November 7, 2012
It was supposed to be a down-to-the-wire cliffhanger, but in the end, "Decision 2012" left little doubt about who had won. About 11:15 EST, the TV networks announced that Ohio was projected to go for Obama, giving the President a majority of the 538 total electoral votes. There remained some doubt for a while, but shortly after midnight, Mitt Romney made a brief and very gracious concession speech. That was an appropriate first step toward healing this deeply divided nation, but it's going to take a lot more reciprocal action by both sides in the weeks and months to come.
Pending recounts in Florida* (of course), President Barack Obama won 332 electoral votes, to 206 for Mitt Romney. At last count (late Wednesday evening) Obama had won 60,653,724 popular votes (50.4%), and Mitt Romney had won 57,813,403 popular votes (48.0%).
So what went wrong? Romney had the momentum on his side after the first debate one month ago, and I was happy to be present at a big rally here in the Shenandoah Valley. But the next two debates were either tied or won by Obama, and Romney seemed to lose his mojo. Hurricane Sandy last week gave the President a perfect opportunity to look presidential, and that may have tipped a few thousand voters in his direction. But none of those factors can really explain the major shift toward Obama in the last few days. Romney could not bridge the gap of distrust, and therefore could not "close the deal" with voters. On a personal level, he is sometimes rather stiff, but he is also sincere. Inquiring into the Broader Reasons for Romney's loss will be a task for another day. For now, suffice it to say that problems in his party rank high among the challenges he had to overcome.
One of the biggest shocks from yesterday was Obama's sizeable margin of victory in the Old Dominion: 50.8% to 47.8%, or a difference of nearly 100,000 votes. Virginia was supposed to be either a dead heat or leaning toward Romney. One Facebook friend (who shall remain nameless) said that it was a big failure by Governor Bob McDonnell to get out the vote in his state. Perhaps so; McDonnell was not very visible during the campaign, other than a couple big appearances with Romney.
* Obama has a lead of about 47,000 votes in Florida, or 0.6%. Not much chance the outcome will change.
Erring on the optimistic side in my own election forecast, I put five Obama states in the Romney column: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Florida. They accounted for 61 electoral votes. Perhaps more significantly, they also pushed Obama over the 25-state threshhold, so that he has a majority of states, as well as a majority of people on his side.
As for who made the best predictions, Slate had a Pundit Scorecard, which made most of the conservatives or Republicans look pretty bad. Even George Will missed it by over 100 electoral votes. Among the most accurate prognosticators were Nate Silver (who was at the center of a controversy last week) and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Here in Virginia, blogger Shaun Kenney predicted Romney 270, Obama 268.
In my election forecast on Monday, I made mistake in the spreadsheet. I predicted "276 electoral votes for Obama and 262 for Romney," but based on the states that I picked, it would actually have been 271 electoral votes for Obama and 267 for Romney. So I edited the forecast map to reflect the correction.
In an normal business or government organization, a failure of this great magnitude would cause heads to roll at the upper level. In the Grand Old Party of today, however, the head honchos are comfortably ensconced and unlikely to budge an inch without a ferocious protest from within the ranks. Since I am no longer within the ranks, however, my opinion on the Republican Party doesn't necessarily count for much. The problems, and the origins thereof, are obvious enough to anyone on the outside who pays even a little bit of attention. There will be plenty of time for recriminations later on...
My initial reaction to the news from Ohio:
Decision 2012 is over and done with. The President will now have "more flexibility" in his second term. Why am I not comforted by that thought?
In response to the article "The Right Will Draw the Wrong Conclusions from an Obama Victory" at rightwingnuthouse.com, I wrote:
I have made several of those points in my own blog recently. Good quote: "the takeover of the Republican party by the hard right has meant that the very concept of conservatism has been corrupted beyond recognition." Sensible voters can tell there is something rotten behind the stale partisan rhetoric on the right. (And on the left.) As the author says, anyone who concludes that what the GOP needs in 2016 is a "true conservative" candidate is utterly deluded about what has gone wrong in the party.
You never know how people will react to political humor, or attempts thereat. For example, today I wrote on Facebook, linking to the fictitious "George W. Obama" character:
Eight more years of budget-busting entitlements, soaring debt, and war! We get what we deserve.
Someone thought I sounded bitter, even though I was pinning equal blame for the trouble on the Republican side. (Hence, eight more years, rather than four more years -- the point being that, in several ways, Obama isn't much different from his predecessor.) Touchy feelings! On the other hand, I have come across all sorts of nasty, vicious Facebook posts from folks on the left who are gloating over Obama's win, and not at all shy about expressing it. It is not the finest moment for upholding standards of civil discouse, I'm afraid.
Finally, from late this afternoon:
I punished myself by listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for a while this afternoon. Sometimes I get a kick out of Rush's acid wit, but today was just excruciating.
In the closing days of Campaign 2012, factcheck.org put out "Whoppers of 2012, Final Edition." Some of them are pretty bad, on both sides, but now that the campaign is over, everyone will probably forget. Hat tip to Connie.
Just for the record, the Augusta County Republicans Web site, which I used to run, has finally vanished from cyberspace. At the request of local Republican elected officials, I created a campaign Web site for them in September 2007, during a period of intra-party tumult. It went into inactive "hibernation" in the summer of 2008, and I transferred control of it to the Augusta County Republican Committee in September 2010. I was led to believe that the Web site would be rebuilt "under new management," so to speak, but it was nothing more than a blank page ("New Web site host") for the next two years. And thus ends another (minor) chapter in the never-ending "SWAC Saga."