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Missing Republicans—FOUND!

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On talk radio, in internet commentary and at right wing conferences, worried analysts and activists obsess over the dire electoral consequence of “three million missing Republicans” who doomed conservative chances in 2012.

This lament for the lost legions of conservatism has been relentlessly recycled in right-leaning media to prove that Mitt Romney failed to mobilize his base with his inept, uninspired campaign. The commonly cited proof for this conclusion is that Mitt Romney received even fewer votes than did the hapless McCain-Palin ticket. If only the GOP had run with a “true conservative” instead of another flip-flopping RINO, the true-believers affirm, millions of dispirited conservatives would have rallied to save the day.

It all sounds perfectly plausible except for the fact that it’s also perfectly untrue.

First, Romney did NOT get a lower popular vote total than did McCain: He polled almost a million votes more (983,000 more, to be precise) and earned 33 additional electoral votes. It was Obama whose vote totals went down sharply, with 3,592,000 fewer votes than the first time.

The mistaken talking point about the “missing Republicans” came from the slow nature of the counting process. In the first few days after the election, millions of votes remained untallied, but even after the completed numbers came in, showing more GOP voters than 2008, few of the conclusion jumpers bothered to correct, or even adjust their post-election remarks.

Moreover, exit polls show that the electorate featured an unusually high percentage of both Republicans and conservatives, rather than offering any scrap of evidence for complaints over a disengaged base. In 2012, self-identified Republicans comprised precisely the same percentage of the electorate as in 2008, and gave even more overwhelming support (93% compared to 90%) to their party’s nominee. What’s more, conservatives not only made up a slightly higher percentage of the voters in 2012 than four years earlier, but even turned out more strongly as a percentage of electorate than they did for the victorious George W. Bush in 2004.

And what about the obsessive media mantra about Evangelical rejection of the GOP ticket because of distrust of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith? Actually, white “Evangelical” or “Born Again” Christians showed up in proportionately higher numbers for Romney than for McCain or, for that matter, for their fellow-Evangelical George W. Bush. This segment of the electorate amounted to 23% of all voters in 2004, but 25% in 2012, with Romney scoring the same overwhelming level of support as did the outspokenly born-again Bush (78%).

Finally, another false narrative suggests that the real story of Republican catastrophe in 2012 amounted to a wholesale rejection by younger voters who hated the party and its candidate because of antediluvian positions on social issues.

Oh, really? Then how could one explain that GOP support among 18-29 year old voters actually went up sharply from 2008—from 32% to 37%?

Even more startling, young people who happened to be white still comprised a big majority (61%) of all voters below the age of 30 and delivered a shocking, counter-intuitive verdict on the choice between the ineffably cool Barack and the hopelessly square Mitt: going for the Mormon grandfather of 18 by a decisive, near-landslide margin of 7 points. In fact, the entire basis for Barack Obama’s strength among young voters in general stemmed from the disproportionate presence among them of blacks, Latinos and Asians—groups that tilted lopsidedly toward Obama. Non-whites comprised 39% of the youth vote but only 28% of the overall electorate, so it’s hardly surprising that Romney would score a smaller overall percentage of these ballots from under-30 citizens. Romney’s loss of young voters, in other words, reflects racial politics far more plausibly than any universal surge of youthful progressivism.

Going forward, the GOP clearly faces a crucial challenge in broadening support in communities of color, since white voters will never again comprise 72% (or more) of the overall electorate, and no candidate can possibly expect to do better among whites than did Romney (winning this component of the population by a crushing margin  of 60-40%). Republicans don’t need to win majorities among blacks, Latinos or Asians but they do need to compete: if Romney had fared only as well among these minority groups as did Bush in ’04 (with 11% of blacks, and 44% of both Asians and Latinos) he would have won decisively—even with a far less white electorate.

The GOP faces formidable challenges in rebuilding after the crushing disappointment of November, but misinformation and distortion will only hinder that process. The problem for Romney and Ryan wasn’t missing Republicans or disengaged conservatives or alienated Evangelicals. It was the appalling performance of the party and its ticket with all those voters, young and old, who identified with the nation’s non-white minority. If Republicans ever hope to learn how to win again it’s essential to be honest about how we lost—again.

