My self-imposed election period hiatus is over. Since the mainstream media and blogosphere have lost interest in it, it is time to return to it. There are some interesting parallels with prior elections, but not the ones I’ve seen posted elsewhere.
Prior to the election there was discussion on whether Romney would be the Republican John Kerry. I think with the results in, there is a clear historical parallell , and it is with a Democrat presidential contender. Indeed I think this entire election is a repeat of that contender’s race; the 2000 Presidential Race.
Let us examine some key factors.
The Economy and Presidential Elections
All throughout we had one side telling us the economy was all that really mattered. We had the media telling us Obama should be getting creamed in the polls and the election because the economy is, if you’ll pardon the phrase, “in the crapper”. History was even brought to bear, with pundits rightly pointing out that historically very few incumbents win with such high unemployment and poor economic metrics. We should be surprised it is so close, Obama must be doing or being something special to be doing so well. This is important and I’ll revisit it later. For now, let us look back at 2000.
In 2000 we were told the economy was absolutely booming. Gore should have had it hands down, yet is was “razor thin margins”, “a super tight race”, and all other manner of description indicating it was “closer than it should be”. Here we see the first parallell. The incumbent was in a clearly defined place and the challenger getting close was something spectacular, indicating something of great import. Sure, in one it was the incumbent should be clearly winning and the other they should be clearly losing. What matters here is that they were in that position, and the race was close.
Post Election Actions
Another post-election event is important here as it bolsters the comparison. In 2000 Gore essentially threw a hissy fit over Florida. He retracted his concession and threw the recounts into the court. In doing so he ruined any future shot at the office. Romney has done the same. Post-election he made the comment that Obama essentially bought the election by promising various groups more dole from the government. While it can be argued either way that either of them had a chance in the following election before their acts, it is clear (to me) they ruined their chances.
Florida, Part Two
This is the second time Florida went to the wire. In 2000, as we all know, it was fought out in the courts and yet eventually the numbers still came out in court. This cycle it was also considered a “swing/battleground state”. However, Florida’s totals came in four days after the election. And nobody cared. Romney could have taken Florida and it would not have mattered. With a small sense of sorrowful satisfaction I say to Floridians: “Welcome to the list of states the politicians don’t care about, and your vote didn’t make a difference”. Anyone living in the western time zones, and even worse in a “solidly red or blue” state knows how you feel and has felt it for a very long time (1988 in my case - one year before I could vote)/
Something specific to ponder is why the victor won. In 2000 Bush shouldn’t have been close to Gore. It was Gore’s to lose, and lose it he did. Bush didn’t beat Gore so much as Gore lost. In 2012 it was Romney’s race to lose, and lose it he did. Obama didn’t win so much as Romney lost.
It is difficult to speculate with much authority how the first term of G.W. Bush would have gone without the attacks of September 11. As I recall the Republicans felt they had a clear and powerful mandate because they beat Gore when Gore should have won based on the standard indicators of presidential elections (i.e. the economy). To continue with the repeat, Democrats are claiming they have a clear and powerful mandate because Obama should have won based on the standard indicators of presidential elections (i.e. the economy).
I don’t think either party had a case for mandate in 2000. I don’t think, for the same reasons, either party has one in 2012. The reasons hy will be the subject of the next installment in this series.
So there you have it, part one of my post-election, post-hype analysis. In summary I think this election was a full on repeat of last time, and absent a second major terrorist attack I think the politics will play out the same once more.