Byron York

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, appears not to have excited any big group. Yes, he won the support of 59 percent of white voters, but there are indications that whites actually stayed away from the polls in large numbers. Overall, Romney won fewer votes than John McCain's doomed 2008 campaign.

"The 2012 elections actually weren't about a demographic explosion with nonwhite voters," writes analyst Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics. "Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up. ... The reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home."

Trende is not sure why so many whites didn't vote. Looking only at Ohio, he suggests many did not like Obama but were turned off by Romney, or at least the negative picture of Romney created by Obama's attack ads. So they did nothing on Election Day.

There is much data still to come in from Tuesday; the popular vote figures and exit poll details aren't yet final. But it's fair to say Romney's problems stemmed as much from his failure to appeal to white voters as his failure to appeal to any other voters. He lost because he did not connect to large swaths of the voting population.

That's where finding a great candidate comes in. Romney is an able, accomplished, intelligent and hard-working man, but Republicans knew from the start he was an imperfect candidate. During the primaries, GOP voters tried every alternative possible before finally settling on Romney. He remained a flawed candidate in the general election.

Now, because of Romney's loss, some are urging that the Republican Party completely remake itself. Some argue that GOP lawmakers must support comprehensive immigration reform and change positions on other issues. The answer, they say, is broad, across-the-board change.

But listen to the Obama team. There is a less complicated lesson to this election. Voters want to believe in a candidate. If Republicans find that candidate, they will win.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner