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Recap of 2008 Presidential Election Results, Explaining Obama’s Win, Other Ballot Items Dan Nataf Director, Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne.

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Presentation on theme: "Recap of 2008 Presidential Election Results, Explaining Obama’s Win, Other Ballot Items Dan Nataf Director, Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recap of 2008 Presidential Election Results, Explaining Obama’s Win, Other Ballot Items Dan Nataf Director, Center for the Study of Local Issues, Anne Arundel Community College Nov. 10, 2008

2 Presentation goals Review election results in historical perspective Why did Obama win – was it inevitable? Other ballot items

3 Popular Vote Percentages:

4 Actual Votes:

5 Electoral College 1968, 1976, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004

6 Electoral College 2008

7 Electoral College Votes

8 Explanations for Obama’s Win - Was a Democratic Win Inevitable? Generic election, “retrospective voting” OR Candidate effect Policy effect Campaign strategy effect Uncontrolled events during the campaign

9 An Inevitable Democratic Win … Generic Election, Retrospective Voting − Verdict on the incumbent party − Party voting dominates − President’s job approval filters votes − Forecast models say economic conditions, job approval and incumbency (years in office) predetermine outcome Implications: no affirmative policy mandate other than ‘be better than Bush’ Results oriented mandate

10 An Inevitable Democratic Win…Common Assumption “The political environment could not have been worse: an unpopular incumbent; an unpopular, costly war; and an economic calamity.” Ed Rodgers (WH Staffer to R. Reagan and G. H. W. Bush). “McCain swam upstream against a hugely unpopular Republican president, a horribly unpopular Republican Party and an unpopular war.” Alex Castellanos (Romney consultant, McCain adviser).

11 An Inevitable Democratic Win…Common Assumption Hypothesis 1: If a generic election, results will be anticipated well in advance of election day. Confirmed: −6 of 9 political scientists said Obama would win… days PRIOR to the election − Range of victory percent − Others: 2 ‘tied’ one at 49 percent − General ‘mean’ prediction: percent – − Results percent Obama.

12 An Inevitable Democratic Win… Generic Election Hypothesis 2: If a generic election, voters will stick to their party identifications when voting. Mostly Confirmed (Data from exit polls) PercentPartyObamaMcCainOther/NA 39Democrat Republican Independent52444

13 An Inevitable Democratic Win… Generic Election – Retrospective Voting Hypothesis 3: If a generic election, retrospective voters who disapprove of President Bush’s job performance will defect and vote for the Democratic candidate. Mostly confirmed (Data from exit polls) PercentDo you approve…ObamaMcCainOther/NA 27 Approve Disapprove

14 Retrospective Voting: Bush’s job approval by party - AA County

15 An Inevitable Democratic Win… Generic Election – Retrospective Voting Partisan allegiance and Bush job approval (CSLI poll) PercentPartyObamaMcCainOther/NA 3Democrat approve Republican approve Independent approve Democrat disapprove Republican disapprove Independent disapprove

16 An Inevitable Democratic Win… Generic Election – Retrospective Voting Hypothesis 4: In a generic election, the incumbent party is systemically behind the challenger party - Mostly confirmed

17 Not inevitable? Candidate affirmation and symbolic effects Candidate affirmation/Symbol – implies “trustee” mandate “I…almost lost it when I saw Obama standing there on the [victory speech] stage with his family…I thought of the mind-blowing imagery we will see when this young beautiful black family becomes the nation’s First Family….and this reaction I’m trying to describe isn’t really about Obama’s policies. I’ll disagree with some of his decisions…this moment has less to do with Obama than with the nation.” (Eugene Robinson WP editorial writer) “Obama has a wonderful temperament. He knows he has to build real relationships for anything to happen. He doesn’t have them now, but his instincts are perfect.” (Chris Dodd, Senator D – Conn) “McCain’s campaign created a great narrative, a great story, but it was only about John McCain…” (Alex Castellanos)

18 − Candidate temperament, intellect, image, judgment, background − Conveyed by: Ads and convention messages Possible positive effects of debates, long primaries Observed performance under pressure Not inevitable? Candidate affirmation and symbolic effects

19 − Policies advocated widely known and positively evaluated by voters (exit poll) – implies policy mandate − Hypothesis 5: A generic election will feature most voters attracted to the challenger due more to policy differences than the personal qualities of the candidate. Confirmed What mattered most?ObamaMcCain Issues Personal qualities3959 PolicyObamaMcCain Economy (63%) Iraq (10%) Terrorism (9%)1386 Health care (9%) Energy policy (7%) Not inevitable? Candidate vs. policy affirmation

20 − Hypothesis 6: In a generic election, the challenger party candidate focuses on ‘change’ while the incumbent party candidate tries to distance himself from his party and its policies. − Obama: “You really are George Bush – you just don’t know it” Emphasize ‘change’ Play up ‘consensus’ vision, pragmatic approach to policy making Discount ‘inside the Beltway’ experience Play it safe – middle class appeal, always applaud McCain’s service to the country – depersonalize the race Raise lots of money Hope for unexpected endorsements − McCain: “I am NOT George Bush” Emphasize ‘maverick’ status, also ‘change agent’ Focus on policy splits from Republicans/Bush Comparative personal biographies – personalize the race Take chances – “suspend campaign,” pick Palin Not inevitable? Campaign strategy effects

