In 2008, I think I was far more nervous and yet also more confident of Obama’s election – surely, the US would see after the disaster of the Bush presidency that something different was needed, and they delivered. The elation, the sheer relief of Bush being over and done with was as big a factor in the aftermath as the historic election of a ‘Black’ President. Obama would have that label no matter what, now that he was elected – and the Hope & Change message was a powerful one.
In 2012, the farcical path the Republican party took to get to the final nominee, the unbelievable audacity of the untruths told in the process, probably made me far more complacent about the prospects for Obama’s re-election – surely his achievements were sufficient! – but at the same time I was almost expecting that the American people wouldn’t see it, and they’d be blindly railroaded into rolling over to Romney – and all for want of a decent debate performance? It was the strangely believable result which I could see the Americans delivering. Never trust the nice guy is going to finish on top.
So when the election wrapped up pretty much as Nate Silver and the team at FiveThirtyEight predicted, it was a moment of relief more than anything that cynical lies hadn’t won the day. Obama deserved an equal chance to prove his changes meant something as Bush, Clinton or Reagan got – a presidential legacy to be sealed. Now it is up to him to deliver on the promise, without the constraints that the hunt for re-election places.
It saddens me that the term limits are a factor in the US like this – Obama doesn’t get a shot at a third term, no matter what. Bill Clinton doesn’t get a shot to use his intelligence and capabilities that remain so strong and so present. Obama will retire in effect at 55, having done all he could have done in politics. Short of a nomination to the Supreme Court by a successor, the man may have another 30 years in which he cannot directly apply his intelligence to the public good. Fair’s fair – this could have applied in both directions, and Reagan could have been President until his dementia kicked in, but it is something that becomes an interesting question with longer lives and younger candidates.
Another note of interest I picked up yesterday was the following map from the NY Times election coverage – it shows the shift in the votes for each county:
The red arrows show a shift to a higher Republican vote/margin, the blues to a better result for Obama. The length of the arrows shows the magnitude of the shift.
For all the talk of the Deep South being Republican heartland and this election being driven by that factor more than anything else, you can see very, very clearly that this hasn’t been the case in the south. Obama managed to win despite the move against him in nearly every state – the states which show clear pockets of blue are Ohio, northern NY, and then the southern “traditionally red” states. That he managed to win despite the big red arrows against him in the Mid-West is awesome indeed.