Presidential Campaign

Presidential Campaign

Republicans must learn from election defeat

As someone who has spent years trying to advance the Republican cause, I have experienced the tremendous highs associated with winning majorities and the extreme lows associated with campaigns that fall short.

Recent cycles for Republicans have been defined by heart ache and missed opportunities, which have left many asking about the pathway forward. I believe to win majority status in American politics, Republicans must present themselves as the party of big ideas, opportunity, and yes, openness.

To state the obvious, winning higher office is extremely difficult. As well it should be. But working hard is not enough. We must work smart. For instance, there are common elements in the messages winning candidates communicate to voters and they tend to project confidence, clarity and constructiveness.

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GOP ignores low-information voters at their peril

I was in New Hampshire on Election Day 2012, when early reports of high turnout fostered optimism among Republicans who had bought into the conventional wisdom that Democrats, particularly the low-information voters that surged for Obama in 2008, simply would not be motivated to turn out this time. Then it became clear that the longest lines were at the same-day registration tables, creating confusion in Republican war rooms and foreshadowing the grim night ahead for the GOP.

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Millennial generation made its mark in election

This election was far different from what we saw in 2008. With primaries on both sides of the aisle leading up to the presidential race, 2008’s election was a long one. The hype surrounding both parties for endless months – not to mention the historic opportunity to elect a woman or an African American – caused young people to pay attention even if they weren’t trying to. They became hooked, and they registered, voted early in primaries and caucuses, and volunteered. And, with its energy and size hard to ignore, the Millennial generation played a critical role on Election Day in 2008;  it was ‘the year of the youth vote.’

But in 2012, there was no extended primary that explicitly targeted young voters. Instead, just endless supplies of money funding negative ads that were enough to drive the average TV-watcher insane. The negativity didn’t end there either. Campaign stops and televised debates saw a brutal rehashing of past mistakes and harsh accusations. As a result, there were far fewer yard-signs and t-shirts and outward hype from young people. And the media and politicos read this as a sign that young people would not vote. This election wasn’t exciting or “cool” enough to motivate young people to go out and vote. That’s where they were wrong. You don’t have to be a cheerleader to go to the game.

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Gender gaps

The gender gap first appeared in modern presidential elections 32 years ago.

In 1976, three years after the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, Democrat Jimmy Carter won both women and men by an identical 2 points. Then, in 1980, something happened: Republican Ronald Reagan carried women by 2 points and men by a much wider 19 points, for a 17-point gender gap. In Reagan's 1984 landslide, he won both sexes: women by 12 points and men by 25 points, for a 13-point gap.

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Learning from losing: A to-do list for Republicans

Barack Obama’s re-election is not a mystery; it’s a message:  A message to the GOP to shape up.
 
Less than a week ago, my home state of Florida added 29 more electoral votes to the president’s total, making the result an official thumping. Few predicted such a rout, especially the Florida outcome where even the most influential Democrats privately confided they thought the President would lose the Sunshine State.
 
As a conservative and someone who has been part of winning and losing campaigns in America’s ultimate swing state, my view is the Republican Party still has an opportunity to reclaim electoral success, but to do so it must be willing to improve.
 
The to-do list isn’t long, but achieving each is prerequisite to our future success:

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The peculiar geography of the American electorate

For people who voted for Mitt Romney in the recent election, they are amazed that he lost because they don’t personally know many people who voted for him. Likewise for Obama supporters, they are puzzled that the margin of victory wasn’t higher, because they have few close acquaintances who voted for the other party. Like many recent presidential elections, this year’s was close in the popular vote. It is close because the candidates contort their positions to appeal to broadest spectrum of the electorate and there is an absence of viable third-party alternatives which would garner a significant portion of the voters. The reason that many find the closeness of the election amazing is that over time, we have segregated ourselves geographically into such like-minded clusters, that we are seldom exposed to people with differing political views.

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Politics and religion: How religious groups voted

It has always been said that in polite company one should never talk about politics or religion. Today, let's do both.

There was a lot of discussion throughout this election about religion. Would born-again Christians vote for Mormon Mitt Romney? Would Barack Obama lose white Catholic support? Would Obama turn off Jewish voters because of his handling of U.S.-Israeli relations?

From exit polling, we can shed light on these issues:

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New ethnic and religious groups up for grabs in the next election

The elections are over, and the finger-pointing is in. Most factors that contributed to Obama’s advantage and conversely Romney’s weakness have been thoroughly rehashed in the media. Obama’s more “human” personality, natural appeal for African-Americans, Asian-Americans (the Hawaii connection) and Latinos (immigration), stronger than expected national security and foreign policy record (except the Benghazi embassy tragedy, Bin Laden was killed on his watch – and that’s all that matters to most voters), record-breaking fundraising (being able to out raise businessman Romney is no small thing) and superior “ground-game” operations.

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How Obama closed the gap

In our original social media assessment on November 1, the data suggested that Mitt Romney would beat Barack Obama 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent, a margin of 4.2 percent in the popular vote. However, the analysis also noted that Obama was closing quickly, with momentum increasing by about 8 percent from September 30 through October 31, the last day of the analysis.

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Democrats: The new party of national security

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of last Tuesday’s elections was the Fox News exit poll in Virginia declaring, “Veterans and active military split their support evenly between the two candidates”: Obama 49% to Romney 49%. After decades of being viewed as everything from “weak on defense” to “cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys” Democrats today — personified by President Obama — are viewed as at least as strong as their Republican counterparts, even within the military community.
 
Clearly this was a long journey. From the Vietnam War through the 1970s and 1980s, Democrats were seen as incapable of defending America. They were often depicted in American popular culture as having betrayed the military and prevented our troops from fighting-to-win in Vietnam.

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