOP can appeal to minorities at this point. They can make overtures and shoot they could pass an open borders policy, but the left has successfully painted the GOP as racists who hate poor people and want them to starve. Minorities aren’t going to vote for the mean racists even if the candidate is not a mean racist.

    I think Obama is going to drive the US off the fiscal cliff-he has no plan to actually stop spending money and the deficit will continue to go up. I almost hope the GOP doesn’t recapture the White House because as much as Obama wants to blame Bush for the next 8 years, I think it is going to be decades before this country recovers from the money it is spending right now.

    I think social issues are off the table for the most part-although the problem is that the Democrats have successfully been able to demonize anyone who holds socially conservative positions. It isn’t going to matter if a conservative is personally socially conservative, because the democrats will simply point and say “stealth agenda, they are republicans and they hate you and want poor people to starve and they only like rich people.”

    I don’t think the GOP is dead-nor do I think they are irrelevant, but I don’t think they are going to win a national election again for a long time. The new masters of the US are those who live in Urban areas-the very poor and the very rich. The rest of the country gets screwed unless they are part of a union although not the coal industry. Coal is going out of business.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 14

  48. Whitfield says:

    What message is sent to young people and children when marijuana is legalized? That it is fine to take substances to just make someone feel a certain way? This legalization trend undercuts the message of saying no to drug abuse. These ballot initiatives will just increase drug abuse and drug addiction to even harder drugs. The schools, churches, and health professionals are trying to teach young people to take care of their bodies. The people who voted for this are being very irresponsible.

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  49. steve says:

    We are still center-right, or whatever you want to call it, on economic issues. Most people still have some distrust of a large government. Most want the budget more closely balanced. However, we have become a more socially tolerant/liberal nation. Since such a large proportion of the GOP base, the ones who actually go out and work the polls, are in the socially conservative group. If the GOP wants to capture the votes of younger people, they need to find a way past the social con agenda.

    I think the GOP can reclaim a lot of women’s votes if they decide to address health care issues. When they are in office, they ignore the topic for the most part. This is true at the national and state level. They only address the issue when they have to have a plan to oppose the Dems. If they ever decide to try to own the topic, they have a chance to recapture a big part of the female vote.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  50. Mike says:

    @superdestroyer: “Externalizing the costs of one’s bad decisions unto taxpayers is not conservative.”

    Are you saying Wall Street is not conservative?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  51. Just Me says:

    The liberals hate Wall Street-all those fat cats cheating people.

    Of course if said wall streeter is named Corzine and heads a fund that bilks people out of millions, it is okay because there is a giant D by Corzine’s name and he supported Obama’s reelection.

    Wall Street is essentially Wall Street. They make great scapegoats for the democrats, but the reality is the democrats in charge know they need Wall Street working and making money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  52. jukeboxgrad says:

    As long as there is a Fox news channel and rush limbaugh that cares about ratings at the expense of educating republican constituents

    This is such an important point. The right-wing noise machine began as a political phenomenon, but what it has become is a business phenomenon. It’s an industry. The product it manufactures is a specific variety of bullshit. There’s an enormous market for this particular product, and even though the customers are mostly old, it will be a long time before they all die. In the meantime, there are many, many jobs which depend on feeding them a steady supply of this product, which they are prepared to consume in vast quantities.

    Like any industry, this industry is driven by only one thing: the pursuit of profit. Electoral success for the GOP is nominally a goal, but that has no deep importance, compared with the pursuit of profit. The industry makes money whether or not the GOP is winning elections. And what if it makes even more money when the GOP loses? What if my customers spend even more money on my product when they are feeling angry and powerless? Mitt losing could be good for business.

    The GOP created this industry to help it win elections, but now the industry has a mind of its own. It’s going to keep giving its customers what they want, even if this ends up being bad for the GOP.

    Fine with me. They are all heading off a cliff together, and the rest of us are wising up and heading in a different direction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  53. michael reynolds says:

    This was never a center-right country, it was a country that convinced itself of center-right mythology. The country has supported Social Security and Medicare from the start. The country fundamentally believes there has to be welfare for children — food stamps, health coverage however inadequate. They believe in things like FEMA and the CDC. They believe in food and drug inspections and labeling laws. They believe in equal rights and that those rights should be enforced by government. They believe in environmental laws. They believe in education at the national as well as state levels.

    The truth is this center-right thing was all about self-image. Americans want to believe in themselves as hardy, independent freeholders carving a life out of some figurative wilderness. It’s the cowboy-pioneer myth. In fact they are urban and suburban. They live in a very complex society that requires a high level of government service. No one is building a sod hut in the untracked prairie of Nebraska. Accept the hideous reality: we are Europeans.

