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Gordon Campbell US Election 2012 Blog - Update #8 6pm

Gordon Campbell US Election 2012 Blog - Update #8

Scoop Political Editor Gordon Campbell is live blogging the US election results as they come in at:
GordonCampbell.scoop.co.nz

6pm
Make of this what you will, but the Jerusalem Post is reporting that 68% of Jews voted for Obama. In wrapping up this coverage, what do we make of the Obama victory? As of tomorrow, Obama has to gear himself up for the fiscal cliff calamity that is now coming down the tracks, whereby on January 1st, the US faces some very grim options on federal revenues and tax hikes – in order to ward off a looming catastrophe that otherwise may push the US into recession again next year, even if Congress delays a final remedy. Good luck with getting bipartisan co-operation from a bruised Republicans in facing up to this problem, even if it is in very large part a creation of the Bush-era tax cuts.

In his second term, Obama now has to be made to deliver for the people on the centre-left who elected him in 2008 and again today. No one is expecting miracles from him any longer, but he faces a Republican opposition that has been badly bloodied by the Romney failure. History will be judging Obama by how he emerges from the mess that he inherited in his first term. He has a mandate now to lead, rather than to simply react to events at home amnd abroad that were largely not of his making. On foreign policy, the people who elected him – and that includes those 68 % of Jews who voted for Obama – will not for example be expecting him to go to war in Iran.

And where to for the Republicans? Let’s assume Mitt Romney did not actually mean the gibberish he espoused throughout the primary season, but said what he felt he had to say to the party zealots in order to gain the nomination and keep them on board. Clearly, what is seen to be needed to win the party nomination is then poison in the subsequent national election. In sum, the party’s recent spasms of extremism have been proven to be electorally self defeating. Thus, the Tea Party is finished, and will now go the way of Sarah Palin. In Chris Christie and Mario Rubio, the Republicans have moderate candidates who can win the Presidency in 2016. Hopefully, the party of Lincoln will be remade as a more moderate, less ideologically driven party than it has been in 2012, and 2008. Today, the US voted centre left, and rejected right wing extremism. That’s all good. Let’s hope that in 2014, New Zealand can find reason to do the same. Thanks everyone.

5.24pm
Thanks to Mark Cubey for alerting me to the jaw-dropping comeback win by Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin. She looked so far back I’d lost interest, but she has defeated welfare reform architect Tommy Thompson, in what Slate has called the second biggest story of the election. Sorry for putting you wrong before on Baldwin.

5. 15pm
Tim Kaine wins in Virginia for the Dems, and the likely final counts in outstanding counties in Virginia, Florida and yes, even in Ohio make it very likely that Obama could sweep them all. Which means that Politico’s 303 to 235 prediction yesterday may be on the conservative side, and we may be looking at a rout of McCain in 2008 proportions. Nice to see that the Republicans veep candidate Paul Ryan failed to carry his home state (Wisconsin) for Romney, and projections now have it for Obama, thanks to that Milwaukee count I mentioned before. New Mexico, Nevada (likely) for Obama…the Latino vote is going to have cost Romney big time when the Republicans look back sorrowfully at this night.

CNN has just called the election for the president! Yay. Now we can go back to bitching about Barack Obama.

4.35 pm
Forgive the skittishness before about Wisconsin. I’d forgotten Milwaukee, which is still to come in. Turnout is really high today in Milwaukee (around 73% says CNN) and though Romney is doing extremely well in some of the suburban/rural areas – as you might expect – I think CNN is right to say that it’s hard to envisage Obama losing this state. Ditto with Romney’s current lead in the popular vote. Populous California can be expected to go strongly for Obama, sufficient to erase that margin. So that’s all right then, as they say on the 2012 show.

4.22pm

Hold the champagne – Romney is ahead in both Wisconsin and Virginia, and is only narrowly behind in Ohio. It still looks okay for Obama, but it’s not a decisive victory at this point.

More bad news for the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. From the Orlando Sentinel in Florida:

An unprecedented push by Florida Republicans to allow more state funding of religious programs, restrict abortion rights, ban the required purchase of health insurance and oust three Democrat-appointed [state] Supreme Court justices was headed for failure….Forced to wade through a historically long ballot with 11 legislatively drawn constitutional amendments, voters defeated an effort to give beefier property-tax breaks to new- and second-home owners and businesses.

Still, the TP may take some solace from the apparent victory in a Florida Congressional race of the flamboyant Tea Party favourite Allen West. After 91 % of the vote counted, West is narrowly ahead. Darn.

Oh, and Massachusetts just became the 18th state to legalise medicinal marijuana.

4.05pm
This looks like the end game. With Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin being projected for Obama – and New Hampshire as well! – most of the alternative routes to victory for Romney are now closing down, and making him totally dependent on a victory in Ohio that looks highly unlikely. Elizabeth Warren is being projected to take the Senate seat in Massachusetts, too. She’s the originator of a now famous video that enraged the Tea Party – wherein she made the innocuous argument that even the most self-made of entrepreneurs gets to drive down roads built by Big Government, and to hire workers educated by Big Government, so what’s the big deal about paying taxes? In response and in denial, the TP frothingly launched the We Built It! campaign. So yay for Warren. And for Claire McCaskill, who is crushing another one of God’s emissaries, Todd Akin.

CNN says Romney can’t win from here.

3.50pm
Obama takes Pennsylvania! One depressing result from Wisconsin though is that in the Senate race, the Dems’ Tammy Baldwin failed to get even close to defeating former governor Tommy Thompson. Back in the 1990s, Thompson was the godfather of the Wisconsin experiment in welfare reform that Paula Bennett is now in the process of implementing in New Zealand. In polls before, Baldwin had looked like she had a chance of being competitive. Fox is saying that the Republicans s look like retaining the House and the Dems the Senate – which means that Obama will have to negotiate his way back from the fiscal cliff, with House Speaker John Boehner. Meaning: same old, same old spirit of bitter non co-operation and gridlock, folks.

ENDS

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