As the dust settles

on the first enrollment period of the new Affordable Care Act, we are learning that a lot more people than a lot of people predicted have signed up for insurance.  President Obama is claiming 7.1 million people signed up on the health insurance exchanges – along with unknown numbers of others who signed up directly with insurance companies.  There was a claim yesterday that 90% of the enrollees had actually paid a first premium, a crucial step to being able to actually use the insurance.  We all know that there will be hassles when people go to their medical provider, when insurance cards don’t arrive in the mail, when someone with expanded Medicaid goes to a doctor who doesn’t accept that plan, but then, there have always been hassles with health insurance.  This will be nothing new.  What will be new is the massive number of new people suddenly looking for a provider.  Adjustments will have to be made all around.

But the biggest losers as of this morning would seem to be the opponents of the ACA or Obamacare as they call it.  Here is Dan Wasserman’s cartoon from this morning’s Boston Globe.

obamacare wasserman

 

And then there is this story from Politico.

Back in the fall, conservatives seized on the flubbed Obamacare rollout as proof that President Barack Obama’s brand of liberalism doesn’t work.

Now, the law’s opponents aren’t about to say that critique was wrong — but they’ve lost the best evidence they had.

On Tuesday, Obamacare sign-ups passed 7 million, six months after the launch of a federal website that could barely sign up anybody. There are still a lot of questions about how solid that figure is, but the idea that the law could even come close to the original goal after such a disastrous start would have been laughable even a few weeks ago.

That’s left the critics questioning the early numbers or changing the subject. It’s a reminder that the attacks on the website were more than complaints about technology, but a proxy for a much deeper argument about what government should do and what it can’t do

But the Republicans do seem to be suffering from a compulsion disorder.  Here is Representative Paul Ryan quoted in the Politico story

And House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who on the same day released a budget plan that would repeal the law, wasn’t fazed by the enrollment news.

“I think Obamacare is a slow-rolling fiasco. I think it’s a Pyrrhic victory,” the Wisconsin lawmaker said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday, at the same time that Obama was giving his victory speech in the Rose Garden.

But it was so much easier when they could just say the federal government can’t tie its own shoelaces. Now, they have to acknowledge that the government fixed the problem — and enrollment came roaring back.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is set to release his health care plan – I guess he is running for President.  According to the Washington Post

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will announce Wednesday a plan to repeal and replace President Obama’s health-care law, an effort by the Republican to insert himself into the increasingly competitive early maneuvering for his party’s presidential nomination.

In his 26-page plan, Jindal lays out a lengthy critique of the health law — which he refers to throughout as “Obamacare” — and reiterates his belief that it needs to be entirely done away with. In its place, he sets forth a bevy of ideas that have run through conservative thought for years, in some cases renaming them and in other cases suggesting new variations on old themes.

These themes appear to include giving those on Medicare a subsidy to buy private insurance and giving Medicaid money to the states to provide whatever care they decide on.  I have a feeling that this every-state-for-itself  idea will be proven to be a real problem as people in states that didn’t accept the expanded Medicare under the ACA are faced with citizens who won’t understand why Uncle Charlie can get health insurance subsidies and they can’t.  I don’t think this is a plan people will go for – especially after they get a feel for what is covered under ACA – but at least Jindal has something.

President Obama’s poll numbers are creeping up.  Democrats running for re-election would do well to be cautious about running away from the ACA, and optimistic me says that Nate Silver might just be wrong this time with is prediction that the Republicans have the edge in the mid-terms.  It won’t be easy for the Democrats:  They have to turn out their base in larger numbers than is usual for a mid-term, but it can be done.  Nate did favor Duke which lost in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“No Drama Obama”

If I am not mistaken, that phrase first surfaced during the 2008 campaign to describe the lack of panic when Hillary Clinton won a string of smaller state primary elections.  People were panicking; the press was touting their new story about Clinton overcoming the Obama lead to take the nomination.  And Obama and his team just kept trucking along the planned path.  “No Drama Obama”.

President Obama during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

President Obama during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

So here are three things to ponder in light of the recent “scandals”.  The first is from an Andrew Sullivan post on the Dish.

