Election Post-Mortem

I’ve had a couple of days of much-needed rest to recover from the crazy campaign cycle which has given me time to reflect on the results of Tuesday’s elections without running the risk of over-reacting.

Here goes.

President Obama’s victory on Tuesday night was a stark reminder to Mitt Romney supporters of two things: 1) It’s really tough to defeat an incumbent, and 2) In order to defeat an incumbent, the challenger has to be someone people can rally around and get enthused about. Remember 2004? BDS was in its hey-day and in the end, more people voted for someone they liked than someone they didn’t. It’s amazing the clarity that hindsight can provide.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. Let’s be honest, fellow conservatives: were we motivated more by voting Mitt Romney into office or by voting Barack Obama out of office? With few exceptions, I think the answer is quite obvious. Fewer people thought Obama was deserving of a second term than in 2008, but not enough thought the other guy was more deserving. That’s not to say that those who wanted desperately to dislodge Obama from the presidency didn’t feel good or were ambivalent about Romney. Speaking for myself, I was looking forward to a real leader in the White House and I know many others feel the same way. However, this is where the Obama campaign, in its glorious cynicism, succeeded. All those negative ads portraying Mitt Romney as a money-hungry, heartless capitalist while portraying Obama as someone who “cares about the middle class” worked. They worked not because folks like negative campaigns, but because it planted enough doubt in enough people to make a 2-3% difference. That was the difference in this election.

Lesson for the GOP apparatus: Encourage, promote and nominate candidates people can actually get EXCITED about. Like the Democrats did in 2008 (not in 2004).  Forget about demographic shifts and all that other mind-numbing, stat-crunching mumbo-jumbo. Put someone up who people will be motivated to support. Not just with their vote, but with their time, energy and talent. The rest will take care of itself. For what it’s worth, I think Mitt Romney ran a good campaign. He came close to unseating a popular president. It just wasn’t enough. If there was something the Romney campaign could have done better was in marketing Gov. Romney more in the months leading up to the general election. Romney gained a lot of ground in October, but it ended up being too little, too late.

Beat them at their own game. Here’s something else the GOP can learn from 2012: You can’t run campaigns the good ol’  fashioned way anymore. This means conservatives have to embrace the methods used by the Democratic Party, namely GOTV and a huge, grassroots-based ground game. I know those are dirty words for many conservatives, but let’s face reality. Intellectual arguments and the blogosphere are fine and well, but it’s not enough. A motivated, energized and diverse campaign strategy is what is needed. Again, the right candidate will naturally bring about these strategies, but we have to accept the notion that campaigns in the ’10s aren’t run the same way as in the ’90s or even the ’00s.

The Tea Party movement exhibits many of these elements, but it needs to be taken to the next level. Conservatives of all stripes need to get involved in every facet of our community, from colleges to minority groups to senior citizens, and everyone in between. This means getting our hands dirty, going to places and doing things we think are “not worth it”.

Conservative ideas are winning ideas, but if they don’t get disseminated in ways people can understand and relate to, then they might as well be totally wrong.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s start working on 2014 and 2016. It’s not too late to change the direction of our country, but “the early bird gets the worm”.

BTW…just heard Marco Rubio is going to Iowa next week.

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14 Responses

  1. A couple observations….

    Mitt Romney was a huge flip flopper and, yes, all politicians are to some degree (including Obama) but Romney did it hour to hour, day to day and month to month the entire campaign. People noticed and had no idea what to expect from him in office, other than he wasn’t Obama. And for the 20%’ers that was all they needed. Moderates, independents…not so much.

    Two names: Ted Nugent. Donald Trump. These did not play well to many people…except the 20%’ers.

    “He came close to unseating a popular president.”

    Not even close. Did you look at the electoral numbers? Karl Rove and Henry Luis Gomez would be saying “landslide” or “tsunami” had Romney posted those figures.

    “Conservative ideas are winning ideas.”

    Maybe at one time. 2008 and 2012 says, “No way.”

    And although this is not a quote, “Let’s campaign more like Democrats,” sounds like a winner to me.

    Glad to hear you’re not going Galt.

    .

    • Mitt Romney was a huge flip flopper and, yes, all politicians are to some degree (including Obama) but Romney did it hour to hour, day to day and month to month the entire campaign.

      Just because the Obama campaign portrayed Romney that way doesn’t make it so. I’ve already posted several times on Obama’s unfair and cruel attacks on Romney via women’s rights, but unfortunately too many women took the bait. Bottom line is that both men had a record to run on. Romney had the courage to run on his, Obama didn’t for obvious reasons.

      Ted Nugent. Donald Trump. Really? I could name a whole host of lunatics on the left, but why bother? It’s irrelevant.

      Romney lost the popular vote by less than 3%, and lost by similar or even narrower margins in the states that gave Obama the large electoral count (Florida, Virginia and Ohio). By no means was it a landslide when you look at the popular vote.

      Remember in 2004 and even in 2010, many conservatives were proclaiming the death of the Democratic Party and its far-left ideas. Things haven’t changed that much. We still have a majority GOP house and an popular, incumbent Democrat president who struggled to win re-election. If your notion that conservative ideas are dead in the United States, you will be in for a rude awakening one of these days. If you’re right, then the fiscal problems we’re having are just the tip of the iceberg.

      And although this is not a quote, “Let’s campaign more like Democrats,” sounds like a winner to me.

      Except for the dirty tricks and Chicago back-room politics, absolutely.

  2. “Conservative ideas” include more than economics, as you know. Republicans are way behind the power curve when it comes to social issues and today’s America. Abortion, gay rights and immigration are huge issues that can affect votes and for many in this country, the Republican Party is still mired in the 50’s in that regard.

