Political Animal


November 28, 2012 10:19 AM The 2012 Margin

By Ed Kilgore

In a post that begins with confirmation that yes, Mitt Romney will wind up with 47% of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential election, Slate’s David Weigel makes a couple of other points about Obama’s margin of victory that are worth noting:

- Obama’s margin over Romney is up to 4.4 million votes.
- There’s no state where the margin between Romney and Obama could have been erased by a switch of third party votes. Florida comes close, but the margin is about 15,000 votes greater than the total vote for all third parties.
- The effect of GOTV efforts is sizable, worth millions of votes. Overall, in swing states targeted by both campaigns, the raw vote decreased by only 0.22 percent. In other states, it fell by 4.34 percent. (The outlier in this latter group: Utah, up 6.12 percent for the first election with a Mormon candidate.

Although it was a close election, the final numbers for 2012 make revisionist histories about how the fluttering of butterfly wings might have changed everything a bit harder than in some recent contests.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on November 28, 2012 10:38 AM:

    I wonder how many registered voters stayed home, either because of the voter suppression efforts (wondering if they had the right ID or not), or because of the long lines in many states?

    And we'll NEVER know that, either.

  • T2 on November 28, 2012 10:38 AM:

    and in the end, all the Citizens United money didn't make any difference, except for some pretty nice bottom lines at swing states local television outlets.

  • exlibra on November 28, 2012 10:56 AM:

    T2, I read a bit of a snark somewhere, that Rove rooked the rich bandits out of more money than Obama ever will with his tax hikes on the 1%. Snarky or not, it was also nothing more than the truth. Serves them bloody right, too.

  • Del Walmar on November 28, 2012 11:12 AM:

    And yet, in tv interviews, Republicans continue to insist on the election night figure of 51-49, unchallenged of course, by their interviewer.

  • T2 on November 28, 2012 11:19 AM:

    as truth comes out, the recent election was a very decisive one...for Obama and his policies, for the Dem Senate and for the Dem House. Several long tim die-hard ultra right-wingers were defeated and the TeaParty took major hits. Naturally the Media and GOP want to downplay this. But real is real.

  • gregor on November 28, 2012 11:25 AM:

    Just yesterday, I saw Mr. Romney in person, unadorned by his entourage, outside an Apple store in UTC in La Jolla.

    All ideology aside, physically the man looked real good even without accounting for his age. No wonder he thinks that people don't need healthcare.

    I am glad I did not see him like that before the election, as that may have subconsciously influenced me to think a bit harder on voting for him.

  • Will on November 28, 2012 12:31 PM:

    "and in the end, all the Citizens United money didn't make any difference, except for some pretty nice bottom lines at swing states local television outlets."

    Unfortunately, this isn't true. The corporate spending for Romney forced Obama to make some pretty big concessions to garner his own corporate donations, which will change the policies he ends up enacting.

  • jim filyaw on November 28, 2012 12:45 PM:

    damn! where are doug schoen and pat caddell now that we need them?

  • T2 on November 28, 2012 12:53 PM:

    which concessions?

  • castanea on November 28, 2012 10:19 PM:

    "in the end, all the Citizens United money didn't make any difference..."

    I could not disagree more. CU money made a huge difference.

    It allowed a vulture who flipflopped on just about every major issue put before him, who avoided releasing his tax returns, who outright lied to the American public, and who made a career out of gutting American companies and sending our jobs overseas to come within a few percentage points of winning the popular vote.

    In the absence of CU money, Romney may have lost by eight or nine points instead of just 3.5, the Democrats may have picked up another seat or two in the Senate, and the House might have been closer to 50/50.

    I'll bet you that the filthy rich who supported Romney will be back with their billions the next time around.