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau describes how Obama handles scandals:

The handwringers and bed wetters in the D.C. punditocracy should know that Barack Obama will never be on their timeline. He does not value being first over being right. He will not spend his presidency chasing news cycles. He will not shake up his White House staff just because of some offhand advice offered to Politico by a longtime Washingtonian or a nameless Democrat who’s desperately trying to stay relevant. And if that means Dana Milbank thinks he’s too passive; if it means that Jim VandeHei will keep calling him arrogant and petulant; if it means that Chris Matthews will whine about him not enjoying the presidency, then so be it. He’ll live.

Favreau knows him as well as anyone – and that rings true. It’s also a deep political strength. Most mortals cannot manage that no-drama glide – I sure can’t. Hillary is more easily provoked into hunkering down rather than sailing through. What troubles me, though, is not that the IRS clusterfuck and the VA backlog are signs of malevolence, but rather that they are indications of a government that doesn’t work right. And no president should glide past that.

The real issue, the one people, particularly the Republicans, may be missing is that President Obama, unlike Bill Clinton, is not all that interested in the nuts and bolts of governing.  If this is true, than Sullivan is correct:  Obama either needs to get interested or he needs to find some staffers that are interested.  I think that federal agency responsibilities have just gotten too big.  I’m not saying that we don’t need government and services, but that it may be time for a real review of whether we can cut some of the older programs or change them to be incorporated as part of newer ones.  Maybe we need another Al Gore waste in government study.  Or the President needs to step up his search for duplicate programs and add reoranizing for great efficiency.

The second is the fact the the President’s approval ratings don’t seem to be going down despite the best efforts of Darrell Issa and his friends.  Nate Silver summarizes

Political coverage over the last week has focused on a series of stories that reflect negatively on the executive branch — but President Obama’s approval ratings have held steady. As of Monday, Mr. Obama’s Gallup approval rating was 49 percent — the same as it was, on average, in April. Mr. Obama’s Rasmussen Reports approval rating was 48 percent, not much changed from an average of 50 percent in April. Mr. Obama’s approval rating in a CNN poll published on Sunday was 53 percent, little different from 51 percent in their April survey. And in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Mr. Obama’s approval rating was 51 percent, essentially unchanged from 50 percent in April.

There are a lot of theories as to why Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have been unchanged in the wake of these controversies, which some news accounts and many of Mr. Obama’s opponents are describing as scandals. But these analyses may proceed from the wrong premise if they assume that the stories have had no impact. It could be that the controversies are, in fact, putting some downward pressure on Mr. Obama’s approval ratings — but that the losses are offset by improved voter attitudes about the economy.

Silver includes this graph.

If Silver is correct then the Republicans have to hope that one of their darts hit home or that the economy really tanks.  I’m one who is cautiously optimistic that we will have an actual budget come October making the sequester cuts go away.  If I am right, then the economy should remain in decent shape and maybe people will start hiring with the uncertainty removed.

I close with a bit of humor from Andy Borowitz who questions the ability of the no drama approach to any real scandal.

President Obama’s handling of controversies about the I.R.S., the Justice Department, and Benghazi has raised “grave doubts” about his ability to cope if he ever became involved in an actual scandal, prominent Republicans said today.

“If this is how he handles this stuff, Lord have mercy on him if he ever has to deal with a real scandal,” said newly elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S. Carolina). “Quite frankly, I don’t think he has what it takes.”

“The true test of a leader is this,” Rep. Sanford added. “When he gets in a fix, does he have the presence of mind to lie about his whereabouts? Sadly, I don’t think President Obama passes that test.”

No one can say that Mark Sanford’s life has been without drama!

It is fine for the President to continue without drama as long as his plan includes a hard look at the bureaucracy.

Photograph of the President: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Chief Justice Roberts, voting rights and statistics

During the oral arguments for Shelby County v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts quoted some statistics that, according to his interpretation, showed the turnout ratio of minority voters to white voters was worse in Massachusetts than in any other state.  This prompted a quick response from the Massachusetts election officials and a more measured one from Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight.  As the Chief Justice may be learning, statistics are tricky things.

The day after the remarks by the Chief Justice the Globe headline was

Chief justice blasted over Mass. voting ‘cheap shot’

Talk about feeling insulted!  The nerve to compare us to Mississippi!

“Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?” Roberts asked Donald Verrilli Jr., solicitor general for the Department of Justice, during Wednesday’s arguments.

“I do not know that,” Verrilli answered.

