The term “Silent Majority” was first popularized by Richard Nixon when he ran for the presidency in 1969. He was using this term to refer to the majority of Americans who as he saw it didn’t protest against the Vietnam War, march in civil rights demonstrations or burned their bras or draft cards. What he was laying out was a possible Republican voting majority which certainly seemed to be backed up by the huge Republican landslide of 1972.
This year’s election campaign, we were continually treated to Republican overconfidence that was not based on any sort of reality. Polls based on real data all showed Obama with a steady lead throughout the entire year. This did not stop the Republicans for attacking what they saw as a biased media and writing off 47% of the population (per Mitt Romney’s closed doors speech and ironically the amount of the popular vote he won).
The Republican campaign this year was loud, noisy, full of gaffes and generally chaotic much like the Democratic campaigns for president in 1968 and especially 1972. The Democratic campaign was focused and on message (except for the minor hiccup of the first debate)
But the truth is there is as much a new silent majority now as there was back in 68 and this is a silent majority that might stay a majority for awhile (or at least until the Republican party changes itself)– single women, Hispanics, young people, African Americans, Asians, and enough working white people (both single and married) to tip voting totals into the Democratic "win" column.
This is a silent majority forged out of the economic times we live in, the insulting and elitist comments of Republicans which seemed especially phrased to offend as many people as possible, policies on women’s issues and immigration that drive groups into the arms of Democrats etc.
In reaction to Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 after three straight Republican election wins, a massive well financed right wing hot air machine came into being starting with talk radio and turning into Fox News. While this organized many likeminded conservatives it also has increasingly turned off key groups especially younger people who have a wider view of the world and have felt firsthand the negative effects of trickledown economics.
The noise the right wing disinformation machine produced is sometimes deafening but the new silent majority has felt the sting of prejudice, sexism, homophobia, and income inequality. They know who their real enemies are.