Michael Barone: Obama won by going negative

Michael Barone has bad a chance to look at the numbers and has come away with one undeniable fact: the candidate who strove to unite America in 2008, did just the opposite to win reelection in 2012.

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.