The final, final results from the 2012 presidential election are now in. While we already knew President Obama won (and the House certified that result today when it tallied the electoral votes), it's worth revisiting the final totals and reminding ourselves of one important fact: It wasn't particularly close.
Sure the election was widely expected to be a nail-biter, but it wasn't. But in the days and weeks afterward you still heard the occasional GOPer insist that it was—see Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling last month saying it was a tight, 51-49 race, for example.
Here are some final stats about Obama's victory, courtesy of Bloomberg's Greg Giroux:
So no matter how you slice or dice the election results, this was not a close race. It wasn't a landslide, but it wasn't a coin flip. The voters selected Obama and his vision over Romney and his, and they did it decisively.
And you can layer onto that the fact that, against all expectations, Democrats picked up seats in the U.S. Senate and also in the U.S. House. And while the GOP did retain control of the House, nearly 1.4 million more people voted for Democratic House candidates than for Republicans. 1.4 million—remember that figure the next time someone says Americans voted for divided government last year.
All of which brings me to a great point that the Maddow Blog's Steve Benen made yesterday. He noted that South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham vowed that the upcoming fiscal fights, over raising the debt ceiling at the end of February and over funding the government a few weeks later, would be "one hell of a contest about the direction and vision of this country."
…what Graham and too many of his allies seem to forget is that we already had "one hell of a contest about the direction and the vision of this country."
It was a little something called "the 2012 election cycle," and though Graham may not have liked the results, his side lost.
Memories can be short in DC, but for at least a year, voters were told the 2012 election would be the most spectacularly important, history-changing, life-setting election any of us have ever seen...
Election Day 2012, in other words, was for all the marbles. It was the big one. The whole enchilada was on the line. The results would set the direction of the country for a generation, so it was time to pull out all the stops and fight like there's no tomorrow—because for the losers, there probably wouldn't be one.
Obama won. Republicans lost. And, again, it wasn't especially close.
So it is not only tiresome but more than a little undemocratic for conservatives to suggest that, having lost at the ballot box, they should be able to dictate the direction and vision of the country at the negotiating table.
Corrected on 1/9/13: An earlier version of this blog post mischaracterized how many presidents in the last 50 years have gotten more than 51 percent of the vote. President Obama became the first president since Eisenhower to get at least 51 percent of the vote twice in a row.