The Election and the Night of the Long Knives, The Economy, Lessons from Long Lives, Evangelicals, A.E. Stallings, William Manchester, G.K. Chesterton
The Transom: News and Notes From Around the Web
Twelve minutes and two states. That’s how much more than two billion dollars buys you. NBC called the 2008 election at 11 PM in 2008, and at 11:12 PM in 2012 – barely enough time to mix a drink, which I didn’t even have time to do before the election was effectively over. For all the comparisons that will be made to 2004 on the Republican side over the next few weeks – the distant unlikeable candidate, the lackluster primary field, the split popular vote, the closing optimism that the race was won – this election turned out to be exactly what Jim Messina has claimed it would be for months: one where Republicans were hampered by a candidate simultaneously coreless and extreme, where the Democratic ground game directed from Chicago was vastly superior to the Republican ground game directed by state parties, and where President Obama’s lost ground among white voters was made up for by maximizing the minority and youth vote. In 2008, 18-29 year olds made up 18% of the electorate and went 66 percent for Obama – this year, they made up 19% of the electorate, and went for him by 60 percent, according to the exit polls.  The Messina Machine worked, and there was no undertow.
I must apologize, dear conservative reader, for the hope I may have given you in this race’s final weeks. For more than a year, I have believed that President Obama would win re-election – I explained why last October.  But as the election came to the close, my assumption that 2008 was an election so at odds with all historical norms, and therefore a coalition unlikely to be repeated, won out over this analysis. My path for Mitt Romney was slimmer than some of my fellow predictors, assuming a one state margin of victory and a loss in Ohio – but it also assumed Romney would prevail in Virginia and Florida, and that the early vote in Wisconsin, which signaled a major dropoff in college town enthusiasm and a rise in Republican early voting, would prove predictive.
None of these assumptions proved true, and many of Messina’s did, as Ron Brownstein outlines. “With the victory, Democrats have now won the popular vote in five of the past six presidential elections—matching the Republican record from 1968-1988 (if not the massive margins the GOP frequently racked up during those years). Obama also held all 18 “blue wall” states that have voted Democratic in each election since 1992… According to the exit polls, the share of votes cast by minorities increased to 28 percent (just as Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, had predicted for months). The president captured an overwhelming 80 percent of those voters, including not only more than nine in 10 African-Americans, but also about seven in 10 Hispanics, and about three in four Asians.” Obama won Hispanics by a 71-27 margin, performing even better than 2008 (67-31) and hitting a historic high.  Perhaps this should not surprise us considering Romney’s total inability and lack of interest in reaching out to the Hispanic community. The Romney communication outreach to Hispanics was couched in typical managerial tones which made him seem, to pick a random word, heartless. More than one precinct captain in majority-minority districts emailed me yesterday in shock to find a total absence of Spanish-language ballots. Others wrote to describe traditionally low turnout minority districts which were maximized to every nook and cranny – in one blue Virginia precinct, of approximately 2,000 registered voters, the combined turnout plus absentee ballots totaled 1,870 – a 93 percent maximum that thoroughly vindicates Chicago’s approach. Even as the first elected president since Andrew Jackson to win a smaller percentage of the popular vote in re-election than his first time around, Team Obama’s multi-ethnic demographic dominance was complete.
For the Republicans, Romney maximized the white vote – where McCain won whites by 12 percent, Romney won them by 20 percent, possibly even more given the absentee numbers. He also did better than McCain among earners, winning solidly among voters making more than $50k a year, traits which kept him more competitive in the Midwest.  But Team Obama responded by overperforming their national number among blue collar whites in these few key states, and Romney lost Ohio, Iowa, and Colorado each by less than 100,000 votes, roughly 2 percent of the total in each state. Exit polls show Romney was successfully caricatured as a creature of wealth and distance from reality, whose policies favored the rich and who would never look out for people like you. For whatever his improvement as a candidate in the final months of the contest, Romney as a nominee simply took too many messages off the table. Consider: solid majorities – not pluralities, majorities – favored full or partial repeal of Obamacare in Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire and elsewhere.  Yet Romney was the one Republican in the country who could never hope to capitalize on this issue. Ultimately, Romney proved to be the kind of electoral drag many of us suspected he would always be: a meandering managerial moderate, whose case against the president was primarily about belief in Romney’s own competence and technocratic acumen, his ability to turn the dials of government just so to achieve the desired ends. It was a message without music, delivered by a candidate with little or no personality, saddled with enormous advantages in life which become disadvantages in the world of politics.