    Mr. Reagan was able to sell the myth quite effectively. The GOP was able to use race to create a white vs. black, white vs. immigrant mentality that in some ways perpetuated that tribal, defensive, producers vs. users trope. Of course it’s been bullsh!t from day one.

    So now the GOP has had its “severely conservative” candidate and a Randian buffoon as his veep and numerous Tea Party candidates. And how did that work out? A president with non-existent growth and 8% unemployment just won an electoral landslide and a small but real popular vote margin. And defending 21 senate seats we actually picked up a couple.

    Will the GOP get it? No.

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  54. jukeboxgrad says:

    There isn’t a magic money tree in DC and there aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay for it.

    We hear this claim a lot even though it’s false. There are “enough rich people to tax to pay for it.” Link.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  55. JKB says:

    As I voted for whom I thought better able to change the economic situation, i didn’t read Obama’s big plan for his 2nd term.

    So what’s the plan?

    What exciting initiatives can I look forward to?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  56. Mike says:

    @Whitfield: Refer madness, baby. Good thing we didn’t legalize alcohol too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  57. Mr. Replica says:

    @Whitfield:
    Seriously, I laughed at that post for a good 10 minutes. Obviously you’re a graduate of the United States Government Propaganda Institute.

    If you really feel that way, maybe you should focus on actual harmful drugs. You know like alcohol and cigarettes. Two actual addiction forming, health deteriorating drugs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  58. Mike says:

    @JKB: I don’t know about Obama’s plan, but I know Mitch McConnell’s goal just got easier to attain. This term, he won’t have to do anything to ensure Obama is not re-elected in 2016.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @Whitfield:

    What message is sent to young people and children when marijuana is legalized? That it is fine to take substances to just make someone feel a certain way?

    What message is sent to young people and children since alcohol is legalized? That it is fine to drink substances to just make someone feel a certain way?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  60. john personna says:

    @Just Me:

    I think on social issues you can argue the US is shifting its center to the left.

    I am not convinced they are shifting to the left when it comes to fiscal matters.

    At some point the “everybody gets a chicken in every pot” way of promising crap to people is going to hit a breaking point.

    The fiscal center has certainly moved right. Already. Why do you think Obama took his stand on just letting the tiniest bit of Bush tax cuts expire?

    Seriously. There is a great article at The Atlantic today about how conservatives were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.

    Thinking that a President who was on the verge of a grand bargain, with WAY more spending cuts than tax increases is giving away the farm is loony. It is, as James says above, ” fighting over whether returning to the rates of Ronald Reagan constitute socialism or communism”

    … even worse because “severely conservative” Obama IS NOT EVEN ASKING to return to the rates of Ronald Reagan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  61. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: As was noted upthread and I should have noted early in the piece, “center” and “right” are moving targets. What I’ve always thought “center-right nation” to mean, though, was a desire for relatively small government, low taxes, strong defense, and belief in traditional moral values. Even Ronald Reagan acknowledged that there should be a safety net for the poor and infirm.

    Over time, the small government-low taxes-strong defense pillars came to clash, with the size of government and defense going up while low taxes became something of a religion for the right. But the traditional moral values issues that were always the GOP’s best hope for making inroads into the black and Hispanic vote are fading, too.

    There is, of course, a new center. Many of us here are likely in it. But it’s shifted pretty significantly in very, very short order.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  62. john personna says:

    Re. Superdestroyer, I think he’ll be out in the cold. Surely the Republicans will be smart enough to find some kind of immigration reform they can love, and use it to woo the Hispanic vote. That will throw racists under the bus … but that’s a “wump” we call love to hear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  63. Rafer Janders says:

    @Just Me:

    There isn’t a magic money tree in DC and there aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay for it.

    You know, there actually is a magic money tree in DC. It’s called the Treasury Department, and it prints money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  64. wr says:

    @Whitfield: “What message is sent to young people and children when marijuana is legalized? That it is fine to take substances to just make someone feel a certain way?”

    Well, they might have already figured that out from all the beer ads on the teevee….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  65. john personna says:

    @James Joyner:

    The thing is, the Democrats have fully bought into reducing the size of government.

    It is not new programs which are imposing forward costs.

    It is demographics, pensions, and medical costs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  66. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: “That it is fine to drink substances to just make someone feel a certain way”

    Yes, it is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  67. john personna says:

    @wr:

    The kids are more directly marketed with “energy drinks.”

    (I had to hold off coffee until after my fasting lipids test this morning … just polished off a venti … ahhhh)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  68. Here is my assessment: “The permanent sunset of the Republican party is begun

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. Gustopher says:

    As much as I wish this post was true, I just think James has missed the mark here.

    Romney would not have won in 1980. He is just a terrible candidate and a terrible person. He has no convictions, and he has espoused every position at one point or another.

