I'm not sure when it was I decided that Obama could not lose this race, but I do know the first time I dared say it out loud.
It was when the GOP started running the Iowa caucuses back in August, 2011, and Michele Bachman won the first go-round in a straw poll.
It seems so long ago.
Here's the problem that Republicans face (and Democrats too, to a lesser degree, which I'll get to in a minute): the split between their primary voters and the general population.
When you allow your party's platform and candidates to be dictated by the emptiest cans making the most noise, you are going to lose elections left and right. When what the nation needs is conciliation and compromise to come to solutions that work for everyone, running a party platform of exclusion and elitism works for no one.
There are no "one best" ideas, there are no boilerplate solutions that fix problems, or rather, pray they go away.
This country is at a point where we must include everyone, even people we do not agree with, in order to move forward and fix things. For example, no one is suggesting the free market doesn't have its place in the order of things that will repair and progress our nation, but plenty of people are suggesting government "has no business" being involved.
Sorry. That's wrong, as Sandy so carefully delineates.
Let's use Sandy as an example: if Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers had donated even half the money they fronted to the Republicans trying to defeat Obama to projects like storm damage prevention or, if that's not their cup of tea, repair and restoration of homes savaged in the storm-- or even just a handout to people who's homes are underwater in terms of their mortages-- Mitt Romney might be President-elect.
Instead, their selfishness and greed forced them to be too short-sighted to see that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
You could, I suppose, make the case that there's no return on paying down someone's mortgage or buying a few more frontloaders for the Jersey shore, but a) you can call it "charity" and deduct it from your taxes and b) what return do you have now that Romney's had a mudhole stomped in him?
By kowtowing to asshats like Adelson and the Kochs, and to the Teabaggers, the Republicans waged jihad on people who might have created firewalls around the nation for the GOP: how different might the Senate look today if Richard Lugar had beaten back Richard Mourdock?
For crissake, these folks thought Orrin Hatch was too liberal and very nearly lost his seat, too!
And it certainly didn't help that Mitch McConnell went on record demanding a one-term Presidency for Obama.
Positions like that, and policies that allow for legitimate candidates for national office to claim that some rapes are illegitimate (endorsed by someone at the top of the ticket, no less), that Latinos ought to be singled out for citizenship papers, that global warming is a myth when the damn seaboard was washed away, and that women should be subdued and not heard, that's a recipe for disaster, and there we have it.
As I wrote earlier, the Democrats are not immune to this trope, either, but because our base is more diverse and allows for more dissent-- we may rail about DINOs, but unlike Republicans and RINOs, we don't wage wars on them-- we tend to coalesce over more normative positions in our platforms. This has strong appeal to independents and moderates and while it might create a "lesser of two evils" election, people can take comfort knowing they voted for sane people.
Now, let's get into the nitty gritty of all this: first, my opinion that Obama would win big was confirmed over and over again, most recently when the rightwing went haywire over "skewing" polls.
It's one thing to work the ref, it's another thing to work the scoreboard operator. I noticed that immediately after those complaints, Romney gathered momentum. I had a feeling that news organizations were tossing a wink to the left and center when they started "unskewing" polls and mocking Nate Silver.
Any statistician will tell you that polls will swing. Your sample can never be a perfect match of the general population, even if you're producing widgets. Things fluctuate.
By trying to force those fluctuations into a norm, Republicans lost very valuable information, information that might have allowed them to deploy forces more effectively. For instance, the last minute attempt to win Pennsylvania was moronic and the act of someone who missed an opportunity to win Virginia outright. If Romney takes Virginia, Florida, and even ONE of the home states of the top of the ticket (Not only did Romney lose Massachussetts and Michigan, but Wisconsin, Ryan's home state. By the way, he also lost two Senate seats to Democrats in those states as well), we're looking at Romney/Ryan for 16 years.
Take the money out of Pennsylvania. Stick it in Wisconsin and Virginia and this race really might have been a toss-up.
But because they wanted their fee-fees not to hurt, the GOP lunch was stolen.
So we have a party of stultified ideas using stultified mathematics, imposing stultified policies on a stultified base, and yet trying to appeal to the larger populace which is clearly not into being stultified and ordered about, else they'd be part of the base already.
Indeed, the backlash against the Republican One Note Johnny approach of tax cuts is starting to appear in the granddaddy of all Teabagged states, California, which rolled back the thirty year old Proposition 13 and passed an actual tax hike last night.
Some interesting themes came out of last night's results:
- Obama actually increased his draw of white male voters slightly, but overwhelmingly picked up minority votes, increasing his take of Asian and Hispanics while actually bumping up his black vote. The increase in minority turnout, in fact, may account for his popular vote victory.
- Turnout was not only below 2008, it was below 2004. However, the biggest shrinkage occured in the Deep South, Mitt Romney's base.
- Florida will very soon, perhaps even by 2016, become a solid blue state. Hillsborough and Orange counties, both of which could loosely be termed swing counties in the past three elections, went solidly blue and threw Florida into an even deeper tizzy in this election, but the trend has been from red to blue over the past twenty years.
Which now brings up my final point: despite the loss of Allen West and Joe Walsh, and the near-defeat of Michele Bachmann, the GOP caucus in the House and Senate has actually moved further to the right, which raises the question:
Given all that I wrote above, how likely is it the Republican party will be anything but an historical footnote, the way the Whigs are?