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The winners and losers of the US election

From Elizabeth Warren and memes, to glum Fox News pundits and Paul Ryan's biceps.

Winner: Elizabeth Warren

The bankruptcy law expert, consumer rights advocate, Harvard Law School professor and grandmother defeated incumbent Scott Brown to become the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the Senate. A win for everyone who believes that someone with a huge depth of knowledge and experience should be involved in making laws.

Loser: Todd Akin

Beaten in the Missouri Senate race by incumbent Claire McAskill. Akin was abandoned by his party after he said in August that "if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Actually:

Winner: Tammy Baldwin

Narrowly defeated Republican Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin to become the US's first openly gay senator. After her victory, she said:

I am well aware that I will have the honour to be Wisconsin's first woman US senator... And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member of the United States Senate, but I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference.

Winner: Colorado and Washington (and, arguably, Mexico)

The two states voted to legalise marijuana - in Colorado it will be available to anyone over the age of 21 and regulated in a similar way to alcohol and tobacco. As the Economist reports, studies show that "Mexico’s traffickers would lose about $1.4 billion of their $2 billion revenues from marijuana" as a result of the legalisation.

Winner: Dan Hodges

The Telegraph and New Statesman pundit Dan Hodges correctly called the election for Obama before anyone else in the British press dared to (at about 2am) thus exorcising the memory of his "David Miliband has won the Labour leadership contest" call in 2010.

The following Twitter exchange sums it up pretty well:

Winner: Nate Silver

The New York Times's resident number-cruncher called every single state correctly. Via @cosentino on Twitter, here's how the actual result and Silver's predictions side by side:

His predictions might be uncanny, but that's because Silver's a probably a witch. (Although we are intrigued to know what happens to him now - does the NYT power him down and put him in a display case in the lobby until the midterms?)

Winner: Mother Jones and Buzzfeed

The magazine Mother Jones and the website Buzzfeed, in their different ways, completely rewrote the book on how to cover an election. Mother Jones's mega-scoop of the 47 per cent video, for instance, or Buzzfeed's article "Donald Trump's Kids Love Killing Animals", just for starters. As Helen wrote in the magazine a few weeks ago:

You may not have heard of Mother Jones, but if you follow American politics, then you’ll have seen the fallout from its scoop. Addressing supporters, the presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said: “There are 47 per cent who are with [Obama], who are dependent on government, who believe they are victims” and who would “vote for him no matter what”. Mother Jones’s Washington bureau chief, David Corn, found the video online and beat the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim to track down its owner and verify its contents.

It brought more than two million visitors to the magazine’s website in the first 12 hours of the story – double the number it would normally get in a month. Not bad for a tiny, independent magazine that has been declared dead several times – particularly when it was up against the HuffPo, which has the full corporate financial power of AOL behind it.

Loser: Donald Trump

Because he does things like this, and this, and this, and this. We could go on.

Loser: Karl Rove

Got in a fight with Fox News last night after they called Ohio for Obama, calling it "premature". You can understand why he was so upset - he did pour a vast amount of money and effort into supporting Romney...

Loser: Paul Ryan

Not only did Paul Ryan not become vice-president last night, he also now has to live with the fact that this is all he will ever be remembered for (those guns should be illegal!)

Well, that, and not being any good at economics.

Loser: Fox News

Look at the quiet despair on their faces as it became clear that Obama had won:

Loser: Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu, who despite putting a brave face on it and congratulating Obama, will surely be annoyed.

Winner: Gay marriage

Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve equal marriage legislation by popular vote. This makes the east coast states the seventh and eighth states to allow same-sex couples to marry, while campaigners are hailing the vote as a turning point in attitudes towards gay people.

Loser: Climate Change

Although it got a reference in Obama's acceptance speech, until Michael Bloomberg's intervention after Hurricane Sandy, the phrase had barely passed the candidates' lips during the campaign.

Loser: The Tea Party

Democrat victories, especially in Senate races (see Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, above) have hopefully put the final nail in the coffin of the idea that the GOP needs the Tea Party in order to be electorally successful. Fingers crossed that, after a period of soul-searching, moderate Republicans are able to reassert themselves over candidate selection processes. Although that might be a bit hopeful - the 2010 midterms didn't deliver the Tea Party landslide it was supposed to either, and it didn't seem to dent their confidence one bit...

Winner: Chris Christie

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey. His non-partisan and statesman-like handling of the Superstorm Sandy aftermath won him many plaudits, although his praise for Barack Obama endeared him a bit less to his own party - some outlets even went as far as to say Christie had "endorsed" the Democrat candidate. As the GOP licks its wounds, expect much speculation about whether Christie might run his own race in 2016. Especially, as Ezra Klein argues, he's definitely not too fat to be president.

Loser: Janet Daley

Telegraph columnist and blogger Janet Daley, who just at the moment when the world was coming round to the fact that Obama had pretty much got it in the bag, "got off the fence" and called it for Romney:

With hindsight, the fence might have been a safer bet, Janet.

Loser: Tom Calvocoressi

New Statesman Deputy Chief Sub-Editor Tom Calvocoressi. A tiny tiny part of him was hoping Romney might just squeak it, so he could deploy his brilliant pun-headline: "The Mormon Conquest".

