The 2012 Election

11 Feb

I have lived through seven presidential elections.  The first election night that I remember was in 1992.  I have followed every election closely since 2004.  Oddly enough this election felt similar to 2004, but different in many other ways.

This election was like the one in 2004 because a sitting president was being challenged by a flawed opponent.  In 2004 John Kerry was challenging a relatively unpopular president Bush.  I still think that the Democrats could have defeated Bush if they had a better candidate,  but I will likely elaborate that on another blog entry.  In 2012 some people saw Obama as vulnerable.  As with 2004 the challenger to the incumbent was flawed, so how did Romney win the nomination?

In the last election the Republican primary was one of the strangest and messiest that I have seen in either party in recent elections.  The only pattern I saw from beginning to end was that many people in the Republican Party resisted nominating Mitt Romney as their candidate.  The term “front runner” was used very loosely.  Michele Bachmann was the front runner for a short while, and then Herman Cain was seen as the front runner.  The fact that Donald Trump was considered as a serious contender showed how much of a circus the Republican primary was that year.  I have never seen so many changes in front runner status in one election primary season.

I think that the 2012 Republican primary was similar to the 2008 Democratic primary for president.  In 2008 Hilary was the establishment candidate and Obama was seen as the Washington outsider.  The biggest difference between the two primaries was that the Democrats got behind the “outsider” candidate quicker than the Republicans did in this past election.  By the time Rick Santorum became the consensus outsider candidate, Romney was well on his way to the nomination.  If the Republicans had chosen their anti-Romney candidate before the process got underway, Romney might not have won the nomination.

Romney entered the general election weakened by the primary.  His campaign and Super Pac spent a lot of money to tear down his opponents which made him look bad in the process.  Even though Romney had won his party’s nomination, he still had to win over the most conservative base of his party.  Romney had a tougher challenge then Obama did in 2008.  There was a lot of enthusiasm over Obama’s candidacy.  Romney never had that enthusiasm.  The Republicans were happy with Paul Ryan as his VP pick, but they still didn’t like Romney.

There were other problems with Romney’s campaign as well.  Since Obama was the incumbent he had a head start for the general election.  Romney had to be strategic on how he spent campaign money and had to play catch up leading into the general election.  The biggest problem Romney had was that he was incredibly gaffe-prone.  I’m not going to pretend that Vice President Biden didn’t make gaffes, but Romney made a new gaffe almost every other week.  The forty-seven percent comment may have damaged his campaign beyond repair, but he wasn’t a great candidate to begin with.  Romney would have had to win all three of the presidential debates to re-gain lost ground, and he only won the first debate.  I think the bizarre candidates in senate races across the country hurt Romney, but by no means cost him the election.

I can go on and on about the differences between each campaign but one thing remains clear.  President Obama and Vice President Biden knew how to connect with everyday Americans, Romney couldn’t   If you can’t connect with an everyday person, how can you be expected to win a majority of the vote?  Connecting with the voter has and always will be the core part of every election and every candidate.

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