Some thoughts on the 2014 mid-terms:
- Prophetic headline of the season: “Dems fret about …” That’s right – “fret” – is there a word that could possibly describe better the behavior of the Democratic Party this season (if not many seasons) as “fret?” Not “fight.” not “fierce,” but “fret?” I do not remember what they were fretting about this time, but does it matter? When the Democratic opponent to Majority Leader-elect McConnell will not even acknowledge whether she voted for the President, I had the feeling Tuesday night that they got what they deserved.
- GOP mandate? After Obama kicked butt in 2012, there was endless talk about what the Republicans had to do to avoid terminal irrelevance. This time it’s the Dems conducting that post-mortem. My advice is to save your breath. Folks are irritated for understandable reasons, and they will take that out against the party in power. Quick – name the Republican policy idea that carried the day – and not liking Obama does not count.
- Most upsetting headline of the season: Politico.com wins the award for today’s “4 indicted N.Y. pols win reelection.” Most states would be embarrassed if there were a single potential felon. In New York, the competition is for which Congressman or state legislator’s alleged crime is the worst. That must also have been upsetting to Governor Andrew Cuomo who made rooting out corruption in Albany one of his campaign issues in 2010. That was, of course, before he dismantled a commission investigating New York’s corruption after they started making uncomfortable inquiries into his own campaign contributors. And now Cuomo is being looked at by federal criminal investigators.
- Speaking of Cuomo, how are those Presidential aspirations looking? I know it’s too late for him to change, but people are not looking for arrogant jerks to be President. He refused to shake the hand of his opponent in the Democratic primary, let alone condescend to debate her. In the general election, he would not agree to a televised debate with his Republican opponent, and his sole debate appearance amounted to less than 15 minutes of answering questions. Then his much-anticipated memoir sold less than a 1,000 copies in its first week and, remarkably, even fewer the following week. Now, with a campaign war chest well north of $30 million against an unknown opponent, he managed only 54 per cent of the vote. Even more telling, I think, is comparing total votes between 2010 and 2014. In each year, the Republican received about the same number of votes – 1.5 million in 2010 compared with 1.4 million this time. Cuomo, however, got 1 million fewer votes this time around. Not exactly a compelling endorsement.
- Martha Coakley didn’t “choke” this election: The national political media loves simple narratives and I read that headline about a week ago. The reality is that Republican gubernatorial candidates have historically run well in Massachusetts, and Charlie Baker is a non-ideological and pragmatic politician. (Contrast him with Rob Astorino.) He is also a decent, smart and likable guy who actually listens to views that may disagree with his own. Coakley, for her part, campaigned vigorously – unlike the Scott Brown campaign in 2010 – and is also decent, smart and likable. The Massachusetts voter had the opportunity to vote for the candidate he or she thought would make the best Governor and not need to vote against someone or have to pick the lesser of two evils.