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Winners and Losers: Election 2012


Here are a few winners and losers (note: this list is FAR from comprehensive, and was put together on little sleep, so take it for what it’s worth – probably not much!) from this (endless) election cycle that I think are worth highlighting. I’m not going to dwell much on the obvious winners (Obama, Kaine, Virginia incumbent Congressmen) and losers (Romney, Allen, Virginia congressional challengers), but instead pick out other things that sprung to my mind. Enjoy (or not)! 🙂


1. Nate Silver/538 Despite all the attacks on him by pundits jealous they don’t have 1% the brainpower he does, as well as by Republicans frustrated that the math simply wasn’t adding up their way, no matter how desperately they tried to “unskew” it, Silver appears to have predicted ever state correctly, pending results in Florida. That means Nate has now nailed 2008, 2010 and 2012. Any further doubters, other than the delusional?

2. The Kaine campaign (Mike Henry, Mo Elleithee, Brandi Hoffine, etc.): Mike and Mo had a rough 2008 (Hillary Clinton for President) and 2009 (Terry McAuliffe, Steve Shannon, Creigh Deeds), but bounced back strong this year with an impressive campaign against George Allen. The basic lesson here: when it comes to running general election races in Virginia, Mike Henry and Mo Elleithee (this year, add Kaine campaign Communications Director Brandi Hoffine to the mix) are pretty much the gold standard. Congratulations!

3. Federal employees Would have faced grave threats to their job security, benefits, you name it under a Romney/Ryan administration. Now, it’s not as if happy days are here again, but they certainly dodged that deadly bullet.

4. Virginia voters: Showed up in huge numbers, stayed in line for however long it took, showed what democracy is all about. Now, let’s do it next year and make sure that Ken Cuccinelli does NOT become our next governor (god forbid)!

5. Loudoun County and Prince William County Democrats: Great work carrying these crucial, swing counties for Obama and Kaine! Prince William was particularly impressive, with Obama winning 57%-42% there. Nice!

6. Latino Americans. Related to that last point, about Loudoun and Prince William Counties, is the rapidly growing clout of Latino Americans. That clout was certainly demonstrated yesterday in Virginia, as well as across the country, as Latino voters broke heavily for Democrats, and also helped propel Maryland’s DREAM Act to victory. Si, se puede!

7. African Americans Despite attempts by Republicans to suppress their vote, including by cutting down on early voting and making them wait in line for 5, 6, 7 hours, African Americans showed true grit and determination to NOT be intimidated by the bullies, staying in line as long as it took and making their voices heard. Impressive!

8. Clean energy and the environment A Republican victory would have been disastrous for clean energy and the environment. Not that it will be nirvana under Democrats, but remember that President Obama invested more money in wind, solar, energy efficiency, and other clean energy sources than this country’s ever invested before. That needs to continue over the second 4-year term and beyond, as we move from dirty energy to a sustainable, clean energy-powered economy that works for everyone.

9. Congressional Redistricting. As much as I hate to say it, Congressional redistricting was effective, both here in Virginia (where every incumbent won easily) and across the country (where Democratic gains were minimized). Sad, but until we get nonpartisan redistricting instead of “incumbent protection,” this is going to keep happening.

10. Earned media. Proved to be far more effective than paid media, in my view, with the big stories “moving numbers” including the Democratic convention, the 47% video, the first presidential debate, and Hurricane Sandy. None of those had anything, really, to do with paid TV advertising.

11. Women’s rights: Republicans like Romney, Ryan, Akin and Murdoch would have tried as hard as possible to roll back women’s rights to the 1950s or earlier. Thank goodness they lost. (Note: I’d also note that a number of superb female candidates won last night, such as Elizabeth Warren and Heidi Heitkamp).

12. Sandra Fluke: She emerged a champion during this election, despite vicious attacks on her by crazed misogynists like Rush Limbaugh. She also gave an excellent speech at the Democratic National Convention. Thank you, Sandra Fluke!

13. Nuns on the Bus: They showed that religion, at its best, is progressive, cares about the same people Jesus cared about – the poor, the powerless, the downtrodden, etc. – and not the wealthy and powerful. Nice job by the Nuns on the Bus showing what religion at its best is all about!

