Wednesday, November 5, 2008

7 million votes

The latest national popular vote totals reported by CNN show Obama with 62,956,789, or 52% and Mccain with 55,764,193, or 46%.

A solid win but not the blowout that many expected and likely would have happened if the GOP had nominated anyone running this year other than John McCain. For a little perspective, George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis 53.4% to 45.6%, a slightly bigger margin. The true landslides of the past half century or so have been these:

1936 -- FDR 61% -- Landon 37%

1956 -- Ike 57% -- Stevenson 42%

1964 -- LBJ 61% -- Goldwater 39%

1972 -- Nixon 61%-- McGovern 38%

1984 -- Reagan 59%-- Mondale 41%

Notwithstanding the claims already being made on the left, Obama has not achieved much in the way of a big mandate, although he'll be under enormous pressure from the swollen, eager Democratic majorities on the Hill to act that way.

Meanwhile, some on the right have already started to make the argument that McCain lost by 7 million votes largely because he did not turn out as much of the GOP "base" as Bush did four years ago. This is nonsense, of course. Obama moved eight or nine "battleground" states from one column to the other, with narrow margins in several bigger states that were decisive. No doubt he was helped in some of these states by a larger African-American turnout and a big margin among new younger voters (although the youth turnout nationally was only a hair larger than it was in 2004). But in every case, Obama took swing voters that George W. Bush was able to hold in 2004 -- mainly because of the deluge of bad economic news that began in mid-September. Up to that point, McCain was doing nicely.

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