Skip to comments.The Voters Who Stayed Home (The Key to Understanding the Results of the 2012 Elections)
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 Lefts embrace of illegal immigration) in order to be viable. But the story is not about who voted; it is about who didnt 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, Tuesdays 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 presidents 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 Christies exuberance our hyper-partisan president was made to look like a bipartisan healer, Sandy has to be considered a big net plus on Obamas 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, its 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. Lets 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 doesnt 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 Washingtons 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 hed 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 were falling off and I dont mean Januarys so-called Taxmageddon, which is a day at the beach compared to whats 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, thats 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 partys 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 Beltways 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 Benghazis 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 theyve 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. Theyve 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, Lets preserve it in fact, lets 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 todays 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 Goldbergs 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, todays 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 havent quite gotten the org-chart right yet.
That is not materially different from what the Democrats believe. Its 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 dont see much daylight between the two parties one led by the president who keeps spending money we dont have and the other by congressional Republicans who keep writing the checks and extending the credit line voting wasnt 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.
From Eric Holmes of the American Thinker:
Looking closely at the county-by-county voting result map, however, reveals that Gov. Romney’s message and his target demographic could have worked. It was only in a handful of specific counties that the execution of promoting that message did not break through.
Nationwide, Gov. Romney appealed to middle-class Christian families who live in either rural or suburban areas. Geographically, he did well in the South and the Midwest and less well on the West Coast, in the Rust Belt, and in the Northeast. With this group of voters he could have won the election — if not for some specific areas where the demographics favored Gov. Romney, yet the voting was strangely inconsistent.
Obviously, Romney would have won had he carried Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and either Colorado or Iowa.
A lot is being said about the Obama surge in Miami. Gov. Romney could have carried this state with a more balanced voting result in Broward or Orange County. Both of these are dominated by sprawling suburban neighborhoods of tree-lined streets and parents playing with their kids in parks. There is nothing urban about these. Yet Gov. Romney lost by 200,000 votes in Broward County neighborhoods, which look identical to neighborhoods across the country from which he won millions of votes. Same is true for Orange County (Orlando), where he lost by 120,000.
In Ohio, Gov. Romney did nicely in Cincinnati and Toledo. He was creamed in Cleveland. He was also demolished in Columbus, a non-industrial city in the heartland of the state. By national standards, though, he should have won enough votes in Columbus to win the state.
In Virginia, his demographic was in the north — Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties. Just a more realistic showing across these counties would have won Gov. Romney the state. He didn’t have to win — just turn the tide a bit.
MY COMMENT: How the heck did Romney even lose the CUBAN VOTE?
One of the stay homes called Rush last week. He was an all or nothing type.
It was his last chance to win. Another chance will not becoming anytime soon, if ever.
4 more years of Obama will not make conservatism a winning thing.
The takers win, and there will be more of them in 4 years.
As the Boomers begin to age their death rate climbs. Absent a really vigorous voter registration program, the number of Republican voters should decline ~ and that's been the case ever since "W""s last election in 2004.
This time even the Democrats had a maor drop in voting strength.
This problem will continue for the next 20 years until the last Boomer is sitting around in an old folks home spitting chaw into a brass bucket!
There are a lot of good, hardworking people out there who are absolutely disgusted with both parties. They believe, not without justification, that both parties are just different sides of the same coin. So they just stay home. They’re basically saying “a pox on both your houses” — even though it mostly affects our house.
There is no real understanding of it, frankly. Even in polls like PPP and Pew all the internals showed people unhappy with the economy and yet they send back the socialist to finish his job, as he put it during the campaign. Here’s a man who spent almost one trillion dollars in stimulous promising it would solve the issue, and things got worse. Yet he still blamed BUSH four years later. Reading comments under the stories of lay offs you see that our country has become a bunch of lazy asses who want the Federal government to help them from cradle to grave and punish anyone who has more ambition and drive to make something of themselves.
The takers won. And these same low life loser will keep blaming Wall Street and Bush.
All the berating me about not voting for Romney is like water to a duck. I don't hear you.
