Success & Prosperity Blog

How the GOP Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

By Randy Gage in Critical Thinking, Success.

9 Lessons the Republicans (and You) Can Learn from the Election

We don’t usually talk politics in this space, but the US presidential election which just ended offers some fascinating lessons on marketing, promoting a movement or cause – and also why playing safe is the riskiest thing you can do in the new world.  In his core Romney may really be a Massachusetts moderate, but as far as the campaign he ran, it was classic conservative “safe” choices, and ultimately those safe choices did him in.

2012 was supposed to be the year for Republicans.  They were licking their chops:  High unemployment, sputtering recovering, war fatigue, and an incumbent president who had promised hope and change and seemed to deliver lowered expectations.  No president since FDR has won reelection with unemployment over 7.1 percent.

So where and how did it all go so wrong?

Some GOP stalwarts want to argue that it was a conspiracy by the elite liberal media, bad luck timing of super storm Sandy, or the bromance between the president and Governor Christie.  But they’re missing out on some very important lessons.

These lessons offer insight on how the Republicans can become relevant again, the ways social media and technology has changed marketing, and the role they can play in leading a tribe.  So today’s post is part political rant, part marketing insights, part training on success.  Read it and take what you will from it.

Here are the 9 Lessons from the Romney Defeat:

1) People Follow Leaders not Managers.  America isn’t looking for a CEO in Chief they want a Commander in Chief.  Ideas matter.   And the bigger the forum, the bigger the ideas need to be.

People today are desperately looking for someone to lead them.  Mitt Romney never painted the vision of the future he wanted to build for America.  He spent the entire primary season tearing down his opponents with slash and burn attack ads.  Then he spent the whole general election running against the president’s jobs record.  But when you’re only attacking the platform of the other side, it means you’re not offering your own vision.

Romney never realized it until too late, but the tagline for this election was actually, “It’s not the economy, stupid.”  Most people said the economy was on the wrong track, most people thought Romney was a better businessman, and most people thought Romney would create more jobs.  And more of these people voted for the president than Romney.  They saw Romney as a better manager, but when they elect a president, they’re looking for a leader.

“It’s the economy, stupid” looked like a safe strategy because it worked so well for President Clinton.  But that was a different moment in time.  The world changes and what used to be safe often becomes risky.  In the post 9/11 world, people still want jobs and worry about financial security.  But terrorism, nuclear proliferation, war, and other issues are important to them and their desire for leadership in those areas sometimes causes them to downplay their own pocketbook.

2) Wars are Won on the Ground.

From Patton to Rommel, to Dayan, the greatest generals understand an army only moves as far as its fuel and supply line.  Romney won the nomination with his superior ground game and lost the election with an inferior one.

In the primary Mitt was running against a rag tag collection of second tier candidates and he used his money and organization to get out the vote and collect delegates.  In the general election, he didn’t have such an overwhelming money advantage and he was seriously outgunned on the ground game.

Romney outsourced most of his state offices to the Republican Party. The Obama campaign machine had offices and staff set up in the 12 swing states before the 2008 election and they never left.  That seems like an unfair advantage, but the truth is, Mitt has been running for president as long as Barack Obama has.  In Florida, the GOP opened six offices.  The Obama campaign had 1,100.

Mitt has a small inner circle of people he trusts.  He played it safe with a team he trusted from his Massachusetts days.  They were fiercely loyal but no one at the top had ever run a true national campaign.  They were outcoached and outplayed at every turn by the experienced Obama team.

The Romney team had “Project Orca,” which was supposed to enable poll watchers to record voter names on their smartphones as voters checked in. The plan was this would give HQ real-time turnout data, so they could direct resources throughout the day as needed. They had 37,000 swing state volunteers lined up for this program.  In Colorado, it was a complete meltdown.

What actually happened is the app didn’t work, or people couldn’t figure it out.  The PINs issued were wrong and the replacement ones didn’t work any better.  Hundreds of volunteers in Colorado were told it was a local mess up, but it was working everywhere else fine.  Interestingly enough, the same process happened in North Carolina and those volunteers were told it was only a local issues and Orca was working everywhere else fine.  Anecdotal evidence from Virginia and other swing states confirms similar scenario:  A bunch of frustrated volunteers who couldn’t get information and futile calls to the campaign that were never answered.

Contrast that with the Obama machine:  They had an airtight structure in place to identify and get out every last possible vote. They contacted people hundreds, sometimes thousands of times through social media.  The Republicans are about five years behind the Democrats on social media and that’s about twenty in Internet years! Team Obama knew every possible vote the president could get and they made sure they got to the polls.

David Plouffe even wrote a book about the strategy (“The Audacity to Win,” required reading for all political junkies).  In the book Plouffe details exactly how the Obama campaign won the first election and would repeat the process in the next one.  I guess nobody from the Republican party read it.

The Republicans had voter lists and made contacts.  The Obama machine sliced and diced the lists, micro targeting voters by issues, age and interest.  The Romney campaign asked people to donate.  The Obama campaign asked people to fight a cause.

If you’re a business, your ground game is customer service and care.  If you’re a non-profit, your ground game is showing people how their contributions make a difference.  If you’re a political campaign, your ground game is recruiting people into the movement.  And getting them to the polls on election day.

Simply asking people to make a purchase or donation gets a certain result.  Asking them to be a part of something much bigger than themselves produces a far superior result.  Romney sold the fact he could create more jobs.  Obama sold the vision of keeping America moving forward.  Forward won.

3) Choose Your Associates Carefully.

The GOP got punch drunk with the Tea Party wins in 2010 and thought they had stumbled across a new super power that would slay Democrats.  Romney and the rest of the party pandered to the Tea Party and it cost them.

