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The Voters Who Stayed Home (The Key to Understanding the Results of the 2012 Elections)
National Review ^ | 11/10/2012 | Andrew McCarthy

Posted on 11/10/2012 5:13:59 AM PST by SeekAndFind

The key to understanding the 2012 election is simple: A huge slice of the electorate stayed home.

The punditocracy — which is more of the ruling class than an eye on the ruling class — has naturally decided that this is because Republicans are not enough like Democrats: They need to play more identity politics (in particular, adopt the Left’s embrace of illegal immigration) in order to be viable. But the story is not about who voted; it is about who didn’t vote. In truth, millions of Americans have decided that Republicans are not a viable alternative because they are already too much like Democrats. They are Washington. With no hope that a Romney administration or more Republicans in Congress would change this sad state of affairs, these voters shrugged their shoulders and became non-voters.

“This is the most important election of our lifetime.” That was the ubiquitous rally cry of Republican leaders. The country yawned. About 11 million fewer Americans voted for the two major-party candidates in 2012 — 119 million, down from 130 million in 2008. In fact, even though our population has steadily increased in the last eight years (adding 16 million to the 2004 estimate of 293 million Americans), about 2 million fewer Americans pulled the lever for Obama and Romney than for George W. Bush and John Kerry.

That is staggering. And, as if to ensure that conservatives continue making the same mistakes that have given us four more years of ruinous debt, economic stagnation, unsustainable dependency, Islamist empowerment, and a crippling transfer of sovereignty to global tribunals, Tuesday’s post-mortems fixate on the unremarkable fact that reliable Democratic constituencies broke overwhelmingly for Democrats. Again, to focus on the vote is to miss the far more consequential non-vote. The millions who stayed home relative to the 2008 vote equal the population of Ohio — the decisive state. If just a sliver of them had come out for Romney, do you suppose the media would be fretting about the Democrats’ growing disconnect with white people?

Obama lost an incredible 9 million voters from his 2008 haul. If told on Monday that fully 13 percent of the president’s support would vanish, the GOP establishment would have stocked up on champagne and confetti.

To be sure, some of the Obama slide is attributable to “super-storm” Sandy. Its chaotic aftermath reduced turnout in a couple of big blue states: New York, where about 6 million people voted, and New Jersey, where 3.5 million did. That is down from 2008 by 15 and 12 percent, respectively. Yet, given that these solidly Obama states were not in play, and that — thanks to Chris Christie’s exuberance — our hyper-partisan president was made to look like a bipartisan healer, Sandy has to be considered a big net plus on Obama’s ledger.

There also appears to have been some slippage in the youth vote, down 3 percent from 2008 levels — 49 percent participation, down from 52 percent. But even with this dip, the under-30 crowd was a boon for the president. Thanks to the steep drop in overall voter participation, the youth vote actually increased as a percentage of the electorate — 19 percent, up from 18 percent. Indeed, if there is any silver lining for conservatives here, it’s that Obama was hurt more by the decrease in his level of support from this demographic — down six points from the 66 percent he claimed in 2008 — than by the marginal drop in total youth participation. It seems to be dawning on at least some young adults that Obamaville is a bleak place to build a future.

Put aside the fact that, as the election played out, Sandy was a critical boost for the president. Let’s pretend that it was just a vote drain — one that explains at least some of the slight drop in young voters. What did it really cost Obama? Maybe a million votes? It doesn’t come close to accounting for the cratering of his support. Even if he had lost only 8 million votes, that would still have been 11 percent of his 2008 vote haul gone poof. Romney should have won going away.

Yet, he did not. Somehow, Romney managed to pull nearly 2 million fewer votes than John McCain, one of the weakest Republican nominees ever, and one who ran in a cycle when the party had sunk to historic depths of unpopularity. How to explain that?

The brute fact is: There are many people in the country who believe it makes no difference which party wins these elections. Obama Democrats are the hard Left, but Washington’s Republican establishment is progressive, not conservative. This has solidified statism as the bipartisan mainstream. Republicans may want to run Leviathan — many are actually perfectly happy in the minority — but they have no real interest in dismantling Leviathan. They are simply not about transferring power out of Washington, not in a material way.

