You asked for it, so I'm posting it. This piece was done for a blog that is aimed at people outside of the beltway and is overtly political. As you might be able to tell - I'm a conservative. This was written literally the next day, so it doesn't cover turnout problems like I think they should be covered, but I don't have time to go into it.
Hating Obama wasn't enough. Voters had to be in love with Romney. Bad candidates don't beat bad incumbents. Running on the "I'm not him" theme doesn't work.
Do you understand what I'm saying here? I'll explain.
The primary system is not flawed. The order in which the states have their primaries is... at least as it goes for Republicans. Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina primary voters do not make good decisions when it comes to Republicans. They gave us McCain and now Romney - two empty suits with about as much charisma as a corpse. I almost forgot Bob Dole! As long as the primaries are aligned this way Republicans are going to nominate boring candidates who will lose.
In this day and age it's not enough to just be smart and successful when running for president. You have to be a character. It's a popularity contest and you have to be likable. Just ask John Kerry.
Like John Kerry, Romney was seen as a rich guy whose only reason for wanting to be president was so that he could say he was president. Just another accolade to add to their resume. Voters didn't buy it. They weren't inspired by it and they showed it.
Voters have to see a real person up there. Governor Christie of New Jersey is a perfect example. You may not agree with everything he does, but you like him. His heavily Democratic state loves him. They didn't hire his politics, they hired him.
Are you going to get emails in the future with quotes from Romney? No. Do you know why? Because the guy doesn't say anything worth quoting. Think about Reagan. Think about the many things he said that you still see everywhere. Do you see the difference between the two men? That's what I'm talking about.
Romney needed people to be a big fan of him and he couldn't make that happen. He relied too heavily on people not like Obama and it didn't work. It never works. No matter what, people always vote FOR somebody, not just against the incumbent.
One more thing.... Romney wasn't all that much different than Obama on many of the issues. He really never separated himself with specific examples of what he'd do differently. Why fire the guy you have right now if the replacement isn't going to be much different?
It's NOT the Economy, Stupid!
The Romney campaign and media put all their eggs in the economy basket and it didn't work. Why? Because the economy is not as bad is looks on paper. There's a difference between what the math tells you that you should be seeing and what you actually see.
There's a lot of gloom and doom on the economy in the news, but there isn't much visual evidence of it in our own neighborhoods. We like to say things are bad, but instead of waiting in line for scarce jobs or food, we wait in lines for hours to buy new iPhones. It doesn't matter what people claim their "top issue" is when the pollsters call and ask. If they aren't truly living that reality they won't respond to appeals for their vote on that issue.
Yes, there's "high unemployment," but isn't it really just "higher than it was unemployment?" It's not like there isn't page after page of jobs in the back of every newspaper in the country today. The opportunity to work is there and the people who aren't working are still getting paid. Yes - even those without jobs are still making money thanks to one extension of jobless benefits after another.
I believe the president did a masterful job of turning that high unemployment number into a bonus for him. Millions of Americans are without a job, but they aren't without an income. You can bet many Republicans out there have benefitted from the giveaway and either stayed home or voted for Obama. They may tell everyone who will listen that Obama is a radical Muslim terrorist, but they'll vote to get paid to do nothing in the privacy of a voting booth every single time.
The Democrats brilliantly played the unemployment benefits game putting Republicans in a position where they couldn't say no. Pundits on the right saw each one of those unemployed persons as a likely voter due to their lack of a job. Obama's people saw each one of them as a vote for the president because they were bought and paid for by unemployment benefits. Things aren't that bad if you can draw a check for 99 weeks for doing absolutely nothing.
The fact is, "poor" doesn't mean what it used to. Talking about the economy was a waste of time for Republicans. Nobody is hurting that bad - except Detroit... we know all about Detroit. When the rest of America looks like Detroit, then you can talk about the economy. Until then, find a new topic.
If buying the unemployed off with incredible jobless benefits didn't provide enough voters for Obama, the massive amount of new federal employees Bush hired before he left office did.
