Special Guest Blog

I am thinking of two things this morning.

First. I’m thinking I have to send a check for $25 to the EFF for Whimsical. Whim, if you’d please confirm that and provide the address so that I’m sure I’m sending it to the right place?

Second, I am thinking of a scene from the original Star Trek series. Spock discovers that his fiancée has been two-timing him, and he releases her from the obligation of their arranged marriage. He then turns to Stonn, the other man in the situation, and tells him that he may have her. Spock then points out, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting.”

All the results aren’t in yet; the New York Times site has something like 30 Electoral Votes unassigned, and the total number of Senate seats is at 97. The popular vote went 50% to Obama and 48% to Romney. A little Wikipedia checking shows that the Republican presidents (Nixon once, Reagan twice, GHW Bush once, Dubya once) have a better record of crossing the 50.0% line of the popular vote than do the Democrats. LBJ and Carter did it, but neither JFK (49.7%) nor Clinton (he won the plurality each time in a three-way race, but never a majority) managed it. Even in his first election, Barack Obama, a wildly popular figure that fired up the electoral base, beat the daylights out of John McCain but still only managed 52.9% of the popular vote. Compare that to LBJ’s and Nixon’s 60%+ popular votes.

And was then able to do practically nothing because (choose any or all):

We didn’t elect a king, he has to work within the system.
He’s playing the long game (aka 11-dimension chess).
You don’t understand, blowing up brown people half a world away, calling them terrorists, and double-secret classifying the whole thing is what a Democrat is supposed to do.
9/11.

The point of all this is that Obama has less of a mandate this time. By a lot. He had a lower percentage of the vote, and he got fewer votes as well. Last time, he got 69,456,897 to McCain’s 59,934,814. This time, Obama has gotten (so far) fewer votes than McCain got, 59,564,466 votes.

Ten million voters didn’t show up for Obama, and that is unique in modern American presidential elections. Two-termer Dubya gained 12 million votes in his second election. Clinton gained 3.4 million votes in his second election. Reagan gained 11 million votes in his second election. Obama LOST 10 million voters, a seventh of his base either switched, stayed home, or whatever.

Does anyone really think this term is going to be anything other than four years of gridlock?

10 thoughts on “Special Guest Blog

  1. Yes – I see the next four years paralyzed by gridlock … because our less-than-informed/less-than-interested voting populace inexplicably splits tickets, then expects a Rodney King-inspired fantasy (where we all just get along!)

    Until the sheep-minded majority become less enthralled with “real” housewives, guidos & guidettes, idols, voices, survivors, etc., this “nation” (if I may use such a term) remains a quagmire where the rich keep getting richer, the poor disappear from view, and the alleged middle-class remain pacified by materialistic cravings for baubles and bangles which enrich only those who foist such compost upon other human beings …

  2. “Does anyone really think this term is going to be anything other than four years of gridlock?”

    You might be able to make another bet on it with Whimsical to get your money back.

  3. No offense, but I don’t really get the point of this piece. I mean yes, I think we are all a bit disillusioned in Obama, so although he won there are clear signs of our disillusionment in his non-landslide victory against a particularly crappy candidate – but we all pretty much all know this without you telling us. Indeed I think if you look about half a year back in the comments I predicted this exact outcome; something to the effective of (paraphrasing): due to his record Obama wouldn’t be reelected except that all of his potential Republican opponents are so much clearly worse. Sort of a twist on the famous Winston Churchill Democracy quote “There are no worse candidates in this election then Obama, except for every single Republican nominee in the primary.”

    Either way though, why the obvious essay on about how we voters are feeling about Obama as if we didn’t know what we are feeling? Is tomorrows Essay: “Punching Yourself in the Face, not as Fun as Some Suggest”, “Why Pain Makes you Feel Bad (Unless you Are a Masochist)” or, “Sun: Expected to Rise in East, and Set in West for Foreseeable Future.”

  4. “Does anyone really think this term is going to be anything other than four years of gridlock?”

    Within the small universe of things that the House Republicans might be willing to cooperate with the Dems on, what would you prefer to gridlock? Gridlock is not the worst possible outcome.

  5. Someone,

    Although some of the piece was of the “duh” aspect, I’ll argue that most of that duhness was of the “I have to get the facts down first” variety because otherwise, I’m just making assertions. Also, one of the biggest problems in politics is that everyone doesn’t start from the same set of facts.

    For instance, today’s main op-ed piece in the New York Times is about Obama’s “Invigorated Second Term.” Read the whole thing of course, but here’s the money shot of the final paragraph:

    “The president’s victory was decisive, and many who didn’t support him nonetheless told pollsters that they agreed with his positions on taxes, health care and immigration. He now needs to use the power that voters have given to him to enhance and broaden his agenda.”

