The best analysis I’ve seen so far about why the gun control vote failed is Ezra Klein’s —
The gun vote failed because of the way the Senate is designed. It failed because the Senate wildly overrepresents small, rural states and, on top of that, requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass most pieces of legislation.
The Manchin-Toomey bill received 54 aye votes and 46 nay votes. That is to say, a solid majority of senators voted for it. In most legislative bodies around the world, that would have been enough. But it wasn’t a sufficient supermajority for the U.S. Senate.
Of the senators from the 25 largest states, the Manchin-Toomey legislation received 33 aye votes and 17 nay votes — a more than 2:1 margin, putting it well beyond the 3/5ths threshold required to break a filibuster. But of the senators from the 25 smallest states, it received only 21 aye votes and 29 nay votes.
I’d like to see this broken down by population — the senators representing X million defeated the senators representing xxx million people. Whatever the numbers, what it tells us is that the legislative branch of the federal government has become utterly dysfunctional and unresponsive to the will of the people.
And it isn’t just the gun bill; it’s everything. It’s appointments to federal agencies and the bench. It’s the future of entitlement programs, and health care, and stimulus spending. Etc., etc. If this can’t be changed, then I see nothing ahead for the U.S. but long, slow (or not so slow) decline.