Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Pocket analysis of the 2014 midterms

• No one can truly be surprised over the voter turnout. Midterms historically draw meager numbers and older voters overwhelmingly, which helps the GOP. It's a scaled-down version of U.S. election trends in general.

• Historically, midterms don't favor the incumbent party, so that's no surprise either.

• Republicans seem to be finally diverging from the tea party and are embracing (conceding?) leftward tilts on some social issues. This might not necessarily endear them to center-left or younger voters, but it upgrades them from untouchable.

• Democrats, on the other hand, want party purity and perfection, and it's costing them. They seem as convinced as their most bitter enemies that Barack Obama is a disastrous president, so they largely distanced themselves from him. They failed to sell the accomplishments they've made in the past few years and lowballed the role of Republican obstructionism in their inability to do more. Voter cynicism in the party seems to be at a peak as well. 

• Now that the Republicans run the Senate, it's likely the next two years will see even more intensified legislative gridlock. That might hurt the president's legacy, but it potentially sets the stage in 2016 for another pendulum swing. If the GOP wants to keep its majority for more than this cycle, it will have to provide alternatives and not just obstruction. If the Democrats want to win in two years, they'll have to sell themselves better.

• It took me three tries to find my voting precinct yesterday. The grocery store where I previously participated in early voting is on my daily bike route, so I rode there, only to find that they only conduct early voting. Because my registration card helpfully didn't list the address of my polling place, I had to guess where it was from any of the several schools in my neighborhood (as suggested by people I asked in the grocery line). 

I pedaled to the nearby high school, where the voter signs seemed to point to nothing. I wound up wandering into an empty locker room, getting confused looks from the school employees in the hallway. When I finally found the building where the ballots actually were, it turned out I wasn't registered to vote there, but at the middle school, which was a couple of miles away (closer to my apartment, but at the end of my six-mile bike ride).

After finishing an abbreviated version of my bike loop, I headed to the middle school. The high school students were off that day, but for some reason the middle schoolers weren't, and they were dismissing just as I got there. Just like at the high school, I had trouble following the signs (for whatever reason, the polls all seem to be in obscure places in these buildings, and the outflux of students didn't help). Once I got there, all I had to do to confirm my identity was say my name (and spell it five times), recite my date of birth and match my signature to the one the state had on file. I think that's fair.

On my way home, I took this selfie. You're welcome.

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