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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

THOUGHTS ON THE ELECTION

Does this election represent the historical electoral re-alignment that occurred  1964 and 1980? 

How does 2008 compare to Johnson's landslide election in 1964, which in turn set the stage for Reagan's landslide election in 1980, which  then set the stage for the Republican domination of State and national politics for the last 28 years. 

In 1980 Reagan won 50.7% of the vote; Carter won 40% and third party candidate John B Anderson won 6.7% of the vote. 

In 2008 Obama won 53% of the vote to McCain's 46%. ( The convergence of polls on the last day at 7% that I wrote about on Monday night was right on the money.) 

Reagan won every state except Minnesota (Mondale's home state) Georgia (Carter's home state) and West Virginia. Reagan won 489 electoral votes to Carter's 49. 

Obama won 364 electoral votes to McCain's 174 electoral votes. (Rumpole's prediction on Monday night: 367-171.  Not too bad. Of course we used to do this professionally, but that's another story.) On an electoral college scale, this election was not the landslide electoral re-alignment that the 1980 or 1964  election represented. 2008 represents the  resurrection of the Democratic Party, and not a re-alignment of the electorate. However even  that "resurrection" must be tempered by the understanding that this was an extraordinarily difficult environment for any Republican to run in, and that was before the economy teetered on the brink of collapse in October. 

Now lets briefly look at the 1964 election which in effect created the 1980 Republican Re-alignment.  In 1964 Johnson won 486 electoral votes to Goldwater's 52 votes. Johnson won 61% of the popular vote to Goldwater's 39%. 

Viewed in the context of two historical landslides, Obama's 348 electoral votes can hardly be called a landslide. What Obama did do is win Florida AND  Ohio (although Gore arguably won Florida, and Kerry may have won Ohio )   and make  significant inroads into the Hispanic vote which allowed him to win in the west: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.  Again, these results, along with Obama winning "Republican states" Virginia and North Carolina represent a "resurrection" of the Democratic party, and not a fundamental re-alignment of the electorate. 

What remains to be seen is if Obama can turn this "solid win" into a re-alignment of the electorate.  If Obama is able to reach across the aisle and form collations that allow for bi-partisan passage of his programs, AND IF those programs  are successful, then  Obama can lead the Democratic party into a popular repudiation of the Republican bullying tactics that exemplified the Cheney-Bush years.  

Proof that  winning parties can lead through bi-partisan support will  distinguish the Democrats from the Republicans, and draw millions more voters to the party.  If that happens, then the next election, and the election after that will truly represent change. Just as Reagan moved the entire country, including the Democratic party to the right, (which in turn allowed Clinton to govern from the center)  Obama's win can restore balance to the country and even help move  the Republican party away from religious intolerance and extremism of the Bush years and  back towards  the centrist policies that made Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush so successful. 



We shall see. 


14 comments:

the pundit said...

Rumpole, first off, you are wrong about 1980. Carter won Georgia, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maryland, West Virginia, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

I think your post is largely in tune with my prior post about the demise of Reagan's Republican party. But if the American people have shown one thing in recent years, it is that they can turn on a party quickly. In 1992 the Democrats celebrated Clinton's victory only to get hosed in the 1994 congressional elections. In 2004 the GOP held the Senate and House by respectable margins as well as the presidency. It looked like the Democrats were up a certain creek without a paddle--and look what has happened the last two elections.

Finally, after three straight elections (1980, 1984 and 1988) in which they were blown out, the Democrats have performed rather well in the past 5 presidential elections. They won the popular vote in 4 out of the 5. While their top electoral vote was 379 (Clinton in 1996), their lowest electoral vote total was 252 in Kerry's 2004 defeat. The closest the GOP has come to even breaking 300 in this time was Bush's 286 in 2004. And Bush's 2.5% popular vote margin in 2004 was their largest since his daddy won in 1988.

Obama has the potential to be another Reagan. But many said the same of Bill Clinton only to be disappointed. Like Reagan, Obama takes the reins of the country at a difficult and challenging time. Hopefully like Reagan, he will stick to his guns while working with the other side on important matters and not being afraid to make a slight turn in the course here and there. W has shown the dangers of being an inflexible idealogue.

As for the GOP, they need to find themselves. The coalition of social conservatives, disaffected Deep South whites and greedy, corrupt multimillionaires that currently forms their "base" will lead them nowhere but down.

Obama's work is cut out for him. How well he meets the challenge will determine his legacy and the short-term future of both political parties. God willing, I will come out from under my rock in 2010 to prognosticate about it.

Time to crawl back under my rock.

Rumpole said...

The prosecutor who left a comment signed by "Lady Justice Whisteblower" can you do the following: 1) check the link on the post gazette and resubmit it- the link does not work

2) email me- if you want to remain anonymous just go to hotmail or gmail and open up an anonymous account. Or I will keep your identity anonymous.

I want to publish your comment, but I need to investigate it a little bit more.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Realign this: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/07/atlas-exclusive.html

South Florida Lawyers said...

This is a smart post, Rumpy, and I agree for the most part.

I do think numbers can be deceptive. For example, the 1980 Reagan "landslide" does look dramatically different from Tuesday's results if you consider only the electoral margin.

However, in terms of popular vote, Reagan beat Carter in 1980 by nearly 10 percent.

Obama, as you note, won Tuesday by nearly 8.

Anonymous said...

man, you are thoroughl.

great post!

The African-American's guide to dealing with whites post-election said...

The African-American's guide to dealing with whites post-election

http://www.236.com/news/2008/11/06/were_cool_the_africanamericans_10083.php

Anonymous said...

One thing that just about any politician can agree on is that most voters vote with their pocketbooks. While I think that the Republican party definitely has some soul-searching to do after the beatings it took in 2006 and 2008, this election is similar in many respects to Clinton's victory over Bush I in 1992. The main issue was the economy. The candiates of each in party in both election shared many similar attributes. And the results were not much different--Obama carried 364 electoral votes; Clinton carried 370. Obama's margin of victory in the popular vote was about 6%; Clinton's was 5.5% (in a three-way race with a strong third-party candidate).

The economy proved the dominant theme the last month of the campaign, which doomed McCain much like it doomed Bush I 16 years ago. The big questions that remain are whether Obama can deliver, and how he will attempt to do so.

val said...

what's going on with the Connolly verdict?

Anonymous said...

The only concern I have is that while the country voted for Obama/Biden, in several states (including ours) they overwhelmingly supported a ban on gay "marriage". What that shows me is that intolerance (at least sexual) is still very much alive in this country.

Anonymous said...

8:38 --- Sour grapes much?

Anonymous said...

Just in ... Ex-FBI agent John Connolly found GUILTY of murder.

Anonymous said...

John J. Connolly, Jr., convicted of 2nd Degree Murder. Sentencing set for December 4, 2008. What would he score under the 1982 guidelines?????

Anonymous said...

Why focus on national politics? 11/7/08, 9:00am watch the much revered Milton Hirsch file a last minute Motion to Save a Bondsman's Ass and push it down the mouth of Judge Thorton. Why don't prosecutors and judge's demand that motions be filed timely and courtesy copies be provided for all to have the benefit of good reading? Make our judicial system be respectable one forfeiture at a time.

Barack Obama's Notes on His Potential Cabinet Leaked to Press said...

Barack Obama's Notes on His Potential Cabinet Leaked to Press

http://www.236.com/blog/w/lee_camp/barack_obamas_notes_on_his_pot_10107.php