Most Republicans or Conservatives were blind-sided by the size of the Obama win. I certainly was. Some expected a close election, and thought if Obama won re-election, it would be close. Some pundits I respected, including Michael Barone, Dick Morris, and Karl Rove, had actually predicted it would be a Romney win by about the same number of electoral votes as Obama bagged.
The Obama win was surprising for obvious reasons. The economy, the debt, the deficit, foreign affairs, energy policy, and inflation have all suffered under his stewardship. We’re just not better off after four years of his leadership – we’re worse off. I thought the majority of people would fire someone who didn’t produce. So, why didn’t Romney win?
I spent November 7 listening to various explanations, which I’d like to report here. Rush Limbaugh said you can’t beat Santa Claus, especially if that meant you had to be your own Santa Claus. So many people on extended unemployment, welfare, food stamps, etc. Almost 50% of Americans pay no income tax. Some say they vote for a living rather than work for it.
The most compelling explanation, however, is in demographics, derived from exit polling. Bob Bechtel, Democrat, explained it this way on Fox News: white people were about 72%, and about 60% of those voted for Romney. Minorities were 28%, and went much more for Obama. More people less than 29 years old voted than were expected, the majority for Obama. Fewer seniors voted. More were expected and those would have gone for Romney. Bob thought Romney should have selected Marco Rubio as his running mate, to shore up the Latino vote.
Dick Morris, on with Bill O’Reilly, had predicted a big Romney win. O’Reilly accused him of studying Uruguay instead of the United States. Morris said he had thought it very unlikely that Blacks, Latinos, single white women, and young people under 30 would come out in the same numbers as they did in 2008. But, they did. He predicted that Blacks would make up 11%, but they were actually 13% of the vote, split 12% for Obama, 1% for Romney, which gave Obama an 11% head start. This was a higher percent than many predicted, more like an 11 – 2 split. Morris predicted the Latino vote at 8%, it was actually 10%, and that was divided 7% Obama, 3% Romney. Single white women were predicted to be 16% but were actually 18%, divided 11% Obama, 7% Romney. Finally, adults under 30 were predicted to be 17% but 19% voted, divided 12% Obama, 7% Romney. There is some overlap between a couple of the categories – a person could be Black, a single woman, and under 30 for example. But the overall effect of the numbers is quite significant.
Finally, according to Bernie Goldberg, about 3 million fewer white voters showed up than were expected, more actually voted for McCain in 2008. Had they voted, assuming the same percentage of votes for Romney, the popular vote would have been in Romney’s favor. This might have cost Romney the election. I assume either a lack of enthusiasm for Romney’s moderate politics, or possibly reluctance to vote for a Mormon.
I’ll close by paraphrasing Bill O’Reilly’s opinion: “President Obama now owns the economy. If it isn’t better in four years, the Democrat Party will fade away.” I’m not sure I agree. Many people seemed to vote for Barack Obama regardless of his record and how bad things are. Perhaps demographic changes and the country’s move to the left have made it unlikely that we’ll ever see another Republican president. Or, perhaps Obama will suffer the second term curse. Who knows for certain?