SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 10, 2012

Column: With Obama, gays, geeks and gals won

They weren’t on the ballot, and they weren’t backed by a super PAC, but the list of Tuesday’s other winners could fill binders. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

President Barack Obama captured the Electoral College and, albeit barely, the popular vote. But geeks, gals and gays were among those who had reasons to cheer Tuesday.

Here are five victors worth noting.

The M in STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — thanks to statistician Nate Silver. The 34-year-old economics major and author of the wildly popular blog FiveThirtyEight.com correctly predicted, state by state, how the Electoral College votes would go and proved that nerds rule.

The United States lags behind 51 other countries in teaching science, technology, engineering and math, the fields where the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs will be.

Kids, have you considered a career as a psephologist? (That’s an election scientist.)

Equality. This generation’s civil rights movement scored over hyper-religious, ultraconservative, anti-gay Neanderthals. Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator. Ballot initiatives to allow same-sex marriage were approved in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.

Everything you should have learned in eighth grade, also known as civics. Ask how many votes it takes to win the Electoral College, and chances are, you’ll get the right answer. Yes, a Romney-Biden administration was possible.

Susan B. Anthony, Fannie Lou Hamer, the Voting Rights Act, in what states it’s illegal to Instagram your ballot — it’s all now in Americans’ database, mostly because the factoids were Facebooked between the latest cat meme and girls preening in photos shot in bathroom mirrors.

Elections. Hurricane Sandy scattered voters, demolished polling places and forced the East Coast to think outside the ballot box; in New Jersey, voters could email or fax their ballots. The process was a huge mess, and hundreds of votes probably didn’t get counted, but we’ve got until the next congressional elections to fix it.

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