No one did the critical thinking to understand the difference in Tea Party appeal locally versus nationally. Red meat plays well in red states for local elections.  Nationally it doesn’t attract independents and moderates.    And frankly scares off intelligent women, Latins and Blacks, who were the key to the 12 swing states.

The second issue is what happened to the Tea Party.  It started as a noble movement to reduce government, but was soon high jacked by other factions.  The language and tone got very bellicose, xenophobic and mean-spirited.

The biggest single mistake Romney made was chasing after Tea Party voters in the primaries.  There was no way he was going get their votes against Santorum and Newt anyway.  He had enough money and organization to win in spite of that.

But he couldn’t resist joining the conversation about throwing the abuelitas over the 30-foot-high electric fence… 

Sixty-five percent of the people voting Tuesday favor having some type of path to legal citizenship.  Romney and the Republicans wanted the Tea Party vote (which they would have gotten against President Obama in any event), so they threw the Latins under the bus in their desire to placate the tea-billies down south and out west.  (Who wouldn’t vote Democrat if their lives depended on it.)  Alienating the Latins cost the Republicans Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

4) Reward Loyalty, but Not If It Takes You Down in Flames.

The Republicans have a very polite and civilized habit:  They like to give the nomination to the guy who ran strong but lost and conceded early four years earlier.  Instead of choosing the best candidate, they like to nominate the loyal soldier who paid their dues.  This very nice habit has a tendency to produce lopsided losses. (Think Dole and McCain.)  You want to reward loyalty, but if doing so causes your own self-destruction, there is something dysfunctional in the process. Republicans would be wise to remember one thing:  There’s a reason that guy lost last time.

The GOP would be wise to do some serious soul searching about their primary process and the end candidate it produces.  As the candidates slogged through 20 debates this year, people kept suggesting that it was producing stronger candidates, like the primaries did for the Democrats in 2008.  Not even close.

A little critical thinking would have revealed that in 2008, the Democrats loved the debates because their two top rock stars (Hillary and Obama) were slugging it out.  In 2012, none of the Republican rock stars (Christie, Rubio, Jeb, etc.) were even in the process.

The current primary system is quite empowering to the party’s minor figures (philandering pizza makers) and non-mainstream constituencies (like Bachmann and even Ron Paul).

By the time the process winnowed it down to the top three, it eventually produced a choice of candidates that in terms of their stand on social issues would take us back to the 90’s (Newt), the 70’s (Mitt), or the 50’s (Santorum).  To field an equal slate, the Democrats would have had to run Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart, and George McGovern.

The most important thing any organization ever does – is creating a structure for developing the next generation of leaders. 

5) Intellect Matters.

A party that rolls out dimwits like Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin and presents them as their ideological thought leaders cannot expect to be taken seriously by any thinking person.

Just because someone expresses loyalty to the Republican party or shows a willingness to attack Democrats, does not mean they should be held out as leaders of the Republican movement.  And yes it should be considered a movement.  And movements start with ideas.  And ideas start with intellect.

There’s enough blame to go around here, including FOX News Channel.  It’s debatable if it has ever been a “news” channel, but its progression over the last few years to a predictable right wing propaganda factory to rival the left wing propaganda output of MSNBC means there is one less source of intelligent debate to foster big ideas in the conservative community.  (Although I’m restoring some bonus points to them for having Larry Winget on.)

Karl Rove’s daily need for fresh red meat to throw in the cage has meant giving credible platforms to people with limited intellect like Trump, Bachmann and Palin, all the way to heralding nut cases like the birthers and Sherriff Joe.   All this conspiracy theory stuff is good for cable ratings, but seriously dumbs down the party, the ideas it presents, and the caliber of people it attracts.

6) Put Your Best Team on the Field.

If you want to elect a president, the first rule is simple:  Don’t nominate bad candidates.

By this I don’t mean candidates that are bad people (although there’s an argument that could be made for that), I mean candidates who are bad at being a candidate.

Being a good candidate is actually a skill.  And to be a good candidate, you need to be good at doing five skill sets:

1)   Staying on message

2)   Conducting interviews

3)   Debating

4)   Giving speeches

5)   Raising money

By nominating Romney, the process produced a candidate that was weak in four of the five skillsets.  Mitt could never stay on message and through the whole season let the Obama campaign drive the debate.  (Tax returns, Swiss bank accounts, Medicare vouchers, dogs on the roof, a couple of Cadillacs, etc.)  You have to stay on your message and force the other side to have your conversation.   The Romney campaign played defense the entire time, and that means off message.

Romney is simply dreadful at conducting interviews and he never made an effort to get better.  This was apparent from his very first one with Bret Baier from FOX (one of the few actual journalists left over there), when Mitt started stuttering and stammering because he thought the questions weren’t puff ball enough.  He spent the entire campaign avoiding interviews.  The right appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight and a few other outlets would have humanized him and allowed voters to connect with Mitt.  Instead he ran away.

As far as a debater, Romney isn’t great, but neither was the guy he was running against.  But he still lost two out of three.

If we look at the skill set of giving speeches, this is another area where playing it safe cost Romney the election.  He’s never been comfortable unless he’s robotically channeling his standard stump speech data dump.  With the right coaching (and by that I mean someone who would force him to lose all the rehearsing and speak from the heart), he could have been amazing.

I forget what primary it was, but Rick Santorum gave the speech of his life.  (The one where he talked about seeing his coal miner grandfather in the casket and marveling at the size of his big hands.)  Santorum always spoke from the heart and that really connected with voters.  On that particular night, after watching the Santorum concession speech, team Romney ran downstairs and took away the teleprompter for Mitt and told him they needed him to be more human.

Romney told the story of his father traveling the country, selling out of the trunk of his car and he was mesmerizing.  That was a candidate America could fall in love with.  But the next night, he was back to the safety of his teleprompter and stump speech.

