Republicans (and I) thought the 2008 election was a fluke. We thought the Obama coalition of minorities, young people, and white liberals had been brought together under unusual circumstances: the unpopularity of the Bush presidency, the war in Iraq, and the recession and financial crisis. The 2010 midterms, in which the Obama coalition did not appear and Republicans had their best performance in decades, supported this assumption. A combination of GOP enthusiasm and a lackluster economy would spell trouble for Obama’s reelection. Obama would not be able to replicate his 2008 performance. His voters would not show up. We were wrong.
Can we pause from our hypomanic poll checkups? Can we stop tweeting about the early vote? Is it possible in the final days of this close election to step back and reflect, if only for a few moments, on the challenges that will face whoever is elected president on Tuesday? I’m as guilty as the next pundit of obsessing over the fight between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. My nerves are fried. I’ve been freebasing poll crosstabs like an addict. But the fiscal, economic, and foreign policy crises that will likely unfold in the coming months cannot be ignored.