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Powerline ^ | 11/24/2012 | Scott Johnson

Posted on 11/24/2012 9:28:37 AM PST by SeekAndFind

In the new issue of the Weekly Standard Jay Cost undertakes a retrospective on what happened in the election just passed. Cost detects a mystery. It’s the case of the missing voters:


In 2008, some 131.5 million Americans went to the polls; while the votes are still being tallied, this time around there probably were between 127 and 130 million votes cast. Most of the decline came from white voters; in fact, between 6 and 9 million white voters went missing this year, relative to 2008. It is a reasonable guess that the number of white votes in 2004 roughly equaled the number in 2012, despite the fact that millions of new whites have become eligible to vote and the aging white population has entered peak voting years.

Much has been made of the increasing whiteness of the GOP coalition, with the implication being that Mitt Romney lost because he failed to attract enough support from ethnic or racial minorities. Without doubt, this was a problem for the GOP nominee and certainly made a difference in key swing states. In Colorado and Florida, Romney’s support among Hispanics was lower than that of George W. Bush and even John McCain.

But Romney’s problems were much bigger than this, as he failed to pull enough white voters into his coalition to win. In Colorado, Florida, and Ohio, Romney improved on McCain’s share of white voters, but these states saw notable declines in white turnout. Meanwhile, in Iowa and Virginia—where white turnout was roughly constant—Romney failed to match the levels that Bush pulled when he won both states.

This suggests that the identity politics explanation is insufficient to explain Romney’s electoral problem. It was not merely a failure to attract Hispanics and, to a lesser extent, African Americans into the GOP coalition (preliminary data actually suggest that Barack Obama won fewer African Americans in 2012 than he did in 2008). There seems to have been an overall hesitation among many types of voters—white or not—about entering the GOP coalition. It looks as though many backed Obama over Romney, and many more simply chose not to vote.

An examination of the exit poll makes it easy to see why. Obama’s campaign against Romney, which portrayed him as an out-of-touch plutocrat, appears largely to have been successful. Romney’s favorable rating in the exit poll was just 47 percent, with 50 percent holding an unfavorable view. By 53 to 43 percent, voters said that Obama was “more in touch with people like” them, and by a staggering 53 percent to 34 percent, they said Romney’s policies would favor the rich instead of the middle class.

In other words, Romney lost in large part because of a yawning empathy gap. Typically, this plagues Republican candidates to some degree, even victorious ones, but it was pronounced this year, and appears to have been determinative. The voters who showed up on Election Day identified more closely with Obama than Romney, and those who stayed home presumably identified with neither. Importantly, this problem transcended age, race, ethnicity, and gender. Compared with Bush in 2004, Romney simply failed to connect with people.

What of the Democratic performance? There is little for the left to celebrate here beyond the fact that their candidate won a second term in the Oval Office. After all, President Obama won fewer popular votes, a smaller share of the popular vote, and a smaller share of the Electoral College. The last president to be reelected with such a diminished coalition was Franklin Roosevelt in his third and fourth terms. No president in American history but Barack Obama has ever entered a second full term with his coalition diminished across the board.


Cost’s analysis suggests to me the devastating effect of the Obama campaign’s personal attacks on Romney during the months after Romney sewed up the GOP nomination. The Obama campaign turned Romney into dead man walking.

The Romney campaign had no funds to respond to those attacks. Prior to the convention, Romney was prevented by law from accessing the funds he had raised for the general campaign. After the convention, Romney had plenty of money, but many voters had tuned him out. Why didn’t Romney self-fund a response to the merciless attacks he was sustaining from the Obama campaign in the battleground states prior to the GOP convention? That is a mystery for another day.

Cost offers this to unravel the case of the missing voters: “Voters did not trust Obama to handle the tough issues, but even less did they trust Romney to represent them in the Oval Office.” Looking ahead, he sees both hazard and opportunity: “It is not hard to see how the nation’s deep disgruntlement could produce a major upheaval in two or four years’ time.”

FOOTNOTE: For a good companion to Cost’s retrospective, see John Podhoretz’s Commentary essay “The way forward,” while Pat Caddell offered a variety of related thoughts in his post-election analysis at David Horowitiz’s Restoration Weekend earlier this month. And Michael Barone is wrestling with the case of the missing voters as well.

JOHN adds a couple of thoughts: First, Romney’s tactical error went beyond not using his own funds pre-convention. Money that was raised after Romney had the nomination sewed up could nevertheless have been designated for the primary phase of the campaign, but the Romney campaign believed that money spent during the summer is basically wasted, since undecided voters don’t make up their minds until October. The two campaigns followed opposite strategies here, and it seems that the Romney camp was proven wrong.

Second, I fear that Republicans are making a serious mistake if we blame the election’s outcome on Romney’s failure to connect with voters. Obviously that happened to some degree, but the real question is, why? The most alarming statistic quoted by Jay Cost is that, by a wide margin, voters believed Romney’s policies would benefit the rich and not the middle class–this despite the fact that Obama’s policies had already proven to be a disaster for the middle class. I am afraid that this demonstrates, not just a lack of support for Romney, but a lack of support for free enterprise.