The Republican Party will over the coming months embark on a bloodletting of enormous proportions. The long knives are already being sharpened for those in the money and media games who cleared Romney’s path and kept others out of the 2012 race.  As I’ve noted before, Romney has always been best at convincing wealthy people who look like him that he is a sterling politician, and they will be the targets for some of this blowback.  But I do not think this was a loss that is as much about policy or ideology as people will make it out to be, in an unsubtle attempt to recraft the Republican Party in their preferred image. Libertarians will argue that Republicans need to recognize the threat of the youth vote, and adjust their positions on same sex marriage, abortion, pot, gambling, and foreign policy, and kick those social conservatives to the curb in order to win the single women who make up the fastest growing portion of the American population – there are 1.8 million more single voting age women now than just two years ago. Neoconservatives will argue that Republicans must cross racial lines with nice-sounding programs and need to make peace with the eternal welfare state. If you would like to see me make the case for my own favored brand of conservative populism as the cure-all, I’ll be on a panel with Reihan Salam at AEI next Friday! 
But Jonathan Last argues that the real takeaway from this election is about none of these factors:  “There will be fighting about ideology and demographics in the coming days, but I don’t buy it. For several reasons: The first being, no one actually knows what ideology Romney ran on. If you believe Romney’s ideology mattered, then what were voters rejecting? … For the most part, Romney was an ideological Rorschach test for voters onto which they could project whatever views they wanted. As such, you can’t really say that they were uniformly rejecting some particular brand of ideology.” In his favor, I’d argue that if this really was an election about ideology, you’d also expect to see a heavy bloodletting in the House, where Republican intransigence and their support for Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms were supposed to spell Romney’s doom months ago. In the end, they were re-elected handily with only a few outlying losses. Last: “I continue to maintain that the 2012 election was determined not by ideology but by personality. Candidates matter. Not always, and not everywhere. But when you play at the highest level you need to meet some basic threshold of political ability in order to maximize the chances of victory that circumstances allow.”
Candidates do matter, but I would alter the explanation slightly. Consider the past two moderates Republicans have nominated. John McCain and Mitt Romney are very different men, with very different policy positions and public standings, but they ended up with the same election result in part because they have this one trait in common: neither is capable of communicating a winning message for small government conservative values. Republicans have a long pattern of promoting candidates who are simply incapable of making the case for their election and the coalition’s ideas across the faultlines of demography and class which penned Romney in to the very end.  For all his failings as a communicator, George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote for a reason: he could make a case for his election and his values which were not limited to people who looked like him, and because he championed reform on traditionally Democratic issues like education. The next generation of conservative leaders on the rise, who will define and redefine the coalition of the right – Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley and others – have the potential to be these communicators, to redefine and expand this coalition beyond the limitations of the white middle class. Next week Bobby Jindal, the nation’s most conservative reformer, will take the reins of the Republican Governor’s Association. What path he and other conservative governors take in the next two years – and how they communicate the case for it – will redefine the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. All of these candidates are better communicators than Romney; they are also more conservative even than Paul Ryan. The siren song of electability has been proven a lie in back to back contests against Barack Obama, and perhaps it took a triumph this total to bring the era of “moderate Republican presidential nominees = winning” to a close. David Frum’s nightmare scenario is at hand.  Fear not the Gotterdammerfrum, conservatives: after the fire comes rebirth.
RELATED: No mandate, argues Ron Fournier. I certainly don’t think House Republicans will assume he has one.  How Obama won.  Obama’s victory speech.  Romney’s concession speech.  Karl Rove vs Michael Barone on calling Ohio.  21 reasons Obama won.  Romney supporters stunned.  No idea what Romney will do next.  Blaming his economic advisors.  “Some within Republican circles will argue, in effect, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” But Republicans just did moderate their message. They ran Mitt Romney as their candidate.” The end to a long campaign.   Christie lashes out, knowing his political future has taken a major hit.  Krauthammer kicks Christie.  Ryan’s future.   Nate Silver’s dominance.  The mistake that is the Libertarian Party.  Five political ads that didn’t make the cut.  From @thegarance: “DC poll worker checking people in did not know order of letters of the alphabet, kept searching for names on wrong pages.” The polling box:  Chris Matthews: Thanks, Hurricane Sandy!  The best lines of the 2012 election.  Washington Examiner’s predictions.  From @baseballcrank: “Tonight we see how 1980 election ends if Desert One works, Anderson & Ted Kennedy don't run & GOP runs Bush-Kemp ticket.” A last vote for McKinley. 
Economic unease.  “Mr. Obama, whose relationship with business deteriorated over his first term, will face daunting economic decisions almost immediately. That is because the most pressing economic issue after the election is the so-called fiscal cliff, a combined $500 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that begin in January unless Congress and President Obama cut a deal to delay or replace them before then. The White House and congressional leaders postponed negotiations until after the election, waiting to see which party emerged with more leverage. Mr. Obama has said he won't agree to any deal unless it raises taxes on upper-income Americans, and many Republicans have they will block any tax increases. Many business groups, meanwhile, have pleaded with Democrats and Republicans to cut a deal.”
