43 thoughts on “Campaign Competence

  1. Paul Milenkovic

    So Mr. Axelrod won’t have to shave his mustache?

    Look, the Clinton’s in the 2008 primary ran into the buzz saw of the Obama campaign machine, in hindsight the most savy get-out-the-vote (GOTV — has nothing to do with the GOP) operation in recent history, propelling some inexperience unknown past Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.

    Maybe David Axelrod is the most gifted political strategist of this generation, and we should stop dumping on Mr. Romney.

    1. Dennis Wingo

      Considering that Obama got ten million fewer votes than last time this theory is unlikely, and especially so since Romney got three million fewer votes than frigging John McCain!

      1. Godzilla

        Well duh. Romney was IMO a worse candidate than McCain. McCain is a war veteran and former POW with usually reasonable policy views. McCain doesn’t stick to party lines and has a pretty consistent set of values which permeate through his decisions. Mitt Romney is a corporate raider (that’s how we called his ilk in the 80s), a Mormon, and changes his speech to match what the present audience wants to hear even if he is contradicting a statement he did the day before. I did not find it surprising that he lost. In the end in Presidential elections people select people not parties.

  2. Thomas Matula

    Ah, the stages of election lost.

    First disbelief as in the case of Karl Rove.

    Then claiming the other side cheated and lied.

    The blaming the voters

    Then deciding Governor Romney messed up in delivering the message..

    1. Rick C

      Claiming the other side cheated? Why would you say that? “In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.”

      Don’t worry, Thomas, some Democrat denied it without any shred of evidence, so it must not be true.

    2. Rand Simberg Post author

      So you didn’t actually read the links.

      Why am I not surprised? You always seem to enjoy beclowning yourself here. Why would this post be different?

      1. Raoul Ortega

        And why are those on the Progressive Left such lousy winners? They should be happy, yet here they are, (and on other sites I visit), still with the insults and snark and personal attacks and subject changing insults. Why do they get such pleasure for being full-time anal orifices? Shouldn’t they be sitting back and having a good time just watching us go through “the stages of election lost”? The pot has already been stirred (to use a cliche), so why do they insist on coming by and then pissing in it? Don’t they realize that that is counterproductive and that is the one thing that might unite us opposing them and the boorish behavior?

        I guess they just can’t help themselves.

        1. Thales

          It is because humans are animals, and animals are violent. The feeling of having your tribe defeat the “other” triggers a testosterone rush, which makes people more aggressive. Ergo, trolling on steroids.

          1. Thomas Matula

            Thales,

            Even worst is when your tribe is defeated because of a radical minority that cares more about their radical fringe beliefs than the tribe’s survival. Its hard to win when you have a group that seeks martyrdom rather than victory.

        2. Thomas Matula

          Raoul

          That attitude is EXACTLY why the Tea Party lost the Presidential election and lost so many seats in the Senate, including ones like Senator Luger’s that were slam dunks, until the Tea Part drove him out and gave the Democrats his old Senate seat on a silver platter.

          As I noted I am a long time Republican. But because I am not afraid to call the Tea Party nuts who have driven the Republican Party into a ditch Tea Party Nuts I am some leftist

          Because I am a Reagan Republican that doesn’t bend down before the Tea Party radicals who are destroying the Republican Party I am a member of the Progressive Left…

          Tell me, how do you expect to win elections if you drive everyone except for the “Pure” Tea Party believers from the party?

          This election should have been a landslide for the Republicans, but instead it was a disaster and as a Republican I am pointing the finger at the real cause, folks like you that have driven the Republican Party too far to the right with your outdated 1920’s social agenda…

      2. Thomas Matula

        Rand,

        Nice to see your spirit coming back to you.

        Maybe you should fully read the articles you link to.
        From the “Orca” article.

        [[[“It makes me wonder who my fellow citizens are,” said Marianne Doherty of Boston. “I’ve got to be honest, I feel like I’ve lost touch with what the identity of America is right now. I really do.”]]]

        Yep, The blaming the voters. They are not like us…

        Great Deduction Sherlock! They are living in the 21st Century, not in the 1920’s…

        Then in terms of deciding Governor Romney messed up in delivering the message..

