After most of the results were declared for America's 2010 Midterm Election last week, the Democrats won consolations whilst the Republicans, at first glance, have most to celebrate. The Republicans won back the Lower House, narrowly lost the Upper House and have a large majority of the State Governors. The real loser was President Obama who was not finding office too easy with majorities in both Houses, a majority that until the loss to the Republicans of Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts seat, was a "super majority" in the Senate. Now with the House of Representatives in Republican hands and not every Democrat Senator giving the President their full support, life in the White House can only get tougher.
The elation amongst mainstream Republicans is tempered though. A somewhat typical turnout of 82.5 million for a midterm election it might have been and all voting groups questioned indicated a swing to the Republicans according to House exit polls, but the general belief was that many Democrats did not bother to vote and the Republicans were better able to get out their core voters.
Electoral maps and charts of the 2010 Midterm results published in The Guardian on Thursday, 04 November 2010, do indicate for the Democrats a worrying swing to the Republicans, even amongst their traditionally most loyal support base. Examples include a 13 per cent swing by women voters and a 14 per cent swing by under 30's to the Republicans. Despite this swing, the young still remain strongly Democrat at 56 per cent to 40 per cent.
Despite the fact that Asians - Chinese, Japanese, Koreans - voted 56 per cent to 40 per cent in the Democrats favour, the swing to the right was 18 per cent and again, although those earning less than $30,000 per annum remain 57 per cent to 40 per cent Democrat, there was amongst this group a 19 per cent swing to the right.
Having expended a great deal of his political capital during the past two years getting his Healthcare bill passed through Congress, President Obama appears to have received little gratitude from the groups one would think to be its beneficiaries and his and the Democrats' supporters. A mere 19 per cent placed Healthcare as a "top issue" in the exit polls conducted against 62 per cent for the Economy. Good news for the Republicans, Democrats will want to study such statistics and give some thought as to how they will stem the trend.
Counting of votes for some political offices in a few States continued after most of the results were announced on Wednesday, 03 November 2010. Connecticut was not able to declare a winner for the very tight contest for State Governor until the evening of Friday, 05 November, three days after the polls closed.
With 1.1 million votes cast in the State, Dannel P Malloy, a former lawyer and the Democrat candidate, strongly backed by the unions, succeeded in defeating his Republican opponent, Thomas C Foley, a man who has made his fortune in private equity. Mr Malloy's majority was 5,637 votes, comfortably exceeding the 2,000 vote maximum that would have necessitated an automatic recount under Connecticut State Law.
It was a bitter contest and Mr Foley, who managed to overcome a double-digit deficit by polling day, is considering his options with his Republican advisers. The outcome must be certified by 25 November.
The issues that featured uppermost for both candidates in their electoral campaigns were jobs and the economy. David W Chen in the New York Times on 05 November 2010 reports that Mr Malloy, a former mayor of Stamford, made a straightforward appeal: "Hire me, and I'll apply the lessons I learned while helping to revitalize Stamford," Connecticut's fourth largest city.
Mr Foley, a first-time candidate who spent $10 million of his own money trying to get elected, "proved a resilient opponent" in Mr Chen's words, determined to apply the skills he had gained in private equity. Mr Foley promised to slash (state) spending - Governors sign off state budgets - and "cut red tape to help spur job growth".
Electoral races could hardly be closer than this one and it's doubtful whether British or European voters would be able to detect any fundamental differences in outlook or proposed political solutions between the two gentlemen. Maybe, judging by that slimmest of majorities, the good people of Connecticut had the same difficulty!
Nancy Pelosi (D - California) is Speaker of the House of Representatives, constitutionally third in line after the President and Vice-President. Representing most of the City and County of San Francisco, Fox News interviewed her on 30 April 2009 when she said of the Tea Party: "It's not really a grassroots movement. It's astroturf (fake grass) by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class." Now, to give Mrs Pelosi her due, she has mellowed her stance a little since 2009 on this group of political activists, but that astroturf did rather well in the 2010 Midterms and could, by many, be considered to have emerged as the real winners. If for no other reason, the Tea Partiers are now known round the globe.
To those not in the know, the Tea Party is not a formal political party and does not stand in elections under that title. It is more a body of people, whose supporters are some 86 per cent Republican and 11 per cent Democrat, who lend their now considerable weight and support behind candidates - generally Republican - who are in sympathy with their agenda.
Uniting their anger and frustration are three Acts passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama:
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 - bailing out the banks, Wall Street etc
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 - a $787 billion over two years programme to support the states, jobs and infrastructure
Patient Protection and affordable Care Act of 2010 - "Healthcare" made compulsory for all, with compulsory insurance payments by all.
The Tea Party believe that government spending, deficits and taxes are all too high, government is too big at every level and share the mantra of every politician who wants to be elected in America - "Washington doesn't listen". That last, on the lips of the current American Head of State and Commander-in-Chief, but a couple of years past.
Successes? Most certainly: Marco Rubio in Florida and Rand Paul in Kentucky to name but two. But losers also like Sharron Angle in Nevada and Carly Fiorina in California.
Due to Tea Party pressure, Mrs Fiorina, an ex Hewlett Packard CEO, had to move her political stance well to the right of her comfort zone, just to win the Republican nomination. In California, where 44 per cent of voters are registered Democrats and only 31 per cent registered Republicans, Mrs Fiorina got a most commendable 42 per cent of the vote for the Senate seat. A little less of the sometimes quirky and far right Tea Party influence, and who knows she might have got it?
The Guardian on 04 November 2010 shows a photo of President Obama speaking to and congratulating Republican John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. As Head of State this is only right and proper. No doubt the President has assured Mr Boehner that he is looking forward to working with him. Aye, right! As The Guardian points out, Mr Boehner "has vowed to undo the President's agenda".
The House can't repeal the Healthcare bill but it need not pass the funds to support it!
In Washington, politicians will live in interesting times!