by BRYAN PRESTON
November 6, 2012 – 10:43 pm
Barack Obama has been re-elected president. Like most on the right, I misread America.
The United States of America faces huge problems as a nation. Our economy is skidding, we have racked up massive debt to an unsustainable level, and we are no longer a culturally confident or united nation. We are a scattering of enclaves, barely on speaking terms, swaggering and vibrant Texas suspiciously eying bankrupt but arrogant California, rural and traditional Oklahoma having nothing in common with corrupt and secular Illinois, and so forth. Our entitlement spending threatens to engulf red state and blue state alike. We now owe more per capita than ridiculed Greece, and we may be heading down that sad country’s path.
In the face of these problems, the American people chose to throw almost none of the bums who got us here out. The US House remained in Republican hands, the US Senate remained in Democrat hands, and the White House remained in the hands of Barack Obama. Things did not change dramatically at the state level either. Neither party was soundly repudiated or given electoral wind in their sails. It’s as if the American people are so confused and troubled they decided not to decide anything. Or maybe apathy won out and name recognition trumped the real issues. Republicans nominated some foolish candidates here and there, but so did the Democrats. Theirs won, ours lost. The most foolish candidate of them all kept his job. Media assists surely played a major role.
The most immediate lesson that can be learned from this is that the Obama-Axelrod ground game is very very very good. It had four years to build out its infrastructure and it is much stronger than anyone, including most Democrats, anticipated. Despite the lousy economy and his flagging personal popularity, Obama’s team turned out his vote everywhere he needed it, and he won. Republicans will fight about whether a more vocally conservative candidate could have won or whether Romney could have provided a sharper contrast with Obama, but organizational superiority may have had more than anything else to do with this result. Republicans will have to study that ground game and find a way to beat it just as the football world had to study and defeat the flex defense. That’s not a job for ideologues, but for tacticians who understand ideology and communication.