“Massachusetts,” Roberts responded, adding that even Mississippi has a narrower gap.

Roberts later asked if Verrilli knew which state has the greatest disparity in registration. Again, Roberts said it was Massachusetts.

The problem is, Roberts is woefully wrong on those points, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who on Thursday branded Roberts’s assertion a slur and made a declaration of his own. “I’m calling him out,” Galvin said.

Galvin was not alone in his view. Academics and Massachusetts politicians said that Roberts appeared to be misguided. A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to offer supporting evidence of ­Roberts’s view, referring a ­reporter to the court transcript.

On Thursday,  Galvin tried to set the record straight. “We have one of the highest voter registrations in the country,” he said, “so this whole effort to make a cheap-shot point at Massachusetts is deceptive.”

Map of Section 5 Covered Jurisdictions

Map of Section 5 Covered Jurisdictions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what’s going on here?  Trust Nate Silver to explain.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is being challenged by Shelby County, Ala., in the case before the court, requires that certain states, counties and townships with a history of racial discrimination get approval (or “pre-clearance”) from the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting laws. But Chief Justice Roberts said that Mississippi, which is covered by Section 5, has the best ratio of African-American to white turnout, while Massachusetts, which is not covered, has the worst, he said.

Chief Justice Roberts’s statistics appear to come from data compiled in 2004 by the Census Bureau, which polls Americans about their voting behavior as part of its Current Population Survey. In 2004, according to the Census Bureau’s survey, the turnout rate among white voting-aged citizens was 60.2 percent in Mississippi, while the turnout rate among African-Americans was higher, 66.8 percent. In Massachusetts, conversely, the Census Bureau reported the white turnout rate at 72.0 percent but the black turnout rate at just 46.5 percent.

As much as it pleases me to see statistical data introduced in the Supreme Court, the act of citing statistical factoids is not the same thing as drawing sound inferences from them. If I were the lawyer defending the Voting Rights Act, I would have responded with two queries to Chief Justice Roberts. First, are Mississippi and Massachusetts representative of a broader trend: do states covered by Section 5 in fact have higher rates of black turnout on a consistent basis? And second, what if anything does this demonstrate about the efficacy of the Voting Rights Act?

Turns out that the Current Population Survey has a very high margin of error.

One reason to be suspicious of the representativeness of Mississippi and Massachusetts is the high margin of error associated with these calculations, as noted by Nina Totenberg of NPR.

Like other polls, the Current Population Survey is subject to sampling error, a result of collecting data among a random subsample of the population rather than everyone in the state. In states like Massachusetts that have low African-American populations, the margin of error can be especially high: it was plus-or-minus 9.6 percentage points in estimating the black turnout rate in 2004, according to the Census Bureau. Even in Mississippi, which has a larger black population, the margin of error was 5.2 percentage points.

The other problem is that the Chief Justice was using 2004 figures when the 2010 numbers had a lower margin of error.  So what, if any thing can we conclude.

In the chart below, I have aggregated the 2004 turnout data into two groups of states, based on whether or not they are covered by Section 5. (I ignore states like New York where some counties are subject to Section 5 but others are not.) In the states covered by Section 5, the black turnout rate was 59.2 percent in 2004, while it was 60.8 percent in the states that are not subject to it. The ratio of white-to-black was 1.09 in the states covered by Section 5, but 1.12 in the states that are not covered by it. These differences are not large enough to be meaningful in either a statistical or a practical sense.

So did Chief Justice Roberts misconstrue the data? If he meant to suggest that states covered by Section 5 consistently have better black turnout rates than those that aren’t covered by the statute, then his claim is especially dubious. However, the evidence does support the more modest claim that black turnout is no worse in states covered by Section 5. There don’t seem to be consistent differences in turnout rates based on whether states are covered by Section 5 or not.

The bigger potential flaw with Chief Justice Roberts’s argument is not with the statistics he cites but with the conclusion he draws from them.

And here what Silver thinks we should be asking.

…the fact that black turnout rates are now roughly as high in states covered by Section 5 might be taken as evidence that the Voting Rights Act has been effective. There were huge regional differences in black turnout rates in the early 1960s, before the Voting Rights Act was passed. (In the 1964 election, for example, nonwhite turnout was about 45 percent in the South, but close to 70 percent elsewhere in the country.) These differences have largely evaporated now.

