Americans didn’t buy what the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was selling because he was the wrong messenger for a growing ethnically diverse population. Whites made up 72% of voters in 2012 of which Romney won 60% but appealing to whites only wasn’t enough to carry him to the White House. The diminishing importance of the white vote is evidenced by the fact Obama earned 38% of the white vote, five points less than he did in 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal and still won re-election.
It’s not the message Republicans need to change but the messengers who are selling the message. To his credit and the Democrats, Obama did heavy outreach to blacks, Latinos and Hispanics and it paid off. Obama increased his win of the Hispanic vote from 67% in 2008 to 69% in 2012, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. According to CNN, black voter turnout in swing states like Pennsylvania was higher than it was in 2008 and Obama earned over 90% of the black vote overall this election.
In contrast, Romney gave what amounted to lip service light to the Hispanic and Latino outreach. Romney and the RNC spent millions of dollars in advertising to Hispanics, yet he failed to chip away at that voting bloc because people can tell when you don’t really care about their vote.
Even more insulting was Romney’s refusal to work for the black vote beyond giving an NAACP speech and announcing a Black Leadership Council, which amounted to nothing more than cosmetic wall paper. Knowing Obama wasn’t earning the black vote and blacks would simply vote for him because he was black, you would think Romney and the RNC would do more to take their message to black America.
A year ago, the RNC hired me to create a black outreach website to attract more blacks to the Republican Party. After near completion of the site in the late spring of 2012, Romney and the RNC killed the project, explaining they didn’t want to launch the site without putting outreach activities behind it. I agreed and recommended a slate of outreach activities such as town hall meetings at historically black colleges and universities in swing states such as Virginia and North Carolina. The RNC’s refused to fund any black outreach activities.
With unemployment at 8% or above for the past four years (except for two months), crushing debt and anemic economic growth under President Obama, this election was the Republican presidential nominee’s to lose. (No president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt won re-election when unemployment was at or above 7.8%.) Mitt Romney spent six years, six years running for president as a Republican and he lost because he was the wrong candidate who then won the nomination.
After receiving the Republican nomination, Romney then refused to run a 21st century campaign. He stuck with an insular “all (white) boys club” approach to running his campaign and strategy and it showed. From the Etch-A-Sketch comment by his top operative to another cursing out reporters to refusing calls from top Republicans to retool his strategy, Romney was an out of touch candidate, who deserved what he got but ultimately took supporters down with him. Running against Obama with the media swooning over the president in the background, Romney needed not only to be aggressive but also innovative. He was neither.
I hope Karl Rove and “the Republican establishment” are happy they rammed Romney down conservatives’ throats. There’s a reason he failed to grab the nomination in 2008 and win the election in 2012. Whether Democrat or Republican, Americans want to know where you stand on the issues, moderates don’t win elections. But more importantly, what we learned from 2012 is the Republican Party needs to stop talking only to white people. It’s not working and won’t win the elections of tomorrow.
An example of the party’s backward thinking is the fact that the last time I inquired the RNC doesn’t have one black person working in its Communications department. Americans aren’t stupid. You reap what you sow.