Friday, November 09, 2012

2012 Election Reflections Part 1: what went wrong

The title of my speech last night to the Fallen Timbers Republican Club was "What went wrong, what went right and where do we go from here." It was a look at national and local elections, as well as a to-do list for the future.

I was asked to post it here, but it's very long, so I'm splitting it into three individual posts.

Here is the first: What went wrong.


The candidate:

Mitt Romney is a very good man and I believe he would have made a good president - certainly better than our current one. I voted for him, but, like many others, he was not my first choice. As a result, I wasn't as enthusiastic in my support and that lack of enthusiasm FOR the candidate was clearly evident throughout our area. Most people were voting AGAINST Pres. Obama. But that's not enough to win.

John Ransom wrote: “When running an election campaign it is often valuable to select a nominee who represents the rank and file of the Party. This is how other Parties do it. Perhaps you might get on board.”

Look at our candidates: George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney. As much as we might have *liked* these men, they do not reflect the conservative principles of our party. Need I say more?

Polls continue to show that roughly 60% of Americans oppose Obamacare. We nominated a person who had no standing to oppose that issue. Certainly, I understand the difference between a governor and state legislature creating such a mandate and program and I believe that Romney was sincere in saying that the federal government had no such authority. But that's a complicated issue (at least to some people) and is not easy to explain to an electorate who doesn't understand the difference in authority between the states and the federal government. Therefore, it was a losing position - and a major issue that might have brought people into the R column was sacrificed for a candidate too many insiders claimed was the 'most electable.'

In fact, for just about every bad Obama policy, there was a similar Romney policy out of Massachusetts. That's a huge obstacle to try to overcome.

Do you remember how much Romney was preferred by the press? Some thought that if the press liked him in the primary competition, they would be kinder to him in the general. WRONG! In fact, this is so wrong I'd like to shake whoever even remotely thinks this might possibly apply.

Romney - just like other Republicans was excoriated by same press that supposedly thought he was the best in the Republican field. They ALWAYS do this and we should ignore their praise and expect their contempt for whomever we choose. Additionally, since we know that whomever we nominate will be crucified by the press, we should nominate the candidate who best reflects our values, rather than try to cater to their professed preferences.

Romney was demonized as an evil person long before winning the primary and then didn’t hit back hard enough after the primary. He was behind when he was nominated and never caught up in this regard.

The complicity of the press:

Rich Noyes wrote a great column that gives the details about how the press basically elected Obama. Here are some excerpts with my comments intermixed:

1) Media hammered Romney with their Gaffe Patrol - but ignored similar gaffes by Obama and, must we even mention, Biden:

The media unfairly jumped on inconsequential mistakes — or even invented controversies — from Romney and hyped them in to multi-day media “earthquakes.”

“…when the left-wing Mother Jones magazine in September put out a secretly-recorded video of Romney talking to donors about the 47% of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, the networks hyped it like a sensational sex scandal. Over three days, the broadcast network morning and evening shows churned out 42 stories on the tape, nearly 90 minutes of coverage. The tone was hyperbolic; ABC’s "Good Morning America" called it a “bombshell rocking the Mitt Romney campaign,” while ABC "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer declared it a “political earthquake.”

None of Obama’s gaffes garnered that level of coverage. After the president in a June 8 press conference declared that “the private sector is doing fine,” the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts gave it just one night’s coverage, then basically dropped the story — nothing further on ABC’s "World News" or the "CBS Evening News" in the weeks that followed, and just two passing references on the "NBC Nightly News."

And, when Obama infamously declared, “You didn’t build that,” ABC, CBS, NBC didn’t report the politically damaging remark for four days — and then only after Romney made it the centerpiece of a campaign speech.

2) Partisan Fact Checking: There’s nothing wrong with holding politicians accountable for the honesty of their TV ads and stump speeches, but this year the self-appointed media fact-checkers attacked Republicans as liars for statements that were accurate. Check out Ohio Watchdog’s Politifact or Fiction series and MediaTrackers work on exposing Politifact – and note that most newspapers in Ohio use them as the truth meter when reporting.

3) The Benghazi Blackout:

Right after the September 11 attack in Libya, the networks proclaimed that the events would bolster President Obama — “reminding voters of his power as commander-in-chief,” as NBC’s Peter Alexander stated on the September 14 edition of "Today." But as a cascade of leaked information erased the portrait of Obama as a heroic commander, the broadcast networks shunted the Benghazi story to the sidelines.

