As the country and its politicians now settle in having absorbed the results of this year's presidential election, and as we all prepare to finish our respite from the election and move into full readiness mode to prepare for falling off of the "fiscal cliff", we have heard all of the official post election analysis and commentary and have formed our conclusions.
But in that aftermath, as someone who actually accurately predicted the election results two days before the election on record and acknowledged in a previous on-air interview, I thought I would look back from a personal vantage point to make some observations about this election that in some cases have not been made at all and in other cases need to be restated from a different perspective than what most voters have been presented.
In fact, my observations are all related and at the same time are all independent thoughts that stand on their own so I will list them as independent stand alone thoughts and leave it to the reader to either connect the dots or view them from a stand alone perspective.
1. On election night, watching the president and his wife and daughters walking back home for the evening, it struck me that not only did this president have to deal with the extraordinary burdens that continuously face any president, but this president also had to have a perfect family life during those four years with absolutely no slip ups -- period.
Jimmy Carter could get away with his brother urinating on the airport runway, and the Bush daughters could get a pass on acquiring fake ID's without causing problems for their father, the president, but President Obama could not have gotten away with just one example of the "angry black man" perception that was an underlying concern during his first term, AND his daughters could not have been involved in even one indiscretion that would have cast doubts on the family values of this black family in light of social perceptions in the country. And you know what -- this president passed the test -- there was not one incident of that type with either the president or his family in the entire first term -- and that shows just how real the positive core values are in that family. Kudos to the president and to Michelle as great individuals and parents, regardless of their position or status.
2. Most of white America has absolutely no idea just how many African-Americans all over the country are hoping that the final vote results in Florida's 2nd Congressional District will confirm that Allen West has lost that seat.
His reprehensible and vile personal comments on a regular basis directed towards President Obama would have literally forced him out of office if he were white. And regardless of what color he is, nothing justifies the level of gutter attacks directed to the president that West was engaged in.
3. During the last few weeks of the campaign, we kept hearing almost tearfully about this being the president's "last campaign." How ironic. Last campaign. It's practically only his third national campaign -- one for U.S. Senate and two for president. When we think of last campaign candidates, we tend to think of old lion public servants like Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy and Everett Dirksen riding off into the sunset after 50 years of elected service to the country. But Obama -- this is a guy who could still have two more careers after leaving the White House and could likely still be with us 50 years from now. The last campaign reference brought a regular smile as I would think about it.
4. Lame Duck -- as soon as the results were in we started hearing references to Obama being a "Lame Duck." Let's remember, technically, the president won't really be a lame duck until after the mid-term elections two years from now. And until then, he still is an Eagle, not a Duck, and the fate of his party's electoral future will ride heavily on the results of 2014, and you can bet that this president knows that and will plan to govern as successfully as possible in the next two years to try to avoid the second term hex that plagues most second term presidents, and more often than not causes them to suffer big congressional losses in the second term mid-term elections.
5. Whoever is responsible for telling Republican presidential candidates not to bother with a big push in California in the final weeks of every campaign should also be in charge of the Pennsylvania desk as well. For the life of me I can't figure out why it is that every four years in the last two weeks of the election the Republican presidential campaign decides that Pennsylvania is "in play" and that with a last minute push they might be able to win that state. And in the end, Pennyslvania winds up being one of the earlier states to announce election evening, and its always for the Democrats. Mitt Romney would have been better off spending that time and money in Ohio or Virginia.
6. Did you see the numbers on what financial contributions Wall Street and the banks gave to Romney versus what they gave to Obama this year? It was almost 8 to 1 in favor of Romney. Obama will owe them nothing this time around. Next time they need a bailout they better take it out of their savings as they sure won't get it from this guy!
7. Democrats are grateful to the Tea Party for driving out moderate electable Senators like Richard Lugar in Indiana and thus preserving Democrat control of the Senate when over two election cycles the Republicans had a real chance to gain control. Question is how long will it be before mainstream Republicans decide to show the Tea Party just how they feel about the Tea Party's efforts on their behalf.
8. Everyone on both sides during the campaign acknowledged the "enthusiasm gap" in this campaign that favored the Republicans. If that's true, then most likely most of the 11 million fewer voters who went to the polls this year than in 2008 were Obama voters, not Romney voters, suggesting that Obama's victory could have been even higher and more sweeping than it was.
