Post Election Analysis

A few thoughts:

  • The Sixth Party System failed to call every race correctly. SPS called 29/33 (88%) Senate races correctly (being wrong about Tester in Montana, Flake in Arizona, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, and Baldwin in Wisconsin), and 49/50 (98%) states (with Florida going for Obama being somewhat of a surprise).
  • Obama won every state he won in 2008 except for Indiana and (by a slim margin) North Carolina, even with a reduction of his popular vote by 6 million voters.
  • You might say, how can that be? A simple glance at all the Midwest prairie states shows that Obama’s share of the vote in conservative states decreased by an average of 5% across the board. For example, Obama received 42% of the vote in Kansas in 2008, but only 37% this election. Same margin for Wyoming, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.
  • The electorate was somewhat stickier in the South, as Obama basically matched what he received in 2008 in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina. This is largely because white voters did not vote for Obama in these parts in 2008, so he could not go down very much. The minority Black electorate still supported Obama by the same intensity (though turnout was slightly down).
  • Other Appalachian and Tennessee Valley states that do not have a significant Black population, and therefore did not have the electoral anchor of the South, decreased their support for Obama by about 4-5% on average. This includes a 3% reduction in Tennessee and  Kentucky, and a 6-7% reduction in Indiana and West Virginia. Here is where white voters who formerly thought of him as a structural reformer, only to later believe him to be an uber-liberal, channeled their alienation and voted for Romney. It also did not help that all of these states have moved away from the Democratic party in general in the last decade, and furthermore, that these voters may identify Obama to be anti-coal, anti-domestic energy, which poses a threat to their livelihood (especially true in Kentucky and West Virginia).
  • Furthermore, in non-competitive states with a blue hue, Obama’s average decreased by 2-3%. This follows in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Minnesota, New Mexico, Maine, New York, etc etc.
  • Finally, Obama’s strength lay in battleground states. He tailored policies to appeal to those who reside in those states, and this shows in the empirical data. Obama’s average reduction in swing states was between 2-3%, which is almost statistically insignificant based on his previous margin. These states were Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina.
  • All of these reductions explain his lower percentage of the popular vote, even without addressing the turnout question in metropolitan areas. One can conclude that Obama essentially faced an average 3-4% reduction across the board, but that where it counted, the margin was less. Essentially, the Obama campaign relented on governing or campaigning as base pleasers, and instead focused on policies tailored for, and GOTV efforts in, swing states, thus ensuring his reelection even with popular parity. Quite an astute strategy in such a vitriolic and anti-government environment.
  • The dichotomy of the House and Senate essentially remaining the same, in conjunction with Obama winning reelection by a slim popular vote, but a large electoral vote, poses several questions.
    • Do institutions (1/3 of the Senate running each cycle; the electoral college) impede the will of the people?
    • Why did some great candidates, like Kathy Hochul, lose, and some lackluster candidates, like Martha McSally, win?
    • How does the electorate conceptualize policy-making in relation to their vote? Would a voter favor a moderate who could advocate and fulfill a legislative agenda that would benefit the voter, or instead, would the voter favor an ideological member who cannot work in a bipartisan manner?
    • How will the GOP reassess their platform. With the current redistricting, there is a strong possibility the GOP controls the House for the next decade. The only impediment will be either a) Blue Dogs make a comback or a realignment takes place in the South, or b) The GOP becomes more extreme and loses moderate areas (like most of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan).
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Posted on November 7, 2012, in 2012 Election, Election Predictions, Elections, Party System and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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