Five thoughts on Obama’s victory (along with the gains in the Senate for the Democrats and what looks at time of writing to be further gains, albeit it small, in the House of Representatives):
Women are the majority
You wouldn’t notice it from looking at the ranks of those in elected office or from the way politicians, pundits and political scientists talk about ‘the women’s vote’ as if they are a minority, different from the norm. But women are a majority of the population, a majority of the electorate and a majority of voters.
Romney did well among men, and look where that got him.
Ethnic minorities are big, not small
The electorate is changing and if there is a growing group of people who instinctively do not view your party as being a party for them you can get away with it now and again, but it becomes progressively harder to do so as that group grows in number.
Romney did well among white Americans, and look where that got him.
The state of the economy dominates
Obama’s had almost everything going for him: the power of incumbency, a huge 2008 winning coalition to build on, a formidable campaigning machine, highly effective fundraising and an opposition party deeply divided by ideological differences. Yet he didn’t walk it in the popular vote. The reason? The economy.
You should ask your supporters to take action
I cannot vote in US elections. I cannot donate to US campaigns. Yet Mr Obama kept on wanting me to do things. Phone, donate, visit, donate, tweet, donate, Facebook, donate. And donate. He almost never told me about what he believes; he repeatedly asked me to do things.
Compare that to the sorts of emails UK political parties predominantly send out. They tell you about how wonderful they, their leaders and their policies are. Or, for a more lively message how awful the other parties, their leaders and their policies are.
British politicians love talking about learning from the US. Here’s a lesson on a plate for them.
Integration and consistency wins
The Republicans had a plethora of different campaigning bodies. The Democrats had a much more integrated campaign – more coordinated fundraising and spending, more shared IT systems and more consistent messages. It worked.