WASHINGTON – Beyond Barack Obama and John McCain, there were other winners and losers on Election Day.
Here’s a look at a few:
• Howard Dean. Big winner. His 50-state strategy, denigrated by old-line Democrats like James Carville, was vindicated. Dean buttressed Democratic staff in all 50 states and refocused on the broader map, paving the way for Obama to compete and win in longtime Republican bastions like Indiana and Virginia.
• Young voters. Winners and losers. People under age 30 were an important part of Obama’s winning coalition. But despite all the pre-election hype, they only voted in moderately higher percentages this time. And they entered a political system that will leave their generation $10 trillion in debt, and counting.
• Karl Rove. Loser. Four years ago, the Republicans’ best strategist was talking about building a lasting GOP governing majority following President Bush’s re-election. Today, Bush is compared with Herbert Hoover, and the Republicans are at pre-Ronald Reagan strength in Congress and in state governorships.
• Civil rights movement. Big winner. Jesse Jackson’s tears and those of ordinary Americans, black and white, said it all.
• Republican congressional leadership. Loser. When your leader in the Senate survives a close re-election and will have fewer senators to lead and when there is open revolt against your leaders in the House, trouble is ahead in your Grand Old Party.
• Republican governors. Winners. Even though their numbers dwindled Tuesday, any GOP comeback probably will have to come from the governors. Southerners Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Charlie Crist of Florida, as well as others like Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, either have national ambitions or stature.
• Sarah Palin. Winner and loser. A majority of voters told exit pollsters she wasn’t ready to be president if the need arrived. But the more Democrats and the entertainment elite attacked the Alaska governor, the more popular she became among loyal Republicans. Four more years of experience, coupled with her national stature, is a recipe for a makeover.
• Viral media. Big winner. This medium is to Democrats what talk radio was to Republicans in the 1980s and ’90s. Obama already has signaled he’ll use social networks and cell phone technology to put pressure on Congress and to marshal support for his agenda. Republicans will need to catch up – fast – or find the next medium to compete. Is it the Star Trek-esque hologram that CNN unveiled Tuesday night?
• Tina Fey, “Saturday Night Live” and the Democratic-Hollywood entertainment complex. Winners and losers. Fey brilliantly portrayed Palin, and “SNL”‘s political satire revived sagging ratings. Hollywood liberals got their president. Bad news: They won’t have Palin and McCain to kick around any more. And late-night comics and talk show folks haven’t found Obama particularly funny.
• Abortion rights supporters. Winners. For the second time, South Dakota voters struck down a restrictive abortion referendum, and Obama could have several appointments to the Supreme Court that likely would guarantee the court would not reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision for a generation.
Contact GNS Political Writer Chuck Raasch at firstname.lastname@example.org.