2012 Election Results Memo_11!9!12 | Democratic Party (United States) | United States Government

MEMORANDUM

From: To: Re: Date: InterAction Public Policy Team InterAction Staff and Members Election Results November 9, 2012

Overall Macro Level Summary The election has provided both parties with legitimate claims to a “mandate.”  The Democrats say that Obama won reelection despite a poor economy (77 percent of country believes the economy is not so good or poor), he won an overwhelming 332 electoral votes, won the national popular vote by 3 million votes (likely to rise as final votes on West coast are tallied), Democrats expanded their Senate majority by two seats to 55-45, and Democrats picked up seven seats in the U.S. House (if all current leads hold). Republicans argue they were once again given a robust majority in the House in order to put the brakes on President Obama’s agenda. In addition, some Republicans point to Obama’s smaller victory margin compared to 2008 and claim that the country is sharply divided on how we should move forward. Therefore the President can’t assume a “mandate” for his agenda.

It is therefore possible that both parties will dig in their heels and seek to advance their agenda, rather than recognizing a “mandate” from the opposing party.  Democrats will likely point to the president’s reelection as proof that Americans support his “balanced approach” to reducing the deficit through revenue increases and spending cuts.  House Republicans, and the Tea Party in particular, will argue that they were reelected fairly decisively to provide a check and balance against the president. Will Speaker Boehner push his caucus toward compromise?  On election night, he rejected increased “tax rates” but did not address the wider question of revenue.  The day after the election, however, he said he would be “willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions. What matters is where the increased revenue comes from, and what type of reform comes with it. Does the increased revenue come from government taking a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates? Or does it come as the

byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all?” o While Republican leaders Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy have echoed this latter statement, it is not yet clear how rank-and-file Republicans will respond. The nomination and defeat of a more moderate GOP candidate for president in two consecutive elections may lead some Republicans to argue that a more conservative approach is the only path to victory. Many leading conservative activists are arguing the loss was a result of not being conservative enough. At the same time, more voters oppose the Tea Party (30 percent) than support it (21 percent), while a plurality (42 percent) were neutral. o Two outspoken Tea Party freshmen, Reps. Allen West (FL) and Joe Walsh (IL) have lost their reelection bids. o Still, several moderate Republicans lost their seats as well, including Sen. Richard Lugar (IN), and Reps. Judy Biggert and Robert Dold, both of IL, and Charlie Bass (NH). In the Senate, a number of high-profile conservative candidates lost to Democrats, including in Missouri and Indiana, where unpopular comments about rape led to the downfall of GOP nominees who should have won. o Still, these losses might be attributed to an electorate that is increasingly moderate on social issues but still fairly conservative on fiscal ones. o Indeed, several more conservative Tea Party-style Republicans, such as Ted Cruz (TX), easily won election.

The Democrats face questions of their own, particularly focused on entitlement reforms.  A compromise deal on the fiscal cliff that includes revenues will likely require sweeping reforms to “entitlements” like Medicare and Social Security, programs which have long been championed by the Democrats. o During the campaign, Democrats often accused Romney of seeking to end Medicare, particularly after he chose Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) – an outspoken champion of entitlement reform – to be his running mate. o After arguing during the campaign that seniors can trust only Democrats to save Medicare and Social Security, it may be difficult for Democrats to find ways to compromise on those programs. o Over the last two years, Democrats often bristled at Obama’s perceived willingness to negotiate with Republicans on those programs.

How the Election Impacts our Community Foreign Policy and Development Assistance is not a top issue for the electorate Our community’s issues will continue to be on the back burner on Capitol Hill.  Only 5 percent of voters think foreign policy is the most important issue facing the country  Americans overwhelmingly (59 percent) rated the economy as the number one issue; nearly one in five (18 percent) cited health care and 15 percent cited the budget deficit as the most important issue facing the country. With this week’s election, there are some changes ahead in Congress surrounding international development and humanitarian assistance issues. In particular, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) will have to step down as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee at the end of this year. Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Chris Smith (RNJ) are vying to replace her, with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) running a distant third. All of the candidates have demonstrated interest in and support for our issues and are unlikely to oppose funding for the Palestinians in the way Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has. On the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), currently Ranking Democrat on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, may become Ranking Democrat of the full committee, now that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) is retiring. There will be other shakeups as well. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), two of the most outspoken champions of international development, have lost their reelection bids.  Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) is expected to take Sen. Lugar’s place at the top of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republicans. He is considered by many to be a pragmatist but has supported our issues more than many other Republicans in the Senate. It is too soon to predict exactly how he will lead the committee but there is potential for us to build a strong relationship with him.  Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) could likely replace Rep. Berman atop the House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats. He has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has not focused a great deal of attention on foreign assistance issues. It is too soon to predict exactly how he will lead the committee but there is potential for us to build a strong relationship with him as well. There are also some changes coming on the administration side. Secretary of State Clinton has made clear her intention to step down at the end of President Obama’s first term in office. There are two candidates rumored to be in the running to take her place.  Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), who has a long history of diplomatic experience but has not focused a great deal of his attention on development or humanitarian issues.

Ambassador Susan Rice, currently U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has a great deal of experience in issues of foreign aid, having served as President Clinton’s Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping and as Senior Director for African Affairs. o Her candidacy may have been harmed in recent weeks by the September 2012 incident in Benghazi, Libya, in which a U.S. consulate was attacked and four U.S. officials were murdered, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens. Five days after the attack, Rice appeared on five different Sunday political talk shows to reiterate a now-disproven Obama administration position that the attacks were a "spontaneous reaction" to "a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world." It is now known that the attacks were not connected to the videos and Rice’s statements may hurt her candidacy.

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