1. A failure to BE a conservative.
Every time Republicans nominate a candidate who doesn’t strongly back conservative ideals – George H.W. Bush in 1992, Bob Dole in 1996, and John McCain in 2008 – they lose. And every time a moderate candidate loses, everyone calls for Republicans to throw the “crazy conservatives” out of the Party and turn everyone into moderates.
Bush the Elder is the perfect case for this. In 1988, he ran as the inheritor of the Reagan mantle and won. But by 1992, having raised taxes, it was clear he was just another Country Club Republican, and voters turned on him.
Romney is a moderate. His Massachusetts Romneycare plan was the template for Obamacare. He tried to change himself into a conservative, but everyone knew he wasn’t. And so many of people who should have been his voters didn’t turn out to the polls, thinking it didn’t make much difference.
2. Romney failed to SELL conservative ideas
He picked conservative Paul Ryan, but then locked him in the attic. Who really heard Ryan spreading his gospel?
Romney’s biggest idea seemed to be tax reform, which ain’t the same as tax cutting. He was frightened it would hurt him to make the tough conservative case for Medicare and Social Security reform. He shied away from all social issues. Sure, he mentioned these things, but they weren’t the center of his campaign.
The last person to run on competency was Michael Dukakis. And as we all know, he won and served for four terms.
Instead of trying to appease Latinos, African Americans, Blackfoot Indians, and any other group that might feel insulted by conservative ideas, Romney should have gone right into their neighborhoods and told them all about it. How about a conversation with black Americans about how the last 50 years of increasing government spending has worked out for them?
3. He failed to define the causes of the recession.
This has been mostly ignored by commentators. By allowing Obama to blame everything wrong with the economy on George W. Bush, Romney was unable to embrace the conservative aspects of Bush’s presidency. In fact, the Great Recession was caused by liberal housing policies – designed to get people into homes they couldn’t afford – that were begun in earnest by Bill Clinton and defended ruthlessly by Democrats in Congress. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are essentially Democratic institutions.
Not that Bush was a hardcore conservative. But he passed a major tax cut, tried to reform Social Security, and was generally conservative on social issues, with the exception of immigration.
4. He let Obama define him early on
The minute Romney clinched the nomination, dozens of unauthorized biographers in the Obama Chicago campaign headquarter got to work creating a narrative that said he was a heartless rich guy who was mean to animals and probably cheated on his taxes. Romney largely held his fire, and was never able to completely counter the narrative when he eventually tried at the GOP convention.
5. The 47 percent remark
This was an egregious error that made him sound like he didn’t care about many Americans who get federal help. Not all of them are “dependent.” The error stemmed from his effort to make his moderate self sound like a “severe Conservative” to the donors he was addressing.
5. A poorly run campaign
Romney’s campaign was inefficient and marked by infighting. The place leaked like a laundry room faucet, handing out insider stories to anyone who wanted them. As any journalist will tell you – though they love getting the inside dope – the first sign of a bad campaign is one that airs its dirty laundry DURING the campaign.
6. Two white guys
I don’t think we need affirmative action tickets on either side of the aisle. But I think, running against the nation’s first black president – something which is deeply moving even to many of Obama’s political opponents – that this just wasn’t the year to run two pasty white guys with pretty blond wives.
7. A failure to use the media
Where was Romney? Obama was appearing on all kinds of ridiculous shows, including David Letterman and The View. Romney didn’t have to go the undignified route, but he could have spent a lot more time having his image beamed for free over the airwaves.
What do you think of this? And are there other reasons you can put your finger on?