    I don’t know what a Romney presidency would have been like — would he have taken a George Herbert Walker Bush path, or a plain old George W. Bush path? I don’t think anyone knows. He presented no vision of what America could be, would be, or should be.

    Ok, he would have repealed Obamacare. That’s the only specific we got. That and a five point plan where the numbers didn’t add up.

    People would only vote for this horrible candidate and horrible man as a Hail Mary play. And, against an anti-Colonialist, Kenyan, Muslim, Socialist with 8% unemployment, he came up short.

    America is changing on social issues — but here, the traditional Republican message of freedom and limited government is taking hold (rather than the traditional Republican implementation). We’re a less racist, less bigoted country than in 1980, and fewer of us give a damn what are neighbors are doing so long as It doesn’t spill over into our yards.

    Economically, were fighting over tax rates below Reagan’s. There again, the Republicans won.

    Gun control? No Democrat will go near it.

    Abortion? I don’t think we’ve moved much as a nation here at all. We don’t like it, we pretend we will never need it, we sl*t-shame those who do need it, and we leave it barely legal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  70. Rob in CT says:

    As many have noted, the Dems moved rightward on economic issues. They were tagged as the loony party in the 70s, and it took some hard work to get out from under that.

    So now you have a Dem POTUS proposing a partial rollback of the last Republican tax cut (after having already agreed to a temporary extension of it), and seeking a grand bargain with more spending cuts than tax increases, phased in over time.

    That’s certainly not a conservative’s dream, but it’s also not a liberal dream. Obama’s a left-leaning guy who lives in the real world. He’s not a moonbat. I don’t know exactly what his “perfect world” tax code would look like, but I suspect it would look a lot like 1986. And, since he lives in the real world, he knows that’s impossible and isn’t bothering with it. Much like he never even considered “single payer” for healthcare reform. It would have been a pointless (pure, but pointless) quest.

    So, what now? Well, essentially the same players from the past 2 years of clusterf*ckage need to sort something out. Joy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  71. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    What I’ve always thought “center-right nation” to mean, though, was a desire for relatively small government, low taxes, strong defense, and belief in traditional moral values.

    Nobody really wants small government or low taxes — rather, the average voter wants small government and low taxes for themselves, while also wanting government to regulate and restrict the things that voter doesn’t like, and to provide lots of goods and services for that voter — all things which can only be achieved by a bigger (or stronger) government and higher taxes.

    People want a myth of small government and low taxes. In reality, however, they want a strong, capable government which does lots of things.

    Consider a block of surburban homeowners, all of whom will claim to want minimal government intereference and the freedom to do with their property what they will. Well, if I buy one of the homes on that street, knock it down, and start to build a 20 story apartment building on the lot, they’ll suddenly stop caring about my freedom to use my own property, and they’ll go running to the government to stop me pretty damn quick.

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  72. michael reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:

    It is a moving target. Bill Clinton got the Democrats to look at the limits of government spending and since then we’ve been the rational party when it comes to budgets.

    Barack Obama took away the strong-on-defense portfolio of the GOP.

    And time has taken away the social issues. It’s really, finally, time for the GOP to give up on the abortion issue. It never works outside of the south. Women candidates murdered their opponents last night, and in particular murdered social conservatives. (If you can call Mr. Akin conservative.)

    It’s going to be interesting seeing what happens next in the GOP. I know you had hopes, which I thought misplaced, that Romney would moderate the party. Right now though I don’t think the direction of the GOP will be set by party elders. (Who’s left?) The direction now will be set by Roger Ailes. It will be fascinating to see whether he chases a declining demographic or tries a risky move to broaden his base/viewership.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  73. john personna says:

    @Gustopher:

    The Democrats’ shift on gun control should be a model for Republicans on immigration. At a minimum, if you can’t change the status quo, stop talking about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  74. C. Clavin says:

    @ SD…
    You are one of those who need to realize you are out on the fringes. From where you stand moderation seems radical.
    It’s all about perspective.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  75. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: This is a semantic and education issue. I observed above that we’ve never been a center right nation. “Never” may be strong, but for decades, if people are polled on their political orientation, a majority identify as “conservative”. Yet if they’re polled on individual issues: abortion rights, the environment, taxation of the wealthy, whatever; we have clearly been a center left country.

    See http://www.unc.edu/~jstimson/Working_Papers_files/Pathways.pdf Bottom line is that a lot of people don’t pay attention to politics and don’t have a clear understanding of the concepts “liberal” and “conservative”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  76. stonetools says:

    What people want is not small government, but RIGHT government -right in the sense not of conservative or wingnut, but policies that reflect reality , and not for example, a belief that tax cuts for the rich can magically pay for themselves and solve all economic problems. Obama’s re-election was a step in the direction of right government, properly understood.
    Whats left now is to sweep out all the delusional tea Party people that the American people wrongfully inflicted on themselves in 2010. There’s a lot more work to do, but at least we are on our way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  77. JKB says:

    @Mike: I don’t know about Obama’s plan, but I know Mitch McConnell’s goal just got easier to attain. This term, he won’t have to do anything to ensure Obama is not re-elected in 2016.

