November 8th, 2012

The Republican turnout

I’ve said before that even had Mitt Romney won this election, unless it was by a landslide, we’d still be in big trouble. It would only have bought us a little time.

Or maybe it would have just given us the illusion of buying time, because so many of the difficulties and trends seem to have been set in motion long ago. I’m talking, of course, about the big three: schools, media, and family.

However, it’s still interesting to ask why turnout for Romney was lower this year than for McCain in 2008, when enthusiasm for the candidate himself was so much higher. I submit that turnout was not that much lower in 2012 than in 2008, and enthusiasm was indeed higher for Romney than for McCain—among those who were enthused. But a small but significant number were not enthused—they seem to have been turned off.

Some of them were probably libertarians. Some of them were probably people who didn’t warm up to Romney because they felt he was a rich fat cat. Some of them may have been those “a plague on both your houses” voters who want the apocalypse to come because then Americans will finally see the conservative light.

The latest figures I can seem to get on the 2012 election is that Mitt Romney received 57,901,531 votes. McCain’s final tally (remember, that includes all the absentee and provisional ballots) in 2008 was 59,934,814. That’s a difference of about 2 million, some of which might be made up over the next week or so as the absentee and provisional votes come straggling in. So in the end the difference might not be that far off between the two years.

But if the difference holds, it is surprising. One would have expected more votes rather than fewer, or even the same. So in addition to the possible explanations I offered above, I’ll add:

(1) Sarah Palin may have brought out a lot of people that Paul Ryan failed to reach.
(2) A significant number of military voters (who tend to be strongly Republican) may not have received ballots in time to vote.
(3) Voter fatigue, whatever that means.
(4) Quite a few McCain voters must have died over the last four years. But wouldn’t they have been replaced by young ones? Yes, but young people went overwhelmingly for Obama. So the replacement rate isn’t 1 for 1.

If Romney’s get-out-the-vote effort had increased turnout by just a little bit over McCain’s figure, he would have beaten Obama. But it is a fact—and a longstanding one—that Republican get-out-the-vote efforts run far short of the organizational abilities of Democrats. Democrats perfected the techniques way back in Tammany Hall days, when big-city machine politics ruled at a local level. That era began centuries ago. It’s hard to figure out what the conservative equivalent could be, especially since conservatives are demoralized at this point.

Conservatives are not natural at organizing, although the Tea Party was a start. But the Tea Party has often showed bad and narrow judgment in the candidates it supports. When I think of the Tea Party movement, I think there was a lot of naivete involved. In fact, one of the lessons of this election is that conservative must stop being naive about the left, and must start anticipating their attacks. For example, remember when the Tea Party began, and the immediate, almost instantaneous meme that was spread—by Democrats, assisted by their helpmates in the MSM—was that it was racist? There was not a shred of evidence for that, so it was manufactured.

And it worked. Ask most people today about the Tea Party, and you’ll see that the disinformation campaign about it has won.

I miss Andrew Breitbart immensely right now. He was one of the very few people on the right who understood all of that, and who tried to fight fire with fire.

[ADDENDUM: Maybe the problem with turnout is no mystery at all. Read this. A complete mess, and it might have mattered a lot.]


79 Responses to “The Republican turnout”

  1. Mr. Frank Says:

    Get out the vote efforts only work among people who have low voter participation. The Democrats go after young people and minorities who traditionally have low rates of participation. Republicans tend to register and vote on their own, and they don’t need a ride. There is not much to mine there.

    The country has been well served when young or uneducated people did not bother to vote. That’s why I don’t like motor voter. If you can’t find your way to the court house once to register, I don’t want you voting.

  2. Lee Merrick Says:

    Some who stayed home were probably anti-Mormon.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    Reflecting on that I’ll have to confess that my love for Romney and vastly mistaken belief that he would somehow prevail was,,,,, only skin deep.

    How do I know? When it became clear he’d lost I lost interest in him almost instantly. I didn’t even stick around to watch the concession speech and I haven’t really thought about him much since Tuesday.

  4. njcommuter Says:

    We have a serious problem. The 20 to 30 contingent is deep in the liberal meme-pit, and they are rearing the next generation.

  5. KLSmith Says:

    Thanks for that link, Neo. WOW just WOW. Incompetence on steroids. It’s not like they didn’t have 4yrs to get ready.
    The Republicans already have so many problems and I think one that will be under-appreciated is the cloud of “loser” that is going to hang over them.
    People want to vote for winners and if you can’t beat Obama what does that say.
    Back to your main point, I think O’s kill Mitt strategy worked pretty well. And I’m pretty sure my two neighbors on either side of me, just presumed Obama would lose and couldn’t rouse themselves to go vote.

  6. matthew49 Says:

    The low voter turnout seems inconsistent with the widespread reports of heavy turnout and long lines at the polling places. Can anybody explain this? Were all the reports of crowded polls bogus? Were the voting machines not picking up all the votes? What’s the story?

  7. stan Says:

    Republicans are amateurs. Democrats, all their special interest groups, and their MSM wing are pros. The pros work every day 24/7, every year to get out the message about how evil Republicans are. Every day they put out false facts about women pay gaps, black pay gaps, global warming, Bush responsibility for the crisis, etc etc. These messages are reinforced by foot soldiers in schools, universities, Hollywood, the arts, charitable foundations, and the members of all the special interest groups.

    The GOP doesn’t even bother to show up until campaign season. And then we are shocked to learn that millions and millions of people won’t even listen to our candidates because they already “know” that Republicans are evil, anti-science, anti-women, racist zealots who want to outlaw contraception, poison the environment, screw workers and return to Jim Crow.

    About time we stopped bitching about the biased MSM and started developing strategy and tactics to deal with it. About time we realize that the elections of 2016, 2020, and beyond are being lost right now and all this year and next.

    There are millions upon millions of voters who don’t even know the truth about what Republicans stand for. We’ve never even gotten them to listen (much less convince them). And if we only show up with some tv ads and a convention every four years, it isn’t going to change.

