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On the 2012 Presidential Election

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A little more than a week ago, President Obama was re-elected with a margin of  3 million popular votes over Mitt Romney. The race was in a statistical dead heat right up through election day. A number of important events may have influenced the outcome.

First, Hurricane Sandy terrorized millions of people along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It’s hard for people to think about changing administrations when they are just about to file claims for federal relief. This point was highlighted by Governor Christy’s meeting with President Obama to discuss the specifics of the disaster aid efforts. Shortly afterward, Mayor Bloomberg endorsed the Obama ticket for re-election.

Even without the hurricane, the composition of this electorate is still evolving from the World War II generation to the Vietnam war generation. People born in the roaring ’20s were essentially the World War II generation. Most of the World War II generation has passed the average life expectancy of about 80 years. Very few people from that generation are still alive today, whereas many millions were alive when Ronald Reagan was elected president. Essentially, the World War II generation could be counted on to vote for large increases in the military budget.

Mitt Romney discussed building up the military. A similar argument was proposed by former President Bush in the 2000 election, and two major wars followed his election. President Obama emphasized that he was not inclined to ask for things in the military budget that the Joint Chiefs had not even requested. In addition, the president emphasized his record in ending or winding down the American involvement in two major wars. In the end, it appeared that voters were more cautious in evaluating arguments for a military buildup in this election cycle.

Once again, the Vietnam war generation is the predominant voting constituency and that generation has a history of skepticism with regard to American involvement in major wars, beginning with the conflict in Vietnam. But young people voted substantially in favor of President Obama for a number of reasons. First, it’s young people who actually fight wars. Second, Obama has had some success in providing more affordable rates on student loans.

Soccer moms also voted for Obama due to more affordable loans on cooperative apartments and homes. Re-financings are also cheaper. Obama did better with hispanic voters due to his position on the Dream Act.

Americans were tuned in: 50 million people watched the first presidential debate, and 60 million or more watched the second. During the second presidential debate, Candy Crowley gave the candidates a chance to weigh in on the question of reducing unemployment to below 6 percent. Both candidates waffled on this issue.

Romney discussed creating 12 million new jobs; however, the American population has increased by more than 12 million people since the year 2000. At bottom, people are living longer and large numbers of immigrants continue to come to the United States.

President Obama has reduced unemployment from a high of 10.5 percent just months into his first term, to a low of 7.8 percent recently. That’s a 2.7 percent overall improvement from the height of the recession until now.

Warren Buffet came closest to answering the full employment question when he stated in 2008 that the housing glut would clear in the 2013 to 2014 timeframe. At that time, more people will buy houses and the economy should pick up more dramatically as a result of the impact of the home buying on related industries such as materials.

On election day, Americans voted in President Obama and a Republican House. Essentially, people want a president who will not get us into more wars together with a House that will be fiscally conservative.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • Dr Dreadful

    I think you might want to rethink your assertion that during the Reagan era, World War II veterans could be counted on to vote for high military spending.

    I reckon your average combat veteran, having first-hand experience of what it’s like to be in a war, is going to think twice before paying for someone else to go and have that experience.

    Defence spending was an easier sell in the 1980s not because of the composition of the electorate, but because of the reality of global politics and in particular the existence of a formidable and ideologically anathemic world power in the USSR.

    The Russians had a bigger military than the US did, they had a demonstrated ability to defeat and destroy a powerful armed force (Germany), they had a track record of low-level aggression around the world, and most significantly they had a large number of nukes pointed at us.

    Compare that to what we have now: a bunch of wannabe Old Testament and Quranic heroes with dishcloths on their heads, the reasoning capacity of a demented hamster, and occasional access to things that go bang. Trying to convince the public that this menace needs to be opposed with a military that’s bigger than the rest of the world’s armed forces put together is incongruous, to say the least.

    If politicians spent as much effort and money on fixing the economy as they do on trying to convince us that these knuckledraggers are the deadliest threat to life, liberty and the pursuit of cheap mindless depressing reality shows since Stalin, we’d be a lot better off.

  • Pres. Merkin Muffley

    “Essentially, people want a president who will not get us into more wars together with a House that will be fiscally conservative.”

    Since I see you offer no proof of the numbers of those who voted Obama and also voted for Republican representatives, I don’t see what you base this statement on other than your imagination.

