Category Archives: US Election
by Matt Taibbi, Taibblog, Rolling Stone magazine, March 2013
went yesterday to a screening of We Steal Secrets, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney’s brilliant new documentary about Wikileaks. The movie is beautiful and profound, an incredible story that’s about many things all at once, including the incredible Shakespearean narrative that is the life of Julian Assange, a free-information radical who has become an uncompromising guarder of secrets.
I’ll do a full review in a few months, when We Steal Secrets comes out, but I bring it up now because the whole issue of secrets and how we keep them is increasingly in the news, to the point where I think we’re headed for a major confrontation between the government and the public over the issue, one bigger in scale than even the Wikileaks episode.
We’ve seen the battle lines forming for years now. It’s increasingly clear that governments, major corporations, banks, universities and other such bodies view the defense of their secrets as a desperate matter of institutional survival, so much so that the state has gone to extraordinary lengths to punish and/or threaten to punish anyone who so much as tiptoes across the informational line.
This is true not only in the case of Wikileaks – and especially the real subject of Gibney’s film, Private Bradley Manning, who in an incredible act of institutional vengeance is being charged with aiding the enemy (among other crimes) and could, theoretically, receive a death sentence.
There’s also the horrific case of Aaron Swartz, a genius who helped create the technology behind Reddit at the age of 14, who earlier this year hanged himself after the government threatened him with 35 years in jail for downloading a bunch of academic documents from an MIT server. Then there’s the case of Sergey Aleynikov, the Russian computer programmer who allegedly stole the High-Frequency Trading program belonging to Goldman, Sachs (Aleynikov worked at Goldman), a program which prosecutors in open court admitted could, “in the wrong hands,” be used to “manipulate markets.”
Aleynikov spent a year in jail awaiting trial, was convicted, had his sentence overturned, was freed, and has since been re-arrested by a government seemingly determined to make an example out of him.
And most recently, there’s the Matthew Keys case, in which a Reuters social media editor was charged by the government with conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous to alter a Los Angeles Times headline in December 2010. The change in the headline? It ended up reading, “Pressure Builds in House to Elect CHIPPY 1337,” Chippy being the name of another hacker group accused of defacing a video game publisher’s website.
Keys is charged with crimes that carry up to 25 years in prison, although the likelihood is that he’d face far less than that if convicted. Still, it seems like an insane amount of pressure to apply, given the other types of crimes (of, say, the HSBC variety) where stiff sentences haven’t even been threatened, much less imposed.
A common thread runs through all of these cases. On the one hand, the motivations for these information-stealers seem extremely diverse: You have people who appear to be primarily motivated by traditional whistleblower concerns (Manning, who never sought money and was obviously initially moved by the moral horror aroused by the material he was seeing, falls into that category for me), you have the merely mischievous (the Keys case seems to fall in this area), there are those who either claim to be or actually are free-information ideologues (Assange and Swartz seem more in this realm), and then there are other cases where the motive might have been money (Aleynikov, who was allegedly leaving Goldman to join a rival trading startup, might be among those).
But in all of these cases, the government pursued maximum punishments and generally took zero-tolerance approaches to plea negotiations. These prosecutions reflected an obvious institutional terror of letting the public see the sausage-factory locked behind the closed doors not only of the state, but of banks and universities and other such institutional pillars of society. As Gibney pointed out in his movie, this is a Wizard of Oz moment, where we are being warned not to look behind the curtain.
What will we find out? We already know that our armies mass-murder women and children in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, that our soldiers joke about smoldering bodies from the safety of gunships, that some of our closest diplomatic allies starve and repress their own citizens, and we may even have gotten a glimpse or two of a banking system that uses computerized insider trading programs to steal from everyone who has an IRA or a mutual fund or any stock at all by manipulating markets like the NYSE.
These fervent, desperate prosecutions suggest that there’s more awfulness under there, things that are worse, and there is a determination to not let us see what those things are. Most recently, we’ve seen that determination in the furor over Barack Obama’s drone assassination program and the so-called “kill list” that is associated with it.
Weeks ago, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul – whom I’ve previously railed against as one of the biggest self-aggrandizing jackasses in politics – pulled a widely-derided but, I think, absolutely righteous Frank Capra act on the Senate floor, executing a one-man filibuster of Obama’s CIA nominee, John Brennan.
