In the fall, voters had a poor image of the economy, were not happy with the president’s healthcare plan, and had moved from mostly supporting increased government activity to mostly opposing it. This led to the electorate having a negative view of the direction of the country.
This was a great opportunity for Romney to win the White House, but Obama’s strategy won. Hispanics voted Obama 71% to Romney’s 27%; 93% of African Americans pulled the lever for Obama; 73% of Asian-Americans voted for Obama.
As simple as it sounds in a year that offered a hundred different TV commercial explanations, this is the bottom line:
Romney could not counter the Obama narrative, “Romney wants to go back to the Bush policies that got the country in trouble in the first place.” It may have only mattered by a few percentage points, but that was enough to win the election.
The (Washington) Examiner, in its final post election analysis claims Mitt Romney bungled his economic message so badly that he made President Obama’s juggling of high unemployment and historic deficits look better than what the Republican nominee was offering.
Pollster David Winston of the Winston Group, (which released its latest number crunching today) said the Romney campaign’s convention question, asking if voters were better off after four years under Obama, actually helped Obama make the case that he was fixing an economic disaster left by former President Bush’s policies and that Romney would return to them.
And the conservatives’ polls weren’t really getting the best glimpse of America; the best poll came from New Models which showed twice as many voters disagreed with the Republican assertion (not better off) than agreed with it. The trouble was, no one was telling Romney.
Because Governor Romney focused on Obama’s negative record at the expense of defining himself, the Romney campaign never engaged in the needed economic debate that would have given voters a clear understanding of how the economy would improve under the former
Team Obama outsmarted Romney on tactics. Voters who told pollsters the economy was “not so good” and “about the same” overwhelmingly turned out for Obama. Go figure.
Romney only won by a wide margin among those who blamed Obama for everything, but there wasn’t enough of them to push Romney over the top.
According to Winston’s surveys, http://winstongroup.net/category/polls/ … voters believed the Republican policy of cutting taxes would generate economic growth, but Republicans were unable to differentiate their proposal from the economic policies of the past, and as result, voters weren’t listening and Obama won by claiming it was Bush’s fault and that Romney was a re-run of Bush; 57% of the electorate believed that President Obama had made progress on improving the economy, so whatever Romney was selling, the voters weren’t buying it, by just enough percentage points to lose.
Based on his latest post-election polling, Winston said that while the economy was the number one issue, Romney fumbled descriptions of it by making the election a referendum on Obama. Worse, he raised the specter of Bush by asking the better off question at the convention.
Winston’s poll found that voters, by 53 percent to 38 percent, still blamed Bush for the nation’s economic ills. Romney either didn’t have these numbers or ignored them.
Conservative TV and radio talk shows were discussing how bad Obama’s first four years were, as well as asking why Obama was still blaming Bush – both non-starters for the majority, that only mattered to the talk show groupies. But as you’ll see later, that “groupie pool” is getting smaller. Those broadcast outlets were off base by just enough percentage points to make them discuss theories the voters didn’t agree with.
“The bottom line was that Romney could not counter the Obama narrative that he wanted to go back to the policies that got the country in trouble in the first place,” wrote Winston.
Winston also revealed a downward trend in people identifying themselves as Republicans since 2002, and a trend of Republicans morphing into independents, requiring Republican candidates to win a far bigger majority of independents. “As long as the Republicans who left in the later part of the decade remain independents, Republicans will likely have to win independents by 5 percent or more to be competitive nationally,” he said.
Women, younger voters, Hispanics and Blacks turned out in high numbers for Obama. Romney lost the women’s vote by 11-percent; by a 57-34 margin; women blamed Bush’s polices over Obama’s; so we’re back to Bush.
Hispanics said they did not like higher taxes or their current financial condition but they voted for Obama because he was who they thought would better handle the economy; 18-29 year olds felt about the same.
What is it about minority voters who did not think they were better off but voted for Obama anyway? The Los Angeles Times may have some of the answers. It just finished a lengthy analysis that Republican strategists should heed well before 2016: Minorities fare better under
Democratic administrations than under Republican ones.
The Times crunched U.S. Census data, tracking annual changes in income, poverty
and unemployment over the last five decades. Under Democratic presidents, the incomes of black families grew by $895 a year; $142 a year under Republicans. Unemployment among blacks, during 26 years of Democrat rule, declined by 7.9%; under 28 years of Republican presidencies, the rate increased by 13.7%. The black poverty rate fell under Democratic presidents and rose under Republicans.
The results for Latinos and Asians, though based on fewer years of data, show the same pattern. For example, Latino incomes grew an average of $627 a year under Democrats and fell by $197 a year under Republicans. Living standards of Asian Americans have improved under Democrats and stagnated under Republicans.
So, even if they were not better off over the last four years, there is a systemic, cultural, recognition telling those minorities that they do better in the long haul with Dems. Interestingly enough, white joblessness and poverty also declined, under Democratic administrations.
How to win. So how might Republicans win in 2016? First, find a candidate who can communicate; second, get out in front of the issues (like Obama did with an anti-Bush rhetoric); third, speak their language, get personal. Whenever I opened my MSN page this past
election season, I saw banner ads to win a dinner with Michelle, or a dinner with Obama and a movie star; Obama tweeted while Romney spent his cash on TV commercials. Obama beat Romney on selling how well he knew the voter’s day to day concerns. Obama was more in touch than Romney, even if we voters felt he was taking the country in the wrong direction.
Also, Repubs need to hire better strategists, not re-treads from the McCain team. David Axelrod, the hard to watch (bad hair, bad eyebrows), and listen to (diction, monotone) Obama strategist has
claimed his winning strategy is what won: Tracking tens of thousands of voters in swing states who favored Obama but might not have been inclined to get to the polls, and then making sure through phone calls and offers of rides that they voted.
Now that may be Axelrod’s post-election smoke screen, but it’s plausible. More plausible are other reasons Axelrod gave: Republican super PACS didn’t attack Obama early enough in the campaign; Romney didn’t invest as much in ground operations; and that the Republican
nominee played narrowly to the party base by sticking with conservative social issues and by picking Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate. Also, Axelrod claims the positive image of Romney as a successful businessman was not central to Romney’s media strategy until late fall. We may never know the real reason because Axelrod may keep his strategic plan in his lock box, all the way to the grave. Good news for Repubs – Axelrod says he’s retiring.
Other pundits have said, winning the manufacturing Midwest with the auto bailout was Axelrod’s plan several years ago, and conservative columnist Bill Kristol claims Axelrod, not military Generals, came up with the idea of when to bring troops out of Afghanistan. Americans
wanted our soldiers out – brought home – Obama did it and Romney couldn’t make that an issue. So, even things that couldn’t be polled were working for the President’s campaign for years.
The Obama campaign was set up for the past four years in the neighborhoods that carried them to victory. Their Get out the Vote campaign was in churches, hair salons, and grocery stores. People who knew neighborhoods were sent to neighborhoods.
If Repubs want to regain the White House in 2016, they gotta know what the electorate
wants to hear.