November 11, 2012

MICHAEL BARONE: Obama Wins By Going Negative And Turning Out Base.

Lukewarm. That’s the feeling I get from the election numbers.

Turnout was apparently down, at least as a percentage of eligible voters. The president was re-elected by a reduced margin. The challenger didn’t inspire the turnout surge he needed.

Every re-elected president since Andrew Jackson has won with an increased popular vote percentage. Barack Obama didn’t. He won 53 to 46 percent in 2008. His numbers as I write are 50 to 48 percent over Mitt Romney. That could go up to 51 to 48 percent when California finishes its count, which took five weeks in 2008.

Obama owes most of his electoral vote majority of 332 to negative campaigning. His strategists barraged the target states of Florida, Ohio and Virginia with attack ads on Romney for months.

The ads took a toll. Preliminary figures show that outside the eight clear target states, Obama’s percentage declined by 2.8 points. In the firewall states, it was down only 1.4 and in five other target states down only 2.1.

As I said yesterday, Republicans needed more Lee Atwater and less Karl Rove.