The Four Million Vote Myth. Romney in 2012.

We are in the midst of a very odd presidential campaign. My usual preference would be for a governor as candidate but Chris Christie is not one I would vote for and the other governors have pretty much cratered as candidates. Walker and Jindal, who I like, are out. Kasich, who I don’t like, is on life support by rich donors who are using him to trash Trump.

I am still a Romney guy and would vote for him again if given the chance.

This brings up the frequent allegation that Romney alienated “Religious Conservatives,” by which are meant religious fundamentalists.

I have my doubts about the conservatism of religious fundamentalists but they have been allies as they see themselves under attack by the left wing “secular humanist” wing of the Democrats.

However, there is doubt about the supposed absence of votes from the “Religious Right” in 2012. I do think that segment of the Republican electorate can be affected by events and I think one example is the Bush drunk driving arrest, which was concealed by the Bush campaign and revealed just before the election by a Democrat operative. Actually, the story was first broadcast by a Fox News affiliate in Maine.

I think this revelation, which occurred the week before the election, may have led some Religious Right voters to stay home in enough numbers to make the 2000 election a virtual tie.

The story of Republican voters staying home because Romney was either not conservative enough or because he is Mormon is just not true.

To the extent that any of these analyses are based on the proposition that Romney got millions fewer votes than McCain, they are provably wrong. What happened is pretty simple: some states and localities take longer to count the votes than others – some big cities are notorious for this, some count absentee ballots slowly, California traditionally counts very slowly, and some of the jurisdictions hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were understandably slow getting finalized. But the final numbers are not what was originally available in the immediate aftermath of the election:

In 2004, George W. Bush got 62,039,572 votes vs 59,027,115 for John Kerry.

In 2008, John McCain got 59,950,323 votes vs 69,499,428 for Barack Obama – in other words, McCain lost about 2 million votes from what Bush had received, while Obama gained over 10 million vs Kerry’s total.

In 2012, Mitt Romney got 60,934,407 votes vs 65,918,507 for Obama – a million more votes for Romney than McCain, and 3.5 million fewer for Obama (but still up around 6 million compared to Kerry).

I have my own theories about the vote totals and I blame the GOP party apparatus for most of it. The late convention meant that he was not the official nominee and could not spend money to rebut the constant attacks the Democrats made all summer. The old Nixon rule that “nobody pays attention to politics until Labor Day” is obsolete. Romney was trashed all summer with material provided to the DNC by Newt Gingrich in the spring debates. The GOP has learned its lesson, we hope, and will move the convention next year to June.

With the earlier convention date, the GOP’s 2016 nominee will have a huge financial and strategic edge over Mitt Romney’s position in 2012, when he had to wait until he was nominated in late August before he could spend campaign money raised for the general election –and was outspent by a 3-to-1 margin on TV all summer long by President Obama.

Gingrich’s most harmful attacks on Romney created “Romney’s Vulture Capitalist Problem.”

Mitt Romney is the real thing. He was, by any measure, an astonishingly successful businessman, one who spent his career explaining how business might operate better, and who leveraged his own mind into a personal fortune worth as much as $250 million. But much more significantly, Romney was also a business revolutionary. Our economy went through a remarkable shift during the eighties as Wall Street reclaimed control of American business and sought to remake it in its own image. Romney developed one of the tools that made this possible, pioneering the use of takeovers to change the way a business functioned, remaking it in the name of efficiency. “Whatever you think of his politics, you have to give him credit,” says Steven Kaplan, a professor of finance and entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. “He came up with a model that was very successful and very innovative and that now everybody uses.”

Gingrich and the Democrats like Obama, who have never created a job, trashed Romney all summer with fake stories like the women who lost her health insurance. Romney could not respond.

The other big problem was the miserable GOP Get Out the Vote campaign. They were optimistic in early 2012 with high hopes. The reality was a complete collapse on Election Day.

As conservatives search for an explanation for Mitt Romney’s loss, much of the blame has been directed at the collapse of his campaign’s Election Day get out the vote efforts, a massive organizational failure that resulted in lower Republican turnout than even John McCain got in 2008.

A major source of Romney’s GOTV problems appears to have been the disastrous Project ORCA, an expensive technological undertaking that was supposed to provide the campaign with real-time poll monitoring that would allow Republicans to target GOTV efforts on Election Day.

What happened ? There were high hopes but it didn’t work.

The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.

From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.

Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.

This guy is a web developer and knows how to do these things.

Finally, my packet arrived at 4PM on Monday afternoon as an emailed 60 page pdf. Nothing came in the mail. Because I was out most of the day, I only got around to seeing it at around 10PM Monday night. So, I sat down and cursed as I would have to print out 60+ pages of instructions and voter rolls on my home printer. Naturally, for reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, my printer would not print in black and white with an empty magenta cartridge (No HP, I will never buy another one of your products ever again). So, at this point I became panicked. I was expected to be at the polls at 6:45AM and nothing was open. I was thankfully able to find a Kinko’s open until 11PM that was able to print it out and bind it for me, but this is not something I should have had to do. They expected 75-80 year old veteran volunteers to print out 60+ pages on their home computers? The night before election day? From what I hear, other people had similar experiences. In fact, many volunteers never received their packets at all.

Obama had the overt help of huge internet companies like Google and Microsoft but the Obamacare web site was a disaster. The rest of that article explains the other failures. This was not rocket science ! Let’s hope the GOP is better prepared this time.

More from Red State:

There may be factors unique to Romney that caused problems around the edges, as was true of McCain in his own ways – you can read an effort here to extrapolate the potential effects of anti-Mormon bias from some social-science research, and while I don’t find it notably persuasive, there may be some spots on the map where the removal of that factor could open new avenues in 2016. Romney was also more of an immigration hawk than McCain and more identified with personal wealth, while McCain was older, had a more polarizing running mate, a messier personal life, and a markedly less favorable political environment to run in.

Then there’s Sean Trende’s “missing white voters” analysis, which I reviewed back in July 2013 and which you should read in its four-part glory if you want a deep dive into this stuff. Trende’s conclusion was that white-voter turnout rates were down much more than voter turnout among other racial groups in 2012 (other than voters categorized as “other” – if you look at the map, one of the unexplained features of 2012 seems to have been drastically lower Native American turnout than in 2008). Trende concluded from close examination that these were “largely downscale, Northern, rural whites. In other words, H. Ross Perot voters.” Or Donald Trump voters, today, perhaps.

If you are interested in this stuff read the piece and look at the charts. I just don’t know but I am certain the “missing 4 million voters” is a myth.

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