Mitt Romney won’t go down in history for his deep understanding of the electorate, but there is one prediction for which we should absolutely give him credit. In April of this year, six months before polls closed on Election Day, Romney told a group of donors that losing the votes of Latinos would “spell doom for us.” On this at least, he was right on the money.
If there’s one thing it’s time for us Republicans to learn, it’s that maybe we should start paying attention to those within our ranks who have actually dealt with the issue of illegal immigration, rather than simply being satisfied with the talking points we've come to accept as the most conservative.
While Governor Rick Perry’s ill-fated presidential bid was immortalized by the word “oops,” this armchair quarterback still believes the moment that sealed his fate was the Florida CPAC debate.
The results of Tuesday’s election did not change the structural environment in Washington – voters chose to reelect President Obama and return a Democratic majority to the Senate and a Republican majority to the House of Representatives. Most of the same players will return to most of the same positions when the President and Congress are sworn into office in January.
But one change the election might presage is improved prospects for Congressional efforts to address America’s looming immigration crisis through comprehensive immigration reform. Long a hot topic in Washington, the last meaningful attempt at comprehensive reform of the immigration system was in 2007 – and it ended badly. A bipartisan effort led by President George Bush and Senator Ted Kennedy to address the millions of undocumented residents of the United States, deal with border security requirements, and meet the demands of the high skilled workforce fell victim to bitter ideological battles over “pathways to citizenship” and “chain migration” to name a few. Since then, every attempt to reform the system in a meaningful way has been stymied.
It would be easy for Republicans to blame party losses on Mitt Romney. Easy, perhaps, but not accurate. Data shows that Romney can make a stronger case blaming his loss on the party than the party can
make blaming its loss on him.
Romney faced an electorate not particularly enamored with the GOP. The CNN poll conducted right before the election pegged Republican favorability at 47 percent--five points lower than Democratic favorability at 52 percent. Republicans were under water, with their negatives two points higher than their positives. On the other hand, Democrats were seven points more positive than negative.
The most important poll number of the presidential election was not the trial heats between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the day-to-day match-ups that political junkies followed obsessively during the long, brutal months of the campaign. The most important number was Obama's job rating. It was the magic figure that predicted the final outcome.
Back in November 2010, after Republicans decisively overturned the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, President Obama admitted his party had taken a “shellacking” in the midterm elections.
Now it is the turn of the Republicans. Despite retaining the House, and the closeness of the popular vote in the presidential contest, they got a shellacking as significant, perhaps more so, as that handed out two years ago. Many voters signaled not only that they were far from satisfied with the proposed alternative to President Obama's approach to the economy; they rebuked the GOP's conservative stance on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. A growing and determined majority of young and female Americans put the Republicans beyond the acceptable, and ethnic groups --- who may have been decisive in the Obama victory --- moved farther away from the GOP.
This election day was special. That's because I took my 18-year-old daughter with me so she could vote for the first time.
I have voted in every presidential election since 1972. It never gets old. Neither does Harry Truman's famous quip about the voting booth: "There may be more expensive pieces of real estate, but none are more valuable."
Between the time I voted on Tuesday and the results started trickling in, I surfed the 'net for bloggers' insights. Joel Achenbach's comments for the Washington Post caught me by surprise. "One more day until Campaign 2016 begins." Wow, isn't that the truth.
By a slight margin, the American electorate has now given President Obama more time. Yet, after three straight change elections, 2012 will certainly go down as a status-quo year. In January, President Barack Obama will greet a 113th Congress that looks very much like the 112th: A House controlled by Republicans and a Senate controlled by Democrats.
Soon we will know if the next two years will look like the last two. The fiscal cliff is on the horizon. Will these same players choose compromise or gridlock? More broadly though, the elections of 2012 confirm a trend that has now lasted some 40 years with no end in sight. While intense partisanship is at historically high levels, the American electorate has also grown accustomed to – if not altogether comfortable with – voting for divided government.
This is the new norm, but it wasn’t always this way. Perhaps it is time to consider the consequences of elections whereby the voters give no clear mandate to either party to set a policy agenda.
Let’s first look at the old norm in American politics.
In January 2010, in an article in the International Journal of Information Systems, I first predicted Barack Obama’s victory in 2012. I based this positive, long-range verdict for Obama on the keys to the White House. The keys are a historically based prediction system that I developed in 1981 through collaboration with Volodia Keilis-Borok, a world-renowned authority on the mathematics of prediction models.