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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Day After: Coming to terms with last night's election apocalypse

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2014 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge via Orange County Florida Democratic Executive Committee
  • via Orange County Florida Democratic Executive Committee

Sure, we had our share of clues that last night's midterm election bloodbath was a possibility – we even exhaustively weighed in with our own sort of endorsement sandbagging to prevent the progressive pounding, because futility can be fun – but, nonetheless, having witnessed a pretty impressive ground game and social media swirl of support for candidates and questions we thought might win, we put on our glad rags and went out to witness the returns in real time among real Democrats at the Abbey in Thornton Park. It looked like it would be exciting, because parties are meant to be exciting, right?

LOOKS LIKE FUN! And, to some degree, it was. But from the moment we arrived, we knew something wasn't going right. Frazzled folks with over-canvassed hands were telling us that County Question C was dead in the water the minute we got our first drink – meaning, there would be no partisan elections for the county commission and the mayor, and that said elections would remain in the dull void of August – and it instantly felt like a harbinger of very bad things. By now you're aware of the huge losses for Democrats in Florida: Charlie Crist fell to Rick Scott by a margin of one percent, George Sheldon fared much worse against Pam Bondi and her scandals (cue that ridiculous drunk victory speech, please), Democrats lost House representation from well-liked folks like Karen Castor Dentel, Joe Saunders and Linda Stewart, lost on medical marijuana, and, as the night progressed, lost their minds. You can read most of the county results via the Sentinel here, and statewide results here. All the salt for all the wounds.

But, as newspaper the Guardian argues, it could have been worse? Across the country, while losses were heavy for Democrats (yeah, we know), they only made the bright spots brighter?

Still, 2014 was hardly an endorsement of the Republicans. Red states like Nebraska and Arkansas voted to raise the minimum wage, Alaska and Oregon and Washington DC voted to legalize marijuana, and Washington state voted for a gun control measure. That the GOP has now taken control of the Senate marks a substantial change in terms of leadership but not a particularly consequential one in terms of legislation. The Republicans will emerge with only a small majority, and if the party’s recent experience running the House of Representatives is anything to go by, the GOP is likely to be a dysfunctional caucus – and anything Republicans do come up with that is unpalatable to Democrats, the president still holds a veto. Obama at times has proved himself in negotiations to possess the spine of a jellyfish, but unless he caves, nothing much more will get done this session than during the previous one.

Only this time the excuses will be different. Instead of Democrats blaming House Republicans for refusing to compromise, Republicans will blame Obama for thwarting the will of Congress. “Just because we have a two-party system doesn’t mean we have to be in perpetual conflict,” Mitch McConnell, the presumptive new Senate majority leader, said in his victory speech on Tuesday night. “I think I’ve shown that to be true at critical times in the past. I hope the president gives me the chance to show it again.”

Hmmm, cold comfort. Tabulations show that turnout was terrible. Sentinel scribe Jason Garcia put a fine point on it via tweets:


Ouch. For his part, Orange County Democratic Executive Committee chairman Carlos Smith, who has been a ball of energy all year in trying to motivate Central Florida out of its midterm apathy, kept a brave face when speaking on the Abbey stage. Even as he roll-called leaders who were clearly losing, he didn't crack. That's a tough job.

And not everyone lost. Alan Grayson, who likewise tried to rally the crowd as it collapsed into a puddle of despair, won his FIRST RE-ELECTION EVER! So there's that!

via Orange County Florida Democratic Executive Committee

HIS TIE MATCHES THE FLAG! Eric Rollings won for Soil and Water, Tiffany Moore Russell won for clerk of courts, there were drinks and excellent bits of food. So, not a total loss. But as one operative told us, this really came down to the general public distrust of politicians who hop parties (cough, Crist, cough). We get that. But now we move on to the humility of having our faces rubbed in it for a bit (hey, our endorsements weren't PREDICTIONS, OK?) and having to keep our eyes on income inequality, marriage inequality, reproductive rights, health care and everything else that forms this great political divide. So, here we go.

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