Tuesday night at the Boise State University Center on Main, the evening began at 6:30 p.m. with an event reception, complete with assorted hors d’oeuvres with the main event, Après “I Voted”: A Post-Election Panel set to begin at 7 p.m.
Chairs were available for roughly 45 people, but by 7 p.m. there was standing room only, and very little at that. Panelists introduced themselves and shared a few thoughts about the election before discussion was broadened by questions posed by Nathaniel Hoffman, an editor of the Blue Review and the evening’s moderator.
The discussion wove elaborately between local and national issues and the panelists shared the floor with members from the audience who posed questions and made comments based on the topics at hand.
Meet the panel:
David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State
“The reality is this was a fascinating election, clearly Mitt Romney was stunned, unable to deliver much of a concession speech it was as if he was out of breath because he had been so sure that they would win.”
Justin Vaughn, Boise State political science professor
“To make in-roads on numerous policy initiatives throughout the country spanning education to gay marriage to marijuana legislation, I think that we’ll look back on this year as a year that was a significant step forward for the democratic party even if in a lot of places it seems as if just looking at the basic statistics it’s just a maintenance of the status quo.”
Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman reporter
“I think the reason the (hypothetical) Sugar City mom voted against these measures was because she knew her kids’ teachers and she did not think that they were thugs and she thought that they were really doing the best they could with resources that probably aren’t adequate.”
George Prentice, news editor at the Boise Weekly
“Two things come to mind. Number one, I think we have seen the end of the Reagan era in politics and I think four years ago anything was up for grabs but I think this election confirms that era is over. Number two, in following a number of polls, of legitimate polls in battleground states I don’t think the election results were that much of a surprise. National polls mean next to nothing in the month running up to the election and a number of media did a disservice by pushing those out on a regular basis. I think it was more about who stayed home and I think Barack Obama kept, we’re told, as many as seven million white voters at home.”
Molly Messick, broadcast reporter for StateImpact Idaho and Boise State Public Radio
“Despite all the frustration we have sometimes covering political campaigns It’s still a really inspiring to see elections happen and to get a gauge on the will of the people in this country.”
Contributing factors discussed by the panel which ultimately lead to Gov. Mitt Romney’s loss and President Barack Obama’s re-election nationally:
Obama reacted well to hurricane Sandy, demonstrating he could be a strong leader in a crisis, but also reminded voters that in the primary Romney said he would eliminate FEMA at a federal level and have states conduct it. “States would have been absolutely crushed by a hurricane such as this one. Just ask people in New Jersey if their state was capable of responding,”
Women’s issues were brought up by an audience member identified as Jill who brought up three points, starting with contraceptives, saying they better be funded if Viagra is funded. Second, “Stop trying to pass laws about my lady parts thank you very much,” and finally, ”Rape is rape and if I get pregnant from it I better get help and who are you to have an opinion about it anyway.”
Messick added she believes republicans lost the Senate based on statements made concerning women’s rights.
Vaughn added he is interested to see how the Republicans determine why they lost senate races. He speculated they could simply chalk it up to poor candidate recruiting and stupid statements and not that their substantive program is flawed. If this is the course of action republicans take, however, ultimately as a party, “They will be hurt again,” Vaughn said.
In addition to women’s concern over female reproductive rights, Latino’s were concerned about Romney’s position on immigration.
One reason why Obama was able to pull out a victory, was concern over Romney’s comment about the 47 percent, another was that he flip-flopped on so many issues and third, the economy is improving, no where near where it’s needed, but it is improving and Bill Clinton did tremendous work for Obama selling this point, Adler commented. He went on to add Paul Ryan co-authored with Akin on a dozen bills to eliminate abortion rights which hurt Romney with voters.
Speculation was made, had Romney stayed true to self instead of moving farther to the right in the primary, essentially selling his soul, he could still have very well won the primary and even beaten Obama, because states such as Idaho aren’t going to vote for Obama regardless, but a state like Ohio may change their vote based on a more moderate republican candidate.
Idaho politics, a look at how the dust settled after the election and contributing factors which lead to a comparatively disappointing performance by Romney in Idaho:
Adler discussed Romney’s performance in Idaho, commenting it was poor comparatively. Romney earned 65 percent of the vote but compare that to George W. Bush who took 68 percent of the vote and John McCain at 62 percent.
Popkey offered insight as to why Romney didn’t do so well in Idaho saying, he isn’t as conservative as many of Idaho’s republicans and frankly, they don’t trust him and second, he said there is an LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints) backlash. Popkey noted 100,000 people voted against removing the constitutional prohibition for Mormons to vote in the mid 80’s. Essentially he summed up his point saying there is a lingering bias which still exists facing Mormons. Additionally, some of the Obama excitement lingered in Idaho, such as in
In Idaho legislation, Idaho’s position on the propositions shows there were people who voted against the propositions 1, 2 and 3 but then voted for the very legislators that voted for Props 1, 2 and 3.
Boise State student Lindsey Peterson, a senior political science major said, “The education props are a really big thing for Idaho. The fact that people voted so loudly against them, like 77 percent for one of them, but yet all of the legislators almost that formed these propositions were re-elected, there’s some kind of disconnect or accountability issue. I find it so irritating. People want change, but we have the same people continually doing the same things here. Messick commented on the HP contract which was used to demonstrate jobs in Idaho, but ultimately backfired as voters focused instead on the cost. She felt certain Prop 3 would fail, “Everybody knows a teacher and they trust the teachers,”
A longer process concerning education reform in Idaho could be a better approach versus a piecemeal approach in the future. But the panel seemed to agree the legislature won’t simply push the same type of legislation back through. Adler referred to the hypothetical idea of pushing the same or similar legislature through as “an act of arrogance,” essentially against the constituents who voted the props down.