I realize the fact that there are roughly fifty-seven million people trying to go through the results of this election, to determine how it went bust. Demographics do play a factor, and free stuff plays a significant factor, but so does the lack of a massive turnout by evangelicals. All of these things have some validity, but I think we may be making an error if we don’t drill down on these to get to the bottom of it, rather than making rash assumptions. Where a changing culture mattered, it was largely single mothers who clobbered conservatives. Where free stuff mattered, it was largely Hispanics who walked away. Insofar as Romney’s flip-floppery with respect to issues important to evangelicals, we had a serious problem. Let me suggest to you that we’ll need to be very honest about all of this if we’re ever to reverse it, assuming the nation survives as a single political entity through 2016. Mitt Romney lost for a number of important reasons, and most of them are a result of how he campaigned, or didn’t, throughout the entirety of the cycle. I have said he was trying to win by default, but that such an approach could not prevail. It didn’t.
Republicans should not expect to win any national election in which there is not significant evidence that the candidate is strong on issues critical to evangelicals, including abortion, assisted suicide, and gay marriage. Listen to me, Republican wannabes: YOU CANNOT WIN WITHOUT THE FULL SUPPORT OF CHRISTIANS. I don’t care how many moderates or independents you think you might lose by being strong on those issues, because what you lose in evangelicals’ support will far outweigh what you will pick up with the few loose moderates or independents you believe you will gain. Get accustomed to it. It’s a part of your base, a part that does participate in getting out the vote when they believe the candidate warrants their efforts, and you cannot win without them. You might gain a few independents and moderates by flexing in your principles, but they aren’t the committed sort who will go out and knock on doors for you.
You cannot win by trying to compete with Democrats in giving away free stuff, either in principle, or in fact. Stop trying. When alleged conservatives do this, it looks too much like trying to purchase votes, even though those same people are willing to be bought-off by Democrats’ much more generous offers won’t hesitate to take their deal. You won’t be able to get Hispanics votes in any larger proportion than the one were seeing for Republicans now, plus or minus a couple points, because most Hispanics are responding to free stuff, and as mentioned, Republicans can’t compete with that(and shouldn’t try.) There is no manner of “free stuff” that Democrats won’t give away more thoroughly. Republicans must focus on people who come to vote not because they are seeking stuff, but because of the larger ideas and principles. Once a GOP candidate walks away from principles, what remains is a candidate who has little to offer, even to his or her own base.
Single mothers are another demographic Republicans can’t win, because they are frequently dependent on social programs. Again, if you can’t win this segment, and if can’t even get close, you’re going to need to do a better job appealing to the segment of women you can reach: Married mothers and grandmothers. That’s still a goodly portion of the female population, but again, you have nothing tangible in the sense of goods and services to offer them that the left won’t beat you to the punch in offering in larger measure. They’re interested in the future of their children. They’re interested in what kind of world their children will face. They’re interested in what the economic future will bring, and what it will inflict on their relatively happy homes. These are women who have made the rational decision to share their lives with men they expect they will depend on into old age. Their thinking is less transitory, and less pop-culture oriented. They’re all about the practical necessities of living their lives, sharing it with a husband, and rearing children who will likewise seek out productive, independent existences.
What we must recognize about this election is that Romney did nothing to inspire or reach out to those who ought to have been the natural constituency for conservatives. First, he didn’t talk much about social issues, meaning conservatives Christians of the sort who would be inclined toward a Rick Santorum or a Michele Bachmann simply weren’t interested. Let’s also stipulate that a good deal of animosity grew between supporters of the various candidates for the nomination because so often, it appeared to have been rigged. That turned a good many conservatives off, and it also made it harder to unite the party. Mostly, there were too many ways in which Mitt Romney failed. We were told early on that because of 2008, he had a solid ground-game. We now know that this wasn’t the case. McCain clearly had a more effective ground-game, although some larger measure of that is undoubtedly a result of his VP choice. Still, in being circumspect about the results, we must admit that conservative turn-out was down, and evangelicals again stayed home. The demographic issue is real and emerging, but it shouldn’t have been the fatal blow this time. The problem with single mothers and single women may be insurmountable, because conservatism runs counter to what many women of that description have been indoctrinated to believe.
The most fatal flaw was the candidate. Whether by ineptitude, or by sabotage, his campaign missed too many opportunities to attract voters and score big when Obama fumbled. They let the media put them off their game with ludicrous notions. They permitted the Obama campaign to define Mitt, and he did not effectively counter. Most of all, however, Mitt Romney failed to capitalize on the natural constituencies of the conservative movement, perhaps in part because he was at least as unpalatable to them as they were to him. I said early on in the primary fight that Romney seemed to have been planning to ignore the Tea Party and evangelicals on the basis that they’d show up anyway. In many important ways, they didn’t, and this is what spelled defeat for Romney. That, and I don’t think he was supposed to win. More on that later.