First in a series of reflections on the 2008 election
"The election of the first African-American President of the United States is an extraordinary and historic moment, not only for our country, but also for the world, where it will serve as a beacon of empowerment across societies. This victory represents a new promise, a realization of the long-held dreams of generations of Americans who have fought and continue to fight against the ugliness of inequality in all its forms." -New York Governor David Paterson
Ok, there's my eloquent quote regarding the significance of President-elect Obama's victory. Now I'll get back to business as usual on this blog: talking about campaigns, candidates, strategies and number-crunching.
I'll make this as succinct as possible: Obama's campaign was perfect. Let's review what the strategy was. First: win DC plus all of the 21 states won by either Gore in 2000 and/or Kerry in 2004. That represents 264 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win.
Second: Win Colorado and Nevada, or win at least one of the swing states in the east: Florida, North Carolina, Ohio or Virginia. Note that Obama was considered foolish by some to target all of these states, particularly North Carolina.
On November 4, Obama won all of the above. He also carried two and possibly all three of the "insurance" targets that he added to his strategy late in the campaign: Indiana, Missouri and Nebraska-02.
Here, in no particular order, are some other interesting facts regarding Obama, McCain, the polls, the results and the impact of the Presidential race.
* Obama's 50-state strategy of spending resources and engaging voters nationwide paid huge dividends. Democrats gained seats in most state legislatures this year. At the Congressional level, many Democrats in red states won their hard-fought races with the help of their local Obama office, which was furiously registering new voters and getting out the Democratic message.
* The McCain campaign failed miserably in the Northeast. This was the one region of the country where Obama had serious coattails. In New York for example, a 62%-37% victory by Obama was good enough for Democrats to capture three U.S. House seats as well as New York's state Senate.
* McCain captured only 31% of the Hispanic vote. This is down significantly from the 40% Bush received from Hispanics in 2004. George Bush as a candidate as well as his brother Jeb as Governor of Florida showed a remarkable talent for building up support among Hispanics for the Republican brand. It appears that support is fading fast.
* My most astute pick this year was Obama taking Indiana. The aggregate of polls showed Obama losing Indiana 50%-48%, but I suspected Obama would win because of the results of the Democratic primary in Indiana this past Spring. In that contest, Obama far outperformed expectations due to support from the Lake counties, which are really suburban Chicago.
* And finally, a consolation prize for McCain: Louisiana loves you. This was the only state where the polls were significantly different from the final outcome, and furthermore, the only state that is arguably becoming more rather than less Republican. The polls suggested McCain would win Louisiana by about 10%. He instead won by almost 20%. Congratulations GOP, your bungled response to Hurricane Katrina has forced so many poor and middle-class Democrats to flee Louisiana that you can now guarantee victory in the Pelican state. Enjoy!