Bob Novak found a way to claim that Barack Obama did not receive a mandate on Tuesday night: the lack of a lopsided Democratic Congress.
Nice try, Bob, but I’d say Obama quite obviously won a mandate, one that boils down to this simple message: Fix this mess!
The Evans-Novak Political Report, written now mostly by Timothy Carney, also said differently.
“The landslide election of a black President of the United States, unimaginable not long ago, highlighted the Democratic triumph Tuesday night. Sen. Barack Obama, garnered the largest popular vote total in American history and is buoyed by sizable Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress,” Carney writes.
Far more interesting – and counter-intuitive – than obvious observations such as that is Carney’s breakdown of some of the polling data, particularly when it comes to the black vote and the youth vote.
For example, Carney reports that “Nationally, black turnout increased from 11 percent to 13 percednt, while the Democratic share of the black vote increased from 88 percent to 93 percent. Even with higher black turnout, had the Democratic nominee not improved his showing among black voters, McCain would have won.”
In other words, it wasn’t higher black turnout that was the key for this demographic, but moving 5 percent of the black vote into the Democratic column.
I’m not an expert at analyzing polling data, and I haven’t checked this theory against other analyses, but I have to say I find to be a fascinating observation.
As far as the youth vote goes, I had been under the impression – perhaps because of general media chatter – that this time the vaunted youth vote finally made it to the polls. Not so, says Carney.
“As we expected, the talk of increased youth turnout was more hype than reality. The 18 to 29-year-old vote increased from 17 percent to 18 percent compared to 2004 (and, in fact, decreased in Ohio from 21 percent to 17 percent). The difference was not a high youth turnout – it was Obama’s astronomical popularity among young voters: Obama captured 66 percent of under-29 voters to Kerry’s 54 percent four years ago.”
Again, Carney is arguing that it wasn’t turnout that was the key, it was Obama turning voters from red to blue.
Obama also received higher margins among the wealthy than the middle class, according to Carney, and an impressive share of the Hispanic vote.