Mark Davis

These are days of hindsight and second-guessing for Republicans, which is human nature after a trauma like this election loss.

There are million “why” theories out there, from the Hurricane Sandy effect to pernicious media bias. Wringing our hands over those factors gets us nowhere.

We can’t stop hurricanes, and media bias is always there. Reagan and Bush 43 won twice against waves of poisonous bias, so that is not an insurmountable obstacle.

What Republicans need is a slate of candidates that can energize the base while expanding the appeal of a conservative message.

Easy to say, hard to do.

Like many of you, I spent Election Day in the warm glow of anticipation. I was going to see Barack Obama returned to private life-- “the end of an error,” as my favorite bumper stickers said. I could taste it. It was going to happen.

Except it didn’t.

Fueled by respected names in the pundit class, we allowed ourselves to invest emotionally in the Romney win before it happened. How could all of us have been so wrong?

It is not, as the left suggests, because we were rotting in a right-wing echo chamber, shielding ourselves from contrarian views. I considered thoughtfully the notion that Obama might well win, because we usually don’t kick incumbents out, and because the Democrats would surely have a well-honed ground game.

But I saw no way Obama would pull anywhere near the almost 70 million votes he received in 2008. Everywhere I turned were voters who were with him then and are no longer. Not that they were necessarily turned into Romney voters; many were turned back into what they had been before-- non-voters.

So that analysis was correct. Obama received 9 million fewer votes than in 2008.

But the companion expectation-- that surely Romney would pull more strongly than a 2008 McCain campaign widely viewed as tepid-- was far off the mark.

This was our undoing.

In Mitt Romney, we had a good man who was a good candidate. And for those of us willing to crawl on broken glass to make Obama a one-term President, it was easy to conclude that we had enough company to snare just a few million more than four years ago, when we pretty well knew we were about to get our lunch eaten.

But for all of its appeal-- a worthy candidate, a solid debate performance, a strong finish-- the Romney/Ryan ticket did not attract enough excitement to win a thoroughly winnable election.

We should not blame our nominee. The things he could control, he managed well. But the factors that hurt him were immutable.