    Also, Bloomberg’s endorsement was meaningless

  • Dr Dreadful

    President Muffley is right. Very seldom does someone split his or her vote one way for President and a different way for the House of Representatives.

    Yesterday I happened to view a lot of election results at county and precinct level while doing research for another debate. In every district I looked at, where a majority of people voted for, say, Romney, it was invariably the case that a majority of people also voted for the Republican candidate for Senate, the House etc.

    It was also almost universal for the presidential candidates to have received more votes in that district than their counterparts aspiring to lesser offices. A lot of people will vote for “big ticket” candidates, like presidents, but can’t be bothered with senators, state assembly members, district attorneys, street sweeping commissioners and the like. That might go some way to accounting for why the Democrats retained the White House but didn’t win back the house with the dome on top.

    It might, but a better explanation is that the United States government was deliberately designed to function in such a way that no one party could take complete control for too long. That’s why only a third of the Senate is up for election each time round, and why the House gets a complete spring clean every two years rather than every four.

  • Zingzing

    Gerrymandering may be another reason, doc.

  • To answer Dr. Dreadful, the World War II generation supported World War II. That level of support was not demonstrated by the Vietnam War generation for the Vietnam War. If this had been the case, President Lyndon Johnson would have run in 1968 and won in a landslide. That year, only Senators McCarthy and Kennedy were electable because of their steadfast opposition to the war. President Nixon prevailed due to the internal strife within the Democratic Party over the Vietnam War together with the split votes to Governor George Wallace of Alabama.

    Ronald Reagan became president and was able to justify increases in military spending due to the ongoing Cold War which ended symbolically when the Berlin Wall came down. Reagan did not get into big expensive wars like his successors. Nevertheless, the World War II generation was at its zenith under Reagan. Thereafter, the generation aged and its influence waned due to the impact of limited life expectancy beyond 80 years of age. The Vietnam War generation is at its peak right now and I don’t see them voting in big military expenditures because the Vietnam War was unpopular and the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused significant budgetary strife for the federal government. For this reason, people saw the wisdom of pursuing a policy of withdrawing from Iraq and doing the same in Afghanistan by 2014. They simply felt a higher comfort level on these matters with President Obama.

  • to continue on what Pres, Doc, and zing said, it’s been reported that the Dems received more total votes than the Repubs, so the facts don’t bear out Joe’s conclusion about what the people want

  • Zingzing

    To be fair, the overall popular vote in the house shouldn’t matter (and doesn’t), and the voting in a particular constituency is what counts. But… The last reason those constituency lines should be drawn is because it will give a particular party votes. That’s crazy, and the opposite of what democracy should be aiming for. As far as the house goes, it’s nearly impossible for the dems to win it in the next decade given the gerrymandered lines. That’s fraud right there, or at least vegas-style “house” rules. How is gerrymandering legal?

  • it does when the numbers prove a contention incorrect.

  • President Obama won by considerable majorities in states like New York, California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The problem is the Electoral College. In the Electoral College, it’s essentially the winner by 1 vote takes all with a few exceptions which reward proportionality. Also, Republicans re-drew districts in some areas to favor their candidates. Overall, this was not a Lyndon Johnson victory as in 1964 or a Ronald Reagan victory as in 1984. People had bread and butter concerns, the storm created horrific chaos in the neighborhoods of 60 million voters and people had a higher comfort level with President Obama on matters of war and peace.

  • Doug Hunter


    I’m sure gerrymandering is a big part of the shift however, the nature of the vote pattern makes it where you might have to work harder to make it fair for Dems. The reason being, much of their vote total comes from the urban cores of major cities, which are geographically small areas.

    For a super simple example you could consider a state with 3 representatives, one major city a ring of suburbs and a large countryside area each with 100 voters. Now, with no attempt a gerrymandering the logical thing to do is let the city vote together, the burbs together, and the rural areas together as they may share common political goals. I’ll use the actual vote margins for areas as totalled by USA Today exit polls which are roughly 60-37 red rural, 50-48 red suburban, and 70-29 blue urban. As you can see a total of 37+48+70=155 blue votes and 60+50+29=139 red votes, blue votes won the popular vote yet lost the representative battle in this example 2-1 with no attempt at gerrymandering. That’s a rough picture of reality in America.