    Well, that is something. Fist fights in the Capitol Rotunda.

    I see the market is not expecting any deal on the capital gains tax increase. It’s going to sell, sell, till the new year then we’ll see how things sort out in the new normal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  78. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    I see the market is not expecting any deal on the capital gains tax increase. It’s going to sell, sell, till the new year then we’ll see how things sort out in the new normal.

    The only reason to sell out of the markets for capital gains tax would be if you think you’re going to be dead in 3-5. Otherwise you need the equity exposure.

    Now, the extremely paranoid might sell and repurchase to lock in profit and tax now, but if they do reinvest in the market, and it drops, they have only managed to pay tax on vanished profits. On air.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  79. Mr. Replica says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The direction now will be set by Roger Ailes. It will be fascinating to see whether he chases a declining demographic or tries a risky move to broaden his base/viewership.

    With O’Reilly and Hannity getting huge ratings on almost every night(the highest ratings out of any of the FoxNews shows), crushing every other cable news show in the same time slot, I am not sure if Ailes could change it if he wanted to.

    Well, I know that O’Reilly could dial it down if he wanted or was asked to, as most of what he does on FoxNews is an exaggeration of himself. But, Hannity?

    This is just from Monday.
    http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2012/11/06/cable-news-ratings-for-monday-november-5-2012/156330/

    Admittedly I do not watch FoxNews, or any cable news for that matter. Most of what I get to see is from the Daily Show/Colbert Report. But, if it’s as ridiculous as they make it out to be on an almost daily basis, I wouldn’t know where to start to bring things back from the far edge of crazy town. Then again, I am not a marketing genius like Ailes is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  80. Joe says:

    @superdestroyer: You solve the problem by addressing each problem directly and get at the causes for the problems instead of using a sledgehammer (the Ryan approach).

    Of the big three entitlement programs, Social Security is easy because the solution is a simple actuarial fix. Whether you used chained CPI, adjust the start date or increase the amount of payroll income subject to FICA witholdings there is a solution there.

    Medicare is tougher, because it is the underlying cost of Medical care that is driving the problem. Contrary to the noise out there, Obamacare is a first step in attempting to control those costs. If it doesn’t work than something similar to Ryan’s plan may be the ultimate solution.

    The biggest problem is Medicaid and it is not because of poor people on the public dole. They are actually a tiny portion of the cost. The big drivers are nursing home care for the elderly and disability benefits..and I mean the truly disabled, not the made up stuff. I have two kids with autism and I can tell you the societal costs to address their situation are huge…and I foot a large portion of the bill. We need to come to grips as a society on how we handle those problems..and then fund Medicaid to meet those needs. Just cutting for the sake of cutting means that you are leaving it to the states to make helter-skelter decisions based on political expediency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  81. DRE says:

    @Just Me:

    There isn’t a magic money tree in DC and there aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay for it.

    There is a pretty large pot of money that goes to “Defense”. The next step that is necessary is for the US to stop trying to police the world, and start trying to build a system of international law with legitimacy and support from all of the worlds economic powers, which would allow us to focus more of our resources on building or maintaining an efficient infrastructure, including universal healthcare, an adequate safety net, and a strong educational system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  82. MM says:

    I wonder if this will lead those on the Right, whatever their ideological convictions may be, to question their sources of information? Perhaps being spoonfed things you want to hear isn’t terribly useful? Dems had to go through this in 2004 to an extent. And you ultimately got the rise of the data-driven poll analysts, like Silver.

    That is what I hope will be the biggest takeaway this year. The Republicans have spent a lot of time lsitenting to what they want to hear, whether from Fox News or Limbaugh or someone who tells them that the polls are all skewed. Will they continue to bury their heads in the sand and call Romney a RINO, or will they maybe deal with the uncomfortable truth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  83. qtip says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    The mixed tenses in the phrase “is begun” sound odd to my ears…maybe “is beginning” or “has begun”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  84. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    Romney would not have won in 1980. He is just a terrible candidate and a terrible person.

    Remember, in 1980, California was a rock solid lock for the Republicans. So was Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Further, the reason Romney was such a bad candidate is precisely because he felt forced to try to pretend to be all things to all people. He’d have just been a regular Republican in 1980.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  85. Jib says:

    @Steve Metz: I think it is higher than 20%. Economically conservative, socially liberal puts the whole west coast back in play. Seattle votes for gay marriage and legal pot but it also the home of Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon and Boeing. We dont just compete in the market place, any thing short of global domination means your not trying. Any one who thinks Silicon Valley is not full of raging capitalists has not been there.

