HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Aftermath: it's the demographics

Many things happened last night:  the President was re-elected, "Obamacare" survived, physician-assisted suicide was defeated in Massachusetts, recreational use of marijuana (with accompanying taxes and blood concentration levels for driving) was approved in Washington and Colorado but not in Oregon, medical marijuana passed in Massachusetts but not in Arkansas (although the defeat was not overwhelming), same sex marriage prevailed at the ballot box in three states (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) with a fourth (Minnesota) defeating a constitutional amendment to ban it, and TEN women (one openly lesbian) were elected to the US Senate. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown, the Senatorial straw that almost broke the back of health reform. In my own state of Utah, red and Romney as they come, Jim Matheson (a 5-term incumbent "blue dog" Democrat running for Congress in the state's new 4th District after his district had been carved up by the state legislature) survived a challenge from an African-American Republican woman, Mia Love, who had been given an evening speaking slot at the Republican Convention and attracted lots of conservative funding as a result.  And Salt Lake County again has a Democrat as mayor, this time Ben McAdams, a Mormon who is an outspoken opponent of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Although much will be written and said about what did and what did not happen in the election, demographic shifts should stand out in the analyses.  The exit polling demographic picture assembled by the AP shows stunning differences by age, race and ethnicity, income, education, and even sex.  Some of the pre-election polling results underestimated these differences because the polls were conducted using land-line rather than cellular phones.  In some areas (Utah's 4th District may be one), the demographic shifts defied deliberate attempts to gerrymander districts to ensure safe seats.  President Obama's acceptance speech welcomed these shifts, and I hope that the post-election developments will as well.


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