It appears that my prediction from yesterday was far too cautious. Back during the summer, it seemed possible that Obama could replicate most of his 2008 result with the exception of Indiana, North Carolina, and one Nebraska elector, but over the last few weeks I thought that had become a much less likely outcome. As I write this a little after midnight Eastern, Obama holds a roughly 36,000-vote lead in Virginia and an even larger 49,000-vote lead in Florida with Democratic-leaning counties still reporting their results. Obama’s lead in Colorado is close to 60,000 with more than 70% reporting. It seems very likely that Obama will win in Colorado, Virginia, and Florida in addition to the other states where he had even larger polling leads ahead of Election Day. That would give him 332 electoral votes all together. I am surprised that Romney apparently fell short in all three of these states that seemed most favorable for him. As it turned out, Romney did not expand much on the McCain coalition or improve on McCain’s result. As the vote comes in from the West coast, Romney will not even have the consolation of winning the popular vote.
There were good and principled reasons to vote against Obama, and I understand why some friends, family, and colleagues supported Romney to that end, but the problem for traditional conservatives was that there were never really any good reasons to vote for Romney. He was always at best merely a means to an end for his supporters, and as it turned out he was not even a very effective means to achieve their goal. Traditional conservatives can’t celebrate Obama’s re-election, but they certainly shouldn’t be disconsolate over Romney’s loss, either. Romney represented almost everything that was wrong, misguided, and self-destructive in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. His defeat is a good outcome for the cause of peace and liberty in the country as a whole and within the Republican Party. The public rejected a candidate of fathomless cynicism and dishonesty, and that has to be greeted as a small, encouraging sign that there are still some things that Americans won’t tolerate in their leaders. Very few candidates have deserved to lose an election as richly as Romney deserved to lose this one.