Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Did Romney Fail?

Why did the Repubs fail? Why does any business fail?  Their market lost faith in their product.

The Republican party has become a professional sales organization.

Romney was a product. He emerged from product testing in the primaries as the candidate most likely to win the conservative vote in the general election. Salesmen assume things, and in this case there was an assumption that whatever enthusiasm conservatives had for him in the primaries could be expressed as enthusiastically by all voters in the general election - given the help of the conservative entertainment complex. It could at least be presented as the general view, even if that's not the case.

Romney had problems. Bain offended some voters. RomneyCare offended others. His marketers attempted to solve this by trying to make Obama look even worse than Romney. Put the focus on Obama. So they plastered Obama with lies. But more than that, they plastered him with attitude, sneering as they lied. The continuing dark attitude expressed by conservatives could not take down Obama's happiness and sense of humor. Republicans suffered a loss on the emotional front as well as the conceptual. They will be remembered for their dark attitudes, Obama as the evangelist of "Yes We Can!"

There are pieces of the Republican blow-out laying all over the ground. The ORCA system that broke. The pre-programmed voting machines that should have put Repubs into office, but didn't. The two polls that were strangely 2 percent off, showing Romney the winner. The angry donors, who were guaranteed a return on their investment.

Then there were the renegade radicals who captured the spotlight just because they could, using the big stage to exposit their own weirdness rather than temporarily suppressing their - uniqueness - on behalf of the party's possible success.   

Any campaign does its best to use its dollars well, and not to spend more than it needs to. So it is natural that campaigns should run neck and neck most of the way. This creates a vulnerability. A small surprise can lead to a big upset.

If the Petraeus affair had somehow come to light before the election, the press could have blown it into a scandal of a failed administration. The Republican-owned voting machines in Ohio and elsewhere could have produced an electoral college win. The two national polls which had  robocalled voters on their land lines, missing the cellphone crowd and thereby showing the Republicans winning, would have been right. And the election would have been nicely stolen. 

But instead, Sandra came ashore. NJ Governor Christie and NYC's Bloomberg embraced Obama, and the edge went the other way. Those who were thinking of winning the election in illegal ways may have discovered it to be so close that they had a failure of nerve.

Repubs had sold the idea of lower taxes and less governmental oversight to the big money crowd. Then they tried to sell the same ideas to the voters. Serving two clients who are at odds with each other doesn't work. It required Repubs to speak out of two sides of their mouths, and you just can't do that any more.

The Republicans paid people to go door-to-door in their GOTV effort. Dems had massive cadres of volunteers. Occupy Wall Street sold the world the idea of citizen empowerment. The Dems rode a million horses to victory.

So this election in ways was a battle between a business - a capitalist structure - and the people - a social network.

Businesses often cycle between salesman-driven booms and bean counter-driven busts, depending on who is running the show.  For Republicans, it soon may be bean counting time. Time for an audit, a reality check. What do they really have to sell any more?


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