If you believe Romney lost when he should have won, then he must have made a fatal mistake which needs to be fixed so that Republicans can win again. For Gerson and Wehner, this logic led them down the path of demographics: they conclude that Romney’s biggest problem was a lack of minority outreach in a changing country. I don’t think you can say that Romney had a racial rainbow of support, exactly, but I do want to answer their basic question: did Romney flush away a victory that the economy should have delivered to him?
Actually, Romney always had an uphill battle: the economy narrowly favored President Obama’s re-election. Jamelle Bouie has stated this fact over and over again. John Sides, too, has stated this fact over and over again. Nate Silver has stated this fact over and over again. Have you noticed a pattern here? Smart experts reached the same conclusion. It’s part of the reason we all correctly called a close, but comfortable Obama victory in 2012. It’s why I said way back in September that it wouldn’t be Mitt Romney’s fault if he lost.
What are some people not seeing about the relationship between the economy and elections? For starters, most people don’t vote over absolute numbers, like an unemployment rate of near 8%. Voters choose whether to re-elect based on changes in numbers, like the unemployment rate dropping from 10% in 2009 to 8% in 2012. That’s why voters still overwhelmingly blamed Bush for bad economic conditions and not Obama, even if the unemployment rate remained high in a historical context.