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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 assistant 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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Erdogan’s purge was too big and too organised to be a mere reaction to the failed coup

There is a specific word for the melancholy of Istanbul. The city is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. 

Even at the worst of times Istanbul is a beautiful city, and the Bosphorus is a remarkable stretch of sea. Turks get very irritated if you call it a river. They are right. The Bosphorus has a life and energy that a river could never equal. Spend five minutes watching the Bosphorus and you can understand why Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel laureate for literature, became fixated by it as he grew up, tracking the movements of the ocean-going vessels, the warships and the freighters as they steamed between Asia and Europe.

I went to an Ottoman palace on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, waiting to interview the former prime minister Ahmet Davu­toglu. He was pushed out of office two months ago by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he appeared to be too wedded to the clauses in the Turkish constitution which say that the prime minister is the head of government and the president is a ceremonial head of state. Erdogan was happy with that when he was prime minister. But now he’s president, he wants to change the constitution. If Erdogan can win the vote in parliament he will, in effect, be rubber-stamping the reality he has created since he became president. In the days since the attempted coup, no one has had any doubt about who is the power in the land.

 

City of melancholy

The view from the Ottoman palace was magnificent. Beneath a luscious, pine-shaded garden an oil tanker plied its way towards the Black Sea. Small ferries dodged across the sea lanes. It was not, I hasten to add, Davutoglu’s private residence. It had just been borrowed, for the backdrop. But it reminded a Turkish friend of something she had heard once from the AKP, Erdogan’s ruling party: that they would not rest until they were living in the apartments with balconies and gardens overlooking the Bosphorus that had always been the preserve of the secular elite they wanted to replace.

Pamuk also writes about hüzün, the melancholy that afflicts the citizens of Istanbul. It comes, he says, from the city’s history and its decline, the foghorns on the Bosphorus, from tumbledown walls that have been ruins since the fall of the Byzantine empire, unemployed men in tea houses, covered women waiting for buses that never come, pelting rain and dark evenings: the city’s whole fabric and all the lives within it. “My starting point,” Pamuk wrote, “was the emotion that a child might feel while looking through a steamy window.”

Istanbul is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. In Pamuk’s work the citizens of Istanbul take a perverse pride in hüzün. No one in Istanbul, or elsewhere in Turkey, can draw comfort from what is happening now. Erdogan’s opponents wonder what kind of future they can have in his Turkey. I think I sensed it, too, in the triumphalist crowds of Erdogan supporters that have been gathering day after day since the coup was defeated.

 

Down with the generals

Erdogan’s opponents are not downcast because the coup failed; a big reason why it did was that it had no public support. Turks know way too much about the authoritarian ways of military rule to want it back. The melancholy is because Erdogan is using the coup to entrench himself even more deeply in power. The purge looks too far-reaching, too organised and too big to have been a quick reaction to the attempt on his power. Instead it seems to be a plan that was waiting to be used.

Turkey is a deeply unhappy country. It is hard to imagine now, but when the Arab uprisings happened in 2011 it seemed to be a model for the Middle East. It had elections and an economy that worked and grew. When I asked Davutoglu around that time whether there would be a new Ottoman sphere of influence for the 21st century, he smiled modestly, denied any such ambition and went on to explain that the 2011 uprisings were the true succession to the Ottoman empire. A century of European, and then American, domination was ending. It had been a false start in Middle Eastern history. Now it was back on track. The people of the region were deciding their futures, and perhaps Turkey would have a role, almost like a big brother.

Turkey’s position – straddling east and west, facing Europe and Asia – is the key to its history and its future. It could be, should be, a rock of stability in a desperately un­stable part of the world. But it isn’t, and that is a problem for all of us.

 

Contagion of war

The coup did not come out of a clear sky. Turkey was in deep crisis before the attempt was made. Part of the problem has come from Erdogan’s divisive policies. He has led the AKP to successive election victories since it first won in 2002. But the policies of his governments have not been inclusive. As long as his supporters are happy, the president seems unconcerned about the resentment and opposition he is generating on the other side of politics.

Perhaps that was inevitable. His mission, as a political Islamist, was to change the country, to end the power of secular elites, including the army, which had been dominant since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created modern Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. And there is also the influence of chaos and war in the Middle East. Turkey has borders with Iraq and Syria, and is deeply involved in their wars. The borders do not stop the contagion of violence. Hundreds of people have died in the past year in bomb attacks in Turkish cities, some carried out by the jihadists of so-called Islamic State, and some sent by Kurdish separatists working under the PKK.

It is a horrible mix. Erdogan might be able to deal with it better if he had used the attempted coup to try to unite Turkey. All the parliamentary parties condemned it. But instead, he has turned the power of the state against his opponents. More rough times lie ahead.

Jeremy Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor. He tweets @bowenbbc

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue