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Sobriety, Thy Name is Barone

The only people who are always right are the people who never have opinions until after-the-fact.  Anyone dismissing Michael Barone for erroneous election day predictions will do so at their own peril.  His latest in the Washington Examiner is a sober reminder about the political realities for both parties:

Neither of our two political parties is going to be annihilated. Both have suffered far worse defeats than Mitt Romney and the Republicans suffered in 2012. Both have figured out how to adapt and win over voters who used to vote against them. Or at least to position themselves to win when the other side’s president is seen to have massively failed. The 2008-2012 Obama campaign — it never really stopped — did an excellent job of turning out just enough voters to win 332 electoral votes. But Obama carried just 26 states to Mitt Romney’s 24, which is relevant when you look at future Senate elections. As for House elections, Obama carried only 207 congressional districts to Romney’s 228. That’s partly because Republicans had the advantage in redistricting after the 2010 census.

Core constituencies:

Obama core constituencies — blacks, Hispanics, gentry liberals — tend to be clustered geographically in central city neighborhoods in big metropolitan areas. His big margins there helped him carry many electoral votes but not so many congressional districts. [But] Obama’s in-your-face liberalism, so apparent in last week’s inaugural speech, antagonized some groups in a way that may hurt Democrats for some time to come.

Changing constituencies:

The Obamacare contraception mandate helped Mitt Romney carry 59 percent of white Catholics — probably their highest Republican percentage ever — and 78 percent of white evangelical Protestants. These groups total 44 percent of the electorate. That’s a counterbalance to Obama’s 93 percent among blacks and 71 percent among Hispanics. They were just 23 percent of the electorate, and while Hispanics will be a growing percentage, blacks probably won’t.

Don’t get too comfortable in that “permanent majority”:

George W. Bush’s 51 percent re-election, with 11.5 million more votes than four years before, got his strategist Karl Rove musing about a permanent Republican majority. That didn’t happen. Now Barack Obama’s 51 percent re-election, with 3.5 million fewer votes than four years before, has Democrats talking about annihilating the Republican Party. That’s not likely to happen either.

Romney Campaign Eyes Pennsylvania

We’ve talked about Pennsylvania as a state that is a heavy lean for Obama within the Battleground state universe. And evidence of limited media buys in the state lead some to question the level of commitment by the Romney campaign towards the state.  However, the state is ripe with opportunity for Romney and as the AP story below reveals: “June is [the Romney PA campaign’s] big growth month.” That’s a good thing too because plenty of 2008 Obama voters are having second thoughts this time around:

Candi Ludwig is the face of Mitt Romney’s hopes in Pennsylvania…Ludwig, a registered Republican and mother of two teenagers, voted for Obama in 2008 when he won Pennsylvania by more than 10 percentage points. But now she has misgivings. “I really expected him to make changes,” she said as she ate lunch last week with her husband, Jim, at an outlet mall in Gettysburg. “But he didn’t. He disappointed me.” Such sentiments are prompting Romney and his allies to pour money into this large state even though Republican presidential nominees have lost here five straight times despite substantial efforts. Some independent analysts say the same result is likely this year, even if few expect Obama to repeat his double-digit victory.

Romney doesn’t even have to win Pennsylvania to make it a worthwhile venture:

But if Republicans can make Obama sweat and scrape for Pennsylvania, it will consume resources he otherwise could use in crucial states such as Florida and Ohio. It also might demoralize Democrats and assure Romney’s fans everywhere that the former Massachusetts governor has a solid chance to win the White House. Pennsylvania “is still an uphill climb for Romney,” but “conditions are nowhere near as advantageous for the president as they were in ’08,” says Christopher Borick, a pollster and political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. From Obama’s standpoint, Borick said, “there are a lot of little nagging issues.”

Momentum is with the Republicans in Pennsylvania:

In the 2010 midterm election … Republicans gained full control of the state Legislature and won the governor’s race.

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