Greek protests intensify over austerity.  “Tens of thousands of union workers plan to descend on the assembly in a second day of a nationwide strike that has brought most public transport to a halt, shut schools, banks and government offices, and caused garbage to pile up on streets. Backed by the leftist opposition, unions say the measures will hit the poor and spare the wealthy, while deepening a five year recession that has wiped out a fifth of the Mediterranean country's output and driven unemployment to 25 percent. "If lawmakers vote in favor of the measures... they will have committed the biggest ever political and social crime against the country and the people," said Nikos Kioutsoukis, secretary general of the private umbrella union GSEE. "We won't let them destroy the country.”
Household formation is a positive.  “Americans are setting up house at the fastest rate in more than six years, an indication that recession anxiety, which prompted adult children to move in with their parents and single people to postpone marriage, is starting to ease. The nation added 1.15 million households in the 12 months that ended in September, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. That is a significant rise from the past four years when an average of 650,000 households were formed annually. While what economists call "household formation" is running a little lower than the average 1.25 million added annually during the boom years, the latest data nevertheless represent an important shift. Rising household formation, which is tied to employment growth, means more students are finding jobs when they leave college, more adult children are leaving their parents' homes and more couples feel confident enough about the future to tie the knot.”
The permanent regulatory class.  “Regulated companies cultivate good relationships with the front-line staffers that regulate them. Staying on the good side of agency staff is critical. Routine regulatory actions by these staffers can be vital to a company's future profitability or even existence. Regulatory staff decide whether to approve new products for market and which competing company's proposal gets approved first. Agency staff sign off on standards that may align with one company's technology and put another out of business.”
RELATED: The bond election.  Privatizing flood insurance?  America’s black middle class in crisis.  Morgan Stanley seeks to halt Facebook arbitration case.  Apple may switch from Intel.  An office supply cabinet and the economy.  Alan Brinkley on the death of Newsweek.  Why couldn’t Wall Street weather a storm? 
The Transom recommends Ledbury shirts, exceptional shirts with the best quality fabrics, classic style, and an excellent cut. To receive a $25 credit off any shirt, click here:
Lessons from long lives.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.  Cutest kitten.  Hedgehog in a coconut.  Patient fennec fox.  Darling Republicans and Democrats. 
USA Today, Blog Editor, Sports. 
The Transom recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door. Past boxes include fine bar accessories, shaving kits, coffee, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Click here to sign up:
After the total failure of the NRSC – remember, it wasn’t the Tea Party that picked Tommy Thompson, Linda McMahon, Todd Akin, Heather Wilson, etc. – a challenge to John Cornyn’s leadership spot may be in the offing.
Senate roundup: Donnelly wins.  Warren wins (great headline).  Kaine wins.  McCaskill holds.  Brown and Casey hold. 
The sample ballot Linda McMahon was passing out.  She spent nearly $100 million for those two losses.
What next for Netanyahu? 
Syrian rebels fire on Assad’s palace. 
Briton killed in China had spy links.
Generational change in Saudi Arabia.
Ireland hits its “patent cliff.”
Though unsuccessful obviously, AUL’s anti-Casey ad is a doozy.
From @altonbrown.
What’s next for health care policy. 
Obamacare is here to stay. Here come the regulations.
Missouri blocks exchange at ballot box. 
Did HHS encourage violation of SEC law?
Obama’s debt legacy.
The five major challenges to K-12 reform.
Donation shenanigans in Cali.
You can vote when you’re brain finishes developing.
San Bernadino disbanding its police department?
Are smart countries richer or rich countries smarter?
Who cares about this stupid election?
Some of America’s polling places.
Diamonds Aren’t(werp) forever (Sorry, Ben).
Drawing the stories of America’s wounded veterans.
The sexual double standard in the media and politics.
Amazon offering a monthly subscription for Prime.
Is technology connecting us or disconnecting us?
The future opportunities of digital video.
Engadget review Nokia’s newest phone.
What tastes different across the pond?
OKC didn’t give Harden enough time to consider their offer.
At least he’s not killing zombies or time travelling.
Buy your way into a viral video.
Uncle Drew: Chapter 2.
Woody Allen’s Star Wars audition.
First look at World War Z.
Compared to other Bonds, Daniel Craig is pathetic.
Evangelicals’ key role in election. 
“The lucky, the talented, the heaven-sent.”
The Last Lion: Defender of the Realm, William Manchester and Paul Reid, $22. 
“We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults.” ― G.K. Chesterton

This collection of news and notes from around the web is edited by Benjamin Domenech, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, co-host of Coffee & Markets, and editor in chief of The City. The views expressed within are his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of his employers.
You're receiving this email because you signed up at
Copyright (C) 2012 The Transom All rights reserved.