    Repubs use to do well on the west coast and they can again when they dump social conservatism

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  86. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: You’re not even going to comment on your predictions from the last few days?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  87. Barry says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: “This is a bit of a logical leap. ” (rest trimmed for clarity)

    No, it’s not. you point out that this slice of the Democratic coalition might disagree with that slice about various things, but they voted Democratic. And any coalition carries stresses; the New Deal Democrats did and the Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan-Bush GOP certainly did.

    What’s important is when the stresses become stronger than the ties, so that blocks switch, as happened in the break-up of the New Deal Democrats, and seems to be happening now with the GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  88. Barry says:

    @Janis Gore: Agreed. Thanks, James!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  89. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: Does it hurt? Did you know that Obama signed an executive order allowing ‘them’ to come after you? They said that tonight’s the night :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  90. Barry says:

    @Steve Metz: “A new book by the Cato Institute argues that about 20% fall into the economically conservative/socially liberal camp and currently don’t feel comfortable with either party. ”

    This has been a long-standing claim by movement libertarians. Many, if not most of whom vote GOP, which is economically whackjob and socially reactionary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  91. Barry says:

    @Scott: “They are not even fiscal conservatives. ”

    As opposed to Reagan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  92. Barry says:

    @Rob in CT: “So, while I’m generally pleased with the outcome, I’m not exactly doing backflips here. Why would the dynamic of the past 2 years change, exactly? ”

    Well, a continuation of trench warfare is still better than finding out what the sum of Dubya I and Dubya II would do to our country. In addition the ‘fiscal cliff’ (from Chait’s analysis) will put a lot of bargaining power in Obama’s hands; there is a lot of stuff coming due in Jan, 2013 which the right doesn’t want to see happen.

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  93. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: ” GW Bush left office with a 20% approval rating because he wanted a bigger government and wanted to pass out more government goodies. ”

    He had (IIRC) an approval rating among Republicans of ~70% or more.

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  94. Sam Penrose says:

    Wonderful post, Mr. Joyner. Thank you.

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  95. Barry says:

    @steve: “We are still center-right, or whatever you want to call it, on economic issues. Most people still have some distrust of a large government. ”

    From various polls I’ve seen:

    1) People think that the distribution of income is less skewed than it is is, and want it less skewed than it is.
    2) People want Social Security and Medicare/aid preserved.

    and so on.

    Now, the MSM wants the opposite, so one might not realize it.

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  96. Mike says:

    @Barry: Hmmmm. Iraq. I wonder if that might have had an affect on dubya’s rating? Hmmmm.

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  97. superdestroyer says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The poverty level in Texas in lower than in deep blue California. Also, the Texas education system, based upon NAEP scores, outperforms most blue states. Texas has the educational problem of having fewer white children than most blue states but I guess progressives are incapable of understanding Simpson’s Paradox.

    If you want to see the future of the U.S., look at California with schools that underperform versus Texas, with higher unemployement, higher taxes, and entrenched public sector unions. Why do progressives want most of the U.S. to resemble the economic state of California.?

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  98. superdestroyer says:

    @Tony W:

    47% of those hard workers pay no income taxes. 70% of black children adn 50% of Hispanic children are born to single mothers. It is kind of hard that blacks and Hispanics are willing to pay high taxes and work hard for social good when most of them will not take care of their own children.

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  99. superdestroyer says:

    @Mike:

    Do you really think that the coastal elites really want income distribution or is it easier to understand that the coastal elites want control of where the money is going. How much social welfare spending is really payroll expenses for the public sector and NGOs?

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  100. superdestroyer says:

    @Mike:

    There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street or General Motors. Such bailouts just rewards the friend of big government and make the federal government more powerful. A real conservative lets private businesses fail when they make stupid decisions and lets the failures open up markets for the smarter companies.

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  101. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    An attempt to appeal to Hispanics just leads to a one party state faster than demographic changes alone. The Republicans would have to move so far to the left to appeal to Hispanics that the current Republicans would be indistinguishable from the current Democratic Party. And why does the U.S. need two big spending, high taxes, high entitlement nanny states?

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  102. superdestroyer says:

    @Joe: So the cure for entitlement spending is more taxes, more spending, and more promises. What should people give up for there can be more entitlement spending. Are you willing to give up entertainment spending, restaurant meals, etc in order to fund the demand for entitlement spending?

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  103. jukeboxgrad says:

    grumpy:

    Plus, the education down there [Texas] stinks. Remember the bozos who were against any education that taught logic and criticism?