14. Big Bird/PBS: A Romney/Ryan victory could have meant Big Bird ended up in the trash can with Oscar the Grouch. Instead, Big Bird lives to preen his feathers another day. 🙂

15. The auto bailout, stimulus, Obamacare…. A bunch of Obama administration policies in the first term not only worked, but also helped President Obama win election (or didn’t hurt him, as in the case of Obamacare, where people in this country are pretty much evenly divided). As for Obamacare, that’s a HUGE winner, as it is now 100% guaranteed to be the law of the land for years to come, having dodged Supreme Court and election bullets.

16. LGBT Americans: Again, a Romney/Ryan victory would have been bad news. Instead, Barack Obama – who has been the best friend to LGBT Americans they’ve ever had in the White House, by a wide margin at that – was reelected. As if that’s not good enough, gay marriage scored major victories yesterday in Maine and Maryland, while an anti-gay-marriage amendment was defeated in Minnesota. Great stuff!

17. Bruce Springsteen: I just wanted to thank Broooce for being the working-class conscience of our country, a national treasure, and a citizen willing to step up when he’s needed to fight for what’s right. In this case, that meant speaking out and appearing at rallies for President Obama. Go Brooooooce! 🙂

18. Bill Clinton. Any lingering anger at Clinton for the nasty 2008 primary is long gone at this point. Today, Bill Clinton is one of the most beloved Americans, certainly among Democrats. He also was a huge help to President Obama’s reelection, as well as to other Democratic candidates this year. Next up, electing Hillary Clinton to the White House in 2016? Stay tuned! 🙂

19. John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Sadly, both are winners, as they maintained their party’s control of the House. Unfortunate, but maybe they’ll show some statesmanship in the next four years that they certainly didn’t show in the last four (Can’tor was actually far worse than Boehner).

20. Ben Tribbett. Once again, nailed his predictions last night, showing once again that he’s the Nate Silver of Virginia. Of course, the media didn’t listen to him, waiting for hours to “call” Virginia, even after it was obvious to everyone that the numbers simply couldn’t add up for Romney.

21. Clark Mercer. The DPVA political director was everywhere this election cycle, helping Democratic committees be as strong as possible, and generally working indefatigably to put Virginia Democrats in position for election day 2012, as well as for 2013 and beyond. In an organization that, admittedly, we haven’t been big fans of here at Blue Virginia, Clark Mercer exudes competence and political savvy.

22. Reality. Was under serious, sustained assault, mostly by Republicans but also by many in the corporate media, this election cycle. In the end, reality won out, as it usually does.

23. Turnout/Democracy: Despite Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout, it appears that Americans showed up at the polls yesterday in huge numbers. A clear victory for democracy.

24. Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Both campaigned for Tim Kaine and Barack Obama, although Warner was far more active than Webb, and both were very helpful in Kaine’s and Obama’s Virginia victories.

25. Virginia’s inexorable migration to “blue” status. The changing demographics of Virginia make our state’s eventual “blue” status all but inevitable. It’s already there at the presidential and U.S. Senate levels, the question is how long it will take to get there at the gubernatorial and Congressional levels. Let’s hope not too long.

26. PPP, Pew, and other top-notch pollsters. There are many bad pollsters out there, which is why it’s great that we have gems like Public Policy Polling (#1 again this cycle), NBC/WSJ, CBS/NY Times, Pew, also Quinnipiac and a few others. Nice job!


1. Terry McAuliffe. Supposedly, if a Democrat’s in the White House, Virginians always elect a Republican as governor. On the other hand, Barack Obama has proved a number of those supposed truisms wrong, so maybe not. Also, T-Mac has the opportunity to use what Obama and Kaine built this year for his gubernatorial run next year.

2. Ken Cuccinelli. The flip side of what I just wrote about T-Mac. Also, this campaign cycle showed once again the severe limitations of extremist, Tea Party candidates running in general elections statewide. On the other hand, Cooch is pretty slick about pretending to be a “nice guy” and not a frothing-at-the-mouth Akin/Murdoch type (even though he’s no different on the issues).

