Tag Archives: popular vote

So what happened? How did Barack Obama win?

Several weeks ago, some Americans made broad pronouncements that Barack Obama had lost the election. He was desperate. It was over. I stated that the widely available facts did not support this conclusion; that Barack Obama was going to lose, nor that he was in trouble. There are any number of blogs and websites for tracking polls and giving us, the voters, real time information. By far, the best and most accurate was Nate Silver’s 538 blog, which is now part of the New York Times. Nate Silver is part of the New York Times, not because he is a liberal, but because he has developed a model that is extremely accurate. He has the ability to take an individual poll, compare it to historical values and then weigh the poll accordingly. I have known about and followed Nate Silver since 2006 or 2007. All I can tell you is that he is a geek who knows that he is extremely smart and he understands that his reputation is on the line every time he makes a prediction.

As we learned in 2000, in the United States with the current configuration of its electoral college (which should be abolished, but I’ll save that discussion for another day), the popular vote doesn’t matter. If you want win the White House, you have to figure out how to win the electoral college. Early in this race, every thoughtful pundit knew that there were simply a handful of states that mattered. I’m not arguing whether that is right or wrong. I am stating this as a fact. Large states like Texas, Alaska, California and New York simply don’t matter. No amount of money that Barack Obama would spend in Texas was going to switch Texas to a Democratic state. On the other hand, there’s no amount of money that Mitt Romney could spend in California or New York that would turn either to a red Republican state. So, we knew the contest came down to swing states. These are states that have an unusual population. They have a balance of big cities and rural areas. Rural areas tend to go Republican. Large metropolitan areas with diverse populations tend to vote Democratic. There are only a few states that have the right mix – Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. The presidential election came down to these states.

The other thing that we have to factor into the equation is the fact that Barack Obama had more electoral votes in his pocket at the beginning of Tuesday than did Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney started with 180 electoral votes. Barack Obama start off with 186. These were states that were clearly in the bag. These were states that everyone knew the back in December how they were going to vote. Then, over the next several months, Arizona and North Carolina broke for Mitt Romney, giving him an additional 26 electoral votes. At the same time, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania broke for the president. This gave the president an extra 57 electoral votes. So early Tuesday morning, before any of the polls opened, Barack Obama had 243 electoral votes in his pocket. Mitt Romney had 206. Mitt Romney had to come up with 64 electoral votes and Barack Obama had only come up with 27. While some people were freaking out over this state or that state the contest really came down to Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – 89 electoral votes. Mitt Romney basically had to run the table.

Mitt Romney and his campaign staff decided that they could win the election if they could manage to win white males by a landslide. That didn’t happen. Barack Obama won the youth vote. Barack Obama won the Latino vote, the Black vote and won 42% of white women. Barack Obama also won the majority the Jewish vote in states like Florida. Barack Obama won the majority of Americans making under a hundred thousand dollars a year. This broad coalition of minorities, women and the non-rich equals victory.

Barack Obama put together a winning coalition. Mitt Romney decided he did not need a coalition. He could win the United States by alienating everybody and embracing white men. Thankfully, in 2012, that’s not a winning strategy.

Obama Wins… and that was the easy part.

The president has won reelection. Barack Obama, against amazing odds, has been reelected as president of the United States. Let’s think about this just for a second. Barack Obama had to stand up against the most withering criticism; not just during this election cycle, but over the last four years. Fox News was constant and consistent. Citizens United, the Supreme Court decision which allowed unlimited money to be spent by mysterious shadow billionaires, allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent in negative ads against the president. Additional stimulus packages, which would’ve added up to millions of jobs for Americans, died in the Republican-held House. So, instead of the economy, which with additional stimulus would have come slowly but surely roaring back is limping along, gaining steam month after month.

I’m sorry to say that many Republicans were completely duped. Over the last couple weeks I had many Republicans telling me not only that they were optimistic and supremely confident but they KNEW that Mitt Romney was going to win. They were listening to the lies of Fox News:

Dick Morris: “This is going to be a landslide.” The former Clinton adviser predicted a dominant Romney win, calling it “the biggest surprise in recent American political history.” Claiming that polls were oversampling Democrats, Morris wondered if “it will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nailbiter.”

Karl Rove: “At least 279 electoral votes.” “It comes down to numbers. And in the final days of this presidential race, from polling data to early voting, they favor Mitt Romney,” Rove wrote in a WSJ op-ed, ignoring the fact that most polls showed growing momentum for the president. He predicted that Romney would win 51 percent of the popular vote and “at least 279 electoral votes.”

Peggy Noonan: “There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now.” Noonan is one of the most respected political columnists in the country, despite her penchant for deciding things based on her gut rather than actual data. But her Romney prediction wasn’t exactly well thought out, even by her own standard. According to Noonan, “all the vibrations [were] right” for a Romney win because “something old was roaring back.” While this might be the right way to open an H.P. Lovecraft novel, it probably isn’t the best way to think about presidential elections.

Newt Gingrich: “A Romney landslide.” The former House Speaker predicted that Romney would take 53 percent of the popular vote and at least 300 electoral college votes. “My personal guess is you’ll see a Romney landslide, 53 percent-plus . . . in the popular vote, 300 electoral votes-plus,” Gingrich said. He also predicted that Republicans “may come very close to capturing control of the Senate.” He apologized for the faulty call the morning after the election.

Obama’s Victory Speech

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New GOP Election Strategy

Because of the electoral college, which needs to be scrapped, it’s hard to see how Mitt Romney was going to put together a winning coalition. Although Mitt Romney stated that he needs to win 50.1% of the vote, he is wrong. He needs to win 270 electoral college votes. As we saw in 2000, winning the popular vote does not guarantee that you win the electoral college. Winning the popularity contest is nice but if you want to be president you have to win the electoral college. Mitt Romney and his strategy gurus have decided that he cannot win a significant number of African-American or Latino votes. So, he’s written off these minority groups. It is my opinion that he has also written off women. I do not think that he will make a concerted effort to win a majority of women. Instead, I think that Mitt Romney has decided to double down on winning huge majorities of white men.

Watch the video:

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I find it sad and disgusting that Barack Obama has been hounded about where he was born. I think it was pretty obvious from the start. But it’s hard for Americans to believe that a young black man born in Hawaii could rise to become the president of the United States. Something must be wrong. (The birthers still don’t have an adequate explanation of how Barack Obama’s birth announcement could have been printed in both Honolulu papers back in 1961.) Mitt Romney decided that he needed to make a joke about where he was born. This was no joke. This was a deliberate statement that he made to reinforce that he is an American. Everyone in United States knows that he is an American. Why? Because he is a privileged white male. There’s nothing more American than that. A guy named Barack Obama, we aren’t sure. It doesn’t matter what evidence we are shown; we know American when we see it. Neil Armstrong was an American. (God rest his soul.) George W. Bush was an American. Even John McCain, who was born in Panama, is a real, true American. Barack Obama? We, as Americans, still have questions. (One of my conservative friends told me last week that he was uncertain whether Barack Obama was a Muslim or not. This guy is educated. He’s highly respected. Yet, he’s not sure.)

This comes back to that great article that I pointed to yesterday from Ta-Nehisi Coates from Atlantic Monthly.