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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Real Reason Why Obama Won

As usual, the economy was the most important influence on the election results. Back in September, I wrote:
GOP angst about the presidential election stems not just from turmoil in the Romney campaign but from unrealistic expectations about the ease of defeating President Obama. Many Republicans think that Romney ought to be way ahead at this point. Their assumption is flawed. A majority of forecasting models actually give a slight edge to the president, for reasons having little to do with the quality of the Romney campaign. Incumbent presidents can use their powers and perks to great advantage. If a party has held the White House for only one term, the “don’t change horses” mentality has some sway. A recent recession can overwhelm incumbency advantages, as it did in 1980. But the economy has been growing, if sluggishly, for three years. And although the unemployment rate is still too high, it is better than it was in late 2009. Life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable, said Woody Allen in Annie Hall, so be glad that you’re miserable. A significant share of the electorate seems to agree.
Recent data seem to bear out those observations.

Gallup reports:
Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going and approval of the job Barack Obama is doing are below historical averages, and their economic outlook continues to be more negative than positive. Still, all of these measures are much improved from a year ago, helping the president narrowly win re-election. Also, more Americans identify as Democrats or lean Democratic than did so a year ago.
On Election Day, Gallup also reported:
As Americans cast their ballots Tuesday, their outlook on life was slightly improved from what it was four years ago. Now, more adults are thriving than struggling -- the opposite was true in October 2008. But, life ratings have been declining recently, with the 51.3% of Americans who are thriving down from the high of 54.2% found in January and February of last year.
Most people do not think that the economy is getting worse:  they think it's either getting better or staying the same.  And they don't blame Obama for the bad bits. The exit poll tells the tale:

Is the U.S. economy:

TotalObamaRomney 

Getting better

39%88%9% 

Getting worse

30%9%90% 

Staying about the same

29%40%57% 
Sample: 5359 respondents

Who is more to blame for current economic problems?

TotalObamaRomney 

Barack Obama

38%5%94% 

George W. Bush

53%85%12%