The Real Winners of 2012

Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and the rest of the election’s big winners.

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Hillary Clinton arrives to give her speech to the Albanian Parliament in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 1, 2012.
Hillary Clinton arrives to give her speech to the Albanian Parliament in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 1, 2012.

There were also a lot of politicians not on the ballot this year who won or lost, anyway. In fact, Republicans who didn't run this year did better than the GOP candidates who did. I'll call the winners now and deal with the losers in my next post. The envelopes please. The winners were:

Hillary Clinton

The national exit poll indicated that the economy was a problem for the president but foreign policy was a plus. Hillary Clinton's stewardship of national security might have saved Barack Obama. It doesn't hurt that her husband, Bill, bailed out the president's butt at the Democratic National Convention and on the campaign trail. Bill Clinton has found a loophole in the two term limit for presidents. The next four years under Barack Obama could be Bill Clinton's third term. After that, Hillary Clinton's two terms may be Bill's fourth and fifth.

[See pictures of Hillary Clinton in Myanmar.]

John Kerry

With Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus on the sidelines, the senior senator from Massachusetts is in line for a top national security job. Since Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, the president can afford to lose Kerry's vote in the Senate if he gets the job at Foggy Bottom. The downside for the president is that Kerry's departure from the Senate would set up a special election that would give outgoing Sen. Scott Brown the opportunity to reclaim a Senate seat.

Marco Rubio

Seven of every 10 Latino voters supported Barack Obama. Things were so bad that Democrats may have won more Cuban-American votes as Republicans did. Cuban-Americans had been reliable supporters of the GOP.  Having Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on the ticket in 2016 would help the GOP with his fellow Cuban-Americans and might bring Florida into the GOP fold. After losing badly to Democrats with young people and Latinos, Rubio is just what the doctor ordered for the ailing GOP. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer said last week that the GOP could win the Latino vote in 2016, if the GOP nominates Rubio for president and comes out in favor of amnesty for undocumented immigrants. I don't think Krauthammer is right but his endorsement demonstrates Rubio's appeal to Republicans.

[See a collection of political cartoons on immigration.]

Almost Any Moderate Female GOP Governor or Senator

The boy's club took a beating last week so moderate female Republicans like Sen.Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico are now vital to the Republican rebound. Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin served as poster boys for the election of women. Mourdock and Akin killed their own candidacies but they might have paved the way for female Republicans like Ayotte and Martinez.

Big Bird

I know Big Bird isn't a politician but he, she, or it, is a political icon. Mitt Romney won't be able to clip Big Bird's tail feathers. Romney just didn't get it and that's why he lost. When he attacked Big Bird he attacked the memories of millions of Americans who watched the big, yellow, muppet or watched him with their kids. When I heard Romney go after Big Bird at the first debate, the first thing that I thought of was how excited my son was when Big Bird appeared on the screen. Candidates connect with voters when they share memories and emotions.  Mitt Romney never connected with voters.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

The American Auto Industry

After taking a beating from the Japanese for decades, the American auto industry took its frustration out on Mitt Romney. Exit polling showed that Romney's opposition to the industry rescue cost him dearly in Ohio and Michigan. In fact, every time Romney talked about cars he got into trouble. His comments about his wife's 2 Cadillacs and his friendship with the owners of NASCAR teams suggested that he didn't have much in common with the average NASCAR fan or anybody else for that matter (and let's not even get started about the car elevator in his California mansion). Now if Detroit can start making good fuel efficient cars, the industry might ride high again.


Democrats won big last week but democrats fared even better. Despite the best efforts of Republican governors, legislators, and secretaries of state to block them, young, black and Latino voters jumped over the GOP hurdles and voted in record numbers. Florida Gov. Rick Scott cut back on early voting, so Election Day lines were horrible. But it didn't matter. The polls in Florida were scheduled to close at 8:00 PM EST but people toughed it out and waited in line until after midnight to vote. Thomas Jefferson believed that people would demand more and more democracy over time, not less. Until this year, the right to vote has always expanded in the United States. Republicans tried to stop democracy dead in its tracks and it ran the GOP over.

  • Read Jamie Stiehm: The FBI Sabotages Petraeus—And Obama
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