Obama’s Secret Weapon
On election night, it didn’t take a professional demographer to notice that Obama headquarters looked young, diverse and college-y, while the vibe over at Romney HQ felt like Bushwood Country Club right after a dead body turned up in the sauna. Political scientist Ruy Teixeira and journalist John Judis called this phenomenon “George McGovern’s revenge,” and in 2012 it reinvented American politics in its own image.
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This was the first election in ages that wasn’t decided by some dickish, fake-sounding suburban swing group like soccer moms or NASCAR dads. Instead, thanks to a decisive new coalition of Hispanics, African-Americans, young people, single women and old-time union types, Barack Obama became the first Democratic president since FDR to get re-elected with 50 percent of the vote. As one pollster put it, “Welcome to the next America.”
A DECISIVE NEW COALITION REINVENTED AMERICAN POLITICS IN ITS OWN IMAGE.
Romney never saw it coming: The huge turnout among this diverse coalition “just defied logic,” lamented one top aide. And while conservatives still can’t shut up about how Obama targeted “takers” with “gifts,” what the president did, in reality, was bridge the divide between social and economic issues that has long plagued Democrats: He framed reproductive issues as pocketbook issues, and Obamacare was supported by 61 percent of Hispanics. Of course, the GOP turning itself into the party of rape and self-deportation didn’t hurt either. “This election is over, but our principles endure,” Romney told his grief-stricken supporters. Let’s hope so.
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