08 November 2012

Better ways to spend six billion dollars: US Election Analysis

Change of plan - as it's going to take a few days for Florida to be decided for sure (although it will go Obama), here's my analysis.

Barack Obama got about eight million votes less than in 2008. Fortunately for him, Mitt Romney appears to be getting less votes than John McCain did.

(Edit: Final totals are not yet confirmed)

 There was a semi-open goal here and Romney-Ryan missed it by a country mile.

About six billion dollars were spent on this - and we merely got the status quo ante, pretty much.

Why Obama won
  1.  He was successfully able to claim an improving, although still poor, economy and two big foreign policy achievements: withdrawing from Iraq without that country collapsing into civil war (it's not brilliant, but it's not Syria) and killing Osama bin Laden.
  2. Excellent campaigning with strong leveraging of social media and micro-targeting of voters. The ground game was superb as well.
  3. His performances in the second and third debate, along with Biden's VP one. He looked presidential and knew his stuff.
  4. Strong support among minority voters, especially Latinos. The electorate was nearly exactly like 2008 - in fact there were more minority voters - when many pundits (understandably) thought it would look different, maybe (less understandably) like the GOP win in 2010.
  5. The GM bailout, which saved a great many jobs in Ohio in particular. Regardless of the economic sense or lack thereof of that, people don't like becoming unemployed.

Why Romney lost
  1. Flip-flopping on a scale greater than John Kerry between primary and general campaign - in an Internet age, it's easy to get called on.
  2. The '47%' comment. I said at the time that was a massive gaffe and it showed an apparent contempt for Democratic voters (most of whom actually work) that many Republicans seem to show.
  3. Reliance on a dwindling coalition of angry white people at the expense of nearly everyone else. Ignoring - no, actually offending with the "self-deportation" policy - 10% of the voting public is a bad idea.
  4. Allowing Obama to define him early as an out-of-touch plutocrat - and acting in a manner that seemed to make it true (not releasing those tax returns, $10k bets, "I like firing people").
  5. George W Bush, who he couldn't use on the campaign trail and whose legacy is positively toxic for the Republicans. There is no living Republican great statesman they can wheel out - Reagan is dead and wouldn't win the GOP nomination at present because he would not be conservative enough.
Ten takeaways from this election

  1. The capacity of people to engage in self-delusion is quite amazing. Think the polls might be off is understandable, but don't be that sure of it.
  2. Don't make stupid comments on rape - Mourdock and Akin learnt this to their cost.
  3. Nate Silver will be listened to a great deal more in 2016, but even he can get things wrong (he miscalled two Senate races here)
  4. We need to make sure that three hour polling lines don't happen next time - it probably put many people off.
  5. The GOP needs to get rid of the poisonous influence of the Tea Party in a way that does not drive those voters out of the party, or it will continue to lose.
  6. Scott Rasmussen's robo-polling is discredited, but the internet pollsters did very well indeed - YouGov were third closest overall.
  7. Negative campaigning works, sadly.
  8. Partisan gridlock is sadly likely to be the order of the day in the US for the next four years, unless Obama can do well enough to flip the House in 2014.
  9. Precedents are not guarantees, although the one about incumbents and strong primary challenges held up.
  10. A silly line can get around the Internet faster than you can print a newspaper.
So, that's it for this one. Now, let's hope Obama does better in the second term.

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