Friday, November 9, 2012

Red State, Blue State, My State, Our States

By Jonathan Miller, Project Associate.

The 2012 presidential election is over. The votes are in, the large touch screens are back in hibernation, and millions of TV viewers will happily return to seeing commercials that have not been approved by a candidate. There are many memorable moments from the campaign, including mentions of both Big Bird and the use of bayonets in American military history, made-up words like “Romnesia” and phrases like “binders full of women,” and the relentlessness of Mr. Donald Trump to make news during the campaign.



 Note: Florida was uncalled at time of publication, thus is not included.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; National Association of Realtors via

One of the defining aspects of the campaign was the recurring question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” This question shaped the campaigns and put the spotlight on the state of the economy. The following table shows, on aggregate, how red states and blue states fared over the past year. Interestingly, while all states fared poorly over the past four years, blue states shouldered a heftier share of the economic burden.

While the implications of this election are still coming into view, it is clear that the American electorate is a dynamic body, ebbing and flowing in response to many different issues. However, we now must turn to the task ahead and understand how the election will impact America over the next four-plus years. The following headlines, gathered from a number of news outlets, give a glimpse as to what we can anticipate in the coming days, weeks, and years.

“Vote data show changing nation,” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2012

“Hispanic vote tilts strongly to Obama in win,” Reuters, November 7, 2012

“How US marijuana legalization may change the world,” Time, November 8, 2012

“Back to work, Obama is greeted by looming crisis,” New York Times, November 8, 2012

“Political focus shifts to fiscal cliff,” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2012

“How the gay-marriage victories are (slowly) transforming the notion of family,” Time, November 8, 2012

“How to rebuild trust and infrastructure,” Time, November 8, 2012

“US and European stocks struggle to stabilize: Worries over fiscal cliff and eurozone economy linger,” Financial Times, November 7, 2012

“Election removes cloud from health law's future,” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2012

“Boehner extends hand, says GOP open to ‘new revenues’,” Washington Post, November 8, 2012

“These not-so-united states,” Washington Post, November 8, 2012

The political battles that are coming over the next four years are varied in scope, size, and topic. The country is grappling with social issues, economic challenges, and an overall lack of trust in government. For the second Obama term to be successful, the outcome of the campaign should not be considered a resounding endorsement or mandate, but rather a signal that bipartisanship is truly the only way forward.