As we survey the political wreckage of 2012, it’s worth highlighting once again that Republicans lost the presidential election for two main reasons: They failed to get their best candidates to run, and their eventual nominee failed to make the case to voters. The result was a relatively lopsided defeat. In fact, if Mitt Romney had managed to swing the margin by 5 points in his direction in each and every state, he still would have lost (272 electoral votes to 266).
Nor was this because President Obama turned out massive numbers of voters to pull the level for him. Per capita, Obama actually got 9 percent fewer votes than in 2008 — a rather precipitous decline. If Romney had simply improved upon John McCain’s performance by that same amount — if he had gotten 9 percent more votes per capita than McCain did — he’d now be preparing to move into the White House. Instead, Romney got 2 percent fewer votes per capita than McCain, a result so bad that it would have seemed almost unfathomable before Election Day.
The tale was similar in the three most important swing states. In Florida, Obama got about 5 percent fewer votes per capita than in 2008, but Romney got about 5 percent fewer votes per capita than McCain. In Ohio, Obama got about 4 percent fewer votes per capita than in 2008, but Romney got about 1 percent fewer votes per capita than McCain. In Virginia, Obama got about 4 percent fewer votes per capita than in 2008, but Romney’s per-capita tally was essentially tied with McCain’s. Thus, Obama lost significant numbers of votes, but Romney failed to improve upon McCain’s per-capita tallies and generally failed even to match them.
In short, Obama didn’t win because Democrats turned out to vote. He didn’t win because he held the center. (He didn’t hold it; exit polling showed independents favoring Romney by 5 points.) He won because Republicans (and to some extent independents) stayed home. They stayed home because Romney didn’t give voice to Republican principles or attack Obama’s principles or record. He didn’t rebut Bill Clinton’s ludicrous (but highly effective) claim that nobody could have turned this economy around in just four years, he didn’t run as a full-spectrum (economic, social, foreign policy) Republican, and he didn’t attack Obama as the full-spectrum liberal extremist that he is. So he lost.
But while Romney could have — and should have — won, the main reason why the GOP lost was because its most attractive potential candidates weren’t on the stage during the Republican presidential debates. Why that was (and why it usually is), and how to fix it, should be a central focus for Republicans going forward.
“We feel that we are in a very, very good place, that this race is exactly where we hoped it would be a week out,” said Russ Schriefer, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney, on a Wednesday conference call with reporters. Schriefer says the Romney campaign remains convinced that the fundamentals of the race favor the Republican, even as polls show the race remains tight in important swing states like Virginia, Ohio, and Iowa.
Independent voters trust Mitt Romney over Barack Obama by 10 points on the question of which candidate they would trust to "set and manage" their wallet. A new poll by the Tarrance Group for Public Notice, a conservative non-profit, shows 46 percent of independents prefer Romney, while 36 percent prefer Obama, on this question.
The verdict now seems to be in on the Romney campaign's strategy of generally avoiding making the case against Obamacare and choosing not to make President Obama's defining legislation a defining issue in this campaign.
The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters shows that 26 percent of Democrats support the repeal of President Obama’s centerpiece legislation — which, of course, was a purely Democratic endeavor that passed without a single Republican vote. Moreover, the poll shows that most of these repeal-supporting Democrats are “strongly” supportive of repeal.
On Wednesday I argued that only a tiny swath of the actual electorate – maybe 10 percent – will be up for grabs in November. Today, I want to answer the obvious follow-up question: what are these voters thinking?
An emerging genre in popular commentary on politics is the use of statistical models to predict election results. Once the domain of academics writing for the scholarly journal P.S.,it has become very widespread in recent years.
Yesterday, Jay Cost discussed President Obama’s problem with independents, noting that Obama started to lose independents by the truckload when the debate over Obamacare heated up and “has never won [them] back.” Today, a new Quinnipiac poll further highlights the extent of the trouble that Obama faces in this regard.
Late last month, Gallup published a summary of President Obama’s job approval ratings for 2011. The pollster’s findings were stunning: Eighty percent of Democrats approved of the president’s performance through 2011, as did just 12 percent of Repub-licans. The difference between these two numbers—Gallup calls it the “party gap”—was a whopping 68 points.
The latest Rasmussen poll of likely voters offers a bit of good news and bit of bad news for Mitt Romney. The poll shows that President Obama and Romney are now tied, at 42 percent support apiece. But among independents, the group that’s most likely to swing the next election, Obama now enjoys a 6-point edge (39 to 33 percent). Romney achieved a tie in the overall tally by faring better among Democrats (12 percent of whom favor Romney) than Obama did among Republicans (8 percent of whom favor Obama).
If the House were composed solely of independents, it would pass the same conservative legislation as Republicans on Obamacare, the individual mandate, purchasing health insurance across state lines, spending, offshore oil drilling, and Social Security reform.