Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why The Presidential Election Turned Out The Way It Did (According To Me, A Random Person On The Internet)

The Election In Retrospect
I've got an addiction. With the usual contents of this blog you may think that addiction is comic-books but it isn't (okay, maybe that is one of my addictions). No, I have an addiction to politics and policy. I love me some news, analysts guessing at what will happen in an election, and otherwise "gaming" it out how I think things will proceed.

From the start of the Republican Primaries I said it would have to be Romney who was the nominee. Everyone besides Romney was basically wrong for the GOP. They were too libertarian (Ron Paul), insane (Michelle Bachman), centrist and dull (Jon Huntsman), seemingly-drugged (Rick Perry), religion-obsessed (Rick Santorum), black (Herman Cain, because you really think Republicans would nominate a black man?), boring (Tim Pawlenty), or just plain unlike-able (Newt Gingrich). Did I forget anyone else notable? Do know that by notable I mean, "For a brief time was getting a lot of buzz in the Republican Party and among the press," so we're just going to ignore Buddy Roemer, Fred Karger, and the rest because everyone else did.
Seemingly so many choices, but really just one.
Yes, clearly the Republicans had to go with Romney, because otherwise defeat was all-but-assured with Moderate voters. In these earlier months I said that if it came to an Obama-Romney race you could flip a coin and that would be as accurate as trying to predict a winner. However, then things became more apparent and a pretty clear picture began being painted of a Romney loss and Obama win, hence my prediction on election day before a single vote had been counted that yeah, this was gonna be an Obama re-election. Let's discuss what made me arrive at this correct assumption.

The List in no particular order:

1. It doesn't help when your own party spends months--no, years--ripping you apart and then suddenly has to support you.
Yes, Mitt Romney had such harsh critics who called him the worst names, and the thing that must have stung the most was that the meanest folk were often within his own party. They said he was a member of a strange cult because he was a Mormon (more on this shortly), they said he was a flip-flopper on issues such as abortion, they said he was an elitist no better than Obama--whom used Romney's state healthcare plan for the basis of the evil health care reform.  There is no doubting they pretty much said whatever they could. Then it became clear he was their only option and they had to hide their lukewarm feelings and act like they loved Mitt all along.
"Ignore that headline, I supported Romney from the start!"
2. Trying to kill immigration proposals does not make you attractive to Latino voters.
Basically, if you say those evil Mexicans or other Latinos are trying to steal all our jobs and government-money, people with Latino heritage may not appreciate all of their race being painted as bad-guys, even if you just mean the illegal immigrants and not US-born citizens or legally immigrated folk. That's pretty obvious.

3. Honestly, you expect to get more than a handful of black voters?
Black individuals mostly voted for Obama. It was not necessarily just because he was black. Black voters have historically voted for Democrats for years, and expecting that to somehow change overnight is silly. Even black individuals who were more conservative and didn't like Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage generally seemed unable to vote for Romney, either just not voting, or ignoring that issue and supporting Obama. It also probably doesn't help that the Republican party seems to have a made a habit out of the occasional racist comment about our President, or a Tea Party whose shouts of support for the rights of states sound suspiciously like those claims of, "State's Rights," segregationists were so fond of back in the 1950s and 1960s.
I'd imagine 0% of black voters are sad segregation ended.
4. The Mormon issue.
A lot of people don't trust or care for Mormons. Whether they are annoyed at someone knocking at their door in the middle of the day while they are trying to watch their DVR'ed episode of Homeland, or just find the whole, "Jesus came to America," thing a bit strange, Mormon's seem to be regarded as suspicious seeming lot. They banned having multiple-wives long ago but people still think they do that even though just some offshoots of Mormonism engage in bigamy. Plus, they don't drink, gamble, or smoke. It appears people think that's just kind of weird because drinking, gambling, and smoking are many American's favorite pastimes (sometimes all done at once!) and people who don't share our usual "American lifestyle," are often thought of as weird. 
This is the first image you see on Google if you type "Mormon." They look more adorable than scary.
It doesn't help Mormons often are regarded by ultra-conservatives as being better than Jews because they at least believe in Jesus, but worse than Catholics because of their weird traditions. Yeah, folk just don't always trust Mormons (NOTE: The thing about disliking Jews does not apply to Evangelicals. They have a weird affection for us thinking that as long as us Jews control Israel or something it will allow Jesus to come back and we'll all suddenly worship Christ when it happens. Yeah, I think it sounds kind of odd too). Those who didn't like Romney being Mormon didn't necessarily vote for Obama. They could have gone with a third-party candidate (remember those? They do exist!) or done what it is thought some of the aforementioned conservative black folk did and just not have voted.

As much as our country likes to think it is beyond race, religion, and all that other stuff, it isn't. We have people who hold racist thoughts, hate certain religions, and if confronted with two people they don't like either skip voting or vote in a sort-of protest for another person who has zero chance of winning but is better in their mind than Romney and Obama. 

