The first of a three part look at the 2012 elections: What happened? What’s next for the GOP? Who is the next leader?
Part I: What Happened?
It’s been three months, so enough time has passed since the November elections. It takes time to get over heartbreak, but time in politics goes fast and the healing process needs to end. Many conservatives laid it on the line in these elections. Rallies, phone banking, speeches, grass roots organizing, emails, casual conversations… All of it ended 1 hour before Karl Rove imploded over Ohio.
White House Race Decided After Democrat National Convention
Despite all the effort, in retrospect this race for the White House was lost after the Democrat National Convention. It was cemented by Todd Akin and the 47% comment. The losses in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia detail how off the mark the 2012 version of the GOP was from political reality. We should have been warned when we were arguing with pollsters over the sampling, thinking that a popular but ineffective President would not be able to turn out his base.
What happened in the 2012 elections gives us the detailed understanding for success in 2014 and beyond, IF we are ready to have ‘THE TALK’.
Three Misperceptions to Dispel
- Gary Johnson and the Libertarian movement are not to blame. In his home state (New Mexico), the former two-time Governor, who is very popular and was effective, only received 27,337 votes. The difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was 76,397.
- Project Orca, Team Romney’s get-out-the-vote software, was a disaster. It has been well documented on redstate.com and elsewhere. As bad as it was, it was not responsible for losing 7 of the 9 swing states.
- Santa Claus. People getting free stuff from government buys votes from the moochers, but the real American moochers likely account for only 30% of the country. To be honest some of those moochers are Republican. Business tax credits and public-private partnerships are a favorite of big government Republicans and Democrats alike. There are moochers in America, but they are not 50.1% of the country.
Now that the misconceptions are out of the way, let’s get down to the truth:
1. I was a strong Romney supporter after the primaries, but the truth is the base was never with him. From early on, Republican voters were told time and time again, that he was the only candidate with a chance to beat Obama. We were told he had the money and the infrastructure. The problems with that:
- If Newt, Santorum, Perry, or Cain won the nomination, wouldn’t it be the responsibility of Mitt Romney to turn over his organization to the GOP winner. Of course some people would be reluctant, but we were talking about beating Obama.
- The infrastructure of the Republican Party is (or should be) the Republican executive committees in every county around the country. If they cannot work in concert with the new GOP nominee, then we have bigger problems than Barack Obama.
2. There is a courtship of public that takes place every election. The American People are constantly being warned about the opponent while at the same time courted to become permanent fixtures in a political party. One example is the black vote, which votes 90-10 Democrat virtually every election cycle. Republicans are awe struck as to why black people stay with the Democrats. The answer is simple:
The black vote is not courted by the GOP, and the Dems warn all the time about the out of touch, rich, old, white, vote blocking, closet racists that make up the Republican Party. To his credit, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, wanted to use campaign resources to take the conservative message into the inner city. The Romney campaign told him no. The GOP will never get the black vote if it never brings its message to the black community.
The irony is that the black vote used to belong to Republicans, but they forgot to warn black people about liberal Democrats. Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy”, despite the 100+ years of GOP history supporting legitimate aspirations of Black Americans, alienated the black vote.
It may seem petty, but voting blocs operate this way. Voters must be courted all the time. The worst time to court a vote is when you need it. Votes, like relationships, must be nurtured, fostered, cared for, and then requested. Any married man knows this truth with respect to his wife, even though most tend to forget it. The GOP needs to learn this fact. It can be applied to all voting blocs, not just the black vote.
3. The overriding reason for the victory of Barack Obama was that Mitt Romney never got people to vote FOR him. His votes were primarily votes against Barack Obama. In an election with low voter turnout, the motivated voter base wins.
The Obama base wanted Obama, the Romney base did not want Obama,
Everyone knew this election was a referendum on the President, but it was Romney’s job to make it an election for a new direction with sound leadership. Not only did the Romney campaign fail to make that case, but Team Obama demonized Mitt Romney before Romney could define himself for the American people. To quote a Washington Post article, Team Obama wanted to make this race a “school-board” race and they succeeded in doing just that.
If You Do Not Make Your Own Case, Opponent Will Define You
Right or wrong national elections today are based on your track record in the public opinion arena, and if there is no public opinion your opponent will create one. Exit polls clearly stated that the number one reason voters chose President Obama over Mitt Romney, was because they FELT Obama cared more about their lives than Romney.
Failed President Re-Elected Because No Case Made FOR Romney
President Obama has and continues to demonstrate extremely poor leadership. He has the worst record on spending in world history. In the midst of an economic recession, he spent his first two years and all his political capital on the passage of one of the worst pieces of legislation in history, Obamacare. He has violated separation of powers and the Constitution he has sworn to preserve, protect and defend on multiple occasions. He did nothing for 8 hours about Benghazi.
The case against Obama has been well stated, but in their hearts, most voters want to vote FOR someone, not just AGAINST the other guy. Mitt Romney did not speak to hearts, he spoke to heads. For that matter, President Obama did not speak to hearts either, he spoke to his base. This is why 7 million voters stayed home.
Recognizing the Human Nature of Most Voters
Most voters are thinking about their own lives. They are thinking about the future of their kids. They are thinking about the issues they confront on a day to day basis, not the balls and strikes of politics.
We are not a nation of 47% vs. 53%. We are a nation of 30% who rabidly care about politics, who live with a 70% who rabidly care about other things. To communicate with that 70% you have to speak to their hearts about why your solutions and your leadership will put America on the right track.
The 70% didn’t really trust either man, and they are fed up with both.
When voters stay home, the most active and organized base wins. Obama’s base wanted Obama. Romney’s base wanted to stop Obama. Mitt Romney failed to make this election about him being better than the President, and as a result he lost.
I am just getting warmed up. In Part II, we will discuss more details what went wrong and what’s next for the GOP.
 The GOP was the party of Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery), the 14th Amendment (ensuring citizenship to former slaves), the 15th Amendment (guaranteeing freed slaves the right to vote). It was under Chief Justice Earl Warren (former GOP governor of California, appointed by GOP President Eisenhower) that Brown v. Board of Education overturned the embarrassing Plessy v. Ferguson and the doctrine of “separate but equal”.