by Randolph T. Holhut
AR Chief of Correspondents
November 8, 2012
THE REAL VICTOR IN THE 2012 ELECTION? MATH
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- In the end, it was the math.
The trends that gave President Barack Obama his second term in the White House were there for all to see.
Those demographic trends are borne out in CNN's exit polls.
Obama won 55 percent of the 30-39 vote, and 60 percent of the 18-30 vote. While Mitt Romney got 50 percent of the 40-49 vote, and 51 percent of the 40-64 vote, Obama was close behind at 48 and 47 percent, respectively.
By race and gender, Romney took 61 percent of the white male vote, and 55 percent of the white female vote. Obama received 36 and 43 percent in both categories, respectively.
But Obama won 88 percent of the black male vote, 96 percent of the black female vote, 63 percent of Hispanic males, 75 percent of Hispanic females, and 67 percent of all other ethnic categories.
And these figures mirror the voting patterns of 2008. His entire margin of victory that year came from younger voters who were more educated, less religious, more racially diverse, and generally more socially and economically liberal than the average Republican voter.
As many reputable pollsters and political scientists have been saying for months, the Republican Party is facing demographic extinction. It is shrinking to a core that is white, over age 50, mostly male, mostly evangelical Christian, and mostly lives in rural areas of the former Confederacy and the Plains states.
That's the math. And all the screaming by conservatives about "skewed" polling can't change the reality that the algorithmic approach to crunching polling numbers as epitomized by Nate Silver, famed and often hated for his "FiveThirtyEight" column in the New York Times, works.
As Esquire magazine's culture blogger Stephen Marche put it, "Math wins."
The numbers on Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog that we've seen over the past few weeks became the election results because, Marche wrote, "his opponents spoke from the gut. And like everyone who has ever played poker seriously knows, when the math disagrees with your gut, it's because your gut is wrong."
And that's why Glenn Beck, George Will, Dick Morris, Ed Morrissey, Larry Kudlow, Newt Gingrich, and Michael Barone all predicted Mitt Romney would get 310 electoral votes, rather than a hundred less, as he actually recieved. That's why Karl Rove was sputtering on Fox News Channel all night. They went with their gut against the numbers. They lost.
The Republicans who did pay attention to the math tried their best to suppress the votes of the young and the non-white. They lost, too.
More than $2 billion was spent on the presidential elections. Corporate PACs and billionaires paid to carpet-bomb the airwaves with negative advertising. Instead, we have a U.S. Senate with Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill and Tammy Baldwin, and four more years of Obama.
I may be giving too much credit to the numbers, because in the end, the people power that elected Obama in 2008 kept him in the White House in 2012. The Democratic ground game was superb, and overcame any advantages in money that the Republicans had.
There will be time to lay out the plans for President Obama's second term in the coming weeks (hint: climate change, the economy, getting out of Afghanistan), but for now, I'm willing to savor this victory for the reality-based community.
Chief of AR Correspondents Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the JFK School of Government at Harvard and has twice won the Vermont Press Assn.'s highest award for editorial writing. He also edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.