5. People are getting more liberal
It may sound shocking, but more people are okay with homosexual individuals getting married, or having a healthcare system that isn't utterly broken in its functioning because it makes them feel like they have more liberty to have a way of healthcare that every other Western country thinks is utterly barbaric. Yes, people are getting more liberal, and if the majority of Republicans they see are going off about the evils of being gay or how Obama is a socialist-tyrant....well, these folk will think Republicans looks kind of outdated.
Your text says he's bad, but your picture makes him look far too attractive to be evil.
There are moderate Republicans who are doing okay in general elections (Primaries can be a nightmare as that shrinking party base is still super-conservative), but the more extreme ones seem to be failing. Grover Norquist and his, "No Tax," pledge used to be a big deal, now he's on the midnight train to Georgia insignificance. People are okay with the idea of taxing rich folk a bit more, or a mosque being built in their town. Yes, the, "Old America," some people seem to be crying about the ending of is indeed happening. There probably were people bemoaning the end of their great, "Old America," when slavery ended, or woman got the vote. Things change, and for the better.

6. The wildcard of abortion
I just said people are getting more liberal, and that's why abortion is a wildcard. Even though folk are becoming more accepting of higher taxes and gay marriage, one social issue that it seems many are actually moving more to the right on is abortion. More people think it is wrong and shouldn't be allowed except in the case of incest, rape, or the mother's health being threatened. I've been outspoken on this blog about being pro-choice, but it seems there are less and less of us who feel a woman should be the one who decides what happens with her reproductive organs. That makes me sad as an individual but excited as policy-wonk to see what happens in elections.
I think we can all at least agree the blue and red colors compliment each other.
But wait, if people are getting more conservative on this issue how did it help Obama then? Simple, most people may be getting more conservative, but the conservatives are getting utterly insane.

The official platform of the Republican party is that abortion should never be allowed, period. It's been pointed out how even though that is the party's official platform Romney is okay with abortion in the case of those earlier-mentioned big three cases. That allows Republicans to kind of have their policy-cake and eat it too. However, it looks bad when other people in your party go around saying how women don't get pregnant from, "Legitimate rape," or that any baby is a gift from God, so too bad you were raped, you've got to have that baby. Yep, when you are that far to the right, you lose people even if they are getting more conservative. Hence, this issue still helping Obama.

7.Gun-control really was a non-issue
The NRA and certain websites may try to make claims along the lines of, "Obama wants to take all your guns away!" but in actuality that hasn't happened at all. Attempts were made to create an issue out of this, but Obama basically has just let the courts handle this issue and stayed silent. The tragedy in Aurora could have been a moment of serious self-reflection for the nation on its gun-laws, but it wasn't, because Obama just didn't touch the issue. Maybe he knows it could hurt him politically more than help, maybe he honestly doesn't care. Whatever the case, neither candidate were planning to do anything about guns. I'm reminded of a funny scene in an SNL skit spoofing one of the debates where a person in a townhall meeting asks what either would do to prevent AK-47s from ending up on the street (or something like that) and both candidates basically say, "We'd do nothing." Yeah, gun-control didn't matter this election.

8.Romney is just so, so, soooooooooooooo dull.
Look, a lot of people didn't like George W. Bush during his eight years in office. I have many issues with the man and the policies he put in place, myself. However, he is a person you just want to like. He gives people fun nicknames, he seems like someone you could, "sit down and have a beer with (even though he quit drinking when he became Evangelical)," and his ability to speak Spanish gave him some help with Latino voters. People joking that he is dumb helps him--because he actually is pretty smart but by seeming less-than-gifted he is easier to relate to by those who don't like it when it feels like a politician is talking down to them (which basically is 100% of the time, with either party).

 Mitt Romney is the opposite of George Bush. He seems robotic, awkward, and unable to relate to people. Obama is funny, warm, and amazing at speeches. You put Romney next to Obama and it becomes even more apparent that Mitt Romney is just bland. I have relatives who identify as more Republican than Democrat and they didn't hesitate to agree with me, the guy is just boring. 
"Must. Attempt. To. Feel. Something."

Of course, all of these guys pale in comparison to the charisma of the man that is Bill Clinton. I've been told he just lights up a room, is possibly the best public-speaker ever, and otherwise is the kind of person who once you meet you can understand how he got in all that adultery-trouble what with his wit and otherwise being awesome. Still, while the Democratic party can't really have Clinton in office again, they've got someone pretty affable in the form of Obama. Honestly though, a stiff wooden board could have given more emotion on the campaign trail than Romney did.

In Closing
Put all of these factors together and you start to get a pretty clear picture of Obama winning. I didn't think he would trounce Romney quite as thoroughly as he did, but the results speak for themselves.

What will the Republicans do? I honestly don't know. Perhaps they will look to their more moderate members and we will see a shift towards the center-right instead of the far-right. That, or they will go so insanely conservative the party will seem completely bonkers to most voters and get even weaker. We could see a combination of these two possibilities, where the the party actually has a schism and you see the super-conservatives and moderates break apart. A sort of Republican Party versus an actual political option in the form of the Tea Party, or a huge emigration of Republicans to the Libertarian party.
Who knows what the future holds for either party?
What will the Democrats do? Probably what they always seem to do, screw up their wins and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Even if Republicans fall into in-fighting, the Democrats just seem to find a way to lose. The ACA should be okay though. Why? Well, Obama is in power for another 4 years so when the ACA's biggest things come into affect in 2014 that should make it all but safe. The smaller-scale fights of state's not wanting to create insurance exchanges will probably be messy battles, however.

That is what I, someone whose only political credentials are a Political Science Minor, think. You may agree with me, think I'm terribly wrong, or be Mitt Romney and attempting to express the emotion known as anger at my saying you come off as robotic. No matter who you are and what you think just keep in mind that before long we'll be having more elections, so none of this is permanent. In other words, don't get too cocky or depressed, because before long everything will be a-changing yet again.

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