Amy (my wife) put together this great list of 2012 election winners and losers. She did a great job (I only helped a little) — so I thought I’d share it (with my limited comments in blue):
Organizing for America. Obama’s machine sent warning signals in 2011 (in Virginia particularly) that they were alive and well, but the GOP shrugged them off [JMF: and underestimated it]. They understand the mechanics of voter contact, cultivation and turnout and do it well. They leverage technology and data in ways that we’ve never seen before. Until the GOP dismisses the play-it-safe, consultant mentality [JMF: and gets past the “catch up” paradigm in favor of “let’s be our own trailblazers”], they’ll never level the playing field.
Marco Rubio. Son of immigrants. Living the American dream. Marco and his story represent everything that conservatives want in a candidate. He is right on the issues and can articulate bread and butter politics to the socially and fiscally conservative Latino voters the GOP keeps fumbling away. Rubio will continue to rise and shine as the GOP seeks to find its footing and fix their serious demographic problems.
Joe Biden. The Vice President is a relationships man and boy did that shine this campaign season. The gaffe-inator shows that unpolished, people politics still sells and he sells it well. Middle America likes a person they can relate to, and his style resonates with those who see themselves as keepin’ it real. This is not his last rodeo.
Harry Reid. He’s a fighter and revels getting his hands dirty, qualities that make him a hero to the MSNBC crowd. Overcoming a tough challenge for re-election in 2010, he emerged an emboldened leader, vowing to fight for the Senate’s top spot. He proved successful, despite an onslaught of spending from conservatives hungry to take back the Senate. [JMF: And, two years later, not only is his majority secured, but strengthened with greater numbers and a harder left caucus.] He’s now even more secure in his position.
Chris Christie. Son of New Jersey. No matter “what’s your exit,” this bellowing Jersey boy won’t be exiting the political stage for some time. His approval rating is bigger than his persona, currently a whopping 72% in a state that’s boldly blue. His pitch-perfect straight talk and Bruce Springsteen swagger have steamrolled his opponents at every turn. He’s loved for his handling of Hurricane Sandy (95% approve) and his “I don’t give a damn about election day…I’ve got a job to do in here NJ that’s is much bigger than presidential politics…” is one for the history books.
Bob McDonnell. The leader of the Virginia GOP, Governor McDonnell was so confident that he had his state in the win column that he jetted across the country trying to secure his position in a would-be Romney administration. He openly bragged about how the Virginia Republican operation was better than it had ever been, and yet the results were embarrassing – Romney got fewer votes than John McCain did in 2008. How exactly is that a better organization? Not a good national debut for a man once on the short list for VP. [JMF: I’ll resist the urge to add to this one.]
Republican Establishment. For a party that deplores picking “winners and losers” in the economy, they sure don’t mind intervening to do the very same in Party contests. The establishment has to learn that cherry picking candidates is to their detriment. While most people were appalled with Todd Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape,” it was the establishment’s unsuccessful hand-wrangling to get him out that emboldened him (Akin) and the grassroots to stay the course. The top-down approach is no longer going to work and again, the GOP will continue to lose until they figure this one out. Parties are an apparatus to help nominees [JMF: supposedly working to represent the Party grassroots], not clearinghouses for determining the most “electable” candidates.
Project ORCA. Romney’s super-secret Election Day turnout, voter contact, mobilization, whatever you call it machine failed miserably. Any knowledgeable technical person knows that you must test, test and test again an operation to make sure it works. Never launch something on game day. That never works. The hype about this project was just that–hype. Until Republicans foray into voter contact technology, they will continue to fall behind. Give the technology “projects” to Silicon Valley types, not politicos who dabble in technology.
Democrat Incumbent Senators up for re-election in 2014. Elected under the Obama landslide of 2008, the 20 Democrats must defend their seats in 2014 after Obama veers to the Left even more now that he has a mandate for “Forward.” Second term mid-term elections are especially disastrous for the party in the White House, something even Ronald Reagan couldn’t avoid in 1986. Look for a lot of distancing and independent language from these Members back home in their respective states.
America. 48%, or 58 million Americans, voted for change. We are a country divided, and the wounds of this election may prove especially difficult to heal. In a close election, someone always loses. Nearly half of the country wanted something different for America. Instead, they got more of the same or maybe even worse. That remains to be seen. Either way, these 58 million people must lick their wounds and keep working for what they believe in.
Rand Paul. Rand Paul is the politician to watch. Inheriting his father’s liberty-loving followers, Rand already has an organization in place as he tests the waters for a Presidential run. The Campaign for Liberty organization is as close as the right gets to Organizing for America, and could be even better if the GOP would embrace the Paulites, instead of trying to downplay their influence. Paul shares the values of his father, but his approach is more savvy in tapping mainstream GOP support. Smart money is on Rand as a leader-in-waiting of the Republican Party.
Governor Susana Martinez. The first female Hispanic governor in the US, Martinez is one to watch. Switching from Democrat to Republican in 1995, she is able to articulate the values of immigrants and can carry the torch on Latino issues such as immigration that have proved so vexing to the GOP. She made securing the US-Mexican border from illegal immigrants an issue in her 2010 campaign. In the aftermath of an election where two of the most difficult voting blocs for the GOP were women and Latinos, the benefits are obvious in having a successful and capable politician like Martinez in our midst.
Cory Booker. He lives his mantra “Democracy is not a Spectator Sport.” A respected man of the people, the Mayor of Newark has earned accolades from Republicans and Democrats alike. Booker’s best political moves transcend politics itself. Whether rescuing constituents from a burning building, offering a home to the displaced from Hurricane Sandy, or starring in a bi-partisan YouTube video with Chris Christie, Mayor Booker simply breaks the mold. Booker also utilizes social media like no one else, constantly taking to Twitter to keep citizens informed. His latest act, to live on food stamps for a week, is just another sign that the sky is the limit for this man of the people.