The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Election 2012

November 7, 2012

Five lessons from the 2012 election

(Continued)

3. Virginia and North Carolina are swing states: We waited four years to see whether Obama’s victories in North Carolina and Virginia were flukes, whether the two states with long Republican traditions at the presidential level would return back to their GOP roots. They didn’t. Obama won Virginia. And, while Romney won North Carolina, he did so very narrowly — less than 100,000 votes out of more than 4 million cast. Think of it this way: In 2008, Obama got 49.7 percent of the vote in North Carolina while he got 48.4 percent in 2012. Compare that to how the Democratic presidential nominee performed in 2004 (43.6) and 2000 (43.2) and you see how much North Carolina has changed. Both states are swing states in 2016 and beyond — an expansion of the map in Democrats’ favor that Republicans were unable to match in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan or Minnesota in this election.

4. The youth vote is no longer dismissible: In 2008, then candidate Obama promised to energize the youth vote like no candidate had done before him. Eyes rolled — including ours. But Obama was right. Voters aged 18-29 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and Obama won them by 34 points. Surely, skeptics insisted, that showing was a one-off — built around Obama’s nonpartisan call for “hope” and “change.” Or not. According to the latest national exit polling, 19 percent of the electorate was aged 18-29 and Obama won that group by 24 points. Once is an anomaly. Twice is a new political reality. The only question going forward is whether the youth vote is tied to President Obama uniquely or whether it is an advantage for Democrats more broadly.

5. Democrats electoral vote ceiling exceeds Republican electoral vote ceiling: We strongly suspected going into this election that the electoral vote dominance that Republican presidential candidates enjoyed in the 1980s had switched over to Democrats. Obama’s victory affirmed that fact. The problem for Republicans — and this is not at all unique to Romney — is that the best hope they currently have in terms of electoral math is the 286 electoral votes that George W. Bush won in 2004. (It would actually add up to 292 electoral votes under the current allocation.) A ceiling of 292 just leaves very little room for error — for any Republican candidate now or going forward.

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