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Comments (22)

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  1. American  •  Mar 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    We left the GOP when McCain decided to play the lacky role to Obama ensuring that Obama would win and engaged in independent conservative politics. The farther left the GOP trends, the less of a chance we will return though we did vote against Obama last presidential election in an attempt to save the country.

  2. JC  •  Mar 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    If the GOP could only produce leadership based on strong character and conservative principles, I think they could restore a virtuous American culture with a universal prosperity.

    • Jay  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      No way. Sorry but I beg to differ. Morality starts in the hearts of individuals and is then reflected in politics. Our nation is collectively in a cess pool of immorality. Therefore, if we put up a squeaky clean candidate, that person will person will be rejected because people want a candidate who looks like them. The majority are immoral and they will select an immoral leader, like they already have. Does it bother the vast majority that Obama smokes now, smoked crack cocaine up until 2007, has engaged in homosexual behavior while in his 20’s and 30’s, spends money he does not have, lies, slanders his opponents, tries to bring national division by using class warfare, and vilifies his political opponents? No, it does not bother them, because they want an immoral leader, since that is someone they can relate to. If we had a majority of moral people in the US, they would flatly reject immoral leaders like Obama, Clinton, etc. Instead they celebrate them.

      • OldOBDoc  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

        nicely stated. Sad but true. The moral candidate might make moral demands on the electorate (welfare, life issues, immigration etc.) and this is not going to happen. Gone are the days when a morally corrupt person like JFK would dare say “ask not…….”

  3. Josiah in Eau Claire, WI  •  Apr 2, 2013 at 4:36 am

    The left in media will continue to portray Republicans as racist, racially insensitive and suppressive. The GOP’s job is to ignore that for the most part and find a unifying emotional appeal for minorities who are sick of being seen merely as victims. If we say good things about Hispanics and African-Americans, the media will dismiss that as positive stereotyping, but that should be ignored.

  4. Josiah in Eau Claire, WI  •  Apr 3, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Also, history tells us the way forward, and obviously you’re a history junkie which is part of why I’m such a huge fan.

  5. Doug Nelson  •  Apr 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    So what was Romney supposed to do?

    • OldOBDoc  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Romney should have attacked the reprobate

      • Larry Good  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        Romney certainly let Obama off the hook on the Benghazi debacle, instead of appearing to condone Obama’s pitiful handling of the situation!

  6. Nathan Steeves  •  Apr 7, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Romney believes in Big Government Solutions. Romney care in Mass. effectively stole the topic of the ACA from the election. “My healthcare plan was based on yours.” We don’t need big government Republicans any more than we need big Government Democrats, Greens, Libertarians. We need conservative, constitutionally minded leaders who promote liberty over social acceptance and entitlements (regardless of how well intentioned or desired).

  7. Mitch  •  Apr 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Romney’s loss has more to say about the state of our country than anything he did or could of done. We now live in a country where half the nation is on some sort of welfare. We live in a country where 30 sec sound bites have replaced real news. We live in a country where we get our info from movies,T.V. Talking heads who our more class clown than real reporters. We spend hours watching guy’s driving trucks, catching fish, pawning junk or cooking. We have no time to get real info that will help us all. Gun control, gay marriage, abortion, global warming, womens rights, animal rights, enviromental issues, the list goes on and on. The only rights I care and anyone should care about is freedom. The freedom from taxes, the freedom to work, and the freedom to live your life free

    • Jay  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 8:02 pm


  8. kick  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Thank goodness you are here with glee filled enthusiasm to tell us with surging numbers and percentages that Mitt Romney actually won the November election.

    I was under the false impression for the last 5 months that Barack Obama won.

  9. Jeff Silverberg  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Govenor Romney and Senator McCain both lost due to circumstances beyond their control. McCain lost because Palin screwed up and the Sub Prime Financial Meltdown. Romney lost due to his own failure to have people relate to him as a candidate. He also lost because the social issues became more important than the economic issues. Also Presidnet Obama never pulled out of Ohio, over the first 4 years he was President. He stayed and kept campaining. May the next generation eventually realize the burden will fall on them.