    Yes, it sucks that the MSM cheats and screws us. Stop bitching and start getting even. Stop crying and do something about it. Put together the cash and organization and mobilize volunteers and pay for the messaging that is needed to break through all the lies. Expose the MSM. Do the academic studies, write the books, make the movies, craft the message, run the billboards, prepare the videos, enlist the bloggers and talk radio hosts, and start getting the message out right now. Fight the lies. Now. Don’t wait til it’s too late. And prepare to bring the fight every day.

    Unrebutted slander becomes perceived truth.

  8. southernjames Says:

    matthew49 at 4:45.

    Maybe there is more to the story that we presently know. Millions fewer turning out for Romney than McCain – is that the whole story or is it just part of the whole story?

    In addition to the four points Neo lists, there is an elephant in the room that I have not seen a single conservative pundit discuss – and that is not only voter fraud but possibly voter suppression? Either via incompetance or intentional I don’t know, but here is a story from my home state of Fla. Which as we know was a) a key state and b) only decided by a few thousand votes.

    A friend of my wife’s went to her polling place in SW Florida (strong GOP leaning) at 6 pm. There was only ONE vote scanner at that station. They kept the precinct open past seven pm for everyone who was in line – but she WAITED OVER FOUR HOURS. By the time she got to vote, FLORIDA HAD ALREADY BEEN CALLED FOR OBAMA. She stuck it out, out of stubborness. BUT, she said through the course of the evening, from 6:00 pm on, DOZENS of voters got fed up with the long wait and left without voting. DOZENS, at one small precinct.

    She was furious, and made some phone calls and did some research the following day and discovered that this was apparently a chronic problem throughout a number of precincts in the state.

    Another friend, who voted at a heavily democratic precinct in Miami Dade, reported short lines and a 15 minute wait to vote – and the presence of SEVERAL vote scanner machines.

    Perhaps, in addition to the possibilty of Romney having actually won by 1-2% points, but his votes magically not being counted — there was in addition, (just as in 2000, when Fla was called before the polls even closed in the heavily conservative pan handle, located in the earlier time zone) a depressed final turn-out…..having nothing to do with Romney being a morman, or too rich or a RINO or whatever else the experts are saying….

  9. rickl Says:

    stan Says:
    November 8th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    There are millions upon millions of voters who don’t even know the truth about what Republicans stand for.

    Great comment, stan.

    But I have to admit that I myself don’t know what the Republican Party stands for. If they stand for limited constitutional government and free market capitalism, they have a funny way of showing it.

  10. chuck Says:


    I think Mitt bought into the Democrat Tea Party propaganda himself. He avoided them, as well as Palin, and kept them out of the campaign. And as I said before, he just isn’t that good a politician, he doesn’t have that touch. OTOH, he did do a good job on Perry and I think the media helped there. He didn’t do nearly as well against Obama without that help.

  11. Mr. Frank Says:

    We underestimate how well the lefty propaganda works. I have a sister age 65 who is bright and a college graduate. She is a swing voter. She told me she voted for Romney because of the economy but that he scared her because she did not want women to have to go back to the way things were.

  12. Darrell Says:

    I think it was a combination of Libertarians, true conservatives who thought Romney was a RINO, people who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon and pissed off people whose choice lost in the primaries and they never got over it. Looks like enough stayed home to sink us.

    That being said, I do not discount fraud, a lot of things just don’t make sense, we saw huge turnout reported in many red areas and low turnout reported in solid democrat areas, no indications of dem enthusiasm etc.
    What was happening in the Philly voting stations that so many of them would throw out the republican poll watchers? What went on in the hours between then and the court order and sheriffs called to let them back in? I think we know and its exactly why the justice department blocked voter IDs every where they could.

  13. benning Says:

    If the Republican Party actually stands for anything other than Democrats Lite, then they’d best start proving it! Money needs to start being spent on those who tout the message, rather than the supposed experts who are paid to mouth the same old platitudes.

    So many needy bloggers, like Stacy McCain, who could use the money to continue reporting on what’s ACTUALLY happening. Why hasn’t the danged Party donated to those, like McCain, who can reveal the perfidy of the Left, among other things?

    We laugh at the Huffington Post, but it’s there! So why isn’t the money of the Right going to similar sites on the Right? It’s past time.

  14. Oldflyer Says:

    There are lots of apocryphal anecdotes. Some times conspiracy theories are true. One nationally reported incident told of a gun was pulled in (Detroit if I recall) on a Republican official. He left the area, and called 911. The police did not respond. Makes one think. What do our local police have in common? They are all unionized. For that matter, what role do SEIU members play in elections? Who actually sets up those machines in Ohio that kept changing the votes to Obama? Who maintains the voting rolls, processes the voters, and counts the votes, and how are they selected? What does it tell us when we see voting venues that have murals of Barack Obama on the walls? Are these venues in schools? If so, just how chilling is that?

    After the 2000 debacle, I forget whether it was the 2002 mid-terms or 2004, I acted as a GOP observer at our local polling place. Now, this was a very safe area, and actually overwhelming GOP. But, it made me think, would I have the nerve to go into some of the polling places where fraud might actually occur? I doubt it, and I imagine that most of those are unmonitored.

    I paint a chilling picture, I know. Conspiracist? Perhaps. I do believe that our election process is corrupted, and I believe it is deliberately done to one party’s advantage. Think I have already reported that my wife was registered to vote here in California without showing any ID at all. That was one vote for the GOP; how many of those questionable voters for the Dems?

    We have assumed that in the United States things would be done fairly. We assumed wrong. The UN Observers were appalled at our process and the lack of controls. We are worse than many third world countries with respect to our elections.

    I am pessimistic about how we regain control of our most precious right.

  15. texexec Says:

    Two comments:

    1. The book I’m reading (and have been harping about – “The Big Sort”) points out that in the last 30 years, it’s been easy for Americans to move and that when we do, we tend to move into counties that have inhabitants like us with the same political views. Strong Republican counties are getting even stronger. If you saw lots and lots of Romney signs and very few Obama signs, you may or probably live in a very Republican county that voted the same way this year as in 2004. Turnout may not have been affected.

    2. If you live in a safe red state like I do, some people may have thought “Well, Romney is gonna carry this state easily so my vote won’t matter much…I’ve got other things to do.” I have to admit that thought did pass through MY head here in rural Texas but I not only voted but I donated several times to several Republican organizations and worked hard to convince people to vote for Romney. I even contributed to George Allen’s campaign for Senator in VA trying to get control of the Senate.

