What's Happening with Conservatives and the Tea Party
Lessons Learned in the Election
by Art Kelly | 11/29/2012
If conservatives learn the right lessons from Mitt Romney’s loss, they may win the presidency in 2016 and beyond.
1. Believe the polls. Know exactly where you are in the race. Don’t delude yourself with false optimism.
The September 27 issue of this newsletter observed, “One thing the Romney campaign has got to do immediately is stop kidding themselves about the state of the race. They are behind nationwide. But even more importantly, they are way behind in the critical battleground states.
"The pollsters make their living by conducting surveys. That is their profession. Their future depends on being right most of the time. They know what they are doing."
An earlier September 13 issue of this newsletter looked at seven national polls. The average of the polls showed an Obama lead of 3.5 points. The state polls indicated Obama was ahead in the Electoral College vote 319 to 219.
Obama ended up winning the popular vote by 3.53 points and the Electoral College 332 to 206.
If the Romney campaign had understood the state of the race, they may have utilized better strategies.
2. After winning the nomination, treat your primary opponents--and all elements of the Party--like royalty.
The August 30 issue of this newsletter reported how Romney damaged his election prospects by needlessly antagonizing Ron Paul and conservative delegates on matters of credentials, rules, and the roll call of states at the Republican National Convention in Tampa:
“It is incredible that Romney would alienate Paul and his supporters, along with many other conservatives, over what are, in the big picture, inconsequential matters. That calls into serious question Romney's priorities.
“As the winner of the Republican presidential nomination, Romney should have been magnanimous to his vanquished opponents. All of them should have been given recognition and respect--including prime time speeches to the Convention.
“For that matter, Sarah Palin, a charismatic personality and hero to grassroots conservatives, should have been a featured speaker. Instead, she wasn't even invited to the Convention.
“If a million less conservatives than otherwise cast ballots on November 6, Romney will have only himself to blame.”
As it turned out, there were 3,462,120 fewer votes cast for president in 2012 than there were in 2008.
3. Don’t run a content free campaign.
The Romney strategists appeared to be under the impression that Obama was so unpopular, all that was required is for the Republican candidate to be a credible alternative. They clearly didn’t understand that it is necessary to give voters a reason to vote for Romney.
The September 6 issue of this newsletter reported: “Romney gave an unusual acceptance speech, largely content free. With very little editing, the speech could have been given by almost any Democrat.”
“It is likely Romney's consultants told him that polls and focus groups of undecided voters didn't approve of Obama's performance in office but were not yet sold on Romney as president. So, the acceptance speech was designed to sell Romney the man, rather than Romney's positions on the issues. However, that doesn't seem to have worked too well.
“The 38% who rated the speech as excellent or good is the lowest rating of any of the eight speeches Gallup has tested since Bob Dole's acceptance speech in 1996.”
The September 27 issue of this newsletter further complained about the lack of substance to the Romney campaign. Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, observed, "Governor Romney and his campaign team risk losing the election because they are mired in the establishment Republican folly of trying to win by standing for nothing."
And Peggy Noonan, the legendary speech writer for President Reagan, wrote "The Romney campaign has to get turned around. This week, I called it incompetent, but only because I was being polite. I really meant rolling calamity."
4. Quickly respond to attacks. This is especially true if the attacks are largely false, which most of the Democratic TV ads were.
Last week’s issue of this newsletter noted, “There is a school of thought that a candidate should ignore attacks from his or her opponent so as not to elevate them in public awareness. That is probably correct when your opponent is not well known and under-financed. But in a presidential campaign, untrue attacks must be promptly answered.”
The problem was that many of the negative ads that were run against Romney came at a time when he apparently had little money to fire back.
At the least, Romney could have directly refuted the lies that were being told about him in his campaign speeches, which would have been reported by the news media. But his consultants may have told him that would appear too “defensive” and that it would be better to stay on “offense” against the high unemployment in the Obama economy.
The website Mediaite and the New Republic both said that during Thanksgiving, the Democrats should be grateful for Romney.
"Sure, on print, President Obama won the election. But face it: Mitt Romney lost the election. Be thankful for him and one of the most bungled presidential campaigns in recent memory," Mediaite wrote.
Romney was “a clumsy candidate in a year when a more agile one might have knocked off Obama,” the New Republic concluded.
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The previous What's Happening with Conservatives and the Tea Party: Obama Received 5.3 Million Less Votes This Year Than He Did in 2008
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