How much of this is because of the Voting Rights Act, as opposed to other voter protections that have been adopted since that time, or other societal changes? And even if the Voting Rights Act has been important in facilitating the changes, how many of the gains might be lost if the Section 5 requirements were dropped now?

To put it nicely, the Chief Justice is using correct statistics to come to not only the incorrect conclusion, but also to ask the wrong questions.  Silver concludes

These are difficult questions that the Supreme Court faces. They are questions of causality – and as any good lawyer knows, establishing a chain of causality is often the most difficult chore in a case.

Statistical analysis can inform the answers if applied thoughtfully. But statistics can obscure the truth when they become divorced from the historical, legal and logical context of a case.

We can only hope that some law clerk at the Supreme Court reads FiveThirtyEight and talks to enough Justices.  Given all the shenanigans going on in Section 5 covered and not covered states on voting rules, now is not the time to over turn this modest brake insuring voting rights.

Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. R...

Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. Roberts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s talk about gun safety

This morning Nate Silver published two charts I found very interesting.

If the news coverage is any guide, there has been a change of tone in recent years in the public conversation about guns. The two-word phrase “gun control” is being used considerably less often than it was 10 or 20 years ago. But the phrase “gun rights” is being used more often. And the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is being invoked more frequently in the discussion.

In the chart below, I’ve tracked the number of news articles that used the terms “gun control,” “gun rights,” “gun violence” and “Second Amendment” in American newspapers, according to the database NewsLibrary.com. (Because the number of articles in the database changes over time, the figures are normalized to reflect the overall volume of database coverage in any given year, with the numbers representing how often the gun-related phrases were used per 1,000 articles on any subject.)

The usage of all four phrases, but particularly the term “gun control,” has been subject to sharp but temporary shifts based on news events.

The second showed five year averages.

As we can see, discussion of gun control has dropped off sharply.  Silver points out

The change in rhetoric may reflect the increasing polarization in the debate over gun policy. “Gun control,” a relatively neutral term, has been used less and less often. But more politically charged phrases, like “gun violence” and “gun rights,” have become more common. Those who advocate greater restrictions on gun ownership may have determined that their most persuasive argument is to talk about the consequences of increased access to guns — as opposed to the weedy debate about what rights the Second Amendment may or may not convey to gun owners. For opponents of stricter gun laws, the debate has increasingly become one about Constitutional protections. Certainly, many opponents of gun control measures also argue that efforts to restrict gun ownership could backfire in various ways or will otherwise fail to reduce violence. But broadly speaking, they would prefer that the debate be about what they see as Constitutional rights, rather than the utilitarian consequences of gun control measures.

Their strategy may have been working. The polling evidence suggests that the public has gone from tending to back stricter gun control policies to a more ambiguous position in recent years. There may be some voters who think that the Constitution provides broad latitude to own and carry guns – even if the consequences can sometimes be tragic.

But this morning I heard Representative Carolyn McCarthy say something very interesting when she was talking to Chris Hayes on MSNBC.  She wants to call for changes that lead to gun safety not gun control.  She wants to add a new term that is less politically loaded to the conversation.  She pointed out that the word “control” has negative connotations.

This morning in the Boston Globe, Adrian Walker wrote

By now the sites of tragedies practically roll off our tongues. Columbine. ­Aurora. Tucson. And now tiny Newtown can be added to this roster of unthinkable, preventable tragedy.

Yes, I said preventable. Every single one of these might have been prevented if getting hold of a gun in this country was as difficult as, say, getting a driver’s ­license.

Don’t talk to me about the right to bear arms. There is no right to open fire on defense­less children or a congresswoman meeting her constituents or a theater full of moviegoers. Don’t bother trying to tell me that the Founding Fathers intended access to guns as a “right” with almost no limits. That insipid argument is an insult to history, even if a majority of our highest court seems persuaded by it.

Those of us who do not believe that everyone has a right to own and carry a weapon because of the myth of “self-protection” need to step up.  To push our congressmen and women, to push our Senators and to push President Obama.  We know the statistics:  We are up there in gun ownership with Yemen.  Should be proud of that?  We know that guns kept in cars and homes are often used to kill family members, commit suicide, or in a mistaken effort at self-defense.