You may remember when Bush basically doubled the size of the federal government after 9/11 by creating the Department of Homeland Security and hundreds of thousands of war related jobs. Federal workers don't do a good job paying their taxes, as we have found out, but they do vote and they vote for Democrats even when they have a Republican to thank for their job.
All these people were likely Democrats before they were hired by the government, however they probably didn't vote as frequently as they do now.
The Perfectly Timed Storm
Conspiracy theorists will likely claim that Obama created Hurricane Sandy in order to hold onto the presidency. They're always making something out of a coincidence. While they may be wrong about the the president's ability to create natural disasters, they're right about how voters would react to one so close to the election.
Change is hard enough for people, adding a little chaos to the mix makes it almost impossible. I think it's completely plausible that tens of thousands of voters in Pennsylvania decided to stick with Obama based on the chaotic aftermath of Sandy. The same goes for Virginia. People are still a little freaked out around here and the president did a good job calming them down.
I hate to say it, but the storm was a very good thing for the president.
Old People Vote - Don't Scare Them
Congressman Paul Ryan is a really smart, good guy. However, he scares the hell out of old people.
I'm not old, but I know people who are and they don't mess around when it comes to their entitlements. Yes, Medicare, Social Security and a whole host of other programs are in trouble and will likely implode during our lifetime (I'm planning accordingly and you should be too). That doesn't mean somebody running for president should talk about fixing the problem. It's better not to say a word until after you've won the election. Talking about it before you win is a sure way to lose.
Congressman Ryan sat next to Joe Biden on TV and looked to every grey-haired geezer in the country like a young punk trying to steal their money. Bad move. Romney needed pick someone older... more representative of what the "likely voter" looks like. Senator Portman would have been the better choice.
There are a lot of things that made minor contributions to Romney's loss that I don't want to go into great detail about, but are worth mentioning. Here they are.
Star Struck 30 year-olds vote how their favorite actors and singers tell them to. My generation is the dumbest yet and they're starting to vote consistently. Scary.
Facebook and other social media outlets likely delivered millions of people to the polls who would have probably forgotten or not cared about the election. This was truly the first year of the "digital campaign" and you'll see people really start realizing it in about a week. Republicans will never rule this medium.
Romney and Obama knew who was going to win a week ago. FoxNews and Drudge spent a lot of time trying to convince everyone of the worthiness of outlier polls showing Romney winning. The truth - most polls had Obama up the entire time and they were right. When Romney started quoting "internal polls" veterans of election trade knew it was curtains for ol' Mitt. Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio were never in play.
Negative campaigning works. Romney could have come closer had he been meaner. I still don't think he could have won since none of us really liked him all that much.
Life is not going to be easy for Obama going forward. The house is still strongly controlled by Republicans and the Senate remains pretty much the same. Nothing can get done legislatively in the next two years. If the senate flips in 2014 the president will be in real trouble.
What is most likely to happen is what happened when Clinton won his second term - lots of investigations. Republicans are going to make life miserable for Obama by bogging him down with one investigation after another. They won't be working on legislation, so they'll have plenty of time to make a federal case (literally) out of everything.
Obama's best people are going to leave in droves starting in the summer of 2013. This always happens in a president's second term. The worker bees who spent the last four years making just $140,000 are going to cash in their access for millions as lobbyists. Like Bush's and Clinton's stripped down staffs at the end of their terms, Obama's is going to be a hodgepodge of rookies and has-beens who won't be serving the president, or the country, very well.
Democrats are tasked with getting rid of Biden before 2016. He's the best chance Republicans have in 2016 - if you know what I mean. Biden has no idea he can't win. Democrats have to either convince him not to run (very hard) or figure out how to fire him (very very hard). Either way, you're going to see an odd dance start very soon and the only one out of step will be Biden.
Bill Clinton is going to become no friend of Obama. Clinton's ego is bruised and he's going to make things tough for the guy who managed to win two terms and is building a better legacy than his. I suspect this is going to be very fun to watch.
Republicans will look really hard at themselves and at their ideals as a party. They will not change a thing because they are incapable of understanding where they went wrong.
The rest... well we'll just have to sit back and see what happens.