  10. Brad  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm


    I suspect you think the real results of the election turn-out should hearten the Republican Party and conservatives alike, but I for one think that these results spell the doom for the Republican Party.

    If conservatives indeed turned out in higher numbers in ’12 than in ’08 and Obama received far fewer votes, yet still won – how do we steer a path to electoral victory?
    If we aren’t likely to turn out more non-voting conservatives, but rather have to win a larger percentage of non-white voters, paint me a skeptic!

    Let’s see – we must reach out to the non-white voting element to gain their support in order to win. Sorry, that is a loosing proposition of the first order. The ONLY thing this voting block responds to is more free stuff! More amnesty for illegal aliens! More abortions, more birth control, more welfare, more homosexual rights, more gun control, more dumbing-down of the electorate through programs like Common Core, etc. In general, more sucking off the public teat, further degradation of the moral basis that made our country great and insipient apathy!

    If Republicans embrace any of the policies that will further grow our government, reward law breakers and pander to narrow interest groups that non-white voters seem to favor, they will see their base dwindle by the millions.

    I am in this camp, as are most of my like minded friends. I will NEVER again vote for the lesser of two evils. The Republicans either run an unabashedly conservative candidate in ’16 or they can go pound sand.

    I would rather have the country crumble to nothing before my eyes than reward Godless progressive heathens from the Republican Party who lies to me to get elected only to continue down the path to fiscal ruin.

    I woke up in a country the day after the election that I didn’t want to believe we lived in. A country where the takers outnumber the makers. A country where the idiotic masses believe that achievement, especially if associated with the accumulation of wealth is bad. A country that believes Republicans want to return to slavery. A country that believes Republicans want women back in the house, pregnant and quiet. A country that believes success is better defined by how one achieves it only through the collectivist aid of the government and not by hard work and personal sacrifice. A country that believes that the money we earn isn’t ours, but merely on loan to us from the government.

    We need to nominate a real conservative, one who is a true believer and is charismatic. One who can artfully articulate conservative principles? Then we either win or loose.

    Even if we win, the country will reject out of hand the steps that are necessary to drag us out of the abyss we find ourselves spiraling towards. Government spending has to be cut in real terms, not base-line budgeting terms. Government has to return to delivering what the constitution gives it authority to deliver and nothing more. Taxes have to be lowered massively to spur economic growth. The entitlement mentality needs to be stigmatized and shunned. Excellence needs to be celebrated, honored and rewarded.

    Republicans, and more to the point, conservatives are stuck. Even if the ideal candidate is some how miraculously elected he/she does these things, the electorate will reject them out of hand in the next election cycle, replacing them with the same progressive group think that got us here in the first place. If the progressives continue to win, nothing changes, oblivion here we come. Any middle of the road compromiser will only slow the train down, but it is still heading to the washed out bridge, hurtling towards destruction.

    Not optimistic at all.

    • Jay  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Agreed. See my comment above about morality being the problem in our nation. If people’s hearts are not changed so that they return to morality individually, then it doesn’t matter what party is in office… the government will just continue to reflect the desire of the immoral majority.

      Now that we have an immoral majority, we are going to have to play by their rules if we ever hope to win again. It pains me to say this, since I consider myself to be a moral person, but since the other party cheats, we are also going to have to cheat. If we don’t cheat and rather live by altruistic ideologies, we will go on losing… and in the long run, the only option will be to separate, just like the settlers left England.

      So, if we sadly resolve ourselves that cheating will be necessary, we can also do one practical thing: elect a non-white person. Since most minorities vote based on skin color, we just need to tap into that (er, ahem, blatant racism), and use it to our advantage. Just throw up a Rubio-type and watch victory run to our doorstep. My one attack against Romney is he was never seen high-fiving black basketball players, smiling with Asian business suits, and generally perceived as being endorsed by minorities. That is a huge mistake he made. It was so much about perception.