    Yup. Colbert on this is priceless, and I think relevant to this thread:

    The minds of our young people are being poisoned by knowledge… I have long praised the Texas Board of Education for their valiant work rewriting our nation’s history textbooks. But now I believe they’ve got some stiff competition from the Texas GOP, who recently put a plank in their 2012 party platform regarding children’s education which says, and I quote, “We oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills.” Amen brother. For too long we have blindly accepted the idea of not blindly accepting ideas.

    And you know who I blame? I blame Galileo…. For centuries we had a perfectly good explanation for the order of the universe. Bible says the sun goes around the Earth, making us the center of the universe. And you know what? Everyone was happy. And then numbnuts over here gets a telescope for Christmas, uses his precious critical thinking skills and suddenly the Earth goes around the sun, blah blah blah and now we have lesbians.

    I’m here to tell you now the Texas GOP is on to you, critical thinking skills! They know that you have quote the purpose of challenging the students’ fixed beliefs, and a good teacher’s job is to maintain whatever fixed beliefs a student has when they enter first grade.

    Frankly folks, I am embarrassed that we conservatives did not think of this sooner…. Sure,we discredited the liberal activism of the ‘60s and the socialist policies of the New Deal… But folks, all of that is just child’s play compared to the Texas GOP, who with this one plank of their platform have called for the repeal of the Enlightenment.

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  104. Mike says:

    @superdestroyer: “There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street or General Motors. ”

    I didn’t say that there was.

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  105. I am a liberal Democrat of the very old-school (Hubert H. Humphrey) type. Nevertheless, I think that the United States IS a center-right nation, at least in comparison to other advanced industrial democracies. I think that the 2012 election does not establish that US isn’t center-right, rather, I think that the election’s results establish that the US is simply not an unhinged, Glen Beckian nation. It is not that the country doesn’t have moderately conservative impulses, it is just that moderately conservative impulses don’t extend to full-on right-wing insanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  106. Mike says:

    @superdestroyer: “Do you really think that the coastal elites really want income distribution ”

    Well, no, but that’s simply a Fox/republican characterization of the Democrat’s position to be contrasted with your certainty of the coming third world income inequality the Democrats are going to implement. Or, at least that’s what you seem to be saying over and over.

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  107. michael reynolds says:

    @superdestroyer:

    As a person who can live wherever he likes, and who would save at least 50k a year in taxes alone by moving to Texas, not to mention cutting the rest of my expenses by maybe 20 grand, here’s what I have to say about moving to Texas: Ah hah hah hah hah!

    Texas. Yeah, right. Because I really miss sweating through my clothes, stepping on roaches and living around people who believe that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  108. Barry says:

    @Jib: “Economically conservative, socially liberal puts the whole west coast back in play. ”

    I’m amazed that that old line just doesn’t die. I first heard it in the 1970′s.

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  109. superdestroyer says:

    @Mike:

    The Democrats are the ones in 2012 bragging about bailing out business and making more groups dependent on the government. Once again, the Democrats win when the government spends more money. Something that GW Bush and Karl Rove are incapable of understanding.

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  110. abigail beecher says:

    Wowser! Look at all these leftwing nutter comments; even in victory they are hateful, mean-spirited, angry and nasty.

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  111. Bill Finch says:

    Folks, whether you are Democrat or Republican, we are on a course for fiscal collapse.

    The math can not be negotiated with.

    The budget-less trajectory of $20+ trillion in (on the books) debt that Democrats have charted for the U.S. is not a matter of conjecture.

    It is as certain as death and taxes, which — as an aside — will be among the two side-effects of the reelection of the most fiscally irresponsible government in world history.

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  112. Hoyticus says:

    Superdestroyer rarely brings up the redistribution from poor (or really everyone) to the rich. Bailouts for the financial sector and expenditures on armaments. Lets be honest poor people do not own stock or work at Raytheon. They don’t even know what it is. Poor people don’t know what Goldman Sachs is and yet, they get stuck holding the bag. Basically rich people are good at avoiding taxes and sticking it to someone else.

    However Superdestroyer does raise an interesting if uncomfortable question. America is becoming more brown, what does this mean for our future? Will the newcomers be assimilated like the white ethnics of the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Basically Superdestroyer is raising some of the questions from “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity” by Samuel Huntington.

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  113. RKae says:

    Abigail Beecher:

    Here’s my favorite comment here:

    from grumpy realist: “Didn’t want them to start thinking differently from their parents. Do you really think a first world country is going to be able to maintain a science and technology base on a population of religious fruitcakes? Good luck.”

    First off, parents have the right to raise their kids their way. Or shall we remove that right? Are you going to impose your “education” on Muslims? Nope. Every time liberals attack Christians and are asked apply the same argument against Muslims, the liberals go quiet and head for the hills.

