Yesterday morning—the morning after—I posted this:
Barack Obama is the first two-term president in at least 100 years to get fewer votes in his reelection than he did the first time out. (FDR did less well in both his third and fourth terms.)
I’d written those words late on election night, too exhausted and beat-up to do any research beyond what I already knew. But now I’ve done some checking.
As it turns out, Barack Obama is the only two-term President of the United States to get fewer votes in his second term than he did in his first term.
And not by just a handful. He got nearly 10 million fewer votes in 2012 than in 2008—a 13 percent loss.
That’s a consequential precedent to bear in mind as the president basks in the glory of his victory with lofty pronouncements.
On one hand we have his significant loss of voter support. On the other are the three million fewer votes for Romney than McCain received. Both hands together suggest strongly that Americans were voting against Mitt Romney more than they were for Barack Obama. This is an embarrassing way to make history, at least for most men.
But given Obama’s twin demons of arrogance and prickliness, he won’t be deterred from trying to govern as if he’d increased his majority. Math doesn’t seem to be his strong suit.