Some months ago, when Barack Obama’s polling numbers were in the dumps and Mitt Romney was either tying or slightly exceeding the President’s performance across the board, I felt that the general malaise of the Democratic electorate after four years of somewhat disappointing progress and major Republican gains in Congress would combine to kill Obama’s chances. My wife told me then that if — better yet, when — the President defeated Mitt Romney, she would expect a complete and public retraction of my previous statements on the subject. This is that retraction.
As recently as mid-October I was still feeling gloomy after Obama’s wretched performance in the first debate, and reasoned that even excellent performances in the following debates (which he gave) would not be enough to rescue him. Then I will admit I became very interested in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times, in which noted statistician Silver had begun forecasting with greater and greater confidence an Obama victory, based upon analysis of various state polls. The national numbers were all tied up, but elections in the United States are won state by state, not by a survey of everyone all at once, and it was here that Silver saw an increasingly likely scenario wherein the President would win re-election.
I still worried when Silver’s numbers were in the 70% range and I worried a bit less when they passed into the 80% range and then I started to take the gas off my anxiety in a more substantial way when the number, on the last two days of the campaign, exceeded 90%. Despite all my doomsaying, it looked like Obama was going to be able to pull this sucker off.