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Post-election thoughts

 

November 6 2012

As I write this, Romney is making his concession speech; I will discuss why I feel this is a very historic night.

The Southern Strategy

The civil rights act of the 1960s, which made it illegal to discriminate against someone for their skin color, fundamentally changed the demographic makeup of the Democratic and Republican party. To summarize a long history, the Republican started tailoring a message to appeal to racist white males, as just one part of a multi-honed strategy to get as many people in their "big tent", voting for them (other groups being religious conservatives and small-government supporters).

The strategy bore fruit starting in 1980 with Regan's defeat of Carter; by 1984, the Democrats lost by a landslide. The Democrats were only able to get the president's seat in the 1990s by having a southern white male with very conservative politics (such as NAFTA and repealing parts of the Glass-Steagall act) for their presidental candidate.

Getting universal health care and rights for gay people was unthinkable in the 1990s; Clinton tried but failed to get both.

The rise of Obama

I remember in the 1980s speculating with my mother whether we would first have a black president or a woman president. This question was finally answered in 2008, when Obama became president. Obama in the White House was the beginning of the end of the southern strategy and of pandering to racists to get more votes.

The reason why Obama was able to win can be summarized in one word: Demographics. In more detail, if only white males were allowed to vote, Obama would have lost by a landslide tonight. Obama won tonight because of the women's vote, and because of the minority vote. Tonight's election has shown, once and for all, that the southern strategy is dead: The White House is no longer won by pandering to bigots.

The future of the Republican party

The bottom line is this: Obama won only by the thinnest of margins. I think the Republican party can become relevant again by no longer pandering to racists and homophobes. There are many many fiscal conservative Americans out there, and a fiscally conservative person who supports gay rights and has no tolerance for prejudice against minorities is someone who definitely has a shot at the White House.

The fact that Romney was only about a percentage point behind Obama means that the wants and needs of mainstream Republicans--the many Republicans who are not bigots--can not be ignored.

How accurate were the predictions

I correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states two nights ago (Florida leans Obama but still hasn't been called as I type this), and predicted 48 out of 50 states two months ago. My prediction was based on Nate Silver's numbers; we both got all states correct this time.

The number of people who were wrong predicting who would win tonight, and why they were so wrong really deserve their own blog entry. Hopefully I'll have time to write that blog sometime soon.

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