Post Election Reflections
Obviously it was a disappointing night for me. I wrote here yesterday that I believed that it would be close but losing Florida or barely winning it was not something I would have expected to see.
Where did it go wrong? There are a few things I would point to starting with Sandy. That was truly an October surprise. Obama got this sort of bipartisan bounce as the country came together in a time of crisis. Gallup and Rassmussen had a shift from Romney +4 to a tie. Exit polls showed that 42% of voters said Obama's response to the crisis was very important to their vote, an additional 15% said it was the most important factor.
That was just one thing. An even larger factor was the Aiken and Murdoch with their comments. It played right in to the hands of Obama's campaign and their war on women narrative. In general the need to pander to evangelicals on social issues is hurting the GOP brand. No one seriously believes that Romney is an anti-abortion warrior or a social values guy but the need to take some of those positions hurts the party with single women in particular. I think moderate candidates going forward should get leeway from the base to position themselves in more of a libertarian stance along the lines of "Personally I am against it for moral reasons but I don't believe that Government should ban it. I am against any government funding specifically for abortions". In general I think the GOP needs to move much closer to libertarian positions across the board. Become the party of smaller government and greater liberties and freedom. Lose some of the social values stuff and appeal to a larger audience. Why should social moderates and fiscal conservatives like me always have to compromise with the party. Let the social values folks compromise instead. They aren't going anywhere regardless.
Another big one was the stance on immigration that Romney took during the primaries. Clearly the GOP will need to revise their position there because the Latino voting bloc is growing and can't be overlooked.
Finally, Obama's ground game was as good as advertised. This was the most surprising for me personally. Obama played it like Bush did in 2004. It was a base turnout campaign and they effectively scared their base in to getting to the polls. Women via the war on women narrative, Blacks turned out in large numbers because Romney promised to cut spending on entitlements which they rely on, and Latinos due to the immigration stance. It helped that Obama had the incumbency advantage and had paid staff on the ground in the key swing states since the 2008 election.
On the plus side: The victory margin for obama was slim. It will end up somewhere in the 2 points range. Republicans held the house and didn't lose ground there. The takeaway was that while the electorate was not ready to fire Obama they also arent ready to embrace a progressive agenda. They left the House in GOP hands and basically said to Obama that its time to actually reach across the aisle and make a deal which can work for both sides.
To his credit Obama gave a fantastic acceptance speech. I advise people that missed it to check it out on you tube. He acknowledged that he needs to listen to and work with the other side. That he hadn't in the past. We have a debt ceiling about to be reached at the moment, a fiscal cliff via taxes and the sequester deal which needs to be changed in the next few months. Obama is a man that strives for greatness. He wants to be remembered as a great president. Another 4 years of staunch positions and battles with the GOP house wont get him there. He will need to take the lead on budget and spending issues as well as entitlement reform working with the GOP in a bipartisan way or we will end up with 4 more years of gridlock. I'm not sure he has it in him but maybe this close election will be a wake up call. If he was sincere it will be a positive thing though past history says that the message was not sincere. I have an inkling of hope that Bill Clinton has advised him of this reality and that there will be a closer relationship with Bubba and Obama that will lead to the type of bipartisan solutions we saw in Clinton's second term.