In Part I, I provided some 2012 exit polling data, which reflects the raw demographic percentages of how President Obama managed to win reelection defying several historical markers that would have normally indicated his defeat, e.g. an unemployment rate at 7.9%, the highest of any incumbent to win reelection since FDR in 1936.
Also noteworthy, is the fact that Obama is the first president to win both terms with a clear majority of the popular vote since Ronald Reagan. Here’s a very useful set of graphs, that detail a wealth of demographic statistics in every presidential election from 1972 to 2008, which I’m sure will be updated in the coming weeks.
Both of our two major political parties will be dissecting the 2012 data as it rolls in and will be crunching the numbers to learn the ‘hows and whys’ underlying President Obama’s win and ability to defy the economic odds of high unemployment, a slow recovery and the resolve of right-wingers to throw him out after four years of demonizing him and de-legitimizing his presidency.
The Democrats and Republicans will also be examining the congressional races and how—after nearly $6 billion dollars spent on all 2012 political campaigns—we are pretty much right back where we were when the 112th Congress was sworn in, January 3, 2010. The Republicans have a majority in the House (though slightly smaller) and the Democrats have control of the Senate (though slightly larger).
To be certain, we have seen a gender demographic shift in Congress, as we will now have a record 20-women in the Senate (16 Democrats & 4 Republicans)! While the number of women—in both houses—is nearly 20% of the total, including the first woman senator from Massachusetts, the first openly gay woman and our first Buddhist; it is worthy to note that the United States still ranks only 91st in the world in terms of women holding elective office!
But back to the presidency…
For those who watch Fox News (I try hard not to), there will be pain and anguish and much ‘soul searching’ and recriminations…plenty to go around. There will be those like Karl Rove and the assorted Fox punditry puppets, coming up with all sorts of rationales to support their preconceived notions. Republicans just didn’t show up. Mitt Romney was a flawed candidate or wasn’t conservative enough. Hurricane Sandy destroyed his ‘momittum.’ Or, N.J. Governor, Chris Christie torpedoed their man by embracing the President and extolling his virtues amidst the storm. They are grasping at straws, I believe.
Yes, it is true that the President was returned to office with a narrower win and lower vote totals. In 2008, he won 53% of the 130 million votes, while this time he won only 50% of the roughly 121 million votes (some are still being counted). What I find rather peculiar (and a little humorous) is that the Republican Party, the party of business and the vaunted “job creators,” has so utterly failed to account for the shifting population demographics in America.
For example; while the Hispanic population is still a relatively small minority compared to the total population and accounted for only 10% of the electorate in 2012 (up from 9% in 2008), fully one-half of the population growth in America from 2000 to 2010 was Hispanic!
Another rising demographic is the Asian and Pacific Islander segment of the population. Little noticed this year is that the President only received 93% of the Black vote (compared to 95% in 2008). He also only received 39% of the White vote (down from 2008). But…he received 71% of the Hispanic vote and 73% of the Asian and Pacific Islander vote!
Smart businessmen make their decisions based largely on demographics and knowing what sells best, where to sell it and how to market it. Why then has the party of business failed so badly to market its brand…fiscal conservatism, lower taxes, balancing the budget, full employment (vs. more entitlements)? Aren’t those things we’d all like to see?
As for gender: We are seeing more and more women taking their rightful place in all facets of American Society, more elected officials, more executives, more family bread-winners, more determined to be treated as equal to the White male hierarchy, which has held a stranglehold on nearly all levers of influence and power since the Founding Fathers excluded all but White property owners from the franchise. Look at the current leadership of the Republican Party and those who actually influence Republican policy and the debate. Just look. Is that America?
As for youth: Voter participation actually increased in 2012 over 2008 and that is a promising sign. The Baby Boomers (yours truly among them) will soon age out and die off. What has been called “The Greatest Generation” (largely for beating fascism), does not preclude the current youth of America from becoming a ‘Great Generation.’ But they must become even more involved as they step up and into our shoes. I believe President Obama’s victory has helped move that process along mightily as they have seen—first hand—that cynicism, racism, lies and mounds of money have not stilled the voice or will of the demos.
And what of our Republican friends and their party now in temporary disarray?
Well, my friends, they’ve been hijacked. First, they believe that government regulation—nearly all government regulation—is evil. Economic models simply do not bear that out. They believe that wealth accumulated at the top creates the “trickle down” effect and that lowering taxes actually increases federal revenue. That math—or as George H.W. Bush once termed it, “voodoo economics”—simply doesn’t work. There is not a smart employer ANYWHERE who ‘creates jobs’ without needing to because of demand. And demand just isn’t stimulated unless there are consumers, i.e., a work force employed enough and paid enough to buy their goods and services.
They have also been waylaid by a conservative religious movement, more interested in draconian social policy (anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-evolution and science) and in preserving a ‘Mayberry model’ of American society that simply no longer exists—if indeed it ever did. They’ve also lost their edge in foreign policy. They can thank Dubya, Cheney and Rumsfeld—and assorted other secretive Neo-conservatives—for that. Matthew Dowd, a former chief Bush/Cheney strategist perhaps put it best in an introspective, post-election interview: “The Republicans are a “Mad Men” party in a “Modern Family” America.”
Leaving the Republicans to their own devices and circular firing squad for a moment; what is most critical right now for Democrats, Progressives and Liberals is that we don’t repeat the mistake(s) of 2010. Barack Obama is not our savior or, as Spike Lee keenly observed, “He’s not a Black Superman.” He is a mere mortal, a caring human being and a savvy politician to be sure.
But he can not do our work for us. In 2008, 132.6 million Americans (or 56.8%) went to the polls and elected Barack Obama by 9 ½ million votes. In 2010, while the Tea Party—infected with O.D.S. (Obama Derangement Syndrome)—took full advantage of the 2010 midterm election and the stunning fact, that only 90.7 million Americans (or 37.8%) went to the polls. If you don’t believe this…please check the facts.
It’s the Republicans who have denounced science, facts and math. If the rest of America ignores those as well, I predict we will be right back facing the spectre of extreme, right-wing political solutions come November, 2014. Shifting demographics and President Barack Obama notwithstanding!
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