This was enough for Obama to win, though he trailed among over-30s by two points after carrying them by one point in 2008. Will the Millennials stay Democratic? The baby boomers cast equal numbers of votes for George McGovern and Richard Nixon in 1972, while their elders favored Nixon by nearly 2-1. But this year, boomers (now age 45 to 64) backed Romney. Youthful political attitudes don't always endure.
Currently, Millennials are hard-pressed to find jobs and heavy with college loan debt, and Obamacare leaves them subsidizing their elders. A generation that likes to create its own world is not in sync with policies that treat them as tiny cogs in giant machines. White Millennials backed Romney by 52 percent to 44 percent.
Then consider the results for the House of Representatives. Not many people split their tickets these days, but the discontented voters who re-elected a Democratic president also returned a Republican House, probably by a similar popular vote margin.
There's an interesting contrast here with 1996. Then, a Democratic president was re-elected by a wider margin, while House Republicans held onto their majority by just a few seats.
This year, the Democratic president was re-elected with a smaller majority, while House Republicans have won or are leading in 235 districts, the most they held between 1994 and 2006. Based on the latest count, they lost only seven seats, even though Democratic redistricting plans cost them 11 seats in California, Illinois and Maryland.
This despite the fact that almost every House Republican supported Paul Ryan's Medicare reforms, which were supposed to cost Republicans votes -- but didn't when they had a chance to explain that people over 55 aren't affected and that Obamacare cut $716 billion from Medicare.
So Obama owes most of his victory margin to negative personal campaigning, while Republicans held the House despite -- or because of -- their opposition to big-government policies.
The president claims a mandate because, as he said in 2009, "I won." But Speaker John Boehner has some basis for claiming a mandate, too, as the fiscal cliff negotiations begin.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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