The Sydney Morning Herald journalist Paul McGeough’s analysis of why Mitt Romney lost the American Presidential election (Thursday 8 November 2012; entitled “Defeat for a man of contradictions” online) provides an excellent summary of Romney’s “flip-flopping”. McGeough analyses the man’s actions well, but comes to the wrong conclusion.
Yes, Romney’s inability to know what he actually stands for made it almost impossible for him to overcome the well-targeted Democratic campaign to paint him as a heartless job-destroyer, thereby neutralising his successful career as management consultant, saviour of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and Governor of Massachusetts. But as former President Bill Clinton famously pointed out to Democratic strategists many months ago, it would be much easier to run a campaign against a “hard Right” Republican candidate than against one who kept changing his mind. (The history of party leaders changing their mind on major issues, in both the USA and here in Australia, is a long one – and includes just about everyone.)
In fact, Mitt Romney’s greatest boost in the polls came immediately after the Denver debate with President Obama, when Romney unveiled himself as a “centrist” candidate after all. The so-called “low information” voters (people just “tuning in”) didn’t care about his previous positions, and many others didn’t care either.
The reasons why Romney lost are much more complicated, deep-seated and profound. They include the ability of the Democrats to overcome massive Republican fundraising from the uber-wealthy by highly organised and efficient voter-targeting, the Republicans’ war against women on abortion and rape issues (women heard, for sure, and voted for Obama in significant numbers), the Republicans’ insistence on maintaining an anti-immigration policy that leaves them with only one-third of Hispanic voters, the Democrats’ successful bail-out of the car industry (famously opposed by Romney in his November 2008 statement to “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”) that assisted in upper Midwest states – notably Ohio, and the continuing improvement, however slight, in American economic conditions.