Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Day After

So here we are again, the day after election day, still waiting to find out who will be President of the US. But regardless of how the few remaining votes in Ohio (and hence the Electoral College) go, it is clear that President Bush has won the popular vote by more than 4,000,000 people. In the House of Representatives the Republicans increased their lead to a majority of approximately 30 seats. In the Senate the Republicans attained a solid 55 to 44 majority (with one independent), and defeated Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Of eleven states with ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage, all eleven passed. Republicans held 28 governor's mansions and Democrats 22, and there seems to be no change in this balance.

The few bright spots for Democrats include Barack Obama's landslide victory over Alan Keyes in Illinois and Ken Salazar's defeat of beer magnate Pete Coors. In the strongly Republican state of Alaska, Democrat Tony Knowles made a strong showing against incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski but lost by 4% despite gaining traction with charges of nepotism (Murkowski was appointed to the Senate by the Governor of Alaska - her father).

So now the Republicans hold the Senate, the House of Representatives, a majority of Governors, a majority of state houses, and probably the Presidency. A majority of Supreme Court justices were appointed by Republican administrations. Even in many states won by Democrats, their margin of victory was razor thin. The question now is clearly where do the Democrats go from here. They appear to be a party in disarry, with few leaders left and little sense of direction.

A cursory look at maps of the 2004 and 2000 elections will show that the parties seem to have become more sectional, with the Democrats drawing support from the Northeast (New Englant), Midwest (Rust Belt), and Pacific coast, and Republican support coming from the South and West. If this sectional division continues, demographic trends strongly favor the Republican party. Also, Republicans seem to have made much more of an effort to woo Hispanic voters, another demographic in their favor.

In short, although the close popular votes of the last two presidential elections may not reflect it, the Democratic Party runs the very serious risk today of becoming marginalized. We may be headed for a (brief) period of one-party rule, as was seen in the early- and mid-1800s, followed by the growth of a new party out of the ashes of today's Democratic Party.

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