3. Dave “Mudcat” Saunders. Was a winner in that he made a nice amount of money consulting to Wayne Powell, also got on TV a lot. Was a loser in that, as Mudcat’s former colleague Steve Jarding once told me, in politics “if you win you’re a genius, if you lose you’re an idiot.” Well, Mudcat’s client certainly didn’t win, let’s put it that way. 😉

4. Rep. Jim Moran. Won reelection easily, which would put him in the “winners” category. However, also dealt with a scandal involving his son, Patrick, and possible election fraud. So, mixed bag for Jim Moran…


1. Pathological lying. In the end, all that pathological lying by Romney/Ryan didn’t win them the election. And that’s no lie! 🙂

2. Bob McDonnell. Not a good year, as he tried desperately to get on the Romney ticket as running mate, but was sabotaged by “transvaginal ultrasounds” and other lunacy from his fellow Virginia Republicans. Also, Romney’s loss means no cabinet position for McDonnell either. So sad, huh?

3. Tea Party Possibly the biggest loser of this cycle, as they singlehandedly may have cost Republcians the U.S. Senate, as well as any respect as a serious, major party in this country. If Republicans are smart, they will ditch these people once and for all.

4. GOP Primaries, caucuses, straw polls The entire process of picking the GOP nominee was demeaning, a freak show, utterly absurd, and ultimately harmful to their nominee. Also, I must say, the attention given to the Iowa “straw poll” (who won that again? oh yeah, Michele Bachmann – lol) and to the Iowa caucuses (who won THOSE again? oh yeah, Rick Santorum – lol) is equally absurd and harmful to the Republicans’ eventual nominee. They really should change their system of picking a nominee, if they’re smart (but are they?).

5. Virginia’s constitution> Once again, it’s been sullied by the inclusion of a ridiculous, unncessary, poorly written amendment – this time on “eminent domain” – that has no business there. #FAIL.

6. Old white men. As these number show, old white men are pretty much the last major bastion of Republican Party support in this country. The rest of the country is moving in a different direction, while these guys get angrier and angrier (GET OFF MY LAWN!!!). Sad.

7. Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson, John Sununu, Foster Friess, etc.: Speaking of angry, old (and crazy!) white guys. Adelson, by the way, should be in jail. Trump should be in an insane asylum. Sununu’s just a disgusting racist. Friess is a misogynistic freak. What a bunch – major Romney surrogates, supporters and contriburors all!

8. Money’s influence on elections. After all the angst over Citizens United – which, don’t get me wrong, is an abomination that should be repealed! – I see very little evidence that money made a major difference in this election cycle. Can you name one race that would have ended up differently if there had NOT been all that money poured into it? Got me.

9. Paid media, particularly ads on TV. Speaking of money in politics, were any of you swayed by the torrent of ads on TV? I doubt it. Yet the advertising-consultant-industrial complex is a powerful one, highly lucrative to those that make the ads, buy the ads, place the ads, and run the ads. Other than that, we’d all be far better off with none of this garbage.

10. The Des Moines Register Editorial Board: So, how’d that Romney endorsement work out for you? Wait, Obama ended up winning Iowa easily despite your tremendous influence? Heh.

11. Corporate Media’s Desperate Attempts to Be Relevant, Force a Narrative: It was pathetic to watch the corporate media – not all of it, of course, but large swaths – try desperately to maintain their relevance in an age of increased social/bottom-up media and declining top-down media. That included sponsoring the endless, insane Teapublican debates last winter and spring; trying desperately, no matter what the evidence said, to impose their narrative on this election (“virtual dead heat!” “within the margin of error!”). Combine that with their largely substance-free, lame, horse-race/personality-driven coverage of American politics, and it’s really just a sorry situation.

12. The Koch brothers, Dirty Energy Interests. They spent a ton of money trying to buy this election, but in the end failed miserably. As Simpsons bully Nelson Muntz would say, “HA HA!”

13. Gallup, Rasmussen, Suffolk: These pollsters proved themselves to be completely out to lunch (in the case of Gallup) and/or 100% shills for Republicans (in the cases of Rasmussen and Suffolk). See here and here for more on that subject. I do hope that Gallup gets its act together, but as for the rest of ’em…I just hope they are ignored by everyone from now on.

14. Purveyors of “conventional wisdom”> They should know who they are, but they’re generally so oblivious and non-self-aware that they probably have no clue. Hint: it’s people like the utterly insipid Mark Halperin and many others…

15. Really bad musicians. Can we never hear from Meat Loaf or Ted Nugent, both horrible musicians as well as nutcases (especially in Nugent’s case – the guy should be locked up), ever again? Also, why is it that Republicans always have the worst musicians and actors supporting them, while Democrats have the best?