Paul had been mortified when he received a letter from Eric Holder refusing to rule out drone strikes on American soil in “extraordinary” circumstances like a 9/11 or a Pearl Harbor. Paul refused to yield until he extracted a guarantee that no American could be assassinated by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime.
He got his guarantee, but the way the thing is written doesn’t fill one with anything like confidence. Eric Holder’s letter to Paul reads like the legal disclaimer on a pack of unfiltered cigarettes:
Dear Senator Paul,
It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the president have the additional authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer is no.
You could drive a convoy of tanker trucks through the loopholes in that letter. Not to worry, though, this past week, word has come out via Congress – the White House won’t tell us anything – that no Americans are on its infamous kill list. The National Journal‘s report on this story offered a similarly comical sort of non-reassurance:
The White House has wrapped its kill list in secrecy and already the United States has killed four Americans in drone strikes. Only one of them, senior al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki, was the intended target, according to U.S. officials. The others – including Awlaki’s teenage son – were collateral damage, killed because they were too near a person being targeted.
But no more Americans are in line for such killings – at least not yet. “There is no list where Americans are on the list,” House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers told National Journal. Still, he suggested, that could change.
“There is no list where Americans are on the list” – even the language used here sounds like a cheap Orwell knockoff (although, to be fair, so does V for Vendetta, which has unfortunately provided the model for the modern protest aesthetic). It’s not an accident that so much of this story is starting to sound like farce. The idea that we have to beg and plead and pull Capra-esque stunts in the Senate just to find out whether or not our government has “asserted the legal authority” (this preposterous phrase is beginning to leak into news coverage with alarming regularity) to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without trial would be laughable, were it not for the obvious fact that such lines are in danger of really being crossed, if they haven’t been crossed already.
This morning, an Emory University law professor named Mary Dudziak wrote an op-ed in the Times in which she pointed out several disturbing aspects to the drone-attack policy. It’s bad enough, she writes, that the Obama administration is considering moving the program from the CIA to the Defense Department. (Which, Dudziak notes, “would do nothing to confer legitimacy to the drone strikes. The legitimacy problem comes from the secrecy itself — not which entity secretly does the killing.”) It’s even worse that the administration is citing Nixon’s infamous bombing of Cambodia as part of its legal precedent.
But beyond that, Obama’s lawyers used bad information in their white paper:
On Page 4 of the unclassified 16-page “white paper,” Justice Department lawyers tried to refute the argument that international law does not support extending armed conflict outside a battlefield. They cited as historical authority a speech given May 28, 1970, by John R. Stevenson, then the top lawyer for the State Department, following the United States’ invasion of Cambodia.
Since 1965, “the territory of Cambodia has been used by North Vietnam as a base of military operations,” he told the New York City Bar Association. “It long ago reached a level that would have justified us in taking appropriate measures of self-defense on the territory of Cambodia. However, except for scattered instances of returning fire across the border, we refrained until April from taking such action in Cambodia.”
But, Dudziak notes, there is a catch:
In fact, Nixon had begun his secret bombing of Cambodia more than a year earlier. (It is not clear whether Mr. Stevenson knew this.) So the Obama administration’s lawyers have cited a statement that was patently false.
Now, this “white paper” of Obama’s is already of dubious legality at best. The idea that the President can simply write a paper expanding presidential power into extralegal assassination without asking the explicit permission of, well, somebody, anyway, is absurd from the start. Now you add to that the complication of the paper being based in part on some half-assed, hastily-cobbled-together, factually lacking precedent, and the Obama drone-attack rationale becomes like all rationales of blunt-force, repressive power ever written – plainly ridiculous, the stuff of bad comedy, like the Russian military superpower invading tiny South Ossetia cloaked in hysterical claims of self-defense.
The Wikileaks episode was just an early preview of the inevitable confrontation between the citizens of the industrialized world and the giant, increasingly secretive bureaucracies that support them. As some of Gibney’s interview subjects point out in his movie, the experts in this field, the people who worked on information security in the Pentagon and the CIA, have known for a long time that the day would come when all of our digitized secrets would spill out somewhere.