        [[[“Barack Obama was able to define Mitt Romney before Mitt Romney defined Mitt Romney,” Luntz explained. “The people in places like Ohio had decided that Mitt Romney was not a decent guy before they realized that he actually was a decent guy. [The campaign] didn’t respond. These ads crushed them, and they were on week after week with no response from the Romney campaign.”]]]

        Yep, they didn’t get out the message out he was a nice guy, not a “Evil” Corporate Raider who got rich by destroying towns and lives sending American jobs overseas and while hiding his profits offshore as President Obama ads claimed he was.

  3. sams

    That is very disappointing of Romney, I was expecting more competence from him, but the guy only won one election.

    This is beyond incompetence. Being a RINO is the least of Romney defects in hindsight.

  4. Gregg

    Not sure that Romney is responsible for the bad planning of his campaign any more than Obama is responsible for the good planning of his. I think Axelrod was the idea man for Obama.

    True, Romney is Romney and so he’s more like an animatron figure than a human who can connect. But that isn’t why he lost.

    The usual morning after bitterness and finger pointing is going on.

    As I’ve written several times over the years, here and elsewhere, no one is accurately and succinctly explaining the Conservative Proposition to the public at large.

    In my opinion, debates over whether the GOP should embrace amnesty, or where we stand on abortion etc are fruitless – you can never out-left the Left.

    Rather, the GOP should return to Conservatism. And that means that all those social issues have one answer:

    Freedom.

    Forget worrying about how to attract Hispanics, as a group and think about how to attract them as people.

    Sell freedom, liberty, upward mobility, explain how those things bring prosperity, talk to ALL people about these things. Tell them they are far better off making decisions for themselves instead of 535 knuckleheads in DC.

    Teach them how dear liberty is. And help them to know the joys of running your own life and making your own way.

    This way you avoid the QHOLE big Test issue.

    You avoid the WHOLE social issues spiderweb, which is used to club you over the head.

    Run on what everyone has in common.

    And you will win.

  5. ken anthony

    Think about what our elections have come down to. Romney had the votes to win but didn’t have to organization to get them to the polls where it counted.

    That means ideas don’t win or lose elections anymore. Today’s Americans can’t hold an idea in their heads. It’s a popularity contest (why Obama was hitting the talk show circuit and not the talking heads circuit.) Once you have popularity all you have to do is get them to pull the lever. Policy doesn’t mean a thing in such a scenario.

    It’s a lot easier to be ignorant than not. Especially when your ignorance is supported by a feel good about yourself environment. Our problems are fundamental and can only be fixed by long term efforts or lots of short term muggings. Give Obama much, but not all, of what he wants and let the muggings begin.

    1. TC

      To quote someone famous – what a bunch of malarkey. What basis do you have to say people that voted for Obama were ignorant? I would say that since you can’t understand why people voted for Obama, maybe the ignorance is on your side. Here are a few reasons why people may have supported Obama instead of Romney:

      1) They wanted a pro-choice administration instead of a anti-choice administration.

      2) They don’t believe that raising the income tax rates back to the level when Clinton was president would be a doomsday event that the Republicans are claiming.

      3) They don’t want us to get into another unnecessary war like Iraq and believe Obama is more likely to keep us out of war.

      4) They don’t believe the Republicans are any more fiscally conservative than the Democrats when it comes to spending, instead the Republicans, when in power, concentrate on a socially conservative agenda.

      5) They didn’t see Romney stand on any principles. Everything seemed to be flexible depending on who he was talking to and where he was in the election process.

      6) Voting for Romney would be rewarding the bad behavior by the Republicans in Congress who made obstruction and keeping Obama to one term their number one goal (party before country).

      I think these 6 are enough reasons to impact the results but there were many more as well. Unfortunately it came down to the lessor of two evils and Romney lost.

      1. wodun

        “What basis do you have to say people that voted for Obama were ignorant?”

        Probably the videos of Obama supporters celebrating or tweets about no longer needing to horde tampons because now Romney couldn’t take them away.

        And Obama clearly ran a campaign that catered to people ignorant of current events.

    2. Thomas Matula

      Ken,

      Elections have always been popularity contests… This is nothing new. Nor is the need to get folks to the poll.

    1. Gregg

      I’ve been that way since late Tuesday night.

