10 Takeaways from Election 2012

1- Nate Silver is a genius. Dick Morris should never be allowed on TV again.

2- Last night was catastrophic for Republicans. If they can’t win in such circumstances then they need to do some serious soul searching and conduct and honest inquiry into what went wrong. My head told me we would lose. The numbers just didn’t add up. My gut told me we could win. I wanted to believe there was a small undercurrent of dissatisfaction that wasn’t picked up in the polls. I predicted that Obama’s supporters from 2008 would not come out in such force and would not support him to such degrees. He would receive a slightly thinner slice of a smaller pie. I was prepared to lose. I was not prepared to lose so badly.

3- Mitt Romney, although I think he is a good and decent man, and ultimately would have done a much better job than Obama, was not a good candidate for the times. He was rich in the age of the 99%; was a moderate who was seen as not quite conservative enough for the base and too radical for the Left. He was seen as a flip flopper by the middle because of the Republican primaries. He had to tack hard to the right where he never felt comfortable. He possessed business acumen but was able to be framed as a greedy outsourcer of jobs. His campaign was lackluster though. He allowed himself to be framed. Even if Hurricane Sandy and Chris Christie’s bear hug gave Obama a bump in the polls, and possibly persuaded some last minute deciders, it wasn’t the ultimate reason for his defeat.

4- The next GOP candidate must be a conservative who can articulate conservative principles well to the moderates of America, not a moderate who has to pander to secure the base and in the process lose the middle. McCain had the same problem, although no one could have been Obama in 2008: a black man, who opposed Iraq, running in a post-Lehman Brothers economy. Bush’s big-government conservatism – an oxymoron – doesn’t work. Mitt’s past moderation didn’t help him at all. He was defined as both a "severe conservative" and a flip flopper, to Obama’s credit. At the risk of sounding like a right-wing talk show host, we need a Reagan: a principled, articulate conservative who knows when to compromise and when to fight, and that understands that history remembers who wins the long arguments, not the short ones. Reagan was right on the Cold War, inflation, and economic growth. No one remembers what his position was on Lyme disease.

5- The problem wasn’t the Tea Party. The Tea Party candidates did fine. Mourdock was a Tea Partier but lost because of a comment on abortion, not because of the Tea Party platform. Akin was not a Tea Partier at all. Regardless, he also lost because of an abortion comment, not because of his views on the role of government, how to create growth, etc. The Tea Party should continue their mission of electing limited government conservatives and reining in Washington, but will need to be more selective. No more Christine O’Donnells.

6- Latinos. They voted 66% for Obama in ’08 and 71% for him this year. Republicans cannot keep alienating them or they will disappear as a political party. Michael Tanner writes in this morning’s NRO:

Republicans must face up to the fact that their hard-line stance on immigration is disqualifying their candidates with Hispanics. Whereas George W. Bush once carried 44 percent of the Latino vote, Mitt Romney couldn’t crack 35 percent. To see why Romney appears to have essentially tied in Florida, for example, just look to Obama’s margin among non-Cuban Hispanics. Similarly, the growing Hispanic vote clearly cost Romney both Nevada and Colorado. President Obama is likely to push immigration reform in his second term, and Republicans are going to have to find how to address the issue in a way that will not cost them the Latino vote for generations to come.

Hence the appeal of Marco Rubio. I’ll also add that it’s the same with gay marriage. It’s a generational issue. The times are changing and the GOP will continue to alienate college-age voters who are increasingly tolerate of homosexuality and gay rights.

7- Abortion. I think it’s sad that "women’s issues" means abortion and birth control, but it does and they are important to single moms (who unfortunately are growing in numbers) and single women. The GOP needs to relax their position. Roe is here to stay. Make it part of the platform that abortion should be protected for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Leave Roe alone, as nonsensical as it is. Those positions are unacceptable to a lot of Evangelicals and religious voters, but it’s better than losing elections and having abortion be fully unrestricted, which is the position of Democrats. The current Democratic position of unrestricted access to unrestricted abortion is unappealing to Latinos and Catholics. The GOP can use that to their advantage if they amend their platform and frame the argument. Also, parental notification for minors is still responsible and popular.

8- There is a cadre of candidates from this years Republican primary who should never be heard from again: Gingrich, Caine, Bachman, Perry. I’ll add an exception for Ron Paul (who has his own movement), Pawlenty (who dropped out way too early and could have defeated Romney), and Huntsman (who was the most respectable person in the race and probably could have defeated Obama). During the primary I spoke to a friend of mine who is active in GOP politics and we both agreed that the primary made the GOP look like fools. The encouraging news is that Romney had several good VP options: Ryan, Christie, Daniels, Jindal, Rubio, Martinez. Let one of them be the next nominee. All of them have the qualities I listed in #4 above. And can the GOP ditch Trump, the "birthers," et al. I’m embarrassed I have to write this. What better way to scare away independents than to cater to the very lunatic fringe of the party! When was the last time you saw a Democrat show his support for Michael Moore?

9- Obamacare is most likely here to stay. Unless the implementation of it is as painful as the GOP predicts, and unless the opposition actually grows to undeniable levels, it’s going to remain. Obamacare won’t solve any of our health care cost problems, but it will remain. As Pelosi said, we’ll finally get to see what’s in it. I will be interested to see how much of an issue it is in the 2014 Congressional elections.

10- Most importantly the GOP must remain the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility. Democrats will have to deal with two problems in the next few years – besides our current unemployment – neither of which they are prepared to deal with. First, we have debts that need to be paid. Obama will finish his second term with more than $20 trillion in debt, and that will only grow as more baby boomers retire: 10,000 a day for the next 18 years until all 77 million of them have retired. All of them are "entitled" to having cash transfers and medical services provided to them that they didn’t pay for. Debt service and the "mandatory spending" of our entitlements will crowd out ALL other spending: from bombers and bridges to Big Bird and birth control pills. It already exceeds our annual revenues, and according to the latest CBO Baseline Projection (see Table 3-1), this mandatory spending will increase nearly 80% in the next ten years from approximately $2.3 trillion to $4.1 trillion. To put that in a different perspective, in 2022 Medicare alone will cost us $1 trillion per year. That’s the cost of one nine-year Iraq War each and every year…all on the credit card. Who has the better plan? Romney had a better plan to deal with it than Obama but to no avail. The GOP needs a plan as part of their platform. Don’t leave it to Paul Ryan to muscle through. Second, there are several states right now that are teetering on bankruptcy, namely CA and IL. We have no settled law on how to deal with a state bankruptcy, and the pressure will be huge on Obama to bail them out. Can you imagine him not and potentially losing CA in the next election? Can you imagine how quickly other financially challenged states will follow suit for their "free" money? The GOP must fight that tooth and nail. There will be a showdown, and when the American people see themselves on the road to Greece the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility will win. If they have Latinos, they’ll win big.

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