But the secret-keepers got lucky with Wikileaks. They successfully turned the story into one about Julian Assange and his personal failings, and headed off the confrontation with the major news organizations that were, for a time, his allies.
But that was just a temporary reprieve. The secrets are out there and everyone from hackers to journalists to U.S. senators are digging in search of them. Sooner or later, there’s going to be a pitched battle, one where the state won’t be able to peel off one lone Julian Assange or Bradley Manning and batter him into nothingness. Next time around, it’ll be a Pentagon Papers-style constitutional crisis, where the public’s legitimate right to know will be pitted head-to-head with presidents, generals and CEOs.
My suspicion is that this story will turn out to be less of a simplistic narrative about Orwellian repression than a mortifying journey of self-discovery. There are all sorts of things we both know and don’t know about the processes that keep our society running. We know children in Asia are being beaten to keep our sneakers and furniture cheap, we know our access to oil and other raw materials is being secured only by the cooperation of corrupt and vicious dictators, and we’ve also known for a while now that the anti-terror program they say we need to keep our airports and reservoirs safe involves mass campaigns of extralegal detention and assassination.
We haven’t had to openly ratify any of these policies because the secret-keepers have done us the favor of making these awful moral choices for us.
But the stink is rising to the surface. It’s all coming out. And when it isn’t Julian Assange the next time but The New York Times, Der Spiegel and The Guardian standing in the line of fire, the state will probably lose, just as it lost in the Pentagon Papers case, because those organizations will be careful to only publish materials clearly in the public interest – there’s no conceivable legal justification for keeping us from knowing the policies of our own country (although stranger things have happened).
When that happens, we’ll be left standing face-to-face with the reality of how our state functions. Do we want to do that? We still haven’t taken a very close look at even the Bradley Manning material, and my guess is because we just don’t want to. There were thousands of outrages in those files, any one of which would have a caused a My-Lai-style uproar decades ago.
Did you hear the one about how American troops murdered four women and five children in Iraq in 2006, including a woman over 70 and an infant under five months old, with all the kids under five? All of them were handcuffed and shot in the head. We later called in an airstrike to cover it up, apparently. But it barely registered a blip on the American consciousness.
What if it we’re forced to look at all of this for real next time, and what if it turns out we can’t accept it? What if murder and corruption is what’s holding it all together? I personally don’t believe that’s true – I believe it all needs to come out and we need to rethink everything together, and we can find a less totally evil way of living – but this is going to be the implicit argument from the secret-keeping side when this inevitable confrontation comes. They will say to us, in essence, “It’s the only way. And you don’t want to know.” And a lot of us won’t.
It’s fascinating, profound stuff. We don’t want to know, but increasingly it seems we can’t not know, either. Sooner or later, something is going to have to give.
It gave the political reporting award to David Corn of Mother Jones magazine, who uncovered the video of Romney at a private fundraiser remarking that 47 percent of Americans—those who back Democratic President Barack Obama—are “victims” who are “dependent upon government” and “pay no income tax.”
The video became an immediate news sensation, and was used by Democrats in damaging ads against Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. It further hurt the public perception of Romney at the same time as Democrats were pushing a narrative portraying Romney as out of touch. A press release announcing the award described the story as one that “rocked the nation and perhaps cost Mitt Romney the Presidential election.”
WASHINGTON DC – USA – Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, is facing deportation for being in the country illegally, and will not be treated differently than anyone else under U.S. laws, White House Press Secretary, Larry Hauser, told CBS news on Friday.
CBS news reporter, Murray Asshelhopp, asked, “Was the president aware that he was in the United States as an undocumented immigrant?” But before the question was completely asked, Hauser interjected, saying President Obama “was made aware of this issue when I walked into his office and, among other subjects, mentioned it to him and he was completely unaware.”
The President was only aware of the dire situation when he was met by immigration officers at the runway just before boarding Air Force One going on a day trip to Alaska from Martha’s Vineyard.
After being booked at a police station, he was asked whether he wanted to make a telephone call to arrange for bail. “I think I will call the White House,” he said, according to a report written by Westchester police. He was denied the call and put in a cell with forty other inmates. During the police search at the station, officers also discovered forged documents on Mr Obama’s person, including a forged birth certificate and forged U.S. passport, all items were immediately confiscated and were sent to the FBI for further investigations.
