Mitt Romney had a lunch date with Barack Obama while Republicans rejected the first proposals from the White House
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Mitt Romney had a lunch date with Barack Obama while Republicans rejected the first proposals from the White House
But in an election dominated by Republican mis-steps on rape and pregnancy, more married women preferred Mitt Romney
Beyoncé was right: It was all the single ladies who put their hands up. New research reveals Barack Obama owes his re-election victory to the unmarried women who turned out in their millions to vote for him.
Nearly a quarter of the voters in Tuesday’s election were unmarried women – and Obama captured more than two-thirds of their votes, 67%, according to research released on Thursday by the Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund.
“Unmarried women were the drivers of the president’s victory,” said Page Gardner, the president of WVWVAF.
The finding might seem unsurprising after a campaign season punctuated by offensive and biologically illiterate statements from Republican candidates about rape and pregnancy. But pollsters said the newly identified electoral bloc of unmarried women voted for Obama for bringing the country through the recession – with the Democrats’ support for healthcare, equal pay, and Planned Parenthood came a close second.
And marital status was crucial. “It’s all about the marriage gap,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist and pollster.
Mitt Romney actually did better than Obama among married women, outperforming the president by seven points. But Obama obliterated Romney when it came to the battle for the votes of unmarried women, beating him by 36 points.
American pollsters have a history of coming up with new labels for core sections of the electorate. In Bill Clinton’s time, there were the soccer moms. George Bush had his security moms in the 2004 elections. In the 2008 contest, Sarah Palin tried to create a new brand of conservative woman with hockey moms and mama grizzlies.
But in striking demographic shift the most crucial component of the women’s vote is no longer white, married middle class suburbanites but a broad coalition of unmarried women, people of colour and those under the age of 30.
The unmarried women of the 2012 make up almost 40% of the African American population, nearly 30% of the Latino population, and about a third of all young voters, or 32.7%, according to the research released on Thursday. They are divorced, separated, widowed, or have never married.
“They had an enormous influence on Tuesday’s election,” Gardner said.
Single women have traditionally been Democratic voters, largely for economic reasons. They tend to have less money than married women – because they don’t have a husband’s earnings to fall back on. They also tend to be less educated.
“A lot of it simply has to do with economics and affluence,” said Susan Carroll of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
“The Democrats are much more supportive of the social safety net, the programmes that help people who need financial assistance, whether it be unemployment insurance, child nutrition programmes, Medicaid, the whole infrastructure of the social welfare state that helps people who financially are more in need.”
The clue to Obama’s re-election victory however could be a combination of changing demographic patterns and turnout.
More and more Americans are single. Singe people are now the majority in about 15 or 16 states – several of them the swing states that decide presidential elections, said Celinda Lake, the Democratic
pollster and strategist.
Among women, unmarried women made up about 20% of the electorate in the 2008 elections. By 2012, about 23% of voters were single women – and they opted overwhelmingly for Obama, giving him 67% of their votes.
The challenge for Democrats, however, is that unmarried women have not always been reliable voters. Nearly 11 million of the single women who turned out for Obama in 2008 skipped the 2010 congressional elections, which led to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.
“They have been for a while a reliably Democratic constituency. What they don’t always do is turn out to vote. But there was a huge effort on the ground,” she said.
Unmarried women had an additional incentive this year, when Republicans seemed to be adopting extreme and retrograde positions on equal pay, birth control and abortion – which the Democrats quickly jumped on and labelled a “war on women”.
Then there was Romney’s now-notorious 47% remark. “On economic issues they really believed a guy like Romney couldn’t possibly understand their lives. They are clearly in the 47% so they thought here is someone who doesn’t want to represent me,” Lake said.
Along with crediting Obama for guiding the country through the recession, unmarried women strongly supported his equal pay provisions – which was the first piece of legislation the president signed into law. They backed Obama on health care, including birth control and abortion, which Lake argues are as much economic as social issues.
Another critical factor may have been pride. “A lot of it has to do with the different nature of their lives. They are very economically stressed and stretched in terms of the wage gap. There is a greater wage gap with unmarried women than with married,” said Gardner. “There is a sense that they are on their own. They know and they are very proud of the fact that they are making it on their own. They are contributing to this country in enormous ways but they are on their own so it is a different world view.”
Or, to borrow from another Beyoncé hit, they are the Independent Women voters.
