BRADENTON – Latinos, African Americans, women, young people, the gay and lesbian community, college students, active duty military – all of these groups leaned Democratic on Tuesday and were instrumental in both the president's reelection and modest Democratic gains across the board. Two years after a so-called message election, where a stark drop-off in turnout was capitalized on by well-organized social conservatives, it seems nearly every demographic but older white males turned out to rebuke their agenda.
President Obama's dominance in the youth vote (18-29) was once again the critical factor as it made the difference in several key battleground states. Young people turned out almost as well as 2008, when a record 52 percent of this demographic voted, and were still 1 in 5 votes in 2012. Another demographic in which Mitt Romney did poorly was single women. An NBC exit poll showed 67 percent of this demographic voting for the President, suggesting that the far-right pandering the party used to rally its base likely backfired. .
In Congress, Democrats have picked up two Senate seats, as well as another independent who is expected to caucus with them, bringing their lead to 55-45. In the House, Democrats look to have added seven seats though some results are still in recount or being contested. Several big names in the Tea Party who were elected in 2010, including Joe Walsh of Illinois, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Allen West of Florida, and both Ann Marie Buerkle and Nan Hayworth of New York were rejected by voters.
Founding House Tea Party Caucus members Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Steve King (R-IA) were both nearly upset in what were considered safe races. Bachmann, who was the face of the party in the presidential primary, narrowly won reelection by about 4,000 votes, while King also hung on by the skin of the teeth, even acknowledging after the election that his chief issue, same-sex marriage, was in all likelihood here to stay.
Meanwhile, supporters of gay rights had a historic Election Day. Two years after same sex marriage ballot referendums were seen as an effective tool for bringing out the conservative vote, Maryland and Maine became the first states to legalize same-sex marriage by the process, while Minnesota defeated a ballot measure to ban it. Previously, the opposition had been undefeated, with 30 states having had enforced some sort of ban on same sex marriage or civil unions by way of the ballot referendum process.
Candidates who expressed extreme views on women's reproductive rights cost Republicans at least two Senate races, as Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri were defeated after alienating voters by arguing that abortion should be banned even in cases of rape. The drubbing had conservative pundits as far out on the fringe as Anne Coulter saying that Republican candidates needed to learn the phrase “with exceptions for cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother.”
The diversity of Congress is also on the rise, though owed almost exclusively to the Democratic Party. For the first time ever, women and minorities will hold a majority of a party’s House seats as Democrats continue to elect more women and latinos. In constrast, Republicans will continue to be overwhelmingly white and male.