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The Washington Insider

Special Election Coverage

November 9, 2012

as prepared by Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC

It is our pleasure to provide you with a brief update on the election and our nonpartisan analysis of what’s next in Washington.  First, this was a historical election for many reasons but one of the biggest ones is that this election will end up costing over $6 billion by the time everything is accounted for.  In Washington, where everyone is screaming about the fiscal cliff, those getting elected or re-elected were not worried about the amount of money it took to try and gain political office.  In the Connecticut Senate race alone, the loser of the race spent $43 million dollars to try and win an open seat. (All this for a salary of $174,000 per year!)

The day after voters finally ended a long, bruising election, Washington looked much the same as it did before the election. If voters were fed up with the most unpopular Congress in polling history (9% satisfaction at its lowest this summer), they didn't show it on Election Day. Republicans were left in charge of the House. Democrats added seats to their majority in the Senate. And President Obama was re-elected to the White House by a wide margin in the Electoral College vote.

Many pundits spent the day after the election discussing their ideas of why the Republicans lost, why the Democrats won and what the future holds for the country. Regardless of your politics, here are some takeaways from the election results.  Additionally, we have included a short PowerPoint with some excellent graphs. 

  • Voters stated that the number one issue was the economy.
  • Exit polls showed that a large percentage blamed President Bush for the current economic situation and did not hold President Obama or the past two Congresses responsible.
  • President Obama was the only President elected with over a 7.2% unemployment rate since 1936.
  • Women once again made significant gains in political seats.  For example in New Hampshire, women hold the two House and Senate seats, plus the Governor’s seat.
  • A breakdown of voter demographics show where each party had success:
    • o President Obama captured the youth vote (18-29), which showed up as 19% of the entire voter base, up from 17% in 2008.
    • o Obama received 93% of the African-American vote, 74% of the Asian vote, and 71% of the Hispanic vote.  He also captured the single woman with 68% of the vote.
    • o Obama won the urban areas with populations of 500,000 or more and trended higher in the 50,000-500,000 areas.
    • o Romney won the suburbs and rural areas.
    • o Romney received a 52% vote from men and his base trended to be older, Caucasian males.
    • o The Caucasian vote overall dropped by 2% compared to 2008.
    • o Romney took the older over (45-up) by over 53%.

Finally, voters were clear in their exit polling that they expected progress and were not happy with the political gridlock, which ties up Washington currently.  Many people acknowledged that they are not better off than they were four years ago and feel that the Members of Congress and the President will be held accountable from this point forward.

Also unchanged is the long list of serious challenges lawmakers left behind to hit the campaign trail, issues that could throw the country into another economic tailspin if the polarized partisans can't find a compromise. Some of these issues include the dealing immediately with the fiscal cliff and the sequestration.

Congress will return to a long lame duck agenda in 5 short days. In addition to big-ticket questions like averting sequestration and addressing expiring tax cuts, there are plenty of low-profile items. 

Below is a list of unfinished legislative items created by staff in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The length of the list ensures many items will not be completed in this Congress:

  • Boxer-Menendez
  • SAFER and FIRE Grants
  • Cyber security
  • Defense authorization
  • Russia trade
  • Judges
  • Farm bill
  • Disabilities treaty
  • Tax extenders
  • FISA reauthorization
  • VAWA conference
  • Congressional review
  • Credit union lending
  • Intel authorization
  • Water Resources Development
  • Rural housing
  • TAG program (FDIC insurance)
  • Children’s Hospitals GME reauthorization
  • Tax treaties
  • A public lands package
  • The Law of the Sea treaty
  • Miscellaneous Tariff Bill
  • Carcieri Fix
  • Doc fix/health extenders
  • 2001/2003/2009 tax cuts 

Last year Congress was tagged as the “do nothing” Congress and passed the lowest number of bills in history since 1945.  The partisanship on the Hill is nothing like we have ever seen in over 20 years of lobbying at Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies. It is clear that from now until the end of the year, Congress has some priorities it must focus on to ensure we do not slip further into a recession. 

If you would like any further information on election results, we suggest the following sites that may be of interest.