Thursday, 6 November 2014

What did Tuesday's US elections tell us about the US Presidential Election in 2016?

So. The GOP have taken control of the US Senate in a landslide win, and have increased their majority in the House of Representatives, as well as winning a large number of Gubernatorial and Local elections. What does this actually mean looking forward to the United States Presidential Election in 2016?

Well, for starters, it is clear that Barrack Obama is going to be a lame duck for the last two years of his office. Previously, he had control of the Senate, and so he could, to some extent, claim legitimacy and could get laws passed with some difficulty. Now, getting any sort of law pushed through the legislatures will require the consent of both House Republicans and Republicans in the Senate.  And, judging by what Mitch McConnell said in 2012, that he wanted Barrack Obama to be a one term president and was determined to block the president's policies, the GOP seem to be in no mood to co-operate.

It should be seen as quite significant that Rand Paul was celebrating with Mcconnell. Paul, according to polls, is by far the most popular Republican with the American electorate, and so he has a real chance of winning any presidential election. Indeed, Paul played a significant role in the Republican campaign, as did Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party. What chance would he, as the most able Republican candidate, have at a US Presidential election?

Well, according to yesterday's election, he would have quite a good chance of winning. The Republicans polled at 51% nationally whilst the Democrats managed to get 48% of the vote, which is a swing from the Democrats to the Republicans of 7%. The party managed to win notable bellweather states, such as Florida, and came close in Virginia, which was a major shock to the Democrats, in a seat that has always traditionally been a Blue Heartland. If the swing shown on Tuesday was repeated at a US Presidential Election nationwide, Rand Paul would be the President of the United States with a powerful total of 358 Electoral College Votes, compared to 180 for whoever his Democratic Party challenger would be.

However, we should be rather cautious about reading too much into these results and extrapolating them to a US Presidential Election. In 2016, President Obama will not be on the ballot paper. The President has become deeply unpopular due to the dysfunctional nature of the US Government at the moment, and so has been punished for it. Indeed, many Republicans tried to make the elections a referendum on his presidency, and many Democrats distanced themselves from him during the campaign.

Now that the GOP have control of the Senate and House, however, the Democratic Party will be able to blame them rather than the president if governance continues to be done as poorly as it has been done for the last few years. This will automatically hand a massive advantage to the Democrats at the Presidential Election. The second major thing to take into account is the nature of people who vote at US General Elections, as they tend to be white, much older than the median, highly educated and well-paid. The traditional Democratic caucus-Young people, ethnic minorities, liberal lower middle class earners, latinos, black Americans, etc, do not really turn up, and they did not turn up yesterday for the election. These people can be guaranteed to turn up in much larger numbers at a US Presidential Election.

So, to conclude, this election was bad for Obama and the Democrats, but it is not the disaster that many think that it is. With less than 2 years now to go until Obama steps down and hands power to his successor, there is still everything to play for in America and American politics.

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