Did Republican Chief Strategist Actually Believe Voters Liked Mitt Romney?

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Ben Cohen
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Mitt Romney

I'm not sure how I missed this incredible gem, but if you want to understand why the Republicans lost the election this year, look no further than Stuart Steven's astonishing article in The Washington Post last week. In probably the best example of the fantasy thinking that has plagued the Republican Party Stevens argues that contrary to popular opinion, voters actually really liked Romney, and by some creative number analysis, he really beat Obama when it came to the votes of true Americans. Here he is on Romney's shining personality:

I appreciate that Mitt Romney was never a favorite of D.C.’s Green Room crowd or, frankly, of many politicians. That’s why, a year ago, so few of those people thought he would win the nomination... Nobody liked Romney except voters.

This is despite Romney having the lowest personal approval ratings for a presumptive presidential nominee dating back to 1948. Steven's also argued that although Romney lost, he actually beat Obama because he got more votes from the middle classes:

Let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right. When Mitt Romney stood on stage with President Obama, it wasn’t about television ads or whiz-bang turnout technologies, it was about fundamental Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas. It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom. And Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day.

That is of course because poor Americans don't actually count as voters - a point made clear by Romney in his 47% speech to a room full of rich people.

Interestingly, Stevens also thinks that the campaign Romney ran should serve as a template for the future as Obama only won because he had the charisma and money to get minorities to vote:

There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?

In reality, Obama won because campaign strategist David Axelrod insisted on fighting an extremely smart campaign that focused on key battle grounds to take the electoral college. Yes, Obama's appeal to minorities was an important factor, but most importantly, his re-election team understood that the Republicans were woefully unprepared on the ground in key states and ran sophisticated operations to drive the vote out and smash Romney with negative ads.

Republicans lost because as one Romney aide discovered after listening to David Axelrod's postmortem of the debate at a Harvard conference last week, "We weren’t even running in the same race."

But if Republicans want to take Stevens' analysis of what happened, they should go right ahead. They just won't win any more elections going forward.

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