When an incumbent president wins his reelection with a smaller percentage of the vote — and fewer actual votes — than he did in his first bid for national office, you know that his victory does not represent a realignment, particularly when the opposing party holds one House of Congress.
Many conservatives are gnashing their teeth about the opportunities lost in the election our man lost. And many make some solid points. We could have won this thing. At RealClearPolitics, more dispassionate observers, Tom Bevan and Carl M. Cannon offer a list of 21 reasons why we didn’t. I don’t agree with them all; they do leave out media bias, but they’re right on a number of issues, particularly Romney’s problem with Hispanic voters.
Maybe all these points are moot. Maybe the real reason Romney lost, simply put, is that team Obama put together a better Get Out the Vote operation — having fine-tuned it while the Massachusetts Republican was preparing to battle his partisan rivals for his party’s nomination.
So many little things contributed to Obama’s victory, but it seems that the biggest among them was his ability to get his supporters to the polls, even those far less enthusiastic about their man as they were four years ago.
Even with that sophisticated operation, Obama won 9 million fewer votes than he did in 2008. Had Republicans had a similar operation, Mitt Romney might have won at least as many votes as George W. Bush did in 2004 and so ousted the failed incumbent.
UPDATE: Yup, the unions helped gin up their turnout.