Third, get out of the liberal Twitter bubble. Finally, one of Romney’s biggest errors was being stuck in the conservative news bubble. The only people truly shocked by Obama’s victory, which was predicted by the polls and the various data models, was the Romney campaign. They had been mainlining the anti-Obama propaganda from Fox News and others for years and therefore had lost touch with how voters saw Obama. Romney was running against the proto-socialist, madrassa-educated, wholly un-American caricature of Obama that Fox News pumped out into the world. That may be how Sean Hannity saw Obama, but it’s not how voters in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin saw Obama.
The Democratic nominee needs to recognize that a lot of the voters we need see Trump very differently than most of us that populate liberal Twitter, watch MSNBC and listen to Pod Save America. According to polling and focus groups, despite a Cheesecake Factory menu’s worth of scandal, they still see Trump as someone who represents change. Despite multiple bankruptcies and investigations into his finances, they believe that Trump’s business experience makes him qualified to deal with the economy. And despite a plethora of plutocratic policies, they see Trump as a populist. Voters are not naïve. Outside of the MAGA base, most have a pretty nuanced view of Trump. These impressions can and must be changed—in some cases with only a modicum of new information. But only if Democrats run against the person these voters see, not the person they know Trump to be.