I thought Romney would win in a landslide. I was not alone. There was a lot of confidence on the right. Even Romney’s campaign, with all its super-secret polling that is supposed to be so much better than anything we laymen see, was surprised by the defeat on November 6, 2012.
How could we get it so wrong? Was our thinking the triumph of hope over experience?
Here was my thinking: Obama was campaigning to shore up his base. Romney already had his base — where else would they go? — and was campaigning to win moderates and independents. Therefore, Romney would get more votes. Moreover, the polls are all wrong due to liberal bias and the Bradley Effect, in which a small percentage of those polled lie that they will vote for a black man because they do not want to be thought of as racist.
This entire line of thinking turned out to be wrong. The polls were right. The Democrat base was energized and turned out on election day. Most astonishing, Romney did not have his base. Romney got 3,000,000 fewer votes than McCain in 2008 and 7,000,000 fewer than Bush in 2004. If he had just won what McCain got, he would have defeated Obama.
So what happened?
1. American voters have changed for the worse. This is the most depressing conclusion from the election. This thing should not have been close. Obama is the worst president of my lifetime, if not all time. His big government policies have kept unemployment around 8%. His foreign policy is to appease an enemy he pretends does not exist. Obama should have been demolished the way Mondale was in 1984 or McGovern was in 1972.
The American sense of life, an emotional vestige of our 18th and 19th century individualist heritage, is dying. The New Leftist culture, indoctrinated through government schooling, is reforming the American character around collectivism. The Democrats finish off the process by expanding the welfare state. Americans receiving food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, etc. will vote to stay on the gravy train. (This makes the Democrat attack on Romney’s 47% remark particularly hypocritical. Romney was essentially saying that the Democrat strategy of buying votes through handouts is working.)
2. Democrats wanted it more. To the left, power is not just politics, it’s metaphysics. It is the reason they exist. They understood that they had a lot to lose if Romney won. Obamacare would have been repealed, Romney would have repealed Obama’s executive orders, the czars would have been fired, and Democrats would have lost control of the vast array of alphabet agencies through which they plan to fundamentally transform America by bureaucratic fiat.
3. Republicans didn’t want it more. For this I blame two things. First, Romney campaigned as a moderate. He gave the base no reason to vote for him other than “I’m not Obama.” That’s not enough. And his campaign bought the conventional wisdom that Romney had to be a “nice guy” to overcome Democrat smears about Republicans. (Maybe they’re right.)
Second, Republican pragmatists cannot think in principle. These are the people who become Republican because they were born in a country club, not because they read Ludwig von Mises. They view the Tea Party with suspicion and figure it doesn’t really matter that much who is president. Pass the white wine and brie, darling.
4. Lots of other reasons, such as the power of the incumbancy, media liberal bias, Obama’s superior campaign tactics and the failure of Romney’s ORCA thing. It turns out Obama is actually competent at campaigning, as opposed to governing. Romney, for all his supposed business acumen, ran a lousy campaign.
That’s my take on what happened. How bad the consequences will be, we don’t know yet, but I suspect the American people bought themselves a whole lot of sorrow on November 6, 2012.