  16. texexec Says:

    One other comment in agreement with Neo (at least I think I agree with her):

    I agree strongly with most Tea Party principles but Tea Party adherents need to be more careful in selecting congressional candidates in primaries.

    I can think of at least three senatorial contests last election and this election we should have won easily that we lost because the Tea Party candidate did something really dumb.

  17. Bill Says:

    My elderly retired father, formerly a firefighter, who I’d say has conservative values, voted for Obama. “Why?”, I asked. “Romney is a rich kid who was given everything by his family. The rich want everyone mad at Civil Servants to take the heat off of them”.

    So class envy is still powerful. I found myself wondering “Are the rich really at war with the non-rich, is there truth to this meme? Was Marx right? Or is this simply envy and projection? If it’s true, how true is it?” I’ve met plenty of rich and non-rich assholes, but I find it hard to believe there’s an organized conspiracy against the working classes and others. For now, I will believe I’ve never appreciated the depth and scope of envy of those who have more. I cannot begin to think how this problem of envy can be resolved, especially if it’s continually stoked by those who profit from it.

  18. Mr. Frank Says:


    I think it is four. Last year Delaware and Nevada. This year Missouri and Indiana. People really screwed up.

  19. Some Guy Says:

    Actually, the Rs need to run against the Left, not against a particular candidate for national elections. Romney should have called out ‘the Left’ (collectivism, utopianism, etc) constantly instead of focusing on jobs and Medicare plans, etc.

    He should have constantly tied Obama’s dismal record in with overall leftist thought, instead of just “I’m better than him.”

    There are so many well-versed, articulate, brilliant talk radio hosts that absolutely skewer the left, in mano-a-mano debates and in solo commenter. Why can’t we get one of them to run for Prez?!!!

  20. Some Guy Says:


    solo COMMENTARY.

  21. texexec Says:

    Mr. Frank Says:
    November 8th, 2012 at 6:07 pm


    I think it is four. Last year Delaware and Nevada. This year Missouri and Indiana. People really screwed up.

    You my be right but I didn’t include NV because I don’t remember anything really dumb that she did and Reid’s machine and the unions would have been hard for any candidate to overcome.

  22. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    In my Northern Virginia suburb, statistically one of the wealthiest and most highly educated in the U.S., I must have gotten at least 20- 25 pieces of literature, and over 30 telephone calls over the two weeks leading up to the election from everybody under the sun, including a couple of taped calls from Pat Boone (I thought he was dead?), urging me to get out and vote for Romney, and only a half dozen pieces of literature and two phone calls urging me to vote for Obama –I guess they crossed me off the Democrat list after I gave the first caller an earful.

    I was in the very long line at my polling place before it even opened up, in the cold and the dark at 6 A.M., and there seemed to be an unusually large number of voters, yet turnout was supposedly less than in ’08. Driving around in my semi-rural area over those two weeks, I saw perhaps two Obama yard signs to probably 50 -60 Romney signs, yet, looking at voting percentages, my county voted something like 41% Romney, 59% Obama—a higher percentage for Obama than he got in even well-known Democrat strongholds like Arlington and Fairfax counties. So, I’m really puzzled at the results.

    I am also puzzled at how the quite large, enthusiastic turnouts for Romney and all the efforts by Republicans to get out the vote mentioned above didn’t translate into large vote totals, but the far less well-attended and apparently less enthusiastic (at least compared to ’08) Obama rallies translated into his winning vote totals.

    Given their M.O. and track record, I assume that the Democrats—as indicated by just the few stories that managed to slip past the MSM filters–cheated in every way they could and at every opportunity. Thus, I believe that the saying “they can’t cheat if it’s not close” applied here, and that in all likelihood—given how relatively close things were—the Democrats stole the election.

    But, given the very clear choice given, the main question is why no massive landslide vote for Romney that would make such cheating and a stolen election impossible?

    The only answer I can come up with is that, as I posited on several threads here in the last few days, the electorate has been so radically changed by many decades of Gramscian warfare that they were no longer receptive to a campaign based on traditional American ideals and patriotism, American exceptionalism, strong national defense, prudent, more austere budgets and spending, reduced government, and shared sacrifice, and—to echo Bill O’ Reilly—that a majority of voters just voted for the guy who offered to give them more free “stuff,” and that massive cheating by the Democrats plus short sighted voter self-interest carried the day for Obama.

    Thus, if this shift has actually take place, then, we are truly lost, and absent some cataclysmic events, shattering and totally discrediting the reigning leftist philosophy and mindset—and, with these election results, such events may well be in our future—the electorate will not come back to their old mindset.

  23. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    P.S.–I also can’t help but think that if Romney had been much more combative, much more in your face with Obama during the debates and in all his other campaign appearances, interviews, and commercials, relentlessly pressing Obama on the Benghazi disaster, for instance, or on his pro-Muslim statements and actions, and the literally myriad of others of Obama’s disastrous policies and their catastrophic results, he might have won.

    But Romney decided to play it safe, to not really ruffle any feathers, so as not to be be accused of being “mean,” or turning people off–or maybe he couldn’t play it any other way, and he wasn’t ruthless enough, didn’t have that killer instinct, was too nice a guy–and, thus, he just couldn’t energize enough voters.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    Wolla Dalbo: there are a lot of things I wish Romney had done differently including a lot of different attacks on Obama, as well as this.

    But I actually think Romney did well enough, in the usual sense. I don’t think Ronald Reagan could have beaten Obama. The populace is too changed, and the values are different. It turned out Obama was right: this election was about appealing to unmarried women and other special interest groups. Romney was never going to win them over, and they now constitute a bigger slice of voters than they ever did before.

  25. Sgt. Mom Says:

    Nothing much to add to all the above comments … I was a Tea Partier from early on, and it was terribly disheartening personally, to discover how deeply the “racist-misogynist-H8er” meme sank into the general public mind-set. Mittens wasn’t my first choice, or even my second, and I was one of those “crawl across broken glass” voters. But still – it is remarkable how suddenly everything went for Obama on election night. I do not like to wear a tinfoil chapeau … but I am beginning to suspect that the vote-stealing shenanigans were probably pretty spectacular as well as being well-organized.
    Ah, well, then – it’s a battle lost – not the whole war.

