But as tempting as it will be for analysts to pin the GOP’s 2012 defeat on an embrace of small-government extremism, the results from last night don’t actually bear this out.

According to exit polls as described by Politico, “53 percent of those surveyed said the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals — a figure that’s risen 10 points since the 2008 election. Comparatively, 41 percent of voters said they believe government should be doing more.”

When House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his first budget proposing sweeping reforms to Medicare and Medicaid in 2011, Democrats celebrated because they thought it would destroy the GOP. …

And yet, the Romney-Ryan ticket obliterated Obama among voters over age 65, winning the group by a 12-point margin. …

If Romney lost the election because the electorate was rebelling against small-government extremism, it should be reflected in his numbers among independents. Yet that group of voters broke for Romney by a five-point margin, according to exit polls.