The Republican Party has been (perhaps correctly) branded by some as "the 'Mad Men' Party in a 'Modern Family' world." And Mitt Romney emerged out of the election as a dated Don Draper, who succumbed to the party's right wing and failed to broaden its tent. The Republican Party recognizes that voters have generally ratified the Democrats' agenda of higher taxes on the affluent and more spending on a handful of tangible domestic programs such as schools and infrastructure.
Speaker of the House John Boehner has the most important role in the Republican Party's negotiations. He wants compromise. But Paul Ryan, who will likely run for president in four years, will also play an important role. If Ryan delivers, he could cement his position within the party. If not, perhaps Chris Christie or Jeb Bush will emerge in the Republican primaries as an adversary.
If the Republicans, influenced by the Tea Party and others, go hard right and become obstructionists, they run the risk of heading toward extinction in the next several years as the demographic trends shift towards the opposing party.
Democrats: While the Democrats fared better than the Republicans and despite the Democrats' post-election glow, the electorate was adamantly and consistently more confident in Romney's ability to deal with the U.S. economic challenges. I believe, however, that Obama now clearly recognizes his weak economic management in his first four years in the presidency.The Democrats won the 2012 election despite the weak economic stewardship as the minority is becoming the majority. Hispanics represented 10% of the votes in which Obama won by 71%-27%. Also, Obama clearly received a more favorable response from female voters, representing 54% of the voters in which he won by 55%-44%. But make no mistake, Obama's economic stewardship continues under justifiable scrutiny and criticism. A 2% popular vote win was relatively thin. A compromise on the fiscal cliff will be the first step toward resuscitating that criticism. Intransigence of position will expose the Democratic Party to the emergence of a moderate Republican candidate for president in 2016. I don't expect President Obama to go hard left and to pander to his party's extremists; he will likely lead his party and go down the middle with entitlements and tax reform. (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is depending on it.)
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