A Handful of Counties
In the post-election analysis, some have started to question Gov. Romney's message, or his strategy. Looking closely at the county-by-county voting result map, however, reveals that Gov. Romney's message and his target demographic could have worked. It was only in a handful of specific counties that the execution of promoting that message did not break through.
Nationwide, Gov. Romney appealed to middle-class Christian families who live in either rural or suburban areas. Geographically, he did well in the South and the Midwest and less well on the West Coast, in the Rust Belt, and in the Northeast. With this group of voters he could have won the election -- if not for some specific areas where the demographics favored Gov. Romney, yet the voting was strangely inconsistent.
Obviously, Romney would have won had he carried Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and either Colorado or Iowa.
A lot is being said about the Obama surge in Miami. Gov. Romney could have carried this state with a more balanced voting result in Broward or Orange County. Both of these are dominated by sprawling suburban neighborhoods of tree-lined streets and parents playing with their kids in parks. There is nothing urban about these. Yet Gov. Romney lost by 200,000 votes in Broward County neighborhoods, which look identical to neighborhoods across the country from which he won millions of votes. Same is true for Orange County (Orlando), where he lost by 120,000.
In Ohio, Gov. Romney did nicely in Cincinnati and Toledo. He was creamed in Cleveland. He was also demolished in Columbus, a non-industrial city in the heartland of the state. By national standards, though, he should have won enough votes in Columbus to win the state.
In Virginia, his demographic was in the north -- Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties. Just a more realistic showing across these counties would have won Gov. Romney the state. He didn't have to win -- just turn the tide a bit. Of course, the closeness to D.C. and the Washington media may have made this area a tough environment. Still, it was Romney's demographic. Downstate in Richmond and Norfolk, the votes were not enough to carry Virginia.
The last state needed to win could have been Colorado or Iowa. Gov. Romney did well in Colorado Springs, though he was beaten badly in Denver and Boulder. Neither of these is an old, built-up urban city. On the contrary, these sprawling cities had the demographics that should have produced enough votes to take the state.
If not in Colorado, Gov. Romney should have won Iowa. This state is mostly rural, with the two largest towns, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, accounting for only one quarter of all votes -- unlike Illinois or Minnesota, where one metropolitan area dominates. The entire state of Iowa fits into Gov. Romney's voting bloc.
Before conservatives panic and feel moved to lower their principles, they need to study these results. The people to carry the country are there. The message is right. The post-election analysts need to consider why, in this handful of counties, the message did not reach the audience.