Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post Mortem on Election

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

Yeah, I know I was slightly off(about a 100) with my prediction of Romney getting 309 electoral votes.  Since last week’s election, many are offering their take on why Romney lost the election.  Here’s my analysis:

First, nationally Republicans concede too many demographics.  Political consultants advise candidates to ignore the minority voter because according to Karl Rove, “97% will vote Democrat.”  Ignoring minority voters just makes Rove’s observation a self fulfilling prophecy.  It is true that minorities vote overwhelming Democrat, but that wasn’t always the case.  During reconstruction most blacks were Republicans and as recent as 2004 Hispanics were voting R.  Republicans must reach out to those demographics if we are to ever win the White House again.  We can’t concede huge blocks of voters to the competition and expect to be successful. 

Second, Romney didn’t fire up the base. In order for a candidate to get elected, he must energize the base.  Party regulars must be excited about the candidate.  Romney failed to do that.  He was consistently boring during the primary, but his campaign organization was solid unlike his competitors.  He won the primary through organization, not through inspiration and momentum.  There is nothing wrong with organization and in fact it is a primary component in winning races, but you need an exciting candidate to get voters to the polls.  There was a creditability gap with Romney and social conservatives that he could never close.

Third, America has changed.  The American dream is not that you can come to this country, work hard, take personal responsibility and be successful.  The new American dream is now one where a large percentage of the population is on government assistance or working for the government.  The time has come where those who are dependent on government are able to vote into office whomever they want for President.  That is a sad fact, but one that hard working private sector citizens are going to have to face.  Government produces nothing- it is dependent completely on the private sector.  Government consumes- citizens produce.  That is a basic truth, but in the new America, such talk is heresy.  Government has become the ultimate reality for a large segment of the population.  In that altered reality, government provides employment, food, shelter, education, health care, and security.  Personal responsibility is de-emphasized and in fact discouraged.  We not only have stopped teaching a man to fish, but we have taken away his pole.

Fourth, hurricane Sandy helped President Obama.  During a major crisis, Americans want to see their government responding.  Obama effectively used the natural disaster to his advantage.  Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bear hugged the President and was extremely complimentary when the President visited his state after the storm.  That changed Obama from a candidate to a President and it the timing was to his advantage.  Granted all of the state hit by the storm were solid Obama states, but the media coverage of the President during the aftermath of the storm boosted his image in battleground states.

Fifth, the President did a good job of defining Romney and avoiding his record.    Whenever Romney would point out something about his record, the President would cry, “negative.”  Pointing out facts about an elected official’s record is not negative campaigning, but in our apathetic, sound bite driven world, critical thinking skills are not the norm.  I have never seen an incumbent run from his record more than the President did, but he did so quite effectively.  If you didn’t know better you would have thought Romney was the incumbent.  Obama’s record was never challenged in the media, but Romney was criticized unmercifully for being a success in the private sector. 

Sixth, social conservatives didn’t vote in high numbers.  Christian conservatives can win just about any election if they just turn out.  For a variety of reasons, many choose to stay home and not vote.  Many didn’t trust Romney and his position on abortion.  He just didn’t talk about it and if he did he danced around the issue. 

"What was presented as discipline by the Romney campaign by staying on one message, the economy, was a strategic error that resulted in a winning margin of pro-life votes being left on the table," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

Some are saying the Republican Party has to change our message and positions on the issues if we are ever to recapture the White House.  It is not our platform that is the problem- it is the candidates we have been running.  We keep running safe candidates.  We need to take a bold step and run someone who will energize the base and get our voters to the polls.

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