16. Mitch McConnell. I think it’s time for him to have a good, long cry, as his dreams of becoming Senate Majority Leader by making “Obama fail” have come to an end. Such a shame to happen to such a nice man, huh? LOL

17. Brain-dead “rules”. Two that must die after this election are: a) that a president can’t get reelected with unemployment over x%; and b) that if the Redskins lose at home, the challenger for president wins. Where do people come up with this crap, anyway, and who listens to them?!?

18. Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, other extremist Teapublicans. Where do Republicans find these wackos? Anyway, they all made fools of themselves the past couple years, and hopefully will never be seen or heard from again. Sadly, I doubt that’s the case.

19. Faux “News”. If there was any doubt that this network’s a total right-wing joke (with the occasional exception, Chris Wallace showing integrity now and again for instance), this election cycle should have put that to rest.

20. The GOP in Northern Virginia’s inner suburbs. Basically, they were utterly demolished in Alexandria and Arlington yesterday. Just a thought here, guys, but perhaps if you’d nominate moderate, sane Republicans up here, you might at least have SOME chance of winning?!?

21. Nancy Pelosi. I love the woman, but maybe it’s time for her to move on? I mean, she gave it her all, but in the end, House Democrats made minor if any gains, leaving them in the minority with Boehner and Can’tor in charge. Sigh. [UPDATE: Add DCCC head Steve Israel to this one.]

22. Third Parties. This cycle, third parties – Green, Libertarian, Constitution, whatever – had almost no impact whatsoever on the election, either in terms of changing any outcomes, or in terms of driving the debate. Zzzzzzz.

P.S. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the worst political pundits in America, starting with the demented Dick “Toe Sucker” Morris and Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove…

  • Dan Sullivan

    Unless the Kaine team is hired on to strong arm DPVA, there will be no residual for Democrats in Virginia next year. History is evidence. DPVA has rarely gotten Virginia Democrats interested in state elections. Republicans, on the other hand, worship their icons and elections are ritual.

    While it is absolutely true that Clark Mercer worked effectively and 24/7, his supporting cast is way off Broadway; out of their league. Time for a new cast.

    Senator Warner does Virginia Democrats no favor if he decides to run for Governor. He should strangle that idea immediately.

  • jrtolbert

    One quick note on the Kochs, while they spent a ton of money trying to influence the federal elections they also doubled down on their state based approach of flipping legislatures by targeting Arkansas.  They funneled millions of dollars into Arkansas and flipped the State Senate to Republican control, and either one a tie or one seat majority in the House.


    It’s worth noting that this follows the Right Wings strategy to a tee.  Build power in the states and use that power to move policy and politicians at the federal level.  

  • Pat Austin

    You raise an interesting point about the gubernatorial race and the fact that VA always seems to vote the opposite party after a presidential election. Nevertheless, as you mentioned, the Republicans may wind up nominating an incredibly flawed candidate in Ken Cuccinelli who has both high negatives and fires up the Democratic base. Plus, McAuliffe made the right move by investing in VA businesses for the past few years. It’ll be great on the campaign trail and a fantastic contrast to Cuccinelli whose just been busy filing unsuccessful lawsuits against the federal government.  

  • Quizzical

    I think your comments on Congressional Redistricting were spot on. In hindsight, it was a huge blunder for Obama supporters to not turn out in large numbers for the 2010 elections, given that it was a census year.  The effects of that mistake will be felt until the next census.  The takeaway should be, don’t elect a President then sit out the mid-term elections.

  • Hugo Estrada

    This is the first election after redistricting. The redistricting process protects incumbents, so barely any gains are to be expected.

  • kindler

    VA Dems do need to become a learning organization such that we transfer the lessons, the mailing lists, the support, the expertise, etc. from one campaign to another and don’t leave candidates having to figure it all out for themselves any more.  

    How do we build on our victories of last night?  I sure as hell am not going to stand by and watch the DPVA flub things up again while Cuccinelli becomes governor.  We need to figure out how to bring the grassroots, the establishment and our constituencies together to win rather than going in circles again.  It’s going to take real leadership from a variety of quarters to happen.

  • pashin

    Some committees may reach out on their own.   Good for them.   But someone may need to stimulate this in counties that may not be so welcoming.  

    Logically, the Democratic candidate for governor would have a huge interest in making that happen. But maybe this should also be a grassroots initiative.  

    I think of the model of Brigades, which kept the Webb campaign networks connected after 2006.  Could Virginia OFA NTLs be interested in creating a similar structure?