What Major Demographic Shift?
Conservatives need to take a collective breath and look closer at the numbers before they buy into the idea that GOP nominee Mitt Romney's defeat was due to some kind of national demographic shift that now makes Democrat presidential candidates' armor impenetrable. Before you give in to the hysteria, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, Barack Obama's re-election showing was actually pretty unimpressive for a guy whose philosophies voters have supposedly adopted. As of this writing on Wednesday, Obama's vote total stood at an unimpressive 60,119,958. That's about what John Kerry got in 2004 (59,028,444). President George W. Bush actually did far better than Obama in his 2004 reelection quest, posting a vote total that was about 2 million higher (62,040,610) than what Obama got on Tuesday. That's hardly a remarkable finish in a country with a population that has increased. In fact, it's a decline of 9 million votes from Obama's 2008 total.
Had Romney (57,425,441) done as well as McCain did in 2008 (59,934,814), he and Obama would have run neck and neck, virtually matching each other's vote totals. That's hardly the stuff of demographic ruin.
The question Republicans and conservatives need to ask is not why voters showed up for Obama, whose turnout wasn't exactly extraordinary, but why millions of their own voters, people who had pulled the lever for Bush and McCain, didn't do the same for Romney or simply stayed home.
Why did Romney get a full 2 million fewer votes than McCain did? Why did those voters pull the lever for McCain, but not for Romney? Who were they, and where did they go? That is what Republican and conservative strategists need to find out.
Is it possible that Republicans and conservative-leaning independents just weren't that wild about the guy?
Romney, you'll remember, was not exactly popular with the GOP base through two primaries -- the first of which he lost outright, and the second of which he won because, quite frankly, all the other candidates were largely unpresentable on the national stage. Remember, Romney won just 52 percent of the votes cast in the primary -- hardly a resounding send-off from his own party. Worse yet, Romney carried just 3 out of 43 states with 70-plus percent of the vote, compared to an average of more than 15 states by previous presumptive GOP nominees.
Evangelicals have always been suspicious of Romney's Mormonism. In fact, just days before the election, Paul Ryan had a phone teleconference with Evangelical leaders to rally them. And the exasperation with Romney's flip-flopping habit originated on the right, not on the left, and was well-known. What's more, the GOP's anti-abortion wing has never been entirely comfortable with him the way they were with George W. Bush. And some of the party's base has wandered into the Tea Party and Ron Paul camps, where Romney was never fully welcomed, if embraced at all.
To understand Romney's loss, we need to look not just at what Obama's voters are doing, but what ours are up to as well.
Follow Tara Servatius on Facebook at facebook.com/TaraServatiusOnline and on Twitter at @TaraServatius or https://twitter.com/TaraServatius. Tara hosts the morning show on WTMA 1250 AM, Charleston.