Barack Obama is president, the Senate is controlled by Democrats and the House is controlled by Republicans. The scary thing is that this is true both before and after yesterday’s election. As far as the political make-up of the nation’s leadership, nothing has really changed. The scary thing is there is no evidence that election will undo the gridlock that has such a complete hold on Washington. It’s scary because the biggest challenge the president and Congress face is the approaching fiscal cliff that will wreak havoc in every agency and department in the federal government including the military. Across-the-board cuts in the federal budget with no regard as to which entity can survive such reductions is no way to govern.
President Obama’s win was extraordinary. Voters in every poll that asked, “Is the country on the right or the wrong track?” consistently said, “Wrong track,” with more than 50 percent saying the country is headed in the wrong direction. Yet the country returned Obama to office. It remains to be seen if the second-term president will try to be a consensus builder.
As one person tweeted to me last night, in the US Senate race, Linda was “McMahonaged,”—scripted, controlled. Republican Linda McMahon’s campaign strategy was to sit back, don’t do or say anything impromptu or unscheduled and use her vast wealth to launch a negative ad campaign against Democrat Chris Murphy. It worked for a while. After the primaries McMahon was actually Murphy in the polls after launching the barrage of attacks.
Murphy proved to be such a good candidate even Linda’s millions couldn’t stop him. Once McMahon was forced to debate, it was clear she wasn’t ready for primetime. It was also evident that Murphy has an in-depth knowledge of all the issues facing the country today. The sad thing about this race is that over the past two election cycles McMahon spent $100 million of her own fortune to try to win a seat in the US Senate and all she has to show for it is a leftover box of SEIU-looking purple t-shirts. Maybe she can sell them on eBay.
The fifth district congressional race was a lesson in how difficult it is for a Republican to run when there is a popular Democrat at the top of the ticket in deep blue Connecticut. Republican Andrew Roraback just couldn’t get the cross-over votes from Rock Star Obama. Roraback needed to win the towns in the northwest corner, the Farmington Valley and other suburbs; not just win them but win them big enough to make up for the expected losses in the cities. But he got crunched in Waterbury, Danbury and New Britain. He didn’t win big enough in his towns to cover his losses in the cities.
None of this is to take credit away from Democrat Elizabeth Esty. A moderate, former one-term state representative, Esty capitalized on the scandal that engulfed the favorite, state Speaker of the House Chris Donovan and then ran a good campaign hitting all right notes on the way to securing the Democratic base and therefore the election.
Will things change on the national level? For the sake of the country, we better hope so.