As the 2012 campaign elucidated, the GOP wants to be seen as the party of preserving the unsustainable welfare state. When it comes to defense spending, they are just as irresponsible as Democrats in eschewing adult choices. Yes, Democrats are reckless in refusing to acknowledge the suicidal costs of their cradle-to-grave nanny state, but the Republican campaign called for enlarging a military our current spending on which dwarfs the combined defense budgets of the next several highest-spending nations. When was the last time you heard a Republican explain what departments and entitlements he’d slash to pay for that? In fact, when did the GOP last explain how a country that is in a $16 trillion debt hole could afford to enlarge anything besides its loan payments?

Our bipartisan ruling class is obtuse when it comes to the cliff we’re falling off — and I don’t mean January’s so-called “Taxmageddon,” which is a day at the beach compared to what’s coming.

As ZeroHedge points out, we now pay out $250 billion more on mandatory obligations (i.e., just entitlements and interest on the debt) than we collect in taxes. Understand, that’s an annual deficit of a quarter trillion dollars before one thin dime is spent on the exorbitant $1.3 trillion discretionary budget — a little over half of which is defense spending, and the rest the limitless array of tasks that Republicans, like Democrats, have decided the states and the people cannot handle without Washington overlords.

What happens, moreover, when we have a truly egregious Washington scandal, like the terrorist murder of Americans in Benghazi? What do Republicans do? The party’s nominee decides the issue is not worth engaging on — cutting the legs out from under Americans who see Benghazi as a debacle worse than Watergate, as the logical end of the Beltway’s pro-Islamist delirium. In the void, the party establishment proceeds to delegate its response to John McCain and Lindsey Graham: the self-styled foreign-policy gurus who urged Obama to entangle us with Benghazi’s jihadists in the first place, and who are now pushing for a repeat performance in Syria — a new adventure in Islamist empowerment at a time when most Americans have decided Iraq was a catastrophe and Afghanistan is a death trap where our straitjacketed troops are regularly shot by the ingrates they’ve been sent to help.

Republicans talk about limited central government, but they do not believe in it — or, if they do, they lack confidence that they can explain its benefits compellingly. They’ve bought the Democrats’ core conceit that the modern world is just too complicated for ordinary people to make their way without bureaucratic instruction. They look at a money-hemorrhaging disaster like Medicare, whose unsustainability is precisely caused by the intrusion of government, and they say, “Let’s preserve it — in fact, let’s make its preservation the centerpiece of our campaign.”

The calculation is straightforward: Republicans lack the courage to argue from conviction that health care would work better without federal mandates and control — that safety nets are best designed by the states, the people, and local conditions, not Washington diktat. In their paralysis, we are left with a system that will soon implode, a system that will not provide care for the people being coerced to pay in. Most everybody knows this is so, yet Republicans find themselves too cowed or too content to advocate dramatic change when only dramatic change will save us. They look at education, the mortgage crisis, and a thousand other things the same way — intimidated by the press, unable to articulate the case that Washington makes things worse.

Truth be told, most of today’s GOP does not believe Washington makes things worse. Republicans think the federal government — by confiscating, borrowing, and printing money — is the answer to every problem, rather than the source of most. That is why those running the party today, when they ran Washington during the Bush years, orchestrated an expansion of government size, scope, and spending that would still boggle the mind had Obama not come along. (See Jonah Goldberg’s jaw-dropping tally from early 2004 — long before we knew their final debt tab would come to nearly $5 trillion.) No matter what they say in campaigns, today’s Republicans are champions of massive, centralized government. They just think it needs to be run smarter — as if the problem were not human nature and the nature of government, but just that we haven’t quite gotten the org-chart right yet.

That is not materially different from what the Democrats believe. It’s certainly not an alternative. For Americans who think elections can make a real difference, Tuesday pitted proud progressives against reticent progressives; slightly more preferred the true-believers. For Americans who don’t see much daylight between the two parties — one led by the president who keeps spending money we don’t have and the other by congressional Republicans who keep writing the checks and extending the credit line — voting wasn’t worth the effort.

