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.
|Does "combing through" mean "reading some article someone else wrote and using those ideas for your own"? Because this sounds familiar.|
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).
|Logically, these elections were basically the same then!|
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.
I don't think there are any elections involving incumbents where these aren't true statements.
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.
"In both elections, candidates focused their efforts in areas where they might matter. The loser and his friends also spent lots of money, which indicates that they did not expect to lose and thought the money might make a difference. I am a real writer and these are real insights, I swear."
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.
|These numbers are scintillat--zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.|
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.
|You make kitty bored as fuck.|
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.
|I'm spontaneously enthusiastic! Not about this article, of course.|
Kerry voters were motivated more by negative feelings about 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.
|Turn my swag on|
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).
Maybe that's because Bush's predecessor left him a balanced budget and relatively few long-term problems, whereas Obama entered office with several foreign conflicts and a...how do you say...not-balanced budget? Weighted budget? Whatever. Also, I feel compelled to note that it was very easy for Bush to avoid personal attacks because Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and a legion of Swift boaters took care of those for him.
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.
|"See, what I did there was I took the numbers and I...mathed them. After the mathing, there was some really interesting stuff, with the numbers and the maths and all that. Percent!|
|I never thought of that! If several million people had voted differently someone different might have won. Inception!|
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 2012.
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 reelected president and his party.
The key word here would be "counterfactual". This has been your day's exercise in pretending numbers are different and painting a word picture of what that might mean, which as I understand it is the heart of modern mathematic theory.
*facts may be fabricated if I see fit
**probably not the real reason