  26. rickl Says:

    The Republican leadership has been telling fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, Tea Partiers, libertarians, constitutionalists, and those concerned about rampant illegal immigration that our views are not welcome in their party.

    They tell us every day in every way that only “moderates” who can reach across the aisle, compromise with the leftist Democrats, and who support amnesty have any chance of winning elections. Our job is to shut up and vote for them, lest the Democrat boogeyman win.

    I have said countless times that the Republican Party is becoming like the “conservative” or “right” parties of Europe. They have no guiding principles and do not question the vast scope and reach of the centralized state. All they want is a seat at the table of power. It matters little to them in the scheme of things whether they are temporarily in the majority or temporarily in the minority. The Tories of England never advocate for the privatization of the NHS or the legalization of firearms ownership. Such topics are considered beyond the bounds of rational discussion.

    Is it any wonder that more and more people are tiring of this charade and are tuning them out?

    Romney was my last choice in the primaries, and I was far from alone. He was a standard-issue establishment moderate. At the time I swore all up and down the internet that I would not vote for him under any circumstances. I know I was not alone there, either. In the end I swallowed my pride and voted for him. I’m sure many others did as well, but I’m equally sure that there were others who stood their ground and didn’t.

    I’m done with the Republican Party after this. I mean it this time.


    Having said all that, I’m increasingly certain that the Democrats committed vote fraud on a massive scale. Remember how one of the first things Obama did was to put the U.S. Census under the direct control of the White House? I’ll bet that they knew precisely which precincts around the country to target for shenanigans, whether it be ballot box stuffing for Democrats or making Republican votes “disappear”.

    Welcome to the Third World, folks.

  27. Steve Says:

    It is fair to criticize the tea party for selecting bad candidates. Now what do you say about Team Romney’s apparent failure to execute:

    And don’t forget that the tea party led the successful effort in WI to block the recall of Scott Walker:

    If Team Romney screwed up the GOTV effort as is being alleged, they are guilty of gross incompetence. We should not be thanking Romney for giving it all and putting down the loss to bad luck (eg, Sandy) or voter apathy. Instead we should banish him and his team to the political hinterlands. Frankly it should be an end to the establishment Republicans.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve: the link I had already added in the ADDENDUM to this post is what I have to say about team Romney’s failure to execute. Big time problem.

    And of course the Tea Party has done some very good things. But it has made some terrible errors, too—unforced errors, I might add.

    And this “establishment Republicans” stuff you’re giving out is the very thing I was talking about in the “uncivil war” thread. The point is not Tea Party vs. Establishment or anything of the sort. Good ideas that work: yes. Bad ones that don’t: no. Each group has some. Romney’s campaign was a better one than I think anyone who entered the race could have waged. It was right in many ways—but it was wrong for America today. That’s a very sad thing. And now we have to adjust and figure out what will work best.

  29. rickl Says:

    Romney did grow on me a bit after the nomination. He seems like a basically decent person, which is quite a contrast to the depraved, damaged current occupant of the White House.

    Ryan was probably the best VP pick he could have made, and they did run a pretty good campaign.

  30. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    I, too, see this as a decisive event, a tipping point.

    Our trajectory is now headed downward–and given four more years of Obama & Co.’s subversion and increasing control of virtually all the levers of State power, their “fundamental transformation,” of the United States, I do not expect, ever again in my lifetime, to see relatively honest and fair elections and, given a now inevitable decades-long Leftist lock on the Supreme Court, and Obama’s “gangster government”-i foresee the U.S.’ descent into some species of Socialist hell and, as time goes on, its likely even deeper descent into some form of fasicist/totalitarian state, something like, say, Mussolini’s WWII Italy, Poland or Hungary during the Cold War, or even Venezuela or Cuba.

    These Leftists are like a deeply embedded Tick–embedded so deeply now that they can never be dislodged and are infecting the body politic with a virulent, debilitating, and life-threatening virus.

    A virus from which we will only recover–and then only partially–by paying a very great and painful price.

    Moreover, now, with this pivotal election, and its revelations about the composition and mindset of an apparent majority of the electorate, I see nothing in sight that can effectively bend or arrest this trajectory.

  31. Steve Says:

    neo, if the Romney campaign made the unforced errors that are alleged, then they did not wage a good campaign, they waged an incredibly poor campaign. It isn’t that the electorate has changed, it is that Team Romney could have won, should have won, but blew it.

    One of the big problems in Romney’s campaign is that he distanced himself from the tea party. So if the only thing that matters is good ideas that work, then why split the base, the part that is most energized and willing to get out and help? Did Team Romney think that Republicans are somehow not stuck with the racist label but the tea party is? Is that really what they think? Are they that incredibly stupid?

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve: both Romney and the Tea Party made unforced errors. As far as I can see, the only clear error the Romney campaign made was in their turnout strategy.

    Every campaign will make unforced errors. The only question is whether the errors will be fatal to that campaign. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t.

    Plus, I do a lot of reading around the blogosphere. Lots. And part of that is reading comments. And Romney did an excellent job of winning over a lot of Tea Partiers who hated him initially—especially by his pick of Ryan. You may not have been won over, but a lot of people were.

    None of the other candidates were more viable. Accept that, and move on.

  33. Steve Says:

    Something that does not get a lot of attention is that the establishment GOP wants to marginalize the tea party. Why? Because it is a threat to their power. To me that shows how hopelessly corrupt things are in DC. Both parties are not interested in change. They want to keep control. Both parties are responsible for the mess we are in. There is no reforming them.

  34. Steve Says:

    neo, if Team Romney really did blow the turnout strategy it is not just the only error they made, it is THE reason they lost the election. As CAC says in his post on AHQ, if he knew they were not following the strategy in WI, he would have called the election for Obama months ago. If the establishment GOP was running the turnout strategy in WI, do you think Walker would have survived the recall effort? No way. The only reason Walker survived the massive union-led campaign to remove him was because of the tea party. Yet Team Romney and the establishment GOP distanced themselves from the tea party.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve: there’s blown turnout strategy, and then there’s inherent problems. I think that in the end the problem of turnout was less a strategic problem than an inherent problem, to wit: it now appears that a good deal of the low turnout was among blue collar workers who are more or less Republican (or conservative) but who saw Romney as a rich white guy capitalist Bain person. In other words, no amount of turnout strategy would have helped.

