(Note: As a rule, we try to keep things at Peach Pundit focused on state and local issues. But after I sent this out as an email to some personal friends and posted it on my facebook page, our Editor-in-charge requested I post it here as well. So I’m breaking the “Georgia politics” rule, but only because Charlie made me.)
Enough of you have contacted me to ask “what happened” in the Presidential election that I’m going to try to answer you all at once. This is personal, but I’m sharing it widely and you may feel free to share or forward it to your friends (and other despondent Republicans) if you’d like. (It’s also kind of long, so I apologize in advance).
Lots of you are depressed. You’ve probably had to endure a solid week of Democrat gloating -that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to gloat after their side wins an election. It’s a rule, and I’ve gloated myself more times than I am proud of. We should smile and let the Democrats continue to gloat. Don’t get mad, get gracious. But we do need to ignore the class of professional pundits, especially the ones on “our side,” who are criticizing Mitt Romney, the campaign, the party or our conservative values, and telling us what we need to do now. Every one of those criticisms is constructed like this: “We lost because the (party/candidate/campaign) wasn’t (conservative/moderate/hawkish/dovish) enough to suit my PERSONAL values, just like I told you back in (insert date here)”. The circular firing squad needs to be dismissed, if not from the airwaves, then from our own minds, immediately. They are wrong and here’s why.
First, we need to remember that it’s nearly impossible to get people to turn out an incumbent president. Our nation has only done that 10 times in our history and only 5 times since 1900. In 1912, mainly due to a rift in the Republican party, Woodrow Wilson (with help from Teddy Roosevelt) beat William Howard Taft. Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression beat Herbert Hoover in 1932. Jimmy Carter and Watergate beat the appointed-not-elected Gerald Ford in 1976. That leaves only Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992, the “greatest communicator” and the “greatest campaigner,” who have been able to defeat incumbent Presidents. It’s a tall order, even for a man as kind, decent, generous and qualified as Mitt Romney.
Second, this election was CLOSE. (If you’re going to believe the electoral vote count indicates some sort of sweeping mandate, then stop reading this now and go study math and the Constitution until you’re smarter than a Democrat.) How close? Look at four battleground/swing states: Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
Colorado went to Obama by 113,099 votes. Margin of win? Over 4%. But Romney did 1.8% better than John McCain did in 2008, and Obama did 2.5% worse than his own 2008 performance. Romney closed the gap in Colorado, just not enough. (And do you think marijuana on the ballot helped the Democrat or the Republican?)
Ohio went to Obama by 103,481 votes or 1.96%, out of more that 3.6 million votes cast. Again, Romney did 1.4% better than McCain in 2008, and Obama performed 1.2% worse. (Those margins may shift with the outstanding ~300,000 provisional ballots still being canvassed in Ohio, but the outcome probably won’t.)
Virginia: Obama won by only 115,910 more votes out of nearly 3.7 million -even though Romney was up 1.4% over McCain 2008, and Obama was down 1.8%.
In our nation’s most embarrassing state, Florida, nearly 8.4 million ballots were counted and only 73,858 (less than 1%) more of them were for Obama than Romney. (Again, Romney improved McCain’s numbers by 1% and Obama decreased his own numbers by just under 1%.)
Those four close states represent 69 electoral votes that, had 204,000 people voted the other way, would have given Romney the presidency.
So, think about those numbers as you hear that because of the “devastating loss,” and “crushing defeat,” that “Republicans must win over left-handed, unmarried, bisexual single-mothers under 40.” Not according to history, and not according to the numbers. A “mandate for Obama?” Please. Obama won fewer votes than legalized marijuana! Cheech and Chong got a bigger mandate.
Another myth you need to ignore: “Romney was too moderate -he won 3 million fewer votes than McCain!” No, Romney took less than 1 million fewer votes than McCain nationwide -even after losing a million total Republican votes in California! (Where, AGAIN, Romney eked out a tiny percentage higher than McCain did in ’08). Romney outperformed McCain in every single battleground state except Ohio, and the “missing Republican votes” were in California, Washington, Illinois, New York and New Jersey. But Obama won 7.5 million fewer votes overall in 2012 than he did in 2008. You’re not hearing THAT on the news, are you? Anybody saying Obama was “too moderate” this year?
Let me focus my own laser-like, pundit-grade insight on why 2012 Romney might have performed worse than 2008 McCain in New York and New Jersey. I seem to have heard something about the weather in that part of the country recently. I remember being told the President doing a “good job” in his bomber jacket, flying over some damaged areas, and being told what a “great job” he was doing by some sniveling, lard-assed Bruce Springsteen fangirl -oh wait, no, that was the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, an alleged Republican. I remember that because it WAS ALL OVER THE NEWS. Exit polls conducted by the AP say about 42% of voters said the President’s response to the storm was a factor in their vote. So that might have changed a few minds, and the fact that power is STILL out on parts of Staten Island and the region might have depressed Republican turnout. Those folks might walk across broken glass to vote, but apparently they WON’T walk barefoot through cold, raw sewage to a polling place without electricity. I don’t blame them, and I don’t blame Mitt Romney. As I write this, some folks up there STILL don’t have power. We should send some non-union power crews to help out. We did? And they were turned away? Oh, well. I can’t wait for CNN’s follow-up stories on Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy. Heckuva job, Barry.
This was a base vs. base election, and their side out-hustled our side by a whisker, and they have a bigger base. Since they own the media, academia and Hollywood, they also completely control the narrative and easily defined our candidate in their terms. But we can’t let ourselves off the hook. We know the media is in the tank for Obama -but we knew that 4 years ago and didn’t adjust, and still haven’t adjusted. That’s on us. The polls that we screamed were “skewed” because they “oversampled Democrats,” were not skewed. That’s on us, too. There ARE more Democrats than Republicans and we need to ask ourselves some very hard questions about why that is. Some of those questions may be bitter medicine for some of you, so I’ll follow up on that later.
For now, though, my political advice is: clear your eyes. Come in off the ledge and unpack the moving van. Tune OUT the chattering class -all of them- Limbaugh, Hannity, Karl Rove, CNN, the Sunday shows with David Frum and David Brooks and my friend Erick Erickson on the radio and everyone else. Fill your hearts. Thanksgiving is on us -go cook something delicious and share it with family and friends and people you love and your in-laws too. Know you are “blessed” as my friend Monica Luck reminds me and others. Believe what my son said last week: “The Republic will stand.” It has. It will. Win or lose, the sun always comes up after election to reveal a world much bigger, and brighter and fuller than mere politics. There’s more grace and joy and beauty in the world than any of us could ever use -go find some, take more than you need and then go share it. You’ll feel better, and we’re gonna need you feeling better next time. There’s always a next time in America.