BAYHAM: Random Notes About Election Night 2012

It Was Over Monday Night – President Obama took Election Day off while Mitt Romney was scrambling around the country. A number of conservative pundits incorrectly interpreted the schedule dichotomy as evidence that Obama had given up while Romney was surging. I saw Obama’s trip home to shoot hoops with his bodyguard as a sign of confidence and Romney’s hop-scotching across swing states as desperation. That Romney was spending time in Virginia, a state he should have put away long ago, on the eve of the election was also an indication that all was not well.

Did Hurricane Sandy Give Obama a Second Term? – It’s an almost absurd theory except for one major coincidence: President Obama’s poll numbers rose when all eyes were on him and they never went back down. Sandy was Obama’s “fourth debate”, providing him with an opportunity to present himself as presidential, bipartisan and in command. President Obama’s on-screen performance in Hurricane Sandy reassured the public that he was up to the job.

The Political Death of Dick Morris – If there was anything that brought a smile to my face was the image of former Clinton advisor Dick Morris having to explain his public delusions of grandeur about a landslide victory by the former Massachusetts governor. Other conservative commentators followed Morris into the breach though none were so wildly off like Morris. For the sake of their credibility, Fox News should seek to end their relationship with the 21st century equivalent of the infamous 1936 Literary Digest poll.

Triumph of the Pollsters – Karl Rove and other conservative pundits nitpicked the validity of polls that showed President Obama running strong in GOP-leaning battleground states yet the objects of their contempt proved to be more reflective of the election’s outcome than their own prognostications. New York Times stat-guru Nate Silver laid his reputation as an election analyst on the line and was validated. Call Silver the anti-Dick Morris.

The Sum of Our Parts Strategy Pays Off – President Obama and his team proved willing to engage in class warfare, gender demagoguery and race baiting to win. They succeeded in convincing enough of the electorate that birth control pills, rape legalization, George W. Bush and pay discrimination were on the ballot and that affordable energy prices, fiscal recklessness, tax increases, federal health care management and high unemployment were not. The politics of division and distraction proved more potent than a body of record that stood as an indictment of failure.

The Wrong Nominees at the Wrong Time – The GOP was represented by a candidate who could not credibly challenge the president on ObamaCare, the very issue that handed control of the US House of Representatives to the Republican Party two years ago. While a bright and telegenic politician, Congressman Paul Ryan proved to be a less than ideal running mate if only because of the “budget baggage” he brought to the ticket. One oddity of the Romney campaign was Ryan’s relatively low profile. The Wisconsin politician’s inability to deliver his homestate, one of the primary reasons someone is asked to join the ticket, will hurt his standing as a presidential candidate in 2016.

When I Saw It Was Over – When the polls that were dogged in the last few days by Republican pundits proved to be accurate and that the president’s base was indeed “fired up and ready to go” and not listless and demoralized, that was a sign that Romney was in not for a long night but a relatively short, unpleasant evening.

The defections from Obama’s 2008 coalition were miniscule. North Carolina and Virginia proved to be highly competitive while Pennsylvania and Michigan were called relatively quickly, which were ill omens for the Republicans.

When the media declared that Obama had won Wisconsin, it was over. Though the “math was still there” for Romney to eke out a victory, the odds were not. For Romney, the path to 270 began to resemble a tight rope requiring the Republican candidate to go on a major craps table swing-state streak to pull off a marginal win.

Osama Bin Laden’s Body – The demise of the al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the September 11th terror attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center and United flight 93 trumped complaints about his “apology tour” and diplomatic blunderings with the Russians. Obama’s authorization of the raid on Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound was a gutsy decision that led to the death of America’s supreme villain, something for which the president was not shy for taking credit. If there was a single event that secured President Obama a second term, it was taking out Bin Laden.

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