    Politics goes in waves and, yes, Republicans will eventually make a comeback and put someone in the White House. But I’ll bet you that they change their positions on some of these social issues to get there. They have to. They already are (immigration).

    They’ll piss off the 20%’ers in the meantime, but the fact of the matter is that those people blindly vote Republican no matter what the party does or says because they hate Liberals so much.

    I just posted a couple videos at SFDB with what I think is some interesting discussion on these points. You ought to stop by and check them out if you have the time.

    .

    • Republicans are way behind the power curve when it comes to social issues and today’s America. Abortion, gay rights and immigration are huge issues that can affect votes and for many in this country, the Republican Party is still mired in the 50′s in that regard.

      Of the three issues you mentioned, immigration is the only one Republicans stand to gain on by taking a new tack, one already paved by the likes of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, among others.

      BTW…can you point me to the 2012 campaign ads Mitt Romney ran on immigration and gay marriage? Don’t worry, I have plenty of time to wait. As for abortion, the only add Romney ran was in response to the false smears of Camp Forward.

      As long as we have so-called “pro-lifers” out there who cave in and support groups such as Planned Parenthood because they don’t have the guts to call abortion by its real name (murder), both Democrats and Republicans will continue to screw it up when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us. At least the Republicans stand up more against abortion, even if some of them fail miserably. Democrats, almost to a person, have no clue whatsoever.

      I have to admit, however, that despite the overall coarsening of our culture, erosion of age-old values, on-demand abortion, divorce at the drop of a hat and an ever-increasing number of single moms struggling to make ends meet while watching their kids fall into a myriad of problems…all in the name of political correctness…everything is going swimmingly in this day and age of “progress”. Who needs the 1950s when you have all this great stuff going on today?

      Kind of reminds me of the infamous Castro regime’s refrain, Todo Va Bien.

      Let’s just continue to plow “forward” and take the plunge to hell in a hand-basket, shall we?

      • Robert….regarding your assertion that it was a close race because of the popular vote…2004: Bush 50.7%, Kerry 48.3%. 2012: Obama 50.6%, Romney 47.9%. If you recall, Bush called that “political capital” and Karl Rove said that Bush had earned a mandate. I don’t recall many conservatives arguing with either of them.

        I also don’t recall any campaign ads either, Robert, but are you going to claim that the Republican Party projects a pro gay marriage platform? C’mon. And do we really need to rehash Romney’s stance on abortion through the years? Whether there was a “campaign ad” done or not, he certainly spoke to it during the campaign and the debates.

        You call abortion “murder,” the Supreme Court calls it legal. Until that changes, you’re wrong. Legally speaking, of course.

        And as long as Republicans support the death penalty and show little to no interest in supporting social programs that improve the quality of life for the poorest among us, their arguments on abortion are hypocritical and disingenuous, at best.

        I’m sure there were plenty of people back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s that worried about the “coursening of our culture” as African-Americans and women achieved certain things and were treated as equals. And so it goes.

        .

        • Rick, it’s a good thing for you the Democratic Party doesn’t use your arguments, otherwise you’d be crying in your milk over the elections.

          You call abortion “murder,” the Supreme Court calls it legal. Until that changes, you’re wrong. Legally speaking, of course.

          Since you bring up “modern science” in your comment below, please allow me to bring it up in the context of abortion. As I’m sure you know, modern science has been able to determine that an unborn baby has a heartbeat 4 to 5 weeks after conception. So, let’s see…you legally destroy a human fetus at, say, 6 or 7 weeks. Well within the first trimester. Where I’m from, that’s murder, legal or not.

          For you to proclaim to be pro-life and compassionate towards those who deserve help and protection is an insult to those who fight day after day to protect the unborn and provide personal and non-profit assistance to expectant women who are in distress. Quite frankly, your hand-waving of abortion as “legal” is disgusting. All your other arguments fall flat due to your unwillingness to stand up against something which is intrinsically evil.

          Speaking of legalities, human slavery and women not being able to vote were also legal in the U.S. back in the day. Oh yeah, I forgot. Those are things us repugnant, neanderthal conservatives believe in and want to take society back to. Keep on believing all this, because no matter who wins or loses elections, you will never come out ahead making those ad-hominems.

          But that’s OK. Vamos bien

          • What’s my position on abortion, Robert?

            Tell me. I’m anxious to know what you think it is.

            .

            • It really doesn’t matter as long as you continue to make excuses and fail to point a critical finger at entities that promote and perform abortion at alarming rates. Think of Joe Biden and his pathetic explanation in the VP debate a few weeks ago. If I’m wrong and not giving you a fair shake here, you are more than welcome to openly state your position on abortion right here in this comment thread.

  3. We currently have a troll on our blog who keeps repeating the same assertion that Rick keeps repeating: You conservatives are behind the times, extreme, etc. The reason this fellow is a troll is that he makes sweeping, provocative assertions but fails to back them up. When challenged, he hops over to a new set of assertions. Like Rick, he does not explain why any particular conservative argument is wrong, he merely asserts that it is unpopular, as though popularity were the measure of an argument. He also insults the other commenters and then complains about the unfriendly crowd, echo chamber, etc., etc. So what came first, the argument or the troll?

    • Aw, yeah. Chicago Boyz. Damn fine piece of Tea Party trash.

      I’ll tell you what, the minute Republicans start considering birth control to be something other than sinful and women something other than someone who has babies and dusts and when they begin contemplating modern science and (horrors!) applying it, and, finally, when they stop looking at minorities as folks who are sub human…then and only then will I consider them to be living in the modern age.

      Jonathan, the problem is and always has been is that folks like you quite frankly don’t want to hear the other side and consider any alternatives. You know what’s right and, well, end of debate.

      Still like your pictures, though. Nice.

      .

  4. QED

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