Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog
I admire Nate Silver for his election model and its forecasts; they are one of the few things I read about politics while we were on duty and they gave me a lot of hope during those dark days after the first debate and while the skewed Gallup polls were coming out. But I want to add that there was a huge army of people who tried to make sure that the polls that Nate used turned into actual votes.
For the last four days of the election, we helped manage a staging location for GOTV in one ward of a city in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. I imagine that the campaign will never release the total number of people who worked or volunteered in Ohio; they might not even know. But extrapolating from our experience, I estimate that there might have been close to 50,000 people on the ground in one way or another during GOTV in Ohio including 700 lawyers, 300 in the Cleveland area alone, protecting our vote.
I believe that our democracy was at serious risk this election. If we had lost to lies, a torrent of dark money, voter suppression, and racism, it might have taken decades for our democracy to come back from the bad laws and court decisions on further voter suppression and corporate power, if it could recover at all. Certainly beyond my lifetime since I'm 67. But people seemed to sense the crisis and responded, and folks from all walks of life joined together to do one extra-ordinary thing: re-elect an African American President in a time of high unemployment and in the face of everything the would be aristocracy could throw at us. I certainly sensed more determination and intensity at the door than I did (in a different suburb) in 2008.
Coming from largely white Idaho I was struck by the diversity of the people who canvassed out of our one small location. We had old white males, young African American females, and everything "in between," as well as Asian Americans and Hispanics. Some of the volunteers had ancestors who were in the country 300 years ago; some had only arrived recently themselves. There was a married gay man, single straights and, of course, vice versa. Old and young, PhD's and less than high school, the fit who could walk five miles a day to canvass and those who served best by sitting at the polling place and welcoming and reassuring voters. Our employments status included corporate executives, more modest positions, the unemployed, and the retired. Representatives of all the major faith traditions passed through as well as the non-observant or non-believers. People arrived at the location by car, by bus, by private jet, and on foot. In short, twenty-first century America turned out for Barack Obama.
When we finally came up for air and watched CNN on election night, I was struck by the group that showed up on television at the gathering in Boston. Where was the rest of America?
My second point is more mundane and numerous people have probably made it already. President Obama has now put together a coalition that has won two consecutive Presidential elections without needing one single electoral vote from the old Confederacy. I believe that Bill Clinton did the same Perhaps the influence of that region is beginning to wane, at least in presidential politics.