The Blue Shockwave

Carla Axtman

As the results from Tuesday night's election continue to be digested, it's become apparent that we experienced a blue shockwave: an unexpected yanking of the country back toward the center and away from the medieval notions of the Tea Party.

The big winners: women. Obama carried women by 55%. New Hampshire's entire delegation is now represented by women. 20 women will be US Senators--an all time high. The US House will have at least 77 women in the body, also a new record.

And oh by the way, if you declare a war on women--you'd best be prepared to lose. BIG.

Overall, Democrats gained 2 seats in the US Senate. I find this astounding, given that Democrats were defending 23 senate seats and the GOP were only defending 10. The Republicans were absolutely outmatched and frankly, unprepared for the losses. Their media bubble burst in a huge way.

Were it not for Republican gerrymandering of so many US House Districts across the country, they'd likely have lost the US House as well. One of the residual consequences of the 2010 election: the GOP took over a bunch of state legislatures and gerrymandered the hell out of House Districts. Elections matter--even midterm ones.

Closer to home, the blue shockwave hit the state legislature. The Democrats return to majority status in the Oregon House with a 34-26 lead. This status will likely elevate Rep. Tina Kotek to the first openly lesbian Speaker in the US. The Oregon Senate retains a 16-14 Democratic majority.

But Tuesday was not a full on victory for the Democrats.

It's clear that progressives and Democrats in Oregon have a lot of work to do at the hyper local level, especially in Clackamas County.

One of the more egregiously terrible legislators on the Republican side managed to hold on: Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn). I'm told that Parrish is generally disliked on both sides of the aisle and that her floor speeches are eye-rolling even for her own caucus. Despite her questionable campaign finance reporting and attempts at statewide voter suppression, Parrish was able to squeeze out a victory.

The Clackamas County Commission, at least for now, has been shoved hard to the right. John Ludlow is poised to take over as County Chair. And gun raffle queen Tootie Smith appears to have won the open commission seat. Of course much of this will remain up in the air until the Clackamas County elections fraud scandal investigation is complete.

In Lake Oswego, the mayoral race appears to have the excellent Greg MacPherson losing to hyper conservative Kent Studebaker, in a squeaker. The LO City Council will now also have a conservative majority.

Yup. LOTS of work to do in Clackamas.

Comments

    • (Show?)

      Don't forget Heidi Heitkamp of ND, keeping the vacated seat. Jon Tester won a tough one. And Angus King of ME (Independent), took the GOP seat and will caucus with the Dems. For a total of 55 Senators in Dem. caucus. (Lieberman and Nelson of NE were not really Dems.)

  • (Show?)

    The US Senate victories have a lot to teach us. The Tea Party won Republican primaries and nominated candidates that the general election electorate could not stomach. The same thing happened in Clackamas County, but on the left, when Charlotte Lehan defeated Dave Hunt.

    I am still frustrated that a candidate steeled by partisan combat in the legislature and ready to pick the big fights on behalf of progressives, and the only Democrat capable of winning in a general election in Clackamas County, had his candidacy ended by the strange combined efforts of progressives like Carla Axtman and Jonathan Poisner, and right-wing wackos like Rob Kremer and Kevin Mannix. Clackamas County is now an issue--a huge issue for Progressives.

    I don't know what all the next steps look like in taking back Clackamas County, but I think an important first question needs to be one of electability. That question was obviously not asked by Charlotte's supporters.

    • (Show?)

      I LOVE being put in the same category and place as Jonathan Poisner. AWESOME.

      Thanks, Nick!

      But if we're going to believe that your analysis is correct, we'd also have to ask if Jamie Dimon, Greg MacPherson and a number of city council candidates for Lake Oswego were viable as well. Are you slamming on their ability to win too?

      • (Show?)

        Jamie Damon, Carla!

        Jamie Dimon is not electable in Oregon or anywhere - he's a banker.

