America’s voters chose Obama and the future

And so, America did the right the ting and chose the future.

The historic election of 2008, when the American voters made Barack Obama the nation’s first African-American president and bade farewell to the old America, was re-enforced yesterday when Barack Obama got enough support for another four years in the White House.

His victory was not quite as overwhelming as four years ago, when Obama beat John McCain by ten million votes and won 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173, but it was a solid, even sweeping, victory. The coalition that Obama built up with the young, women, African-Americans, Hispanics and white union members in the Rust Belt, lost only two states, Indiana, traditionally Republican, and North Carolina, both of which Obama surprisingly had won in 2008. Yesterday, he won the rest of the battleground states: Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida, although his victory in Florida is not yet official. If his lead there is confirmed he will win 332 electoral votes against Romney’s 206.

When Obama gave his victory speech in Chicago, the joy and jubilation from the Obama coalition of whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, young, old, knew no bounds. They belonged to the new and once again victorious America, and they represented the country’s new politics. Over 90 percent of the country’s black voters chose Obama; over 70 percent of the Hispanics and the Asians voted for the president; over half of the women gave him their support; and the trade unions members in the Rust Belt also voted for the man who had saved the auto industry early in his first four years in the White House.

They did not want to retreat and turn back to a time that had led to two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and to the deepest U.S. economic crisis since the ’30s depression, to return to the old America, dominated a white electorates, like that overwhelmingly white crowd in Boston who had voted for Mitt Romney but who now somberly, almost in shock, listened to their candidate’s concession speech.

That old America was not enough yesterday, as it had not been in 2008, to win a presidential election. The conclusion must be that it is no longer possible for the Republicans to win a U.S. presidential election only with the support of the country’s white voters. There are simply no longer enough white voters – 72 percent of all voters yesterday were white – to win. That trend will continue and even strengthen in the coming years because of the continued demographic changes in America’s population. America will be less and less white. Republicans need to think about and change, but if they are able to do so is an entirely different matter.

Much of the campaign focused on polls and forecasts and many questioned if they were right in their predictions. They were. Forecasters such as Nate Silver on his New York Times blog FiveThirtyEight had predicted 307 electoral votes for Obama, and Simon Jackman, the Stanford professor, who in his Huffington Post blog also had predicted over 300 electoral votes for Obama

More later today. Meanwhile, here’s President Obama’s rousing victory speech last night in Chicago.

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Victory for Obama…if all the polls are not wrong

As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continue to stump frenetically to utilize every last hour of the remaining presidential election campaign, their most important message is about the importance of voting. And tomorrow, we will see how good the two campaign organizations really are in getting people to actually go to vote.

There is optimism in both camps, especially from the Obama campaign while the Romney’s campaign is “cautiously hopeful,” as Carl Cannon writes in RealClearPolitics today.

From the media, apart from Fox News, there is a steady message that Obama will win. Larry Sabato, the highly respected professor at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, joined this chorus today on his Crystal Ball blog. He predicted 290 electoral votes for Obama against 248 for Romney in that Obama would win in six of the nine swing states: Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin. So even if Romney would win in the other three, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, it will not enough to capture the necessary 270 electoral votes and win the election. Sabato also predicted continued Democratic majority in the Senate and continued Republican rule in the House of Representatives.

So if you believe all the polls and most of the pundits, president Obama will be reelected — if they are not all wrong, which is unlikely, but, perhaps, still possible.

Howard Kurtz, media critic at the Daily Beast:

“If Obama somehow manages to lose, it will be a stunning defeat for the nation’s first African-American president. But it will be overpriced a crushing blow for the punditocracy that headed into Election Day filled with confidence that Obama had it in the bag. And Fox News will not let the mainstream media hear the end of it.”

And Mike Allen at Politico in his daily email:

“And yet, enough is uncertain about the samples and the mood of the nation, that lots of people we respectfully would not be SHOCKED if Mitt Romney pulled it out. They’re not expecting it, or betting their own money on it – but it’s not impossible. Put another way: Most Democrats will be surprised if they lose; many top Republicans will be surprised if they win. And that’s what makes this such a delicious 36 hours for political junkies: The great political minds THINK they know where things are headed. But most of them realize they could be wrong.”