    • Mike J  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Most are missing the real issue; when involved with political combat you need to have a “street fighter” mentality in order to win. Such is the example when looking at “Chicago” style tactics. (Obama, Emanuel, Daly &etc.) They always seem to win no matter what (although some may end up in jail later on). And perhaps history will say 50 years from now after examing all the facts; how come the present adminstration did not end up in jail? Sorry as a former USMC combat wounded veteran, Romney was no street fighter, maybe Gov . Christie is? We shall see

  11. mic  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    The reality is a saw this coming in the mid 08’s.Too much damn 3rd worlders voting Republicans out.As a hispanic(fine call me a monority uncle tom) a badge I wear proudly after seeing the gangs and decimation in LA .The Border and even legal immigration from non white Europeans should have neen shut down decades ago.It may be too late now but never too late to start.Sorry I see it as a matter of cultural and national security.

  12. Tom  •  Apr 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    I am convinced that Romney lost due to massive voter fraud in many parts of the nation. How could Obama have had more votes in some precincts than there were registered voters? I feel that the voting machines that switched votes from Romney to Obama registered those incorrect votes to Obama’s total. How many votes for Romney were thrown out for one reason or another. Why didn’t the Romney campaign demand recounts in the many states that had voter irregularities? I have read that several years ago the Republican Committee agreed not to demand recounts in racially diverse areas, thus opening the way for the Democrats to automatically win in those areas. Romney lost because the Republican party rolled over and played dead!

  13. Ben Avery Ware  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 3:27 am

    The Republicans lost the election when they replaced Michael Steele immediately after the historic win in 2010. For two years he had been the de facto voice of the Party while everyone else hid under their desks. That should not have been his main role but he did it well, especially given that no one else would do it. Yet after such an obvious, clear-cut victory he was replaced by Reinhold Reince Priebus. Such a tin-eared, midstream change by the Republican party could not have been lost on minority voters. Then, after raising and spending a billion dollars to no effect, Reinhold calls for minority outreach. At least they’ve got the Prussian vote locked up.

    Expect no help from the Media. I remember when I saw a couple of Asian Americans, prominent in the Romney campaign, on the first day of the Republican convention and thought to myself that’s the last I’ll see of these guys. Compare that disappearing act to the losers who ran the McCain campaign. They got movie deals. I remember them all too well.

    The fact that we refer to the Asian vote as such speaks volumes. Are Cuban Americans part of the Hispanic vote? If you were to ever talk to a “Hispanic” you might find an immigrant from Argentina bristles at the thought of being grouped with Mexican immigrants. Vietnamese with a similar tragic history as Cubans might have been a natural fit for the Republican party but no one even thought to make the distinction. Now they’re Democrats.

    Mr. Medved, on your way to and from work do you ever think to drive a bucket of balls on Seattle’s Beacon Hill or stop off in Rainier Valley for some Pho? The 98118 zip code is the most diverse in the country. Yes, more than any in Florida, California, or Hawaii. It’s where famous hip hop artists pop tags — your pop culture connection. Yet you drive right by it daily and may not know any of that, or if you do your audience may not. The Republican party certainly doesn’t. That’s my point.

    Republicans should be fielding candidates in areas it fully expects to have minimal impact in, much like religious groups sending their young out on missionary trips. By doing so they develop character and very importantly, insight. Learning how to lose by can mean winning.

  14. Larry Good  •  Apr 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Even if Republicans can attract more support from non-white portions of the electorate, how can we ever win another national election when our opponents actively court fraudulent voters?

    The Democrats refusal to accept any form of reasonable voter ID. Even elementary school children require ID to check out books from the library; how could a universal federal ID card be so difficult? The government knows the SS numbers of every legal citizen already! Thus, the refusal of the Democrats to support any kind of voter ID is exposed as irrational and indefensible, unless their goal is to increase election fraud!

    And with fraudulent elections comes a government that is unrepresentative of the true electorate and can therefore NOT represent its interests. Unless we can somehow stem this tide of voter fraud, our representative democratic republic will go the way of European socialism.

    Thus, voter fraud is the more pressing problem!

  15. alfredo  •  Apr 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    voter fraud? think soros. saw a t/shirt once.” it does not matter who votes. it matters who counts the votes.”- Stalin

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