You saw the same thing Tuesday night:  Because Mitt hadn’t prepared a concession speech, he came out and gave one of his best speeches ever.  If he spoke like that every night, he’d have been giving a victory speech instead.  Republicans ridiculed the president for giving beautiful speeches with a teleprompter.  But that wins elections.

In fund raising, the last skillset, Mitt scores an A plus, and that’s why he got the nomination.  But Republicans would be wise to decide if that serves them.  They really need a primary process that produces a candidate who is proficient in all five areas, not just the collecting money one.

In any organization the path to victory requires putting your best team on the field when the championship is on the line. The current Republican primary process does not do that.  

6) Take Responsibility for Your Actions.  Republicans tried to demonize the president for the deficit and unemployment.  Let’s be real here:  It will take 40 or 50 years to undo the damage President George W. Bush did to America.  I could be glib and say that he almost single-handedly destroyed the world banking and economic system.  But that would be as unfair to him as it is to try to pin it all on President Obama.  Truth is we can thank the Fed, Alan Greenspan, dreadful regulators, President Clinton (who powered through Community Reinvestment Act beginning the sub-prime lending party), Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and FNMA, for getting all that started, and then credit president Bush with stoking the fire with stupidity.  So there was plenty of blame to go around on all sides and voters knew it.  To suggest that unemployment and the deficit were the fault of president Obama is like the abusive alcoholic husband blaming his bad marriage on his wife.

Yes the president increased the deficit by a trillion dollars a year.  But there was no president of any party that wouldn’t have had to take drastic action and go further into debt when they took over in 2008.  This strategy to try and blame it all on president Obama was very disingenuous and ultimately didn’t work.

It all came tumbling down like a house of cards with a couple homespun sentences from the big dog from Arkansas at the Democratic convention:  “In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple — pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”   Oops.

7) Reach Out to Everyone.

You can’t be all things to all people.  But if you want to be all things to one people, you’re not going to win many elections either.  For decades Republicans have lived on the NASCAR nation to carry them.  But a party that relies on whites for 90 percent of its votes will lose in the new reality.  A coalition of all-white men isn’t really a coalition, and it gets smaller every four years.  The Bubba vote won’t get it done any longer.

Even though Romney probably carried ninety percent of the Bible-thumping Bubba’s – he lost women by ten points, Latins by 40 points, Asians by 50 points, and Blacks by 70 points!

8) Mind Your Own Business

No matter what business you’re in, you have to take care of business.  And mind your own business.

The philosophy of nation building and being the world’s policeman isn’t congruent with the idea of less government and it simply doesn’t work.  President Bush’s doctrine of “give them liberty or give them death” got us in two wars and bankrupted us.  Yet still you hear hawks screaming to send troops to Iran, Syria or Libya.

History since WW II is quite clear that while it may have come from noble intentions, forcing democracy on other nations that aren’t ready for it doesn’t work.  We tried in Vietnam, Haiti, Bosnia, Somalia, and Iran.  Remember the Shah?  (Now you could argue that it worked in Japan.  But that’s kinda cause we dropped a couple nuclear bombs on them first.)

If you’re for less government be for less government. Get out of the bedroom.  If you’re morally opposed to same sex marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex!

You’re not philosophically congruent if you say you’re for States rights and a reduced role for the Federal government, but then you want to legislate your religious beliefs on everyone else.

If you believe that there is a God that created the institution of marriage and made it specifically for a man and a woman, great – join a church that supports and sanctions that view.  But the Federal government has no business in that.  Get Washington out of the marriage business completely.  Let states decide what the requirements are for civil unions and let churches do what they want with marriage for the people of their faith.

9) Be True to Your Values

When Republicans win, it’s when they field a candidate that has a vision of fiscal and social conservative values.  Which is why I said in February and March and still believe today, Rick Santorum would have presented a tougher challenge to the president.  (But don’t worry, because according to the GOP formula, Santorum already has the 2016 nomination sewed up!)

I think no rational Republican thought Mitt Romney was a credible standard bearer of conservative values.  But after he steamrolled his way through the primary, everybody wanted to believe he was a born-again conservative.  You expect Karl Rove to spout it, even if he doesn’t believe it because that’s how he feeds his cable channel.  And you expect Dick Morris to believe it, because he lives in his own alternate universe.  But even Erick Erickson, Ari Fleischer and Alex Castellanos seemed to drink the Kool-aid this time around.

But let’s come back to reality here…

You may be upset your guy didn’t win; I get that.  And you may be disappointed that Mitt Romney couldn’t sell this vision of conservative values.  But no one should be surprised.

– RG

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Santorum? Same sex marriage is a kin to beastyality, Santorum? A woman"s pregnancy from rape is a blessing, Santorum? You must understand that you can PowerPoint strategies for the GOP til the cows come home, the core problems lye in the belief systems that have moved toward angry, right-wing fascism. If the GOP would start working for the American people and get some things done in congress, maybe they can save some of their house seats, but if they continue the way they are now. They will be a minority in the house as well.


Most of the common sense here is incompatible with winning the Republican nomination.  Primaries guarantee that wackos will do major damage.


The GOP base is built on racism, jingoism, intolerance and obscurantism.


Uh...we voted for Obama and we're white Nascar fans. The Nascar demographic has actually changed a bit over the years. Other than that, loved the list. Definitely spot on.


Is there a love button. I said some of this all along. If you always focus on the problem but don't offer an answer, no ne knows you can help....


Social media happened. Savvy marketing happened. Clever messaging happened. Analytics happened. Culture creation happened.


So much tolerance in many of these posts. Ironic considering the host is a proponent of the teachings of the power of loving words and thoughts.