But let me remind you that not only the polls are on Obama’s side. History is also on his side, for it has proven extremely difficult to defeat a sitting president. That has only happened four times since 1912, when Woodrow Wilson defeated William Howard Taft, 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt beat Herbert Hoover, 1980, when Ronald Reagan won over Jimmy Carter and 1992 when Bill Clinton defeated George HW Bush. Should Romney win tomorrow it will be something of a historical sensation.

The last week of campaigning has gone well for Barack Obama. He was strengthened politically in the wake of the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, not least because Romney was forced to the sidelines, with no role, unable to conduct his election campaign. But Obama was also strengthened by the words of praise from Republicans like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as from the country perhaps leading independent voice, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The campaign somehow took a new direction and Obama got new wind in his sails. It may prove to be decisive tomorrow.

Here’s the situation in the campaign’s last frantic hours

Less than 48 hours before Election Day and the pace is frantic. The candidates jump from state to state in search of voters while new pieces of information about early voting, opinion polls, rumors, predictions, and speculation in the media are now sweeping across the country.

By Tuesday, the last chance to vote, around 60 percent or 130 million Americans are expected to have cast their ballots. Let’s look at the numbers in the final phase of the presidential contest, but also in the Senate elections, where 33 seats are at stake, the House of Representatives, where all 435 seats are contested, and in the eleven governors races.

The President:

It’s very even, everyone says. Those who really keep track of all numbers and all the polls predict a decisive victory for Barack Obama, while the more traditional political pundits are more cautious. It remains to be seen who gets it right, but if the polls do not prove completely wrong, I am willing to put my money on political statisticians like Nate Silver and Simon Jackman.

Nate Silver on his blog FiveThirtyEight in the New York Times assesses President Obama’s victory chances to be 85 percent and for Obama to win 307 electoral votes — 270 are required for victory. In 2008, Obama won 365 electoral votes to John McCain’s 173.

Simon Jackman, professor at Stanford University and like Silver a political statistician, writes on his blog in the Huffington Post that the most likely scenario is that Obama gets 332 electoral votes. Jackman thinks that in seven of the nine battleground states — Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida – an Obama victory is likely, even very likely. In crucial Ohio, Obama’s victory chances are 90 percent, in Wisconsin nearly 99 percent, in Iowa and Nevada over 90 percent, in New Hampshire just under 90 percent, and in Colorado 70 percent. Florida is too close to call while North Carolina is likely going to Romney.

The Senate:

Only twelve of the 33 Senate seats are really contested. In the end, most think the Democrats will retain their majority, even increase it a bit from today’s majority of 51 with two independents voting with the Democrats, against 47 Republicans.

Arizona: Republican Jon Kyl retires and the battle to replace him is surprisingly even in this normally solid Republican state. Democrat Richard Carmona has a chance to beat Republican Jeff Flake. If so, it would be a huge upset.

Connecticut: Independent Joe Lieberman retires and Democrat Chris Murphy is favored to take his place against wrestling queen and millionaire Republican Linda McMahon, who has already failed once to become a Senator from this democratic state.

Indiana: Republican and veteran Senator Richard Lugar was upset in the Republican primary election by Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock, who now seems to have to pay for his extremism on abortion and rape, as Democrat Joe Donnelly is favored to win. A sensational outcome in this solid Republican state, where Obama won in 2008 but where he has no chance to win this year.

Massachusetts: Democrat Elizabeth Warren is favored to defeat Republican Senator Scott Brown in one of the most Democratic states in the country. Brown won surprisingly a special election a couple of years ago after Ted Kennedy’s death, but with Obama on the ballot this year, Brown is heading for a probable defeat.

Missouri: Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill is heading for a surprising re-election in this conservative state due to another Tea Party favorite Todd Akin’s many stupid statements about abortion and rape.

Montana: Extremely even race between Democratic Senator Jon Tester and his Republican challenger Danny Rehberg, although Romney is the clear favorite in this state.

Nevada: Republican Senator Dean Heller is expected to defeat Democrat Shelley Berkley, but if Obama wins big in Nevada, Berkley might squeeze out a victory.