      All those lefties chortling over their victory…all those republican voters who did not vote….

      have no idea what they’ve given away…

      nor how severe the pain will be.

  6. George Turner

    I was debating some libs and was curious about Obama getting 8 or 9 million fewer votes in 2012 than 2008, and they argued that it’s probably normal for incumbents to receive fewer votes the second time around. So I built a spreadsheet of all the elections with an incumbent. I started off going back to WW-II, and the results really, really irritated them. Incumbents don’t lose support from their first term and win re-election, at least as far back as Eisenhower. Curious as to how far this pattern might extend, I kept working back to find exceptions.

    There are only two. George Washington, who ran unopposed both times, so people hardly bother voting, and Calvin Coolidge, whose re-election bid gave him only 420,304 fewer votes (in what was a three-way race,)which was still only a drop-off of 2.6%. In all other cases the incumbent lost.

    If you ignore Washington running unopposed both times, Obama’s vote drop is the worst performance in absolute and percentage terms than any other second-term President in US history, only one of whom survived any drop in votes – due to a three-way race where all candidates got more than 15% of the vote.

    1. Jim

      Coolidge did not run for re-election, he was Harding’s running mate in 1920.

      So yes, this is the first time since Washington that an incumbent won re-election with less support than he got the first time. But that’s because he did pretty well the first time out. Obama did better than some other winning incumbent presidents (e.g. Bush in 2004, Truman in 1948), and of course better than any losing incumbent president (e.g. Bush 1992, Carter 1980).

    2. George Turner

      Oops. Don’t know how I got Cooldige screwed up. It was very late.

      Bush in 2004 added 10.4 million votes. Obama would’ve lost to Bush 2004, though easily beat him in 2000. Truman doesn’t figure in because he was like Coolidge.

      Obama did much worse than Carter, and only slightly better than George HW Bush (due to Perot).

      Two Presidents, Grover Cleveland and Martin Van Buren, lost their bid’s for re-election while actually gaining votes.

    3. Thomas Matula

      George,

      The answer is simple. The radical positions of the Tea Party Republicans probably turned off a lot of Republicans who simply didn’t vote this time.

      Think about it, first you call faithful Republican names like RINO and other nasty things and then you expect they will vote for you?

      Look at Indiana. The Tea Party not only drove out Senator Luger in the primary, someone who would have won easily in the Fall, but demonize him and his supporters as well.

      Well, guess what. When the Fall election came those traditional Republicans remembered that and either stayed home, skipped over voting for the Senate/President, or voted for the opponent. The result was a Senate pickup for the Democrats, one they never counted on until the Tea Party give it to themon a sliver platter…

  7. Tony G.

    - none of this matters. Obamacare is going to suck all the money towards itself, and everything else won’t matter.

    We had people sit on their hands because the “R” candidate wasn’t “just right”.

    The government we deserve, good and hard.

  8. Der Schtumpy

    I thought about this last night, and again this morning. Tony G is right.

    I don’t care if there entire campaign had consisted of pictures of Romney with he caption, “I’m NOT Obama”, the VOTERS made a choice here.

    At this point, with 4 years of Obumle behind us, Obamacare in front of us and with the debates behind us, WHY did 2 million people who voted FOR McCain, decide to stay home? Why did SO many people who voted for Obama last time say they were disappointed and thought Washington was corrupt, vote for him and them, whoever the them is, and keep the thing they distrusted?

    The stupid, lazy, ‘what can I get for ME’, short memoried voters did this, NOT the Campaign Managers. What’s that old saying about insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome?

    1. Jim

      Since the 90s (at least) Democrats have been asking themselves the “What’s the Matter With Kansas” question: why do low income white voters support a party run by and for the moneyed elite? The standard answer has been social issues: the GOP makes lip service appeals to their cultural conservatism, while putting its policy emphasis on priority #1, low taxes for the rich.

      Maybe that didn’t work this time because they nominated a plutocrat, who did not even try (a la “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush) to camouflage his allegiance to the 0.1%. Maybe socially conservative voters were turned off by his Mormonism. Maybe social issue appeals have lost some of their power — even gay marriage referenda don’t seem to have turned out the GOP vote.

