[NOTE: I copied these graphs last night but neglected to note the site they came from. Now I can’t seem to find it, so I apologize for not offering it.]
If voting had been limited to people 30 years old and over, Mitt Romney would have won this election:
Here’s the war between the married vs. the unmarried:
Likewise, if women were not voting, Romney would have won. It’s interesting, though, that despite the huge emphasis on women this time, and Obama’s enormous effort to discuss their “issues,” his support among them didn’t increase over what it had been in 2008: “the president won among female voters by 12 points. He took 55 percent of the demographic, compared with 43 percent for Romney — not far off from 2008, when he won women by 13 points.”
But in some ways this one is the oddest chart of all:
Why do so many people still blame Bush for the economy? For that matter, why did so many ever blame him? The simple answer: they were told to, and most people don’t think for themselves.
Bush was president for eight years. Most of those years the economy was pretty good. It went south only the last couple of months of his administration, and he had been dealing with a Democratic Congress in the final years of his administration. So what specific policies of Bush‘s led to the crash? Wasn’t it the culmination of a decade or two of bipartisan goings-on? And didn’t Bush want to reform Fannie and Freddie in ways that might even have helped,and was blocked by Democrats such as Barney Frank?
But that story somehow never got heard by many people. What did get heard was “blame Bush,” a story on which Obama, the Democrats, and the MSM were full collaborators.
But even if that meme worked to convince people in 2008, why would it work in 2012? After all, remember that Obama himself said this:
I wonder if even at the time Obama said that he was well aware that he’d never be held accountable—that blaming Bush would become the meme that never dies, and that it would insulate him from being thrown out after only one term no matter what happened with the economy.
I am always surprised when people turn to Democrats in hard economic times. But I shouldn’t be. In hard times they want someone who cares—they want a direct bailout. So Democrats, who successfully convey the idea that they care (see this), and who offer what looks like direct and palpable assistance—government jobs, welfare, Obamaphones, etc.—are favored over Republicans, who suggest changing something else in order to create the conditions for a better economy as a whole that would then help employ more people. After all, that’s so indirect; it can be hard to connect those dots.
And there is no question that—Romney or no, Obama or no—the Democratic arguments intrinsically appeal to women, especially single women and especially single women with children, who now constitute an unprecedentedly huge chunk of the population. This is no accident; the breakdown of the family and traditional family values and structure has long been one of the goals of the left, who knew exactly and precisely what they were doing, and why. It is no surprise it has borne fruit, and the victims haven’t a clue about the process.
All of this is not rocket science. And it’s not about Mitt Romney as a candidate—who, like any other candidate, had his flaws. We look at Obama and other liberal Democrats and see huge flaws. But we are not their target audience. And to their target audience, they hit the mark, bull’s-eye.
Conservatism and its principles don’t necessarily make intuitive sense to people. They are relatively complex rather than simple, and the whole thing can sound uncaring and mean, and therefore conservative argument has to be taught. Some of that teaching also is cultural and familial. Gabe at Ace’s discusses this:
People telling themselves that we had an insufficiently conservative candidate, that having a more conservative candidate would have made a difference, are kidding themselves. We didn’t lose because of conservative or even liberal issues. We lost because of cultural issues — binders, Big Bird, birth control, and blame Bush. Those four issues would have dogged ANY Republican candidate, regardless of their conservative bonafides.
That, if you want to skip the rest of this post, is the point. Republicans didn’t lose a policy debate. They lost a PR contest. And the hardest part is that we insufficiently understood that we were even fighting on cultural grounds and not for political issues…
A regular commenter at this blog, kolnai, has offered a brilliant comment that I suggest you read in full. Here are some excerpts; the topic is why it’s harder now than it used to be to get across the conservative point of view:
Perhaps it can be put like this: in the past, “Americanism” was something that always had the potential to give a “warm glow” to a majority of people. “Personal responsibility,” “self-government,” “the Constitution,” “American exceptionalism,” and all of the conservative buzzwords and slogans had a place in the electorate’s psyche to go and resonate profoundly…
It wasn’t that Romney/Ryan ran a bad campaign or didn’t make a principled argument (as Jonah Goldberg thinks). They definitely did, even providing some nice Reaganesque phrases, such as “trickle down government,” “picking only the losers,” etc. Rather, it was that these arguments and buzz-phrases had no place to go in the minds of the un-Americanized to activate a warm fuzzy feeling.
Again, I’m repeating what I’ve said elsewhere (for which I apologize), but this point bears repetition: saying, as Goldberg and many others have, that we “failed to make a compelling argument” is comforting – similar to the Democrats eternal excuse that they just need to work on their messaging – but for that reason we should be wary of it. The lesson of this election is not comforting – I think we all sense that – so we shouldn’t run to the comforting account of it. The lesson is that conservative arguments DO NOt RESONATE anymore with a majority of the voting populace who will turn out in national elections…
The reality is that both sides here [libertarians and social conservatives] are making American arguments to un-Americanized people. For illustration, think of what it’s like making libertarian/socon arguments to a European. It’s not just that we can’t get the messaging right. It’s that it’s absolutely pointless, like smashing your head on an iron maiden.
On the flip side, though, we have also seen that when elections take on a more local complexion and the price of a vote seems higher to people, these arguments can get through to people, even in blue states. There’s nothing we can do to raise the price of a vote in a national election – that depends on events and luck.
The other factor, as we’ve said, it the Gramscian complex, and this we can fight actively. This tells me that the suggestions of Occam’s Beard should be seriously considered. It is very important to have an army of surrogates deployed and ready to character-assassinate, investigate, slime, and undermine. Breitbart was a master of this. There must be more of it, and it must percolate up into the party.
Rich conservatives need to take some lessons from Rupert Mourdock. Buy out papers, magazines, news outlets – use the money to create chaos in whatever Granscian institution we’re targeting. Money should become the political equivalent of a smart bomb.
There’s more, much more.
Kolnai goes on to say that there’s not much we can do about education. I disagree. There are school boards to try to influence and/or take over. There are private schools to start, and if those private schools are not especially rigid and have good track records academically, even liberals might send their kids there to get a good education (I personally know some liberals who have done just that, locally, and were astounded that their child ended up thinking more conservatively).
Conservatives have been asleep at the switch for too long. Sometimes I think that the election of Ronald Reagan and the Contract With America in the 90s were the dying gasps of a culture, rather than the encouraging revivals that conservatives mistook them for. Meanwhile, the Gramscian march continued apace.
[ADDENDUM: More from kolnai in the comments section. Well worth reading.]