Election post-mortem. The pundits are out in full throat today, deconstructing yesterday’s election. I will leave it to others to say what “lessons” either party should learn, but I will mention here a couple of things that struck me. First, given the polling of the past few weeks, it’s amazing that Cuccinelli came as close as he did. Secondly, the Libertarian candidate’s 7 percent of the vote was also a surprise—to me, anyway. The conservative wing of the GOP will likely blame the Virginia loss on “establishment” Republicans, who more or less abandoned Cuccinelli to his own devices. The establishment will refute that argument by pointing to New Jersey. Whether we like it or not, all this analysis and hand-wringing amounts to very little compared to money. Fundraising still trumps virtually all other concerns. The candidate who raises the most money wins more than 90 percent of the time. That was certainly the case in both Virginia and New Jersey.
Moody shakeup. Lots of people in the Christian radio world were surprised to hear that Moody Radio is making wholesale changes to its morning radio team. Mark Elfstrand, a virtual institution there, will broadcast his last day on Moody on Nov. 27. “In January, they plan to put a new morning team in place with a new approach to the morning programming in Chicago,” Elfstrand said. “I don’t have many details, except to know they are talking about a male/female team.” The truth is that radio is a nomadic business, but those of us who know and respect Elfstand can’t help but be surprised. Also departing will be the news team of Dave Mitchell and Monte Larrick.
Country Music Awards. Regular readers of this column might be saying, “The CMAs? Are you kidding?” But consider this: Country music has become a better place to take the cultural temperature of America than most other entertainment genres. It blends red state sensibilities with blue state entertainment industry imperatives—sometimes with interesting results (The Civil Wars) and sometimes with ridiculous results (Big and Rich). Speaking of The Civil Wars, they’re up for Best Vocal Duo. Also of interest, Darius Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel,” the Dylan folk classic which morphed into Old Crow Medicine Show’s calling card, will likely take Song of the Year.
In trouble. Historically black colleges have been in trouble for years, but this week presented us with new data. Howard University and Johnson C. Smith University have announced severe financial problems, in part because of changes to the student loan program that have excluded previously qualified students and their families. As virtually free government money dries up, or at least slows down, tuition increases at state schools have slowed, too. They rose by 2.9 percent last year, the smallest increase in decades. Another reason tuition is “topping out” is demographics. The college-aged cohort will get smaller in the years ahead. There will simply not be enough 18- to 22-year-old students to fill all the chairs in traditional brick-and-mortar colleges without dramatically lowering standards, or completely changing funding paradigms (such as making college essentially free, which is what some well-endowed schools are doing). These forces beg this question: Will Christian colleges experience similar impacts? The answer is probably yes.