Here's what I've learned from multiple posters: Republican women are 'nit wits'. All Republicans are evil. Rich people are greedy and evil. Tea Party members are stupid and ignorant. Religious people should shut up.  Anyone who voted for Romney is a hate mongering bigot.


Wow. Lots of intoerance and name calling going on. And from people who won the election! I've heard of sore-losers but never heard of sore-winners!


Yes let's talk Military, it is not an entitlement and should / needs to be cut and we should not enter into wars or conflicts until we have figured out how to PAY FOR IT FIRST! Therefore it must be cut and cut deep.



Let's talk Raising Taxes on the RICH, I love how these republicans keep saying we shouldn't make the 1%'er pay more.....We are NOT MAKING THEM PAY MORE, WE WANT THEM TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE. IF I PAY 32% THEN THEY NEED TO PAY 32% ISH AND CLEARLY THEY ARE NOT WHEN ROMNEY PAYS 14% OR LESS OR HOW ABOUT THESE MULTIL BILLION DOLLAR CORPORATIONS THAT PAY -%, THAT IS RIGHT negative % which means socialism i.e. corporate socialism where your money is taken from you, the middle class, and given to the rich mittlers and corporations.

Pepco Holdings

General Electric








Goldman Sachs



In Mittlers 47% that are on the government teet include companies and the Mitt Romney types are part of his 47% and they represent the 28.3% not paying taxes....this is disgusting


All corporations and rich need to pay as much taxes as I do and if they did we would have a surplus of cash right NOW


I love they way the republican nut jobs like to say Medicare and Social Security are "ENTITLEMENTS" That is like the bank saying your freaking savings account is an "entitlement" We freaking paid for those programs out of our pay checks you freaking idiots


An entitlement is a right to something, so if I freaking pay for something then YES I AM entitled to it you stupid republican morons.


These idiot republicans want to cut "entitlements" why not start with cutting the FREE ENTITLEMENT OF CONGRESS TO HEALTH CARE FOR THEIR ENTIRE FAMILIES. Then cut the entitlements to the Military which is the largest part of our freaking budget.


The ignorance and stupidity in the republican party truly knows no bounds, I'll likely never vote republican again, I too stopped voting republican during regan because of the religious nuts



Totally agree, religious nuts have taken over the party and I'm a independant now, I refuse to vote for my own party until they stop the WAR on PERSONAL Freedoms and denounce the religious nut base. I only vote demo or independent now.


As long as they "republicans" of any type introduce a religious base I will never vote for them, ever for any reason. Not even if they could cure cancer because they have turned them selves into a cancer against personal freedom which is what this country is all about, not religious nut bagism if I may quote you rr1024...I like that term


The Tea Baggers Republicans and Republican's in general are nothing more that religious nut bags trying to force their "immorality" as morality on to everyone. It's disgusting and can not be tolerated anymore. I stopped being republican at Regan when he started bringing his religious nut bagism in to politics to separate and divide this country.


All religious people are immoral which is proven by the GMD by R. Ries, stated below

Ask any religious person the following

1. Can your god change the worshiping methods\rules\morality\anything for his followers to follow at any time? (Yes/No)

2. Do you believe your gods word absolute? (Yes/No)

3. If god orders you to kill your own child, will you? (Yes/No)


As evidence that god will, does and can force his followers to murder Brothers, Family and Friends is in Exodus 32:26-29 &  Genesis 22 is just two of 100's of instances of evidence that god in the past has ordered people to kill family members, friends and neighbors and praised  them for doing so. ~~~ R. Ries 1987 The GMD

There is even evidence now where Blair Donnelly - God told him to kill his daughter! - Christian

Like it or not religion breads and fosters fanaticism which is why our for fathers created a seperation of church and state.

Shawne Duperon
Shawne Duperon

Wow.. one of your most compelling posts. Brilliant.. Love that you always have us thinking..


@Randy, it was refreshing to read this message. 


Fox news was an abomination - all those liberal haters gathered to feast on those who truly care but may be misguided. 


The CNN staff were equally inept (though not as pit-bullish as the Foxers), yet they too let the candidates dictate what the messages of the campaign were to be rather than talk about what really matters. 


The third-party debates - hosted by Larry King and others - mostly ignored mainstream platforms and talked about legitimate and pressing problems and radical-yet intelligent solutions:

*climate change,

*swelling entitlements that are too sacred and touchy for Frick-and-Frack candidates in the mainstream to admit that  a pay-in of $30,000 to the Medicare program for benefits of more than $90,000 cannnot be sustained without further balooning the already massive deficit,

*the outrageously expensive and criminal war machine which Obama wants to maintain and Romney wants to let off its genocidal leash,

*the blatantly obvious apartheid-like nature of the Republican Party which reminds me of my time in Red-State Texas many years ago when evangelicals would approach me with their Roy-Roger, Cheshire-Cat grins and tell me, "I never met a Jeeeew.  How d'ya do."


I have been saying for years that even the Internet success stories look like the Masters Country Club in 1955.  The demographics are moving Republicans light-years' away from the everchanging voting public, and cosmetic changes from "I never met a Jeeew" conservatives will remain unconvincing now and long into the future.  The only hope for the Republicans is to pray for martial law stateside before the minorities openly declare their independence from white, bellicose doctrine meant to deceive and enslave the many.


The Republicans claimed that they can dig in their collective heals because America is a house divided and the election was squeaky-close in many states.  The pitbull Republicans have not learned that these squeaky-close races are going to be followed by landslides as the racial and social minorities grow.  The times they are a changin'.  The Coulters, Limbaughs, Sununus, and FoxNews-lovers will clearly become the poverty-stricken children fogging uo the windows of shops selling presents they can no longer have.


Being liberal is not to be equated with endless spending.  It is not to be equated with tree-hugging environmentalist wanting to undermine oil conglomerates for the sake of a rainforest.  It is not to be equated with moving down the slippery slope to socialism. 


