Why did 5 million conservatives stay home?

By Chuck Norton

Bush got over 62 million votes in 2004. Romney got just under 57 million.

Stop right there and let that number sink in. We are a nation where conservatives self identify more than liberals two to one.

Romney led the ticket in votes in every state he won meaning that he appealed to those moderates who are willing to lean conservative just fine, but evangelicals stayed home and so did traditional conservatives in North Florida.

Some people are saying “It is because this time more Hispanics went for Democrats instead of Republicans. This is true, but it is still dwarfed by the fact that five million conservatives stayed home.

This is what happens when you have a perceived “Massachusetts moderate who passed Romneycare” who runs a scorched earth primary as Romney did. The GOP establishment crammed him down our throat. In Florida, where Romney played those horribly dishonest ads against Newt it seems many stayed home. Romney also ran dishonest ads against Rick Santorum. Many evangelicals stayed home. This explains why we did good in polling and poor on election day. They participated in the polls, got pegged as likely voters and stayed home.

Weekly polling for two years tells us 61% of the people want Obamacare repealed, but too many voters simply didn’t believe that Romney and the Republicans were serious. Newt Gingrich warned that this very thing would happen. I know plenty of people who are conservatively minded who have said, “there is no difference between the two parties” and they essentially believe they are all socialist big spenders. Look at how ineffective John Boehner has been in the House. Libertarians in Indiana got 6% of the vote in some races, which is another indicator of this reasoning.

Another indicator is that traditionally the GOP has received about 80% of it’s donations from individuals in amounts of less than $200.00. This was not the case with Mitt Romney, although in the last eight weeks small contributors did donate more heavily, but none the less this indicates a problem with the base.

Another indication that the American voter believes that voting this time was futile is that 118 million people had voted in this White House race, far below 2004, and 2008 numbers.

The Republican Party needs to regain credibility with it’s base, who is so disgusted that three out of four of the last elections (2006, 2008 and 2012) the traditional conservative wing of the Republican Party has stayed home. In 2010 we had a clear message, this time we had “Obamacare vs Romneycare”. Lessons: Messaging and contrast matter; “electability theory” should now be put to bed as Dole, McCain and Romney were the “only electable ones”.

UPDATE – Our friends at Red State also had a similar take:

The question that many of these politicos have not answered is this: how could we possibly be more moderate than we already are?  We ran with Dole in 1996, and we lost; we ran with McCain in 2008, and we lost; we ran with Romney, and we lost.  Romney took the issue of Obamacare off the table and barely attacked Obama directly for much of anything.  There was no potent conservative philosophy that was offered to provide voters with a sharp distinction between the parties.  The Republican convention was a pathetic Oprah show and the entire campaign was basically an advocacy of Obama’s policies, albeit with less enthusiasm.  And let’s not blame the loss on Paul Ryan and Medicare reform; he outperformed Bush and McCain with seniors.

For all the talk of the need to moderate in order to win, Obama ran the most divisive, radical, and negative campaign, while Romney ran a relentlessly positive campaign with incessant promises to work with the other side.  People are attracted to a show of strength, not a promise of bipartisanship, which smacks of insecurity in one’s own virtues and ideas.

About Chuck Norton

Political issue strategist and communications professional. I write about politics, education, economics, morality and philosophy.
This entry was posted in 2012 Primary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Why did 5 million conservatives stay home?

  1. Pingback: Open Letter to Senator Ted Cruz, the Canadian - Page 17 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  2. Kent Straith says:

    Looks like this was posted a little too soon. Romney actually got 60.93 million votes.

    [Editor Responds: Provisional ballots and the like take more time to count so those numbers weren’t in at the time. Of course when it comes to provisional ballots the fraud rate goes up exponentially.]

  3. Wayne says:

    Where is there an actual credible source that shows conservatives stayed home in any significant number? Reagan’s 1984 landslide netted him a 28% conservative (of the total) turnout. Romney: 35%, the most since exit polls began counting it in 1976

    • Chuck Norton says:

      These were the numbers the day after the election. They have been adjusted some with the addition of absentee, military and provisional ballots since then. Also the Barone County by County vote tallies are educational to examine.

  4. Pingback: Rand Paul;Disgusting jellyfish SLAMS voter ID law as "OFFENSIVE" - Page 8 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  5. Pingback: You must choose to be a Republican | Jeffco Conservatives

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