Wednesday, November 07, 2012

2012 Election: Lazy thoughts on the morning after…

 Fullscreen capture 1172012 75334 AM.bmp

http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president

I could have slept for another hour, but laying in bed, listening to NPR, my head kept filling with sleepy thoughts about yesterday so I decided to jot them down…

Fullscreen capture 1172012 75735 AM.bmpFlorida.  You’re Fired.

Florida…  You are just like every woman I’ve known from Miami.  Crazy and sexy.  And crazy.  And, did I mention, because I want to be very clear about this, crazy. 

But still damn sexy.

Good job America. Probably a wise idea not to invite Florida to the party this year. Yeah, they look way hot, but then they Fullscreen capture 1172012 80106 AM.bmpshow up, get all sloppy, make out with the wrong guy, pass out, and stay too late.

Sometimes, at their worst, you get up the next day and find them still passed out on your carpet for the twenty plus mornings...

And she’s still sexy all down there on the floor like that.  Must have something to do with all that crazy.

I think both parties now have had enough of Florida and will pretty much not playing there any more.  There are other, more solid and predictable ways to win an election that getting caught in the swamp down there.Fullscreen capture 1172012 80016 AM.bmp

Speeches

Good speeches from everyone. Blown away by Obama's. Sure, it was more enthusiasm than content but its his night and it rocked. There will be time for nuts and bolts later.  Romney seemed to come in a little later than he should have, but from what I understand, part of this might have been because he had not prepared a concession speech. 

I am also sure they were taking a real close look at Florida and Ohio, but after Virginia went blue, all hope was lost. 

Apparently they had ground teams of lawyers ready to go in Ohio and Florida and a third team ready to pounce on a third state, but Obama’s lead was significant enough in enough states that it was clear that there would be no legal recourse that could snatch a victory from the ashes.

For the most part, though, I think we were all surprised by how early this was called last night.  I was amazed when CBS, our choice for the evening, called it around 8:30 our time.  I was guessing it would be around 10 pm our time before this happened.  Not the first blown call of mine about yesterday.

I think this is why it took so long for both candidates to make it to the stage last night. 

Red States Vs. Blue States

From here on out in presidential elections, I am feeling like we have some new blue states.  This was a partisan election and there really was little in the way of swing.  The Democrats won because they ran the better campaign, especially when it came to local organization.  Turn out was the deciding factor, and the Democrats won yesterday.

It is hard to tell and I am sure it will be close in these “swing” states next time around as well, but I think the blue state club is getting a little bigger.

This is going to be tough for the GOP the next time out.  Earlier I wrote about not inviting Florida to the party any more, but the GOP may have little choice.  It may be the only true big swing state left.

Though this is not entirely true.  In an election that is less closely contested, there is some room for swing.  But three out of the last four presidential elections have been partisan elections without a breakout front runner going into election day, and let’s remember, 2008 was pretty close too with McCain not completely out of the game as America headed out to the polls.

Fullscreen capture 1172012 81844 AM.bmpNate Silver

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/06/live-blog-the-2012-presidential-election/

I was wrong to ever doubt you, man.  Whoa.  He called this one.  Nailed it.  Still not sure about Florida, but he only put the odds of an Obama victory there at a little over 50%, so either way, I’d say he picked 50 out of 50 this year.

On the right are his last predictions from election day morning.

Election CoverageFullscreen capture 1172012 82041 AM.bmp

I stuck with CBS last night because it came in on our rabbit ears and the other option, ABC, kept cutting over to the local election coverage which, quite frankly, bored the heck out of me.  Plus, the ABC team was awful.  Diane Sawyer, off script?  Oh my.  My head hurts.

CBS seemed a little better. 

But, really, what just strikes me is how so many people were surprised by the results last night. 

These days everyone is looking for a narrative thread in their reporting.  They are focused on telling stories, not on reporting the facts.

So we had the narrative of Romney’s “momentum.”  This was fueled by the GOP talking heads trying to sell the story, which was never really backed up in the polls, and the media buying it.

Looking for facts to maintain this narrative arc, too much attention was put on the national polls, which have been worthless since the 2000 election. 

Sure, those polls are an interesting piece of the puzzle, but they are a small piece.  But it was the piece that supported the narrative so they were given too much weight by the press going in.

Yesterday, glancing around most of the national news websites, the screaming headlines were that the race was too close to call and that anything could happen on election night.  Of course, if you drilled down a bit- quite a bit- it became clear that Obama pretty much wrapped this one up about ten days ago and had only been increasing his lead since then, around the time I made my first prediction.

So the media narrative last night concluded with Obama smashing through with an unexpectedly large victory in the electoral college, either coming from behind for a decisive 4th quarter victory, or breaking away from a tied game in the final seconds.

However, the facts never supported these narratives.  And, once upon a time, it was the press’ job to tell us the facts to the best of their ability, not to construct narrative arcs for us.

So 2012 is a big media fail in my book.  Not quite “Dewey Defeats Truman”, but close.

The real story of this election is the validation of modeling systems such as Nate Silver’s.  There were a number of intangibles heading into this election day and those of us following this part of the story through the last days of the campaign were all second guessing whether these models really considered and accounted for all of the “intangibles”.

I, myself, tried to “correct” Nate’s numbers with my own assumptions about over and under polling and turn out.  I did call that the GOP would have a harder time getting out their base, but I missed that the Democrats would do even better than they did in 2008 in getting the blue base out.

