Post-election theories regarding President Obama’s victory last Tuesday are legion. On the left, they’re saying that the election was a repudiation of “extreme conservatism.” On the right, the consensus is the president won dirty.
What we know for sure is that he did win. And while his victory in no way signals an end to conservatism, it’s important to understand elements that went into the president’s victory, the scope of his victory, and the implications.
Elements of The Obama Victory
There are a lot of smart people out there with a lot of good theories regarding the president’s re-election victory. I find myself in agreement with many of them, and also see some common elements across all of them. The president did a number of things that helped him win. First of all, he maintained his campaign infrastructure the entire four years he was in office. Why did the president accomplish so little? Because, in some ways, he never fully transitioned from running for president to actually being the president.
Another element was the torrent of negative ads aimed at his opponent, most of which ignored any of the real facts and instead focused on distorting the truth so as to scare voters away from the center-right moderate from Massachusetts. When fact-check sites, and Romney himself, called the president on his distortions, he ignored them and went right on saying the same thing. This was not “the big lie” strategy; rather, it was a torrent of negativity aimed at suppressing voter turnout.
A third element was the mainstream media’s unswerving devotion. The reason this president could continue to accomplish so little, distort the truth so wildly, and escape accountability so consistently was the collusion on the part of most of the mainstream press. They protected the president, allowing him to escape full accountability, while attacking Romney relentlessly on every tiny issue possible. When you have a debate moderator who interrupts the challenger during a debate to defend the president, with the president actively cheering her on, you have collusion.
The media was not incompetent, nor were they deceived. They were in bed with this president. That is an undeniable fact.
The Scope of Obama’s Victory
So, how big was the president’s win last week? In terms of its potential negative impact on the country, very big. In 2013, the new ObamaCare taxes will go into effect. In 2014, ObamaCare itself will be fully implemented, and it will wreak havoc on our economy. This is not speculation, this is a guarantee.
In regards to the number of votes the president secured and the potential mandate his victory gives him, it was, in a sense, akin to escaping a burning house with just the clothes on your back. President Obama was the first US president in history to win a second term with fewer votes than before. Almost 8 million fewer votes. So, while the electoral spread is decisive, the bottom line numbers are not. The fact is, the secret to Obama’s success was in suppressing voter turnout, which almost always favors the incumbent. The stream of unending negative ads scared people away. The same people who would have pulled the lever for Romney. At the same time, he used his excellent GOTV efforts to get his supporters to the polls.
Despite all of that, he had almost 8 million fewer votes than before. Not very impressive.
The Implications of Obama’s Victory
Finally what are the implications of this victory? What does it say about the future of presidential elections, and the future of the country?
When it comes to future presidential races, we’re going to see, unfortunately, more negativity. The fact that the president went relentlessly negative and was rewarded for that inherently destructive behavior with a second term is not encouraging. In fact, it may be a grim foreshadowing of elections for some time to come. For certain, we can expect Democrats to try this in 2016.
Will this translate into certain victory for future Democratic presidential candidates? Not necessarily. President Obama, as the first Black president of the country, was uniquely qualified to stitch together the coalition that gave him a second term. Will this work again? Not if Republicans can more effectively reach out to elements of that coalition, most especially Latino and Asian voters, who have far more in common with Republicans than Democrats. And the Republican Party must work much harder to reach out to the Black Community. It’s no surprise that the vast majority of the Black Community supported Obama in 2008 and 2012. At the same time, it presents an opportunity for Republicans to do better at recruiting candidates from the Black community and reaching out to voters who, in regards to social issues, are virtually identical to Republicans. On issues of life, marriage, and school choice, to name just a few, there is no distance between the Black Community and the Republican Party.
As we look toward the 2014 mid-term elections, and then 2016, Republicans have their work cut out for them. And yet there are reasons to be optimistic. The United States is a center-right country, and as Obama’s big government policies really begin to kick in over the next two years, the Republicans have an opportunity to remind people why the party of limited government, fiscal accountability, and free market capitalism is worth their support.