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Tea Party says Romney was too moderate while leaders like Marco Rubio urge outreach to minorities as path to success
The election may yet be remembered less as the day Mitt Romney lost the presidency and more as the day the Republican party died, at least in the shape that has existed for decades.
The post-mortem into Tuesday’s disastrous election results was already under way Wednesday. There was near consensus that the party needs a drastic overhaul. Does it move further to the right or to centre? Does it reach out to women, the young and minorities, eating into the Democratic coalition?
Some conservatives, especially those from the Tea Party, argued for a shift further to the right, saying that first John McCain in 2008 and then Romney this year were too moderate, both Rinos (“Republican in name only”).
In an early taste of the blood-letting to come, former House speaker Newt Gingrich said he and figures such as Karl Rove – George W Bush’s former strategist and co-founder of the Super Pac Crossroads – had been wrong in focusing on the economy. The party needed a rethink, to reach out to Latinos and other ethnic groups. “Unless we do that we’re going to be a minority party,” Gingrich said.
The party has been and remains overwhelmingly male, old affluent and white.
It has survived as an election fighting machine for so long only because of what Republicans describe as the southern strategy. That strategy is dependent on a guaranteed bloc of support among whites in southern states the party has enjoyed since the 1960s civil rights era. Throw in Christian evangelicals and others from the mid-west and the mountain states, and there was an election-winning combination.
But, as Tuesday night showed, that no longer works. Not only did the Republicans fail to take the White House, they also failed for the second time in two years to take the Senate. The latter is almost as bitter a disappointment as the failure to win the presidential race.
The chances are the shape of a new-look Republican party will not be decided by Gingrich or Rove or others of that older generation but the younger one, figures such as Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who gave the stand-out speech at the Republican convention in Tampa this year. He is already a front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination.
In a statement released yesterday, Rubio identified two targets. The first was that the Republicans had to expand its reach, to be seen as the party of not just the affluent but as the party that helps people become upwardly mobile.
Like Gingrich, he called for outreach to ethnic minorities. “The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them,” Rubio said.
He is well-placed to make the argument as a Latino himself, the son of Cuban immigrants.
The party has to not just appeal to Latinos but to begin to take at least some of the African American vote too from the Democrats. As well as addressing its failure among ethnic groups, the other priority is to address the alienation of gay and female voters.
But the shift to a new-look party will not be easy. Relations between establishment Republicans and the newer Tea Party activists threaten to become messy. Within minutes of the result being announced, Jenny Beth Martin, head of the Tea Party Patriots, blamed the loss not on the changing demographics or social issues but on the candidate.
“What we got was a weak, moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican party,”
Martin said. “The presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”
The Tea Party had a bad election again, with its more outlandish candidates having failed at the ballot box, but it is not finished yet, and it will have a say in what the new Republican party looks like.
The prime issues for the Tea Party are not so much as social as small government, a policy that has a big appeal throughout the country, especially in the mid-west and the mountain states, as well as cutting the deficit and lowering taxes. Above all, like Martin, it is anti-establishment.
A Tea Party activist, Evelyn Zur, from Parker, Colorado, is fully behind the idea of reaching out to Latinos and African Americans; he sported a T-shirt at a recent rally saying “Black and Conservative Are Not Mutually Exclusive”. Zur resented the way the Tea Party is demonised as racist. She argued there is a space for conservative views among blacks in urban areas who have fared badly under the Democrats. She also sees the move as pragmatic. “Blacks and browns are going to be majority so Republicans have got to get them aboard,” she said.
One of the younger generation of Republicans who will have a say in the reshaping of the party, Henry Barbour, nephew of the former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, shares the view that the party has to reach out to Latinos, blacks, women and the young. Some of the candidates the party put up came across as “hostile”, he said, adding that he did not have to name them.
Unlike the Tea Party activists, Barbour is mainstream, an influential figure in his native Mississippi and in the Republican party beyond its borders.
The party was and will remain a conservative one, Barbour said, and policies such as opposition to abortion would remain a given. But the part could also learn from the Democrats about better organisation in identifying and getting out voters.
He thinks the party should listen to figures such as his uncle Haley Barbour and former Florida governor Jeb Bush but that the people who will lead the party should be Rubio or Romney’s running-mate Paul Ryan or someone else from that generation.