21 Critics assumed that McCain could have run a generic campaign and won or that the race was lost due to certain tactical mistakes… “The Republicans chose tactics – the ‘celebrity ad,’ the choice of Sarah Palin, suspending the campaign – designed to win the news cycle rather than sticking to a strategy that could win the election.” (Carter Eskew, Gore 2000 chief strategist) Not inevitable? Campaign strategy effects

22 Could ONE BIG tactical difference really have changed the outcome? “Had McCain voted against the bailout of Wall Street firms and backed the Republican alternative, there is no question in my mind he would have won. [Rather than embracing the Bush bailout backed by the Democrats] America was waiting for him to speak out against excessive government spending and against bailing out the Wall Street firms for their greed.” (Dick Morris, Fox News contributor) Not inevitable? Campaign strategy effects

23 Were the ‘controversial’ decisions likely to have been decisive? “The McCain campaign added to all of the negative circumstances: McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign and rush back to Washington to associate himself with an unpopular…Wall Street “bailout” was inexplicable. Sarah Palin never fully recovered from her interview with Katie Couric. How could that possibly have been a good idea?” (Ed Rogers) Not inevitable? Campaign strategy effects

24 Were uncontrolled events reinforcing or challenging the generic model? – mostly reinforcing − Main events : Iraq – surge works − McCain says ‘I told you so’ − Obama says ‘My approach (get out soon) is more relevant than ever’ Economy tanks − Obama says ‘Bush economics got us here – do you want four more years of the same?’ − McCain says ‘Suspend the campaign!’ Not inevitable? Uncontrolled events

25 CSLI Fall 2008 Survey

26 Putting it all together…

27 Retrospective except for… Race ObamaMcCainOther White (74%)43%55%2% African-American (13%)95%4%1% Latino (9%)67%31%2% Asian (2%)62%35%3% Other (3%)66%31%3% Age (18%)66%32%2% (29%)52%46%2% (37%)50%49%1% 65 and Older (16%)45%53%2%

28 Retrospective except for… Education Level ObamaMcCain Other/N A No High School (4%)63%35%2% H.S. Graduate (20%)52%46%2% Some College (31%)51%47% 2% College Graduate (28%)50%48%2% Postgraduate (17%)58%40%2% IncomeObamaMcCainOther/ NA Under $15,000 (6%)73%25%2% $15-30,000 (12%)60%37%3% $30-50,000 (19%)55%43%2% $50-75,000 (21%)48%49%3% $75-100,000 (15%)51%48%1% $ ,000 (14%)48%51%1% $ ,000 (6%)48%50%2% $200,000 or More (6%)52%46%2%

29 Harris by County Pushpins Election Recap 2008 Harris Vote by County

30 1st CongressionalKratovilHarrisLibertarianObamaMcCainKratovil+ Anne Arundel46.3%51.2%2.5%48.9%51.1% -2.6% Baltimore County40.7%56.9%2.4%56.8%43.2% -16.1% Caroline51.8%45.1%3.1%37.9%62.1% 13.8% Cecil49.4%47.5%3.1%42.4%57.6% 7.0% Dorchester56.4%40.7%2.9%45.5%54.5% 10.9% Harford40.5%56.7%2.8%40.2%59.8% 0.4% Kent65.5%32.7%1.8%50.0% 15.5% Queen Anne’s54.0%44.2%1.8%36.1%63.9% 17.9% Somerset59.0%39.2%1.8%48.6%51.4% 10.4% Talbot55.0%43.1%1.9%44.6%55.4% 10.4% Wicomico56.0%42.0%2.0%46.8%53.2% 9.2% Worcester53.2%44.8%2.0%42.1%57.9% 11.1% Total49.1%48.5%2.4%45.0%55.0% 4.1%

31 Presence of Slots by State Slots, usually within casinos No slots Limited slots

32 Legalize Slots 2008 – by County slots by County 68% 59% 50% Maryland/AA County (same) For 59% Against 41%

33 States with Early Voting/Absentee No excuse absentee Excused absentee

34 States with In-person No Excuse Early Voting Maryland Vote: For 72% Against 28% Anne Arundel County: For 63% Against 37% No excuse early voting No early voting All mail

35 Questions A/B – Charter Amendments, To amend the Charter of Anne Arundel County to clarify that any ordinance passed by the County Council and returned unsigned by the County Executive after the ten day presentation period will become law on the tenth day. Vote: For 106,566 (48.4%) Against 113,462 (51.6%) To amend the Charter of Anne Arundel County to provide that the County Council shall nominate for appointment by the County Executive three of the seven members of the Ethics Commission. Vote: For 145,150 (67%) Against 71,314 (33%)


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