      I think Romney was by far the best politician of the Republicans who ran, but looking at all the white voters who stayed home I do wonder: maybe the GOP would have gotten more votes with Perry or Santorum.

      1. wodun

        You know the whole class warfare rhetoric is a bunch of BS. Obama and the Democrats have just as many if not more wealthy people supporting their campaigns and taking advantage of the revolving door between government and business.

        Obama spent over $1b to get elected. Now I know you wont say he bought the election but if Romney had won, that is exactly what you would say.

        1. Jim

          Obama and the Democrats have just as many if not more wealthy people supporting their campaigns and taking advantage of the revolving door between government and business

          That just isn’t true. Look at where Romney’s money came from. Look at how people who make more than 250K voted.

          The one consistent element in GOP politics since 1980 is its singular focus on low marginal tax rates for the rich. That one issue trumps everything else (in 2010 the GOP gave Obama more unemployment insurance and payroll tax relief in exchange for keeping the Bush tax cuts for another two years). And it’s extremely unpopular.

          1. wodun

            “That just isn’t true. Look at where Romney’s money came from. Look at how people who make more than 250K voted. ”

            You mean like wall street, silicone valley, hollywood, musicians, and professional athletes? Or do you mean unions, move on, or other PACs?

            Obama did collect a lot of little donations but the bulk of his money came from the 1%, just like last time. You notice Obama always uses an average donation to mask this. Also, he never bothered to enact standard basic verification of people donating under $250 so we really don’t know how many illegal contributions he received.

            Obama spent over $1b on this election and Democrats think this is a good thing but that money is only a corrupting civilization endangering influence when Republicans spend it.

          2. wodun

            I would be remiss if I didn’t point out again that the Bush tax rate cuts overwhelming favored the lower tax brackets. This is just another way Democrats distort reality to fit their stereotypical world view.

          3. Jim

            Obama disclosed his bundlers; Romney didn’t. Obama didn’t get nearly as much money from Wall Street, or rich people in general, as Romney, and the comparison is even more lopsided if you include SuperPACs. And the parties are more than their presidential candidates. Democrats get support from unions, civil rights groups, environmental groups, etc. Republicans get support from business.

            the Bush tax rate cuts overwhelming favored the lower tax brackets

            The top 1% got more than a quarter of the benefit. Even with Obama’s plan to let the top two brackets return to Clinton levels, the rich still get the biggest benefit (because they get a cut on the first $250K).

  9. Jim

    It’s ironic that Republicans are so mad at Karl Rove this week for his ineffective SuperPAC spending, and at the same time bemoaning the incompetent GOTV effort. Rove is the last guy to run a competent (and successful) GOP GOTV, in 2004. It scared the Democrats into investing heavily in new micro-targeting techniques borrowed from business (Dems are not allergic to learning from the private sector).

    For the whole story, see Sasha Issenberg’s The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns.

    1. George Turner

      Even Rove can’t put lipstick on a pig.

      The Republican problem this time was fear of being portrayed as racist for choosing the white Northern liberal big-government health-care mandating big-finance candidate with a weak foreign policy instead of the black one.

      Look at it this way Jim. We tried running your candidate, and he lost!

      1. Jim

        The economy was just good enough that any Republican faced an uphill climb (just as any Democrat was unlikely to win in 2004).

      2. Titus

        Yeah, George, like I said way back when: why vote for a white Obama when we already got a half-black one?

    2. wodun

      Yup, the micro targeting was effective in driving wedges between racial, class, and gender lines. Obama had a giveaway for each group along with stereotypes for how Republicans are bigots toward them.

      It had the effect of depressing the overall vote while boosting his base who viewed the election in terms of a battle against the racists. One of the dirtiest campaigns ever in American history, which is saying a lot considering our history.

      Obama had his 2004 where he turned the election away from serious issues and into trumped up social referendum.

      Then Obama said this, “I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe.”

      His politics are what divides, that is how he won. It was the cynicism from his campaign that depressed the vote.

      Will Obama change and actually work in good faith with the other party or will it be like the last four years where insults and divisive rhetoric preceded pleas for bipartisanship? Were Obama’s campaign strategies just a lowest common denominator way to get elected or are they his blueprint for governance?

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