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Not Rocket Science

Karl Rove provides a wealth of interesting information. First, how junky were the exit polls?

The raw numbers forecast an 18-point Obama win, news organizations who underwrote the poll arbitrarily dialed it down to a 10-point Obama edge, and the actual margin was six.

One wonders why they even bother. But the end-all and be-all of ”change” elections is really continuity:

But we do know President-elect Obama ran better among frequent churchgoers (perhaps getting 10 points more than John Kerry did), independents (perhaps five points more than Kerry and eight points more than Al Gore), Hispanics and white men. He even made special appeals to gun owners and sent his wife to cultivate military families. This allowed him to carry previously red states like Florida, New Mexico and Iowa. This combination helped Senator Obama run four points better nationally than John Kerry did in 2004 and 2.5 points better than Al Gore did in 2000. These small changes on the margin meant all the difference between winning and losing.

It is a tribute to his skills that Mr. Obama, the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, won in a country that remains center-right. Most pre-election polls and the wiggly exits indicate America remains ideologically stable, with 34% of voters saying they are conservative — unchanged from 2004. Moderates went to 44% from 45% of the electorate, while liberals went to 22% from 21%.

So he only did 4% better than Kerry, in many ways the quintessential dismal liberal candidate. And the electorate didn’t change much ideologically, either. What the Democrats did do was out-organize and out-perform the Republicans, in large part because they had an exciting candidate with a message which resonated with an available pool of new voters.

That helps clarify things a bit for Republicans. Perhaps wholesale reinvention isn’t what’s needed. A solid, well-articulated message with an attractive candidate and a whole bunch of nuts and bolts party-building will go a long way. A lot will depend on how successful the new President is. But it really is no mystery how he did it. Duplicating the feat may be tougher, however, especially if conservative wise-guys are bent on doing their best to tarnish potential candidates two days after the last election.