        To suggest that Dave Hunt would have prevailed over Ludlow indicates a lack of understanding of the dynamic and strength of the revolt in the county. It's not that Lehan or Damon were flawed candidates - we did not organize at the county level for our candidates

        For example, Shemia Fagan lost the race in Clackamas County alone. Nordbye carried Hood River county but lost overall due to Clackamas.

        • (Show?)

          BAH. Thanks for the catch, Simon.

          My profuse apologies to Ms Damon.

          • (Show?)

            It looks like 24,000 people that voted for Obama (and Blumenaur/Schrader) didn't vote for Charlotte, but 12,000 people that voted for Romney didn't for for Ludlow (almost same numbers for Jamie and Tootie). The ballot said non-partisan (i.e. no democratic moniker). Did they lose because they were too liberal? Or rather 24k people didn't know who they were? I'd go with the latter.

            • (Show?)

              Ludlow and the OTP made a big issue of the current commissioners paying $22M to TriMet for Light Rail days before the Sept Light Rail ballot.

              I spoke to Dem voters who were fired up about this and would not vote for Lehan & Damon as a result. They didn't know or understand the $22 million was done deal. But OTP made a big issue of it with misleading mailers and Ludlow referred to it frequently.

              Many folks were misled into thinking - and still are - that the September ballot was about the Milwaukie light rail line.

    • (Show?)

      his candidacy ended by the strange combined efforts of progressives like Carla Axtman

      Nick, I'm not sure I understand this comment.

      By my reckoning, Carla wrote about Charlotte Lehan and Dave Hunt exactly twice during the spring. I mean, not to discount the immense power of a blog (bwah-hah-ha...), but two posts on BlueOregon months before the primary vote aren't likely the reason that Dave Hunt lost that race.

      Unless there's a logical leap that I'm missing here.

  • (Show?)

    Martha Schrader won the open seat vacated by Ann Linninger. Smith leads incumbent Jamie Damon, pending the ballot tampering investigation.

  • (Show?)

    I was quite heartened to wake up Wed. morning and read about the many wonderful results in Oregon! Obviously, you guys all worked your butts off and it showed.

    Unfortunately, the state I now live in - North Carolina, bucked the national trend & went further to the right. Opposite of the direction we were headed in 2008. We passed a constitutional amendment that prohibits any form of recognition of gay marriage. We now have a tea-party, HIGHLY conservative State House and Senate. We elected a R Governor that while moderate, is quite like Mitt Romney in that he will pander to whoever he has to, and the Rep. legislature will have him by the kahunas. Our state and local Dem. parties have been riddled with in-fighting and scandal.

    But take heart....there are several of us who are already working on a 2 year, 4 year, 6 year, and 8 year plan. We CAN take NC back. We WILL take NC back and it WILL BE BLUE AGAIN!

    Forgive me though, for I will be quite homesick for my home state of Oregon as we prepare to wage war here in backwards land.

  • (Show?)

    The question of mandate is one best not broached (a few writers have pointed out why the concept itself is pretty flawed), but this was not the "status quo election" many conservatives are trying to spin it as.

    Obama held the presidency, and both the Senate and the house turned bluer. It's true Boehner hangs onto the speakership, but the House was no unmitigated victory for the GOP--quite the opposite. After the last, midterm election, GOP legislatures got to gerrymander districts, making it harder to lose congressional seats. Yet they still managed to do so.

    What should be far more worrying is that on the state and national level, the GOP field very poor candidates who have been failing with surprising regularity. The national popular vote has gone Dem 5 of the last six elections. In head-to-head matchups in red states, radicals like Mourdock and Akin have failed to win over enough of their own voters to carry statewide elections.

    Beginning in 2004, I noted that Oregon seemed to be ahead of the curve on the direction of politics, and that still looks like the case. In Oregon, Republicans can win small, red districts, but haven't won statewide election in a dog's age. More and more, the same pattern is developing for the GOP in other states and the nation.

    Perhaps contempt for half the country is a bad electoral strategy.

