After Defeat, Time to Move On
While we still don’t have all of the final exit polling and people are still analyzing the Romney campaign, here are some initial reflections on what happened and what should be done:
If you look at the raw numbers a few things stand out. First, the minority vote went up, as expected. But the white vote also declined from 2008. Using the example of Ohio, Trende believes that these voters seem to be located in rural areas with anemic job growth and high unemployment. These are voters that George W. Bush managed to turn out, and people who would have carried the election for Romney if they would have showed up at the polls.
So what gives? At this early stage, I am inclined to attribute it to a combination of poor messaging/marketing, inadequate GOTV-efforts, and a barrage of negative ads/caricatures that turned off Romney to working/middle class Americans.
During both the Republican Primary and the general election, Romney was on the receiving end of heavy barrage of negative advertisement that painted him as a lackey of big business and ‘rich people’. The whole purpose of negative advertising is to make people stay home and not vote for the other guy. Add to that the fact that Romney didn’t help himself with the “47%”-comments, which displayed a lack of understanding on Romney’s behalf of whom the people were that made up Bush’s winning coalitions.
I believe that Timothy Carney suggested a partial solution to attracting these voters. The GOP should turn to free market populism and side with every working American against a corrupt federal government that hands out favors and picks winner and losers. It doesn’t mean abandoning conservatism and principles, it simply means that we need to highlight certain parts and market that to voters in an effective way.
Hopefully, that will give the GOP a better starting position to win states in the Upper Midwest and elsewhere.
But that shouldn’t be the GOP’s entire plan, because demographics are forcing Republicans to carve out a strategy for wooing minority voters, especially Hispanics, in future elections.
This issue if more complicated than some make it sound. The GOP’s problem with Hispanics is not solely attributed to immigration, even though that also should be adressed, and it would be foolish to think that’s the case. As Heather Mac Donald and Andrew McCarthy point out, many Hispanics have become statists, and thus also very loyal to the Democratic Party. Just like with liberal college students at liberal colleges, many Hispanics might never even be exposed to Republicans and conservative ideas. All they will know about Republicans are stereotypes and caricatures marketed by Democrats.
Republicans should engage in extensive outreach in order to convince Hispanics that the conservative policies will provide them with better opportunities for fulfilling their dreams and ambitions. The GOP has to actively attempt to woo Hispanics, not by handing them special favors, but with the persuasion of our ideas and principles. If that means that Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Susana Martinez have to go campaign in Hispanic neighborhoods for the next four years, so be it.