I predicted Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election in a landslide.
What went wrong? Was my prediction based on hope or bias?
My prediction was based on a combination of scientific evidence and common sense.
First, it was based on common sense that no president could possibly be re-elected with the worst economy of our lifetimes. With an economy that has produced more months above 8% unemployment (43 of them to be exact) than produced by all the presidents between Harry Truman and George W. Bush combined (39). People just don't vote for the guy that brings you misery, malaise, foreclosures and bankruptcies, record unemployment, and inflation at the gas pump and grocery store. This election should have been, 100 out of 100 times, a repeat of Reagan’s landslide over Carter.
Secondly, my prediction was based on common sense that turnout, enthusiasm, and the makeup of the electorate would be far different than 2008. Obama's coalition of single women, minorities, and young people were the groups most hurt by his economy. They are the ones without jobs. They are the ones suffering. Unemployment among African-Americans is at 14.3% Fifity-three percent is the rate of under-unemployment for college grads.
Logic dictated these groups would not come out for President Obama again in record numbers.
No one is such a glutton for punishment they'd return and ask for a second helping of misery, malaise and despair, right?
Well, I was wrong. The 2012 electorate looked almost identical to 2008. Obama's supporters didn’t just come for a second helping of misery -- they came out enthusiastically and even appeared to cheer for more.
Lastly, my prediction was based on SCIENCE -- The University of Colorado's predictive model had never failed. It worked to perfection in the presidential elections of 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. It predicted a Romney landslide in 2012 based on scientific facts and historical precedent.
This combination of science and common sense would tell you that in this economy, no president could be re-elected. Unless President Obama is more an "American Idol" and even a near-messiah than a politician, and his followers ignore logic, facts, and the misery they are experiencing.
Unless we have reached the tipping point that Thomas Jefferson warned about, where a majority of Americans now get checks from government, and realize that they can vote for the guy who promises to keep the checks coming.
Obama’s re-election proves that bribery as a campaign tactic is validated. Promise enough "free stuff” and you win votes, even if the end result is no jobs, no hope, and a lifetime dependent on government.
You wouldn't believe this could be true. Not in America. That's another reason why my prediction went wrong.
Why else did Romney lose? Mitt did plenty of his own damage.
Romney picked the wrong VP. The GOP has to reach out to women and Latinos. Back in May, I predicted a Romney landslide if he picked Marco Rubio as his running mate. If Mitt picked Rubio, he would have locked down Florida and made deep inroads with Latino voters. With an electorate divided almost exactly 50/50, the Latino vote is the missing link for the GOP. Attract even 5% more of the Latino vote, you win. 10% more, you win in a landslide.
Paul Ryan added nothing. He reinforced the image of the GOP as an elite club of rich white men. In a diverse country, this choice said "diversity is unimportant."
Worst of all, Ryan's views on abortion reinforced the message that the GOP wanted to take away women’s sexual freedom and rights. Ryan supports no exceptions for abortion including rape, incest, or a women's life in danger. Men and conservatives didn't notice. But Obama's campaign team made sure women noticed. Millions of female voters ignored the awful economy and record unemployment and voted for Obama based on reproductive rights.
How does the GOP solve that problem? Simple. The next time any GOP candidate mentions abortion and rape in the same sentence -- gag him, hogtie him, and put him in the basement until the election is over.
Seriously, the real answer is to run candidates who are fiscally conservative and principled, but socially moderate and modern. The GOP needs candidates that say "Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. I will uphold it, even though my personal views are pro-liife. And I will ALWAYS support exceptions for rape, incest, and when a mother's life is in danger. Period." The issue is off the table -- forever. What's left? The economy and jobs -- winning issues for the GOP.
Politics is played just like a football game. What matters is how you start, how you finish, your ground game, and your level of aggressiveness.
Romney started poorly, allowing Obama’s television blitz to define him as a greedy, mean-spirited robber baron.
Romney ended poorly, spending all his money on television ads instead of a “ground game”- i.e.: a massive get-out-every-last-vote effort (like Obama).
In between, Romney was not aggressive enough on the two defining issues of the campaign.
The first was the auto bailout. Romney lost the Midwest because of this issue. Romney should have taken the offensive with this argument: “President Obama tells us that he ‘saved’ the auto industry. It was his one and only accomplishment -- so he repeats it one hundred times a day. The reality is that he merely stole $25 billion from the taxpayers to protect the pensions of auto union members, who contributed tens of millions to his election. Now taxpayers owe that $25 billion, plus interest -- and you don’t even get a car! Obama also allowed private sector auto workers to lose their pensions- because they didn't contribute to him. This is all immoral, if not criminal.”
That argument would have won the presidency.
Then there’s Obama’s Libya scandal. Romney played it safe in the final debate and never took the offensive on the issue of Benghazi. Americans never quite understood the importance of it all. But they would have understood one image: “Mr. President you denied them the security they asked for, watched them die in real time, refused to send a rescue team, and then covered it all up by blaming a YouTube video. You left 4 Americans to die on the battlefield.” Game, set, match.
If Romney had been aggressive and not played it safe, would we be talking about President Romney, and celebrating my once brilliant prediction?
We'll never know.
But if Romney had picked Rubio as his VP, and GOP Senate candidates Akins and Mourdock had never tried to tackle abortion and rape, I have no doubt my prediction would have been "on the money."