Romney Post Mortems

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I’ll be trying to collect a few of them today, as the GOP tries to put humpty dumpty back together again. The first one I’ve come across that seems both informed and honest –witheringly so — comes from Patrick Ruffini:

What Romney didn’t account for is that it would take more than being a CPAC, or Agenda Conservative to win the nomination. Country Music Conservatives — and frankly, most voters outside the Beltway swamp — don’t listen to your words; they listen to your tone of voice as you’re delivering those words. Do you get angry when you should? What’s your sense of humor like? For social conservatives, are you grounded in faith? And ultimately, are you the real deal?

This has nothing to do with being right on issues. It has everything to do with being authentic.

Any voter in the Agenda Conservative orbit got the Romney message: we need to stop McCain and Huck is a tax hiker, so vote Romney. This message actually affected a fairly large segment of the primary electorate: about 30%. As the kind of people who go to CPAC and think issues matter, bloggers like us are squarely in this orbit. Everyday, what we write has the opportunity to directly impact about 30% of the party — and more than that when we have other things in common with social conservatives or moderate hawks.

Romney’s capturing of this constituency is seen in the election returns. He was essentially the candidate of white collar salesmen driving around in the suburbs listening to talk radio. He got 46% in Oakland County, Michigan, 38% in Cobb County, Georgia, and 42% in Duval County (Jacksonville), Florida. Those were virtually his lone standout performances — and they came from the world most bloggers and radio hosts inhabit. Even those of us who are social conservatives rarely live in the rural South. And because of this cocooning, the conservative elite failed to understand how those voters could possibly have more in common with a Baptist minister with a Massachusetts millionaire. We can debate the LDS effect all we want, but even without it, Romney already had two strikes against him: that he was from the land of Kennedy and Kerry and acted like it, and that he was too white collar for a party that most of the bluebloods have left.

The idea that talk radio could paper over this basic demographic divide is almost comical. The leader/follower model of conservative support (get Rush, the talkers, the CPAC people, all the groups on your side, and in so doing win the hearts and minds of a decisive majority of conservatives) has been proven starkly and decisively wrong.

If you all find some interesting thoughts elsewhere — or have some yourself! — please post in the comments.

UPDATE: Link added! Oops!

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