That’s got to be the worst political analysis you’ve ever produced.
As a Northeastern liberal Republican, Romney started out with an uphill battle to convince voters that there was a difference between he and a Democrat. The existence of Romneycare fairly screamed the point. Romney knew that he had to run to the right, even after winning the primaries, but he did a poor job of it, with the notable exception of picking Paul Ryan and his running mate, a choice which can be seen in retrospect as the high point of the entire candidacy. Paul Ryan filling the Sarah Palin role? In any event, a week after the Ryan selection, all talk of fiscal crisis and the burgeoning debt disappeared from the Romney camp, and it was back to relying on the passive campaign strategy based upon, nobody can get re-elected with an economy this bad. The only thing Romney was able to successfully communicate was that he was against the auto bailout, and that went over reeeeaaaaal big in the Midwest, where he ultimately lost the election.
The Republicans gained in the House, specifically by being viewed as more conservative. Despite some probably heartfelt changes, Romney never convinced anyone that he was a real conservative, while he did nothing to strike back, in the early spring, against Obama’s targeted attacks in the heartland of the country. Admittedly, he had a long row to hoe because, this just in, the country doesn’t like politicians from the northeast, even Republican politicians from the northeast. The country sees Massachusetts and New York, and suppresses a gag reflex. Romney had the perfect opportunity to make the campaign about the national debt. He could have made a compelling case that the economy stagnates, doom lurks, specifically because we have not addressed our entitlement spending. And, he might have lost bigger than he did in doing so, but he’d have started a conversation and, what’s more, he would have stood for something. Being not Obama was clearly not enough. He also needed to beat Obama over the head in the last debate over Libya and the dangers of the Obama foreign policy, because he needed to finish really strong in those debates in order to extend the momentum from debate number one. He didn’t.
Brown lost to the American Indian in Massachusetts because he went to Washington and immediately became a northeastern liberal Republican. Even northeasterners don’t like that in their Republicans, preferring a real Democrat over Democrat-lite.
The party does have to appeal to blacks and Hispanics more. (You’ll have to define independent before we can define what appeals to them. Independent doesn’t equal moderate.) For all the bogus claims made against so-cons, the last place they hold up is in the appeal to blacks and Hispanics which are some of the most socially conservative voting blocs in the country. Yeah, run that gay marriage crap by them and see what you get. Church attendance is declining among whites, not blacks and Hispanics. The youth vote, from what I heard, went mostly Obama, but significantly less so than in 2008. They’re out of work, big surprise. Those social conservative Hispanic votes are what elected Bush. The only way past them is for the Republican to pull around 78% of white male voters.
As for the future, the party has to continue to move to the right because there is no future to the left of it. The country is going to collapse and the only political question is as to where to position ones self for when it does. My personal theory is that Republican House members should abdicate their offices, saying they changed their minds about serving. Let the Democrats have the whole thing. If we have to reach a bottom before we can climb, lets get on with the business of finding bottom. I’m only half kidding.
A lot of this stuff is baked into the cake. The majority of American voters don’t have the slightest idea as to what is commonly discussed on forums such as this. They like the idea that they take their kid to school and it’s “free”. You tell the 47% that pay no federal income taxes that they do not, and they react the way any other taxpayer does in proclaiming they pay a lot of taxes. The reality is a lot like what Kevin Williamson, of NRO, wrote on Facebook this morning: “Snap analysis on my way out of Ohio: The fact that the voters have returned more or less the same cast of characters to Washington looks like a vote for the status quo – which is to say, for Democratic levels of spending with Republican levels of taxation, which is to say, for untenable stupidity.”
Romney was still the best candidate from a terrible field of primary candidates. The story of the election is more about who didn’t enter the primaries than who did. The strongest candidates, including the youth movement which we’ll see in '16, were at least as conservative, if not more so, than the field that entered, and certainly more so than the eventual nominee. Even so, I can only blame Romney for his campaign and not his beliefs. Unlike McCain, I think he had enough in the bank in the core belief department, he just failed in executing a proper game plan.
As for the nation and whence it goes, it’s obvious that things have not gotten bad enough as yet. They will. The political key will be in not finding ones fingerprints on it when it all collapses. It’d be nice if all this was happening in an vacuum of economic and fiscal policy, but there’s still Iran out there, and nothing muddies the waters quite so much as a war, at least of the size and scope that will be necessary to deal with Iran.