  • (Show?)

    I think it's important to note a few other triumphs reported by the Human Rights Campaign: We just changed the course of history. Before Tuesday, we had lost in every single state that voted on marriage equality. Every single one.

    Now the votes from Washington are in, and we've won FOUR OUT OF FOUR. A clean sweep.

    This is a huge deal. Not only did we just eliminate the anti-LGBT talking point that the public is against marriage equality, we re-elected President Obama, sent dozens of our heroes to Congress, put Tammy Baldwin in the Senate, defended a judge in Iowa from a political hatchet job, and reinvigorated [the LGBT] movement. Plus Oregon Democrat Rep. Tina Kotek is on track to be first openly lesbian Speaker in the country. The victories were almost too many to count.

    • (Show?)

      I've seen that "we've won FOUR OUT OF FOUR" line all over the place.

      Does that mean that they didn't even bother contesting the marriage vote in North Carolina? I honestly don't know the story here.

  • (Show?)

    It feels very much to me that this election was about common values, not the economy or foreign policy. Obama and Romney showed little distinction where it concerns bombing the hell out other countries, so the nation was left to decide who to vote for based on domestic issues. Obama prevented a recession from becoming a depression (unless you're a minority, then the economy is basically a constant depression), yet Romney seemed to take glee in the idea of crushing peoples' lives by shipping their jobs overseas. After that, the real differences emerge, and that's really where people were pulled to strongly support one or the other. The people crying over Romney's defeat know this was their last chance at holding back the 21st century, and their panic is far less about Obama than it is about living in a world where hatred of homosexuals, xenophobia of Latino migrants, and treating womens' bodies as property will no longer be tolerated.

    • (Show?)

      If you are stating whether pacifism was on the ballot, it was. The Naderite candidate was there and didn't register at all. Because pacifism is not a majority or even a small minority view. The American people want to have a strong military and they want to have an commander in chief who is willing to protect America. in this election, President Barack Obama was chosen as the one best suited by temperament and by experience to be the commander in chief.

      • (Show?)

        Pacifism is not the only alternative to treasury-busting, murderous, militaristic imperialism. The US electorate suffers pervasive disinformation on foreign affairs. Obama uses less blood-thirsty rhetoric than his predecessor, but the bombs keep falling, and the $billions keep being wasted.

  • (Show?)

    Obviously every seat counts and they would rather have 35 than 34 but some Democrats I know are just about chortling over the Republicans' having to deal with Parrish especially now that they have placated her by making her second in command in the House. Loose cannon is not quite the right term -- more like runaway missile launcher.

  • (Show?)

    One of the big losers in Oregon Tuesday was not on the ballot: the Oregonian. Brought in to toe publisher Chris Anderson's rightwing line, editorial page editor Erik Lukens engineered the endorsement of his Bend buddy Knute Buehler for Secretary of State, carefully endorsed enough suburban Republican House candidates to attempt to thwart Democratic control, urged defeat of Measure 85 and tried to undermine the Multnomah Library District -- and lost, lost, lost, lost down the line.

    Now heading into next year without te latest ship-jumpers — star political cartoonist Jack Ohman and statehouse bureau mainstay Michelle Cole, the O is a shadow of a shadow of its once-proud former self. I suspect that when the Newhouse overlords at ironically named Advance Publications finally reduce publication to several days a week hardly anyone will notice. Sad, sad, sad.

  • (Show?)

    If the GOP's "rape candidates" had kept their mouths shut, do you think they would have lost? It's not that I think their sentiments are unique to some in the GOP, but most aren't foolish enough to say something like that. Winning on the basis of someone's huge mistake is nice, but I'm not sure it should give great comfort about the next time around.

    • (Show?)

      The "rape supporters" were just vocalizing the GOP platform, criminalizes all abortion, including for rape. It's the values, and American culture is changing, not just demographics, but values. The racists, misogynists, and Ayn Randians are in the minority and getting fewer.

connect with blueoregon