Top Ten Reasons Romney Lost

by Bob Burnett

On Nov. 6 Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney with 50.3% of the popular vote and a surprising 303 electoral votes. Here are the top ten reasons Romney tanked.

10. He didn’t have Bill Clinton. Other than his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney didn’t have an effective surrogate. Obama had Joe Biden, Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton who commanded big crowds wherever he spoke. Romney didn’t use George W. Bush, who retreated to the Cayman Islands.

9. Mitt was wildly unpopular in Massachusetts, his home state. Obama carried Massachusetts by 23 percentage points. Romney claimed to have been an effective Governor who practiced bipartisanship, but the word got around that he had been an arrogant, dogmatic prick.

8. Romney blew his chance to score points on Benghazi. Republicans thought the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would give Romney an opportunity to paint the President as weak on national security. But Romney flubbed his chance in the second debate. Obama recalled, “The day after the attack ... I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people ... that this was an act of terror.” Romney pounced, claiming the President had not called it “an act of terror.” But the debate moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley agreed with the president’s recollection.

7. He was branded as elite and out-of-touch. Before the Republican convention, Obama ran ads labeling Romney as a “vulture capitalist,” “part of the problem, not the solution.” Then a tape was uncovered where Romney told donors, “47 percent of the people ... who are victims ... my job is not to worry about those people.” This strengthened core support for Obama. Exit polls indicated that on the attribute, “a candidate who cares about people like me,” Obama overwhelmed Romney.

6. Women got wise to him. While the economy mattered to white female voters, it improved enough that they turned their attention to social issues: reproductive care, education and healthcare, in general. They trusted Obama on these issues and came to believe he was the candidate who would do the most for the middle class. Women favored Obama by 55% and unmarried women preferred him by 68%.

5. He didn’t understand Hispanics. Romney’s strategy was predicated on massively carrying the white vote and he did secure 58%. But in certain areas, the Republican needed the votes of Hispanics and he didn’t get them because he was against the DREAM act and suggested “self-deportation” for undocumented immigrants. Seventy percent of Hispanics voted for Obama.

4. The Economy recovered enough. After May, when Mitt Romney won enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination, he attacked the president for the state of the economy, “Obama isn’t working.” But thousands of new jobs were added and the unemployment rate declined from 8.5% to 7.9%. Romney’s campaign slogan shifted to, “Believe in America.” He said he had a “five point plan.” “Romney has a one-point plan; make sure the folks at the top play by a different set of rules.” Towards the end of the campaign Romney quit talking about the economy.

3. Romney told one too many lies. After securing the Republican nomination for president, Romney waged a dishonest campaign. An independent fact-checker, PolitiFact, reported two-thirds of Romney’s statements ranged from “half-true” to blatant lies. The media didn’t report all of these falsehoods but a week before the election Mitt was caught running an extremely deceptive auto bailout ad that torpedoed his chances in Ohio.

2. God intervened. Romney’s campaign for president was bracketed by hurricanes. First, Isaac threatened the Republican convention and lowered the ratings, and then Sandy disrupted the campaign and gave Obama an opportunity to display his competency as commander-in-chief. As the result of Sandy, Obama got kudos from Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and an endorsement from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Obama had already gained momentum, after a disastrous first debate, and his response to Sandy pushed him ahead in most polls.

1. No Republican can win at the national level. A year ago, when the slate of Republican presidential candidates formed, it was Mitt Romney versus the “seven dwarfs:” Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Pawlenty, Perry and Santorum. Romney struggled in the first primaries and had to turn on his money machine to defeat the others in the conclusive primaries. It was an indication that that Republicans were lukewarm about him.

Romney had to tack to the right to secure his base and this turned off self-defined centrist voters. Obama overwhelmingly carried both liberal and centrist voters. The electorate has gotten wise to the Republican Party; they understand that they are radical conservatives — out-of-touch with the middle class. Ultimately, that’s why Romney lost. It indicates that no Republican presidential candidate would have been electable.

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley, Calif., writer. Before starting a second career as a journalist, he was one of the founding executives at Cisco Systems. Email

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2012

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