Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Where did Mitt Romney go wrong? That is the question that many Republicans and other Romney supporters were asking themselves during the long night on Nov. 6 and the days after. Polls showed Romney had a fighting chance to gain the presidency.

He was gaining on Obama in national polls. These polls were misleading. The media loves a close race to keep people glued to their seats, so they keep churning out polls that made it seem like Romney could win. The polls were not wrong, but they did not focus on what was important. National polls would be akin to the popular vote which does not decide elections, the Electoral College does.

One look at the Electoral College before the election and you would see that Romney had an uphill battle that he was not close to winning. Before the election, Obama had a firm foothold in swing states such as Wisconsin and the all-important Ohio. He even outdid himself by gaining Virginia, Colorado, and Florida. The states that were guaranteed to Romney are sparsely populated ones such as Montana, Mississippi, and Kansas. The larger states he grabbed  such as Georgia and Texas cannot stand up to the combined might of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and the electoral juggernaut California. The odds were never in Romney’s favor.

Part of Romney’s problem was Romney himself. He never showed himself to be a political heavyweight before the election. If you remember, he had trouble beating has-beens Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in the primaries. Santorum lost his senate race by 18 percent and Gingrich was kicked out of the House by his own party. These two were not impressive candidates, yet Romney had to work surprisingly hard to take the nomination from these two. 

Of course, he had his fair share of gaffes during the campaign. There was his “binders full of women” remarks, and his 47 percent remark. Every politician makes a remark that gets media attention. Remember when Obama talked of people “clinging to guns and religion?” Ill-spoken words are not enough to sink an election. It did give the Democrats ammo to give Romney a bad image. The Obama campaign struck first and painted Romney as an aloof, rich man. A one-percenter, who is ignorant to the problems of the middle class. They cited his number of homes and his work at Bain capital as proof of this. Him not giving out his tax returns also did not help.  By the time the Romney campaign was able to respond, the damage was done. 

All the blame cannot be put on Romney himself. He had a good performance during the 2012 campaign. In fact he finally showed a sense of fight and tenacity. This was a welcome change from the comatose campaigns of John Kerry and Al Gore. Romney really had no chance because of the GOP’s shrinking demographic. The leadership of the party refuses to try and get new voters. They suck-up to Tea Partiers while ignoring potential voters.

The Latino vote has been a reason for the Obama win.  Many swing states went towards Obama because he had Latino support. The final tally was 71 to 27. George Bush was able to get 44 percent. The GOP has to try and court Latinos. That means no more supporting of draconian immigration laws like the one first issued in Arizona. Almost immediately after the election, House Leader John Boehner assured the public that both parties would make a bipartisan agreement on the issue.

There is also the youth vote to consider where Obama won 60 to 37. There was a bigger turnout for the youth vote (18 to 29) than the senior citizen vote (65+). The GOP alienates youth with their obsession about gay marriage and birth control. The youth simply does not care about curbing these two issues. Gaining the youth goes hand-in-hand with the libertarian vote.  Both hold similar social values. The GOP has ignored the likes of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson. It may be time to incorporate their liberation views into the party. Many young people have libertarain views on drugs and gay marriage. The GOP should look at current social lifestyles and do some important reaching out to do if it wants to survive.

The final reason that Romney lost is that Obama is doing a good job. Explaining this in detail would constitute a whole other article, but the recovery is happening so there is no need to jump ship. Romney made mistakes, but his primary reason for losing was trying to appeal against a shrinking demographic and against a successful president.

Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at

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