    This was always going to be Romney’s weakness. He is indeed a rich white guy Bain person. In the primaries, the other Republicans attacked him on it. Afterward, Obama attacked him on it. It was known. I think Romney’s biggest error was not countering it effectively. The problem is it’s an inherent problem (as I said earlier): very hard to counter effectively. The answers are complex, and require a real attention to detail and a knowledge of firms like Bain. A very uphill climb.

    Those who know I championed Romney also might remember that I thought him very flawed as a candidate, but the best of the field that entered the primaries. That was the problem, as I wrote here and elsewhere.

  36. foxmarks Says:

    Add in four years of population growth and Romney’s turnout looks even worse.

    The RP faction, despite the libertarian nature, were masters of organizing and turnout. Have I mentioned in the last 15 minutes how magnificently stupid it was for Mitt and the RNC to crap all over them?

    As far as the GOTV, I seem to remember a regular commenter here who used to harp on the fact that a district manager for Taco Bell supervises greater headcount than Romney ever did. Mitt may have run a decent core campaign, but he has no great ability to manage a large organization.

    If the rich white Bain capitalist image was always too much to overcome for working-class voters, how in the world was this guy the best in the field? Nobody wins without that support. Romney was a stillborn candidate.

  37. stan Says:

    Romney’s problem was that he was too humble to trumpet his incredible record of helping people in need. He had to toot his own horn and he didn’t. Of course, others on the right could have, but they were too lazy. On of the biggest problems with Republicans is that they expect the nominee to do all the heavy lifting.

    Democrats, the MSM, and their special interest groups work hard every day. They are happy to do as much dirty work and heavy lifting as it takes.

    Neo, I could not disagree with you more about the country and its desires. This election was lost because Obama and his friends succeeded in blaming Bush for the financial crisis and convincing voters that all Republicans are like Bush. The GOP made no effort to counter this attack. It was lost because Obama and friends convinced a large number of people that the GOP was engaged in a war on women. Naturally, we all laughed at how stupid the attack was and did nothing to set the record straight. Unrebutted slander becomes truth. Obama and his MSM propagandists are having the last laugh.

    The country was fed a large bundle of lies. Romney and the GOP did not fight the lies. The slanders were allowed to stand. The lies were allowed to stand. People who knew Obama was awful became convinced that Romney was worse. That’s what happens when you don’t fight back.

    You have to call out the liar. You have to set the record straight. You have to identify and embarrass the defamer. Especially when the MSM does everything possible to help Obama. Anyone stupid enough to count on the media to exercise a little integrity is too stupid to be elected.

    The country didn’t reject ideas of responsible government, personal liberty and the free enterprise system. They just never heard the GOP fight for its honor and became convinced that the GOP should be disqualified for a lack of integrity.

  38. Don Carlos Says:

    The Tea Party is not a Party. The Tea Parties are almost all grass-roots based; members of different Tea Parties may talk with one another, but the Tea Party (if you insist in using the singular, despite the facts) is a movement, not an organized national or even state-based party.

    I belong to one. I have been frequently distressed by the group’s naivete. Most TPers are new to the political war games. Ad hominem hostility is difficult for them. They would rather lose cleanly than win dirty. No Alinsky tactics for them, none.

    Tea Parties endorsing Akins and Mourdock means what exactly? It was the two candidates, long after the alleged endorsements, who each said one thing, one sentence, for which the MSM and organized Dems, and Repubs including loser Romney and his GOP, tarred and feathered them. How are those macaca moments laid at the feet of the Tea Parties? By the MSM, the GOP and the Dems is how. All of these perceive the Tea Party movement as a threat, long term.

  39. Steve Says:

    neo, I think the reason Republicans did poorly at the national level this past election is that the GOP establishment mistakenly thought they were the reason Republicans won big in 2010, that Scott Brown won the special election and that Scott Walker survived the recall. GOP candidates were winning consistently (and defying the odds) so naturally the GOP establishment thought the public was behind them and that they were doing just fine picking candidates and getting out the vote. The reality is that the tea party drove these successes. That is the big message that can be taken away from Romney’s loss. The electorate has not changed significantly since 2010. We shouldn’t be misled to believe that Team Romney did a great job and we’re all doomed now because we cannot win another election. Romney lost the election because Team Romney did not learn from the tea party’s example in WI. Team Romney decided they did not need the tea party’s help. They could handle the unions in OH just as the tea party handled them in WI. Now we see what happens when the GOP distances itself from the tea party movement. They lose.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    stan: I don’t know what you’re referring to when you write that you disagree with me about “the country and its desires.” I don’t recall saying anything about the country’s desires. I think that demographically, though, Romney had a more uphill climb than he thought he would–that’s what I meant when I wrote that Romney’s campaign was “wrong” for America today.

    I actually very much agree with your criticism of Romney’s lack of fighting back over certain attacks. Romney actually did fight some of the attacks and called out some of the lies, but the MSM countered him at every turn, and it was hard for him to get the message out (especially the one about what Bain really was, because that’s a complicated message, and Obama was attacking on a gut level). But he did not counter strongly enough or quickly enough.

    I was especially disappointed in the 2nd and 3rd debates, where he should have pounded more on Obama’s Bengahzi lies, IMHO. The Candy Crowley moment was one where I (as cynical as I am about the MSM) was shocked at what she did, and I think it blindsided him. But in retrospect I don’t think Benghazi would have won a single vote for him. In retrospect I think it was the perception of Romney as an out-of-touch rich white guy that did him in. There was nothing on earth I can see that he could have done about that.

    And there was no other candidate who entered the race that would have done better. The attacks on them just would have been different.

  41. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: you are right that the Tea Party is not a party. It also does not vet its candidates properly and make sure they are not WAY outside of mainstream thought and therefore unelectable. The Tea Party should find out more about people before they support them in primaries against establishment incumbent Republicans (with a proven track record) that they do not like. I think if the Tea Party knew more about these candidates (Akin, Mourdock) and was less politically naive, it could have seen this coming. I doubt these statements came completely out of the blue; these men probably have said similar things in the past. At the very least, candidates should be interviewed, quizzed, prepped in some more effective way. Too many Tea Party supported candidates are not ready for prime time, and we’ve been losing quite a few Senate seats that we shouldn’t have lost because of it.