I remember seeing an interview after Congresswoman Giffords was shot.  The young man said he had been getting coffee and heard shots.  He rushed out to find a man on the ground who was being held by another.  He had a gun and thought about using it.  If he had done so, he would have shot, not the gunman, but the person trying to disarm the shooter.

Let’s work to make owning a gun as difficult as getting a driver’s license.  Let’s talk about gun safety the same way we talk about traffic safety or driver safety.

Carolyn McCarthy ran for office after her husband died and her son was injured by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad.

Why did Mitt Romney think he was a winner?

We all know that Mitt Romney was stunned when he lost.  It is said that he didn’t even have a concession speech written thus accounting for the delay between everyone including Fox calling the election and his speech.  And Logan Airport in Boston was crowded with private jets belonging to donors who were there to celebrate at Mitt’s cash bar.  But the party was spoiled because his internal polls were not only wrong, they were garbage.

Last night on Hardball, John Brabender, the Republican campaign official, did not answer Chris Matthew’s direct question as to how the Romney polls could have been so wrong.  This morning, Nate Silver, the man the Republicans trashed but who turned out to be correct, explains what happened.

In this morning’s FiveThirtyEight, Silver writes

Pollsters can expect to take their share of blame when their campaigns lose, and this year has been no exception. Not long after Barack Obama and Democrats had a strong night on Nov. 6, Republicans began to complain publicly that the polls conducted by their campaigns and by affiliated groups implied considerably more optimistic outcomes for them than actually occurred.

Perhaps these Republicans shouldn’t have been so surprised. When public polls conducted by independent organizations clash with the internal polls released by campaigns, the public polls usually prove more reliable.

Take, for example, the gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin earlier this year. Independent polls had the Republican incumbent, Scott Walker, favored to retain his office by about six percentage points. A series of polls conducted for Democratic groups showed a roughly tied race instead.

Mr. Walker in fact won by seven points: the independent polls called the outcome almost exactly, while the internal polls were far from the mark.

Take note any Republicans reading this:  This is a Democratic error.  And, generally speaking, internal polls are not worth much as predictors of the outcome.

But when campaigns release internal polls to the public, their goal is usually not to provide the most accurate information. Instead, they are most likely trying to create a favorable news narrative – and they may fiddle with these assumptions until they get the desired result.

The Democratic pollster Harrison Hickman, who testified under oath in the federal case against John Edwards, put this bluntly, describing the release of internal polls to the news media as a form of “propaganda”:

Hickman testified that when circulating the polls, he didn’t much care if they were accurate. “I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for — as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign,” the veteran pollster said.

Some reporters make the mistake of assuming that information is valuable simply because it is private or proprietary. But the information that makes it to the reporter’s ears, or into his in-box, may be something that the campaign wants him to hear or see.

During the campaign Republican polling data was released to the New Republic and subsequently to Silver.

Silver explains

In fact, Mr. Obama won all seven states, and by an average margin of 5.7 percentage points based on the ballots counted so far. (Several of the states have yet to certify their results.) Therefore, the polls were biased in Mr. Romney’s direction by nearly five percentage points, on average.

It should be mentioned that most of the independent polls this year were also slightly biased (in a statistical sense) toward Mr. Romney. In the same seven states, the final Real Clear Politics averages overrated Mr. Romney’s standing by 2.5 percentage points. The final FiveThirtyEight forecasts were less biased statistically, in part because our forecast model was designed to respond aggressively to movement in the polls in the closing days of the campaign, which favored Mr. Obama after Hurricane Sandy. Still, our forecasts in these seven states had a one-point bias toward Mr. Romney, on average, compared against the actual results.

The curious, but little known, thing about the Romney internal polls is that it appears they never projected him to win the Electoral College.

Further, the Romney campaign’s polls did not have him winning the Electoral College, as they had Mr. Romney behind in Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to Mr. Scheiber. Assuming that the campaign also had Mr. Romney trailing in Nevada and Michigan, but leading in Virginia, Florida and North Carolina, then Mr. Romney would have been leading in states containing 261 electoral votes, but trailing Mr. Obama in states containing 271. Mr. Romney’s internal polls implied better chances for him than the public polls did – but if Mr. Scheiber’s reporting is right, they still had him as the underdog.

