Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

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Conclusions from Destination270: The Media

In the current American political system, three main institutions act as puppet masters who put on a show for the mass public. Using their numerous strategies and available resources, political parties, interest groups and the media each pull the strings of the political elite in their favor. While these three institutions have a similar goal- to garner support in hopes of effecting change and aggregating the concerns of the mass public- the ways in which these institutions do so are entirely unique and vary in their success.

Political parties garner public support via the psychological factors that foster such a strong two party system in the United States. It is through party identification that any, and potentially every American, can acquire a sense of attachment to a group whose social and cultural norms mirror their own. Media, unlike political parties and interest groups, have one major advantage when it comes to linking the mass public to those in government: access. Twenty-four hour news access to any media form, from any location, links the mass public to the political elite unlike ever before. Access to the media, and more importantly the media’s access to the public have increased exponentially since cable news got its start in the eighties. Of course the addition to the Internet has made network nightly news a thing of the past, indefinitely.

Americans hold high expectations for what roles the media should play. It is the job of the media to determine what is important for the mass public to know. Everyday people cannot be in multiple places at one time nor can they keep track of everything taking place around the world. Instead, they rely on the media to shift through all the data and provide the most important and relevant information to them. Additionally, the media is an agenda setter. While bias in the media exists, agenda setting argues that the media doesn’t necessarily tell us what to think, but rather what to think about. It is due to the gatekeeper mentality mentioned earlier that media also fulfils an agenda setting role. These roles are what keep the mass public tuned in to what the media, as a whole, has to say. Furthermore it is the media’s framing that has the ability to alter one’s perspective on those in government and current affairs, or more importantly at this moment those running for election. How the media frames certain issues and how much time the media spends discussing those issues inevitably alters the mass public’s perception of the world’s affairs. As Plato would argue, reality is immaterial when one’s perception of reality is the basis on which one acts.

The point of this very blog is to bring to you, our reader, an array of information, links, studies and polls to compartmentalize the ever so intricate election system.

By simply writing about something on this blog, we are acting as the media, as agenda setters. While our bias remains aloof and, our simple mention of topics, of states and of races increases their significance in the eyes of our readers. We’re just one small contribution to the ever increasing media world.

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White People Mourning Romney: Tumblr

Social media has been inundated with post-elections satire. Apparently the following tumblr has been among the most re-tweeted, posted and liked of them all.


Impressive stats:

6.5 million page views.

Geographic breakdown of WPMR viewership:

  • USA (76%)
  • Canada (6%)
  • UK (5.2%)
  • Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, France, Brazil and Netherlands combined (3.9%)
  • Australia (2.5%)

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A Demographic Shift causes and Electoral College Collapse for the GOP.

Preliminary election results from last Tuesday show that the electoral college favors the democratic party under the recent shift of demographics. Nate Silver argues that even if Romney had won the popular vote, Obama would have sill clenched an Electoral College Victory. He continues to argue that such a victory would have been possible without Obama winning Ohio or Virginia.

How? Within the “battle ground states” the demographic shift in favor of the Democratic coalition reflected a larger discrepancy between Obama and Romney than the national, popular vote demonstrates. Colorado, for example, with a growing latino population, gave the President nearly a 5 point lead over Romney. Nationally, Romney only trailed Obama by 2.5.



Silver concludes his article with a look at 2016, and the future of the Electoral College

The Republican Party will have four years to adapt to the new reality. Republican gains among Hispanic voters could push Colorado and Nevada back toward the tipping point, for example.

States like Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa are overwhelmingly white – but also highly educated, with fairly progressive views on social policy. If Republicans moderated their tone on social issues, they might be more competitive in these states, while regaining ground in Northern Virginia and in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Finally, some of the Democrats’ apparent advantage in the swing states may reflect Mr. Obama’s voter targeting and turnout operations – which were superior, by most accounts, to John McCain’s in 2008 and Mr. Romney’s in 2012.


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How Obama Won Reelection

Call me a nerd, a poly sci junkie, or even an outright loser… but THIS has got to be the greatest electoral model of the 2012 election I have seen.




Compare 2008 to 2012. If you had been living on Mars for the past 2 days and you only had looked at this model you would have thought Romney won in a landslide.

Clearly, Governor Romney did no such thing. Yet, more Americans moved to the right. However Obama’s victory shows that where it mattered, voters turned more democratic than they had in 2008.

You’ll also notice that in the “Solid South” voters turned more democratic.

I hope you are as entertained by this as I was.

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Will the GOP Recover?

My last two posts have clarified that the growing demographic base for the Democratic party is largely responsible for Obama’s electoral college victory on Tuesday.

How will the GOP recover from such a devastating loss? The Latin American voters voted for Obama this time around a greater percentage than they had in 08. Furthermore, the Latin American population within the United States is growing… exponentially. According to the GOP is missing out on yet another potential cohort: Asian Americans.
Romney did very well 55-44 with Americans earning over $100,000 and Asian Americans have brought home a higher medium income than every other racial group, including whites, for decades. So, one would think, that the Asian American population would learn to the right.

False. On Tuesday Asian Americans voted 73-26 for Obama, MORE than the Latin American population. Sure Latin American culture as well as Asian culture is heavily influenced by communitarian philosophy, but the simple act of leaving one’s country behind in search of something better suggests that individual responsibility takes a heavy influence as well.

The fundamental Republican concept of building oneself up from his or her own bootstraps is essentially the concept of immigrating to the United States. Immigrants have desires to prosper, to achieve the American dream, and to leave a better life for their children. Immigrants come to the United States with little or nothing and hope to make something of that. Marco Rubio spoke to this dream and to this correlation within immigration during his speech at the RNC in Tampa.

If the GOP wishes to recover, to regroup and reorganize, it HAS to reach beyond the straight, white male. Not to say that they do not already wish to attract other groups, but as Tuesday showed, their tactics to bring in any other demographic group failed.

Immigration: Republicans have always voiced positive response to legal immigration. However, the rhetoric used by many high powered Republicans regarding ‘illegal aliens’ has demonized the GOP as the anti- immigrant party.

“I very firmly believe that we have to make sure that we enforce our borders, that we have an employment verification system, and that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway.” – Mitt Romney 6/3/2007 Manchester, NH

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