That is what we have been witnessing in the wake of Tuesday’s massive disappointment. The media and some talking heads have been all over the idea that changing demographics are the problem and that Republicans have to become Democrats in order to appeal to Hispanics.
However, digging into the numbers reveals a little more complex story. Preliminary analysis of exit polls of people who voted suggest that many lower income white voters chose to stay at home rather than vote for the lesser of two evils.
By this analysis, this drop in white participation rather than a massive increase in ethnic participation is likely what caused Romney to lose. These dropped out voters would not have liked Obama, but didn’t trust Romney either. In fact, a good argument can be made that Romney, the candidate who establishment Republicans declared to be the most electable, was the worst possible choice to win this election.
In picking Romney, Republicans chose a candidate who personified big business, signed legislation banning semi-automatic firearms, and obviously wore the big government millstone known as Romneycare.
While those in the know continually urged social conservatives to keep quiet, because the election would be won on economic issues, the Obama campaign smartly exploited Romney’s weakness with lower income blue collar voters by playing to their natural suspicion of big business.
As a former state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, I saw this dynamic repeated in election after election, as blue collar voters struggled between the candidate who they believed represented their economic interest against the one who represented their personal freedom interest.
The 2012 election was set up for these voters choice to be easy, as Obama’s four years in office forfeited any claim he had to being supportive of their economic interest. Obama also is a threat to their firearm rights and is against them on every social issue.
But, without an opposing candidate who they believed was on their side, they stayed home. While some might claim that this was a failure of the NRA or other lobbying groups who supported Romney, those groups can only open the door for a candidate, he or she has to walk through it.
Romney didn’t. Instead, Romney stood at the threshold hoping that others would deliver blue collar voters into his column, without him risking taking any negative media hits. But there is only so much an organization like the NRA can do when the candidate himself has both a terrible record and never addresses the overall issue in a compelling and convincing way.
Rick Manning is the Director of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.