Hold Me Back
It’s been a full two weeks since the election and Republican commentators are still angry and shocked about losing to Obama in the general election. Although the racist tweets and media comments have largely subsided, Republicans by and large are absolutely shocked by their not winning the election by a landslide. Romney himself seemed blindsided by the outcome, even with places like InTrade and the New York Times projecting Obama as the clear favorite before the election. The refrains being offered in the press now or to fundraisers from Romney’s camp are that they did not project “urban” turnout to be so high and that either fraud or Obama promising “gifts” to certain people gave him the edge. In short, the Right believes that Obama won solely either because he bought the Black Vote or there was some shady conspiracy to bus Black voters in to swing key districts. Seriously.
Here’s the facts. Romney lost the shit out of this election; as much as Obama won it, plain and simple. The margin of victory was three full percentage points, or around 4 million votes. In fact, President Obama now has the two highest percentage-wise vote totals of all races since George HW Bush defeated another former Massachussetts governor, Michael Dukakis, and owns the two highest margins of any two-candidate race since then. President Obama won by 128 electoral votes and won every single state and district that he won in 08 except for Indiana, North Carolina, and one district in Nebraska. In fact, Mitt Romney only won a single demographic group nationwide: white men. The President garnered the majority of the youth and women’s votes, and took about 80% of the minority vote. While Obama certainly leaned on a demographic shift that is perhaps decidely moving away from key Conservative groups and ideals, the fact is that Mitt Romney was an awful candidate. He didn’t win his home state, the state where he was the governor, or Paul Ryan’s home state or district. For a man who blamed minorities for his loss, he couldn’t pick up the swing states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, which are 91, 94, and 86 percent White, respectively. Clearly, Romney didn’t lose simply because Obama ensnared helpless minorities into voting for him. He was a terrible candidate, even in a country that is reflecting his party’s values less and less. The sense of entitlement and anger surrounding him is…alarming.
On the other hand, most reports show that President Obama maintained support and turnout among Black voters equal to or even exceeding the historical numbers from 2008, where almost 12 percent of the entire electorate was composed of Black folks voting for Obama. Most people predicted a serious decrease in Black enthusiasm and a drop to “normal” levels, and the Republican projections that forecast this simply refused to adjust, even when it became pretty clear that Black folks would turn out. I think a large part of this was from their faith in voter suppression schemes or rumors, but as it turns out, those schemes actually had the opposite effect.
I joked about the very idea of voter suppression potentially spurring Black folks to vote. Negroes seem to love doing shit just because other people try to tell them not to. I’m pretty sure like 80% of all Black folks going to the polls or marching in the Civil Rights Era did it with the “I wish a _______ WOULD try to stop me” mindset. It’s how we’re wired. We get fired up when people try to stop us, especially over racist stuff. So the more publicized voter suppression became, the more groups like the NAACP reacted, and the more Black people who perhaps weren’t so enthusiastic about the President or just didn’t care sat down and actually crystallized the notion to go and vote. Just to show that they could. I call it the “Hold Me Back” Theory. Basically the Republicans were so hostile towards the minority vote that they actually spurred people to vote for the other candidate who wouldn’t have voted at all. That takes a lot.
The fact is, although with stronger candidates it’s still possible, the time of running an entire party on the voting whims of White men is coming to a close. It’s simply not going to be possible to ignore women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups and win an election. In an age where White men and women formed over 65% of the voting populace and men controlled how their wives voted, it was a sure strategy. Now, it’s probably not a good idea to insult minorities and women. And the rhetoric now, that minorities are still voting for unworthy reasons, isn’t constructive either. In the interest of keeping a relatively even balance of power between the parties (something I’m in favor of), perhaps Republicans should actually try to get minorities on their side and make it EASIER to vote? See how that worked out for the Democrats in the 60s? Whatever the solution, what is happening isn’t it. But happy trails. 2016 is a long ways away.