The Corner

‘Romney’s Base Did Not Turn Out’

Jan Crawford’s piece on why the Romney campaign is “shellshocked” includes this key point:

They misread turnout. They expected it to be between 2004 and 2008 levels, with a plus-2 or plus-3 Democratic electorate, instead of plus-7 as it was in 2008. Their assumptions were wrong on both sides: The president’s base turned out and Romney’s did not. More African-Americans voted in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida than in 2008. And fewer Republicans did: Romney got just over 2 million fewer votes than John McCain.

It turned out to be a base election. Romney did not turn out the full GOP base. Obama turned out his base in spite of a dwindling enthusiasm for him, personally.   

The argument being made that the way forward is to put a stop to the “Fluke and Akin” attacks the Dems make by kicking the social conservatives out of the Republican party is remarkably dumb. We cannot replace the Reagan coalition with the Ford coalition and expect to win.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting better results is also dumb. We need new thought on how to make the economic argument that conservatism helps the middle class. And we also need to abandon the “truce strategy” that, as Frank Cannon points out in a remarkably smart analysis is the most ineffectual possible stance on social issues — because it means liberals define the public debate on social issues, so we take the hit for prolife, pro-marriage positions and get none of the benefits as our politicians visibly run from their own positions when attacked.

All of us, but especially the pure-libertarian wing of the GOP (which has always had far fewer voters than intellectuals), has to face the reality.

Romney’s economic message did not connect. The messenger was clearly flawed, but the message needs to be strengthened to connect with more middle-class voters, including Latinos, who are not libertarians at all.

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