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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

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It's what's for breakfast today. I was not just wrong about the Wisconsin Pres/Senate results, I was awesomely wrong. I'll be joined at the crow buffet by my good friend the former-gold standard of pundits, Michael Barone.

The results are in and I was wrong when I predicted that Mitt Romney would win 315 electoral votes. For those of you who sent in nasty emails and for those who sent in reasoned arguments that I was wrong, please be assured that I will be on a diet of crow for some time. For those who sent in positive or thankful emails, remember that none of us wants to live in a country where one party wins every election even though we tend to wish our party would win every time, and so disappointment is a necessary attribute of living in an electoral republic...

I was wrong because the outcome of the election was not determined, as I thought it would be, by fundamentals. Some fundamentals, I thought, favored Obama. Americans like to think well of their presidents (and Obama’s approval ratings rose, slightly, over the fall) and many, perhaps most, Americans believe it would be a bad thing for Americans to be seen as rejecting the first black president.

On the other hand, most voters opposed Obama’s major policies and found unsatisfactory the sluggish economic recovery that seems to them to be the result—negative factors that seem to have been confirmed by responses to exit poll questions as they were by responses to poll questions for many months now. It is true that Obama won a second term by a reduced percentage and electoral vote margin, making him the first president to do so since Woodrow Wilson in 1916, nearly a century ago. This is not, I think, a grand triumph for his ideas or ideology. It is a triumph for his campaign strategists.

What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics....



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