Republicans, desperate to exert influence in the ongoing budget negotiations, continue to push the fiction that November’s election was just a perpetuation of the status quo. But when you examine the numbers — as Republicans are loath to do — voters loudly and clearly demonstrated that they preferred the Democratic agenda.
Looking at the presidential polling composite in September, I noted in this column that “Romney is suffering from a chronic inability to rise out of the mid-40s, an obvious artifact of his preternaturally low favorability numbers.” That phenomenon, which was borne out by the results in the key swing states, points to just how hopeless Mitt Romney’s quest for victory always was.
So how much better would Romney have needed to do to win the Electoral College?
His closest loss was 0.9 percentage points in Florida. Had he won it, he would’ve ended up with 235 electoral votes. Next closest was Ohio, which Romney lost by 3 points, and Virginia, which he lost by 3.9 points. Winning those two states would have left him at 266, still short of victory. It isn’t until you get to Pennsylvania, which Romney lost by 5.3 points, that a flip would have given Romney a victory with 286 electoral votes.
Just how bad was Romney’s loss? Had President Obama lost the 10 states in which he won by 7 points or less (every battleground except for Michigan), his 217 electoral votes would still be more than the pitiful 206 Romney received this year.
So Republicans can’t deny that Romney got creamed. But the GOP is clinging to its House victory as justification for continuing obstructionist efforts, as if voters had consciously delivered a split verdict in favor of divided government. Yet the reality couldn’t be more different: Democrats won the national House popular vote by over 1 million votes — 58,779,794 to 57,752,710 as of this past Saturday, according to vote tabulator Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report. Only aggressive Republican gerrymanders after the 2010 reapportionment allowed the GOP to maintain its 234-201 majority — indeed, gerrymandering turned out to be the only way Republicans could win anything in a high-turnout election.
And the results in the Senate were unambiguous. Democrats ran up an 8 million-vote victory margin in the combined popular vote, 45 million to 37 million, and picked up two seats.
For his part, Obama will be just the sixth president to hit 51 percent of the popular vote twice, and the first since Dwight D. Eisenhower. With this victory, Democrats have now won the national popular vote in five of the last six elections. They increased their Senate majority in an election they were expected to lose. And more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than Republican candidates.
Unless Republicans can seriously address their demographic problems — unlikely, given the stranglehold that nativists and Tea Partyers have on the party — they should get used to decisive losses like November’s.
Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com)