Monday, 10 December 2012

Democrats can't be complacent

American Democrats probably feel pretty good right now. Not only is President Barack Obama (above) still streaking ahead in the popular vote (leading Mitt Romney by 3.65 per cent and nearly five million actual ballots), but they were able to defy predictions of losses in the Senate. They were even able to win a few seats back in the House of Representatives too.

Demographic trends seem heavily to favour them, too. Who are their voters? Young people. Hispanics. African-Americans. Unmarried women. Which exact groups are likely to grow and grow in size over the decades to come? You've got it - Democratic-leaning ones. In due course, the blue team might be able to put states such as Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia and even the big one - Texas - into play.

But it's not all happy days for left-leaning partisans.

The Democrats face a nasty raft of Senate elections in 2014 - with a series of their sitting Senators (especially in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana) looking highly, highly vulnerable. The odds remain that they'll cling on to the upper chamber of Congress in two years' time - but it might be a bit too close for comfort.

And in the House? Well, only a really, really good year will ever give them control there again. They've actually won the popular vote for House seats this year pretty easily - but due to gerrymandering local Republican legislatures, they've fallen far short of taking over.

And one last thing. President Obama is personally popular, despite the mediocre job approval ratings of his first term. He's an extraordinary man - a great speaker, a calm governor, and a decisive commander-in-chief. His absence at the top of the ballot might really hurt his sympathisers in years to come. Beyond Hillary Clinton (a hot favourite for the White House nomination if she wants to run), the Democrats' bench isn't exactly crammed with talent.

So Democrats can raise a toast this Christmas. But only one. Or two. The third hurrah should go to out-thinking their opponents, if they want to stay ahead.