There was no tipping point in this election. Former Gov. Mitt Romney simply made a number of strategic errors that cost him and the Republican Party the presidency, and any hope that they had of winning control of the U.S. senate.
Indeed, the Republican Party brand faces real problems and challenges going forward, in the systemic and endemic problems the Romney campaign failed to confront.
First, and most importantly, the Romney campaign lacked a rationale or a message for why people should turn away from an unpopular incumbent.
At a time of economic distress, Republicans needed to have — and the electorate required — an alternate vision of America, one that spoke of growth and opportunity, one that recognized the economic challenges that people were facing and offered an alternative narrative to the classed-based approach that the Obama campaign took.
Other than the poorly fleshed out 5-point plan that the Romney campaign hastily added to their convention speech, there never was a moment when the Romney campaign offered a clear, convincing alternative to the failed policies of President Obama.
Just as importantly, the Romney campaign failed to define their man over the summer, allowing President Obama’s campaign to define the governor before he was able to define himself. To be sure, the Republican nominee depended on Super PACS to carry his campaign message on TV during the summer, but the bulk of that advertising was negative, and very little of it sought to articulate a reasoned rationale or logic for electing Governor Romney.
There was also the failure of Governor Romney to offer — other than in 90 minutes during the first debate — a centrist alternative to the approach President Obama took in the reelection campaign, which emphasized redistribution of wealth and class based politics.
The Romney of the primaries, who spoke to how “severely conservative” he was, morphed into a more bipartisan Romney who was prepared to embrace Bowles-Simpson principles in the first debate, and who had a more inclusive vision of the presidency than he had previously articulated.
That Romney was present for only 90 minutes, and the failure to coherently and consistently outline a vision for the party cost the Republicans dearly.
Moreover, and more fundamentally, the Republican brand is in trouble. One of the points that was never understood by the Republican Party during the election was how poorly their brand fares with the broader electorate.
Poll after poll that I did showed the Republican brand ten points weaker than the Democratic brand, and there was no systemic effort by the Republican Party to try to offer, on an institutional basis, an argument on their own behalf. ;While it seems logical that the Republican party would recognize the challenges they face, the hundreds of millions of dollars in Super PAC and institutional party money that was raised was used almost exclusively for attack ads that fell short, rather than for message-based ads that sought to advance the interest of the Republican Party.
What, then, does the party need to do for the future?
First and foremost, it needs an approach that emphasizes economic growth and job creation, that recognizes that we need inclusive policies that appreciate that we are one nation, and that minorities, both Blacks and Hispanics, play a critical role. ;
Exit polls on Election Night showed that ;fiscally conservative free market policies along with a social safety net that protects the less fortunate of us is an approach that garners majority support.
The problem is that the Republicans have yet to flesh out a clear approach and a clear vision, and unless and until they do they will not fully realize their vision of becoming a majority party in the United States, much less win the presidency of the United States.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton and is currently working with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of “Fox News Insiders” Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of ten books including,“Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield 2012). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.