Later on, President Obama’s lawyers tried to get their client bail but were refused on the grounds that he might try to flee back to a nearby golf course in Martha’s Yard or even worse, his campaign bus.
Vice-President, Joe Biden, will be in charge of the country now until an election is called next week.
The top rated columnist says that Republicans are getting weaker every presidential election cycle because of their refusal to change.
n the piece entitled “A Lost Civilization,” she compares the end of the world prediction in 2012 by a Mayan prophecy to the self-destruction of the Republican Party.
She says, “The Mayans were right, as it turns out, when they predicted the world would end in 2012. It was just a select world: the G.O.P. universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys.
“Just another vanishing tribe that fought the cultural and demographic tides of history.”
She goes on to say the decline of the Republican party “will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count.”
Dowd says President Obama’s victory over Romney didn’t stop on election night. She says Obama is still beating him.
“The G.O.P. put up a candidate that no one liked or understood and ran a campaign that no one liked or understood — a campaign animated by the idea that indolent, grasping serfs must be kept down, even if it meant creating barriers to letting them vote,” she says.
Continuing her analogy, she ends saying, “But history will no doubt record that withering Republicans were finally wiped from the earth in 2016 when the relentless (and rested) Conquistadora Hillary marched in, General Bill on a horse behind her, and finished them off.”
According to the ABC News/Washington Post survey, 57 percent of people would support Clinton as a presidential candidate, versus 37 percent opposed.
The research shows the current Secretary of State has 66 percent among women and the backing of 82 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents. Clinton, a Democratic candidate in 2009, also snagged support from 23 percent of Republican respondents.
In her current role, a full 68 percent of those surveyed approved of her position, while 68 percent approved overall.
The research shows Clinton does less well among nonwhites than did Obama, who won re-election with 80 percent of their support last month.
Read More US political stories here
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellphone Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2012, among a random national sample of 1,020 adults.
Clinton, who is currently visiting Ireland, is expected to step down from her State Department at the end of the year.
The former first lady arrived in Ireland on Wednesday as part of a four-day visit to Europe.
On Thursday she will deliver a speech on human rights at the Helix in Dublin City University (DCU). She will travel to Belfast on Friday to discuss the peace process and investment opportunities.
Even after the election, the Romney campaign still doesn’t get it. Mitt Romney’s 47% remark at a fundraiser haunted his campaign more than any other issue. Matched with similar remarks that he liked to “fire people” or that “corporations are people,” Romney constantly confronted the belief that he didn’t understand the problems of ordinary Americans. The Romney campaign could never overcome that obstacle. Now it appears that was because they didn’t really understand it.
Stuart Stevens, a top strategist for Romney, wrote in the Washington Post how wonderfully transformational the Romney campaign was. Stevens tries to present Romney as a dark horse for the nomination because the Republican Party elders never liked Romney and Romney trailed in the polls to about every Republican presidential candidate at one time or another.
Was Stevens in the same campaign that the rest of us remember? Romney was the favorite for the nomination from day one after the 2008 election. He raised far more money than his rivals and lead in the polls regularly. The only reason that the polls briefly gave candidates like Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann and Santorum boosts was disatisfaction with Romney. A disatisfaction in hindsight that that was well placed. Failing to seal the deal is hardly something to throw laurels at.
Stevens suggests that the selection of Paul Ryan was brilliant because it forever changed the way that America looked at Social Security and Medicare reform. He must be joking. Does anyone remember anything memorable that Ryan did in the campaign? That’s not to say Ryan was a poor choice. He just wasn’t a gamechanger.
Stevens points to Romney’s 8-point victory over Obama as proof that Ryan’s entitlement reform ideas went over well. Stevens should look at the 2008 demographics. John McCain carried senior by 8 points too. 2012 was a closer election. The numbers improved for the Republicans from McCain’s run in 2008. When a demographic doesn’t follow that trend, it takes a particularly strong dose of chutzpah to claim it as a victory.
None of that comes close to this piece from Stevens’ reflections:
On Nov. 6, Romney carried the majority of every economic group except those with less than $50,000 a year in household income. That means he carried the majority of middle-class voters. While John McCain lost white voters younger than 30 by 10 points, Romney won those voters by seven points, a 17-point shift. Obama received 4½ million fewer voters in 2012 than 2008, and Romney got more votes than McCain.