9. Let's face it. Hurricane Sandy did help the president -- not so much as a direct help to the president as it was a problem for Governor Romney -- it moved the conversation away from his campaign and gave the president an unplanned opportunity to just be presidential. People like to see their president being presidential and connecting to the average American. And it's hard to criticize that as Gov. Chris Christie taught us in New Jersey (Christie is getting the cold shoulder from some died in the wool Republicans for his support of Obama's actions during Sandy but Christie is leading the first polls of Republican candidates for 2016.)
10. Another frequent post-election question we hear is whether President Obama has a "mandate" with the results of this election. My response -- it really doesn't matter. In the 2000 election George W. Bush actually lost the national popular vote and won the election in a court case decided by the Supreme Court, and after taking office, President Bush governed as if he had a Reagan -- Lyndon Johnson style landslide mandate. And he led us into two wars and the surplus disappeared. It does not matter! During Veterans Day I watched the movie Midway about our naval attack on the Japanese fleet at Midway in World War II. At one point, Robert Mitchum says, "when you're in command, command!" Once you're elected president, you're president -- that's your mandate!
11. In 2012, Barack Obama received 93 percent of the Black vote, 69 percent of Hispanics, 59 percent of unmarried women, and 59 percent of the 18 to 29 age group. Compared to 2008, only the Hispanic vote percentage actually increased for Obama in 2012 (although I consider maintaining the 93 percent black vote a gain as I had long predicted a drop-off in the black vote this year).
12. The Hispanic vote is now the second most important demographic voting group in America, behind women, and only because women make up half the country and the majority of all voters. High profile conservative and former Governor Mike Huckabee said after this year's election that "Republicans have done a pathetic job of appealing to Hispanic voters."
The problem I see that Republicans have in this area is not as much with the national party as it is with state and local Republican leaders. There is a disconnect between the national Republican Party and state and local Republican parties. You cannot win the Hispanic vote at the national level when Republican led statehouses and local politicians continue to pass anti-immigration legislation that Hispanics perceive as being anti-Hispanic and designed to target Hispanics, including those legally here as well, as "scapegoats and undesirables." And Republican leaders can say all they want but it doesn't matter if that is how rank and file Hispanics perceive their actions.
But it's not the national Republican leadership that is endorsing this type of legislation. Mitt Romney never really endorsed any of those state legislature bills that were passed in Arizona, Alabama and Virginia that went after Hispanics, but Romney paid the price at the national level for this type of activity -- and Republicans at the national level have to get that message down to the state and local level or they will be doomed to continue to suffer the same fate in future elections.
And you can't just send Marco Rubio of Florida out there and expect that to solve the problem when in fact Rubio is actually not in agreement with the majority of Hispanics throughout the country -- and the Hispanic electorate knows exactly what his positions are on the issues.
In fact, Mitt Romney outperformed John McCain in many counties of Florida and yet Romney still lost Florida -- Why? -- because of the increased Hispanic vote in that state. It's very hard to have to compete not only against the vote total you lost to in the last election but also that same vote total plus a big addition to it in the next election.
George W. Bush was able to garner a significant share of Hispanic voters, and he increased it in each subsequent election, and Ronald Reagan passed the Immigration Reform Act all the way back in the 1982 and after that they practically had to send "Welcome Wagons" down to the border to greet those coming over. But that mean-spirited image Republicans now have among Hispanics is mostly traced to what they are doing at the state and local level, and its time for those at that level to get some adult supervision from the national party leaders to correct a most fatal course. Senator Lindsay Graham, again at the national level, is already showing that the national Republican leadership is on the right track.
13. And to shift over to another important demographic group, we now know that the African-American vote was more important to Obama in 2012 than it was in 2008, and in many areas it actually increased over four years ago -- something I had not predicted.
My thought -- during and after the mid-term elections of 2010, the attacks on Barack Obama by not only Republicans in the Congress and Tea Party representatives as well but particularly by conservative talk-radio hosts and commentators seemed to take on such a vitriolic and personal poisonous flavor that, undetected by the mainstream media and public, African-Americans all over the country who were themselves suffering in disproportionately high numbers from the economic morass and downturn in the country, set that aside to garner up their intensity and desire to come to the aid of their first African-American President. And that carried the day even over an enthusiasm gap.