Proven track record of anti-abortion, pro-2A, reducing government, no socialized medicine...
It's not difficult.
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.
TO MANY RINOS, oust them! THEY LOVE THE PIG TROUGH JUST LIKE THE DEMS! TERM LIMITS, TIE PAY TO SS AND MILITARY COLA RAISES! NO MORE LIFE TIME PLATINUM HEALTH INSURANCE EITHER!
Romney lost the Cuban vote because he did not pick Rubio. Romney lost the election because he did not ice Rubio.
What the nation saw was two “white bread” politicians fitting the narrative of the Obama agenda. Romney selects Rubio and that all goes away. It gives Republicans diversity and it gives the perception if they won they would do something about amnesty. Romney picked Ryan to try to pick off Wisconsin as well as to give the conservatives red meat.
Red meat wasn’t the issue. Winning this election was the issue. And he lost. Badly.
Since I no longer believe what anyone in the media says, whether left or right wing, the only thing left to believe in is the Constitution.
It will only be when true conservatism gets to the forefront that we will take this country back. The Tea Party had it right. Unfortunately in the end, they did exactly what the Democrats expected of them. Fade into the background and let the establishment do its thing.
He believes there was no difference between Romney and Obama. He was so blind and stupid that he couldn't tell the difference between a good man and a poser. Between a man who loves his country and a man dedicated to destroy it.
The Rush caller wants the country to burn because he believes that Ronald Reagan will emerge from the ashes. How little he knows history. Reagans don't emerge from the ashes... Hitlers do.
If you stayed home, for any reason, you have earned my contempt and scorn.
Those who stayed home will reap the consequences of the election as much as those who voted. Making no decision is a decision.
The residents nice suburban tree lined streets will experience job losses, higher taxes, higher energy and food prices, and more restrictions on freedom. Perhaps none of this matters as long as there is a roof overhead, food in the refrigerator, and a widescreen television with hundreds of channels in the house.
The only thing I can see on the horizon that may shake Americans out of their stupor is the medium term consequences of Obama’s war on fossil fuels. As we’ve seen this week he is prepared to bring the oil shale boom to a halt using environmental regulations to end development of resources. This means higher gasoline prices in the future. The war on coal will soon be over and with the permanent shutdown of America’s coal fired power plants we will begin experiencing frequent brownouts and blackouts in the heartland. No doubt the federal government will mandate the grid supply the cities. Gasoline prices of $7.00 to $10.00 per gallon will hurt the pocketbooks of rural and suburban dwellers hard. Loss of electric power for 3-4 hours a day will be a major irritant and inconvenience except for those who recently immigrated from 3rd world countries where unreliable power is the norm.
Perhaps when the suburban middle class worker is spending $10.00 per gallon for gasoline and can’t watch Dancing with the Stars due to frequent electric power blackouts, he will want to vote for “change”.
This is a basic, basic lesson. You do not vilify the most passionate, and dedicated supporters in order to fish for wishy washy moderates.
You will lose every time.
If the GOP wants to continue losing elections, they should keep on attacking their base like you are doing here.
Perhaps the moderates who left us with no choice in this election will learn their lesson. I doubt it though, because I’m sure we’ll continue to hear that the Republicans lost because they didn’t swallow enough socialism.
You and I agree. I am really ticked at this crap. Every day we bash our own and spend very little time preparing for the nightmare we all have coming in a few minutes.
I am sick because we bash our own and when we do the dems and the media delight in piling on and watching us get destroyed.
Adds to the depression.
We had a potential one...
In other words, the GOPe, as of this election, has LOST the "hold-your-nose-and-vote" base. The threats of dire consequences are no longer sufficient to scare conservatives into voting. Do I think the GOPe will take this lesson to heart? Nope .... as the author says, they're playing the game, too .... don't want true conservatism. The RNC gave NO money to Bachmann, the Repubs redistricted Allen West out of a seat ... these are the folks who stand up for America and the very 'Tea Party' types that Boehner has now denied exists in the House.
So we lost because we didn’t set the pander dial to 11?