  42. chuck Says:

    Does it strike anyone else that Romney was a bit of a loner as a candidate? There are a lot of factions that are more or less republican. Foxmarks mentions the Paulites, but there were also factions aligned with Santorum, Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee, Perry, Christie… I don’t recall any of those folks really getting out there for Mitt like Clinton got out for Obama. I may have missed something sitting out here in Utah, but some of the troops seem to have gone AWOL. Part of the job of a talented politician is to get diverse, even hostile, folks to work together for a larger goal. You can’t fire barons who have their own estates and big eqos, you’ve got to bring them into your camp as allies. That may have been an impossible task, but I don’t recall much effort made in that direction apart from some keynote speech slots at the convention.

  43. foxmarks Says:

    chuck: Conventional wisdom held that every one of those names was poison, except Christie.

    I was on the mailing list for Cain’s and Santorum’s PACs. They beat the dutiful drums for Romney. But I suspect the Romney campaign would have thought the negative of giving Obama more “extremist” fuel outweighed any benefit from motivating a kindred faction.

    Romney played “prevent”, trying not to lose. That only works when you have a commanding lead.

  44. Steve Says:

    foxmarks, how ironic that the candidates Romney distanced himself from were loyal and the one he embraced turned out to be Judas. So much for the conventional wisdom.

  45. Pat Says:

    I talked to a Romney campaign worker in Ohio and he said the Romney campaign did have Orca and it simply didn’t work. They reverted to paper lists but it was pretty hopeless.

    I gather the Obama campaign had much better technology for their GOTV effort and tons of union manpower to call on. Probably paid for by stimulus funds, directly or indirectly.

  46. causauk Says:

    Look at our crappy performance among minorities. The way I see it, and I am a Neocon, we need a candidate more like Bush.

    Maybe the Tea Party isn’t racist, but they haven’t done us any favors. And seeing the glee on Palin’s face election night was infuriating.

    Look at evangelical turnout. It seems it was the highest ever. We still lost. We need to expand the base.

  47. chuck Says:

    @Pat, shades of McNamara, that’s just crazy. Relying on untested software in a do or die situation isn’t sensible. At a minimum, it should have been run in parallel for testing purposes if resources allowed, and not used at all if it would interfere with traditional methods. Ideally it would have been first used in small areas and uncritical campaigns until the bugs were ironed out. And there are always bugs.

  48. neo-neocon Says:

    causauk: what glee on Palin’s face election night? I didn’t watch TV. What are you referring to? It’s hard to imagine she would be gleeful. She does have naturally upbeat personality, but gleeful? At Obama’s win?

  49. denise Says:

    As I said in an earlier post, the Democratic machine is a formidable thing – especially in getting out the vote in a national election. The Democrats have a huge advantage over the Republicans, they have well organized foot soldiers in the unions. And they have target rich environments where upwards of 80 to 90 percent of the voters are certain to vote Democratic.

    The Democrats have also mastered the absentee ballot process. Again, having entire communities that vote 80 – 90 percent Democratic makes a big difference. Any voter that signs up for an absentee ballot is sure to be a Democrat.

    Throw in the local ethnic talk radio stations which play their part in communicating organizational needs and services to their audience and you have a very tough opponent.

    There’s always fraud (nursing home absentee ballot voting is always suspect), but it didn’t win this election.

    I also suspect that all the negative advertising had a dampening effect on voter turnout. It usually turns off younger voters.

    There’s a lot to think about regarding this election, but the organizational advantage the Democrats enjoy is critical.

  50. parker Says:

    “The Candy Crowley moment was one where I (as cynical as I am about the MSM) was shocked at what she did, and I think it blindsided him. But in retrospect I don’t think Benghazi would have won a single vote for him. In retrospect I think it was the perception of Romney as an out-of-touch rich white guy that did him in. There was nothing on earth I can see that he could have done about that.”

    4 dead in Benghazi, Obama and Hillary are not coming, jihadists are cutting us down. I disagree neo. That was the moment to pounce like a cat on a rat. My imaginary response was “How dare you defend this president for lying and misdirecting the attention of the American people away from the fact that highly organized Al Qaeda terrorists attacked US soil and murdered our ambassador and 3 other brave Americans?”

    We are long past the time of playing nice. Tell it like it is and let the MSM and the polls fall where they may. Be polite, but also be honest and forceful. Give no quarter and accept no prisoners.

  51. causauk Says:

    Neo-neocon: I’ll try to find the clip. I admit she has an upbeat personality. I’m also quite uncharitable, but that was my impression.

    The instance I’m thinking about was an interview on Fox News maybe 20 minutes before Ohio was called.

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    parker: I think you misunderstand my meaning. I not only think Romney should have pressed it, I wrote an entire post saying as much, here.

    All I’m saying is I don’t think it would have mattered to most voters. I don’t think most people followed Benghazi, or cared. It’s a sad thing to say, but I think it’s true.

  53. parker Says:

    neo, I do not disagree with this statement:

    “All I’m saying is I don’t think it would have mattered to most voters. I don’t think most people followed Benghazi, or cared. It’s a sad thing to say, but I think it’s true.”

    Yet, IMO, in the long run it does matter. If we on the right are not willing to “speak truth to power” and accept the consequences who will confront the lies and deceptions of the left?

    Meanwhile, earlier tonight we went to a Klezmatics performance and it was wonderful. I’m still awake and semi-concious as a result.

  54. causauk Says:

    Here’s a link.

    To be fair, maybe I’m misreading her. It’s the smiling at the beginning that annoyed.

    Her language was also jarring at time. “This really is a catastrophic setback for our economy.” We were still hopeful. Rove had just finished telling us it wasn’t over yet.

  55. neo-neocon Says:

    parker: again, we agree. Romney should have tackled it.

  56. RandomThoughts Says:

    Amen to THIS, from Stan: About time we stopped bitching about the biased MSM and started developing strategy and tactics to deal with it. About time we realize that the elections of 2016, 2020, and beyond are being lost right now and all this year and next.

