Thursday, 8 November 2012

Obama 2012: the winners and the losers


Well, er, erm... I wasn't all that close, was I? But this blog's predictions weren't too far off either, and at least picked who the winner would 'probably' be. It wasn't a bad night for using the following idea as an organising concept:

If Democrats turn up at the polls, the President will be very, very narrowly re-elected. Many swing state polls are assuming electorates that look a bit like the Presidential election of 2008 - younger, less white and more female than others we've got used to. So if the electorate looks like the Republican wave year of 2010, Mr Romney will win quite easily.

But he didn't. Democrats did turn up. Hispanic, African-American and Asian Americans waited in line, many for hours, to ensure that the man they had voted for in 2008 wasn't turned out of office. So did young people and women - particularly single women. You know what? America used to look like an older white man - a father figure like Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite. Now it looks a lot more black, brown, young and female - and lot more liberal and even more left-wing, particularly in the Senate. All those commentators who said 'pah, young people are too busy boozing to turn up'? All those people who said 'minorities won't bother to vote'? All those senatorial candidates who thought that women shouldn't always be in charge of their own bodies? Well, they're the minority now.

You know who the real winners were in our neck of the commentators' and the pundits' woods? The counters. The cool, the calm and the collected. The statisticians. The social scientists. The modellers. The mathematicians. The reasoners. The truth-tellers. Take a bow, Nate Silver; Drew Linzer; Simon Jackman, the Huffpost Pollster's modeller. Take a bow, guys. You were right.

And the losers? Well, this column is not usually an emotional or even a warm-blooded one. It's dedicated to the same reasonable analysis that has carried the day. But forgive me if I shake free for a moment. The losers are the liars; the exaggerators; the crazies; the 'birthers'; the fabricators; the election buyers; the fantasists; the ranters and the ravers; the losers are, in a word, the haters (take a bow, Donald Trump). And the experts who refused to judge the numbers at face value - but saw instead what they wanted to see. Where is Dick Morris now? George Will? Karl Rove? Michael Barone? That 'expert' from unskewedpolls.com? Eating word pie, that's where.

We'll be talking about the future over the days to come - for Republicans; Democrats; and for the rest of us. Where are we going now? Well, and regular readers will know that I'm going to say this, great perils and dangers lie ahead.

But for now, I will leave you with words from President Obama's victory speech. It was a heady brew of that muscular American liberalism - with all its faults and flaws, its evasions and its limits -  that President Kennedy also represented. And it contained the following tribute to that much-maligned concept, the idea of hope itself:

I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism -- the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I’m not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us, so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

You know what? It's hard to summarise the United States of America more succinctly.

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