5 Things Most People Can Feel Good About From the Election

November 09, 2012

The main reactions after a hard-fought campaign are pretty simple: Winning feels great, losing stinks. I cared about this election, and wanted the President to be re-elected, so I’m happy. I also remember, though, what it’s like to lose so I can empathize with how Republicans feel this week.

But there are a few things from this election that I think almost everyone can feel good about. Here are five:

1. Romney won an even larger percentage of white evangelicals than John McCain did in 2008. Why is that good news? Because it means they accepted his Mormonism. There had been a lot talk during the primaries about religious objections to Romney among this group, but it didn't turn out to be true. So in the same way we justifiably celebrate John Kennedy’s acceptance as a Catholic, we should feel good about the fact that throughout the campaign Romney’s religion was a non-issue.

2. President Obama got about the same percentage of the Jewish vote as he did four years ago. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent tens of millions against Obama because he (wrongly) considered him bad for Israel. American Jews were flooded with robo-calls falsely accusing the President of being anti-Israel, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to be almost openly rooting for Romney. And none of it worked. Even if Romney supporters would have liked their votes, I’ll bet many appreciated that this cynical, single-issue play didn't work.

3. Obama won at least four important swing states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin – that had staunchly conservative Republican governors. That means there can be no paranoia about stolen elections. While there are legitimate complaints about voting rules pushed by Republicans in some states, the voting and counting were fair. In the bad old days, governors were sometimes expected to try to deliver states for their party’s nominee by any means. Today that’s clearly not the case. That’s the sign of a mature, stable democracy.

4. The flood of money from billionaires and Super PACs mostly fell flat. It’s still a huge failing in our system that these contributions exist, but they clearly couldn't buy the election. I don’t expect Republicans to be happy that they lost, but I’ll bet more than a few are happy that the process was stronger than that. There are Democratic billionaires, too.

5. The Electoral College and popular vote were won by the same candidate. It would have been bad for the country if the presidency had gone to someone who didn't get a majority of the national vote. It’s the system we live under, so it would have been a legitimate win, but an outcome like that would have increased anger and division in the country. Not to mention, if President Obama had won the Electoral College and lost the popular vote, it would have been awkward for all the people on both sides who would have had to rationalize their opinions from the 2000 race.

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