Friday, November 9, 2012

Post-game analysis

Obama cool2I’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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hit me baby, one more time

Obama eagleAhhh, what a glorious evening was last night, and what an enjoyable day today.

I’m tired, because I was so wired last night that I was up until 4 am. I did next to nothing today, other than reading through the analyses and various takes on what happened, the demographics, and so forth. I kept the TV off all day, I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, and I just enjoyed the moment as I read my fill. I didn’t even spend a whole lot of time on Facebook, reading various reactions. I needed the time to regroup, take it all in, and let out the mental breath I’d been holding for about two freakin’ years! Whew!

I gave myself 24 hours to gloat, and I’ve posted a few items today that were definitely of that ilk. I’m not a mean-spirited person, for the most part, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ecstatic that President Obama not only won four more years, but did so by beating one of the most cynical, mendacious candidates I’ve seen in some time. There have been times when I felt rather sorry for a losing candidate; I even had a twinge of that in 2008, because despite my anger at McCain for foisting the Grifter Palin upon us, he gave a decent and honorable concession speech.

Not so Romney. For some reason, he refused to make the phone call to President Obama for about an hour and a half after the race had already been called by the networks (if not Karl Rove, haha). When Romney finally did give his speech, I found it to be perfunctory and stiff, and it reeked of the attitude that he truly felt that he was entitled to win, and in fact, believed up until the end that he would. Most accounts say that he had not written a concession speech, only a victory speech. I believe this might be a classic case of hubris and nemesis. I can cut him some slack on the tone of it, I suppose; it’s not easy to lose. However, McCain (as well as Hillary Clinton, when she conceded the Democratic nomination to Obama) showed that concession speeches can be gracious and that the person who didn’t win can do so with decency and strength. Romney’s concession speech showed little of that.

It’s all a moot point, of course. Mittens is toast. I would be very surprised if he runs for office again. The endless parsing of the votes and the breakdown of the demographics have already begun. (Note to Republicans: your white guy base is dwindling.) It’s been fascinating to watch not only the demographics, but the hilarious freak-outs of various right wing pundits and “celebrities.” Donald “The Dorito” [thanks for the nickname, Holly!] Trump called for a revolution (at least until someone apparently told him that that might be considered treason, and he removed that tweet), batshit crazy bobblehead Victoria Jackson cried that America had died, and pants-shitting draft dodger Ted Nugent called Obama supporters pimps, whores, welfare brats, and “subhuman varmints.” I would like to give the Republican party a word of advice: until you start condemning these wingnuts, calling them out for their hyperbole and hatred, and start signalling that you do not find such rhetoric acceptable, you are going to continue to hemorrhage supporters. As long as you continue to build your coalition on white, conservative, religious-motivated voters, you will continue to hemorrhage supporters. And unless you let go of your death grip on your bibles and your religious-based social attitudes, you will continue to hemorrhage supporters. Don’t believe me? Fine. Just keep going the way you’re going. In about a decade or so, we’ll see how that is going for you, okay?

Another interesting takeaway from this was the rise of the statistics gurus. My own “personal” guru (at least the one I’ve been reading since the last election) is Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight blog. For the past three months or so, it has been a daily check for me. It’s even become a joke among liberals who were wigging out about Obama’s chances for re-election: Keep calm and check Nate Silver. Nate took a lot of flak from the right wing pundits (and even a few on the left) who felt that gut instinct would triumph over statistics and math. Peggy Noonan (insert Seinfeldian ‘Noooonan’ here) based her declaration that it was going to be an overwhelming victory for Romney on seeing lots of Romney yard signs in a particular neighborhood. Mm-hm. Maybe they feel that their jobs are threatened? No worries...the world will always need talking heads. But the complete refusal of so many to accept the polls and/or the math—and even the reality—was rather mind-boggling to me. Nate, who bases his statistical model on all the polls that are taken, both nationally and statewide, was fully and completely vindicated when he successfully predicted the outcome of every single state. (Florida still hasn’t been called, but it seems that Obama is going to win it.) In the last two elections, that makes him 99/100 when it comes to calling the states. I think a whole lot of people owe Nate Silver a big fucking apology today!

As for predictions, I made mine back in early September, with a political email group I am involved with. Here was mine:

Obama 326
Romney 212

Obama wins OH, PA, WI, CO, NV, VA, FL, NH
Romney wins NC, IA, MO

The only one I got wrong was Iowa. If I had made my prediction more recently, I would have put Iowa in the Obama camp, as well, but that’s the problem with making your prediction so early on! Again, they haven’t called Florida yet, but it looks likely Obama. When that happens, it will be Obama 332, Romney 206. I’m more than a little pleased with myself! But I owe it all to Nate Silver. So for those who kicked sand in Nate’s face, just stop it, you guys! Leave Nate alone!

So that’s that. This concludes my period of gloating, and now I’m ready to move on and help to make shit happen. I don’t wish Mitt Romney or his family any ill, but I can honestly say that I’m very glad he lost. I did not find him a likable candidate, nor an honorable one. (Please note that I specifically used the word ‘candidate,’ not ‘person.’ I don’t know him as a person, so I don’t feel that I can make that inference.) There is plenty of work to be done, and I hope that our legislative branch will get off their asses and start doing it. I foresee many letters and emails in my future, as I try to keep their feet to the fire.

After all, we all want what is best for the country, right? I think we can all agree on that. We might disagree on how to go about it, but as Joe Biden said in his debate with Paul Ryan, “Facts matter, Martha.” Just ask Nate Silver.

Obama dinosaur

One picture

Donkey kick

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Game time

Hoosiers for ObamaWhat a long, strange trip it’s been. After a seemingly never-ending campaign, we’ve come down to the end of it, and it’s just a matter of waiting for results to roll in. I’m hoping we’ll get a clear picture tonight, and based on all I’ve been reading, we will.

I think my guy is going to win, but of course I’m nervous and anxious anyway. I’m not going to go into polls, momentum, demographics, or anything like that in this entry. It is what it is, and time is winding down. I can say that although I will still enjoy reading political books and analysis, I’m looking forward to not being all but consumed by the latest polls and reporting. My brain will be happy for the reprieve.

It’s been a weird day for my emotions. I started out almost giddy, in a high state of hilarity and laughing at silly things I found online. Then I moved into determination, as in “We’ve got to win this.” Then I was feeling a little sad, because I love this stuff, it’s been fascinating, and in some ways I hate to see the excitement end. Now I’m just trying to be patient as we start to wait for results. I think it’s a safe bet to say that I will end up shedding some tears tonight.

In the meantime, I’m sporting my “Hoosiers for Obama” t-shirt, and I’ve got a pork roast going for pulled pork sandwiches tonight. Seems like good comfort food for tonight, and maybe barbecue, cole slaw, and baked beans will work some mojo on North Carolina and turn it blue again!

I also find that I remain in awe of our right to vote. We have our share of problems with our voting process (Can we please get rid of the abhorrent Citizens United? And can we follow the lead of other countries and ban advertising? What a horrible waste of money.), but I will always be grateful that I am able to cast my vote as a free citizen. I take it seriously, I do my best to stay informed, and I feel that it is an honor that should not be ignored or dismissed. I will never understand anyone who doesn’t care enough to vote, and it makes me question their intelligence. I’m not kidding.

So batten down the hatches, folks! It could be a bumpy ride tonight. I’m going to do my best to keep my adrenaline in check and not completely wig out. I hope you are able to do the same!