I spent today looking at results and exit polls with my students, and I have some thoughts and questions.
First, in Ohio, Obama seems to have done no better than Kerry (both received 2.7 million votes, give or take), while McCain did significantly worse than Bush (approximately 300,000 votes less this time around). With the gold-plated Obama GOTV effort, how could this be? Does this represent the current Democratic ceiling in Ohio? Does Bush’s 2004 result represent the current Republican ceiling, with McCain’s 2008 result as the floor? If so, Republicans in the Buckeye state ought to take heart. There’s hope that, if all things are equal, the state can return to the GOP column. To be sure, it would require a competent campaign and competent governance. And it require that "nature" reasserts itself against "change," that is, that Pres. Obama can’t deliver on his implicit promises.
Florida is interesting for a different reason. A good chunk of the result there can, it seems, be chalked up to two "facts" (if anything from an exit poll can be called a "fact"). African-Americans were a slightly higher proportion of Florida’s electorate this time (1% larger), and, of course, went overwhelmingly for Obama. (In 2004, GWB won 13% of that vote, which, if memory serves, was 17% of the electorate.) Florida Latinos--especially younger ones--also fell for Obama. Changes in those two groups are pretty much enough to flip the state. I think. Does anyone out there know better?
One last point. Right now, Obama is (barely) outperforming Bush 2004 (64 to 62 million). His numbers will go a bit higher (65 to 67 million may be about right). He will have improved on the 2004 Democratic result by 10-15%. This pales in comparison to Bush’s move from 50 million in 2000 to 62 million in 2004. I’m less impressed than I was prepared to be by the Obama campaign...especially since they spent almost ten times as much as Bush in 2004 or McCain in 2008. I’m only half-joking when I say that the "inefficiency" of the Obama campaign (the cost per vote) is not a harbinger of good things from the Obama Administration.