Despite all of the nonsense that surrounded the campaign, I think nearly all voters understood that Romney’s policies favored smaller, less intrusive government and more reliance on free enterprise, while Obama stood for more government. A generation ago, the idea that free enterprise only benefits the rich would have been regarded as ridiculous in the light of history. Today, I fear that a great many Americans believe that free enterprise only favors the rich, or something close to that proposition. This is reflected in the survey done a few months ago that suggested young people have a more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

When Ronald Reagan said that in the present crisis, government isn’t the solution, government is the problem, he was appealing to something that most Americans already believed. I am concerned that the bedrock belief in free enterprise that was taken for granted in our youth may now be mostly gone. It is not hard to see why that might be the case, since all of the organs of our culture, from the public schools to the television networks to the comedy industry to Hollywood to higher education to the women’s magazines have been diligently working to undermine faith in economic freedom for several decades now. I fear that what failed to connect with voters in 2012–with enough voters, anyway–was not Mitt Romney the man, but rather free enterprise, the philosophy. There is no way conservatives can undo the baleful effects of our culture on political assumptions in the course of a presidential campaign, no matter how eloquent our candidate may be. And, of course, the problem is compounded by the fact that increasing numbers of Americans live outside the free economy, either as public employees or as dependents on government benefits.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2012analysis; 2012electionanalysis; election; elections; romney
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To: All

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To: dirtboy
And this is why it is so vital that the Tea Party maintain its identity apart from the GOP.

Well put.

We need to recognize that the Republican Party is a party without an ideology, only an appetite (for power).

Nonetheless, it is the only vehicle available by which the Tea Party can achieve victory. A third party -- a "Tea Party" -- is a fool's errand that would ensure Democrat dominance for, literally, ever.

Best that the Tea Party remain aloof and independent from the Republican Party -- influencing from outside, beyond the party's control. But, at the same time, we need to actively infiltrate the party -- with the aim of eventually controlling the leadership.

This was how the radical left took over the Democrat party. In 1968, they were across the street, in Grant Park, protesting the Democrat National Convention. In 1972, they were inside the building.

22 posted on 11/24/2012 10:18:37 AM PST by okie01 (THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA; Ignorance on parade.)
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To: Lancey Howard

“In other words, America is dead and gone.
I concur. It is every man for himself now. Good luck.”

Why not? Screw it all. Let’s go fishing.

23 posted on 11/24/2012 10:21:59 AM PST by sergeantdave (The FBI has declared war on the Marine Corps)
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To: okie01
Well, the Tea Party has a lot of influence in Congress, but that will probably be for naught on certain issues where the GOP-E will just align with Democrats. We need to work on getting more and more RINOs booted in the 2014 elections and replaced with Tea Party conservatives so that a GOP-E/Dem coalition will no longer produce a voting majority.

For 2016, it is critical that conservatives coalesce around a single conservative option early on. Or else the conservative gaggle will just get Romneyfied again.

24 posted on 11/24/2012 10:24:59 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: dirtboy

I am still contending that Obama knew he had this election won before the first debate even took place. He showed up to that debate basically mailing it in.

I don’t think Obama lost voters. I think those were Romney votes which were mysteriously lost. I don’t buy into the 59 predicts and not 1 Romney vote.

25 posted on 11/24/2012 10:30:16 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (George W. Bush is the Emmanuel Goldstein of the modern era.)
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To: sergeantdave; Lancey Howard

Ditto !

Although, I gotta wait til hunting season’s over...

26 posted on 11/24/2012 10:30:56 AM PST by onona (It's a good day to celebrate life)
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To: unixfox

WE could also add to this the many hours the sheeple spend voting for an American Idol. This country is going down the crapper.

27 posted on 11/24/2012 10:32:34 AM PST by Catsrus
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To: WilliamIII
who parks his money in the Cayman Islands who parks his money in the Cayman Islands

I must have been working and missed this news.....Please post exact source.

28 posted on 11/24/2012 10:33:57 AM PST by timestax (Why not drug tests for the President AND all White Hut staff ? ? ?)
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To: SeekAndFind

6-9 million white voters missing

assuming the gop make up 40% of those voting.. that would be about 56m

i said early on... 10-15% of the right will never vote for a mormon due to the differences in religion

that equates to 5.6 - 8.4m people... or 6-9 million if you round

(how much do they pay these political advisers again?)

29 posted on 11/24/2012 10:34:32 AM PST by sten (fighting tyranny never goes out of style)
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To: onona
Although, I gotta wait til hunting season’s over...

Be careful out there. Keep an eye out for illegal aliens, especially the Hmongs.

30 posted on 11/24/2012 10:37:43 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: gusopol3
2012 turnout isn’t even going to match 2008.

I understand that but that's largely because Obama got something like 5% less turnout. Which means he doesn't have a whole lot of political capital to make mistakes now.

