Lessons from 2012
Been a few days now for the results to set in and everyone to begin picking up the pieces from wins and losses. The big winner obviously is President Obama who will return for four more years at the helm. However, looks like Nancy Pelosi might not be joining him in a leadership role. Harry Reid continues as Senate Majority Leader for the Democrats and John Boehner continues in the House leading the GOP.
With many of the same people returning to the same chairs, what have we learned?
For one, Super PACs are probably overrated according to NBC News which particularly looked at American Crossroads, the super PAC run by former Bush-adviser Karl Rove:
A study Wednesday by the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending, concluded that Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads, had a success rate of just 1 percent on $103 million in attack ads — one of the lowest “returns on investment” (ROIs) of any outside spending group in this year’s elections.
American Crossroads spent heavily, not just on Romney, but on attack ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates in eight states — thanks to mega contributions from conservative donors like metals magnate Harold Simmons ($19.5 million), Texas homebuilder Bob Perry ($7.5 million) and Omni hotel chief Robert Rowling ($5 million.)
The super donors didn’t get much for their money. Six of the eight GOP Senate candidates that American Crossroads spent money to try to elect – Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, George Allen in Virginia, Josh Mandel in Ohio, Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Denny Rehberg in Montana and Todd Akin in Missouri – lost their races, along with Romney. The group did, on the other hand, help to elect Deb Fischer in Nebraska and Dean Heller in Nevada.
Endless ads don’t necessarily translate into votes, they just become repetitive.
Another lesson? The demographic landscaped has changed, at least for the foreseeable future as voters under 30 and minorities made the difference for President Obama once again. Most notably, this trend was visible in Virginia where the President won youth by 21 points in 2008 but increased that to 25 points in 2012.
Finally, one more thing worth noting is the accuracy of Nate Silver (a different Nate) at the New York Times who predicted 50 out of 50 states correctly. Silver even got Florida correct, albeit by less than a percent chance. Report from the Chicago Tribune:
Nate Silver was right. The Gallup Poll was wrong.
Silver, 34, a University of Chicago graduate and the computer expert who gave Obama a 90 percent chance of winning re-election, predicted on his blog, FiveThirtyEight (for the number of votes in the Electoral College), that the president would get 51 percent of the popular vote as he predicted each of the 50 states, including all nine battlegrounds.
Silver’s method is based on polling and the percent chance that a given candidate will win based on their standing in the polls as the days tick by. He did well in 2008, getting 49 of 50 correct but many wondered whether he could do anywhere close to that given how tight 2012 was panning out to be. He proved critics wrong, stuck by his method and I applaud him.
I’m sure I’m missing some things. Proceed to discuss.
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