OK, so I thought it would be useful to have a new thread to discuss the political consequences of last night’s results. This isn’t about how awful it is that Barack Obama won, or how awful that those nice Libertarians didn’t win, or how awful drone strikes are. If you want to have a whinge about how the poor white people are being victimised or how much you hate Romney, take it somewhere else. This should be about what lessons are taken from the results.
The Polls Are Right
The polls showed a narrow popular vote win for Obama but a clear advantage for Obama in the EV. As it turns out, the polls have been broadly right. Ohio showed a likely Obama win by a few points, and so it was. VA and FL both showed toss-ups and so it was. There was a lot of clutching at straws on here and elsewhere that the polls were wrong, their sampling was wrong etc. What we can conclude is that polling companies are businesses and have a vested interest in getting it right, and they generally have the tools to get it right. Dismissing the polls (certainly of established firms) is not analytically sound without a real, sound basis.
Party Affiliation Weighting is Bunkum
This was my big bugbear. Poll after poll we saw posters here and GOP folk say that it couldn’t possibly be right because their ‘sample’ of Democrats was too high. The problem is that the number of Democrats and GOP answering polls was a natural figure – i.e. that is what the polls was finding. We repeatedly heard that Democrat turnout would not be the same as 2008, but never an explanation as to why repeated polls were showing strong Democrat turnout. My view was always that the polls should show what the polls show – party affiliation is too fluid a metric to control for. Calls for weighting affiliation at a given level were, essentially, calls for pollsters to ignore the polling data and substitute it with their own subjective judgement of what they thought party affiliation would be. That proved to be very misguided, and it turns out that the reasons polls were showing strong Democratic turnout was because that was what was going to happen. Of course, I’ve also said that this data in itself is difficult to rely on because it is such a fluid metric – I think many people will give the answer that fits most with their voting preferences (e.g. someone who voted for McCain, Bush and Dole but who now votes Obama might affiliate as a Democrat despite all other factors indicating that they are more Republican).
Independents Are More Right Wing
An interesting point was made by Paul Begala on CNN last night. Much has been made about the extent to which Romney won independents. His point is that the Democrats have succeeded in converting independents to Democrats, hence the Democrat advantage in party affiliation stats. But as a result of left-leaning independents coming to identify as Democrats, the collective positioning of the remaining independents will move rightward. The other point was that some on the far right no longer identify as GOP, feeling it is too centrist, and they have come to infiltrate the ranks of independents. So independents are now more right wing and more likely in the future to break for the GOP, but the upside for the Democrats is that the advantage they enjoy in party affiliation is becoming more clear and more solid.
Gay Rights are No Longer Toxic
In 2004, Bush used gay marriage as a tool to bring out the vote. It was unthinkable then that any President could be vocally supportive of gay marriage and still win the Presidency. Last night, for the first time in the US, a public ballot approved gay marriage and a President and Vice President who has been the most pro-LGBT rights President in history won re-election. A year ago when he announced his support, there were questions about how that would play in key swing states, particularly in Virginia, Ohio and Florida. Obama’s win sends a message – it is no longer an electoral liability to be actively supportive of LGBT rights. So more and more national politicians can start to ‘come out’ for gay marriage and other LGBT rights issues. The GOP has lost this particular battle, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
The GOP’s Women and Minorities Problem is Real
There should be no doubt – this should have been a blow-out for Romney. The economy is in a poor position, albeit getting better. Romney had a cash advantage and had been running for President for six years. The reason is simple – they lost women and they lost latinos. The latter, in particular, means that Nevada and Colorado are looking increasingly blue, along with New Mexico which now seems solidly blue. The problem becomes that there is nothing to suggest that the GOP will move towards reaching out to women and minorities, and also, the other problem on the horizon is that if Clinton runs in 2016, that coalition of women and minorities will not be unravelled by the GOP.
The Blue Leaning Swing States Aren’t Really Swing States
All the talk of Romney winning Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania was just talk. He won them all reasonably comfortably.
Nate Silver’s Stock is Sky High
Expect to see Nate Silver command tremendous power in what he does next. The NYT did well to get him on board when no one knew who he was. Now he can essentially name his price for political and polling commentary after getting the popular vote almost bang on, along with, it seems, all fifty states.
The threads on here have been really good, notwithstanding the attempts of the lunatics and racists to derail them. Despite disagreeing with them, posters like NYCKY and Skyrocket have been quite informative and analytical. I hope p.ie can continue to have decent posters on US politics (on both sides) and that the lunatics and racists can be ignored.