Skip to comments.Michael Barone: Obama's numbers went down, but Romney never inspired voters to vote
Posted on 12/26/2012 9:21:54 PM PST by neverdem
In combing through the results of the 2012 election -- apparently finally complete, nearly two months after the fact -- I continue to find many similarities between 2012 and 2004 and one enormous difference.
Both of the elections involved incumbent presidents with approval ratings hovering around or just under 50 percent facing challengers who were rich men from Massachusetts (though one made his money and the other married it).
In both cases, the challenger and his campaign seemed confident he was going to win. and had reasonable grounds to believe so.
In both elections, the incumbent started running a barrage of negative ads defining the challenger in the spring. And in both elections, the incumbent had at least one spotty debate performance.
In both elections, each candidate concentrated on a more or less fixed list of target states, and in both elections the challenger depended heavily on outside groups' spending that failed to achieve optimal results.
The popular vote margins were similar -- 51 to 48 percent for George W. Bush in 2004, 51 to 47 percent for Barack Obama in 2012.
The one enormous difference was turnout. Turnout between the 2000 and 2004 elections rose from 105 million to 122 million, plus 16 percent. Turnout between the 2008 and 2012 elections fell from 131 million to 128 million, minus 2 percent.
Turnout is a measure of organization but also of spontaneous enthusiasm.
In 2004 John Kerry got 16 percent more popular votes than Al Gore had four years before. But he lost because George W. Bush got 23 percent more popular votes than he had four years before.
Kerry voters were motivated more by negative feelings for Bush than by positive feelings for their candidate. They disagreed with Bush's major policies and disliked him personally. The Texas twang, the swagger, the garbled sentence structure -- it was like hearing someone scratch his fingers on a blackboard.
Bush voters were more positively motivated. Political reporters had a hard time picking this up. His job rating was weak, but Bush voters tended to have a lot of warmth for him.
He had carried us through 9/11, he had confronted our enemies directly, he had pushed through with bipartisan support popular domestic measures like his education bill and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
His criticism of his opponents was measured and never personal, and he blamed none of his difficulties on his predecessor (who had blamed none of his on his).
This affection evaporated pretty quickly, in the summer of 2005, with scenes of disorder in the streets of Baghdad and New Orleans. But it was there in 2004 and you can see it in that 23 percent turnout increase.
The 2012 election was different. Barack Obama got 6 percent fewer popular votes than he had gotten in 2008. And Mitt Romney got only 1 percent more popular votes than John McCain had four years before.
In retrospect, it looks like both campaigns fell short of their turnout goals. Yes, examination of election returns and exit polls indicates that the Obama campaign turned out voters where it really needed them.
That enabled him to carry Florida by 1 percent, Ohio by 3 percent, Virginia by 4 percent, and Colorado and Pennsylvania by 5 percent. Without those states he would have gotten only 243 electoral votes and would now be planning his presidential library.
But the conservative bloggers who argued that the Obama campaign's early voting numbers were below target may have been right. If Mitt Romney had gotten 16 percent more popular votes than his predecessor, as John Kerry did, he would have led Obama by 4 million votes and won the popular vote 51 to 48 percent.
Romney, like Kerry, depended on voters' distaste for the incumbent; he could not hope to inspire the devotion Bush enjoyed in 2004 and that Obama had from a diminished number in 2008.
But, to continue this counterfactual scenario, if Obama had won 23 percent more popular votes this year than in 2008, he would have beaten Romney by 85 million to 69 million votes and by 54 to 44 percent.
In reality, Obama's vote and percentage went down. Considering what happened in Bush's second term, that suggests a course of caution and wariness for the re-elected president and his party.
Why do you think he was so sure to get reelected long before Romney was nominated when he told that Russian president that he would have more flexibility after the election, even though he got 4,270,980 less votes then in 2008?
It also helped him that he got the ignorant to reelect him
When the country is in trouble, people should support ideas that actually work. Sell that notion.
NotObamney had people willing to crawl over glass to vote
I think votes were lost or stolen
There were some places where Obama got over 100% of the vote
It is harder to manufacture votes for someone than it is to delete votes for the opposition- how do you prove your vote was NOT counted?
This is why the polls were all skewed +10% democrap- they knew that they were planning to do beforehand
My point is, if there were a bunch of “stay at home conservatives” who didn’t vote because Romney wasn’t conservative enough, then why did Romney lose so many fewer votes in the Bible Belt than the rest of the country, compared to Bush?
That is, wouldn’t you think there would be a lot more “stay at home conservatives” in Arkansas than in Oregon?
