06 November 2012

Electoral Adjustments

As the election results roll in, it appears that it is not a clear cut decision by the American people.  In the Presidential Race, several battleground states are razor thin margins, with Ohio again being the lynchpin for the decision.  Democrats seem poised to increase their numbers in the Senate, yet Republicans may increase their majority in the House of Representatives.  That is a very mixed bag.

There is the distinct possibility that the losing candidate in the Presidential race wins more of the popular vote.  When this occurred after the election in the year 2000, Democrats clamored to eliminate the Electoral College and change the system to elect our Chief Executive by national popular vote.  This is anathematic to a representative Republic, even if Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) wins more overall votes.

A second adjustment from this election is reconsidering the accuracy of polling.  To me, much of the popular polling seemed dubious as it tended to present President Obama holding a slight lead at 48% presuming a D +8 model.  This seemed to be oversampling the liberal electorate and presumed Democrat voter turnout to be at 2008 levels.  I was more impressed by models championed by Michael Barone and Scott Rassmuessen which presumed a D +3 lead which would have put Romney narrowly in the lead.  Further analysis will be necessary when the complete election numbers are in, but it is possible that the elite liberal media skewed the polling but not enough for Obama 2012.

A third adjustment stemming from the election is acknowledging the continued strength of the Lamestream Media.  Traditional media outlets like most newspapers and the nightly news have had declining circulation.  Add to that the power of talk radio, the internet and social media, it seemed like the Lamestream Media was in decline.  The Tea Party Tsunami of 2010 seemed like an example of means to bypass the elite liberal media’s filter (or blackout) of serious issues which adversely impact liberals (e.g. Benghazi).    These election results show the resilience of these mass media.

The Obama campaign spent hundreds of millions of dollars in early advertising in swing states to poison the well for Romney.  This paid media strategy seemed like a waste after Romney’s spectacular first debate performance.  Clearly the paid media ad hominem attacks seemed to have stuck and depressed support for Romney.

Another aspect that needs to be considered from the 2012 election results is on political identification.  Offhand, about 40% of the electorate self identifies as being Conservatives, 20% as liberals and the rest as independents or moderates.   Prior to the election, independents significantly swung towards Romney.  But if the GOP nominee loses in the end, this did not hold sway in the end. This posits the possibility that moderates are liberals who do not have the constitutional fortitude to accept the label.  Another reasonable interpretation may be that many moderates are actually functional libertarians, those who have liberal social inclinations but who also hold financially prudent proclivities but who leaned more heavily on social issues this cycle.

A fourth agonizing re-appraisal coming from the mixed bag election is on Republican messaging and the health of the GOP.  Despite one outburst of “Seriously Conservative” irrational exuberance, Mitt was a Massachusetts moderate.  Instead of hitting the incumbent hard on the Benghazi bungle in the foreign policy debate, or underlining the difficulties of Obamacare, Romney tried to be statesmen-like and declined to fight hard on the issues.  Initially, conservatives were reluctant to embrace Romney in the primaries but by the end of the race seemed to heartily support Romney.  If the GOP nominee loses, this might instruct Conservatives to reject cautious campaigning favored by the Establishment as the mushy middle model failed again in a Presidential race.

If the Republicans in the Cocktail Party persist in not risking anything by moderating of issues to appeal to the middle, Tea Party types might bolt the Republican Party making it a rump.  If it proves that there is a significant portion of independents who are functional libertarians, fiscal conservatives might throw their lot into a new political venture.   Tea Party elements have been moderately successful in infiltrating the Republican base and concentrate on fully taking over the GOP rather then cast their lots on a third party folly which does not have the built in advantages of the two party system.

A final re-adjustment coming from the election is dealing with the consequences of this mixed bag election.  Exit polling indicates that most voters believe that the economy is the biggest issue but the people re-elected President Obama.  Obama’s manta has been that the rich need to pay “their fair share”.  Conventional economics in a capitalistic society does not indicate that eating the rich leads to sustained economic growth.  With a national deficit of $16 trillion (or adding $5 trillion in less than four years of the First Obama Administration), expect currency devaluation and significant inflation in economic stagnation (a.k.a. Greece).  The Senate has not deigned to pass a budget in over three years and with the lower chamber still in Republican hands, this budgetary tension will not be easily resolved. But to echo MSNBC host Al Sharpton “Resolve we much”.

President Obama managed to get re-elected with a higher unemployment than when he initially took office, losing support in his overall popularity and winning a second term with fewer electoral votes. President Obama may have to adjust after re-election to blaming the incumbent rather than former President George W. Bush for his woes.  Americans will also have to adjust after the election to a Chief Executive who no longer needs to worry about pleasing people for re-election.

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