Thursday, November 06, 2008

Numbers Are Fun Until Someone Loses an Eye

How many times now have I told Special Ed: "For the love of god, man, stay away from numbers! Numbers are not a toy for kids; they're for grown-ups who know how to use them. If you keep playing around with them you're just going to hurt yourself." And does he listen?


In 2004, Bush beat John Kerry by winning 62.04 million votes. In 2008, Obama won 62.443 million, a gain of only 400,000. In 2004, Kerry garnered 59.028 million votes; John McCain only got 55.386 million. That means this election saw 3.24 million fewer votes than four years ago. Far from being more energized, the nation appeared to be more apathetic.
That was yesterday. The count as of 5:00 pm today: Obama 64,629,649; McCain 56,887,996. And (still) counting. So, Obama getting only 400,000 more votes from Bush? Not so much. Fewer voters than 2004? Not so much.

Comparing final totals from a previous election with still-being-counted numbers from the current one? Not smart. It can tempt you to draw all sorts of idiotic this one: More...
How do we know that it’s a base turnout rather than a tsunami of opinion to Democrats? For one thing, Dems didn’t pick up a boatload of new seats in the House, and they may underperform expectations yet in the Senate. They did gain some strength with independents, but only gaining between 11-20 seats in the House tells us that they found votes in districts they already control, more than finding converts....

It does reflect a certain brittleness about Obama’s support that may not be evident in the flush of his Electoral College victory. That doesn’t mean he can’t broaden his appeal after winning office, but it does mean that he primarily won among friendlies and not through appeals to bipartisanship.
Or, you know, maybe not:
The Democrats appear to have built a majority across a wide, and expanding, share of the electorate -- young voters, Hispanics and other ethnic minorities, and highly educated whites in growing metropolitan areas. The Republicans appear at the moment to be marginalized, hanging on to a coalition that may shrink with time -- older, working-class and rural white voters, increasingly concentrated in the Deep South, the Great Plains and Appalachia.
To see this illustrated graphically, check out this map--especially slide 3, comparing counties where Democrats increased their totals over 2004 with those where Republicans increased their vote totals. Bottom line: tomorrow's GOP is the party of Appazarkia.

Bonus math factoid: electoral votes Obama won by more than 5%? 278.
That's broad-based expansion of the party we can believe in...even if Special Ed can't.