It is about understanding that we must respect all lives - American and not - to choose or not choose to follow our path called democracy.


It is understanding that in principle and eventually in practice we can set an example as being the beacons' of peace rather than the drone and thirty-thousand-foot, carpet-bombing  genociders who casually talk about our brave four in Libya rather than the innocent millions of other beliefs and nationalities who die in the crossfires of American hegemonious wars for control of  oil and energy sources and lanes.


Yes, this election was a turning point in understanding the realpolitik that America is meant to be a confluence of ideas leading to a higher ideal, rather than a biased imposition by elitist - the same type as we left  Europe to escape some 240 years ago - intent on subjugating the masses, keeping them in the dark as to the mischief and evil their up to, and making the education we so dearly need to lead to damn unaffordable for all but the well-heeled.


the parties in the future will eventually become vessels for empowerment or they will disappear.  They will be inclusive from the heart or marginalizedfor eternity.  These are not idle predictions.  The seeds are already planted.  Time may just be on our side.


I just like the way you think sir... I follow you on Twitter (I hate Twitter) ... and during every debate then during the election sadly my only joy was found watching Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and reading you TWEETS!!! I am really quite a conservative Christian, everyone I love... family & friends watch the Cartoon Network (FOX NEWS) and trust it as "news!"  I call myself a moderate and MY GUY WON!   Thanks for putting it all in one place here Randy... you are always a refreshing read! :) 



While I'm not totally surprised by your views, I do find them incongruent with what you preach.  Larger government, fiscal recklessness, and tightly regulated markets are not the path to prosperity, neither financial nor personal.  I am, though, surprised at how many of your followers share your view.  Since I do not and I wish to make more of my life I am unsubscribing from your blog. 


I'm not surprised about Mitt. I think that Mitt does have the ability to think and connect with people; he just chose to pander to specific groups and that backfired.It's like Kennedy and Nixon all over again. 


The nine points are well stated, but in the end only one mattered.  As Slate Magazine put it, “Mitt Romney says he is a numbers guy, but in the end he got the numbers wrong.”


Team Romney thought that 74% or more of the electorate would be White.  In fact, only 72% of the voters were White.  It was also their article of faith that African Americans and Latinos would not turn out in big numbers.  Instead, the Black vote was up in Cleveland (and elsewhere) over 2008 and Latinos proved decisive in Colorado, Nevada and Florida.


Romney tried to win one last time with the “Southern Strategy” pioneered by Nixon in 1968:  suppress the minority vote and win with White voters.  It worked brilliantly, sort-of.  Obama won just 39% of the White vote.  A Romney landslide!  Could “Project Orca”, had it worked, deliver more?


 Romney got buried by African Americans, Latinos, younger voters, single and professional women, gays, etc.  The ten states with the highest percentage of people (age 25 plus) with a Bachelor’s Degree or above all voted for Obama.  Romney won nine of the ten states with the lowest percentage of post-secondary education.


Team Romney denied “inconvenient numbers” by discounting media opinion polls that showed Obama was decisively (though narrowly) winning nearly every “swing state”.   To the bitter end, they relied on their internal “un-skewed” polls.   Romney only won North Carolina. 


What is the lesson?  That the country has changed demographically, culturally?  “Motivated Reasoning” can easily lead even a smart group like Team Romney astray?  Ignore reality at your peril?  The “only constant” is change?  That “Risky” is the “New Safe”?

Sally Stevens
Sally Stevens

Great post Randy.

Too many folks are afraid to engage in spirited political discussion because they are afraid of starting an argument. We all should discuss and participate in our government, that's what makes us free.

I have been involved in party politics for the last 12 or 13 years, quite a few in state leadership. I felt a little left out, because Oregon was not a targeted state, so I didn't get in on the conference calls for strategy and planning. There always glitches in any big campaign.  The software vendors always have THE latest and greatest voter targeting program, and they rarely produce the results promised.

After a loss, everyone wants to re vamp the primary process. In reality, primaries do give you a pretty good idea of the stability and staying power of a candidate. I thought Romney did a good job as a candidate. he had his drawbacks, everyone does because they're human beings. I wished he had been a little punchier, but that's not him.

It's a mistake to view the GOP as a monolithic entity. Most of the time leading republicans is like herding wet cats. the party is now mostly independent small business persons, many with a strong libertarian bent. Romney had to utilize state party organizations because campaign finance rules curtailed his spending until after he became the official nominee of the party, a situation Obama used to his advantage.

There are certain things that we will never be able to duplicate in GOTV efforts. Most Repubs will not turn over their ballots to others. We do not have such a thing as street money, I don't know how to pay people for their votes, and I do not intend to start. Last time, in 08, I had four or five people in my little middle of nowhere county on the Oregon coast whose credit cards were fraudulently charged by the Obama campaign in small amounts. The dems are creative.

 Participating in my local community is how I give back. I feel passionately that everyone must be involved to some extent in their local government or political party. We will be having a meeting this week, and it is likely that I will be chair again after a couple years off. I am very saddened by the cannibalism and blame going on in my party right now. we have to face a very hard truth now. We have lost the country.

The very fact that a majority of folks believed that things would improve under a Romney presidency, and yet they voted for Obama because he's what? Cooler? A snappier dresser? It paves the path to tyranny for us as a notion.

I would love to see my party evolve to become the party of success, and promote the ideas of Rand and Hayek.

I deeply appreciate the way you have modernized the truths of prosperity and success. I have been working with the law of attraction for 6 or 7 years now and purchased Think and Grow Rich, and doing okay, but when I read the first words from you, I GOT it. I am finally understanding the nuts and bolts of what it takes to attract prosperity in my daily life.