Elected politicians are NOT going to change the system. Once in office, they will all tend to see government as the solution, not the problem. Elected politicians will not fix this mess.
Nothing changes until after the war. I don't really expect that war to occur within my lifetime, but we'll see.
Well, those good hard workers just saddled us with Obamacare. I am sick and my doctor I liked just quit.
I want to tell thos good hard workers to get....
“The threats of dire consequences are no longer sufficient to scare conservatives into voting”
A-men, ma’am. A-men.
You are a fool... and you are about to reap a fool's harvest.
The Tea Party didn’t show up, for whatever reason.
Because, in multiethnic societies, the blood is everything.
Dear Fool, we will not be winning any elections. Obamacare is here to stay and our guns will be taken.
It is over at the ballot box.
Thick headedness is not a virtue.
I am so glad Alan West is fighting! Voter fraud needs to be exposed. Who are the sheeple now?!
“If the GOP wants my vote, it needs to run a conservative nominee.”
Then we need closed primaries, state by state.
We will never again have a conservative candidate, because Dems crossover and vote for our candidates in our primaries.
They were warned, repeatedly.
I’ve got to leave this thread...I can’t bear to hear anymore from these idiots who are proud that they stayed home.
I imagine you don't care about that. However, it will make a difference to your heirs.
The counting still goes on. Millions will be added to the 2012 totals. I am surprised that McCarthy has bought into this meme. The current total vote is now 120 million. 71% of CA has reported. 55% of WA. 75% of OR.
Just like the Perot voters who gave us 8 years of Clinton you’ve given us 8 years of Obama. The worst president in history because of people like you.
We sure do, but we need more than that.
That's how you talk about people you want to vote for your candidate? Seriously? How well does that get your candidate elected?
Your attitude and actions are what kept people away. Water... duck's back... Cow.... cabbage....
Change that or keep losing.
I agree. Obama won this election by the stay at homes (and fraud). To all those, including some freepers, how did that staying home, or write-in, or 3rd party vote turn out for you? Do you think you taught/punished the GOP enough? Will they run a more conservative candidate?
If you want me to vote for your candidate, run a conservative.
It's that easy.
My heirs will be just peachy keen. They are better shots than this old guy.
My response is a pox on the people i.e. deluded fools who stayed home and let a socialist run the country four more years.
STay at home because they are “all the same” I fear that this message has not yet gotten to the “leadership” of the republican party. The did a fair job of holding up legislation in the last congress but they did not stop spending!! So mountains of debt still looks like a wahsington problem that can’t be voted out.
Romney will top McCain's 60M in 2008 and probably end up closer to Bush's 62M in 2004.
People didn't want your candidate. What part of that is difficult to understand.
The face of America has forever changed in the past four years. The next four years will just seal the deal.
New tag line. It is why this was the last election for which I will ever pull the lever for the GOP.
Blame the voter because the candidate was weak? That's a logical thing to do... I suppose, for some values of logic.
Maybe, just maybe, running a conservative next time might work.
...And this is where the STUPID PARTY are contentiously arrogant prix. They have solidly lost THREE of the last 4 elections. They didn't win with BUSH, he was selected. Bush beat Kerry because things were going well.
Look at the FACTS Dole, McCain, and Romney, all RINO losers, but yet republicans do not want to look at the concrete reality. I have denounced my party affiliation and as far as I'm concerned "conservatives" need to coalesce and just leave...The current GOPe diss us any way!!!
Let’s face it. They have bamboozled us. They pick our candidates in open primaries. (Actually, I was happy Romney survived that, and although he was not my first choice I vigorously supported him.) They control the educational system that turns out kids who care more about a “rock star” president and their “rights” to paid birth control than about our decency and survival as a nation. They control the majority of the media. They control many of our electoral machines. There’s no end.
I’m sorry, but a time has to come when we quit pointing fingers and take this country back. That means we have to quit complaining and take back our kids’ educational system. We need to get more of our own media. FOX and talk radio is a good start. We need to challenge every suspicious vote, Allen West style. And damn the torpedos, we have to bring God front and center into our worldview, and use whatever religious freedom we still have in this country to influence it for the good.