North Dakota: Democrat Kent Conrad retires and Republican Rick Berg is expected to take his Senate seat by beating Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, but the race is very even.

Ohio: Democrat Sherrod Brown is expected to be re-elected.

Pennsylvania: Democrat Bob Casey is expected to be re-elected.

Virginia: Democrat Jim Webb retires and two ex-governors are fighting to replace him, with Democrat Tim Kaine a slight favorite over Republican George Allen. Obama and Romney are also involved in a tight race in this state.

Wisconsin: Democrat Herbert Kohl retires and his party colleague Tammy Baldwin is expected to beat Republican Tommy Thompson, albeit extremely narrowly.

The House of Representatives:

The Republicans are expected to retain their majority – 240 to 193 with 3 vacancies – among the 435 members of the House of Representatives. Although the Democrats are expected to pick up a few seats, it will not be enough, and Speaker John Boehner is expected to continue to lead the House for another two years.

The Governors:

There are elections for governor in eleven states. No matter what happens, the Republicans will continue to dominate on the state level, controlling at least 30 of the 50 governorships.

Some good news for Obama in the final campaign days

Ninety dead, including 38 only in New York City, and around 50 billion dollars in damages — Hurricane Sandy could be the costliest hurricane in the United States, ever.

And suddenly, in the last frenetic hours of the presidential election, the environment, climate change, and global warming have become part of the campaign. When New York City’s independent Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, endorsed Obama’s re-election yesterday, he referred particularly to the president’s vision on global warming, a priority issue for Bloomberg, but something that neither Obama nor Romney unfortunately have talked about at all in this campaign.

“Our climate is changing. And while the Increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the danger that it might be – given this week’s devastation – Should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action … . One (Obama) sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet, one (Romney) does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

The think tank Center for American Progress writes in a new report about the links between extreme weather and climate change. The report, called Preventing Future ‘Frankenstorms’, states that Sandy is unfortunately just the latest in a long series of extreme weather events over the past two years. These include droughts, heat records, forest fires, floods, tropical storms, hurricanes, winter storms, and they have collectively caused nearly a thousand deaths and over 110 billion dollars in damage.

However, only four days to Election Day, the environment and climate change are unlikely to decide the election. But Hurricane Sandy has given Obama a new wind in his back. According to a new Washington Post/ABC survey 79 percent of the respondents said that Obama did a good job during Sandy. And today, the president got more good news when jobs figures from October pointed to the continued rise — 171,000 new jobs in October – far more than the expected 125,000. Unemployment rose slightly, from 7.8 to 7.9 percent, but that was mainly due to the fact that many more Americans now actively are looking for jobs, another positive signal for the economy and its future.

Not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt has a president been re-elected with an unemployment rate of more than 7.2 percent. It was in 1984 and Ronald Reagan. Roosevelt was re-elected in 1936 as well as in 1940 with unemployment at 16.6 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. When Obama became president in January 2009, unemployment was 7.8 percent. That’s almost exactly like today. Will that be enough to bring Obama four more years? I think so.

Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election

Here, where I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, Hurricane Sandy hit hard, all day yesterday and almost all night. It was stormy, really stormy, but we were lucky – dodged a bullet — not even a power outage, which we otherwise always suffer when big storms move across the Washington area. The large trees in our front yard still stand although they swayed alarmingly during hard rain and violent winds.

So we were lucky, while north of us there is tragedy and utter devastation — upwards of 40 deaths, eight million without power, and billions and billions in damages.

It’s hard to gage the effects of the big storm in the upcoming election, but my inclination is that Obama might profit, politically, from Sandy, if he does not make any serious mistakes or gaffes.  Both Obama and Romney have suspended their campaigns, at least until tomorrow, which has put Obama in the center of this huge news story while it has forced Romney to the sidelines, without any role at all, away from the center of attention. And it happened just as Romney was reported to gain fresh momentum.

How will this affect the very last days of this campaign? We don‘t know, at least not yet, but this has not prevented “a perfect storm of political speculation,” as one of Washington Post columnists writes today.

