So, some conventional political science knowledge that bore out in this election:
—debates don’t change the outcome. In 2012, they generated a lot of buzz, but after the debates were over, the race ended up in about the position it was in before the conventions began.
—VP candidates don’t matter, at least not in improving a candidate’s chance of winning. All they can do is hurt a presidential candidate. But we don’t vote for the VP candidate. Paul Ryan was fine, but not important.
—It is the economy stupid—at least, it is a lot the economy stupid. Lots of voters said the economy was a crucial factor in their decision. But Romney only won those voters by a 49-48 margin. Romney’s economic message was not profoundly more effective than the president’s.
—we do not elect businesspeople as president. Ever.
—incumbents usually win.
—it’s really hard to win when you alienate yourself from significant constituencies (e.g., women and Latin@s), especially when one of those constituencies is the fastest-growing group in the US.
Alas, I know I will have to repeat all of this in 2016, and lots of people will occupy lots of pixels discussing all these things to death, especially how THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT!, but it probably isn’t.
So, at least for those of you reading this post, remember: political science has learned some stuff. Take claims to the contrary with a grain of salt … even when the grain is rolling your way.