We did such a good job in the other fanpost about being civil about politics, I thought we could take another crack at it by discussing what happened last night. What I have in mind is no gloating or recriminations. Just discussion and maybe even analysis. I have some random thoughts to throw out there:
- Nate Silver, Sam Wang and the analysts and projections that looked at poll results did extremely well. Those projecting primarily off of things like economic variables did very poorly. Also, FWIW, I think Silver's model did a little better than mere poll averages, such as that at www.realclearpolitics.com.
- Ohio (O + 1.9) ended up being closer than Wisconsin (O + 6.7), as is to be expected and was projected. Wasn't it a mistake for Romney to pick Ryan rather than someone like Portman? A running mate selection isn't worth a ton of votes, but it's worth some. Portman would have given Romney a better shot in Ohio, while he had no shot in Wisconsin regardless. And maybe (although this may not be true) Ryan hurt Romney a little in Florida, where some seniors may have been scared about ending Medicare as we know it. Flip Ohio and Florida and....well, Romney still loses by 2 electoral votes. But maybe, just maybe that choice helps Romney win some other state. I don't know. I didn't like the pick at the time. It seemed like it didn't help him electorally and had some big downside potential. It seemed like it was a "fire up the base to maximize turnout" choice, when instead Romney needed something to sway undecideds in the middle and help him with electoral math.
- Anybody seen any interesting mea culpas from pundits predicting a Romney win, or Romney blowout? Or from those who belittled Nate Silver and the polls in general?
- White people have a lot of money and thus a lot of power in this country, but their votes certainly control who wins presidential elections anymore. From something I saw last night on NBC: in 2008, Obama won 43% of whites and 80% of non-whites. This year he won 40% of whites and 80% of non-whites, and that was more than enough to win him the election. With the electorate becoming less white with every passing year, this is a big problem for Republicans. They've never done well with non-white voters and that group of voters is growing very quickly.
- Did the Tea Party hurt the Republicans this year? They pushed for a "true conservative" in the primaries, which forced Romney to run far to the right, including a pretty harsh stance on immigration. They pushed for "true conservative" senate candidates like Akin and Mourdock who lost very winnable senate seats for the Republicans. The Tea Party movement has a lot of positives and negatives for the GOP. My take is that in this election cycle, it had more negatives for the party than positives.
- Did anybody think Heidi Heitkamp (D) was going to win that North Dakota senate seat? Wow. I think Silver gave her opponent a 93% chance of winning. Silver blew that one. I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of polling data there.
- Does anyone think another Republican candidate would have fared better and possibly even beaten Obama? Gingrich? Santorum? Cain? What about someone who didn't run (and may not have been able to get the nomination)? Jeb Bush? Chris Christie? What a different candidate and/or a different strategy have likely beaten Obama?
Anyone have any interesting thoughts or observations from last night?