Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More than one bad night

By Richard K. Barry

Teagan Goddard at Political Wire had one of the better headlines yesterday. In describing the presidential election outcome, he titled a short post: "The Election Was Close But Not Really." He then went on to quote a piece by Charlie Cook on the point:


It's certainly true that 51 percent (rounding up from 50.5) to 48 percent is close, but since the end of World War II, five elections have been closer. Mitt Romney won only two more states (Indiana and North Carolina) than John McCain did, and even if he had won Florida, the GOP nominee would still have needed to win Ohio, Virginia, and either Colorado or Iowa, based on the sequence of the election margins.  
The danger for Republicans clinging to that solace is that it sidesteps the inconvenient truth that they have now lost the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections, from 1992 on. For the GOP, this was more than one bad night.

I would hope by now that most people have a vague understanding of how the Electoral College works, but to put a fine point on it, in terms of the system that actually elects presidents, Mitt Romney got his ass kicked. A two- or three-point margin in most any competition probably qualifies as a close contest, but not in this one.

On Cook's second point, Republicans would be foolish to see this as a one-off, especially in light of changing demographics. Now to find a way to get the House back.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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