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Looking Back at Obama’s Win

Don Rose 20 November 2012 One Comment

PARIS—Enjoying a two-week stay here where a vast majority of this country loves our president as much as the half of America that voted for him. I suggest that when his second term is up he move here and run for president, which he would win in a landslide.

Looking back on election night there have been some excellent analyses of his “surprise” victory, basing it on (1) the extraordinary socio-political analysis of the electorate developed through superb data mining that was the basis of the now legendary get-out-the vote ground game masterminded by David Plouffe and Jim Messina with, of course, the strategic theming of David Axelrod; and (2) the changing demographics of the USA.

Volumes will be written on both of these topics, but it would be remiss to overlook a prophetic book of 2004, “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” by Ruy Teixeira and my friend John Judis, which foresaw the social, economic and demographic changes that would create the precondition for this victory and suggest a coming progressive era.

In addition to those two macrofactors, it’s also clear that Obama’s victory had a lot to do with the selection of Mitt Romney through a nearly year-long series of Republican debates and primaries, which served two purposes:

First, that bizarre field of GOP aspirants, each trying to out-conservative the other and each a certain loser, forced Romney to play to the extreme right and to defend himself against the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, all of whom attacked Romney as a lying “vulture capitalist” and a “Massachusetts moderate,” which they hoped would kill him off. However, his combination of money and the meme of being the most “electable” managed to bring him through, but severely crippled politically.

Meanwhile, having no primary opponent, Obama was able to spend hundreds of millions adding to the credible attacks on Romney’s role at Bain Capital while at the same time investing time and money in battleground state organization.

Romney emerged as badly damaged goods, unaided by his own party’s convention, which was made a laughing stock by Clint Eastwood’s exotic debate with an empty chair.

Hypothetically, had Romney been the early acclaimed choice of his party, as Obama was of his, and had not gone through those excruciating months where his strength as a businessman was ripped asunder by both the GOP hopefuls and Obama’s brilliant attacks, the outcome might have been very different, because Obama was extremely vulnerable on the economy and unemployment rate.

But rather than concentrate on those matters, the primaries shifted focus to the social issues, mainly immigration, abortion and, of all things, contraception. Thus was born the Republican “war on women” which ultimately created the huge gender gap that was so important to Obama’s win. Romney was never able to focus on the economy nor use his business credentials to his advantage.

So in addition to Plouffe, Messina and Axelrod, grounds games and demographics, Democrats must thank their true allies, Perry, Santorum, Cain, Gingrich and Bachmann.

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Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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