    Whenever you see 10000 votes for Obama and only a couple dozen for Romney in inner city precincts, that’s where you’re losing your representation, those are your wasted votes. You only need 5001 to win a 10000 vote district,the other 4999 count towards your popular vote win but do nothing to help your representation. The only way to counter the effect is actual gerrymandering, taking a share of the core and coupling it with an unrelated suburban or rural area, putting voters with less common interest together.

  • There’s been a lot of talk about abolishing the Electoral College.

  • zingzing

    doug, you know as well as i do that the republicans gerrymandered districts in order to give themselves the advantage. it’s a perfectly legal and smart thing to do. just remember it can cut the other way as well. this kind of gerrymandering is something we should all be fighting. it’s a disservice to us all.

    as for your city/suburb/rural breakdown… you act as if the land is voting, not people on that land. so yeah, if there’s a densely-packed city, that city should be broken down into many districts. why is that “harder” than any other type of redistricting? aren’t the amount of districts supposedly based upon population anyway? the people should be represented, not the amount of grass in their yards (if they even have a yard).

  • I really don’t think that there was any kind of consensus regarding the vote for the House. It was due far more to gerrymandering in various states across the country, primarily by Reps, as has been noted above. There remain a # of places around the country where the tea bag mentality remains strong. Look at my home state of Indiana. It is red through and through despite Richard Mourdock’s ill spoken notions about rape pregnancy being a gift from god. Had Richard Lugar been the candidate, he would now be looking at yet another term in the Senate.

    Otherwise, Indiana is about as red as red can be. We elected mostly Reps to the House, we have a newly elected Rep Guber, and both house of our legislature are over 2/3rds Rep. But other states DID opt to can some of the tea baggers. The House is still in Rep hands, but with a significantly smaller majority. Likewise the Senate saw Dem gains, although falling short of achieving a filibuster proof advantage.

    The tea bags are not dead. They will still carry a good deal of sway in the House and in state houses and state legislatures all across the country. They remain hot on their social agenda and will pull out all the stops to completely deny women any control over their wombs. Praise Jesus!

    They also have made it clear with moves by Guber Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Ohio’s Secy of State Jon Husted, that they remain on track to disenfranchise more and more voters.

    It has become painfully obvious that the Reps are in big trouble, that they have absolutely nothing positive to offer this country, and rather than admit that either to themselves or the voters, they feel compelled to continue in their vain efforts to block supporters of the opposition from voting. It’s the ONLY means they can grasp onto, no matter how obviously desperate it is, because they still believe that everyone but them are just too stupid to realize what’s happening. It is they who remain blind, oblivious and hopelessly stupid.

  • Romney had a strong bread and butter issue in the unemployment stats. The problem is that he decried
    unemployment without really explaining when the unemployment numbers would come down to under
    6%. Although he emphasized creating 12 million new jobs, the population has increased by over that
    amount in just the past 12 years outstripping the death rate probably for the first time. Over the next
    4 years population will increase well over 4 million people.

    The challenge will be to dig into the unemployment numbers for the chronically unemployed already
    here, as well as creating millions of new jobs for the new immigrants to the United States. This is no
    small task. Romney never explained how to do this or when it could be accomplished. Resultantly,
    President Obama’s performance of reducing unemployment from 10.5% in mid- 2009 to 7.8% today
    remained essentially unchallenged. Romney criticized the higher unemployment but he didn’t state
    when his programs could reduce unemployment. i.e. in what time period

    Warren Buffet answered this question after the 2008 crash. He indicated that the 2013-2014 time
    frame would see the clearing of the existing housing inventories. At that time, the economy would
    pick up a lot of steam once people shopped for homes in much greater numbers.

    In one of the debates, Romney told a college student that 2014 would be the time frame for college
    grads to get jobs. This was the closest he came to explaining the unemployment dilemma and his
    cure for it. He needed to provide more details along this line of reasoning and he didn’t- at least to
    the satisfaction of millions of voters who were listening.

  • Igor

    @5-Joe: No. Nixon won in 1968 because of a dirty trick that “tricky Dicky” pulled. Humphrey covered a 20 point deficit in October by supporting the Paris Peace talks between Seoul and Hanoi, But Tricky Dicky made a secret deal with Thieu of South VN to give him a better position if he undermined the talks, which Thieu then did. The failure of the Paris Peace talks aborted Humphreys gains against Nixon.