    The editorial board of the New York Times has written a simplistic, naive piece based, from what I can tell, not on any facts but just the board’s cheerful optimism and spinmeistering. In fact, in order to write their piece, they had to ignore some very important details (the ones I mentioned in my piece, for instance). And, because it’s in the Times, a lot of people will believe it. Just like people believe the unemployment rate is around 8% (check the U-6).

    I took the time and effort (and got there first, ahead of the Times) to point out that the numbers (i.e., the facts) don’t support the Times’ optimism. I wrote the piece specifically because I had already begun to see items here and there that amounted to “Okay, NOW things will be fine. Obama won the election.” Obama didn’t win the election except in the most important sense: he got enough Electoral Votes. His base is smaller (by a seventh!), and that drop in base numbers is unique in the past 50 years of presidential re-election. He is the only second-term president to have LOST popular votes in his re-election, both as a percentage and as a real number. Translation: he has a far-less enthusiastic base this time.

    So where the hell is all this “can-do” delusion coming from? What possible motive do the Republicans have to work with a weaker and less unifying Obama? He hasn’t got control of the House, and, because he doesn’t have 99 Democrats in the Senate, he won’t be able to get anything from there either. Some Republican senator will fart loudly and the Democrats will all get laryngitis from screaming their apologies so loudly. The 2016 election started yesterday, and the Republicans have a very good play book to work from. The Democrats have Biden.

  6. @Alex

    Yes. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is to be the proud recipient of your hard earned money.

    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    454 Shotwell Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110

    Here’s a link to a form you can print out and send in with it, if you so choose:
    https://www.eff.org/files/OfflineDonationForm2011.pdf

    A few points about the rest of your post:

    1)”Ten million voters didn’t show up for Obama, and that is unique in modern American presidential elections. ”

    Both you and Ted assume that is because of dis-satisfaction with Obama/the system. I believe nothing could be further from the truth. I would wager that between 85-95% of those that didn’t show up were directly related to the Republican campaign of voter suppression/intimidation of traditionally Democratic constituencies.

    In addition, I know it’s impossible, but I’d love to see a time breakdown of when these people didn’t show up. I’d bet that a lot of people in heavily Democratic areas who still had a 4+ hour wait to vote when the election was effectively called simply went home and had it not been called, they wouldn’t have left.

    So I’d say it is remarkably premature and shortsighted to equate Obama getting 10 million less votes to “10 million voters didn’t show up for Obama”. Or to draw conclusions about the enthusiasm of his base- unless you’ve got other evidence you’re not showing.

    2)”Does anyone really think this term is going to be anything other than four years of gridlock?”

    Well now, that’s up to us, isn’t it?

    Yes, TWO years of gridlock are more or less guaranteed, I grant you. The Republicans, misreading this election as badly as they did the 2010 midterms (and the Democrats did the 2008 election) have said as much.

    But there’s 2014. I’ve been telling the left what they need to do to make political progress since I got here. They can either follow my recommendations and make some progress or continue to believe in the revolution fairy and continue their slide into irrelevancy (and the Democratic party’s slide rightward).

    So, no, I don’t believe that we are going to get 4 years of gridlock. I like to think that folks like Ted are rapidly becoming a decided minority and more pragmatic leftists will use the progress we’ve made to get us back the House in 2014- and thus make more progress. And then maybe, just maybe “progressives” will start to live up to their name.

    3) “The left has Biden”.

    First off, a lot of folks have been highly impressed by Biden. So I don’t believe your dismissiveness is warranted. Second, the left has a lot more than Biden- I actually think the 2016 ticket is going to be HRC/Warren, but that’s just a guess.

    Second, the Republicans had an excellent playbook to work from in 2012. A Huntsman/Pawlenty ticket would’ve stomped Obama/Biden and given them the 300+ EV landslide they were claiming for Romney. Instead, they embraced the crazy (which is when I knew Obama had re-election in the bag).

    I see no indication that they have learned their lesson and are going to repudiate the crazy and use their excellent playbook in 2016. If anything, I see them doubling down on crazy. So, as far as I’m concerned 2016 is till very much in play.

  7. @Alex

    4)”Ten million voters didn’t show up for Obama, and that is unique in modern American presidential elections”.

    Actually, it’s not- see FDR in 1940 and 1944, for example. Oh, it’s uncommon for a President to be relected with less votes, but it’s not unique.

    And I don’t believe it’s caused by what you think it was caused by.

  8. Damn, pasted the wrong quote- since I can’t edit, you’ll have to do the substitution.

    Post should’ve read:

    4)He is the only second-term president to have LOST popular votes in his re-election, both as a percentage and as a real number.

    I’ll stand by the rest of it though.

  9. Next election, at least look at Nate Silver. Or election.princeton.edu which is incredibly technical, but claims a slightly better result than Silver’s. I also like the Iowa Electronic Market, which Princeton sneers at (since Iowa isn’t Princeton).