Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Presidential firsts (yes, there are more!)

In 2008, Barack Obama was the first not-White man to win the Presidency. This was obvious, and it was a point made by many people.

Another thing was that Obama/Biden was the first Democratic ticket to win an election without having any Southerner (and - by "Southerner" I am not including someone from Delaware or Maryland, which may be historically "Southern", but I'm referring to the "Solid South") on the ticket since FDR/Wallace in 1940!

Of course, his ticket (Obama/Biden) was the first Democratic ticket to win the presidency WITHOUT having to win any Southern state. True, Obama/Biden won North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida, but he didn't need those electoral college votes in order to win:

In 2008, Obama won 365 E.V. If he didn't have NC (15 E.V.), VA (13 E.V.), or FL (27 E.V.), he would have had 310 E.V., 38 electoral votes MORE than necessary to win.

These were Presidential "firsts" from 2008. In 2012, there are three additional firsts (although they are all "firsts" due to re-election):

The obvious thing is - like the beginning - that Obama is the first not-White man to win re-election as President. This is also an obvious point made by many people.

With regard to not having Southerners on the re-elected ticket, Obama/Biden is THE FIRST Democratic ticket to win re-election without having a Southerner on the ticket since Wilson/Marshall's re-election in 1916.

In 2012, (as of this writing) Obama won 303 E.V., while also carrying VA. (FL's 29 E.V. haven't been allocated yet.) This means that Obama would have won (with 290 electoral votes) EVEN IF Virginia didn't vote for him.

Is this the end - for now - of the importance of the South in presidential politics? After all, Obama is a not-White man, Obama/Biden aren't from the South, and Obama/Biden and could have won the presidency BOTH times without even winning any of the Solid South states.

... does this spell the end for the Southern Strategy? I already described why looking at "White Southern men" is not an electorally important distinction, since Obama wouldn't need them to win (and he didn't; he lost the overall male vote, and probably REALLY lost the White Southern male vote). Part of this is due to the demographics of the nation (let alone in the South). If the GOP doesn't change their party politics, they're not going to be a viable party in 12 years' time; the demographics - a fundamental of a country that uses democratic measures to make political choices - are just not with their current preferences.

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