people like Obama, not Romney - exit poll

National Journal:

Hours later, as the election returns crested toward what one despondent political operative would later call a “tsunami,” the crowd and the mood were sinking. The lights were coming up. The smoke was gone. People clustered in small groups, nursing tumblers of scotch and gin and staring at the television screen as Fox News called one swing state after another for President Obama. The blind 69-year-old country music legend Ronnie Milsap launched into “In the Still of the Night,” replacing the chorus with “I’m lost in the 50s tonight. Somebody help me. I’m lost in the 50s tonight.”

By the end of the evening, as the vote tallies showed that minorities, women, and young people had overwhelmingly rejected Republican nominee Mitt Romney, it was clear that the Grand Old Party needed to wake up from its nostalgia trip.

President Barack Obama won re-election despite an electorate that sees a nation on the wrong track, with a weak and troubling economy, according to NBC projections and exit polls. Exit poll interviews with voters point to three big reasons for Obama’s victory:

• First, despite a slim majority of voters thinking the country is on the wrong track, 54 percent approve of the way Obama is doing his job, and the electorate was almost exactly split on whether Obama or Romney would be better at handling the economy.

• Among the four voters in 10 who said they think economic conditions in the country are getting better, a huge majority, nearly nine out of ten, said they voted for Obama.

• Finally, a slight majority of voters voiced an unfavorable view of Romney personally, while a slight majority had a favorable view of Obama. On the attribute of whether the president or his GOP rival was “a candidate who cares about people like me” Obama had a massive lead over Romney.

David Brooks:
The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.

Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it.

Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.

For these people, the Republican equation is irrelevant. When they hear Romney talk abstractly about Big Government vs. Small Government, they think: He doesn’t get me or people like me.

Actually, that's true for everyone. White people voted for Romney, but not because they liked him.

David C. Wilson:

I think Nate Silver deserves a lot of credit for being one of the few "poll readers" willing to forecast a numeric probability of Obama's win before Election Day even started, and getting darn close. However, I'll withhold credit from many popular analysts who are ignoring the significant role race and ethnicity played in Obama's win. Throughout this election, race has been the elephant in the room, and the inability to discuss its effects will likely endure if we continue to mollify it's chronic role in American politics.

SPOILER: This is not an article about women, it's about data.

Disclosure: I was a panelist with David here and really like his work.

John K. Wilson interviews Ian Reifowitz about his book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity (reviewed here):

The language of unity, and specifically the language of cross-ethnic, American national unity that Obama has used so often strikes me as clearly progressive because it is a direct contrast both to laissez-faire hyper-individualism as well as to racial bigotry and other forms of prejudice. If Obama can get a middle-aged, middle-class white American to feel a stronger connection with someone different from himself on the basis of their shared American-ness, then that first person is more likely to be supportive of progressive ideals broadly defined, whether it’s on the economy or immigration or even gay rights.

Ultimately, left and right are relative terms. They are meaningless without a comparison that defines “left of what?” and “right of what?” Obama is to the left of conservative Republicans on virtually every domestic issue. On foreign policy, as he said in 2002 when he came out against the Iraq war, he’s no pacifist, he’s not against all wars, just “dumb” ones.

The president captured 48% of the Cuban-American vote in Florida—a record high for a Democrat, according to an exit poll by Bendixen & Amandi International, Mr. Obama's Hispanic polling firm. Republican Mitt Romney received 52%.

The figure for Mr. Obama is backed up by a national exit poll for media organizations that showed him winning 49% of the Cuban-American vote in the state. By comparison, he captured 35% of that vote four years ago. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received 29% of the state's Cuban-American vote, and in 2000, Democrat Al Gore won 25% of it.

Greg Sargent:
“Overwhelmingly, Americans viewed the economic crisis and recession as an extraordinary circumstance — not as an ordinary recession,” Benenson continued, adding that “the more Romney and Republicans tried to talk about this as an ordinary recession,” rather than a “massive crisis,” the more they seemed “out of touch and tone deaf.”

If that’s right, the irony is striking. Romney cast Obama as a failure, based on the notion that the recovery was not proceeding as fast as other recoveries have. But this may not have resonated with voters because they understood that Obama had inherited an extraordinary situation — exactly the idea Romney tried so hard to get voters to forget.

Reminds me of when the Knicks beat a better team in a single playoff game. You think you can play with them when the other guys have an off night. And then they step up their game and you realize you were wrong.

Peggy Noonan:

We are a center-right country, but the Republican Party over the next few years will have to ponder again what center-right means. It has been noted elsewhere that the Romney campaign's economic policies more or less reflected the concerns of its donor base. Are those the immediate concerns of the middle and working classes? Apparently the middle class didn't think so. The working class? In a day-after piece, Washington Post reporters Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker wrote: "As part of his role, [Paul] Ryan had wanted to talk about poverty, traveling to inner cities and giving speeches that laid out the Republican vision for individual empowerment. But Romney advisers refused his request to do so, until mid-October, when he gave a speech on civil society in Cleveland. As one adviser put it, 'The issues that we really test well on and win on are not the war on poverty.'"

That is the authentic sound of the Republican political operative class at work: in charge, supremely confident, essentially clueless.

It matters when you show people you care. It matters when you're there. It matters when you ask.

The outcome was not only a re-election but on some level and to some degree a rejection.

Indeed it was.

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