My husband points out that Mitt the self-described data guy seems to have only looked at his internal polling data.  Did he look at Real Clear Politics?  Or the daily reporting of poll results from the Daily Kos?  Or even FiveThirtyEight?  These were sources readily available to him.  He could just have had staff compile all the public polling these sources used each day in a special report just for him.

Internal polls are used for a lot a purposes other than showing a candidates standing in the race.  They can be used to measure effectiveness of message or standing among a specific demographic.  But they should be taken with caution by the candidate and certainly their public release can be dangerous.  In this case, the campaign also sold all the folks on Fox. Silver concludes

But most important, campaigns would be wise not to have their pollsters serve as public spokesmen or spin doctors for the campaign. Campaigns have other personnel who specialize in those tasks.

The role of the pollster should be just the opposite of this, in fact: to provide a reality check such that the campaign does not begin to believe its own spin.

Mitt didn’t write a concession speech because he believed his own spin.  And there will likely be only one picture of him in the Oval Office.

White House Photo

Photograph from the White House.

What do you mean the election is over?!

It is mostly over.  There are some Congressional races (most leaning Democratic right now) and Florida, but it is pretty much over.   The question to ask now is are you suffering from Post-Election Stress?  Brian McFadden has helpfully given us a list of the symptoms to watch out for.

 

To this I would add:  Still compulsively checking Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.

If  you are a sufferer, you are not alone.  I’m planning on taking a long walk this weekend and resisting the compulsion I have right now to go turn on UP with Chris Hayes.  (sorry Chris)

A huge win

Americans voted to give President Obama a second chance to change Washington.

The re-election of Barack Obama last night was a huge win in many ways.  I went to bed after the confetti dropped in Chicago and woke up too early with my head still spinning.  I figure I can sleep later.  So who won besides the President?  Here are a few of my thoughts.

Last night was a win for everyone who has been supporting a tax increase for the wealthiest Americans.  Politico summarizes the exit polling this way

Six in 10 voters nationwide say they think taxes should be increased, a welcome  statistic for President  Barack Obama and a sign that the president’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s  proposed tax cuts  for the wealthy may have been effective.

Almost half of voters said taxes should be boosted on Americans making more than  $250,000 per year, and one in seven voters said taxes should be increased on all  Americans.

I think the Democratic wins in the Senate as well as the President’s re-election reflect this.  It is a loss for Grover Nordquist perhaps Republicans in Congress can now forget that silly pledge and negotiate all the fiscal and budget issues hanging over us.

This was a big win for the ground game over big money.  The Adelsons, Roves and Kochs of the world can’t buy an election. The Senate wins by Tim Kaine and Sherrod Brown showed that if you turn out voters, all the negative spending on advertising can’t buy the election.  I watched and worked the ground game here in Massachusetts using the same database that was used by Democrats all over the country.  All the information added this election should only help Democrats in the future.  This email sent last night under the President’s name tells the story

I’m about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.

I want you to know that this wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.

You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn’t easy, you pressed forward.

I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.

But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.

Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.

There’s a lot more work to do.

But for right now: Thank you.

The election was a huge win for people of color,  for marriage equality (Maine and Maryland, and probably Minnesota) and for an American that is changing.  From the Washington Post

The electorate was less white (from 74 percent in 2008 to 72 percent this year), more Latino (9 percent to 10 percent), just as African-American (13 percent to 13 percent), more female (53 percent to 54 percent), more low-income (38 percent making less than $50,000 in 2008 to 41 percent Tuesday) and — perhaps most remarkably, younger (18 percent to 19 percent).

It all suggests that Obama’s laser-like focus on turning out each of his key constituencies — minorities, women and young people — paid dividends.

And in many cases, these groups backed him as much or more as in 2008.

Women gave Obama 55 percent of the vote and low-income voters gave him 60 percent, about the same as four years ago.

Latinos gave Obama 67 percent of their vote four years ago, and 71 percent on Tuesday.

I think the racially tinged and anti-immigrant Republican campaign made people angry and they were angry enough to come out to vote.  Until the Republican party learns to deal with the changing demographics in this country, they will become more and more powerless.

And my final thought for right now – this was a huge win for Nate Silver.  For those of us who put our trust in him, this was vindication.  His final map looks suspiciously like the final map but if Florida continues today as it is trending, I think he underestimated the Electoral College vote.  Nate predicted 313 electoral votes but with Florida it will be 332.

[Photograph:  Doug Mills/The New York Times]