Those 9 million Americans need a new choice. We all do.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2012; elections; idiotsdidntvote4mitt; voters
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To: snarkytart

I think the problem is that the majority of Americans are so economically STUPID that it is impossible to win their vote promising fiscal management. People who carry 20K+ in credit card debt aren’t going to vote on cutting the deficit, nor will they ever understand how cutting taxes can result in reduced deficits. They are stupid in their private life, so why should we expect intelligence in their public life?

101 posted on 11/10/2012 7:00:24 AM PST by Mr Rogers (America is becoming California, and California is becoming Detroit. Detroit is already hell.)
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To: BlatherNaut

And they will lose and continue to lose.

We heard that last time - and look at the result of going moderate? A loss.

We need to go conservative not moderate. We need to tell the moderates that they need to either fish or cut bait -> You either support the conservatives AS NOMINATED, or go to the Dems. Some will leave, which is inevitable.

102 posted on 11/10/2012 7:00:46 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (They may take our lives... but they'll never take our FREEDOM!)
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To: Soul of the South

I know a number of people who say “they are all the same,it doesn’t matter who you vote for,nothing will change” DESPITE the vast changes that have occurred !

And I am unable to reason with these people;their minds are totally closed to argument,it is all about “feelings”.

Some are actually PROUD of not voting!

Don’t say “why associate with them?” I have to work with them every day.

103 posted on 11/10/2012 7:01:43 AM PST by hoosierham (Freedom isn't free)
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To: C. Edmund Wright

As was said earlier - you want my vote too, nominate a Conservative.

Why don’t you turn to your blessed independents since you don’t want or need us.

104 posted on 11/10/2012 7:02:20 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (They may take our lives... but they'll never take our FREEDOM!)
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To: what's up

You and I reached the same conclusion - that JRandom is no better than an infantile liberal with an entitlement mentality. I referred him to some liberal websites where his kind of low information low IQ type will be more at home.

105 posted on 11/10/2012 7:02:43 AM PST by C. Edmund Wright ("WTF?: How Karl Rove and the Consultant Class Have Destroyed America")
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To: duffee

Attacking the voters you fail to win over is no recipe for success.

Recognize that you failed to win over enough votes. It’s not the voters’s fault, it’s the candidate and the party.

Until this lightbulb goes off, Republicans will continue to try to browbeat their way into office. It doesn’t work.

Sell something people will buy. It’s not rocket science.

The wild rollercoaster of a primary season was the result of a very significant group who just did not want Romney. They just didn’t want him. Two thirds of primary voters.

Does this say something? The voters are wrong is the message that the party got, and they’re sticking to it. Stupid.

I didn’t want Romney, didn’t think he was a great candidate but he was all there was as far as any hope of unseating Obama. So, I voted for him.

Others didn’t and I understand why.

Support a candidate who does not offend such a wide swath of potential voters next time.

106 posted on 11/10/2012 7:02:50 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: duffee
Except they didn't stay home. The author's main premise of a stay at home electorate is simply not true for Romney voters. See my post #65.

Romney will exceed McCain's 60M and end up pretty close to Bush's 62M in 2004.

107 posted on 11/10/2012 7:03:11 AM PST by Ken H
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To: Andy from Chapel Hill
he needed the Bible Belt to win.

Romney won the states in the Bible Belt.

Evangelicals voted majority Romney except for the idiots. These idiots consider it superior to have a partial birth abortion president than a president who made some pro-choice comments years ago.

These people ensure that more babies will now die and that the abortion pill becomes mandatory for insurance companies. Are they fools? Why, of course.

108 posted on 11/10/2012 7:04:09 AM PST by what's up
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To: C. Edmund Wright

Do you support abortion?

109 posted on 11/10/2012 7:04:23 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (They may take our lives... but they'll never take our FREEDOM!)
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To: C. Edmund Wright
I will vote for a candidate that is and has a PROVEN track record of being conservative.

To do that, the candidate must have PROVEN record of being anti-abortion, pro-2A, against socialized medicine, and must have reduced government somewhere along the way.

I've been here on FR a decade longer than you, and seen elections and presidents come and go.

You will get over it. Whether you learn to be conservative is another question.