All that is true, but Romney’s only got 54% from those receiving over $100,000 a year. Obama carried those making under $50,000 with 60%. Romney did get 52% of those making between $50,000 and $99,000. That doesn’t mean that once someone makes $50,000, that person is more inclined to back Romney. Romney might have won those making over $40,000 or lost those making under $65,000. The $50,000 mark is an arbitrary drawing line.
What can be assumed comfortably from the exit polls is that Romney lost the 47% that he decried by a comfortable margin. Those are Americans making significantly less than $50,000 a year. They are often the young and minorities. These are the very demographics that the Republican Party needs to expand and embrace if it is going to compete in future elections.
Yet Stevens dismisses all that in his proud declaration that Romney won the voters who really matter: the rich, old and white voters. I’m actually surprised that Stevens didn’t pound himself on the chest and declare Romney won the majority of the male vote too.
No wonder Romney never comprehended the image problem that he had with a majority of Americans. He had people like Stevens telling him that the important voters are those who dominated America’s past.
The Republican Party’s challenges are going to be more difficult than just rebranding. It has people like Stevens who are entrenched in the twentieth century thinking that they can still bring together the coalitions of Nixon and Reagan. Someone needs to tell them that the silent majority is no more.
Rich, older, white male voters are not going to dominate politics like they once did. Yet Stevens really thinks that Obama’s campaign was the aberration and the Democrats will not be able to replicate it.
There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?
There is Stevens trying to make the argument that an African American candidate is nearly invicible, especially with a billion dollars in the bank and the media in his back pocket. If Stevens really believes that there is no racism left in America, then he is further delusional than I am imagining. Maybe he is. Take a look at his conclusions.
Yes, the Republican Party has problems, but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.
Mitt Romney carried the day? Mitt Romney performed better than only four other Republican candidates in the last 15 elections. Stevens had better looked at the election results again. Romney received 47% and 206 electoral votes. He did not carry the day. He lost the election in what may be the last attempt to forge a coalition of the older, white and wealthier voters that Stevens admires.
“It ain’t worth a damn,” the man responded. “None of it good at all. Don’t agree with anything he done.”
The president is so disliked in the county, in fact, that during the 2012 presidential election, he received only five votes. Yes, in a county with a population of about 255, only five people voted for President Obama.
This means King County holds the distinction of being the county where President Obama received the lowest vote percentage.
“If you could tell Barack Obama to do one thing,” Tuchman said to another resident, “what would you tell him?”
“To resign,” the resident laughingly responded.
The world was rooting for President Obama to earn another four years in the White House last week, and as we know that wish was emphatically granted. One global citizen who couldn’t be happier about the outcome is Bono.
“Congratulations are in order not just for turning out in record numbers – and forgetting politics for a minute – but for electing an extraordinary man as president. I think you have to say that whatever your political tradition,” Bono told an audience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. on Monday night.
Now that the election dust has settled, Bono has been in the nation’s capital these past couple of days to urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle not to cut U.S. funding for global assistance programs when “fiscal cliff” negotiations get underway in earnest. He’s had several meetings to stress that U.S. aid has done a world of good and can’t be eliminated now, and he doesn’t care who he has deal with to get that message across.
“Cuts can cost the lives of the poorest of the poor,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a hard case to make, but it is right now. In the halls of Congress, the Senate, maybe here in [Georgetown]. But I put it to you we must not let this economic recession become a moral recession. That would become a double cruelty.
“If George Bush were here right now, I’d get down and kiss him on the lips!” Bono told the mostly student audience at the Global Social Enterprise Initiative event at Georgetown. Bush and Bono collaborated together on relief programs during W’s years in the White House, and they maintained a positive relationship despite an undoubted difference of political opinion.
Bono told the attendees that Africa is vital to their futures. “People say China is the future,” he said, “but if you ask the Chinese, they’re all headed to Africa. Africa’s going to be big, and it’s going to be young. This is the era of the Afro-nerd!”
One African student asked Bono a pointed question: “What kind of advice do you have for young Africans like myself who have access to a world of knowledge and opportunities and want to be able to take that back, without being condescending?”
