Barack Obama won a second term in the White House yesterday, and we can hope the president grows a spine on justice issues over the next four years.
I cast my ballot for Obama here in deep-red Shelby County, Alabama, but I could muster little enthusiasm about it. That I showed up at the polls was mainly my way of saying, "Dear God, not Romney!"
Perhaps the best thing about the presidential contest is that it inspired The Atlantic Wire to produce "The Sad Faces of Fox News on Election Night." That provided a genuine hoot, but where was the real meat on election night?
With unimpressive options at the top of the ticket, I decided to look elsewhere for themes that might resonate in the months ahead. Here is what I came up with:
(1) Statistical geeks rule;
(2) Alabama remains allergic to progress;
(3) Mississippi provides a sliver of hope in the Deep South.
Let's take a deeper look:
Nate Silver Turns To Gold--Perhaps the biggest winner yesterday was Nate Silver, he of the 538 Blog that now is hosted at The New York Times. Silver has developed an impressive knack for predicting the outcomes of political races, doing for statistical analysis what Mark Zuckerberg did for social media.
In fact, The New Republic says Silver has become a "one-man traffic machine" for the Times Web site. Reports TNR's Marc Tracy:
“FiveThirtyEight is drawing huge traffic,” New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson told me yesterday. She added, “What’s interesting is a lot of the traffic is coming just for Nate.”
Going into election day, Silver said Obama had about a 90 percent chance of beating Romney. Silver, once again, proved to be on the money. And Times readers are taking notice:
The Times does not release traffic figures, but a spokesperson said yesterday that Silver’s blog provided a significant—and significantly growing, over the past year—percentage of Times page views. This fall, visits to the Times’ political coverage (including FiveThirtyEight) have increased, both absolutely and as a percentage of site visits. But FiveThirtyEight’s growth is staggering: where earlier this year, somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of politics visits included a stop at FiveThirtyEight, last week that figure was 71 percent.
But Silver’s blog has buoyed more than just the politics coverage, becoming a significant traffic-driver for the site as a whole. Earlier this year, approximately 1 percent of visits to the New York Times included FiveThirtyEight. Last week, that number was 13 percent. Yesterday, it was 20 percent. That is, one in five visitors to the sixth-most-trafficked U.S. news site took a look at Silver’s blog.
According to Alexa, a Web information company, “538” is the eighth-most searched-for term that led visitors to the Times last month. And over the previous month, it grew more than any other referral term; other increasingly relevant terms were “nate silver” and “538.com.” Notably, no other Times staffers or brands appear on Alexa's lists of top referral terms or rising referral terms.
Silver attracts plenty of critics, but he's a smart guy with a solid track record. Now, he's making statistical analysis seem cool. That is no easy task.
Alabama: We're Backward And Proud Of It--What can you say about my home state? When it comes to resisting progress, only a few other states--South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, maybe two or three others--are in our class.
Only two Democrats bothered to run for statewide office this time, and both lost. One of those, Robert Vance Jr., ran a surprisingly close race against "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. But Vance is demonstrably corrupt and ran only as a tool for the legal establishment. He was such an awful candidate that I, a devout liberal, held my nose and voted for Roy Moore, mainly on the hope that he might at least stand up to the thugs who run the Alabama State Bar.
Voters in major chunks of the country cast enough votes to re-elect a black president. But here in Alabama, we remain beholden to our race-based fears. Our job growth for years has been among the lowest in the Sun Belt, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon.
Thank God For Mississippi--Here is my favorite news story of the entire campaign season, and it comes from the Cottonmouth blog out of Mississippi: More than 100,000 students statewide voted in a mock presidential election, and the winner was . . . Barack Obama (55 percent) over Mitt Romney (45 percent).
That might be the biggest political shocker since Jesse Ventura won the governorship of Minnesota. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, announced the results--probably after picking himself off the floor from a fainting spell:
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced the results of the 2012 Mock Election at the Old Capitol Museum. Over 104,000 votes were cast by students across the State.
“By engaging students to participate in the voting process early, we believe they will continue to vote as adults,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Our goal is to increase voter participation, regardless of age. The more familiar an individual is with the voting process, the more likely they will return to the voting booth in the future.”
The results of the mock election are as follows:
Barack Obama: 57,880--55%
Mitt Romney: 46,724--45%
In the real election, Romney won handily in Mississippi, 56 percent to 43 percent. That means an awful lot of children in Mississippi voted differently from their parents.
Are kids smarter than adults in the Magnolia State? Sure looks like it. Is there still hope for the Deep South? Heck, yes.