Mitt Romney has lost. In a purely academic fashion, I can’t help but think about what the Republican Party will get out of last night’s results. After all, there is bound to be some kind of “after action” examination of the Romney campaign, at least by pundits.
Much of the results of those examinations will be that Romney wasn’t “conservative enough.” They figure that the problem wasn’t that he was a horrible candidate, but that he wasn’t far enough to the right.
This ignores the fact that more and more people are supporting issues like gay marriage and ending the War on Drugs. This isn’t indicative of an evangelical conservative stance as many Republicans tend to think most Americans really have. Instead, it seems to indicate a more libertarian stance on social issues. Will the conservative pundits understand that? It’s doubtful, but we will see.
Economics are another issue that played a major role in the election. It’s also one that some conservatives think they should modify their position on if they want to win in 2016. Romney talked a sort-of free market game, and it looks like it cost him because free markets scare a lot of people. Now, he wasn’t as free market as he liked to think he was, but what he put out seemed to scare enough voters in battle ground states that those people opted not to vote for him.
Personally, I can’t help but believe that foreign policy cost him. Obama’s supporters weren’t likely to change their vote on that issue apparently, but the undecided voters may have swung his way had there been more difference than “drone strikes and kill ‘em all” that we’ve seen for the last four years.
In fact, there are a lot of issues where Romney failed to differentiate himself from Obama at all. Foreign policy is the prime one, but health care was another one. While he attempted to tell the difference between RomneyCare and ObamaCare, it was extremely difficult to remove the idea that Romney’s plan was the blueprint for Obama’s. The differences were there, but the worst aspects as many voters saw them were still there.
Now, how can Republicans fix that? Well, that is the question. For starters, how about letting the primary process shake out all on its own without trying to silence any libertarian voices. You may not like us, but parts of our message resonate very well. Trying to shut out libertarians is not likely to win you our support just because your guy isn’t the Democrat.
Of course, in four years, this will all be forgotten. Like I said earlier, the argument is likely to be that Romney wasn’t “conservative enough”, and then watch them push forward with someone else who will only make things worse in the long run.