Instead of an “October Surprise,” the networks engineered an “October Suppression” — keeping a lid on the boiling Benghazi story until Election Day. Who knows how voters might have reacted if the media had covered this story as tenaciously as they did Romney’s “47% gaffe”?

4) Burying the Bad Economy:

Pundits agreed that Obama’s weakness was the failure of the US economy to revive after his expensive stimulus and four years of $1 trillion deficits. But the major networks failed to offer the sustained, aggressive coverage of the economy that incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush faced in 1992, or even that George W. Bush faced in 2004 — both years when the national economy was in better shape than it is now.

According to a study conducted that year by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, from January through September of 1992, the networks ran a whopping 1,289 stories on the economy, 88% of which painted it in a dismal, negative light. That fall, the unemployment rate was 7.6%, lower than today’s 7.9%, and economic growth in the third quarter was 2.7%, better than today’s 2.0%. Yet the media coverage hammered the idea of a terrible economy, and Bush lost re-election.

In 2004, the economy under George W. Bush was far better than it is today — higher growth, lower unemployment, smaller deficits and cheaper gasoline — yet network coverage that year was twice as hostile to Bush than it was towards Obama this year, according to a study by the Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute.

When Republican presidents have faced reelection, network reporters made sure to spotlight economic “victims” — the homeless man, the woman without health insurance, the unemployed worker, the senior citizen who had to choose between medicine and food. But this year, with an economy as bad as any since the Great Depression, those sympathetic anecdotes have vanished from the airwaves — a huge favor to Obama and the Democrats.

Given Obama’s record, the Romney campaign could have overcome much of this media favoritism and still prevailed — indeed, they almost did. But taken together, these five trends took the media’s historical bias to new levels this year, and saved Obama’s presidency in the process.

The Ground Game:

Obama had a terrific ground game, not as good as in 2008, but still better than what we had. I gathered these numbers Wednesday morning…here is Obama’s margin in key states:

107,339 votes in Virginia
100,763 votes in Ohio
47,493 votes in Florida
111,094 votes in Colorado
66,379 votes in Nevada

Total: 433,068

So for less than 500,000 votes where it counted, Romney could have had 281 electoral votes Wednesday morning.

In Ohio, if Republicans had turned out like they did in 2008, Romney would have ended up with 2,786,327. Obama earned 2,725,165 votes this year. That would have resulted in 50.55% for Romney vs. 49.45% for Obama.

Many are claiming that it's our positions that resulted in our loss. I reject that completely. John Ransom also wrote:

The Democrats aren’t beating Republicans by virtue of ideology so much as by mechanics and logistics. Simply put, the models that the GOP relies upon, including those relied upon by myself, have failed to adequately account for this. Again, it makes no difference in a wave election, but we pay dearly for it in close contests.

The grassroots on the other side has spent ten years in community organizing, going door-to-door, creating coalitions of issues-driven, ideologically-funded third party groups that can do a lot of heavily lifting for GOTV. The GOP on the other hand has eschewed groups like the tea parties, seeing the grass roots as a hindrance to our chances at being the cool kids at school.

You saw it in the results on Tuesday.

The progressive activists worked for it, while GOP worked their top-down magic and expected to ride the wave.

Obama had a machine. Like Democrats have practiced and the GOP has failed to learn: this is a never-ending war and an election is only one battle. This it applies to everyone, including minorities.

John Fund wrote:

The fact is that the Machine played for keeps, while Mitt Romney — the quintessential corporate Manager — didn't.

The turnout operation it ran in the swing states and elsewhere spilled over into Senate races. Republicans won only eight of the 33 Senate races up for grabs on Tuesday, the fewest number of Senate races won by a major party since the Lyndon Johnson landslide over Barry Goldwater in 1964. If had not been for skillful redistricting, Republicans could have come close to losing the House.

The battle for Hispanic voters saw Romney and Republicans routed. John McCain won only 31 percent of Hispanics in 2008 — down from George W. Bush’s high-water mark of 43 percent in 2004. Mitt Romney won only 27 percent this election, and Hispanics were a tenth of the electorate.

Romney did just as badly with Asian voters, who were 3 percent of all voters. As recently as 1996, Bob Dole won a majority of Asian voters, John McCain still won 35 percent in 2008. But this year, Mitt Romney picked up only 26 percent of Asian-Americans.

