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.
The next part to look at is the campaigns. The Obama people flat-out beat Romney’s campaign. The polls were close enough and most of the month of October Romney was ahead, but those annoying people like David Axelrod and David Plouffe apparently know what they are doing. No doubt they had a distinct advantage because they set up the reelection campaign in January 2009. That comes with incumbency. Also, not running against a field of wannabes makes it easy to focus your message. But how in the world, when the main issue of the campaign is the economy and Romney is polling better, can the Democrats turn out between four to six percentage points higher. Every poll for the last six months showed Republican intensity levels up substantially and all of the favorite Democrat sub-groups (blacks, unmarried women, Hispanics) down. But as Brit Hume of Fox News said “A low intensity vote counts as much as a high intensity vote.” Romney’s team did not get the people to the polls and Obama’s did.
Which bring us to the next point. This is not Monday-morning quarterbacking. This is knowledge I have had for a while and kept my mouth shut. If I discussed it, it would only serve to discourage supporters of my interest so not being stupid, I kept quiet. Here it is folks – the people running Romney’s campaign were not inept, but they weren’t much better. There was no Karl Rove there. A lot of these people worked on Meg Whitman’s campaign in California and we know how that turned out. Stunningly, they were doing opposition research on Bain Capital this past summer -- as if there was some surprise that Obama’s team would attack his business career. Just about anyone in a significant position on this campaign should be permanently retired from working on running and strategizing any Republican campaign. On top of it they were arrogant when they should have been humble. On the other hand, the money people did a buffo job so all of them should be kept.
Reince Preibus has largely done a very fine job at the Republican National Committee (RNC), but they have done a miserable job on outreach to minorities. Another item I kept my mouth shut about is that I found out we have a non-existent Asian outreach program. Asians are the fastest growing minority in America and a natural Republican constituency. A source of mine told me they tried to get outreach to targeted Asian communities and had to do it on their own. We lost the vote big time.
Republicans need to get it in gear with addressing all interest groups. Some Republicans reject that idea because we do not like to classify people, but we can address them Republican style. That means we can treat them like Artur Davis said that he was treated once he became a Republican. As a Dem he was treated as a Black man; as a Repub he has been treated like a man.
But let us get perspective while the legions are talking of the end of the Republican Party. First, they still control the House of Representatives. Second, they have 30 Governors who preside over a large majority of the American people. The number of 30 is the highest either party has had in over a decade. The next election in 2014 will not have Obama and his team and, after another disastrous two years of Democrats in charge, there should be major Republican gains. So they did not beat an incumbent President -- it is rarely done. Romney made a valiant effort.
The question moving forward becomes will we survive as America after another four years of Barack Obama. Most of the people I know fear we have already become a dependency society. Four more years of Obama will only bring more. Wait until the EPA starts rolling out more rules. Wait until the 157 commissions and panels in ObamaCare tell us what to do about our healthcare. How many people will be getting food stamps four years from now?
I guess I can think of a personal bright spot out of this. My tax clients will be in need ever more help than they did before. That is unfortunately also a sad one.