2012: The C+ election

November 19, 2012

Back in September, we wrote a piece entitled "The 2012 campaign is mediocre. It just is". 


The American electorate. GETTY IMAGES/BRAND X

It wasn't meant to be cynical -- the Fix LOVES this stuff -- but rather to point out that the number of truly memorable moments (in a good way) was on the low end of the historic scale.

Turns out that most people -- at least according to a Pew post-election survey -- agreed with the idea that the 2012 campaign was, well, sort of blah. Asked to grade the candidacies of President Obama and Mitt Romney, the performance of the press and pollsters as well as several other players in the process, the most common grade given was "C+".

Here's the full slate of grades from Pew. On the left are the grades people gave the 2008 campaign; the 2012 grades are on the right. (And you can make your own grades of the candidates -- and everything else -- here.)

Here's the reality: The 2008 campaign -- despite not winning across-the-board "A's" among voters in the Pew poll -- was one of the top five presidential races in history. (Disagree? Name five better; it's hard to do.)

It was inevitable that the 2012 race -- an incumbent seeking re-election with an only-okay field of Republican aspirants -- would come up well short of the remarkable number of fascinating storylines that the 2008 campaign provided. And, it did. That's no indictment of 2012 but rather a recognition that great campaigns don't come around every four years.   

As for 2012 being a "C+" election, it's also worth remembering the immortal words of George W. Bush: "To the C students, I say, 'You too can be president of the United States.'"

So there.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Aaron Blake · November 19, 2012