There are two things you can count on when America holds elections: if Republicans win, the Democrats will blame evil corporations for spending too much money. When Republicans lose, Democrats proclaim the death of conservatism.
Of course neither reaction is true, just as it is not true that President Obama won a second term due to an amazing turnout machine. After all, his vote total was closer to John McCain’s in 2008, hardly an impressive total.
The reason Obama won a second term is frustratingly simple: Obama won because most US Presidents historically win second terms, especially when the party out of power puts forth a moderate candidate.
Don’t get me wrong; I like Mitt Romney. As far as moderates go, he did a great job articulating sound fiscal policy. His lecture to President Obama on the economy in the first debate was especially entertaining. Hopefully the President was taking notes so he can learn how to get out of the free market’s way.
But if you’re going to unseat an incumbent, you’ve got to run on ideology, clearly differentiate yourself from your opponent and turn out your base. Romney ran on a limited platform of fiscal conservatism and largely ignored a number of other issues important to conservatives. Not surprisingly, many Republicans stayed home.
Obama lost seven million votes off his 2008 pace and finished near John McCain. Mitt Romney also lost about 800,000 votes off John McCain’s pace and lost the election. Think about it: even after four years of a Democrat President, people who voted for John McCain didn’t vote for Mitt Romney.
How many elections need to pass before Republicans finally figure out what Democrats have known all along: the way you win elections is to appeal to your base and turn them out? That’s how you win—you get more of your people to the polls than the other side gets of theirs, while trying to upset as few undecided as possible.
If your base doesn’t turn out, you can’t win. You can appeal to independents all you want, but what have you gained if you lose the base?
The story of the 2012 election is that Obama lost millions votes and Romney lost his base–advantage Obama.
It was the most predictable electoral outcome in recent memory.