Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Mitt Romney Lost

It's been one month since the results of the presidential election have been known and I've been thinking a lot about this one.

As I said, I thought we had this one, especially in those final days, and was pretty confident going in, but in the weeks since, I've learned more and more, as well as realized my earlier fears about Mitt Romney, even though masked by his strong October showing, were proven true.

1. Obama's 2008 turnout model came back for 2012: Back in 2008, Obama received a turnout model of 14% of the African-Americans who voted. As a result of high unemployment and problems these groups were facing, I expected them to return to pre-2008 levels of 10%, with reality setting in about the economy and levels of unemployment. Apparently, those factors were not considered as those 2008 voters came back to Obama in 2012.

2. The Conservative Base stayed home: As I have said previous times before, the winning Republican candidate since 1968 positively sold conservatism to the voters. These candidates not only won the first time, but won re-election. The losing Republican candidates during this time period either ran as moderates that eschewed Conservatism (Ford, McCain, Dole), had a record to conflict with their perceived level of Conservatism (Bush in 1992) or could not sell running as a conservative, due to previous perceptions (Romney). Romney tried to attract independent voters while taking his base for granted and in the end, this hurt him on November 6.

3. Campaign Staff cannot be insulated: I do not blame Mitt Romney personally for this loss. Instead, I blame his campaign staff. On the surface, it seemed like a pretty good operation - they were raking in the money, they made it on television and were attracting huge crowds, however, when the veneer was pulled off after November 6, there were a few problems that were not directly visible. First, their Get Out the Vote effort was much weaker than Obama's. Tying in with #2, they did not give their candidate enough reason for voters to vote for him, as opposed to against Obama. This can also be aligned with the flawed reasoning of not shoring up the base, and instead, going heavy for the independents. Each state is different and this needs to be exhibited on the ground and not just on the air. Also, when compared to Obama, the data mining operation was very weak. Romney's people were up against a candidate that was quite technologically adept in this area and should have been up to the challenge.

4. A candidate must respond to personal attacks: Just like George W. Bush was able to define John Kerry in the late spring-early summer months, Barack Obama did the same to Mitt Romney. And like John Kerry, Mitt Romney did not respond to those attacks. While he did attempt to stay on offense, he chose to ignore the attacks, which did him damage. He did not answer them, he did not counter. Like someone throwing feces against a wall, if you do nothing to stop it, something is going to stick and this was the case with Mitt Romney. While he showed No Fear against his Republican opponents, he did not do the same against Barack Obama, and this was more damaging than had originally been thought.

November 6th has passed and in an environment where a Republican could have easily won, he lost. Republicans who run in the future must learn from this election and not repeat the same mistakes, as the stakes are too high and as I'm sure we will learn in this next four years, elections have consequences.

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