Thoughts and Commentary from VOXXI contributors
Romney’s defeat in Tuesday’s Presidential race can be traced directly to the intensity of Latino voters for Obama.
Mitt Romney’s defeat in Tuesday’s Presidential race can be traced directly to the intensity of Latino voters for President Obama, and the once loyal white male vote in Ohio. Just weeks before the election President Obama told an Iowa newspaper that if he was to be re-elected a “big reason” would be that Romney and the Republicans had alienated the Latino community.
Latino voters, the fastest growing group in America, delivered for the Democrats across the nation and proved the President right. From Virginia, to Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and in communities with growing Latino voters, the grassroots ground effort paid off. Latino voters delivered for the Democrats. President Obama won 71 percent of Latino voters’ support while Mitt Romney won 27 percent, even greater than the 36 point advantage Obama had over John McCain in 2008. Latino voters turnout exceeded expectations, representing 10 percent of voters nationwide, a 6 percent increase since 2000.
In Ohio was different, but also provides a lesson about the power of pocketbook over other social issues. White male voters throughout the state voted for the Democratic ticket, largely because it was President Obama whose much-derided bailout of the auto industry was the game changer that saved thousands of jobs in that state. While Obama did not do well among white male voters nationwide, in Ohio it was precisely men, with women and Latino voters who helped to turn the tide.
Mitt Romney’s now famous editorial in the Wall Street Journal about letting Detroit fail played time and again in Ohio pre-election advertising. And when Romney tried, one week before the election, to tell Ohio’s voters that the Jeep plant was being moved to China by a deal from the President, resulting in shipping jobs overseas, even the corporate types at Jeep could not abide by this form of dishonesty. They ran a public service announcement affirming that Jeeps would be made in Ohio. So Romney was not only tarred with failure to support the auto-industry bailout, but something worse, being a liar!
There will be ongoing “Monday morning quarterbacking” of this presidential election. It will point to a real lack of discussion of issues. It will acknowledge that the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, was not the best choice to run against an incumbent. But these are only the most obvious of reasons. What goes deeper is the Republic mistake of pushing a candidate who viewed the electorate as needy folks, eager to take from the government, but not to give. Who can forget the 47 percent remark of Romney’s told at a private fundraiser, when he expressed disdain for those who could not join country clubs, or own a couple of Cadillac’s, or have horses compete in the Olympics.
But as they say in the government, “mistakes were made” and the Republican party paid dearly for a costly, close race that not only lost the party the presidency, but a majority in the U.S. Senate.
1. Romney’s advocacy of “self-deportation”, his outright rejection of any type of immigration reform, including consideration of assisting children who had been born in the U.S. that were undocumented, the “dreamers,” was the last straw for Latino voters. Even Romney’s competition in primaries, Texas Governor Rick Perry, was able to muster the courage to support a sensible solution to the crisis on immigration reform in this nation.
2. Romney’s claim that “big government is the enemy.” It may be, but after Hurricane Sandy blew away the entire Jersey Shore, devastated the Big Apple and brought out the importance of federal assistance in disasters, any doubts anyone had about the role of government was quickly diverted by the excellent job that President Obama and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, did for those affected by the storm.
3. Romney’s foreign policy positionsthat were outdated and dangerous. They were rigid, old-fashioned and a throw-back to an age that no longer exists. Bashing China, our major trading partners, and bad-mouthing the Russians at a time when their vote at the United Nations is essential to stop the killing fields in Syria, showed the bad judgment of his foreign policy team. And he kept flipping on his position about what to do to exit in Afghanistan. He finally said he agreed with the president in the second debate. His Israel-centric policy—dealing only with a right-wing government—was not helpful, and may have alienated many of the more moderate Jewish voters who saw a Romney Commander-in-Chief as a threat to both Israel’s and the U.S. national security.
4. Romney’s insensitivity to the changing role of women in the workforce came home to haunt him early on, and dogged his campaign until the end. From his staff’s lack of interest in equal pay (he had never heard of the Lilly Ledbetter Act to provide equal pay protection) to his flip-flop on choice, he never endeared himself to women. Indeed, the Republicans now enjoy the largest gender-gap ever in recent history.
5. Romney never had a plan, and the voters sensed that. Talking about rebuilding the economy requires a roadmap. And the Romney-Ryan plan was nothing but a piece of paper that suggested that in one day a magic wand would sweep over Washington and all would be fine if we just had faith in the private sector’s capacity to rebuild jobs, manage the debt and do this all in a toxic political environment. As Vice-President Joe Biden succinctly put it, that’s just “malarkey.”
The people have spoken. The race is over. And as I said, mistakes were made. But what needs to happen now is a rebuilding of confidence in both parties that they can provide American citizens with a vision that helps us out of this political and economic quagmire, opens new opportunities for minorities and welcomes the diversity of our nation. If the Republicans fail to embrace diversity, women and Latinos, and come into the 21st century, in 2016 we may mourn the end of a once great political machine, the Republican Party.
Johanna Mendelson Forman is a scholar-in-residence at the American University, School of International Services. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of her institution.