7 takeaways from the election

November 7, 2012

1. President Barack Obama won 303 electoral votes but there are a few Republicans out there insisting he doesn’t have a mandate. When George W. Bush won in 2004, he had 284 and everyone from Karl Rove on down called it a mandate. This time out, yeah, it’s a mandate, too.

2. If last night was historic because it gave the nation’s first black president a second term and preserved his legacy, it was also historic because, for the first time ever, LGTBQ rights were affirmed by popular vote in not one but four states. Maine, Maryland and Washington all approved same-sex marriage at the ballot box; Minnesota voted to keep its same sex marriage ban off the state constitution. And to cap it, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay U.S. senator in history. Sure, the Defense of Marriage Act is still on the books, but the nation’s first same-sex marriage-affirming black president isn’t defending it in the courts and it will, eventually, go down.

And this just in: Iowa Justice David Wiggins, the last of the pro same-sex marriage justices, has been retained — a complete reversal of two years ago when three of his marriage-equality-affirming colleagues were ousted in a recall.

3. More women — 19! — will serve in the U.S. senate than ever before. Another historic turn. And in the process, rape apologists went down in flames, one by one.

4. The Latino vote came out in, yes, historic droves, even the Puerto Ricans along the I-4 corridor in central Florida. The next few weeks, when the polls are dissected so we know exactly how many pot smoking, gay-marrying Ecuadorians in Colorado voted for Obama, will tell a fuller story. But this much we know right now: Without the Latino vote, this would be a very different story. Because of that Latino vote, the future of America is being re-written.

5. Everybody’s talking about the Latino vote, but the African-American vote, underestimated by nearly all the pundits of every persuasion, came out in force. President Obama — without another election to worry about — now needs to remember he’s black enough to talk about poverty, public education, economic opportunity and equality in real terms. And, you know, do something about those issues.

6. No matter how much Republicans tried to "unskew" the polls, it turns out that the science of statistics as practiced by actual non-Republican pollsters proved more accurate than wishful GOP scenarios of young people staying home, disappointed African-Americans, Latinos and women who would respond to economic messages without a fundamental promise of equality. Crazy how math adds up. Crazy how people need to know they’re safe before they believe they can climb up the economic ladder. Crazy!

7. The motley crew that is the Democratic Party is now the first multiracial, multicultural party of the American 21st century. It is also the party with a future. But they’ll be a better party if they have a adversary, so here’s hoping the GOP has a revelation, or that the Green Party or something else rises to replace it.