21 Thoughts and Observations on the Election
1) Obama won by running a divisive wedge issues-based campaign in the right locations, in conjunction with a killer ground game. He ran up huge margins with blacks in VA and OH. He played the amnesty card with Hispanics in CO, NV, and FL. He played the war on women card with white women in NH, WI, and IO. But wedge issues, such as immigration and gay marriage cut both ways. While Obama can use them to make gains with some demographics, he should lose at least as many with a surge in Evangelical voters who are against gay marriage and blue collar workers who are against illegal immigration (and gay marriage). Romney conceded those issues and didn’t return the favor of the wedge. Hence, Obama enjoyed the gain of employing wedge issue attacks without incurring the loss.
2) Romney won 32% of the Jewish vote. Believe it or not, that is the highest share since 84/88. At least some people are moving in the right direction.
3) For all the talk of Republicans facing an insurmountable demographic juggernaut with single women, minorities, and youth, the talking heads fail to explain that Democrats are losing their own demographics. Romney won Independents by 5 points, and he won whites by the largest margin since Reagan. However, it’s clear that there is more room to grow in those two demos. To the extent that Obama gains on social issues, such as immigration and marriage with some of his demos, had Romney fought back on those issues, he could have driven up turnout more among his favorable demos. This is born out of the fact that Romney failed to turn out 2 million voters that McCain turned out (who himself underperformed Bush’s vote total by 2 million). Based upon exit polling data of Republicans as a share of the electorate, Bush received about 41.66 million Republican votes and Romney got 35.28 million votes. Romney’s number will grow before the election results are completely certified, but there’s a large gap to make up.
4) Where are those disaffected Republicans? Why are they not voting? Is it because our message is too coherently conservative? Are they overlapped with the Evangelicals who didn’t turn out? According to Dave Wasserman of Cook Report, turnout in OK, KS, MO, TN, WV, IN, was likely down at least 5% from 08. There simply was no GOP enthusiasm. Maybe an even more moderate candidate like Jon Huntsman will stir up their juices.
5) The fact that Democrats are bleeding Independents and white voters is a harbinger for the midterms. To the extent that higher minority turnout portends trouble for Republicans in presidential elections, the loss of white voters will permanently hurt Democrats in midterm elections (when minority turnout is down). Their urban-centric coalition will kill them in the race for control of the House for many years to come.
6) So what about the minority problem? Some Republicans would suggest that all we need to do is out-amnesty the pro-amnesty Democrats. There are a few things to consider about this approach. First, this doesn’t account for the increased black turnout. What is their plan to win black voters (I don’t have one)? Blacks, not Hispanics, sunk us in Ohio (15% of electorate) and Virginia (20% of electorate). Second, have amnesty advocates calculated how many Hispanic votes they will win vs. the number of white votes they will lose from supporting amnesty? Will it be a net gain? Remember that political science 101 dictates that most minorities will succumb to the class warfare and insidious identity politics employed by Democrats on all economic issues, not just immigration. Moreover, what about the 12 million new voters? Does anyone honestly think that would be a net gain for us, irrespective of how pro-amnesty we are? What about the effects of chain migration? How much would the benefit package cost us?
7) 37% of voters said that rising prices was the most important factor in their vote. They split their vote 49-49 between the candidates. That is astounding. This lends credence to the theory that Republicans failed to hang rising prices on government interventionist policies. That is an epic failure to slam Obama’s monetary policy with sympathetic blue collar workers. What’s worse? Among those who said that unemployment was their most important issue (the largest share of the electorate), Obama won 55-44. Stupefying!
8) As Sean Davis noted, votes against gay marriage in 4 blue states over-performed Romney’s votes in those states. Social issues are not the problem, the candidates who fail to articulate them to the right voters are the problem. Romney underperformed the marriage amendment in MN despite spending more money in the state than the pro-marriage campaign.
9) While Republicans have a serious problem with unmarried women, they won married women by 7 points. They can and must improve upon that showing to offset the free contraception vote.
10) Believe it or not, Romney actually did the best among the 18-29 age-group of black voters (8%). In other words, older blacks voted a few points more for Obama. Hey, it’s better than the other way around. In 4 years from now, when black youth unemployment is sky high, maybe there’s some hope, especially if Democrats nominate a white candidate.
11) Negative campaigning works. Nice guys finish last. Period. Enough said.
12) After over $1 billion spent on TV ads from Romney and the independent groups, all we have to show for it is a two point win in North Carolina. Obama crushed us on the ground game. The fact that they outnumbered us 2:1 in field offices in most states turned out to be a big deal. We might be facing a demographic obstacle, but if we matched their ground game, we would still win a majority, given that Independents have trended away from Obama.
13) 53 percent of those surveyed in the early exit polls said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals. That’s a gain of 10 points from 2008. Clearly, the Tea Party message is resonating; we just need viable candidates to carry that message, especially for higher office (Senate or POTUS). We need more Ted Cruzes.
14) On the one hand, we are still leading on the issue of Obamacare. A total of 49% were somewhat against Obamacare and a total of 43% were somewhat for it. On the other hand, that is a dramatic drop in opposition. This is what happens when you concede an issue instead of standing ground while you’re ahead. If you don’t do everything to stop a new inflation-hiking, job-killing, market-distorting entitlement while it’s still unpopular, the dependency will eventually kick in and garner majority support.
15) Mediscare is the dog that didn’t bite. Seniors voted for Romney/Ryan by a larger margin than they did for Bush in 2004 after he passed Medicare Part D. Moreover, 3 Democrats who won special elections on Mediscare – Barber, Hocul, and Critz – lost reelection. Is this a lost demographic for Democrats?
16) To my knowledge, there are only one or two counties in the entire country that Obama lost in ’08 and won in ’12. He lost dozens more this time. It was one directional. Again, to the extent that Republicans are getting shellacked with minorities, Democrats are bleeding white voters.
17) Early voting in conjunction with machine politics is killing us. Early voting for a full month is ridiculous and unconstitutional, but the genie is out of the bottle. We must now work on co-opting early voting.
18) Moderate Republicans continue their losing streak. However, it’s not just about ideology. For many voters, elections boil down to the quality of the two candidates. Clearly, too many people connected more with Obama than Romney.
19) The large Romney rallies turned out to be a false hope of record GOP turnout. We saw the same thing in ’08, even though Sarah Palin drew large crowds.
20) There’s a lot of talk concerning the need to reach out to minorities – as if we are currently antagonistic to them. Maybe it’s time for the Republican Party to reach out to conservatives.
21) Republicans should save the big bucks on paying consultants. I have the panacea to our troubles. Let’s support free delivery of free contraception; let’s support abortion up to 3 months after the baby is born, let’s support marriage licenses for any and every sort of relationship; let’s support tax hikes on the rich; let’s offer amnesty not just for the current crop of illegals but for the next 12 million as well; let’s double benefits for Food Stamps and housing; let’s bail out every failing industry in every state. Then we’ll run the table on all the demos.
Seriously, we all understand that it might be wise to modify the packaging and tone on one or two issues for the purpose of preserving the broader goal of limiting government. But limiting government and restoring our Constitutional Republic has to be our ultimate goal. At some point, if we gut our principles so severely, there’s nothing left to fight for.
I don’t think we are at the point where we must nominate Arnold Schwarzenegger to win an election. I don’t think we are at the point when we must support insecure borders in order to win. And if we are, then the hell with it.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project