After reflecting on the event for almost a month, here’s my 2 cents, FWIW, on the Presidential election. I am not going to mention all the obvious things, (e.g. demographics), just a few things that the “experts” generally missed.
1. Mass media partisanship was the worst ever. Most of the major mass media (e.g. NYT, NBC, CBS, ABC, Time magazine) showed major pro-Obama bias. Anything that seemed to be anti-Obama or pro-Romney was spun or ignored (e.g BATF’s Operation Fast and Furious). The worst offenders were Fox (pro-Romney) and MSNBC (suggestions that racism sparked much opposition to Obama). Al Sharpton (a chronic race-baiter) had (still has?) a show on MSNBC. Needless to say he did not support Romney.
2. Given that liberals generally dominate higher education most places, it is not surprising that Obama won the college student vote and given that these faculty frequently write and speak to the general public, that Obama won overall.
3. It seemed that anger motivate many pro-Obama voters. Even Obama suggested that people should vote for him to get “revenge.” People were rightly fed up with some of the excesses of capitalism, capitalists acting badly (e.g. Enron, huge salaries and bonuses for execs who ruined their companies, etc.) There was a perception that the “rich” and corporations don’t have too much power and don’t pay their “fair” share of taxes. (Is this an update version of populism?). The “politics of envy” may also have played a part. Class warfare became at least an implicit theme. One of the most effective political ads was one which blamed Romney and the corporations ( Bain Capital)with which he was affiliated for making the unemployment problem worse by laying off employees. This is, of course, what any businesses does when the economy tanks and the business starts taking losses. Nonetheless, the ad triggered the anger. Of course, the problems are much more complex than just capitalists acting badly, e.g. out-of-control government spending.
4. Rather than moving to the center of the political spectrum to get more votes, Romney seemed more interested in courting the Tea Party and other right-wing groups.
5. Obama’s attempt to buy votes (immigration reform by executive order, proposing federal supplements to teacher salaries) were blatant, but probably effective.
6. Most people saw Obamacare as a necessary and worthwhile reform. Few thought about how it would be paid for, its impact on medical care and the constitutional issues. (My own personal policy take is that it is a worthwhile reform, if we can pay for it without more massive deficits and it doesn’t hurt the quality of care.) I have doubts on the constitutional issues and the general impact of moving too far to the left).
7. Did too many hard-core libertarians and Tea Partiers sit out the election because their candidates didn’t get the Republican nomination?
8. Romney didn’t stress enough the European economic chaos that comes with the far left and the welfare/entitlement state. He didn’t stress enough that future generations are going to be very heavily taxed to pay for the welfare state’s care of the ballooning baby boomer elderly population (medical, social security, etc). One can argue that the young voters who voted for Obama may have shot themselves in the foot (inflicted a self-inflicted wound).
Next installment: What we might expect from Barack in the next few years.
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