President Obama beat Mitt Romney by 12 points among women, while Romney beat Obama by 8 points among men. This gap of 20 points is the largest ever recorded. Second biggest was 1984, where Ronald Reagan carried both men and women, but carried men by 18 points more than he carried women.
Many conservatives genuinely believed the stories bouncing around the Internet, talk radio, and Fox News about how Obama was toast and Romney would win big. Pundit Dick Morris, for example, predicted Romney would crush Obama with a total of 325 electoral votes. He got 206. The election results came as a huge shock to many of them and they are searching for explanations. The obvious one: Romney was a poor candidate and people didn't like what the Republican Party has to offer is too painful, so there is a market for other reasons. Sabrina Siddiqui has compiled a list of the most popular ones.
Some of these things have interesting consequences. The Republicans were hit by two hurricanes, Isaac and Sandy. Does this mean God is a Democrat and was trying to send a message?
Mark Newman of the University of Michigan has produced a map of the presidential election in which each county is colored red or blue depending on who won it. He also has cartograms and other maps of the election, which are reproduced here under the Creative Commons license.
It is pretty striking how many counties Romney won. It is also striking that Obama got 2.5 million more votes than Romney. If the blue counties are as blue as the red counties are red, that means that more people live in the small number of blue counties than in all the red ones combined. In other words, while there aren't many blue counties, that's where most of the people live. To give an example of this disparity, 3.8 million people live in the 469 square miles of the city of Los Angeles. This is half a million more people than the combined populations of Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, which together cover 1.6 million square miles. These four states are 3,400 times larger than Los Angeles but have appreciably fewer people. In other words, while the land area of the red counties is vastly greater than that of the blue counties, there are hardly any people living in many of them.
The map clearly shows Obama's strengths: the Northeast, the upper Midwest, the West Coast, and the Colorado-New Mexico axis. There is also some strength in the South. In Southern Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties are full of New York transplants who are strong Democrats. There is also a blue band that curves down from North Carolina. These are counties with large black populations.
In a potentially far reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which plaintiffs want to strike down Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This law was enacted by Congress because many Southern States used all kinds of tricks to suppress the vote of black citizens. The law requires a number of southern states and counties to get permission from the Dept. of Justice before changing their voting laws. Given the propensity of state legislatures to change the voting laws in 2011 for the partisan advantage of the Republicans, if the Voting Rights Act were to be struck down as unconstitutional, it is virtually certain that the affected states would immediately pass voter ID and other laws with the express intention of suppressing minority votes. Most of the states affected are in the deep South and very red, so nothing much would change, but five counties in Florida and 81 counties in Virginia are also affected, and laws enacted after a Court decision could have a great impact on the 2014, 2016, and future elections.
Gen. David Petraeus, who has often been listed as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, won't be making the run. Actually he didn't say this literally. What he did say was that he has zipper-control problem and is resigning his post as Director of Central Intelligence.
The New York Times has a story suggesting that Petraeus had an affair with Paula Broadwell, a West Point graduate who now lives in the swing state of North Carolina. Broadwell spent a lot of time with Petraeus in Afghanistan, where she was writing a book about him. When you are stuck in an awful place like Afghanistan, far from home, with few recreational opportunities, and are hanging out with an attractive young woman who worships you, well, stuff happens. Bill Clinton survived affairs because he is a charming rascal. Petraeus is not. There is no chance at all now that he can get the nomination of the family values party in 2016. This is great news for Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie. They just have to make sure they pick their biographers with great care.