Joel Benenson, the pollster for the Obama campaign, took a swipe at the Gallup Poll for assuming an electorate that was much older, whiter, and less educated than what the exit polls showed. Gallup shot back that you shouldn't put all that much faith in the exit polls and Gallup stands by its model. However, Gallup's predictions jumped around wildly throughout the Fall, which Benenson said is absurd. In the exit polls, 70% of the voters said they had made their minds up by the end of August. The bottom line is that even if the voters did change their minds constantly, in the end, Gallup was way off. The once-famous brand is no longer the gold standard and refuses to admit it.
Older, male, white voters are having a lot of trouble understanding the election results. They and everyone they knew just assumed that the country would never re-elect a tax-and-spend liberal. Fox News told them this was impossible. Now reality is beginning to kick in--things have changed and are not likely to go back to the way they used to be. They are also flummoxed by the voters accepting same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana in some states. Many of them see the country as Mitt Romney does, with makers and takers and the takers are taking over.
This is a fundamentally different situation than in the past. Then, a loss was just a loss--maybe the other side had a better candidate or ran a better campaign. Even after George McGovern and Michael Dukakis' massive defeats, Democrats didn't think this was the end of the America that they had always known. It was simply a lost election and they could try again in 4 years. The difference now is probably that way back then, everyone watched one of the three television networks and read the same newspapers. Now it is possible to live entirely in a bubble of your own choosing and simply have no idea of what is really going on in the country. Someone who watches only Fox News and listens to talk radio and reads redstate.com on the Internet is going to be completely detached from reality, so an election result like this comes completely out of the blue for them. For Democrats, this is not true. Someone who watches only MSNBC, reads the New York Times and follows Websites like Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, and Daily Kos, knew that it would be a fairly close election but that Obama and the Democrats had a small, but consistent, lead. The electoral vote predictors at all those places as well as here were pretty close to the final result. The new reality is that when you hide in a virtual cave of your own making, emerging out into the sunshine can be frightening.
Republicans are clearly saying they must avoid more bitter primaries in 2014, but the way they are going about it is almost certain to guarantee them. The chairman of the NRSC is Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), an inexperienced tea party candidate who defeated the establishment choice in a primary. Now he has chosen his vice chairman: Sen.-elect Ted Cruz (R-TX), an even more extreme tea party candidate who also defeated the establishment choice in a bitter primary. It is not at all clear how this new duo will operate. One possibility is that they will back tea party candidates strongly in the primaries, hoping to avoid the kind of fratricide that has been so common up until now.
This may or may not work. It depends on why people like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and Ken Buck were defeated in the general election. If the problem was being bloodied in a bitter primary, then having the NRSC support tea party candidates in primaries in order to chase away establishment candidates, might work. But if the real problem was the candidates were too extreme for the voters, then a strategy of killing off establishment candidates early on to let tea party candidates cruise to easy nominations, will be suicide. So everything depends on one's interpretation of why these candidates lost. With Moran and Cruz running the show in 2014, we may find out.
Every time former Florida governor Charlie Crist says something, the Florida Republican party attacks him on it. This is a strong sign that they expect him to run for governor in 2014 against Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), one of the country's least popular governors. Crist used to be a Republican, then became an independent. Most observers assume that he will soon become a Democrat and run for office as such.
Republican firebrand Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is still trailing Democrat Patrick Murphy after a partial recount in St. Lucie County, FL. Murphy's lead is now over 2,000 votes, 242 votes more than it was before the recount. West insists that he won and refuses to concede. Unfortunately for him, the deadline for certifying the votes is now at hand. West has threatened to go to court.
As the 2012 election cycle winds down, postings will become sparser and shorter. There are a few loose ends to tie up, then we'll probably go silent for a while.