Lincoln * Institute

Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University

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Reflections

A Vote for Change?

by Ralph R. Reiland
 

Now that the facts are in, it's clear that the pro-Obama mainstream media continued to get it wrong right through election night.

Watching Wolf Blitzer add up the numbers on election night, you'd get the idea that a massive turnout of dramatically energized and newly liberal voters had produced an Obama landslide.

In fact, despite the pictures of four-hour lines at the polls, American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that voter turnout in this year's election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago --- or at most had risen by less than 1 percent.

"Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004," reports Curtis Gans, the director of the university's Center for the Study of the American Electorate.

In both years, in short, some 40 percent of those eligible to vote didn't show up at the polls, with Republicans, in particular, taking a none-of-the-above stance this year and staying home.

"A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout," states the American University report. "Compared to 2004, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent."

Jennifer Marsico, a writer/researcher with the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project, explains the impact of those Republican non-voters: "Mr. Obama got about 40,000 fewer votes in Ohio than John Kerry got four years ago. Obama carried the state where Kerry did not because Republicans stayed home."

And the reported Obama "landslide," compared to George W. Bush allegedly just squeaking into the White House? Obama received 52 percent of the popular vote, 1 point more than Bush's 51 percent re-election win over John Kerry in 2004.

Similarly, there appears to be virtually no change among the nation's voters this year in their center-right ideological self-identification, according to exit polls conducted by the Edison-Mitofsky National Election Pool. This year, 34 percent called themselves conservative, unchanged from the 2004 election; 22 percent were liberal, up 1 point from 2004's 21 percent; and 44 percent called themselves moderate, down 1 point from 45 percent in 2004.

With party preference by race, there was also no major change this year, with Democrats continuing to lose the white vote. In 2000, according to CNN's exit polling, Al Gore got 41 percent of the white vote. In 2004, likewise, John Kerry got 41 percent of the white vote. This year, Barack Obama received an estimated 44 percent of the white vote.

The last Democratic candidate for president to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, following the Kennedy assassination.

Conversely, the black vote goes overwhelmingly and more lopsidedly to Democratic presidential candidates, with Gore, Kerry and Obama, respectively, getting 95 percent, 93 percent and 95 percent of the black vote, according to CBS News.

And so, what's the change? Not much. What's the mandate? Nothing.

With no ideological realignment, there's no call from the public for turning America into a European welfare state or beating our swords into plowshares, no go-ahead for Obama to push America's coal plants into bankruptcy or to put a lid on the expansion of nuclear power and oil drilling by way of excessive regulatory hurdles, no public demand for federal agents to pick up the guns or shut down talk radio, no call for the expansion of government or the redistribution of wealth, no public call to put federal bureaucrats in charge of the health care decisions of patients and physicians, and no call for the nation to buckle under to the union bosses and enact a card-check bill that would effectively deprive workers of private-ballot votes in unionization drives.

On the card-check legislation, a proposed payback to organized labor for their more than $100 million in spending in support of Obama and Democratic congressional candidates, Obama should ask himself why the level of unionization in the nation's private sector has collapsed to 7 percent and how General Motors, even after their upcoming multi-billion dollar bailout, can be expected to compete against Toyota when their labor costs, respectively, are $73 per hour and $48 per hour.

What the public wants from Washington is better management, not jerks to the Left and continued payoffs to political contributors.

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