Team Blog

Socially progressive New America - except in the House

America has voted progressive this time around, but the Democrats failed to retake the House of Representatives. EPA/Michael Nelson

Barack Obama has now won, apparently losing only conservative Indiana and North Carolina from his 2008 list of states (Virginia and Florida not called yet, but Obama is up and it’s his friendly precincts left to be counted).

Meanwhile Senate Democrats, with the help of two rape-ambivalent Tea Party candidates will see a gain of 0-2 seats (depending on the western states of North Dakota, Montana, and Nevada) rather than the loss of majority widely predicted for them.

Strangely, the House of Representatives looks like it will be virtually unchanged. The only real changes so far have been through redistricting. Republicans have gained seats in North Carolina (where they also captured the governor’s mansion, giving them full control of the state for the first time ever) and Democrats in Illinois. The only seat I’ve seen change thus far through “normal” means was a Republican under Federal criminal investigation losing in Florida. Given that the House only has an approval rating in the single digits, one would have expected to see many Republican incumbents lose.

This means that either A) a lot of people voted for Obama and a Democratic senator and then a Republican for the House; or b) they simply didn’t vote “downballot” for the House at all. I’m banking on the latter. This means Democrats will need to do more voter education among new and “low information” voters" in the future.

Much of American punditry is looking at that future tonight as being pluralist and multiracial, and America that looks more like the Obama family than the Romneys because of demographics.

It is also worth noting other changes. Tammy Baldwin has just been elected as the first ever (openly) gay senator in Wisconsin, and it wasn’t even an issue in the race. Gay marriage has been legalized tonight in Maine (reversing recent ballot measures against it) and Maryland. It also looks set to pass in Washington state, and a measure that would have prevented it in Minnesota was defeated.

More states, including Masschusetts, legalized medical use of cannabis. Voters in Colorado, where the “medical” variety was already legal, just legalized it for recreational purposes as well. They will run into some Federal trouble with that one.

In short, except for one House of Congress, the America of the next four years looks awfully progressive. Tomorrow the next set of races begin (starting with elections for governors of New Jersey and Virginia and mayors of New York and Los Angeles next year). But first there’s that whole showdown about all of the Bush tax cuts and the Obama stimulus that expire at the end of the year…