I have spent a lot of time through this election thinking what a government or policies that promoted prosperity and success amongst it's citizens would look like. Is it possible? Do governments inherently need to create dependency in people? Is it possible to encourage young people to discipline their minds and their bodies, when the government wants them stoned?

Anyway, sorry this is so long. Perhaps it is time to modernize Rand and Hayek for this generation, in the same way that you have modernized Ponder, and she articulate the principles in Think and Grow Rich.

Thanks again for all you do Randy.

Sally Stevens



Great read Randy, all well thought out points. But one thing that really stood out that I think your very wrong on is Mitt's concession speech. I thought it was terrible. He seemed extremely disconnected, it was not heartfelt at all, and he spent most of the time thanking his family. He literally came out of the gate thanking his family. The focus should have been more on the message that had to do with Obama and our country moving forward as a team. He hit some of those points, but it did not feel sincere at all! I personally can't believe as many people in this country voted for him as it was. He provided absolutely no direction or details for leading this country. That blind, stupid hope is a serious problem that needs to be fixed! The person that figures out how to truly educate our country on the values we need in a president, based on real facts, will be the earthly god of our times! 


Interesting analysis. I have enjoyed your tweets throughout this whole election process. My guy lost, and I think America lost. But I know others are very happy. Many points I think you are spot on and many are well, way off.

1.) Ideas do matter. While Romney ran a lot of negative ads, his 5 point plan consisted of big ideas. Obama ran the most negative campaign in the history of modern presidential politics. This is backed up by tv data. At the end of his campaign he finally came out with a cheezy brochure to try and explain his vision of the future.


2.) Ground game you are right. The Obama machine dominated here.


3.) The Tea Party was simply a grass roots movement to slow down out of control government debt and spending. That's it. As with any movement you will get fringe extremists but they don't represent the typical concerned Tea Party citizen.


4.) For the candidates that threw their hat into the ring Mitt was the best. How he would take us back to the 70s on social issues I would like to know? He improved as a candidate dramatically since 08. He wasn't the best from the party, but the best from the primaries.


5.) Last I checked Palin or Trump weren't a part of the convention or the campaign and Bachmann won her district. Fox is biased of course, but show me a cable news outlet that isn't. As for commentators and pundits in general, I would suggest that there is far more intellectual firepower on the right than the left. Even though I don't always agree with them. See Krauthammer, George Will, Ann Coulter, etc. 


6.) Of the five points here I would say he was good on 4 out of five. Interviews I agree on. Speeches good not great. Debates, I think you are wrong. He beat arguably one of the best debaters in politics in Newt Gingrich several times during the primaries. He dominated Obama in the first debate, a draw in the second (debatable) and lost the third. The third I think he was just trying to coast and shed the moniker of "war monger".


6.) If I remember correctly Romney and Ryan always said Obama inherited a mess but argued that he made it worse. Doubling down on all of the bad spending from Bush is not cleaning up the mess just making it worse. I'm not talking about TARP either. Im talking about the stimulus, autobailouts, Obama Care etc. It is fair to pin the unemployment on Obama. He came into power with majorities and the Dems along with Bernanke have thrown all of their Keynesian solutions at the economy and look where we are today. 7.9%. Historically we roar out of recessions. If it is gonna take 40-50 years to recover from Bush it's gonna take 100 yrs to recover from Obama!


7.) You are spot on here! The Republicans need to get it together on immigration policy. I think Romney saying he would veto the Dream Act is what doomed him. If he would have gotten the same % of the Hispanic vote that Bush got he would have won easily.


8.)  I agree with you . I think the Republicans would have been wise to embrace some of Ron Pauls ideas into their platform here. They need to be consistent when it comes to states rights on social issues.


9.)   In the end I liked alot of Mitt Romneys strengths. I think the country missed an opportunity with him. Yes, I am biased but who isn't? He is a turnaround artist. He has been successful at almost everything he has done. But that doesn't matter. Obama is better campaigner and that's why he won. Santorum is done. I hope Rubio runs in 2016! Peace!




Randy! I love you! You have been a huge, and I do mean HUGE, influence on me, My daughter and I look at your videos together. Bought your book before it even hit the shelves. Like you, I'm basically a libertarian...but I'll have to nit pick a little...


1. You're right about Romney spending too much time focusing on Obama's sorry record, but I'd have to differ with you about Obama being a leader. He's not my leader! Big government, a hatred of Europeans and European culture (Quote..."white man's greed fuels a world in need"), big taxes, pandering to the mob, handing out Obama not a leader at all. I will completely agree that Romney was not inspiring, either.


2. Completely agree about the technology of the race. The Republicans were running a race for the 20c Century, the Dems for the 21st Century.


3. The Tea Party is not xenophobic. The Tea Party values the rule of law, as opposed to the rule of man. Their issue is not with immigration, but ILLEGAL immigration. There's a subtle, but oh so important distinction.


4 .Sarah Palin might be a dimwit, but Donald Trump isn't, neither is Michelle Bachman. Both are articulate. They might not be articulating what you want to hear, but they say it well.


5. Totally agree on the staying on message part of this. Although, it's hard to drive the conversation when the media is in the tank for the other candidate. (We might disagree on that, too! :) )


6. Agreed on the bipartisan culpability for the debt, although I would have to put more of the blame on the dems...using things like forcing banks to give loans to people who had no business getting them, etc.


7. I agree about the demographic issue you're alluding to. But, as you've stated in so many videos you've done, in your books (I've ready many! thank you!), the urge, the drive to be successful, to be responsible, to thrive crosses all cultures and races...if the Republicans can shake the mantle of the party of the white man and become the party of success, they might have something! Having said that, in Risky is the New Safe, you talk about how most political systems devolve into 2 factions, the party of the nanny state and the party of the "status quo". The Democrative party is the party of the nanny state.


