WASHINGTON -- Republicans across the country were shellshocked as President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s presidential election, finishing the race with 332 electoral votes and winning every battleground state except for North Carolina. The blame game began almost immediately, as Republicans looked to determine how a vulnerable incumbent like Obama had found a pathway to reelection.
The evidence behind the president’s victory points toward a stronger appeal to middle-class Americans, one of the most formidable ground games in the history of politics, and serious failures within the GOP to attract Latino and women voters. But a faction of conservatives were having none of it -- offering up instead a series of explanations for their nominee’s loss, rounded up below:
The media selectively reported Romney's gaffes.
In an op-ed posted to Fox News, Rich Noyes of the conservative Media Research Center slammed the “media’s biased gaffe patrol” for only magnifying every alleged Romney gaffe while failing to treat the president’s missteps equally. “When Obama infamously declared, 'You didn’t build that,' ABC, CBS, NBC didn’t report the politically damaging remark for four days,” Noyes wrote. In contrast, the Republican National Committee pounced on the remarks, selectively editing them for use in advertising, and even building an entire convention theme around the out of context quote. In the end, instead of turning on Obama, some voters reacted to the remarks by saying the words in context made them feel more positive about the president.
Fact-checkers were biased.
Noyes, in his mostly bizarre reading of the GOP ticket’s loss, also took aim at bias among the fact-checkers who essentially did their jobs and truth-teamed the Romney campaign's factual misstatements. Noyes homed in on Paul Ryan’s tale about the closure of a General Motors plant at the GOP Convention -- widely criticized as misleading -- arguing the vice-presidential nominee was “correct in all the details.” Noyes curiously left out that Ryan later backpedaled on his own claim, or that on more than one occasion, the Romney campaign was at times called out by its own surrogates for engaging in dishonest attacks.
Hurricane Isaac hit the Tampa convention.
Christopher Ruddy at Newsmax bemoaned that Hurricane Isaac washed away the first day of the GOP convention, and subsequently all of Romney’s presidential aspirations. The storm “seriously disrupted the official schedule,” he wrote, prompting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Romney’s heartfelt biographical video to be bumped from prime-time TV coverage. It was up to the Romney campaign and the RNC to make the best use of their condensed convention -- which, shortened to three days, was still the same length as the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Instead of keeping Rubio in a prime-time spot, they chose instead to allow Clint Eastwood to walk onstage before a national TV audience and shout at an empty chair.
Romney was too nice.
Ruddy offered another explanation as part of his reflection on what went wrong: “Obama's ads were nasty, negative ones, while Romney's were of the kinder, gentler, country-club Republican variety.” It’s true that the Obama campaign hammered away at Romney’s business record, but it’s also true that it was Romney who used his career in private enterprise as the centerpiece of his candidacy. And based on data collected by OpenSecrets.org, conservative outside groups spent over $74 million attacking the president, as opposed to the $5.1 million liberals spent in attack ads targeting Romney. The Romney campaign also falsely accused the president of ending the work requirement in welfare and, in the final days leading up to the election, implied in an ad that Chrysler was moving its Jeep production to China under Obama’s watch. Amid the barrage of advertising that dominated swing-state airwaves throughout the cycle, it’s safe to say that both sides churned out plenty of negative attacks.
Hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie get the blame.
Even before Romney lost the election, his aides preemptively blamed a potential loss on the storm that devastated parts of the East Coast. They even quietly decried top Romney surrogate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for lavishing the president with praise over his response efforts. In the aftermath of the election, conservatives appear to have gone from disappointed in Christie to flat-out exiling him from the GOP establishment.
Robert Stacy McCain wrote in the American Spectator:
The list of fools who have brought this disaster upon us certainly also will include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the gelatinous clown who (a) hogged up a prime time spot at the Republican convention to sing his own praises; (b) embraced Obama as the hero of Hurricane Sandy; and (c) then refused to appear at campaign events in support of Romney's presidential campaign. Good luck with the remainder of your political future, governor. It is unlikely Republicans shall soon forget your perfidious betrayal.
