Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election 2012: Post-Mortem

I'm not entirely sure what to make of what happened yesterday and last night. I'm going to need a little help.

Dammit. I've already said that.

Anyway, now that it's too late to vote, early or often, let's see if we can't figure out what went down.

1) Intrade FTW! Once again, the betting market established the mark to beat, with one notable exception. Based on their guidance as of Friday, I predicted Virginia would go blue, but Florida would go red. That was a coin-flip, one that I just flat out called wrong. But with the exception of Florida, nothing happened last night that came as a surprise. At least, nothing voting-related.

2) Morning Crow: I'm not sure if he's said anything about it yet, but Nate Silver's site FiveThirtyEight also did pretty well last night. His final EV total came to 313, and I'm not entirely sure how he got that number ... but I'm guessing it was a weighted average of 303 and 332, the former being the total if Romney wins Florida, the latter if Obama wins that state. We just don't know which one it is yet, and may not for some time. But beyond Mr. Silver's acumen, polls in general have done really well this year. If you were going by FiveThirtyEight or Pollster last night, you wouldn't have seen many surprises either. The people who dissed the math nerds are eating a heaping helping of crow this day.

3) Not All Polls Are Created Equal: The guys who set up the Unskewed Polls website were convinced, utterly convinced, that the polling data was lying to them. So they fiddled with the data, using some weighted averaging of their own. Except ... the polls weren't lying. They were a very accurate picture of what was happening on the ground. Their final, definitive prediction ... well, it's just sad. Then, when you add pundits who take said prediction seriously...

4) The Epic Meltdown: Some things must be seen to be believed.

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time on live television, paradigm shifting without a clutch! One can almost feel sorry for people like Karl Rove. They've bought in so thoroughly, so deeply, into the mental model they've created of the world around them that they've forgotten that the map is not the territory. Now, here's an interesting question, one that we can answer by stages in 2014 and 2016: will the smarter consumers of conservative media begin to ask the hard questions? Some will, because some already have: Andrew Sullivan being one, and David Frum being another. Some of the leaders will tire of losing. They'll stop paying attention to the outlets who merely tell the listeners and viewers what they think they want to hear.

5) The Twilight Of An Era: The Goldwater-Reagan era of modern conservatism is now well and truly over. It's too early to tell what will take its place, but the Reagan coalition has hit the reef, hard, and is taking on water. It won't last much longer.

6) Handicapping the 2016 Field: I've said before that "It's His Turn" is powerful mojo within the Republican party, which puts Rick Santorum in the pole position for 2016. Except that that's not always true. The exceptions are illustrative. Only three times in the last sixty years has "It's His Turn" failed. It failed in 1952, when Eisenhower won the nomination. It failed in 1964, when Goldwater won. And it failed in 2000, when George W. Bush won. The 1964 case is a bit of an outlier, since the GOP had a bit of a civil war that year between the hard-line conservatives and the moderates. That, in my view, was the beginning of the Goldwater-Reagan era. But let's look at 1952 and 2000: both occurred after multi-term Democratic administrations. In 1952, a 21-year-old casting his first ballot did not have a Republican President in his or her living memory. The Republicans were desperate for a win. Ordinarily they'd never give the nomination to a neophyte who'd never even voted before ... but this neophyte was the victorious savior of Europe. Not everyone liked Ike, but even most of those who didn't respected him. Then, in 2000, you had Clinton's two terms, and he was still fairly popular even at the end. The Republicans wanted a winner. I kind of expect this to repeat for 2016. Except, that I also kind of expect the kind of scrum that broke out in 1964.  We'll have to see how the 2014 mid-terms shake out. It'll be interesting, if nothing else.

7) And How'd Those SuperPACs Work Out For You? Six billion dollars were shoveled down the bottomless maw of the Media Beast, to no noticeable effect. The people who expected Mitt Romney to surf a tsunami of SuperPAC cash to the White House have been bitterly disappointed. The Air Game has squared off against the Ground Game, and lost decisively. Now, it may not always work that way, but at the end of the day it's the ballots at the polling place that count. Ads won't get those feet to the booth. The good word of someone you know and trust will. It'll be interesting to see how politicians react, once they digest how utterly useless SuperPACs seemed to be this time around.

8) The People Have Spoken! But what the roaring purple Hell have they said? They re-elected a Democrat to the White House. They also re-elected a Democratic majority to the Senate ... but returned a Republican majority to the House. I think John Boehner might have been right this afternoon, when he basically said that the American people expect them to hug it out and make this $&!@ work. If they wanted Obama to drive on with full force, they'd have given him a majority with which to do it, which they didn't. But, by returning him to the Presidency, they've basically said that they want to keep the Affordable Care Act in place. And they've said that they trust his vision better than Romney's, but they don't want him going crazy with it. Eh, it ain't the worst of results. And, they've also approved same-sex marriage in several states, and a major liberalization of drug laws in a few others. Like I said, I'm really not sure what to make of all this. TNC has a round-up, and I kind of agree with his assessment. The templates are shifting, and I don't entirely know what that means. It'll be interesting to find out.

9) Best Live-Blog Line Ever: Speaking of TNC, he had a beaut -- "9:55 To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their bloggers..."

10) Eight-Year Bloggiversary! Or near enough as makes no difference. I started this thing in the aftermath of the 2004 election, when I thought that someone ought to start talking the Democrats down off of the ledges. There were some pretty unhelpful things being said, back when. Things have gotten better.

And, that's a wrap. Election 2012 is now in the books. When historians write their thoughts of our times, I think one of the things they'll say of 2008 and 2012 is that while a majority of Americans were ready to elect an African-American President, a sizable minority were not yet ready to be governed by one. But they'll also write that we muddled through it, somehow. Because we're Americans, and that's just how we roll.


Infidel753 said...

but returned a Republican majority to the House.

Democratic House candidates got half a million more votes than Republican ones. The Republicans preserved their House majority only because of gerrymandering.

Going by the popular vote, this whole election would have been a clean sweep for the Democrats. Not a split decision at all.

Tim McGaha said...

House seats aren't elected by the aggregate popular vote, they're elected one district at a time. I'm not sure that the aggregate popular vote says anything meaningful in this context. In a majority of Congressional districts, voters sent a Republican to the House of Representatives. To my mind, that makes it a valid split decision.