Romney did 4% better than Bush in Arkansas (even accounting for population growth) but 11% worse than Bush in Oregon.
I shouldn’t have to spell this out (but unfortunately I do) but the drop in Republican votes from 2004 to 2012 isn’t a direct measurement of how many true conservatives “stayed home” - that’s a delusional fantasy.
The OVERWHELMING majority of that drop are people that voted for Bush in 2004, but Obama in 2012.
Secondarily, it’s people that voted for Bush in 2004, and died in the last 8 years.
Tertiary, it’s new voters under the age of 26 added since 2004, the vast majority of whom vote for Obama, of course.
Well of course, if people only over 30 voted, Romney would have won.
Still, and I'll take it back to Ohio, we ran a Gerry Ford candidate and got Gerry Ford results, in Ohio. He couldn't win it either because downstate wouldn't provide him the margin.
I am a bible believing conservative Christian who voted for the lesser of two evils. It seems that their are just too many low information voters who are becoming useful idiots of the state as they refuse the right ways of Christ and pursue the vanities of a dying world system run by Satan and all the fools whom follow the monster who hates all mankind equally.
There but for the grace of God in Christ Jesus go all the saved sinner Saints created by God in Christ image.
I hate it when the media takes things out of context, and I hate it even more when we Freepers do the same.
Romney’s son Tag did not say that Romney did not want to be president. He obviously did. He ran two times for the office.
Tag said there was no one who wanted the presidency less than his father did. That harkens to a sense of duty and service. Yes, he desired to be president, but it was not an obsession as it was with Clinton.
The word ‘less’ has a significant syntactical meaning in Tag’s statement. Of all the people running for president, no one wanted it less. It doesn’t mean he didn’t want to be president. It just means his desire was less than the rest thus implying that his dad was running out of duty to save this country economically and not for personal gain or fame and glory.
I do not know the actual extent of Romney’s presidential yearnings, but I do know how to read syntactical sentences.
Once the little convention in Tampa ended, we kept hearing how Romney was “really” going to start campaigning in earnest. We are still waiting.
Sarah Palin would have defeated this Obama communist monster so easily , if only she had run. what about it Sarah, ready now?
I didn't. With Obama's de facto war on energy that's not "green energy," I'm trying to get an explanation for so many white voters staying home.
That’s very interesting considering the fact that he was hyped as being the candidate who would be able to attract the moderates and independents. Perhaps the RINOs don’t know the moderates and independents as well as they think?
Few were excited about voting for Romney, people stayed home. I guess what Rush Limbaugh said the democrats discovered was true. You have to excite your base to win elections. An excited base draws the stragglers and fence sitters, getting even the non-voters excited enough to come out to vote.
The old saying that voting against something isn’t any where near as powerful as voting for something holds true again. It seems the “Stupid Party” will never learn.
Romney was more than bland, out of touch, and baffling, on the key issues to the conservative base, he was more left than anyone could have imagined a republican EVER being before 2012.
Of all the times that Massachusetts liberals have tried for the GOP nomination, Romney managed to finally buy his way in, and it proved to be a disaster.
I wouldn’t make such pronouncements. What we need to stop doing is taking cues from a corrupted party establishment and appeasing the media. Just as with the Mohammadans, they are at war with us, and we’d better treat them as such.
As for hanging around leftist kooks, sounds like it’s time to cut your losses and remove yourself from them. I wouldn’t last 5 minutes around such people without obliterating their diseased worldview. I’ve no interest in discussing weather and I know as much about sports as Emperor Zero does about balancing a budget.
Taken in that context, that means that’s an even bigger falsehood. That whole family lies like a rug. Willard has been obsessed with the Presidency since his dad was shot down in 1968. I have no hesistation in saying there is no one in the Republican Party who was more covetous of the Presidency than Willard. No one.
The “independent middle” did support Romney. He lost because white conservatives didn't show up.
If that's the case it is sad, indeed. I am truly disappointed with anyone who would choose to let Obama have his way with the country for four more years rather than support a man of good conscience.
You may be right. I was just interpreting Tag’s statement. I don’t believe he was saying that his dad never wanted to be president. That would be a stupid sour grapes comment to say.
He was making a statement in terms of degree. And even if no one wanted the presidency more than Romney like you say, in terms of degree, Tag was saying no one wanted it less.
I agree with you that Mitt Romney had a great desire to avenge history and his father’s treatment by the press in that run for the presidency.
In the end though The One’s Revenge vote won.
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