The main message of the election was the need to be more inclusive. “What we have to do is do is take our message to people who do not historically support us – blacks, Latinos, Asians, the young, people who agree with but we do not sit down with and break bread,” Barbour said. “We either do it or we continue to blow them off.”
Barack Obama’s steeliness has earned him his second term as president of the US. Now he needs to seal it
Put to one side for a moment who won the most polarised and bitterly contested presidential election of modern times. Think about what won. Healthcare reform won, not only because Barack Obama’s victory ensured that the law cannot be repealed in its entirety, but symbolically, too, on the ballot paper in Florida. The amendment banning federal mandates for obtaining health insurance would have had no practical effect after the supreme court upheld federal law, but the antis were denied even the opportunity of sending a political signal. Key programmes such as Medicare and Medicaid, whose budgets would have been slashed, had a good election night, too.
More voters were convinced that the rich had to pay more taxes than were not. Social liberalism notched up victories – from Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage, to Wisconsin, where Tammy Baldwin was elected as the first openly gay member of Senate. Pro-choice campaigners saw the political fortunes of their nemeses Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock implode. Public support for the death penalty was, according to some, on the wane. The electorate may be just as polarised, but after a result like this it is harder to argue that America is as gridlocked as the dysfunction in Washington suggests. Something has changed. The electorate is dynamic, vibrant and capable of embracing new ideas. It has only just started, but the change that Mr Obama heralded before his first term as president may finally be on its way.
Coalition of the ascendant
And whose voices prevailed? They have been variously called the coalition of the ascendant and New America. These groups are demographically on the march: voters below the age of 44, minorities, college-educated women voters. For Mitt Romney to have used the immigration debate as a way of feeding red meat to the party faithful, and to have alienated so many Latinos as a result, could have been a costlier decision in swing states than suggesting that Detroit should go bankrupt. While the Republicans seemed to eject from their big tent the very people they needed to win the election, the Democrats were concentrating Karl Rove-like in targeting auto workers and each of these demographics. Perhaps it is no accident that Mr Rove’s evening as a television pundit ended in a bust-up with Fox News, who rightly called Ohio for Mr Obama. The Democratic campaign realised what the self-obsessed GOP could not: the coalition of the ascendant represents a structural change. In 2004, George W Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote. Four years later, John McCain got 31%. On Wednesday, Romney got just 27%.
The party that failed to see this is belatedly feeling the consequences of being too old, too white, and too male. The Republican caucus returned to the House of Representatives could make the same mistake of thinking that they had a good election and that little for them has changed. They still control the house, the Democrats the Senate and the White House. On the surface government remains gridlocked. But any of a large field of next-generation leaders pondering their chances for 2016, such as the senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, the man to whom Republicans might turn to broaden the demographic appeal of the party, will also be counting the cost of continued Washington gridlock, especially if it is on immigration reform. It will be interesting to see just how hard and how long the house speaker, John Boehner, maintains that Mr Obama lacks a mandate to break the cold war on taxes.
A steelier president
To remind America that he still considers himself on a mission, that his mission is ambitious, and that he remains, after all the setbacks and disappointments of his first term, the same man, Mr Obama consciously reserved the best words of the campaign for his victory speech. Nice though they are to hear, the mood today is very different from 2008 and the test of his new-found executive purpose will come soon. He has got just over seven weeks before Americans will be hit with a combination of massive spending cuts and tax hikes. Unless Congress acts, the economy will go over this “fiscal cliff”; and over the next weeks the president can expect to hear incessant demands to broker a deal with Republicans.
The event is real enough. Should it happen, a
During the presidential campaign, Republican challenger Mitt Romney said Obama had waged a war on the coal industry during his first term.
Continue reading here: The Obama backlash in coal and energy stocks
The religious right in the US backs GOP climate change denial because science also supports evolution against creationism
Now that Sandy has exacted a steep toll in lives and property, the question is unavoidable: why do so many people in America refuse to take climate science seriously?
I am not assuming that Sandy was the direct consequence of human-caused climate change. But with this fresh evidence of the impact of climate issues on real people, how is it possible for anyone to think that thousands of scientists around the world are engaged in an elaborate hoax?
The standard reply is that some powerful organizations – above all, in the fossil fuel industry – think that they can benefit from misleading the public, and have funded a successful disinformation campaign. There is a lot of truth to this answer, but it isn’t the whole truth.
