Ok, I was wrong. I thought the Republicans would win the Presidency. I was not the only one. Smart people like Michael Barone and Karl Rove thought so also, in addition to people like Dick Morris. A knowledgeable friend called me the Saturday before the election and told me John McLaughlin, the pollster, just told him Romney wins it going away. So what happened?
First there is the big picture. I think there were three issues that hurt the Romney campaign along the way. The first is his turn to the right to win the primaries. My now politically-astute son asserted we need to take the party back from the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks. While few would be supportive of these yahoos, I told him many in the Republican Party would argue we did not win because we did not put up a clear conservative. I think that is wrong. If we are going to put up a moderate then he has to run as a moderate, and if we are putting up a conservative he has to run as such. The problem is that Republican primaries bring out the conservatives and force moderates to appease them. Mitt muddled his message and Obama’s team jumped on it.
Second, John Robert’s contrived decision to approve the health insurance mandate saved Obama’s neck. It largely muted the issue despite a high percentage of voters being against it.
Third, the campaign badly mishandled the issue of Mitt’s past with Bain Capital. The structure of the campaign allowed them to attack him between the primaries and conventions with a meager response from the Romney campaign.
But here is a bigger question. It was clear structurally that whoever the Republican candidate would be, he or she would likely be short on money after the primaries while waiting for the convention to spend general election funds. Who made the decision to have the convention so late? Historically late! It could have moved it up two weeks to be after the Olympics, or even had it before – July 23-26. Just think how that may have changed the message and minimized the unanswered attack period Obama leveled at the short-on-cash Romney campaign.