First of all, congratulations to Barack Obama and the Democrats. They ran the superior race, and they won fair and square. The voters have spoken, and those who voted for Mr. Romney must accept the decision and move on. If you didn’t vote, shame on you, but that is another topic for discussion on another day. The strength of America is that there will be no rioting, no revolution, no army takeover. The losers will accept the results, analyze why they lost, and try to do better next time.
That brings me to the subject of this blog. Why did Mr. Obama win, and, conversely, why did Mr. Romney lose? Although the election was very close in terms of the total popular vote, 51% – 49%, I believe some clear trends emerged, which bode well for the Dems and not so well for the GOP.
Why Obama Won
1. Superior campaign staff with a better strategy. This is, perhaps, the most important reason and permeates some of the other reasons as well.
2. Support of the media, sometimes overt, sometimes more subtle. This includes the mainstream press, entertainers, television and radio. It is no secret that most members of the media are more liberal than the electorate as a whole, and Mr. Obama has always been a favorite of theirs. Certain negatives were downplayed, such as “fast and furious” and the Libya attack.
3. Better organized grassroots effort, particularly in the “swing” states. Also known as the “ground game,” the Dems were able to start organizing early because Mr. Obama did not have any primary opposition. The payoff was a very high turnout among their target groups – minorities, young people and Hispanics.
4. Successful courting of Hispanics and women, particularly single women. Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population, and no doubt they swung the results in FL, CO, NV and NM. The “war on women” issue was more effective on single women. Incidentally, there are many theories why single women favor the Dems and married women favor the GOP regardless of other factors, but no one seems to know for sure. These groups, combined with Mr. Obama’s “natural ” supporters, African Americans and young people formed a winning coalition.
Why Romney Lost
1. Inferior campaign strategy. Again this one permeates all the other reasons listed below.
2. VP choice. Mr. Ryan, though a fine Congressman and an up-and-comer in the party, added little to the ticket’s election chances. He did not appeal to moderates and independents, and he did not even deliver his home state (Wisconsin). Marco Rubio would have delivered FL and energized the Hispanic vote for the GOP in other states as well.
3. Failure to criticize Mr. Obama’s handling of the Libya attack. Mr. Romney has his chance during the 3rd debate, and he blew it. He could have couched his criticism in such a way as to not appear divisive, such as pointing out Mr. Obama’s lack of leadership and failure to be honest with the American people.
4. Failure to recognize the rising influence of the Hispanic vote. This ties in to his VP choice and his hard stance on immigration.
5. Failure to explain his plan for reorganizing the auto industry adequately. The Dems made it seem as though he wanted to destroy it, which was not the case. In reality his plan of bankruptcy and reorganization was a reasonable one given the inherent inefficiencies in the industry. This issue hurt him severely in Ohio, a state he had to win.
6. Super Storm Sandy blunted his momentum. Mr. Obama was able to appear “Presidential” in a crisis. Furthermore, the “hug” from Chris Christie reminded me of the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
7. Much of the electorate preceived Mr. Obama as more “likeable,” which may have influenced some votes.
8. He stopped attacking in the last few days, perceiving he was ahead, and tried to “run out the clock.”
Conclusion and Prediction
The makeup of the electorate is changing. The number of minorities, Hispanics, women and young people are increasing. If Republicans want to bounce back in 2016 it will be incumbent on them to recognize these shifts and adapt to them. Undoubtedly, they will have to soften their positions on issues that appeal to those groups and nominate moderate candidates that have broad-based appeal. The “base,” which has traditionally controlled the Party, will have to decide if it wants to stay true to their beliefs and lose national elections or become more moderate and possibly win. I believe they are shrewd enough to adapt enough to compete nationally.