    Of course, Nixon violated US law and was subject to charges of treason, but we never so charge American members of the ruling class. RHIP.

    “President Nixon prevailed due to the internal strife within the Democratic Party over the Vietnam War together with the split votes to Governor George Wallace of Alabama.”

  • 1960-68 Elections-Federal Election Commission
    Alabama’s 9 electoral votes were won by Kennedy, Johnson and Wallace.
    Arkansas’s 6 electoral votes were won by Kennedy, Johnson and Wallace.
    Georgia’s 13 electoral votes were won by Kennedy, Goldwater and Wallace.
    Louisiana’s 9 electoral votes went to Kennedy, Goldwater and Wallace
    Mississippi’s 7 electoral votes went to Nixon, Goldwater and Wallace.

    Richard Nixon won with 301 electoral votes in ’68. Without Wallace in the picture, 44 electoral votes could have been taken from Nixon leaving him with 257 electoral votes just 13 shy of the presidency. Wallace swept the deep south by huge margins and it’s doubtful that anything happening in either North or South Vietnam will have impacted the voting in the deep south.

    In addition, Wallace and Nixon were almost tied for South Carolina’s 8 electoral votes leaving Humphrey in third place, although Nixon narrowly won the state in the popular vote margin.

  • Igor

    How can it be that “President Obama was re-elected with a margin of 3 million popular votes over Mitt Romney. The race was in a statistical dead heat right up through election day.”

    It doesn’t make any sense.

    How could Obama have captured 3million votes and a whole bunch of EC votes at the end with nobody aware of it? No, I think that fellow Nate Silver had the right take on it all along. Obama had a steadily improving position.

    The rest was just wishful thinking by republicans (really BIG wishful thinking) and last minute jitters by democrats.

    The republican pundits really took a beating.

    But tell me, when has Charles Krauthammer EVER been right?

  • The polls are based upon likely voters from previous electons. More young people simply showed up
    because they don’t want to pay higher interest rates on student loans. Soccer moms showed up due to
    the more affordable mortgages and refinancings under Obama. The storm created thousands of federal
    government relief claims all along the eastern coast. Most of all, Romney never explained how to
    reduce unemployment any quicker than Obama. He indicated that unemployment was too high.
    Apparently, that wasn’t enough to satisfy the voters.

    Then, there were other things like the 47% comment which certainly cost many votes no matter
    what people heard in the debates. People weren’t fully comprehending Obamacare but the prospect
    of Ryan/Wydencare was another unknown. In addition, even a partial privitization of Medicare
    with a choice to go back to the original system frightened some people in light of the ’08 crash.

    Romney’s talk of strengthening the military was similar to the first and second Bush Administrations.
    People remembered that huge wars followed their electoral victories. And so, the sum total of all
    of these things caused many people to decide against change at this time.

    Reagan handled things better. He spent a lot on the military but did not get into huge wars. Yes, there
    were skirmishes in scattered places but there were no actual conflicts the size of the Iran/Afghan wars
    with thousands of Americans going overseas for extended periods of time-particularly under Bush II.

  • Igor

    Joe, you sure seem to have an understanding of peoples inner thoughts and motivations. How come you couldn’t predict the outcome?

    I don’t see how you can reconcile with Obamas near-landslide victory. I understand how all the republican pundits could be wrong because they constantly bathe in the purifying fire of the republican echo chamber.

    Obama had several times the meager margin that Bush had in 2004 (was it 400,000?) when Bush proclaimed a mandate and said he had political capital and was going to spend it (which may explain why he failed in the oil business, you’re supposed to invest capital, not spend it).

    And again I ask: when has Charles Krauthammer ever been right?

  • My focus of attention was analyzing the debates. I noted one important thing. 50 million people watched the first debate and 60 million people watched the second debate. Apparently, things happened in the first debate to spark an interest by the voters in the second and subsequent debates.

    At bottom, Romney was proposing change but he needed to indicate when the unemployment situation would improve any better than Obama’s handling of the situation. Although Romney decried the problems in the economy, he simply didn’t point out how his program could do better and when this would happen.

    His VP candidate Ryan stated that we could do better. There again, the question remains how much better and when? Then , the Hurricane Sandy came along and people were in a panic mode in the northeast. It’s not surprising that Obama won by 3 million votes under the circumstances.