So far, President Obama seems to have done well and praise such as from Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie, cannot hurt:

“President Obama called me last night around midnight … to ask what else could be done [and] offered any other assets that we need … I’ll have to say the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far . We have a great partnership with them, and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this. “

Tomorrow, when the president visits the devastated New Jersey shores together with Christie, this message will be re-enforced. And Romney can only stand by and watch.

But there are also possible negatives for the Obama campaign in that Sandy has put an end to early voting in some states. So far, 15 million voters have already voted, of which over a million in the key state of Ohio. Another nearly 20 million are expected to vote early, the majority of them being Obama voters. If they are now prevented from voting early because of Sandy, and if they then don’t have time or are able to vote on Election Day, it could have negative consequences for the Obama campaign. Remember: turnout is key.

But, we really don’t know, yet.

Obama won the last debate but will it matter?

And so the last of the four TV-debates in the presidential election campaign is over and in only two weeks, America will choose a new president.

The debates have played an important role in this campaign, more important, perhaps, than in many a year, maybe since John F Kennedy met Richard Nixon in the very first debate in 1960 and upset the favorite, the sitting vice president.

In the first debate in this year’s campaign, the challenger Mitt Romney knocked the socks off a sleepy Barack Obama and became a serious challenger to the president. Obama’s listless performance let Romney into the race, a race that the president at that time led comfortably. And then, Romney held his ground pretty well, although the judgment is that Obama won the two following debates –last night’s by 48 percent to 40, according to CNN’s first quick poll, and by 53 percent to 23 according to CBS News.

Still, it was a fairly even debate where neither candidate committed any major mistakes. In fact, you could argue that there was no real debate, for Romney had decided to hold back, lie low, be cautious, and be presidential, or something. All his earlier criticism of Obama’s foreign policy was gone, replaced by broad consensus between the two about America’s role in the world and president Obama’s foreign policy.

On Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, the war on terror including the drone attacks against terrorists in various countries, and, yes, even on Libya, Romney took positions very close to Obama’s. By refraining from attacking Obama, Romney had clearly made a decision not to seem like a war hawk, not to seem belligerent and someone seeking new conflicts and new wars for America in the Middle East. By doing so, he moved towards the political center, towards a more moderate policy – he became a “man of peace,” as someone said, probably jokingly, afterwards.

Romney’s transition seemed to startle Obama a bit, although the president kept up his attacks, calling Romney’s foreign policy “all over the map” and charging him for trying to “air brush history.” And while expressing his satisfaction that Romney now supported the administration’s diplomatic efforts in that volatile region, Obama could not refrain from sticking it to Romney when possible. Romney’s charge that the U.S. navy now has fewer ships since 1916 was met by, maybe, the “zinger” of the evening – Obama saying that the military now also had fewer bayonets and horses than in 1916…

Why the subdued, cautious Romney? Was he playing it safe in a race that now seemed more even than ever? Maybe. But as a result, he came to stand in stark contrast to a firm, straight talking, decisive president, who said he had done what he promised to do when he became president, and that he was the best one to lead America in the next four years.

Will what happened in this final debate matter? We don’t know yet. The two previous debates between Obama and Romney had each been watched by almost 70 million people. Last night’s debate most likely had fewer viewers. Foreign policy is not the main theme of this campaign. And most voters seem to have made up their minds by now. The number of undecided are very few and the remaining two weeks of the campaign will be more about getting out the vote — turnout can decide this election, which is so crucial for America and this country’s future.

The New Yorker: “The choice is clear”

It’s of course no surprise that liberal The New Yorker endorses Barack Obama for president in its next issue, but they way the long editorial puts it is well worth a read.   Here is the conclusion:

“The choice is clear. The Romney-Ryan ticket represents a  constricted and backward-looking vision of America: the privatization of the  public good. In contrast, the sort of public investment championed by Obama—and  exemplified by both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the  Affordable Care Act—takes to heart the old civil-rights motto “Lifting as we  climb.” That effort cannot, by itself, reverse the rise of inequality that has  been under way for at least three decades. But we’ve already seen the future  that Romney represents, and it doesn’t work.

The reëlection of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we  in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent  in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness  and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive  imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a  social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community. Every  Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama’s  America—one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice,  tolerance, and equality—represents the future that this country  deserves.”