By James R. Campbell
Nevada Daily Mail
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign was undone by a big drop in Republican turnout from 2008, a slow start, inconsistency on issues, the tag of elitism and the leadership opportunity afforded President Obama by Hurricane Sandy, observers said Wednesday.
State Rep. Barney Fisher, R-Nevada, State Sen.-elect Ed Emery of Lamar, Nevada Democrat Jim Adams, former Rep. Harold Weil of Butler and Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg agreed that Romney perhaps could not have won the Tuesday election regardless of what he did, given the advantages of Obama's incumbency.
But they said it would have been closer had the former Massachusetts governor not experienced those setbacks. "I'm naturally disappointed, but from a strictly mathematical calculation, I am flabbergasted that three million fewer Republicans turned out for Romney than they did for John McCain in 2008," Fisher said.
"I thought it would be just the opposite. Spread those over the critical states and three million would have been a lot. Some people are saying Romney could have been more specific or more energetic, but I don't know what else he could have done. Being an incumbent has built-in advantages that are difficult to overcome. If you're going to unseat one, you have to scratch for every vote you can get."
Wednesday reports gave Romney 57,647,464 votes, with 206 electoral votes to Obama's 60,452,197, and 303 electoral votes, with 270 needed to win.
Four years ago, Republican John McCain got 59,934,814 votes and 173 electoral votes to Obama's 69,456,897 and 365 electoral votes.
Fisher said most of the 1,139,562 votes drawn Tuesday by Libertarian Gary Johnson would have otherwise gone to Romney. Asked his expectations for Congress and the Obama administration, he said, "I think it's going to be a bumpy four years."
Emery said Romney ran much stronger after the first presidential debate, Oct. 3, than he had previously. "The earlier you can get on track, the better," he said.
"You have to get the voters' attention and then get them to look at the issues and see them the way you do. The debates were a big help, but Romney might not have had time to get all that done."
Emery said Republicans who expected Romney to win "misread how far the culture has reversed on us from the spirit of independence on which the country was founded.
"We keep expecting the culture to recognize the threat to liberty that Barack Obama represents and we keep getting disappointed," the Republican said.
Adams had thought Romney might prevail "because the superpacs were putting an unprecedented amount of money into it," he said. "I believe Romney was a moderate Republican just doing what he had to to get elected," said Adams. "Obama was organized and consistent with what he believed. He never changed stories like Romney. Credibility had to be a huge part of it, and Obama had a ground game. He knew where his strength was and had two to three times the number of offices."
Adams noted that syndicated columnist David Brooks "said the superpacs would have been more effective if they had tried to understand what the people needed instead of just pushing an agenda."
He said the dissemination of a speech Romney had given to supporters in Florida, saying 47 percent of the voters would back Obama because they saw themselves as "victims," also helped the incumbent. "It was so honest because it wasn't supposed to be public, and it painted Romney as elitist," Adams said.
"What has happened to this country?" he asked. "Why don't we just get along and get on with what we have to do instead of everybody moaning and groaning?"
Weil said Hurricane Sandy's catastrophic Oct. 29 arrival in New Jersey and New York "gave Obama a bump.
"I think he would have won anyway, but it would have been really close," Weil said. "Romney and Ryan did everything they could do, but the Obama people did more. That's what it amounted to. Obama had more people working for him and he had the Hispanic and Afro-American vote locked in.
"The Republicans need to get together and do a bunch of soul searching and we'll see what happens in the next election," Weil said. "The thing that really bothers me is that the Senate lost two more Republicans (changing the balance to 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and two independents). So the gridlock will be worse than ever."
Pearce said Romney "is a true gentleman and a wonderful husband and father who would have been an excellent president.
"We're seeing a disturbing trend where people who rely on the federal government have a vested interest in keeping a certain person in the White House," the Warrensburg Republican said.
"Missouri did its part, speaking loud and clear that we wanted Mitt Romney as our president; but there weren't enough states like Missouri to carry him through to victory.