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I am writing from a liberal perspective, but the lessons that should be heeded by all. There was no partisanship in what was learned Tuesday; the numbers speak for themselves.
1) Do not discount the women’s vote. Yes, the rape comments did not help, and the lack of support for birth control did not add to the GOP fortunes. However, 52 percent of students in college are women. That is a huge shift from when I was growing up, and the percentage of women in law school or medical school hovered around 10 percent. Now law and medical classes hover around 50 percent of men and women. The Romney campaign did not mold its message to the new reality of educated and powerful women voters.
2) The electorate is smarter than most think. The negative ads and the fake personalities that we saw throughout the election process were sniffed out by the voters. We are an educated country despite all the grumblings about our lack of decent education. Women (and men) have lived with co-workers and family members who espouse a false sense of self. Reality shows have brought more than the nuclear family and workplace into the home of the voter. A quick change of channels and the future voter has new insight into a broad range of personalities. Voters can smell a politician who is not genuine in their positions.
3) Pollsters are biased and often do not use enough of a base in which to make an accurate prediction. In the state of Ohio, the pollsters were not able to zero in on the actual numbers because, as some have said, Ohio is really five states. The media rarely discuss how questions are asked and reveal them when they are releasing poll numbers.
4) Gay people and their votes were totally discounted and disregarded by the Republican Party. As I said in my Fox News column, if gays had not been X’d out by the GOP, Gov. Romney would have won Ohio and most likely Florida if not other states. The math is simple: With 5 percent admitting to being gay or bisexual and 22 percent voting for Gov. Romney then a 26 percent shift (which mirrors the Romney vote) would have won some swing states.
5) America has moved passed listening to organized religion. Long gone are the days when voter guides or ministers or rabbis held sway over how their flock voted. People may consider themselves spiritual or even religious, but they increasingly do not want religious organizations involved in their civic life.
6) The system – however broken, as many feel it is – works. We have not had a coup, our Congress has an orderly transition from losers to winners and people have confidence that we do live in a real democracy.
7) Races are often decided on a very thin margin. Civic education beginning in grade school and continuing into high school is a must. The importance of voting and participating in our society needs to be part of any education. This is not a time to let go of those old class “civics” and to encourage young people to engage in our democratic process.
8) Our voting system is still in need of an overhaul. Why can I walk in and cast my vote and be the only one voting in midday while other people had to stand in line for hours? There simply needs to be more early voting and more polling places in high-traffic areas. Gone are the days when voting took place on Tuesdays because of the farmers’ schedules for selling their crops. We live in a complex modern era and one-day voting does not fit the needs of the electorate.
Will the parties pay attention? Will the Republicans stay to an economic message and dump the social conservative stance to win elections? Tune in this week and in 2016 to find out. It is only four years away.