“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”
– Barack Obama, during his victory speech securing a second term as President.
“We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business.”
– Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator, North Carolina
“I give myself 100% chance of getting laid tonight”
– Nate Silver, the New York Times pollster who successfully predicted the electoral vote of 50 out of 50 states
And in the end, Barack Obama won the 2012 U.S Presidential Election by a margin of nearly 100 electoral votes. Maybe more when they finish counting in Florida. Although the popular vote will show that Obama ‘only’ beat Mitt Romney by a margin of a million votes or so, that’s not how the game is played.
The lead up to the election was billed in the media as a dead heat between the two candidates. Legendary political strategists such as Dick Morris and Karl Rove event predicted a landslide victory for Romney. “Republicans always turn up in better numbers on voting day than what the polls suggest.” That was the message. But it was Nate Silver, a pollster from the New York Times who made his name by correctly picking 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 election, who said Obama was a shoe-in to win the election. On the day before the election, he put Obama’s odds on victory at 90%.
I think Ezra Klein has it right. The reason media pundits and political analysts shit-talked Silver so much is because he uses cold, hard, unemotional math instead of political ‘experience’ to assess the state of the election and in a four year span, he’s got it right 99 times out of 100. It highlights just how speculative, uninformed and plain inaccurate most of the talking heads that do the rounds on 24 hour news channels really are by comparison.
As for the election results, they were extraordinarily pleasing and show an America that is far more liberal and progressive than one might think. Sure, its the freak show Fox News lunatics that get the lion’s share of attention in world news and on the Internet but lets review the results here.
- Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term. He is far from left-leaning by most country’s standards and yet he is by far, the most socially liberal president the country has ever elected. He also won the election for a second time using an unprecedented electoral tactic that targeted the youth and ethnic minorities as the party’s base.
- All the fucked up misogynist Republican candidates were beaten. Every single fucking one.
- New Hampshire elected new female senators and has become the first state to be entirely represented by women in the senate, in congress and as governor.
- Tammy Baldwin (D) became the first ever openly gay person elected to the senate.
- Tammy Duckworth (D) became the first disabled woman to be elected into congress. Duckworth lost both her legs in the War in Iraq.
- Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marajuana. Not decriminalize, not used for medicinal purposes. 100% legal.
- Maryland, Maine and Washington became the latest states to legalize gay marriage.
By any demographic measure, America is a country that is becoming more diverse, more tolerant, more open minded and more liberal. Barack Obama’s margin of victory might have been smaller than it was against John McCain in 2008 but there is a clear understanding that the long term strategy by the Democrat party to be an inclusive party rather than a divisive one is going to see them continue to win for years to come. And as long as they continue to have candidates that have the progressive views and broad appeal of Barack Obama, this is a good thing.
As for the Republicans, it is hard to see a way back. The party is emphatically and undeniably becoming the White Guy party and perhaps even narrower than that, the White Old Christian Guy party. This is an untenable position for them to be in and yet with so many hard liners entrenched in the party, it is difficult to see who will pull them back to the political centre. Fox News, once one of the party’s greatest assets, has become its biggest liability. Many of the most vocal and unappealing members of their party are literally on the Fox payroll and ultimately, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch don’t really give a shit if there is a Democrat in the White House or not. They get great ratings and subsequently great revenue regardless.
The odd voice here or there, like Karl Rove, recognizes that they need to attract more Latino voters, but the path to attracting them is absolutely at odds with the beliefs of their Evangelical base.
The Republican Party’s problems don’t end with struggling to appeal to a wider demographic. Fundamentally, their entire insular, ass-backwards, science-and-reason rejecting belief system will make it difficult for them to bounce back. When you start blaming polls as having a liberal bias, it makes it pretty hard to strategize an effective campaign. When you reject climate change and want to get rid of FEMA in the year that the biggest freakshow storm decimates your East Coast, it’s pretty hard to get taken seriously. When you have a party platform that wants to reduce social welfare programs despite being the party of the obese, the elderly and the sick, you’re pretty fucked. And that’s before we get started on their amazing 2012 strategy of marginalizing women.
Their greatest hope probably lies with Marco Rubio, a name that will become more prominent in the next four years.
In the end, it was an entertaining electoral cycle. There are plenty that are exhausted and digusted by the whole affair but I loved it. This election gave us Binders Full Of Women, Paul Ryan gym pictures, Joe Biden being Joe Biden and a final reminder that America is veering slowly, but steadily, towards a socially progressive future.