Bono was his usual candid self in reply. “We don’t quite have the answer. And honestly, I look forward to the day when you will be holding this speech. Because I see the absurdity of Paddy standing at the lectern because Desmond Tutu is busy.”
Laughter ensued, and Bono turned serious. “I am called to serve you,” he said. “I think we’re all called to serve each other in that way, by God. Or by a sense of common decency.”
Hillary Clinton for President in 2016? As she steps down as Secretary of State all she wants to do is sleep
Will Hillary run in 2016? It’s the question that her most ardent supporters have been asking themselves since 2008.
According to The New York Times, Politico reported that Public Policy Polling had determined that if the Iowa caucuses were held last week Clinton would get 58 percent of the vote. Joe Biden raked in 17 percent.
It’s not as if she hasn’t read the tea leaves herself. In fact, she says, every day strangers come up and tell her she has an obligation to run and become the nation’s first woman president.
‘Oh, I’ve ruled it out, but you know me,’ she tells the Times. ‘Everybody keeps asking me. So I keep ruling it out and being asked.’
What she has not done, supporters and critics note, is rule it out
Right now she’d rather list all the things she won’t do when she’s no longer secretary of state.
‘I am so looking forward to next year,’ she told the Times. ‘I just want to sleep and exercise and travel for fun. And relax. It sounds so ordinary, but I haven’t done it for 20 years. I would like to see whether I can get untired. I work out and stuff, but I don’t do it enough and I don’t do it hard enough because I can’t expend that much energy on it.’
At 65, you can’t deny her the impulse to relax a bit. But it’s highly unlikely she will for long.
But there is the matter of her history to consider too. If Hillary Clinton ran for president again, the Times observes, she would probably be the best-prepared candidate in American history. She has lived in the White House, she has served in the United States Senate, she knows virtually every head of state in the world. She’s more than ready.
The New York Times has an awesome graphical breakdown of voting data from the 2012 Presidential election.
In case you had any doubt about how the country breaks down along gender, age, race, financial status, religion, education, and community lines, just have a glance at these stats.
Obama won “Women” by 11 points (55% to 44%). This was very important, because women made up 53% of voters.
Romney won “Men” by 7 points (52% to 45%). Men were only 47% of voters.
Obama won “Young voters” (18-29) by an astounding 24 points (60% to 36%). These folks were 19% of total voters.
Obama won “Young middle aged voters” (30-44) by an impressive 7 points (52% to 45%). These folks were 26% of total voters.
Romney won “Middle-aged voters” (45-59) by 5 points (52% to 47%). These were 29% of voters.
Romney won “Older voters” (60+) by 9 points (54% to 45%). These were 25% of voters.
Obama won “Black voters” by a staggering 87 points (93% to 6%). Blacks were 13% of voters.
Obama won “Asian voters” by a remarkable 47 points (73% to 26%). Asians were 3% of voters.
Obama won “Hispanic voters” by a remarkable 44 points (71% to 27%). Hispanics were 10% of voters.
Romney won “White voters” by 20 points (59% to 39%). Whites were 72% of voters.
Obama won gay, unmarried, and working-mother, and parents-with-young-kids voters by massive margins.
Romney won “married” voters.
Obama won uneducated (no high school), modestly educated (high school), and super-educated (graduate degree) voters.
Romney won college grads by a small margin.
Obama won by a staggering margin voters who said their financial situation is the same or better than 4 years ago.
Romney won by a big margin voters who said their financial situation is worse.
Obama won households making less than $49,999 by ~20 points
Romney won households making more than $50,000 by 6-10 points
Obama easily won voters who classify themselves as Democrats and Liberals and narrowly won those classifying themselves as Moderates
Romney easily won voters who classify themselves as Republicans and Conservatives, and very narrowly won Independents
Obama won by a landslide in big cities and easily in small cities.
Romney won easily in rural areas and more narrowly in the suburbs and towns.
Obama won Jewish voters handily (2% of voters) and Catholic voters (25% of voters) narrowly
Romney won protestants (53% of voters) and white evangelical Christians (26% of voters).
The political prize that eluded him in 2008, and his father four decades before, had seemed tantalisingly close. It was all the more remarkable give that his roller-coaster campaign threatened to come off the rails early on, before roaring back to life following his first energetic television debate.