But as Ezra Klein points out, the “Hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie won Obama the election” theory is inherently flawed. Moreover, there is little evidence to support the notion that Romney’s momentum was lost in the wake of the hurricane. Most polling indicated he had lost it by the second presidential debate.
Obama won by “suppressing the vote.”
GOP strategist Karl Rove, who was one of the first to pin Romney’s loss on Hurricane Sandy, concluded that Obama actually “succeeded by suppressing the vote” -- in other words, the president somehow prevented voters from casting their ballots. Rove did not fully explain his claim, perhaps because there is literally no evidence to support it, but instead insisted that the Obama campaign engaged in the sort of character assassination from which Romney never fully recovered. But the best was yet to come: Rove said the Romney campaign did not adequately defend itself against the attacks on the GOP nominee’s business record, prompting Rove’s super PAC to give it a shot. “We don't do defense all that well,” Rove concluded, somehow failing to mention that his two groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, spent a combined $300 million on the 2012 race.
Romney wasn’t conservative enough.
This one was bound to happen. Romney, the once moderate Republican who served as governor of Massachusetts, lost because he tried too hard to be a centrist, some said. The effort by Romney to appeal to moderate-minded Americans in an increasingly progressive society left some conservative leaders so furious that they “vowed to wage a war to put the Tea Party in charge of the Republican Party by the time it nominates its next presidential candidate,” according to The Hill.
But the trajectory of Romney’s campaign tells an entirely different story: The GOP nominee spent nearly 17 months walking away from the positions he once held while presiding over blue state Massachusetts in a tireless bid to win over the conservative base. It wasn’t until the final month of the race, namely the first presidential debate, that Romney pivoted to the center in a last-stage effort to court independent and undecided voters. If anything, Romney’s attempt to appear centrist was too little too late for a populace that smacked down Tea Party candidates on Election Day.
Americans are basically ignorant.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said on Thursday that the president’s win was decided by an uninformed electorate -- even though voters had more access to information in 2012 than in any past election cycle. Johnson also neglected to mention the record spending on the part of Republicans to disseminate their message -- a message that ultimately lost out to that of Obama and his Democratic allies.
Liberals bought the election.
The Free Beacon has a primer on super PAC spending from liberal-leaning groups that helped propel the president to reelection. There’s even a handy breakdown of individual donors, such as “misogynistic comedian” Bill Maher and George Soros, founder of the “shadowy network of wealthy leftwing donors” Democracy Alliance, who both donated over $1 million to pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action. The total amount of liberal super PAC spending during the 2012 cycle, the Beacon concludes, is a staggering $200 million. But they left out one minor detail: that number was exceeded by Karl Rove alone, whose groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS spent $300 million on this election. The combined total for conservative outside group spending? An estimated $715.9 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Obama was backed by the 47 percent.
Following Tuesday’s result, retiring Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) channeled Romney’s infamous comments that almost half the nation are government-dependent “victims” who support Obama because they feel entitled to food, health care and housing. “The majority dictates against the minority. So, right now the majority are receiving a check,” Paul said. “That is why people were sort of surprised with these conditions that this president can get reelected.” Of course, exit polls show the president collected his votes from a populace that found his policies more favorable toward the middle class, and his election was boosted by turnout among Latinos, women and youth. And Paul recently admitted to HuffPost’s Sam Stein that he himself receives social security checks in the mail.
America’s white establishment is now a minority.
Bill O'Reilly took to Fox News to discuss the changing face of “traditional America,” which was, according to O'Reilly, once home to a majority white population. Obama’s reelection, he said, was a result of the Hispanic and black vote comprised of individuals who “want stuff.” While it’s true that Romney led the president among white voters by 20 points, the majority of Obama’s total nationwide vote still came from white voters.
The Washington Post reports:
Obama’s 39 percent showing among white voters matched the percentage that Bill Clinton received in 1992 — albeit it in a competitive three-way race — and exceeded the percentage of the white vote earned by Walter Mondale in 1984, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George McGovern in 1972.
The HuffPost Political Mashups Team produced the video with this post.