Whoever wins presidential election 
will face an uphill partisan battle

We used to be a flyover state. No more.

Having left Happy Valley on Friday to try once again to restock our depleted freezer with some Gunnison or Saguache county elk, I’ve been oblivious to the latest political happenings.

By the time I left, nearly two-thirds of Mesa County’s eligible voters had cast ballots. The president and Mitt Romney, running mates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan and also Ann Romney had begun their final four-day blitz in Colorado.

Greeley and Boulder were the first stops. Also scheduled were Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Montrose, Greenwood Village, Arvada and Aurora. Earlier in the week, while Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie demonstrated that politics (and disasters) do indeed make strange bedfellows, Bill Clinton also stumped for the president.

It’s expected to be close when ballots are counted tonight, and our stomping ground is among the handful of states that could be “deciders.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if Air Force One had strafed Summit Park as it departed Sunday while we were hunting, dropping leaflets urging us to vote if we hadn’t already.

Knowing I’d be out of touch in the final days of this election cycle, I couldn’t help but wonder about all the possible outcomes.

All the indications are that Congress will remain divided. The House will stay in GOP hands and the Dems will retain control of the Senate, with only the some marginal adjustments in numbers. That guarantees the next president, whether Romney or Obama, will have ample opportunity to fulfill promises of bipartisanship. 

The necessary lame duck debate over sequestration resulting from failed attempts to agree on spending and tax issues will provide the first post-election indication of whether it’s to be partisan bickering-as-usual or if there’ll be any forays across the aisle. My bet is that desires on both sides to avoid the “fiscal cliff” will foster some begrudging cooperation.

We’ll know whether that portends more permanent collaboration rather than ongoing stalemates between the two legislative houses when a new Congress is sworn in come January.

It’s not outside the realm of possibility that we could experience a rerun of the 2000 election, with one presidential candidate winning the popular vote and another the Electoral College. Wouldn’t that be fun?  There was even one convoluted scenario posited last week about how a tied Electoral College could result in Mitt Romney and Joe Biden ending up as president and vice president. How do you think that’d work out?

Let’s presume we wake up tomorrow morning, absent dangling chads and/or the necessity to await final tabulation of overseas ballots, results of recounts, legal challenges, or another special Supreme Court session to finalize the outcome. Perhaps it’ll be a President-elect Romney accepting congratulations from a vanquished Obama. That would certainly make him the equivalent of the dog that finally caught the car, then had to decide what to do with it.

No way will Senate Democrats help him make good on his promise to “repeal Obamacare on Day 1.” He might fiddle around with rules and administration, but not much more. That would exacerbate things for Romney, who’ll also have his hands full placating tea partiers expecting one set of results from the conservative who emerged from the primaries and the soccer moms and others who decided to support the seemingly more moderate Mitt that resurfaced in the closing weeks of the campaign.

That might prove to be a pretty painful fence to straddle.

It’ll be just as interesting if the president ekes out another term. 

Absent the unexpected, a narrow victory means he’d be unable to claim much of a renewed mandate. And to the degree second terms are about establishing legacies, he’ll need to demonstrate more leadership than was exhibited during the first two years when Dems controlled both houses of Congress and the Oval Office to supplement passing Obamacare and getting Bin Laden. Will Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and their troops be any more cooperative if unsuccessful in thwarting a second Obama term?

Now you know why I’ll be scrambling tonight, trying by hook or by crook, to learn results despite previously writing that I just might skip it until returning to what’s left of our civilization post-hunt and post-election.

“It is a vain hope to make people happy by politics.” — Thomas Carlyle

Jim Spehar will be listening to scratchy radio or cursing his iPhone up at 10,000 feet tonight. He’ll see your comments to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) when he returns.


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