But within hours of arriving in Boston to watch the results pour in with his family and advisors, the television networks had called the election for his rival.
What may rankle most with Romney is that the obstacles which prevented him from beating an incumbent saddled with high unemployment and a disappointing first election term were largely of his own making.
But there was no one else to blame for the verbal gaffes, his comments about the 47 per cent of people on welfare, his failure to produce tax returns or his constant shape-shifting on fundamental policy issues.
Ultimately, voters never warmed or trusted him in sufficient numbers – and Romney never effectively made the case for himself.
47 per cent
The voice on the secretly recorded video was steady, and the message was severe. “There are 47 per cent of the people who will vote for the President no matter what,” he said at a private fundraiser.
“All right, there are 47 per cent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
It took Romney days to express regret at his comments.
Coming after a slew of ads that accused his investment company, Bain Capital, of vulture capitalism and outsourcing jobs, the damage was devastating, particularly among the blue-collar vote he so badly needed to secure.
Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns gave Democrats even more ammunition. What he did release showed that he had paid a meagre 14 per cent, significantly less than average workers.
“What else is he hiding?” a narrator in an Obama ad asked viewers over the summer.
It was Romney’s decision not to release any earlier tax returns, on the basis that it would play into the hands of the Democrats’ campaign.
But it all hinted at a bigger problem.
Romney, the affluent son of a former car industry chief and state governor, was deeply uncomfortable discussing his wealth.
He did a good job of completing the caricature of a one per center by boasted that his wife had “a couple of Cadillacs” and making a $10,000 bet with his Republican primary rival, governor Rick Perry, over health care policy.
Democrats spent millions of dollars during the summer portraying him as a vulture capitalist, happy to ship jobs overseas in order to maxmise his financial returns.
Yet, these were the same ads – and in some cases, the same individuals – that had been used eight years earlier in his unsuccessful Senate campaign bid against Ted Kennedy.
Neither Romney, nor his campaign, insisted they were vastly exaggerated, but they never did enough to rebut them. The mud stuck. It hardly matters when he went on to tell voters at a rally in New Hampshire that he “liked to fire people”.
It was no surprise that Romney would seek to make a play for the middle ground after securing a nomination.
But the sheer number of about-turns gave the impression of a candidate with no real conviction.
He largely disowned the health insurance policy introduced in Massachusetts as governor (which became the model for Obamacare) and embraced the coal industry he had denounced a few years earlier.
In order to appeal to the his Republican base, he renounced more liberal position he held in the past on abortion. It all allowed the Obama campaign to characterise these many changes as “Romnesia.” But voters – both Democrats and Republicans – didn’t forget these about-turns.
Lack of personality
Ironically, it was only during the final weeks of the campaign that some of Romney’s personality began to come through.
For most of the campaign, he had avoided revealing anything to do with Mormon faith besides clipped overall generalisations. Yet, there was aspects of it which reflected well on him. His personal engagement with charities were considerable. He have millions to voluntary groups and spent significant period of time with ordinary church members, often allowing poorer visitors from abroad visiting Boston for medical attention to stay in his home.
All in all, Romney never gave the public a good enough reason to vote for him as a person. He never effectively made the case for Romney himself, instead allowing others to define him.
The investor, who had previously expressed major reservations over Obama’s eligibility of the Presidency by questioning his 1961 birth in Hawaii, took to Twitter shortly after the main TV networks in the United States called the election in Obama’s favour.
“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty,” Trump insisted. “Our nation is totally divided!
“Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.
This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble… like never before.
Our nation is a once great nation divided! The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.
The billionaire – who had toyed with running for the Republican nomination, but ultimately ruled himself out and endorsed Mitt Romney’s candidacy before leaving the Republican party altogether- said the Republican-controlled House of Representatives “shouldn’t give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare”.
Trump’s complaints appeared to be related to the running totals in the popular vote count, which had showed Romney has holding a clear lead over Obama despite having lost the election based on the electoral college system.
The running totals carried by TV networks, however, did not include the substantial tallies of votes cast in western states such as California, which had leaned heavily towards Obama and whose 55 electoral college votes could immediately be awarded to the incumbent.