The fact that Barack Obama was reelected and how he was reelected, can only be seen as dispiriting news for conservatives.
That Mitt Romney got fewer votes than John McCain is dismaying on any number of levels. We were told, by strategists and by what seemed like common sense, that the McCain coalition was a floor for Romney to build up from. The possibility that it was in fact a ceiling is pretty awful to contemplate. It is also pretty infuriating when you think about what the Romney campaign was telling us about their path to 270.
I’ll be blunt: I do not think Mitt Romney ran a good campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I think he worked his heart out as did many who worked for him. I think he made himself into the best candidate he could (which is different than saying he was a great candidate). But I also think that Romney’s theory of the contest was wrong. As I wrote at the time, the Republican convention was a mess. I think Romney strategist Stu Stevens’ contempt for ideas – never mind conservative ideas – was absurd. I think the failure of the Romney campaign to offer a compelling explanation of any kind (at least until the second debate) for how it wasn’t a third Bush term was fatal (as I discussed here and elsewhere). Politics is about persuasion. And persuasion requires making serious arguments. Stevens, by all accounts, has contempt for serious arguments.