A few stray thoughts and observations in the aftermath of the 2012 election — on substance, process, and tactics:
(1) The polls were broadly right, both at the state and national levels — a dichotomy that I believed to be unlikely in the extreme as recently as yesterday morning. The electorate ended up being D+6, nearly on par with 2008, and six points better than the 2010 midterms. I was wrong about this, as were a good number of other observers. The 2012 party ID figures from Gallup and Rasmussen upon which my assumptions were based were wildly off. National polls predicted a very close race, and that projection was borne out by the vote totals. As of this writing, the president is winning the popular vote by a slim, 50/49 margin. When all is said and done, roughly two percentage points will separate the two candidates, down considerably from Obama’s 2008 seven-point popular vote romp. Yet Obama pulled off wins in every swing state, save North Carolina (Romney also flipped Indiana back into the red column). The president carried Ohio by approximately two points — largely in line with most polling — and though his victory margins in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were slashed substantially, they all still fell in his direction. The biggest surprises were Florida and Colorado, which looked promising based on public polling and raw early data. Romney lost “the big three” — FL, OH and VA — by just over 300,000 total votes.