Liberals are making victory laps and scoffing at the GOP, which is having great difficulties drawing lessons from the 2012 election debacle. However, liberals also have much to learn from the election. They will need to find other groups to collaborate with if they hope to get President Obama — and, above all, Congress — to advance many programs dear to their heart.
Yet these celebrations are too soon.
If liberals are to carry the day, they will need to (a) continue to mobilize their troops, rather than assume that because “liberalism won,” Obama will follow even a semi-liberal course; (b) Find other groups to work with, although it will be a challenge to determine who these groups will be. I believe that the most promising demographic here is, oddly, senior citizens, especially the AARP, because the interests of this group are most threatened by the GOPs attack on social safety networks. Also, seniors as a group vote more than others, and donate and volunteer at much higher rates than others. Furthermore, this age group was quite anti-Obama in the past, and as such there is a lot of ground to be gained here.
Liberals may search for allies elsewhere, but without a new coalition, liberals are going to be much disappointed, although they may well continue to make some progress on the state level on cultural issues and above all — on the national level — on immigration issues. It is much too early to do victory laps, given the president’s natural tendencies to compromise in his dealings with an adamant conservative majority.