    There are millions upon millions of voters who don’t even know the truth about what Republicans stand for. We’ve never even gotten them to listen (much less convince them). And if we only show up with some tv ads and a convention every four years, it isn’t going to change.

    One of our biggest problems as a society is that we don’t seem to learn from history, even our own country’s history. This isn’t the first time a viable candidate was defeated. It happened to Barry Goldwater back in 1964, and if he hadn’t been defeated, if the Republican party hadn’t learned from that crushing blow, and gotten its crap together, redefined its strategy and approach, Ronald Reagan would never have become California’s governor nor America’s president.

    Romney’s defeat could be the impetus the party needs to refocus and regroup. Or not. That’s the big question, what will be done now as a result?

    rickl is partially correct when he says, “…the Republican Party is becoming like the “conservative” or “right” parties of Europe. They have no guiding principles and do not question the vast scope and reach of the centralized state. All they want is a seat at the table of power.

    I think that describes elements of the party, but not the party as a whole. And that’s a huge part of the problem; the lack of unity and unified vision. That has to be dealt with now, not in 2015.

  57. neo-neocon Says:

    causauk: I watched the video, and I think you misread her. She seems fine to me; just the smile at the very beginning, before the interview begins. Otherwise her affect and words are appropriate. She also says several times that she is still hopeful Romney could win Ohio. But it’s clear she thinks he won’t, and she was right. She is pretty savvy about politics. She also correctly identified Romney’s problem in Ohio, I think: those early and unanswered attack ads there about Bain. The consensus now is that they depressed turnout among Republican blue collar workers and cost Romney the state.

  58. parker Says:


    Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. I was an early on fan of Palin; in the early months of 2012 when she made it obvious that she would not throw her hat into the ring I became a partisan for Herman Cain. When the MSM brought Cain down, with a bit of begrudging reluctance I accepted Romney.

    Palin, if not herself, but rather her attitude, is the direction to follow. Be forthright. Draw stark lines. IMO this was the major flaw of McCain and Romney campaigns, Be of good cheer, we will see by the end of 2014 that the left way is not the right and the right (pun intended) is the right way.

  59. causauk Says:

    Parker: Odds are 2014 will be a good year for us. 2016 is what I worry about. You’re right though; our next candidate needs to be more forthright. It won’t be enough though.

    We’ve lost our voice; we’ve become an echo. We need more policy proposals beyond the realm of fiscal policy. And these policies ought to be innovative instead of oppositional.

    I think education reform is something Republicans should try to lead. In short, we need to do a better job of offering a vision.

  60. rickl Says:

    I watched the video. She’s a very smiley person by nature (much more than I am).

    My take is that right out of the gate she both looked and sounded like she was in a state of shock. You definitely misread her. She was anything but gleeful.

    If Rove had told her that it wasn’t over yet, she clearly knew better.

  61. rickl Says:

    Maybe someday she will tell us why she chose not to run. She was definitely the candidate we needed in this, our last chance to save the country.

    It’s over now. I’m not interested in talking about 2014 or 2016. This was Game 7 of the World Series, and we lost.

  62. Don Carlos Says:

    Sheesh. You agree the tea party is not a party, but a Movement. Yet in the next breath you charge the Tea Party with failure to thoroughly vet Senate candidates like Mourdock and Akins before “it” (your singular) endorsed them.

    Mourdock and Akins won the GOP primaries in IN and MO, did they not? With more than tea party votes, surely. Blame the voters; better yet, blame the state GOPs and their eagerness to villify, nay cannibalize, their own primary-chosen candidates. You impute more power to the “Tea Party” than it has, and insodoing you buy the MSM line.

    A Bing for “Indiana Tea Party” comes up with:
    Indiana Tea Party Patriots
    Clark County Indiana Tea Party
    Allen County Indiana Tea Party
    Owen County Indiana Tea Party
    Madison County Indiana Tea Party
    Hamilton County Indiana Tea Party
    Indianapolis Tea Party

    The tea parties may be united in thought, but are not united in deed. These folks are all volunteers. They lack capital and resources such as paid staff to do what you would have them do.

    The “Tea Party” has become another convenient whipping boy. Boehner has no use for the “Tea Party” conservatives elected in 2010, and you are in danger of falling into the Boehner camp, it seems to me.

    I agree. The USA and its Constitution are fini, dead, done. Obama will fix that with his SCOTUS nominees and the Dem Senate majority.
    Obama did stop the rise of the oceans. The Atlantic has evaporated and the USA might as well now join the EEU. Maybe rename itself “New Britain”.

  63. Steve Says:

    Datechguy makes the case that Team Romney and the establishment that supported him went out of their way to alienate parts of the base and make them feel excluded:

    The loss did not have to happen. Romney snatched loss from the jaws of victory. The left was demoralized. It’s numbers were way down from 2008. Yet Team Romney decided to distance themselves from groups that they looked down on. They discarded a working GOTV model and replaced it with a new high tech approach but had no backup in case it failed. Reports are the system failed nationwide. Romney the genius, the stellar businessman, the man who saved the Olympics. Now we know, the reality is that he and his team were incompetent. The country did not fail Romney. The dems were demoralized. Team Romney failed to ‘ride right through them.’

  64. Don Carlos Says:

    From today’s WSJ:
    “The National Republican Senatorial Committee, …. lost everywhere, in states primed for a GOP victory, to middling Democratic candidates, and in the face of a decent night for the House GOP.

    Of the 23 Democratic Senate seats in play, Republicans won . . . one. The party further managed to lose three of its own seats—leaving it with just 45 members in the chamber. Not one Democratic incumbent lost a seat.”

    Yeah, let’s blame the tea party; it’s their fault. Sure.

  65. Steve Says:

    I love Datechguy’s reference to McClellan by the way. As Lincoln said “If General Mclellan is not going to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”

  66. tasker Says:

    I saw what a commenter upthread saw.

    I watch Sarah Palin a lot. I actually liked her reality show. We have the same truck, the same sunglasses, the same rain jacket…

    My boyfriend does not like her.

    Anyways that night—she was “gleeful”.

    That is the perfect way to express it. We had the sound down but my boyfriend was just starting to react to her face…

    But–I had beat him–I couldn’t stand it–and turned off the TV in disgust.

