Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reflecting on the 2008 presidential election

The Boston Review published a long essay by Andrew Gelman and John Sides on what we know--or what we think we know--about why President Obama was elected. They conclude:
Our story of the 2008 campaign confirms some parts of the journalistic narrative and refutes others. Yes, the economy was important; yes, young voters swung to Obama and the Congressional Democrats; yes, Obama did particularly well among minorities (Latinos and Asians as well as African Americans), even beyond the Democrats’ usual strength among these groups; yes, the Democrats made new inroads among the most affluent voters. But no, working-class whites did not run away from Obama; and no, Obama did not redraw the electoral map. Since 2004 the Democratic Party gained about five percentage points of the vote both in presidential and Congressional elections: not a landslide but a large swing by historical standards. The chief lesson for Obama’s first term is that the fundamentals will rule. Future elections will likely turn on the economy’s performance under the new administration.
Read the whole thing.