Not Even Close
For some weeks we’ve been hearing that the race was neck and neck and that the popular vote reflected a deeply divided America. Of course, I’ve been following Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com for a long while and it’s been clear for some time that Obama’s actually been ahead.
The little dip you see is after the first debate where Romney beat Obama, but even then the electoral college count never went below 285.
As you can see in the third graph, the popular vote was tight, but then that’s been what most pundits have been focusing on, saying it’s neck and neck. If anything, Nate Silver’s charts clearly show that Romney was doing a bang up job securing his base without making any headway into the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
That brings me to this bit in this coverage here:
The Republican failure to topple a president who was perceived as weak and divisive is expected to provoke a blood letting in the party.
The battle lines between those who say the party became too moderate and those who believe it is too radical are already drawn.
“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95% of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough, ” the Republican senator Lindsey Graham told Politico, last week.
That’s really interesting right there. If the Republicans thought they were in it since the moment they nominated Romney, then they were very misguided; and the reason they were misguided is because they took the popular vote to be more important than what the distribution of the electoral colleges were going to be.
It’s surprising that these people who are in a political party and therefore should understand how the election works, should have looked at the numbers Nate Silver was looking at. Silver had Obama beating Romney in a fluctuating zone of 59%-91%. Amazingly, some people thought Silver was pumping for the Democrats but right now as of this writing, Obama has 302 of the college votes, which means Silver has been as accurate as he was last time in 2008.
Which leads me to the point. How can these Republican types even be in politics if they don’t understand how their own system works? It’s not the raw popular vote. It’s how the votes are distributed across electorates that matters.
Which leads me to the next thing in the live coverage that got my interest:
If you want to get a strong feel for the demographic current underlying this election I strongly recommend Ron Brownstein from the National Journal who has been reminding readers for months that this will be the last election that the Republicans can attempt to win with a majority of white votes alone. It was a big risk that Obama took when he decided to embrace gay marriage, push back hard on efforts to restrict abortion and contraception (including a very public stoush with the Catholic Church) offer up a partial amnesty to young illegal immigrants and effectively concede non-college educated white men to the GOP. Instead of a coherent national message, the Obama campaign has stitched together a rainbow coalition.
So far tonight, it is looking like the risk paid off.
That’s a really interesting point about the demographic right there. It goes hand in hand with Bill O’Reilly – he of the awful, awful, awful, spin-ful Fox News – having a whine about the death of the White Establishment. The 2008 election was a watershed because there were more urban voters than rural voters for the first time. This time, it became the election that could not be won by appealing to the White voters’ racism alone.
And so the Republican Party clearly is at at the crossroads. They’ve got the wrong end of the demographic and going harder to the right and more conservative and more ideological is not going to get it done for them in coming elections. The curiosity now is how long they are going to persist with their dalliance with the irrational, Ayn-Rand-ist, racist, retrograde, ignorant and fearful Tea Party.
Judging from the number of Senate seats lost by Tea Party, it seems clear that the Tea Party is not going to come out of the 2012 election with any amount of credibility within the Republican Party. This is where it gets interesting. Fox News was already denouncing the Tea Party blaming them for Romney’s loss – which is ironic because they’re the very same people who gave so much air time to these crazies. Fox News may have successfully polarised the electorate through misinformation and propagandeering and generally misrepresenting arguments; but this has not translated one bit in to votes that mattered. If the way the swing states voted for Obama is any representation, then it is clear the biggest disservice done to the Republican Party might have been the blatant partisan-ship of Fox News. And if the demographic shift says anything, it is clear that Fox News’ own viewership is a shrinking demographic. I wonder how Rupert likes the sting in that tail.
UPDATE: Obama finished up with Florida, winning 332 electoral votes in the end.