Loser: Big Money

In the wake of the Citizens United ruling at the Supreme Court (remember “corporations are people”?), many liberals worried that the election would be “bought” by billionaire donors. But the savvy micro-targeting (and sheer gusto) of Obama’s money-raising machine proved them wrong.

Winner: Stephen Colbert

This isn’t the last we’ll hear about Super PACs – the “political action committees” set up to fund candidates “independently” of them – so it’s a good time to learn what they are. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert has been trying to edutain people about them all election, setting up his own. Its slogan is Making A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.

Here's a video explaining them:

And here's a picture of him in a fetching jumpsuit:

Loser: Meatloaf

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Meatloaf joined Mitt Romney on stage. Nor an unclenched buttock:

THE END.

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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Find the EU renegotiation demands dull? Me too – but they are important

It's an old trick: smother anything in enough jargon and you can avoid being held accountable for it.

I don’t know about you, but I found the details of Britain’s European Union renegotiation demands quite hard to read. Literally. My eye kept gliding past them, in an endless quest for something more interesting in the paragraph ahead. It was as if the word “subsidiarity” had been smeared in grease. I haven’t felt tedium quite like this since I read The Lord of the Rings and found I slid straight past anything written in italics, reasoning that it was probably another interminable Elvish poem. (“The wind was in his flowing hair/The foam about him shone;/Afar they saw him strong and fair/Go riding like a swan.”)

Anyone who writes about politics encounters this; I call it Subclause Syndrome. Smother anything in enough jargon, whirr enough footnotes into the air, and you have a very effective shield for protecting yourself from accountability – better even than gutting the Freedom of Information laws, although the government seems quite keen on that, too. No wonder so much of our political conversation ends up being about personality: if we can’t hope to master all the technicalities, the next best thing is to trust the person to whom we have delegated that job.

Anyway, after 15 cups of coffee, three ice-bucket challenges and a bottle of poppers I borrowed from a Tory MP, I finally made it through. I didn’t feel much more enlightened, though, because there were notable omissions – no mention, thankfully, of rolling back employment protections – and elsewhere there was a touching faith in the power of adding “language” to official documents.

One thing did stand out, however. For months, we have been told that it is a terrible problem that migrants from Europe are sending child benefit to their families back home. In future, the amount that can be claimed will start at zero and it will reach full whack only after four years of working in Britain. Even better, to reduce the alleged “pull factor” of our generous in-work benefits regime, the child benefit rate will be paid on a ratio calculated according to average wages in the home country.

What a waste of time. At the moment, only £30m in child benefit is sent out of the country each year: quite a large sum if you’re doing a whip round for a retirement gift for a colleague, but basically a rounding error in the Department for Work and Pensions budget.

Only 20,000 workers, and 34,000 children, are involved. And yet, apparently, this makes it worth introducing 28 different rates of child benefit to be administered by the DWP. We are given to understand that Iain Duncan Smith thinks this is barmy – and this is a man optimistic enough about his department’s computer systems to predict in 2013 that 4.46 million people would be claiming Universal Credit by now*.

David Cameron’s renegotiation package was comprised exclusively of what Doctor Who fans call handwavium – a magic substance with no obvious physical attributes, which nonetheless helpfully advances the plot. In this case, the renegotiation covers up the fact that the Prime Minister always wanted to argue to stay in Europe, but needed a handy fig leaf to do so.

Brace yourself for a sentence you might not read again in the New Statesman, but this makes me feel sorry for Chris Grayling. He and other Outers in the cabinet have to wait at least two weeks for Cameron to get the demands signed off; all the while, Cameron can subtly make the case for staying in Europe, while they are bound to keep quiet because of collective responsibility.

When that stricture lifts, the high-ranking Eurosceptics will at last be free to make the case they have been sitting on for years. I have three strong beliefs about what will happen next. First, that everyone confidently predicting a paralysing civil war in the Tory ranks is doing so more in hope than expectation. Some on the left feel that if Labour is going to be divided over Trident, it is only fair that the Tories be split down the middle, too. They forget that power, and patronage, are strong solvents: there has already been much muttering about low-level blackmail from the high command, with MPs warned about the dire influence of disloyalty on their career prospects.

Second, the Europe campaign will feature large doses of both sides solemnly advising the other that they need to make “a positive case”. This will be roundly ignored. The Remain team will run a fear campaign based on job losses, access to the single market and “losing our seat at the table”; Leave will run a fear campaign based on the steady advance of whatever collective noun for migrants sounds just the right side of racist. (Current favourite: “hordes”.)

Third, the number of Britons making a decision based on a complete understanding of the renegotiation, and the future terms of our membership, will be vanishingly small. It is simply impossible to read about subsidiarity for more than an hour without lapsing into a coma.

Yet, funnily enough, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just as the absurd complexity of policy frees us to talk instead about character, so the onset of Subclause Syndrome in the EU debate will allow us to ask ourselves a more profound, defining question: what kind of country do we want Britain to be? Polling suggests that very few of us see ourselves as “European” rather than Scottish, or British, but are we a country that feels open and looks outwards, or one that thinks this is the best it’s going to get, and we need to protect what we have? That’s more vital than any subclause. l

* For those of you keeping score at home, Universal Credit is now allegedly going to be implemented by 2021. Incidentally, George Osborne has recently discovered that it’s a great source of handwavium; tax credit cuts have been postponed because UC will render such huge savings that they aren’t needed.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

This article first appeared in the 11 February 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The legacy of Europe's worst battle