In the raw polls, in most states, there was an underperforming candidate, and it was Obama.

This the big story and surprise this morning.  Not that the President won the states he won, but the margins by which he won them.

Now, the right wing media…  Wow.  If the mainstream media failed to mention that Obama pretty much had the election locked up, well, the right was going not only with a Romney win but some were even going all the way to Romney landslide.

Were these people stupid?  No.  Well, some of them, but not all of them.  I’ve said it before, this was the only play left in the game book.  1% or 2% will just vote for who they think will win.  Those are votes you want.  If Obama lost, I would be bashing them this morning for NOT playing this card.  They might have been able to run the numbers up a little more if they had.

It is also about the base.  If our guy is going down, it is hard to get the motivation to go stand in line for minutes to hours to vote.  Hell, if you’re like me, sometimes its even hard to get the ballot in the mailbox, even when you are fired up!  But when you are already demoralized?

So this was pretty much a calculated move to get their base up out of their lazy boys.  Be a part of something big!

What shocks me is that it looks like a lot of people who should have known better fell for it.  Including, it appears, Romney himself.  I think he really expected to win last night.  Maybe not by a lot, but by enough.

I know not everyone at the top level of his campaign felt this way or else he wouldn’t have been wasting time and treasure in Pennsylvania the last few days.  That was a pure desperation move, born from irretrievably losing Ohio in the final days.

A lot of his supporters drank the kool-aid.  The buzz I’ve seen from the other side is not, shucks, we lost a close one but, rather, “What the hell happened?  We were supposed to win.”

The word Mandate is as meaningless as the word Momentum

Kudos, so far, to the Dems for not going here, but I am hearing a lot of talking heads trying to use the word mandate this morning.  In 2004, the GOP was using this word after winning one of the narrowest presidential victories of the last 50 years, but since it was a larger margin than they had in 2000, they took a swing at claiming a mandate and got a little traction in the press for their efforts.

This year, since Obama won by a narrower margin than 2008, every one is saying that there is no mandate…  Okay.  I won’t argue.

Because it is a meaningless word.

There are many factors that will determine the level of bipartisanship through the next congressional term.  The president’s margin of victory was never going to be one of them.  Mostly, because of historical patterns, the GOP should know that they do not have the luxury of being a do nothing congress heading into 2014. 

It will be a repeat of 2010 unless they do something.  Anything.  And since they are stuck with Obama for two years past 2014, they should be aware enough to know that he holds all the cards now.

And it has nothing to do with 2012 margins.

Zombie Parties

During the 1980s, the Democratic Party was declared dead.  In the 1990s, the Republican party was declared dead.  In the aughts, the Democratic Party was declared dead.  In the teens, starting last night, I’ve been hearing, guess it, guess it…

No party is dead.  Yes, the Democrats have figured out how to win presidential elections, I will give them this.  This is the first knock down, drag out, get your base to the polls or you are going to lose partisan election that they have won in a very long time, perhaps in my lifetime, and it is good to see.  It is healthy. 

And I think the GOP needs to solve it’s little Tea Party problem before it can get back in that game.

But they are not dead. Like I said, I think we’ve got a couple new blue states in the presidential elections.  This is a story really told when you look at the county by county red v. blue maps.  But it does not mean that the GOP is out “for a generation” as people are always saying about one party or another.

The House

The flip side is the House.  A true sign of how close this election really was is the House races.  It took everything, EVERYTHING, the Dems had to hang onto the presidency and there was not much left for the House.

I really think if more effort had been put into it, they could have taken the House this year.  But it took so much effort to keep Obama in office that there was nothing left.

I know, myself, I barely paid any attention to the Congressional races this year.  Partly that is due to the fact that I live in a solidly blue district where our incumbent usually only has token competition from year to year, but it is also because everyone was working so hard on the presidential campaign that we just didn’t have much left for the House this year.

2014?  That is a different story.  If the new Democrat machine targets the house, it is theirs, unless the Republican caucus really makes some big strategic changes over the next two years.  If they do, then they might actually hang on to it.  The ball is very much in their hands.

I think the GOP will start working with Obama.  They’ll have to if they want to survive in the House.

Up through last night the GOP caucus has been saying they want to negotiate with Obama, but their definition of negotiate is, “Give us what we want, exactly as we want it, or we will say you are playing partisan politics and shred you in the next election.”

We’ll see if the current crop of Reps is smart enough to figure out that this game is played out.  They will need to change strategies or they are going down hard in the midterms.

When functioning well, I actually think having some party splits between the executive and legislative branches of government can be a healthy thing.  When it works, it works by getting the best ideas through from each party, and blocking the more sketchy ideas.  But what we’ve had for awhile, coming to a head with the current Congress, is far from that.  There is nothing healthy about the state of Congress right now at all.

Can they change?  That is the real question.  They may not be able to unless the entire Republican Party grows a pair and quits being held hostage by the Tea Party.  It cost them the presidency this year and will cost them the House in 2014 unless the party grown ups man up and take a stand for sanity.

Post-Election Silence

I’m not going away permanently, but now that the election is over, I’ll be posting to this blog on a much less frequent basis.  I’ll still be checking in from time to time, but probably not much until December. 

Finally, now that this long national debate is over, I can focus on writing the NaNoWriMo novel that I should have been working on this morning instead of writing this post!

This blog has been around since 2004, though.  Sometimes I drift away, but I always come back, eventually.

I Love This Speech

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/11/06/us/politics/06-obama-election-night-speech.html

 

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