But I believe Romney won more votes than McCain did last time around.

31 posted on 11/24/2012 10:38:41 AM PST by what's up
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To: EQAndyBuzz
I don’t think Obama lost voters.

Obama got 5% fewer votes than last time.

32 posted on 11/24/2012 10:40:10 AM PST by what's up
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To: timestax

I must have been working and missed this news.....Please post exact source.

You must have been sleeping for the last 12 months. Google it, you’ll find it easily, from credible sources. I’m not going to do research for somebody who hasn’t been following the news.

33 posted on 11/24/2012 10:40:29 AM PST by WilliamIII
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To: SeekAndFind
Vote destruction of Romney votes, focused primarily in the Swing States and primarily by 0bama's unions. Electronic voting machines cannot be trusted, especially with groups seeking to avoid a Romney presidency, such as 'Anonymous'. I do not, cannot and absolutely WILL NOT believe that Romney had less of a turn out of white voters than Bush did. Sorry. I followed the election then, and this one now. Enthusiasm for Romney was significant. The desire to boot 0bama's ass out of office was even MORE significant.

We've been 'HAD', as they say. Never trust an INELIGIBLE president and a FRAUD with a STOLEN birth certificate, STOLEN social security numbers and FORGED selective service card to allow an election to transpire honestly and without corruption, meddling and FRAUD.

The biggest FRAUD ever perpetrated on the American people is 0bama and his presidency. The second biggest FRAUD ever is the 2012 election, RIGGED by our government and their puppet unions. We want to believe that our election was free and fair. What's free and fair when the DOJ AG Eric Holder pursues ANYONE seeking to implement Voter I.D. laws? Hmmmm.. I wonder why 0bama pushed Early Voting and CRUSHING anyone who wanted voters to prove who they were at the polls? This election was a CROCK OF B.S. and more of the same from the CRIMINAL REGIME.

34 posted on 11/24/2012 10:47:39 AM PST by Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America (IMPEACH OBAMA)
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To: what's up

you are right about the Romney vote.

This is a good place to follow it. There’s supposed to be a better one on the Cook report, but I don’t see why anyone needs more than this for this type of discussion.

This is a great place for historical statistics

35 posted on 11/24/2012 10:49:02 AM PST by gusopol3
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To: unixfox

All those people standing in line and beating each other up were definitely BO voters. That’s who they are.

36 posted on 11/24/2012 10:50:56 AM PST by dandiegirl
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To: SeekAndFind

I do think that a lot of it was just that the social conservatives either decided that they could not support a Mormon or that Romney did not share their values, and they just decided not to vote. If that is the case, then they just committed political suicide. Romney’s defeat really marks the end of social conservatism as a viable political movement. In the next 4 years, Obama will appoint at least 2 and maybe 3 Supreme Court justices, all of which will be of the hard left variety, like Sotomayor and Kagan. Once he’s done, the liberals are going to steamroll over the entire conservative social agenda, flattening it like a pancake, and constitutionalizing the entire liberal social agenda. I suppose once that happens, people like Ryan and Santorum can talk about conservative social issues if they want, but there won’t be anything they can do to implement them.

37 posted on 11/24/2012 10:58:01 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America

Do you think they destroyed Romney votes or just kept a pool of people on call they’d drive to various precincts to vote as many times as they’d need them? In the Prosser election , Kathy Nickolaus in Waukesha county did a very effective thing by holding back vote totals until the Dems reported from their strongholds. She’s the only Republican who’s had the guts to do that in my memory. Meanwhile, currently for the November 6 election, California and New York in particular are still counting huge numbers of ballots. So why should Republican jurisdictions be any more fastidious about rapid reporting than the Democrats are/ we ought to hold, hold, hold, until the Dems have no idea what the target they have to shoot for is. It’s irrefutable that this happens, look at Hillary campaign’s complaints about Gary IN in the primary against Obama 4 years ago.

38 posted on 11/24/2012 10:59:24 AM PST by gusopol3
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To: gusopol3

This regime can’t even call a TERRORIST ATTACK ON OUR EMBASSY ON 9/11 A ‘TERRORIST ATTACK’. They’re STILL laying smoke screens, cries of ‘racism’, blah blah blah.. I don’t trust ANYTHING this regime says or does. 0bama has his unions engaged in a SHUT DOWN of our private sector to propel his mission of ‘government takeover’ of our economy FORWARD. If they can shut down iconic American companies like Hostess at the expense of 18,500 employees, just imagine what they can do in Swing State precincts. Conspiracy? YES.

39 posted on 11/24/2012 11:06:30 AM PST by Obama_Is_Sabotaging_America (IMPEACH OBAMA)
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To: unixfox

I refuse to believe we didn’t have a turnout

we had voter fraud through electronic voting machines

40 posted on 11/24/2012 11:07:36 AM PST by RaceBannon (When Chuck Norris goes to bed, he checks under it for Clint Eastwood!)
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