Last night President Barack Obama was declared re-elected President of the United States. It’s fair to say that he won re-election due to capturing a substantial fraction of the four important and growing categories of the electorate. He captured a substantial fraction of young millennials. These are young voters about 30 or under. They were with President Obama in 2008 and they are a larger and stronger force in 2012. They were suggested to be disillusioned. Turns out they were not. They will be an even larger and stronger force in 2016. They are the Facebook, social media generation, armed with smartphones, and incredibly computer savvy. they are committed to social justice and strongly lean to Democratic party. They were largely ignored and not well-treated by Republicans.
African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians also went strongly Democratic each for different sets of reasons. Voter identification laws were widely regarded as an attempt to reduce participation by minorities in the election. A backlash against this perception probably sent more African Americans to the polls that would have otherwise made it there. Hispanics regarded harsh Republican rhetoric against immigration reform as open hostility against Hispanics. Asians also began feeling more comfortable with Democrats for a variety of reasons. An open discussion of rape, abortion, and birth control and its availability mainly from Republicans as well as discussion of other issues important to threatened primarily younger single women.
Most of the above demographic groups voted strongly for President Obama giving him a comfortable by still narrow victory as white men over the age of 30 voted heavily in favor of Governor Romney.
As the election results unfolded it was unclear President Obama would win a substantial victory well beyond what was expected based on late polls. The polls clearly under-counted minorities, particularly Hispanics, and young voters who tend not to answer robo-calls and calls they don’t recognized on their smart phone screens. Interestingly, the same thing happened in 2008, and the differences were particularly clear in states with relatively large Hispanic populations. Many Republicans expected to see a victory and were surprised in the extreme as the evening unfolded.
Half a day later much soul searching has Republicans thinking seriously about the future of the party. They can’t win going forward only with white men, who as a fraction of the electorate gets smaller and smaller with time. Unhappily this is made more difficult by and extremely difficult far right wing group of within the Tea Party, right wing journalists and radio talk show hosts. Constant harsh rhetoric drives people away. It doesn’t bring them into the fold. Nevertheless, many Republicans will want to try for a more inclusive tent. There is a long way to go, and it’s not clear that it will be very successful.
With the discussion of a looming fiscal cliff beginning, it’s unclear that Republicans in power can control Tea party elements and get anything done. There is little discipline there, and given the jabbering going on at the moment with talk show hosts, there seems to be little hope that rationality will prevail anytime soon.