8. Agreed on the minding your own business issue. But I don't think the Republican Party is the party of the Moral Majority any more. That was 30 years ago. I suspect I understand your issue with this. And I agree, but the conservatives I talk to all want less government, realize that getting the economy up and running is key...we can work out social issues later!


9. Right, I would like to have seen a true conservative run, and let's let the chips fall where they may. I wonder if the country has just devolved into welfare state run by elites and pandering to the lowest common denominator. But...part of what I got from Risky is the New Safe is that there's no totally safe haven!


Now, having said all of teenaged daughter is now reading this and telling me not to be annoying... I want to end with this...


Thank you!


Thank you for finally showing me a synthesis of Ayn Rand's objectivism with Catherin Ponder's Christianity! Thank you for helping me sort through my own path to success. Thanks to you and other authors I've read, I finally quit a job I really didn't like 2.5 years ago. I now make a multiple of what I did! I'm actually a living example of Risky in the New Safe!


Keep rocking it!




I couldn't have said it better myself, RG.

Josepf Fandier
Josepf Fandier

Dear Randy,


Be encouraged, it takes guts to tell it like it is regardless of being politically correct. Soon someone will use your material and call it a republican or democratic original.


Keep up the good work!



Great article Randy!  I can see you have a keen interest.  Especially with quotes like:  "A party that rolls out dimwits like Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin and presents them as their ideological thought leaders cannot expect to be taken seriously by any thinking person."  Pretty much nails it.  The GOP can take it next time with a centrist platform, not an extremist one.  The tea party movement is one of the saddest developments I have ever seen.  It's truly terrible behavior pitting neighbor against neighbor.  Coulter, Hannity, O'Reilly are litterally creating divisiveness in America.  That is their role.  (I live in Canada BTW)  Interesting politics!


Some very insightful thoughts here. Some of the best I've read yet in the wake of this week's election. One thing I think is missing - and no one seems willing to mention - is Romney's religion.


Rove was able to position Bush Jr. as a down home, brush clearing, southern Christian which, by all accounts, stirred up the Evangelical base. Because recent US elections are won by mere percentage points (or supreme court rulings), it was crucial to Bush's success that he "get out the vote" amongst the evangelical base.


My suspicion is that, this time around, the evangelical base just couldn't fully get behind a moderate New England governor who is, well, Mormon. Though Mormons may consider themselves Christians, in the fundamentalist Bible Belt, I doubt you will find many who consider Mormons to be "True Christians". They're still reeling from having to accept African Americans as human beings who should be afforded the same rights as white folks and they will go to their graves fighting against homosexuals being afforded the same rights.


That is to say, as a whole, Red State evangelical Christians (who can make or break elections for Republican candidates) are not to open to "relaxing their rules" for anyone considered an outsider - and you're an outsider unless you're one of them! A Massachusetts Mormon is a highly suspect thing indeed.


So, my guess is that the Republicans did everything right, save one thing - they picked the wrong candidate. If they'd gone with Rick Santorum, the story may have been different.


Refreshing to read such thoughtful analysis of this election.  Only wish the day-to-day discourse on so many comment boards could have been as thoughtful.


By this time next year we will all be looking at the Congress and preparing for 2014.  Let us all take note of what you have written here, store it away for future reference, so that we can choose our congressional candidates more wisely in the future.  Because the truth is that it is they who have the power to move this country forward.


You're right gang.. sorry about that, wrong Rick.. but a guy who's name is now synonymous, with fecal and  lube matter, hardly stands a better chance amongst people who are at least mildly put off with homophobes and the usual heavy baggage they bring with them...


Randy, my guy won.  But, I think you did a great job writing this.  It took a while to read, but that's okay, I forgive you.   I have not read most of the responses yet, so sorry if I am repeating anything.  I think one thing you left out and I don't think it is a Republican thing, but Romney told a lot of whoppers, not just typical political spin, but liar liar pants of fire kind of lies.  


Also, when are the Republicans going to consider the environment?  Ever?  Lots of people care about that, it shouldn't be such a divisive topic. 





Brilliant analysis, Randy! Many of these principles can be adapted to people's own lives and businesses, if they'll stop to think. Thanks!


Santorum as the next Prez?? Bring it on!! Just what we need! Another dim bulb Texan! That was hilarious when he couldn't name the three departments he would cut.. ah ah ah.. some body help me!! How about Stephen Colbert for Prez?? A dim bulb, right wing nut broadcaster (is there any other kind?) I loved election night.. all those long faced rich, white, old people at Romney headquarters, Fox News totally wrong and tearing their hair out, wing nut conservatives like Robert Ringer et al crying about the commie Kenyan taking over, billionaires who couldn't buy the election.. great to see democracy winning for a change...


@GuyFlaneur Finish your thought. "And the Democrat base is built on ...?"


 @CarmellaMatusin Put your reading glasses back on.  I live in Japan and therefore, other than at campaign times, feel sickened by partisan politics.  But I honestly watched Fox and CNN to get comparative views of the people running and the issues they espouse.  Truly, the Republican platform of hate, exclusionism and bashing darkens the skies with each Fox broadcast,  The skies open somewhat with commentary on CNN.  But after months of listening to hateful and disrespectful punditds and politicians, my conclusion is that although most Republican Party members are not nitwits, they are brainwashed and unable to see issues from another viewpoint...thet're stubborn and irrascible.  And while the Dems have such elements, they will listen to reason on average.  My conclusion:  the more hateful and divisive party lost and will continue to do so with the demographic changes sweeping America.  Republicanism can't be changed by fleeting campaigns to show inclusiveness.  The principles that rule the debates in the Republican Party are unacceptable to a growing majority of Americans.  It wasn't the Economy Stupid! that decided this election.

