Some conservatives have turned on Mitt Romney just as quickly as they embraced him back when he emerged victorious from the brutal Republican primaries to become the official GOP candidate for president. They blame Romney’s candidacy itself on our failure to capture the White House. If we had had a “true conservative” running, these people say, then America would be enjoying the inauguration ceremony of President Romney in just three short months.
This is absurd. How can one genuinely believe that, say, Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann would have defeated Obama, a man who is so personally popular? Santorum and Bachmann were generally considered the true conservative contenders, right? Yet they lost to Mitt Romney. Romney kept rising above them in the polls until finally those two candidates, along with the others, had to admit to themselves that they were not desired by the majority of Republican voters, leading to their exiting the Republican primaries.
If you’re unable to win the nomination, it means Republican voters do not want you. So how can you realistically expect to be able to win the presidency? It is true that many Republicans did not want Mitt Romney–but he was still more wanted than all the other candidates vying for the top spot, as evidenced by the fact that he beat them in the primary elections. Maybe in another four years those candidates will be more popular and be able to win the nomination and go on to win the presidency, but this time, Republicans didn’t want them. They wanted Mitt.
In every poll that asked the question, “If the election were held today, who would you vote for, Obama or Romney?” (and ” Obama or Gingrich,” “Obama or Santorum,” etc.), Mitt Romney was always the only candidate beating Obama in a hypothetical election, with the other candidates falling far behind both of them. And polls cannot be dismissed; the results in a poll are not the mere conjecture of theorists, but the responses of actual people who intend to make the very same decision when Election Day rolls around.
The simple fact is that we lost this election because we drastically underestimated Obama’s appeal to our superficiality. There were other minor factors as well, of course; there was, dare I join the crowd, Hurricane Sandy. There was Chris Christie’s undermining of Romney’s message that only he, Romney, could work with the other party, when the New Jersey governor went on the news to say how fantastic Obama was at working with him on disaster relief (of course it didn’t help one bit that the news networks aired Christie’s accolades of Obama on repeat, day in, day out). Small things like that in the aggregate did hurt us, but in the end, I think the biggest factor was that Obama is still hip, and yes, America is still that ignorant, still that vain.