In our original social media assessment on November 1, the data suggested that Mitt Romney would beat Barack Obama 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent, a margin of 4.2 percent in the popular vote. However, the analysis also noted that Obama was closing quickly, with momentum increasing by about 8 percent from September 30 through October 31, the last day of the analysis.
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of last Tuesday’s elections was the Fox News exit poll in Virginia declaring, “Veterans and active military split their support evenly between the two candidates”: Obama 49% to Romney 49%. After decades of being viewed as everything from “weak on defense” to “cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys” Democrats today — personified by President Obama — are viewed as at least as strong as their Republican counterparts, even within the military community.
Clearly this was a long journey. From the Vietnam War through the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats were seen as incapable of defending America. They were often depicted in American popular culture as having betrayed the military and prevented our troops from fighting-to-win in Vietnam.
Since Election Day, there has been abundant chatter about the new American electorate, one that is less traditional, less white and more diverse. No doubt, the Obama campaign's ability to deliver victory by surfing the waves of changing demographics -- we used to call this "identity politics" -- was impressive.
Historically, there has been plenty of attention focused on African-American voter participation, which has been a powerful force in the country's politics for decades. More recently, the growing Hispanic vote has become a hot topic of analysis, as well it should be.
As times change, demography is destiny. We see it in the numbers, and the implications are stark.
I feel sympathy for Karl Rove. Yes, his rant questioning Fox News’ correct election night projections was embarrassing. And yes, his allegation of voter suppression rang hollow, as Bush’s 2004 campaign which Rove directed, benefited from much harsher and less factual “swiftboating” ads.
Meanwhile, the surmise that Rove was merely shifting the blame for Republican defeats, was off the mark. Political consultants have lots of experience explaining defeats to wealthy contributors.
What we really saw last week was the death of Rove’s dream: a William McKinleyesque realignment for the GOP. Long ago, Rove wisely realized that the realignments of the Jackson, FDR and Reagan eras, marked by enduring landslides, were ill-suited to our era. Realignments are measured not by landslides, but by the emergence of enduring majorities.
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.