    Second, the first thing Buzz Aldrin did when he landed on the moon was to take communion. Gee, I’m so sorry that “religious fruitcake” got in the way of progress! A majority Christian country went from a canvas and wood airplane that went about a hundred feet to breaking the sound barrier in 45 years. Religion does not stand in the way of science.

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  114. Rob in CT says:

    Religion need not stand in the way of science. Unfortunately, right now, on the Right, there are those who do see the two as opposed. That’s a bad thing. And those people are the “fruitcakes” referenced. They are harming the country, and harming the GOP’s political fortunes. It’s not about being religious, full stop. There are lots of religious folks in the Dem coalition too, and folks who wander off into fruitcake land. The key, on the Dem side (for now), is that those folks aren’t allowed to drive the bus.

    As for the fiscal situation, Bill, everybody knows there are going to be cuts. The fight is over the appropriate mix of cuts & tax increases to close the hole (a hole created by Republicans as well as Democrats over the years, especially the Administration that Must Not Be Named, of recent vintage), as well as the timing of things, given the underlying economic situation.

    We’re going to take a hit, there’s no question about it. The tax cut growth fairy didn’t work, and we’ve racked up quite a bit of public debt. The question is who takes the hit? The GOP staked its banner to the unpopular position that above all, high earners and investors must be shielded. The Dems argued that if we’re going to cut “entitlements” and the safety net programs, then there has to be some sacrifice at the top too. The GOP had no effective answer to that: it was just a bunch of sputtering about job creators. Nobody is proposing to close the hole with taxes alone.

    Sadly, the GOP has been arguing with a strawman of their own creation. One might even say an empty chair…

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  115. superdestroyer says:

    @Hoyticus:

    Do you really think the Democratic Senators from New York or Conn. were not fighting very hard to make sure government money flowed to the investment banks in Manhattan. The idea that the big investment banks and financial houses are filled with Republicans is laughable.

    Remember, it was the Obama Administration that celebrates the bailing out of General MOtors and Chrysler. To claim that bailing outs are the domain of Republicans is wrong. Everyone of the bailouts was approved from a Senate and House that was control by the Democrats.

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  116. superdestroyer says:

    @RKae:

    If progressives would actually looked at the measures of academic education, Texas outperforms most of the blue states. Of course, it is easier to reduce a discussion of Texas to some sound byte they were on the Rachel Maddow show instead of looking up test scores and seeing that white students in Texas outperform the white students in most states.

    What is really hard to believe is that progressives believe that the children of illegal aliens who are attending public schools in California (or New York) are going to help the U.S. compete in the global marketplace. They probably do not comprehend enough English to be able to discuss evolution or plasmids.

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  117. Hoyticus says:

    @superdestroyer: I don’t deny that Democrats in the Northeast wanted bailout money for their own parochial interests. My only point is that often you focus on Democrats using government for giving goodies to the poor, while not focusing as often on how much both parties also channel massive sums of money to the rich. My point is every single group of Americans are Shylocks. We all want our pound of flesh.

    So basically yes, I get your point that brown people vote for Democrats for benefits. Everyone does this. Is it more corrosive to the body politic that poor people want “handouts” or rich people who want bailouts and endless government contracts?

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  118. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: California was reliably Republican in presidential races through 1988. It’s been reliably Democratic since 1992. Something changed, right? I think it’s a combination of the Democrats moving right and the Republicans moving further right, particularly on immigration.

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  119. grumpy realist says:

    @RKae: I’m just saying that if you’re a neanderthalic idiot who believes the world was created 4000 years ago, disbelieves in evolution, education for girls beyond 14and insists that you have a goddamn right to stuff whatever belief system you want in your kid’s head, you are not going to be producing individuals who will contribute to a high level of science and technology in the US. With the resultant effects on US GDP. Fundamentalist culture is usually only in equilibrium with an economy based on subsistance farming. Look at the Saudis–as soon as the oil runs out they’re going to be going back to being camel herders and date gatherers, because they haven’t been creating any intellectual capital with all the money they have.

    Religion doesn’t have to mean fundamentalism and literal interpretation of whatever holy text you believe in. Unfortunately, far too many of the noisy religious ones are that way. ‘readin, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic plus reading the Bible may have been sufficient education when we were all farmers scratching out an existence from the land. We aren’t in 1860 any more and we should stop believing that it was an ideal existance back then.

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  120. Bass Reemer says:

    Reagan is dead and buried and the woeful GOP needs to face this fact. The continual masturbatorial praising of Reagan will continue to dwindle GOP success. In 1980 when Reagan ran for Prez the US was still in the post 1960′s aura. The fact that a presidential candidate could go to a dismal state like Mississippi and praise ” STATE RIGHTS”- code for ‘No Federal prosecution’ for civil rights era murders- was revealing and that cast fits only a select group then and now. The way the GOP is going it will soon be as irrelevant as the Whigs…

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  121. jukeboxgrad says:

    The Whigs? Who are the Whigs?