    It was the sparkle in her eyes.

    Sometimes you smile and it doesn’t light up your eyes…I’ve seen that the past year on Sarah Palin.

    But—when Romney lost– her eyes were on fire, and her smile was broader.

  67. OlderandWheezier Says:

    I keep seeing comments describing Akin as the Tea party candidate. He was not, at least according to reports filed prior to the Missouri GOP primary.

    “Fiscal tea partiers have Sarah Steelman, the former state treasurer who is backed by Sarah Palin and the national group Tea Party Express, which lends its stamp of approval (and some independent spending) to fiscally conservative candidates. Palin recorded a TV ad for Steelman and campaigned with her outside Kansas City on Friday. The ad, in which Palin calls Steelman a “mama grizzly,” is ubiquitous on airwaves in the state.

    And for Missouri’s social-issue voters, there’s Rep. Todd Akin, a Christian conservative from St. Louis who served in the U.S. Navy and since 2001 has represented a congressional district that stretches from St. Louis’s suburbs to rural areas northwest of the city. Akin holds a divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and he recently aired this TV ad exhorting Missouri Republicans to vote on Tuesday as an exercise of America’s religious founding.”


  68. neo-neocon Says:

    tasker: I watched the video provided by causauk. She was not the least bit gleeful, nor did I see any sparkle in her eyes.

  69. neo-neocon Says:

    Don Carlos: I’m not blaming the Tea Party. They are certainly not the cause of whatever happened on Tuesday. But they have backed a bunch of candidates (not just this year, but in previous years as well) who are insufficiently vetted and not ready for prime time. I am suggesting they (and yes, they are a movement, but they are organized) vet these people before backing them or supporting them, or at the very least train them to answer “gotcha” questions. The Republican Party could do this as well, if the candidates would listen to them (don’t think they would; I think they’d be more likely to listen to the Tea Party, or a leader like Palin). If somebody doesn’t take on this task, we will continue to field candidates who lose races that could easily be won.

    I am actually very very sick and tired of all the blaming, and think it is destructive. I don’t blame Romney, or the Tea Party, or the so-called Republican “establishment,” and I think it’s counterproductive to do so. My point is that things need to change on all fronts, in many ways, if we want to win. There were and are problems with the approach of each of those groups, and there are also other problems that are systemic (the Gramscian march, demographics, etc). All of these things need addressing.

  70. OlderandWheezier Says:

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that O’Donnell in Delaware was a horrible choice in 2010. Tea Party efforts were sabotaged in Alaska that year by a RINO who decided to stab her own party in the back.

  71. Steve Says:

    neo, It is important to know the cause of what happened on Tues. Why did Republicans lose ground across the country at the federal level? Did the statements by Akins and Murdock undercut all Republicans causing them to lose? Is it that electorate has changed as some are suggesting? Or is it that Team Romney and the RNC failed to do their job properly in getting out the vote and working with the tea party, Paulites and Christian conservatives. I think it is the latter. It is important to identify the cause so that the problem does not recur. It is also important because it means that the country has not changed significantly since 2010. We have crappy leadership. To say that we need to change on all fronts suggests that the problem lies not with the decisions of those in charge of the campaign. The change starts with replacing the leadership.

  72. Don Carlos Says:

    The fundamental mistake Romney et al. made was to campaign on primarily economic issues. They self-selected themselves as sitting ducks in a shooting gallery and gave the demagogic Dems plenty of ammo: Bain, eevil fat cats, pushing Granny of a cliff, etc., etc., etc.

    We have 70 million on Medicaid, 49 million on Medicare, 47 million on Food Stamps, 23+ million un- or underemployed. And the GOP’s (Ryan’s) wonky ways to fix things are so very easily demagogued.

    The macroeconomic fix issues only matter to the small sliver that are already informed (like us, here).

  73. Pat Says:

    @Tasker: I watched every sad moment from 8pm until 3am. Palin just looked grim. She might not be a big fan of Romney but she sure didn’t want Obama to win.

    I suspect the play-it-safe Romney gang thought she would be too polarizing to be associated with Romney. She certainly laid low during the last couple of months of the campaign.

  74. Pat Says:

    Don’t blame the Tea Party.

    The only real duds that gained Tea Party support in 2008 were O’Donnell and Angle. In both cases, the options were limited. Castle was exactly the sort of Rino that the Tea Party hated. In Nevada, Tarkainian had a whiff of scandal and Lowden’s primary campaign imploded.

    Akins was not a Tea Party favorite; he won his primary because the Democrats pumped a million bucks into his campaign; they didn’t want to run against Steelman, who was favored by Tea Party types. Mourdock had Tea Party support for the same reason that O’Donnell got it; Lugar was another Castle (or Specter).

    The solution is to grow better candidates. The Tea Party recognizes that growing candidates is a long-term process. You start at the local level and work up. We are starting to see Tea Party people running for local offices – school boards, city council and so on. It is going to take time.

  75. Pat Says:

    And, just to clear up any misunderstanding, the Tea Party Patriots are the original Tea Party group. As a matter of principle, Tea Party Patriots do not endorse candidates. It will prepare report cards on how the candidates compare on Tea Party values, host debates and encourage people to vote. So, it is hard to say that X or Y is a Tea Party candidate.

    What is distressing is that other groups, such as Tea Party Express, have co-opted the brand-name. It is actually a GOP PAC based out of Sacramento. They went in hard for Angle, Rubio, and numerous other good and bad candidates. They tried to beat Orrin Hatch, who was saved by a Palin endorsement. Try this Google experiment: Type in “Tea Party Express endorses”. Then try “Tea Party Patriots endorses”. You will see a dramatic difference.

  76. neo-neocon Says:

    Pat: thanks for the info. I hadn’t known that.

  77. rickl Says:

    It’s interesting that two commenters thought Palin looked gleeful, while three others didn’t see that at all.

    It could provide an insight as to why some love her while others hate her.

  78. Pat Says:

    neo-neocon: My wife is a Tea Party Patriots co-coordinator. We’re all trying to figure out where to go from here. Long term, start local and grow. But our biggest issue is how to communicate our core values:




    That’s it. Note: no social issues, no faith based issues, etc.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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