The Reasons Romney Lost

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.

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  • the unit

    It is Mourning in America. All your points are right on. Mothers of children are concerned for their children’s future, especially those without contributing fathers. And the mothers of these mothers and the grands are watching over and often keeping those kids and have little choice except hope those mothers and children get the help they can’t afford to give.

    Answer to situation…don’t have.

    But I got to keep a since of humor…we got a long way to go and a short time to get there…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzuYPytj85o

  • Kathie

    Judging by pundit babble since Romney’s defeat, it seems the GOP has learned nothing. They’d do well to rely less on broad generalizations. As a conservative evangelical single woman who did not vote for Romney (but voted Conservative down-ticket), I assure you it had nothing to do with Mormonism, social issues or free stuff. I’d have voted for a decent atheist if he had fought ObamaCare and the welfare state. Instead, we got “I Agree With Obama” Romney, who seemed hand-picked by the Democrat party.

    The U.S. is headed toward disaster, and we have to change course, but the GOP is unwilling to change. Therefore, voting for the same RINOs over and over again and expecting different results is a form of insanity. Nothing in government changes till we change first. So I changed. There must be other voters in the stay-at-home demographic who came to this same hard conclusion.

  • RebinTexas

    As you previously discussed, there were many of US who had real concerns about Romney and the GOPe. You’ve mentioned many of the problems here and in prior blogs. One point I’d like to re-emphasize was when the elites railroaded through the new party rules at the convention, designed to weaken the power of grassroots activists and the true essence of how the primaries should be able to work for and by We The People. This, combined with the banishment of the Tea Party and dismissal of Sarah Palin all made a whole lot of people sit back and take notice. Romney’s campaign did nothing to reach out to US because they just knew we had to vote for him, no matter what. As you did, Mark, so did I vote for Romney, even as it pained me. Yet, sad to say, too many who wanted to vote for a true champion of the People who would hold the Constitution up high as originally prescribed by our wise founding fathers saw no one there with the kind of plan necessary to right our beloved country. Thank you again for all you write – you do, indeed, speak so eloquently for so many of US.
    Reb

  • paul

    Your right he wasn’t suppose to win. The GOPe and PPC objective was to stop the Tea Party and Gov.Palin. I believe that both are now stronger and will go ahead without the Romney Party.

  • C Bartlett

    Right on target, Mark. Well said. One additional note: about 3 weeks before the election, my husband was channel surfing and accidentally landed on a BET show about black southern preachers of significantly large Christian congregations who were having a difficult time with this election. They interviewed several of them who said their church members usually looked to them for “advice” in voting and they were having a very difficult time with both candidates. They did not like Obama because of his very liberal views on things like abortion and gay marriage but they also think that Mormonism is a cult and couldn’t bring themselves to support Romney either. (My father-in-law – 81 yrs, white evangelical conservative in rural Arkansas actually expressed the same thing to us.) I’m sure this is considered a “not PC” thing to discuss in public – sure haven’t seen it talked about in the media outside of that show. Can’t help but think that might be a large percentage of that 3 million that stayed home. Makes you wonder if a more evangelical-friendly candidate like Perry could have done better. Those GOP leaders have their heads in the sand. This won’t change until they quit getting funded. Mark Levin says we need to start getting large donors – businesses, Hollywood, etc. to start supporting conservative candidates instead of the party. I’ve been saying that since 2008. I’ve told numerous Rep party phone bank people that I prefer to give my money directly to candidates. Don’t usually get any argument from them but it’s going to take a significant number of people doing it to get the message across. (And I sure don’t contribute enough to be on anybody’s radar – ha. )

  • C Bartlett

    Right on target, Mark. Well said. One additional note: about 3 weeks before the election, my husband was channel surfing and accidentally landed on a BET show about black southern preachers of significantly large Christian congregations who were having a difficult time with this election. They interviewed several of them who said their church members usually looked to them for “advice” in voting and they were having a very difficult time with both candidates. They did not like Obama because of his very liberal views on things like abortion and gay marriage but they also think that Mormonism is a cult and couldn’t bring themselves to support Romney either. (My father-in-law – 81 yrs, white evangelical conservative in rural Arkansas actually expressed the same thing to us.) I’m sure this is considered a “not PC” thing to discuss in public – sure haven’t seen it talked about in the media outside of that show. Can’t help but think that might be a large percentage of that 3 million that stayed home. Makes you wonder if a more evangelical-friendly candidate like Perry could have done better. Those GOP leaders have their heads in the sand. This won’t change until they quit getting funded. Mark Levin says we need to start getting large donors – businesses, Hollywood, etc. to start supporting conservative candidates instead of the party. I’ve been saying that since 2008. I’ve told numerous Rep party phone bank people that I prefer to give my money directly to candidates. Don’t usually get any argument from them but it’s going to take a significant number of people doing it to get the message across. (And I sure don’t contribute enough to be on anybody’s radar – ha. )

  • wft2969

    Romney blew it when his campaign chose to ignore the Chick Fil A movement in early-August. That would have helped him significantly with the base, but hechose to ignore it at his peril.

  • melory2

    We just have to abandon the GOP, they are beyond help.

    Listening to Meet the Press yesterday, you would think we are in France and not in the USA.

    There is no evidence as Mark said that the GOP is ever going to
    acknowledge that they need the conservative base. We really need a
    Conservative or America First party. Many of us are changing our party
    affiliation from R to Independent. We are up for grabs, third party
    starters take note!(Huntsman needs not apply). We need to find out how to go about starting a third party and get the ball rolling.

    The reason Romney lost? Blame it on the ABO crowd. They gave Romney the OK to ignore the base with their “we must unite behind Romney, and we must do it NOW!” No hard feelings though, we must look forward and turn this negative into a blessing, Democrat style!