Randy_Gage moderator

And what did you possible read above to suggest I am for larger government, fiscal recklessness and tightly regulated markets?  I am a Libertarian.




 @KingStreet That was the one area I, too, disagreed with Randy. Here's a good article summing up much of why:



 @AnthonyBurbidge Luckily there are many sane Republican and Libertarian people who think.Hating others for being different from you is not a Christian value.


 @Annieb Well said, Annieb. I'm with you, quite happy with Tuesday's result!


Randy, this was an excellent, well-reasoned article. I will say, though, that I don't think the concession speech was all that great. This article does a good job of summing up why:


Aside from that difference of opinion, excellent analysis! And kudos on the book!


 @Randy_Gage A Libertarian who insults half his readership base.  Do you think that is so wise?  I really respected your words of wisdom and gained much until you brought politics in.  It is a victory for some, and an open wound for others.  I thought your blog was the one place to go to escape all the hurtful insults and demeaning comments. But, like the entire internet you'd think we were all still campaigning. It's won, it's done.   There seems to be no more decorum.  The internet is turning into the same venue as trashy reality tv.  While I appreciate your advice from the past;  the poor judgement of this blog, and those you've upset, while spawning an internet lynching mob,  I will just look for advice elsewhere. 


 @Randy_Gage I deduced it from your obviously pro Obama dissection and your tea party bashing.  I have been aligned with the Tea Party since day two.  The only "bellicose, xenophobic and mean-spirited elements" are the ones the media tries to attribute to us.  If you are a Libertarian and support the Tea Party ideals, then get involved and help steer the discussion. 


I disagree with both of your point 6's.  They were written with much slant.


You clearly support the candidate who openly speaks of redistribution and who has both legislatively and by executive decree created more regulations that hurt the very ones they pretend to help, while repeating the liberal memes of "there's a war on women" and "redefining marriage hurts no one". May I suggest that even Santorum would not have outlawed birth control, and I doubt very highly that Romney would have been able to overturn Roe v. Wade.  The platform stated that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for another's chosen use of these services, a Libertarian principle I believe. 


As I stated in a previous comment, the real reason Romney lost was inferred to in your point 7.  According to the exit polls this election was racially charged.  93% of the black vote went to Obama.  I believe Romney put more belief, faith, and trust that the American people would make their decisions based on facts and character.  Such a belief is obviously racially blind, something I would want in a leader.


 @Randy_Gage Randy, religion is the inevitable bi-product of representative government.  Some people form their policy and actions firmly cemented in how they view God or His/Her absence. 


Libertarianism can never change the inherent desire to  impose ones views on another. 


Libertarianism in itself is heretical and an imposition to many with more conventional views. 


Separation of church and state has never truly seen the light of day and wouldn't shine any more so in a Libertarian world.


Well, turning a blind eye to racism doesn't make it go away, it only makes it worse.  I'm sure you do have disdain for his policy, and only you know how you feel about him otherwise.  I am basing my judgements about Romney on his behavior.


 @Randy_Gage I'm sorry your experience with people who align themselves with the Tea Party is different than mine.  The only tenets promoted by the group is limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets.  I proudly support that and no other organization of any sort provides the opportunity to express those principles with any kind of unity.


"People vote for people like themselves"  If 97% of whites voted for Romney, do you think there would be any racism outcries? 


Consider putting the redefining marriage through your libertarian filters.  Remember, you can't give something to somebody without taking it from someone else first.  I support civil unions, but not redefining a sacramental institution for which I have great respect.  "Marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children born of their union."  (Consider this for fairness: gays have always been allowed to marry.  Chances are you know some that are or have been married.  I do.  In a church, too.  But they claim we are the insensitive ones and are denying them, when in fact they want to deny us.)



 @Annieb I would have as much disdain for Obama and his attempts to fundamentally transform America if he were a white Catholic from Slovak, Italian, and Polish decent.  But since he's black that's obviously the reason.



 I would like to say one more thing.  America is still prejudiced.  Obama was shown disrespect in ways I am not sure any other American president has.  If anything having a black president just magnified racism in America.  And, I think other than calling him "Boy"  Romney showed Obama a disdain and disrespect that in my opinion was nothing other than racism.  Yuck.


 @Randy_Gage Randy really is a Libertarian.  I hope he was pro Obama, but I don't know.  And, even if he was he is still a Libertarian.  How do I know?  Because, I am for certain socialist government programs, and he never agrees with me.  I favor redistribution, and I know he doesn't.  It has truly been the basis of many debates for us.


Also, I am so happy to hear him stand up against bigotry. (Good for you Randy)  Because a few years ago, some of his statements sounded rather bigoted.  Not anymore. 



Randy_Gage moderator

Since the early days of the tea party I followed their hash tags on twitter and was appalled at the mean tone and bigotry.  That wasn't a media creation, it was the perception I received based on their comments. 


Yes Obama won most of the black votes. Romney won most of the white guy votes and most of the Mormon votes.  People vote for people like themselves.  Always have and always will.  The Republican party failed to show why the principles of liberty, less government and fiscal responsibility were actually in the best interests of all. 


I do not favor redistribution of wealth and onerous government regulation.  As I stated before, I am a Libertarian.  Though I must confess I do agree with the statement, "redefining marriage hurts no one."  Unless we're counting homophobes who want to meddle in other people's relationships and force their religious beliefs on them. 

- RG

Latest blog post: Asking The Right Question…

Jonathan Okanlawon
Jonathan Okanlawon

I beg to differ with your comments. Barack Obama won the election fair and square, it was not racially motivated. I have analyzed all the results. The Demographics has changed in America. The Republican party had better wake up or they are headed for extinction. That is my take. Randy gave a unbiased opinion of the situation. Have you read why Romney Lost by Charles Frum, I think you better read. it. @lennybc @Randy_Gage


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