- Politics and Social Issues
Obama and Electoral Numbers
It is bad manners to become too involved in the political process of another country. It is also politically incorrect to suggest race is a factor in American politics even though everyone knows it is. The USA is too important for something important not to be said out of politeness. What I am suggesting is that President Obama is in significant danger of losing his re-election. When one sees the political pygmies vying for the Republican nomination there is a tremendous temptation to think that Obama should walk his re-election. It is often said in British politics that the Opposition party does not win elections, the Government party loses them. This article suggests Obama could lose the next election regardless of his Republican opponent.
President Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by 0.1% of the popular vote. The black vote split 72:28 in Kennedy's favour, allowing Kennedy a very narrow win. Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat President to win a majority of the white vote - every Democrat since has lost on the white vote. Those Democrats who won election since won because the black and latterly Hispanic vote has favoured the Democrats. But if the blacks do not turn out the Democrat does not win.
Obama lost the white vote in Florida, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia but won the states overall because the black and Hispanic vote split so disproportionately in his favour - and they actually voted. Without these 142 electoral votes he would have lost by 315 to 223.
How Obama Won The White House
What happens in 2012?
The recession has hit black and poor white voters disproportionately hard. The middle class shout loud, but the real losses are among the relatively poor. More of their jobs have been lost in the recession. More of their jobs have been exported. While they may not rush to vote Republican, if they simply do not vote Obama loses.
All is not lost for Obama. Elections tend to be won or lost by differential turnout rather than by individual conversion. For every elector who crosses the divide to vote for the party they normally vote against there are a dozen who simply do not vote this election.
As the individual Republican contenders stake out more extreme positions, and their individual flaws and failings become better known, it is possible that the person who wins the Republican nomination will become a liability to the Republican ticket. They may by injudicious comment cause huge numbers of Republicans not to vote. They may say or do something that galvanises the black vote and so rescue Obama.
Or Obama could flag an issue that becomes an election winner for him. Whether this is how an individual has been treated by the system.or how Republicans including the Republican candidate have had their hands in the corruption pork barrel, or something else I do not know. One has the sense that Obama is "keeping his powder dry" and is waiting to see who his opponent is before he decides what weapons to use.
Prime Minister Harold MacMillan was once asked what in his opinion influenced elections most. He said "Events dear boy, events!"
This article is inspired by an article "Angry White Men" by R. W. Johnson in the London Review of Books of 20 October 2011. The full article is a fascinating read, dealing also with the gender drift where over the years more women have tended to vote Democrat and more men have tended to vote Republican. And of course pointing out that by fighting two wars without raising taxes to pay for them George W. helped to create the current financial crisis.