Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So it begins....

Following on from the last post Barack Obama is now President-Elect. His Electroal College win was 338 to 155 for McCain. The word "landslide" springs to mind. However, if you take a look at the popular vote you get a different picture.

The popular vote currently stands at 51.3% to Obama against 47.4% for McCain. IN comparison to 2004 which was 50.7% Bush, 48.3% Kerry what you actually see is a small movement of votes in a country that is still deeply divided politically. As my friends over at the Crossed Pond have noted,
this means that the sum total of the hatred of Bush, the war in Iraq, civil liberties under attack, the collapse of the Republican Party, and the financial crisis ripping through our economy swayed a couple of percent of the electorate.
Not of course that any of it matters to those who are outsiders. There will be joy for a while that the evil right wing GOP have been routed from the White House. Then, when the dust settles and the job of leading the free world begins for real for Obama, he'll make decisions that will continue to piss them all off.

That's it for foreign affairs now until after next January when the slide into the current status of sneering antiamericanism begins once more.

UPDATE: The following graph shows the percentage shares of the US popular vote, 1960 to date and illustrates the point quite well.

Via Croydonian

17 comments:

Howard said...

Although I agree with the principal of what you are saying, you are jumping the gun rather on the figures. Several States are still to call and the final popular vote figures will not be known for sometime. Whan they are known the electoral conclusions may be rather different.

Whatever it is an outstanding win that followed the right strategy and targeted the winnable States.

David said...

Come on man, you've got to be relieved that Palin got nowhere near the White House.

dizzy said...

You misunderstand me, I;m not saying that I supported McCain, I didn't. I wouldn't have voted for either of them. I'm just noting that the popular vote suggests that the nation remains one quite divided.

Anonymous said...

We have learned nothing about Obama's policies. From his voting record, he makes Gordon Brown look like a safe pair of hands. Be very afraid.

Pogo said...

"dizzy": I wouldn't have voted for either of them.

Same here... I find it utterly depressing that when faced with selecting the man/woman for the most powerful job in the richest and most powerful nation on earth, the voter is given a choice between two utter nobheads - either of whom would be out of their depth running the local Christmas Club.

Howard said...

Careful Dizzy. The popular vote for the winner is rarely, if ever, beyond 53-54%. It easy, but wrong to draw conclusions from this. Also the States is such a vast country with great differences.

However you look at it is a resounding victory.

dizzy said...

I'm not drawing the wrong conclusion that the total vote for each is still split and the shift in vote is not quite as massive as the electoral college makes it look.

Of course, in terms of the seats lost in the House and Senate as well yes, the Democrats are laughing on domestic policy. However, the country is clearly split down the middle still and the targetting of Independents was key to shift that small group in the middle.

Letters From A Tory said...

The popular vote just goes to show how incredibly well organised the Democrats were in the swing states - they deserve huge credit for that alone.

Howard said...

Letters From A Tory,

Exactly and that is it in a nutshell. The split is meaningless.

dizzy said...

I'm afraid the split is not meaningless at all. It may be so if you're just looking at raw power and the resulting seats etc. However, if you're looking at the wider view about American society it is far from meaingless. It means that the country is still really wedged and there is a sliver in the middle that moves and that is all.

Howard said...

What did you expect 90% of the popular vote to go one way?

The US is not like the UK. Each State is unlike any other and have their own cultures and laws. The US was split under Reagan. Of course it is divided but not in the way you suggest.

Moreover the system of government is not like the UK.

Sorry your analysis is plain wrong as any student and expert in US politics will tell you.

As Sir Christopher Meyer, who knows a thing or two, said this morning, the result is “absolutely seismic”

The big issue is will the expectations of BO be met. On that, time will tell.

dizzy said...

Of course I don;t expect that, jesus, talk about extrapolating meaning and taking it to the extreme. The "seismic" aspect refers I would say to what the result means in terms of seats as I have already said. I am talking about culture, not politics here and my analysis is also the analysis of americans who are US politics students as well.

The point here is, as the quoted text from an american blog of note points out, is that the actual swing in popular vote terms was a lot less than the actual result implies and in fact the nation is still more heavily divided than it has been in other elections.

My analysis isn't "wrong" at all. I am making a very real observations that on current figures of the popular vote the shift away from the GOP has not been as large as the actual results in seats produces and suggests that of the electorate that chose to vote there remains a cultural divide on political allegiances which is still almost straight down the middle.

It really isn't that difficult a thing to get unless one insists that such an observation is an attempt to downplay the ahcievement of the Obama campaign, which it is not. The GOP collapsed in a mess organisationally, they were beaten by a better campaigner. The shift and loss of voting electorate is still however only in the 3% which is lower than one would expect on the basis of the backlash against the Bush Administration that occured.

Dan said...

Thanks Dizzy - very interesting point you made about the split of the popular vote in the US. While it is a resounding victory for Obama for many reasons, it still illustrates that the actual voting % difference between the parties is not all that huge. Similarly in Britain a resounding Conservative or Labour victory might only be a few % points difference. I think Howard is missing your point....

Bob Piper said...

Why on earth are people talking about a 'split' or even more absurd, Dizzy's notion of 'wedged' or heavily divided? The people were given the choice between two financial conservatives with some vague social and foreign policy differences that few people could define or distinguish between. They struggled to identify a difference and so chose pretty closely one or the other. So... 99% of people voted for more of the same with a bit of tweaking, please. They aren't divided, you should be pleased.

dizzy said...

Bob, in high-level overview terms, the difference between the GOP and the DNC are quite significant and whilst you, I and many others may choose to distinguish them differently, there are many in the US, as you know who do not and instead vote on wedge issue. Abortion, gun control, fear fo socialism, fear of conservatism etc. The point is there has been only a tiny move in the very centre - which was the Indepedents and the core vote on both sides remains split almost evenly between red and blue - although the result and electoral system makes it look quite different of course.

Bob Piper said...

Purely manufactured 'splits' dizzy to con you and them into thinking it's a democracy. the best government money can buy.

Richard said...

Agreed, Dizzy.

Even on Electoral College votes, this is hardly a landslide. Clinton got more (370 first time, 379 second) and George Bush I got far more, winning 426-111 in 1988.

If you want a real Electoral College landslide, look at Reagan. He won his re-election 525-13; the Democrats only won one State (Minnesota). Even on his first win he won a massive 489-49 against Carter.

Hell, even Nixon won re-election by 520-17.

LBJ won 486-52, Eisenhower 442-89 and 457-73, Roosevelt 472-59, 523-8, 449-82 and 432-99, Hoover 444-87.

Even now-obscure 20th century Presidents beat Obama in the Electoral College. Who can remember anything (even his first name) about Harding? Won with 404 Electoral College votes. Or Coolidge - 382.

Yes, Obama's majority is much greater than either of Dubya's wins. But go back before that and his victory (like the popular vote) looks very narrow.