110 posted on 11/10/2012 7:05:16 AM PST by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: JCBreckenridge
So we lost because we didn’t set the pander dial to 11?

Getting 60% of the white vote might have worked for George H.W. Bush in '88 but it sure as hell didn't work for Mitt Romney. In case you haven't noticed, this country is a lot more brown than it used to be. Appealing to white males over 30 --and nobody else-- just doesn't cut it anymore.

Really a moot point. Republicans have lost the Hispanic vote for a generation. Unless the GOP does a top to bottom rebranding, we won't be winning any national elections for quite some time.

111 posted on 11/10/2012 7:05:19 AM PST by Drew68
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To: C. Edmund Wright

“First, he didn’t “invent” Obama Care - but there’s not talking to you about that, so I’ll use an anology.”

You start right off with Bull$hit when you say that. He invented it at the state level and Bronco Bamma moved it to the big time.

Primary voters that thought the idiot could sucessfully argue for repeal of Obamacare are simple minded.

I voted for the stupid bastard last Tues, but don’t start spewing your BS that the candidate wasn’t the problem.

112 posted on 11/10/2012 7:06:44 AM PST by Beagle8U (Free Republic -- One stop shopping ....... It's the Conservative Super WalMart for news .)
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To: JCBreckenridge
If you did not vote against Obama you helped the candidate with the most extreme abortion position possible to continue in power.

You also aided him in allowing the morning after pill to become mandatory for ALL religious organizations. Congrats.

113 posted on 11/10/2012 7:08:12 AM PST by what's up
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To: Soul of the South

Great points and I’m of the belief as you are that race was a factor too. Many guilt-ridden white voters still supported the president despite the bad economy. The Republicans in congress are not aggressive enough in promoting their agenda and how much of that is their fear of being called racist by the media for opposing the president? Bottom line is that this country is in for a rough four years.

114 posted on 11/10/2012 7:08:32 AM PST by dowcaet
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To: JCBreckenridge

The most elaborate high tech microscope could not locate your IQ under the best lighting conditions. The assumption that those of us who voted against Obama last week are all part of some cabal that “owns” the candidate choice is such an absurd assumption that it can only be made by a spoiled infantile brat who understands nothing about how a Republic is governed.

Thus, I cannot answer your questions because the premise behind them is so flawed as to make conversation with you meaningless. And for the record, look at the title of my upcoming book in the signature tagline box:

115 posted on 11/10/2012 7:09:43 AM PST by C. Edmund Wright ("WTF?: How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost....Again")
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To: C. Edmund Wright; JRandomFreeper
that JRandom is no better than an infantile liberal with an entitlement mentality

Sure seems that way.

All this blather about us on FR having to "earn his vote". LOL.

For some reason he and those like him think they're entitled...just like the inner city losers.

116 posted on 11/10/2012 7:12:25 AM PST by what's up
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To: Beagle8U

I never said the candidate was not the problem. But the candidate is not on this forum this morning. And the candidate is only part of the problem.

The other part of the problem are idiot voters who sat home. If that’s not you, then quit going out of your way to be offended. That’s what liberals do.

I fought, in an official capacity, to keep Mitt from the nomination. I lost that fight. Thus, I did what adults do. That is to assess the situation, and move on with the best available option. It sounds like you did too. My ire is not directed at you.

117 posted on 11/10/2012 7:12:28 AM PST by C. Edmund Wright ("WTF?: How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost....Again")
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Comment #118 Removed by Moderator

To: what's up

Romney supports both of these positions. I supported the only candidate who did not support abortion.

I am only responsible for myself, not for whom other people choose to support. You want to support the architect of Romneycare - go ahead.

119 posted on 11/10/2012 7:19:06 AM PST by JCBreckenridge (They may take our lives... but they'll never take our FREEDOM!)
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To: JRandomFreeper
All the berating me about not voting for Romney is like water to a duck. I don't hear you.

Actually, you voted for Obama.

A lot of us couldn't pull the lever for Romney, but made damn sure we pulled it against Obama. You couldn't even muster enough courage to do that.

120 posted on 11/10/2012 7:19:06 AM PST by hopespringseternal
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