When we look at past elections that were landslides, we think of Reagan's "suburban swimming pool" from 1984, stretching from coast to coast with the exception of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. We think of Nixon's trouncing of McGovern in '72, Johnson's trouncing of proto-libertarian Goldwater '64, and basically every time FDR won from '32 to '44.
But we're hesitant to put 2012 in this category of "big wins" because...
1. Obama didn't win almost every state like previous landslides.
2. Obama didn't win by double-digits.
It's true, this isn't 1936 or 1984. So Obama's re-election was not a "landslide", per se. But President Obama still won 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 206. And as of now, President Obama is winning by almost five million votes; Obama's vote share is 50.9% and Mitt Romney's is 47.3%. That lead has been growing and will continue to grow, albeit more slowly than it has the last few months.
That's a big win.
(Incidentally, conservative commentators used the words "landslide" to describe an anticipated Mitt Romney victory along the same margins.)
I know we've been so used to everything being neck-and-neck that we're hesitant to call this one something "big," but let's get real here: In the hyper-partisan environment of 2012, a win like like this is pretty significant, especially given the headwinds Obama had to overcome to get there.
Let's take a trip down memory lane for a second. Remember when George W. Bush won his "landslide" re-election by similar margins? Actually, he won by less. In 2004, when Bush beat John Kerry 50.7% to 48.3%, he strutted up to the podium at the W hotel the next day (really) and declared:
"I earned [political] capital in the campaign, and now I intend to spend it."
The New York Times said he was "asserting the power he held after a decisive win and reclaiming the national stage as his own after sharing it for months with Mr. Kerry."
Republicans pretty much went along with that. And actually, so did Democrats for a while.
So if 2004 was a decisive win, then what is 2012? Even in 2000, when Bush lost the popular vote (and arguably the whole election), the Republicans still treated it as a mandate and did everything they wanted to. And Democrats largely went along.
I know, I know. President Obama didn't win white people. For the first time, he won less in his re-election than four years prior. And, ACORN stole it or something. And ... the storm! The storm! Chris Christie is Judas!
Excuses, excuses. You can spin polls, debates, and the like but you can't spin election results. Obama won by 3.6 percentage points (probably more) and all of the swing states except for North Carolina. If Mitt Romney won by half a point, you know the GOP would be saying it was a "refudiation" of big government, apologizing for America, Sharia law, and all of the other things that Obama, the magical communist wizard, has done/implemented in the last four years.
So let's cut the BS. President Obama won a big victory. We should treat it as such.