The heart and soul of the Republican party remains what it has been for generations – the middle class outside the elite quarters of the Northeast. This is why – in the 80 years between the Civil War and the Great Depression – the GOP almost always nominated a candidate originally from the Midwest: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover. Only three nominees came from the Northeast — Teddy Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, who entered the presidency through the vice-presidency, and James Blaine, who lost. Even in the post-war era, the party has found success almost always from outside the Northeast. Dwight Eisenhower was from Kansas by way of Texas. Richard Nixon was a farm boy from California. Ronald Reagan went to college in Peoria, Illinois. George W. Bush’s grandfather was a senator from Connecticut, but he spoke with a folksy Texas twang.
A nominee with this kind of background would have been more able to resist Obama’s demagoguery, and we might well have a new president-elect today.
Put simply: identity matters in politics, oftentimes more than anything else. We can view political battles in budgetary terms, or in terms of cultural hot button issues, but one of the most important elements of voting is seeing yourself in the person you elect. It looks to me like Barack Obama convinced would-be GOP voters who never would have supported him to stay home rather than support this “other” fellow, Mitt Romney.