For the average climate science denier in the street (and there are a lot of them on some streets), there is often little correlation between the vehemence of their denials and the so-called “facts” at their disposal. The average Chuck is like Chuck Norris, who has claimed that climate science is a “trick”. Not an innocent mistake, not a systemic bias, but a premeditated fraud.
Climate science denial needs disinformation to survive, but it has its feet firmly planted in a part of American culture. That culture draws on lots of different sources. But if you want to understand it, you need to understand something about America’s religious landscape.
Take a look at some of the most recent initiatives in the climate science denial wars. In Louisiana, Tennessee, New Hampshire and other states, legislatures have either passed or put forward bills intended to disinform secondary-school students about climate science. Sure, they paper over the assault on education with claims that they only want to teach “both sides” of the issue and encourage “critical thinking”. But, as leaked documents made clear in at least one instance, the ultimate purpose is to produce a young generation of “skeptics” whose views on climate science will happily coincide with those of the fossil fuel industry.
Who is behind these programs of de-education?
The group writing much of the legislation is the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), a “nonpartisan” consortium of state legislators and business interests that gets plenty of money from the usual suspects. But the legislation has also received vital support from groups associated with the religious right. For example, the perversely named Louisiana Science Education Act, which opens the door to climate science denial in the classroom, was co-authored by the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based creationist thinktank. That act also received crucial support from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the well-funded Christian legal advocacy group that has described itself as “a servant organization that provides the resources that will keep the door open for the spread of the Gospel”, and which promotes a radical religious agenda in public schools.
What does religion have to do with climate science? Radical religious activists promote the anti-science bills, in part, because they also seek to undermine the teaching of evolution – another issue that supposedly has “two sides”, so schools should “teach the controversy”. Now, you don’t have to believe that Earth was created in six hectic days in order to be skeptical about climate science, but a large number of climate science deniers also happen to be evolution deniers.
What exactly is the theology of climate science denial? The Cornwall Alliance – a coalition whose list of signatories could double as a directory of major players in the religious right – has a produced a declaration asserting, as a matter of theology, that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.”
It also tells us – on the firm foundation of Holy Scriptures – that policies intended to slow the pace of climate change represent a “dangerous expansion of government control over private life”. It also alerts us that the environmental movement is “un-Biblical” – indeed, a new and false religion. If the Cornwall Declaration seems like a tough read, you can get what you need from the organization’s DVD series: “Resisting the Green Dragon: A Biblical Response to one of the Greatest Deceptions of our Day.”
Now, this isn’t the theology of every religion in America, or of every strain of Christianity; not by a long stretch. Most Christians accept climate science and believe in protecting the environment, and many of them do so for religious as well as scientific reasons. But theirs is not the theology that holds sway in the upper reaches of the Republican party, or moves your average climate science denier Chuck. As Rick Santorum explained at an energy summit in Colorado:
“We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth … for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit.”
Why does this theology of science denial have such power? For one thing, it gives its adherents something to throw back in the face of all those obnoxious “elites”, which they think are telling them what to do with their lives. There’s no need to master the facts if all you need is to learn a few words of scripture.
But, perhaps, more to the point is that this kind of religion works for Chuck because it allows him to disguise the extraordinary selfishness of his position in a cloak of sanctimony. Translated into the kind of language that you can take to the shopping mall, it says that God wants you to squeeze whatever you can out of the earth – and to hell with the grandkids.
I hear plenty of cynicism about the choice facing people this Tuesday, 6 November. Some say that it really doesn’t matter who gets elected. It is true that Obama has largely kept climate change out of the campaign. But it is delusional to imagine that Obama is just the same as Romney and the Republican party on this issue. Paul Ryan is on record as a world-class climate science denier. Mitt Romney’s press secretary has been a shill for oil companies.
Romney’s proposals on energy policy and climate issues, so far as they can be discerned, are indistinguishable from those of the fossil fuel industry. And anyone who thinks that Republican party policies won’t be informed by some of that old-time religion simply hasn’t been listening to what its candidates have to say about women, reproductive rights, and what they speciously call “religious liberty”.
There is a choice. And even if you don’t think it matters, your grandkids will.
Romney adds Pennsylvania to late campaign blitz
Los Angeles Times
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