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Michael Barone | Why I was wrong

I was wrong because the outcome of the election was not determined, as I thought it would be, by fundamentals. Some fundamentals, I thought, favored Obama. Americans like to think well of their presidents (and Obama’s approval ratings rose, slightly, over the fall) and many, perhaps most, Americans believe it would be a bad thing for Americans to be seen as rejecting the first black president.

On the other hand, most voters opposed Obama’s major policies and found unsatisfactory the sluggish economic recovery that seems to them to be the result—negative factors that seem to have been confirmed by responses to exit poll questions as they were by responses to poll questions for many months now. It is true that Obama won a second term by a reduced percentage and electoral vote margin, making him the first president to do so since Woodrow Wilson in 1916, nearly a century ago. This is not, I think, a grand triumph for his ideas or ideology. It is a triumph for his campaign strategists.

What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics.

The Obama campaign strategists—and congratulations to them, by the way—argued that they would win by organizing and turning out the vote in the key states that would determine the outcome of the election. They had no illusions that they could expand the president’s appeal beyond the 53% of the popular vote of the 365/359 electoral votes they won in 2008; on the contrary, they conceded Indiana’s  11 electoral votes and the single electoral vote of the Nebraska 2nd congressional district even before the campaign started. They didn’t contest the 15 electoral votes of North Carolina very much after holding the 2012 Democratic National Convention there; they concentrated in their pre-convention negative anti-Romney advertising and in their organizational efforts on a three-state firewall of the next three states in order of Obama 2008 percentage, Florida (29 electoral votes), Ohio (18) and Virginia (13).


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  • ancientthinker

    Numbers cruncher, statistical prognosticator, but no clue on what is going on down the line… campaigning is changed dramatically by social media filled with cultural malaise and falsehoods, and mainstream media trying desperately to regain followers, look to support and favor what seems popular or new, failing to truly report on anything important. Hence thae uninformed, disinterested masses come voting themselves into slavery, and its sad they will pay the price for being misled amidst the cultural "epicurean chaos".

  • Timothy Jacques

    Sorry Ben…no taksie backsies

  • gahanson

    Exit polling showed that about 59 percent wanted 0bamacare repealled.  Why if they wanted it repealled would they then turn around and vote for 0bama, again?

    My bet is that the only reason 0bama won reelection is because he’s black.  If he had been a white guy with as dismal a record as he had, it would have been 1980 all over again.  About 9 million who voted for him last time stayed home, and didn’t vote at all, because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote against the "first black president."  My bet is that the majority of that 9 million were blue collar, and older white folks, who should have been able to be won over by Romney, but he was such an uninspiring candidate that even 3 million who voted for McCain/Palin stayed home.  Just how pathetic is the gop "leadership" when they come up with one loser of a candidate after another.  My bet is that in 2016 they’ll throw their weight behind someone like Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan (a nice guy, but totally uninspiring.)

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