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Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Politics | 6 comments

Quote of the Day 2: Barack Obama’s Two Election Day Nightmares

Our second political Quote of the Day comes from the mega-professional, exquisitely sourced New York Magazine writer and “Game Change” co-author John Heilemann, who details Barack Obama’s two election day nightmares:

Given the relentless negativity of the campaign we have witnessed from both sides, my guess is that, if Obama does win today, things will be just as ugly, if not uglier, than they’ve been for the past four years. And that will certainly be the case if one of the potential Armageddon scenarios I laid out recently in the magazine comes to pass: an Obama victory in the Electoral College but a win by Mitt Romney in the popular vote.

Please do not dismiss the possibility, because for all the confidence that Team Obama has right now about getting to 270, they are palpably nervous that Romney might still emerge with a higher national raw vote total than their guy does. This is not just a matter of the tightness of all the credible national polls; it goes to the difference between now and 2008 in the non-battleground states. As Plouffe pointed out to me yesterday, Obama’s popular-vote margin last time was inflated by the organic enthusiasm for him in deep-blue states where the campaign spent no money on advertising or organizing. This time, however, that enthusiasm does not exist to anything like the same degree, and so Obama’s margins in places like New York and California will be pushed down — even as the organic anti-Obama fervor in deep-red states will be greater than it was in 2008, depressing his popular-vote performance even more.

If the EV/PV split does occur, Obama’s people fret that it will be terrible for the country and will make it much harder for the president to govern effectively. And this fear seems to me well-founded: In light of the rejectionist tendency regarding Obama’s legitimacy that already exists on the right — together with its lunatic voter fraud paranoia — it is hard to imagine the fever-swamp hatred of him not being exacerbated by such an outcome.


There is, to be sure, an even more nightmarish possibility from the Democratic point of view: Despite all the polling and other evidence that suggests he is on track to win, Obama could simply lose outright. Beyond the political and policy implications for the country, how bitter this pill would be for Obama is impossible to overstate. More than he almost ever lets on, the president wears the mantle of history heavily on his shoulders. And he knows that, if he is defeated, a narrative will arise that recasts him in the minds of many from a seminal figure to a pedestrian one, and that renders his presidency a failed, one-term accident.

When this day ends, will one of Obama’s nightmares come true?

Will the second come true and Nate Silver be applying for a job at Wal-Mart?

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