Class warfare works:

Kevin Williamson had a great comment that I loved: "It may not be possible to be too thin, but it is, apparently, possible to be too rich, at least for an electorate that can be swayed by envy."

Rush Limbaugh said on his show that 'you can’t run against Santa Claus.' He was right - it's hard to run against someone who will promise you everything on your wish list, especially when your message is ‘you just have to work for it.’

But even that shouldn't be a winning message because as much as people may believe in the spirit of Santa Claus, we all know that they're isn't an army of elves at the North Pole magically creating all the items on our wish list.


This election was a huge loss for women and it revealed the hypocrisy of the Democrats. For all the talk coming from the left about empowering women and the feminist movement, in this election the Democrats and the media reduced women to nothing more than sex objects. Sadly, too many women believed that they are nothing but their ‘lady parts’ choosing ‘free’ contraception and abortion over the true women’s issues of jobs, high gas prices, high food prices and their children’s futures.

There have been numerous instances of so-called feminists ignoring true issues of discrimination and degradation in favor of a political position (think Bill Clinton as the most recognizable). I believe history will look back on this election and note that this was when the feminist movement died.

This wasn't just a loss for our party in that we couldn't expose this mockery for what it was. This was a huge setback for women today and our daughters tomorrow because the left embraced it - and we allowed it.

What went wrong on a local level:

* We had no local spokesman for the Romney campaign – or for any other state-wide candidate or issue. As a result, there was no one in Lucas County offering a rebuttal to charges made against our candidates or speaking in favor of their positions and strengths. They say that all politics is local and this was a detriment to our community and made it appear to supporters that our area had been 'written off.'

The problem is that, in close elections, no area can be ignored, because a thousand more votes each of the 'ignored' areas could have made a difference overall.

* Jon Stainbrook – absent from everything except comments to The Blade. Did the Lucas County Republican Party even take a position on the seven tax levies on the ballot? If they did, I didn't hear about it and I'm a news junkie.

(Interestingly, when I asked this question of the members of a REPUBLICAN CLUB, even THEY didn't know.)

* Our candidates - most were just place holders who didn't bother to put together positions or plans for the offices they were seeking - or even campaign for votes.

The few candidates with potential didn’t get the help they needed in funds, support, advice, strategy or publicity.

One of our candidates was in a race he shouldn’t have been in and, because of his previous votes and positions, failed to get the support of conservatives. Other voters thought he was just looking for another public position due to being term limited. Even with his name recognition and likability, he suffered from a lack of support that a robust county political party would have provided.

* Lack of experience – there were no individuals with a proven record of winning elections who were helping or guiding the strategy on a local level. Stainbrook has pushed away - and even banned - former elected officials who have valuable insight and perspectives that would have helped our candidates.

This is a failure of our party chairman who should be able to put aside his personal dislikes of individuals in order to advance the election of our candidates.

* Lack of information – too few realized what the levies would do to their pocketbooks or the economy in the county. Opposition, valiant though it was, was too late to be effective. If we had a strong party advancing the conservative principles of limited government and lower taxation, the information about the fiscal impact of more than $45 million in new taxes might have received more publicity.

Because of these things that went wrong, taxes in Lucas County are going up:

1) MetroParks levy – a 300% increase over what they had before passed by just under 19,000 votes.

2) Children Services board levy – an 85% increase over their previous levy passed by just over 18,000 votes – despite having 2 levies for funding and over $13 million in their reserve.

3) Mental Health & Recovery Services levy – a new, 10-year levy giving them a 67% increase over the funding in their existing levy, passed by 3,650 votes.

4) The Library levy – a 45% increase in funding passed by just under 60,000 votes. Primarily due to deceptive advertising: by making it a renewal and an additional tax at the same time, they could claim 50% of their funding was at stake. Most people didn’t realize it was an increase on top of their existing levy. Voters were given a lose-lose choice: give the library more or nothing at all - and people love their library.

While there are other items you might be able to point to as things that went wrong, these are a good start in evaluating the 2012 election.

But as important as it is to evaluate the mistakes, it is equally important to note the successes. My next post will be 'what went right.' Post 3 will be 'where do we go from here?'

1 comment:

James said...

Romney drew 3 million fewer voters than McCain did four years ago. Imagine if those 3 million voters who voted for McCain would have gotten off their collective rears and came out to the polls and put their X next to Romney's name. I don't exactly know how many electoral votes Romney would have added but I will guess he probably would have been celebrating a victory with us.

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