And so in Ohio, that bellweather state that essentially carried the day for Obama this time around, the African-American vote went up over 2008. And here's what we know. Had the black vote in Ohio been exactly the same as it was in 2008 rather than increasing as it did in 2012, Barack Obama would have lost that state this year! And don't count out the benefit Obama received from the auto bailout legislation, the effect of which actually enabled a Democrat presidential candidate to win the white vote in several midwest rust belt states.
And here's the real danger for Republicans going forward. You now have millions of African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people who voted first in 2008 and now have voted in two straight election cycles for the Democrats. For all of these groups, but especially for the young people, that represents an election cycle pattern that is easily the stuff that makes people in America "life long Democrats or Republicans" -- or at the very least, hard to win back and just as hard to win over.
There is no question but that Republicans can have success in these efforts in future elections -- but they cannot expect to do that by coming out with the kind of reasoning and explanations we have been hearing the last week as to why they lost the election -- "it was the urban vote" as Paul Ryan said ignoring that Obama won the White vote in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire etc, or the Mitt Romney comment that he lost because of the "gifts" Obama gave to "minorities and young people." I guess we had Christmas in November in America this year.
14. Barack Obama even won the Catholic vote, if only by two percentage points, even after a national campaign accusing him of trying to deliberately attack the Catholic Church with his health care law provisions.
And Obama overwhelmingly won the Jewish vote in the country by 69 percent to 30 percent even after much was made nationally about how Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu supposedly didn't get along with Obama and wanted Mitt Romney to win the election.
15. In a spirited discussion with Don Imus last month, I asserted my theory that the presidential debates have not had much impact on any election other than the first ones in 1960 with Kennedy and Nixon, and I argued that the media knows that and still makes a point of creating such an atmosphere of importance for the debates when we are heading into them only to virtually ignore them once they are all over. And as I also asserted and was proven right again this year, not one voter in exit polls said their decision on who to vote for was based on or even influenced by the debates.
All of these points are interesting to ponder and consider, but there was an underlying theme of my perspective on why President Obama was reelected that weaves its way into the fabric of each and every one of the points I have made in this essay -- and it's something that I think the media for the most part missed.
We have focused on the economy and the downturn and slow recovery and the fact that with similar unemployment statistics above 7.2 percent and depressing consumer confidence levels, no previous president running for election had been able to win since Franklin Roosevelt.
But I noticed something as I travel around the country and evaluate the climate for new business development and franchise growth. Around spring of this year, things began to pick up just enough for many Americans to feel just a bit more encouraged about their prospects, or they finally saw some encouraging signs for a neighbor or family member. It was nothing to celebrate or brag about, and surely we all acknowledge we have so much further to go and lots of work remaining to be done, but considering how bad things have been, I believe it was just enough to give enough people a sense that maybe they should "stay the course" a little longer and hang in there with the president for another term.
I believe that if our economy was in the shape it was in during 2009, 2010, or 2011, and the election had been held in any of those three years, Obama would have been swept out of office. But the election was held in November of 2012, and even in places like Ohio, the benefits of the auto bailout were really beginning to show up in people's lives, and it started to show around this spring very quietly, and while it never received significant media attention, I believe it was real enough to make a difference for the president, especially among White working class and women voters.
Finally, my last point is more of a direct message to the president for his legacy and our future as Americans trying to live together in a country that becomes more diverse and less mainstream White every census period.
One fact I can assert that is as sure as death and taxes is that once Barack Obama leaves office, the next president of the United States will be white (maybe Hispanic the election after that), and if Barack Obama leaves office without having done more than he has in his first term to address the conversation on "race" that we really need in this country or to lead the discussion on improving understanding of these issues, historians will look back on the Obama administration and say that he missed an historic opportunity.
And as I think there won't be another African-American president for perhaps 50 years, President Obama may be the last real chance to have a real discussion on this issue and bring a perspective that we are not likely to get from any future president that could be as important and significant in producing some positive results from the conversations.
The major distractions of the economy etc. that were justifiable reasons for the president not to address the race issue in the first term will simply not be acceptable in the second term, and the president's legacy will be well served for him to now include this assignment on his priority list for the next four years -- and if he doesn't, many Americans will have to hope that maybe Hillary will address it!
Stay plugged in with the stories on black life and culture that matter. Learn more