As a certified news junkie, I read a number of daily newspapers, half a dozen weeklies, news magazines, and even listen to radio and television news.
That basically means I hear, see and read lots of opinions of political junkies and political consultants. Many this year started believing their own evaluations.
Times are changing. President Obama did not lose, he won. And it was not all that close. Mitt Romney’s assumed base never fully materialized, or rather emerged as smaller than it used to be.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice observed after the voting that the Republican Party had better adapt to rapidly changing demographics in the United States, warning the GOP sent “mixed messages” in the recent campaign on immigration and women’s issues.
The changing face of America “necessitates” new thinking, Rice emphasized.
The 2012 general election brought one message home very persuasively: This is a different America than we could have imagined, growing up.
It was an election in which women’s votes can — and did — override the votes of men. A black president was re-elected with the support of only 39 percent of white people. Gay men and lesbians can now legally marry in nine states, and marijuana can be smoked, just for fun, in Washington state and Colorado.
A former female soldier defeated a conservative man for a congressional seat. A blonde grandmother rolled over two-term Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. without a runoff.
Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth won the U.S. House seat. The Iraq War veteran lost both her legs in combat and beat a male Tea Party Republican.
Not long ago, it was political suicide to advocate a woman serving in combat.
However, it wasn’t just women’s ability to get elected. It was women’s raw power to elect.
Female voters carried Barack Obama to re-election, with 55 percent of them choosing him over Mitt Romney, who was favored by 44 percent. They wiped out the advantage men gave Romney (52 to 45 percent).
Among Latinos nationwide, 71 percent voted for Obama, who favors comprehensive immigration reforms, over Romney, who doesn’t.
But it would be a mistake to stereotype voters’ priorities on the basis of their ethnicities, which also means stereotyping white, majority Americans.
Could it be possible that people who put millions into these campaigns — particularly losing campaigns — were not aware that they were throwing good money after bad? Just because you have millions or billions doesn’t mean you’re smart.
Nearly every Tea Party candidate who had a strong Democrat opponent lost. The talking heads on television missed again.
In 1920, the year women claimed their franchise, they voted by the millions. Women are the nation’s most effective buffer against extremism. They are more likely than men to stand up for the programs that have traditionally helped children, the elderly and the poor.
It is not time to perform last rites for the Republican Party. The party bounced back after Barry Goldwater’s landslide loss in 1964 and Richard M. Nixon’s resignation. The Democratic consultants can be as far off base as their GOP counterparts.
If I were running a political campaign, the last people I would put out front are politicians who have the approval rating of deadbeat dads. Kids and dogs are better spokesmen.
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Larry Fugate is a veteran journalist and former editor of The Pine Bluff Commercial. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (870) 329-7010.