You’ll remember that before the Thanksgiving holiday we were looking at some work from the social issue types showing that social issue propositions outperformed Mitt Romney. The data was just percentages, and it need further massaging, primarily because the issue was same-sex marriage and same sex marriage always performs well in the African-American community, while Mitt Romney most assuredly would not. So we have decided to do that work. Here’s the initial breakdowns:
Now , like I say we need to remove the African American vote from that last column. So we checked the exit polls and came up with a percentage of black vote in each of the state. We then simply decreased the votes in that last column by that percentage and came up with what we are calling the “Corrected” number of votes. Now remember there are votes that should seemingly have been “natural” Romney votes that either voted for Obama or abstained on the presidential election on their ballots. Those percentages of votes cast are huge and would have been enough to change the outcome of the election if you project that average across the nation. I had hoped the “correction” for the African-American vote would have made this seem less stark, but it does not. The only state with a significant black population is Maryland, and yet, the Romney/issue gap remains very large even after removing the black vote.
Most troubling to me is that Montana, the most conservative state on the list, is the state where Romney performed farthest behind the proposition in question.
So what can we conclude? Well, there is a lot of discussion of the decline in turnout and that is important, but for the election that happened with the turnout that happened it seems clear that Romney did not effectively capture the social conservative vote. Even with the whole on-line GOTV thing and the amazing declining turnout, Romney could have won handily if these social conservative votes had been his. Was it anti-Mormon bias? Well, there are no data to enable us to come to a conclusion on that, but one would have to presume such bias figured into the results somehow.
I think what is most troubling about this analysis is that it means social conservatives are really missing the big picture electorally. It means that they were willing to re-elect Obama which means the HHS ruling stands until the courts likely intercede. In other words social conservatives were willing to elect a president who seeks to seriously restrict religious expression. Further they are willing to rely on the courts to keep that restriction from happening, when the courts have been the bane of social conservative existence since Roe v Wade. I simply cannot believe that any social conservative that was thinking about this stuff would have voted like this, which means they were not thinking about this stuff.
In other words, this result is highly unreasonable, and such unreasonableness is usually rooted in strong prejudices, thus enhancing the presumption of anti-Mormon bias playing a significant role.
This suggests that the identity politics explanation is insufficient to explain Romney’s electoral problem. It was not merely a failure to attract Hispanics and, to a lesser extent, African Americans into the GOP coalition (preliminary data actually suggest that Barack Obama won fewer African Americans in 2012 than he did in 2008). There seems to have been an overall hesitation among many types of voters—white or not—about entering the GOP coalition. It looks as though many backed Obama over Romney, and many more simply chose not to vote.
An examination of the exit poll makes it easy to see why. Obama’s campaign against Romney, which portrayed him as an out-of-touch plutocrat, appears largely to have been successful.
Cost’s analysis suggests to me the devastating effect of the Obama campaign’s personal attacks on Romney during the months after Romney sewed up the GOP nomination. The Obama campaign turned Romney into dead man walking.
The Romney campaign had no funds to respond to those attacks. Prior to the convention, Romney was prevented by law from accessing the funds he had raised for the general campaign.
I would look it it this way. 2008 demonstrated that Romney had a hard time with social conservative voters. In essence it was a trust issue rooted in his faith. Apparently we, and those that joined us in this fight, suppressed the issue but we did not kill it, and Obama knew that and capitalized on it.
I know I relied on the fact that social conservatives might find Romney less than ideal, but that they certainly would not torpedo the Republican ticket given what Obama was up to. Apparently I was wrong. Frankly I don’t know what’s worse, that social conservatives acted this way or that Obama, the man who supposedly broke down the bias barrier, was willing to play upon it.
Once again, we find social conservatives playing “spoiler.” That’s one thing in the primary because it still leaves Republicans with a candidate that they can fight for and perhaps prevail. But in the general election it is a form of suicide. All that has happened here is that the social conservatives that voted for these propositions, but not for Romney, have given Obama four more years to lead the nation in decline both economic and cultural.
Leaders in the social conservative movement need to learn certain political realities. Government generally reflects culture, it does not establish it. Such establishment of culture is the job of other institutions like the universities and the church. The job of those institutions is made easier by a government more conservative than liberal, even if they compromise on some issue we consider important. As the HHS mandate proves, the liberals want to fence us in. At least under someone like Romney we can be assured that we can operate to change the culture through non-governmental means.
These numbers truly stagger me from the standpoint of the self-inflicted wound they represent. We do not yet know if the wound is fatal, but we do know it is going to be a long and difficult recovery.
Lowell adds . . .
In a way I find these numbers encouraging. The election results left me worried that the country has reached a tipping point at which those who think a government-based economy is just fine and outnumbered those who supported free markets and economic liberty as our fiscal foundation. I’m still worried about that, but it may be that our real problem is simpler: We need to win over social conservatives, to get them to vote in the first place, and also to get them to vote for economic conservatives. That seems doable. Not easy, but doable.