In retrospect, everything seems clear. "Demography is destiny." The Democratic machine vastly outperformed the Republican one. Etc., etc. Myself, I was right for the wrong reasons and wrong for the right reasons. A couple months ago I guessed that Mr. Obama might win by a wide margin. To be honest, several times in the last few weeks I was on the verge of amending my prediction... I thought Mr. Obama might win because I couldn't believe that the Republican Evangelical base would vote for a Mormon candidate. Ultimately, Mr. Obama won by a wide margin; it's unfair to suggest, as George Will does, that this is a piddling victory; and he won by turning out his base. Despite everything, on the other side Republican Evangelical voters, according to exit polling, did, in fact, turn out for Romney in record numbers. Nonetheless, I maintain that I'm correct to believe that Evangelicals would never have voted for Romney if they knew even a little bit about Mormonism. That consequential public discussion, unfortunately, did not take place and the issue of Mormonism has, at least for now, been tossed into the bigot box by right thinking liberal scolds. It will, of course, reappear.
But is demography destiny? It sure seemed like Mr. Romney was on a roll after that first debate. Even Nate Silver at one point put his chances at about one in three, which isn't so bad. With a little luck I think Romney could've done even better. Moreover, a different candidate, one who could plausibly pass himself or herself off as a normal human being, probably would have done better still. Maybe I don't get it and I may well be wrong but I don't believe for a minute all this current talk about the death of the Republican party.
There's a simpler explanation for the election. In 2010 the public repudiated the Democratic party for its failure to implement a liberal agenda. (And, btw, how could the demography is destiny argument change so much in a mere two years? That doesn't make sense.) This year the public repudiated the Republican party for its failure to cooperate on anything. If nothing gets done in Washington before 2014 rolls around the public may well swing back again the other way. To be honest, if the Democratic party leadership doesn't get anything of significance accomplished then another reverse swing would serve them right.