I’ve been reading a lot the past few days about the campaign, election night, demographics, and post-election freakouts. Cut me some slack, guys. It’s my thing. Or one of them, at least.
Here is a great read called How a Race in the Balance Went to Obama, which appeared in the New York Times. I enjoyed it a lot, and I look forward to a book about this campaign. It fascinated me on a couple of levels.
First, the demographics and campaign strategies were just amazing to me. Team Obama built a database of potential voters, and targeted them for registration based on algorithms they had developed to find people who might support Obama. They registered hundreds of thousands of new voters in this manner. I believe that both the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns will be studied as models of how to run a campaign. I don’t blame President Obama for getting choked up when thanking his team...they were awesome in the truest sense of the word. Their strategy was almost flawless: build the narrative of Romney being an out-of-touch plutocrat in the summer, when Romney was still trying to regroup and refresh the coffers after a brutal primary campaign. It worked very well.
The demographics are also fascinating. No real surprises, other than minorities, women, and youth expanding enough to offset the slight loss of Obama’s white supporters. Hispanic voters were HUGE in this election, coming out strong for Obama, and that lesson seems to have sunk in almost immediately with the Republicans, as moderate voices like Sean Hannity—hahaha I just cracked myself up there!—admitted that they need to rethink their hard stance on immigration. The truly big story here is that many conservative voices are saying that they really need to consider being more inclusive. Gee, do ya think? They’ve been all, “Yeah, we think 47% of you guys are takers and moochers, we don’t want all of you to have the right to marry that MOST of us do, and we think all you women who want birth control are a bunch of sluts...but hey, can we count on your vote?” What the hell?! It’s kind of funny when you think about it.
It’s that sort of disconnect from reality that brings me to my second point about what really struck me in my reading. I recall reading on election day that Romney told reporters that he had only prepared one speech: a victory speech. I figured it was just a show of bravado, trying to project confidence as the polls started closing and the votes started being tallied. Not so. He really had not prepared any sort of a concession speech, because he really thought he was going to win. By all accounts, he was completely gobsmacked by his rather decisive loss, as were his wife, his running mate and his wife, not to mention his staff and supporters. They ALL thought he was going to win.
I’m really not sure what was going on there. Was their internal polling really that bad? Did they just choose not to believe all the external polling? Did he really feel that sort of inevitability—as Ann put it, “It’s our turn”? Did his campaign try to hide the bad polling results from him, or brush them off as invalid? To what end? Did the ClusterFox spin delude millions of Americans? (That last one was a rhetorical question.) It all smacks of gross incompetence to me. And I’m seeing so much of this denial of reality happening lately. If you don’t like a poll result, ignore it. If your personal beliefs don’t allow the possibility of evolution, ignore thousands of books and scientific papers and hours of research on it. No no no...don’t read them! That’s dangerous. Better to just ignore them. If you don’t like the facts of something, or a truthful quote on the matter, just say, “I don’t believe it.”
I have honestly never seen such an obstinate refusal to accept facts, math, and reality. There is very much a tendency to lash out at those who have been an advocate of reality all along; just ask Nate Silver. I’ve seen people lash out at me for providing facts. As someone who kinda digs rational thought and thinks that reality is the best place to be, this is very bizarre to me.
I would say that the Republican party needs to do more than start relenting on the immigration issue. They need to grow a pair and start repudiating those within their ranks who dismiss science, rationality, and reason. Stop kowtowing to these voices of unreason within their own party, and stop treating anyone who isn’t a white male as “the other.” I would think this would go without saying, but...there I go again. Being all rational and junk.