Yes, they’re still counting votes in the presidential election — yes, even during the Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s the update.
Sure, Democrats are focused on the symbolic value, for whatever it’s worth, of whether Mitt Romney will wind up with 47 percent of the vote — his percentage has been shrinking steadily and is now at (as David Wasserman reports) 47.503600. Can’t quite round it down to 47 yet! More important, however, is Barack Obama’s margin of victory, which has climbed now to a 3.3 percent advantage, probably on its way up to 3.5 or so. Does that matter? Perhaps. It matters to the question of whether Obama’s victory can just be attributed to the fundamentals or may also reflect other factors. Remember that the consensus of “fundamentals”-type forecasts was that Obama would win a narrow victory; the higher the final total, the greater the chance that something else was going on, whether that was a better campaign or, perhaps, longer-term Republican problems (or Democratic advantages). Meanwhile, Obama’s lead in Colorado has grown to 5.5 percent — which has made Pennsylvania, with a 5 percent Obama lead, the tipping-point state. That is, if every state had shifted exactly 5 points to Romney, then Romney would have won the national vote by about 1.7 percentage points . . . but Obama would still, as long as Pennsylvania stayed narrowly in his column, won the election.
The other news is that as more votes are counted, the turnout gap from 2008 continues to narrow; 2012 turnout is now down just over 3 percent from 2008. Hurricane Sandy is probably the biggest culprit; the two biggest turnout declines are in New York and New Jersey.
Granted, this was no landslide. Still, it was clearly larger than George W. Bush’s reelection victory in 2004, and if we think about the electoral-college advantage, then it’s a very solid 5 percentage-point victory. I don’t believe in mandates, so I wouldn’t argue that the size of the win has any obvious implications for Obama’s second term. But it will be very interesting as scholars get to work on the 2012 election to learn just why Obama won so solidly.