    These people have Romnesia. They can’t even remember what Mitt said 10 minutes ago. So surely they can’t remember the Whigs.

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  122. Terry says:

    Love the piece; don’t love the title. I always cringe whenever a conservative pundit or politician starts talking about how we’re a “Center Right” country and then uses that to justify some far right policy preference. The right has completely forgotten where the center is –they couldn’t find it with a protractor. When the definition of “centrist” is someone who thinks maybe rape isn’t God’s will, you know you’ve lost touch. We may very well still be a center right country – it’s just that the Democrats are hewing much more closely to that ideology than the Republicans are at the moment.

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  123. Former Moderate Republican says:

    @Steve Metz:

    I left the GOP when the Christian Coalition took control of the party. The fundies have warped the meaning the word “conservative.” With respect to the GOP, conservatism used to mean small government, limited government intrusion into the lives of people and business, and fiscal conservancy. Now, it means that one is all about social wedge issues. Who cares if two people of the same sex marry? It’s a revenue neutral issue. Who cares if women have the right to have an abortion? It doesn’t stop one who is against the practice from not having an abortion. The GOP used to be about freedom. Now, it’s all about controlling social behavior. That’s a losing platform in any thinking area of the country.

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  124. Guest says:

    @Janis Gore: “Let’s go all Aretha Franklin here, and say we want some respect. ”

    Not for anyone who looks like Aretha, no way in hell.

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  125. Guest says:

    @Joe:

    The biggest problem is Medicaid and it is not because of poor people on the public dole. They are actually a tiny portion of the cost. The big drivers are nursing home care for the elderly and disability benefits..and I mean the truly disabled, not the made up stuff. I have two kids with autism and I can tell you the societal costs to address their situation are huge…and I foot a large portion of the bill.

    Then you and your ‘tard nuggets are “the biggest problem.”

    We need to come to grips as a society on how we handle those problems

    Party like it’s 1939.

    …and then fund Medicaid to meet those needs.

    Actually, we’d do better to fund the waste-management industry. Or preventative medicine that would vaccinate your useless ‘tard nuggets with potassium chloride. Eugenics for the win.

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  126. Californian says:

    @James Joyner: California did not become Democratic in 1990s because Republicans became more right-wing on immigration. It became more Democratic because of immigration! Non-Hispanic whites are a minority here now because of immigration. Before they were a majority. Once upon a time, before 1986, there was a commitment to enforce the legal immigration levels. (The 1965 Immigration Act.) So California, far from becoming more “anti-immgirant,” became much more pro-illegal immigrant over the period that it flipped to the Democrats. Republicans unwittingly undercut themselves because they wrongly thought immigrants would reward their 1986 amnesty, their proposed McCain-Feingold amnesty, etc. failing to notice that those legalized and those with illegal immigrant relatives are much poorer than Americans & therefore liable to vote Democrat no matter what the Republican position on illegal immigration is.

    Unfortunately for everyone except the very well-off, unlimted immigration drives wages down & rental prices up. There already is a problem paying for government services because so many Anmericans don’t make enough to pay income taxes. Without a large middle class, it will be harder to fund all the income supports that the large low-income population here wants & arguably needs. That’s why supporting unlimited immigration from poor countries is a lose-lose for everyone except those illegal immigrants, the very wealthy, the so-called “ethnic” lobbyists & immigration lawyers.

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  127. Muffy says:

    Romney ran a bad campaign. If he did everything right(including a different VP) he probably would have won. It’s a big “what if,” but Obama’s team started their attack on Romney in the summer when he was not able to fight back yet, but when he was given the chance to do so, he didn’t. He was too soft. You watch an Obama ad, he’s going hard on Romney. The campaign was more about Romney than it was about what Obama was going to actually do. You watch a Romney ad and he’s being gentle. There were also voters Romney’s team overlooked. The Youth and Hispanic vote. Barry’s team is damn good at campaigning. They did what they were supposed to do and they did it well. It’s better than Obama himself. Obama also has the media on his side. Romney and his team, not so much. There were voters who did not give their vote to Obama, but Romney could not convince them to give him their vote. No ones knows what’s going to happen in 2016, but I’m sure the red party will pick a strong candidate with an A+ team. America is still divided. It’s not “We Are the World.” I’m sick of people in the blue party using abortion as a scare tactic and some folks in the red party saying dumb stuff about. Romney: Probably one abortion ad. Obama: One million
    abortion ads. I’m not afraid to call out flaws in both parties.

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