Election 2012: Why FOX News Got it Wrong

By all counts, the pre-Election Day polls suggested the 2012 presidential race would be so razor-thin close, it could even be a repeat of the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election, in which the popular vote and the electoral college vote were at odds.

Here’s what appeared to have sealed the deal on the Obama reelection*:

1) President Clinton, in his DNC speech, indicated that Republican leaderships‘ self-stated goal in 2008 was to ensure that President Obama became a one-term president. In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Republican leaders put the interest of the party ahead of the welfare of the nation. Talk about outrageous! It is despicable that anyone in any party should so shamelessly brag that their objective is not to serve the public interest, merely and solely their own agenda. That’s institutionalized narcissism, if ever there was an example! The GOP and their cable-television backers at FOX News clearly underestimated the push-back from independent and so-called undecided voters, among others, incensed that their intelligence — and our country — has been insulted by self-serving partisan gridlock.

2) Gov. Mitt Romney’s perceived flip-flopping. Perhaps no single issue presents more of a head-scratcher than a Republican governor who authored the nation’s most sweeping healthcare reform, only to distance himself from his chief accomplishment just as soon as a Democrat in the Oval Office chose to endorse a similar plan for the nation. Obamacare is, in fact, another wrinkle on Romneycare. Any other Republican nominee other than Gov. Romney would have held credibility on the repeal-Obamacare front. Romney, on the other hand, took a politically expedient but less than honest U-turn. It cost him. Already Republican ruminations have emerged to suggest that the party broaden its appeal, perhaps by endorsing a more moderate candidate in the next presidential election cycle. Such introspection is more than a little ironic given that Romney’s changing positions, initially for the sake of portraying himself as “severely conservative”, may have masked a socially moderate bent.

3) Gov. Romney’s fundraiser comment that 47 percent of Americans are essentially victims — lost electoral causes because they constitute the takers, not the makers (of progress, tax money, donations, etc.). It’s arrogance like this that feeds the so-called class war. Whereas the working and middle classes are apt to admire success and aspire to wealth — a net positive — the rich aspire, seemingly, to a negative: to not be “one of them”. Somewhere in the depths of human psychology we’re wired toward aspirational thinking — not so, an inherent sense of compassion toward the less-than-fortunate.

4) Conflicted feelings in response to Romney’s Mormon beliefs. Mormon women, let alone outsiders, aren’t allowed to witness or participate in many of the church’s rituals, including some on behalf of the dead. Jeepers, creepers! This vote was a tough call for conservative Christians, in particular.

5) Nasty campaign meets an increasingly biased media. Voters, arguably, have sent a clear message: Many have had their fill of obstruction. Enough of the blame-games. Enough of the scapegoats. Enough of the finger-pointers. Enough of “haters” in general. Outfits like FOX News, in trying to turn even acts of God — “Obama’s Katrina!” — into a slam on a sitting president, risk coming off like Chicken Littles. The sky is always falling. And that gets old really fast. In an atmosphere of constant outrage and alarm, even real stories, tragedies like the Embassy attacks to name just one, lose their punch because viewers, readers and listeners are fatigued, constantly bombarded with the message that absolutely everything the President and his administration does is deviant and wrong. Paradoxically, partisan news outlets like FOX seem to do more to harm their favored causes and candidates than to advance them. It bears consideration: If the GOP is to rebuild its credibility, they may wish to distance themselves from overt media propagandists in future elections.

6) A perceived “war on women“.

7) Overly tough talk in overly tough times. Is swashbuckling against Iran, Syria or the like worth a potential launch of WWIII? More to the point, can we afford another war even if it were worthwhile? Rightly or wrongly, a Romney presidency may have been compelled to walk the walk of party “Hawks” — for yet another unfunded, possibly preemptive war in the Mideast. This scared folks, for better or for worse, into the waiting electoral arms of President Obama. The nation spoke: Cooler heads must prevail.

8) Disenfranchised Ron Paul supporters. When the GOP changed the rules to block Dr. Paul’s delegates at the RNC, not only was it reactionary and classless — the antithesis of participatory democracy — it turned away some of the most diverse, conservative, youthful and grassroots voters Republicans had to draw upon. By relegating Dr. Paul’s delegates to RNC interlopers, it solidified a perception that the party is inflexible and elitist. Whatever one thought of Dr. Paul, two things stood out: Passion and consistency. Dr. Paul is and was much loved and much maligned for one reason: because he stands for something specific, something he is and was unafraid to articulate. Republicans, on the other hand, nominated Dr. Paul’s opposite: Generally nonspecific. Generally inconsistent. At the end of the day, voters had but one lingering question: “Will the real Romney please step forward?” Dr. Paul’s supporters, the scorned and the marginalized, may or may not have split the vote but no real effort was made to win them over, regardless. These were nothing less than strategic blunders of campaign-altering proportions.

9) Minorities. Hispanics, blacks and Asians overwhelmingly came out in support of President Obama. Similarly, Republicans have done comparatively little to reach working and middle class communities. So long as the GOP gives off the appearance of pandering to the 1 percent — in spite of the most pronounced wealth-gap in the history of any democratic Republic — it stands to reason they’ll garner a shrinking percentage of the vote. That by no means proves that the nation has turned a corner, living in a nation of “takers” who want nothing to do with traditional messages of fiscal conservatism and limited government, but it does mean that perceived favoritism for the sake of catering to Wall Street SuperPAC donors is a tough sell back on Main Street. The time has come for campaign finance reform.

10) The pre-election argument: President Obama is unlikely to be reelected for a second term with such high unemployment figures — it never happens. But voters weren’t buying. Why the exception to the apparent rule? Because one look at world headlines suggests ours is not a cut-and-dried party problem — it’s a global economic malaise, if not a slow-motion crisis that has yet to run its course. President Obama inherited a mess and, in the end, “change” may have been too much of a promise to deliver in a single term. That just might explain why voters chose to give the President a second chance.
*Disclaimer: None of the above is intended to impune conservative positions. Rather, it’s the means and the method that calls for introspection. Were I to moonlight as a GOP strategist, the take-away message would be this: Get out of your own way. The GOP needs to outgrow its cliched-and-usual adherents: the ever-Hawkish, (fake) blondes on FOX News, the ultra rich and the very old. Once conservatism can bust out of the constraints of its own box, its ideas can again stand or fall on the basis of merit, as well they can and should.

Resources

John Ziegler: Why the Conservative Media Got It So Wrong | Huffington Post

Edit: November 8, 2012

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