One of the characterizations of America that I have difficulty with is that we are a center-right nation. Results from last Tuesday should disabuse us of that notion once and for all: With 120,871,984 votes cast, President Barack Obama received 62,088,847 votes and Mitt Romney received 58,783,137.
Some have argued that the president is really center-right. I do not find that argument persuasive, especially with him advocating the DREAM act, an end to the Iraq war,and his embrace of marriage equality, to name a few of his policies.
Democrats now hold 53 U.S. Senate seats. Independent Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, generally caucuses with the Democrats and Sen.-elect Angus King from Maine is widely expected to do the same. While not filibuster-proof, the 55 seats gives the Democrats a majority.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives received more votes than their Republican counterparts. Only because of redistricting did the House remain in the hands of Republicans. The “center-right” Democrats, also known as Blue Dogs? Their numbers are down to just 24 after last Tuesday.
Those who argue in favor of ditching the electoral college for the popular vote might want to refocus their efforts on getting redistricting out of the hands of the legislators. Because here in Virginia, the president won as did Tim Kaine, the latter by an even wider margin.
But every single Congressional candidate was re-elected, and Virginia’s delegation remains an 8-3 Republican majority. Proof that all politics is local lies in the fact that Romney received more than 200,000 fewer votes than did the Republican candidates for the House, despite the fact that 109,000 fewer votes were cast in those races than for president.
(Until the SBE updates its website to include the breakdown of the president and senate contests by congressional district, as it has in the past, I can’t tell how well those candidates did within those districts. In 2008, President Obama carried six of the 11 congressional districts.)
No offense to the losers in the House races, but the odds were stacked against you. The lines drawn make it almost impossible for a candidate of the opposite party to win. The most egregious example of this has to be the 3rd district, where the challenger received less than 19% of the vote. The closest contest was in the 2nd district, where the challenger lost by only 8%. The largest number of votes cast occurred in the 7th district, where a highly touted – and nationally recognized – Democratic candidate still managed to lose by 17 points.
Partisan redistricting results in fewer competitive races and fewer votes cast; the proof is in the numbers. Ours is not a center-right country nor is Virginia a center-right state. Our country and our state are center – period. No left or right.
And it’s high time that our elections reflect that.