What I do believe is that the Democrats have found a way to steal any election they desire. And that is through early voting, people registering to vote under multiple names and giving multiple addresses, absentee ballots, and voting by mail. And I have no doubt that there are many more ways. This does away with the need for obama to cancel other elections or to outlaw political parties. Those who oppose him will just be frauded out. To illustrate: The Republican Party will be reduced by the above methods to token numbers and they will support, either overtly or covertly, obama's agenda.
They got obama in the White House and got rid of Allen West and some more of obama's more vocal opponents this time. Next election they will get rid of more.
Millions of people voted against Obama by staying home. Because they didn’t really believe in Romney either, they just didn’t vote. If there had been a Conservative Party candidate for them to vote for they would have gone to the polls. Obama would have still won, but the reason why would have been painfully obvious to all these so called experts. Conservatives want your votes to be valued, sought after, and actually counted? Form a new party.
Not accounting for facts is a problem. You are right.
I suspect that what I am going to start calling an Intelligent Red Meat Conservatism message may win, and may win for the reasons set forth in this article.
But to say that with any precision, we have to have FACTS. We need to know, scientifically, just WHY those who stayed home stayed home. We need to know just WHY those who voted for McCain (some 2 plus million) didn’t bother to vote for Romney.
I have my suspicions, as we all do. But I don’t know yet. We need that answer.
I disagree that Rubio was the answer. Rubio wasn’t ready, just as Obama wasn’t ready. Putting inexperienced people into demanding jobs due to their racial or ethnic profile is not the answer. Experience and perspective, as well as wisdom, is required for senior leadership roles.
It may be Rubio took himself out of the running. If he was smart he knew he would benefit from additional seasoning another four years in the Senate would provide. He also knew the election would be close and if Romney lost with him on the ticket he might be finished because his image would be tarnished. No doubt the press would have given him the Palin treatment. Instead of taking the number 2 slot now, he likely decided it would be better to wait it out and run for the #1 position in 2016 or 2020.
Romney appears to have received 2 million votes less than McCain. McCain was a lousy candidate. If Romney received 2 million fewer votes in this economy he must have been an even worse candidate.
Consider the following:
1) The Tea Party was the most powerful force in American politics in 2010. Yet Romney made no effort to harness the energy of the Tea Party. We saw very little of the Tea Party in 2012.
2) Romney was the standard bearer of the conservative party but his record showed he was not a conservative. It may be many decided he wasn’t much different than Obama and therefore stayed at home.
3) His ground game collapsed on election day (the computer system). The Dems had an outstanding ground game and technology to get the vote out.
4) Romney made the choice to play it safe after winning the first debate. Obama decided to fight aggressively. Safe loses.
5) The exit polls show the hurricane had a very strong influence on the election in Obama’s favor.
6) The natural inclination of the people is to vote to retain the current occupant of the White House. No doubt many voters were also reluctant to vote against the historical black president. Incumbency is a strong factor, particularly when the opponent is not running aggressively.
7) Being a minority candidate does not automatically translate to winning elections. Look at Allen West this year and Mia Love. If voters are looking for minority Republicans they should have won in landslides.
8) The people elected a Republican House majority in 2010. That conservative House majority was expected to fight for more responsible fiscal policy. Instead Boehner chose to play a passive game and acquiesced to trillion dollar annual deficits. After seeing the Republicans capture the House and then fail to use their power to slow down the spending spree, why would you think a moderate to left Republican President would change the game?
9) People vote for the top of the ticket not the bottom. If it was about the bottom of the ticket Obama should have lost due to Biden’s behavior. If Rubio had been Romney’s VP, the media would have labeled him an inexperienced “token” and convinced Hispanics it would only be meaningful if he was at the top of the ticket.
Like it or not race did play a factor in this election. I believe if Romney had been running against a President Biden, President Hillary Clinton, President John Kerry or President Al Gore, under the same economic conditions, he would have won.