Ten Reasons Why Obama Won and Romney Lost
The finger pointing has begun.
Everyone seems to have an opinion as to why President Obama won a second term. Similarly, those same opinions also apply to why Mitt Romney lost.
Here are my thoughts as to why the election turned out as it did:
1. Obama’s superior political organization — Even those who are opposed to Obama will concede his extraordinary talents as a campaigner. Just as important was his well-oiled political organization which micro-managed another victory. Obama may very well have run the two most effective campaigns in American history — (If there’s still any doubt, think of the odds going into 2008 that a Black man with the name “Barack Hussein Obama” would be elected on a national level). Obama won states and regions he needed to win to get re-elected, which is a testament to a phenomenal strategy and organization.
2. Romney’s “47 percent” comment — All elections have key moments that become tipping points. Not only the revelation but the actual existence of a video showing Romney speaking candidly to wealthy donors and dismissing nearly half the U.S. population was an albatross that proved to be impossible to shake.
3. Romney’s perceived opposition to women’s equality — Look at the numbers. They don’t lie. President Obama won over women by nearly ten points over Romney — a staggering statistic. Sure, Romney carried male voters — but by a much smaller margin.. No doubt, Romney’s waffling on the “equal pay for equal work” cost him some votes, combined with some very conservative ideas on women’s issues that undoubtedly turned off many (mostly) younger women.
4. The auto bailout — Obama’s support (and decisive action) juxtaposed against Romney’s opposition to the so-called auto-bailout was a big factor in several rust-belt states. This issue probably tipped four would-be swing states — PA, OH, MI, and WI — in Obama’s favor.
5. Obama’s strong foreign policy record — This election wasn’t about foreign affairs, but I still believe America’s image is an intangible with many voters. Any Republican would have been thrilled to run on Obama’s foreign policy record. First and foremost — he “kept us safe,” to use the all-too familiar line from the winner of the 2004 campaign. Obama also rightfully received much credit for capturing and killing Osama Bin Laden. Next, Obama withdrew troops from Iraq, just as promised. Then, he successfully managed the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Libyan government. Capping things off, this nation is headed towards peace — yet has a much more revered position around the world as a force that’s respected, not just for it’s military presence, but for it’s values.
6. Republican increasingly out-of-the-mainstream positions on social issues — America is moving left on social issues. Several ballot initiatives — including equal rights for gays and legalization of marijuana — passed. In 2004, Republicans pushed for these same kinds of issues to be on state ballots in an effort to mobilize religious conservatives to turn out in force, thus pushing former President Bush over the top. Apparently, those gutter tactics no longer work in many states. And, as more younger and socially liberal voters emerge in coming years, these issues will kill Republicans in large-scale elections. Even something seemingly as insignificant as the push to legalize online poker, opposed outright in the Republican Party platform, probably hurt Romney more than it helped him.
7. Obama’s support for legal immigration — I believe the Latino influence was overstated by many pundits. Some suggested that this was the key factor in Florida, Nevada, and even in Virginia. But I believe Obama would have won most of those votes anyway. Nonetheless, the immigration issue (which is perceived by many Latinos as a litmus test of racism) probably motivated more Latinos to turn out and vote.
8. Superior Democratic voter registration — Democrats did not take re-election for granted. In many states, local activists worked like they were behind. In Nevada for example, Democrats reportedly registered three times as many voters as Republicans. This is easier to do when younger, first-time voters tend to skew Democratic. But the effort to generate more votes from Democratic strongholds — college campuses, minority areas — clearly helped Obama.
9. Romney’s perceived failure to connect with a majority of voters — No doubt, Romney became a better campaigner as election day neared. But it took too long. He received lukewarm support from his own party during the primary season, then stumbled out of the Republican National Convention with no appreciable momentum (thanks, Clint Eastwood). But as the campaign wore on, Romney did manage to improve both his message and delivery. By mid-October, Romney was actually slightly ahead in national polls. Yet in the end, Romney was never able to fully break away from his image as a corporate CEO, indifferent to the lives of those many of those he hoped to lead.
10. Hurricane Sandy and aftermath — The vision of New Jersey’s popular Republican Governor arm in arm with the President the day after the storm was an indelible image in the closing week of the campaign. Keep in mind Gov. Christie gave the Keynote Address at the 2012 Republican National Convention during which he was openly critical of many of the President’s policies. Then when disaster struck, his bi-partisan overtures toward the opposition, in addition to Obama’s rapid response (in stark contrast to predecessor George Bush’s lackluster actions following Hurricane Katrina) most probably swung a few undecided voters. It also reminded many of the positive role government can play in many people’s lives when they need help most.