The Big Picture on Last Night’s Election Results

By Jedediah Bila

When your candidate of choice loses a presidential election, it is imperative to sit down and really think about what the results mean. It’s not easy, and the conclusions you draw may not always be to your liking, but it is a necessary step in understanding the scope of what transpired.

I supported Mitt Romney for President for many reasons–his executive experience, proficiency on economic issues, and leadership skills were just a few. Romney was never my ideal candidate, and I openly admitted that from the start, but he did a solid job of presenting an alternate vision to that of Obama. He performed well in the debates and I was pleasantly surprised by his impressive interaction with voters on the campaign trail.

Regardless, Romney was just defeated by a President who presided over month after month of high unemployment, pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the economy via taxpayer-funded stimulus that yielded no significant recovery, and added trillions of dollars to the national debt. If you’re not asking yourself big questions about why Barack Obama won this election, you should be.

First off, let’s talk campaigns. President Obama is a fantastic campaigner. He plays to win. However, his campaigns also play dirty. Scare tactics, demagoguery, false narratives–nothing appears to be off the table. The view articulated by many in media is that the American people don’t like negative campaigning, that they are repelled by attack dogs and prefer stand-up candidates with positive messages. I’m not sure I buy that, and Barack Obama’s two presidential election victories support my doubt. The fact is that negative campaigning–as ugly as it may be–often works. Those false narratives stick, and once they do, they are hard to reverse. They can crush a candidate. Recall the ads run by Romney advocates against Newt Gingrich in Florida during the primary season.

Like it or not, Obama’s negative campaigning against Romney was successful.

Secondly, does style matter more than substance? Many of us would hope not, but to ignore the impact of delivery, the impact of one’s ability to resonate with voters, the impact of likability and the “coolness” factor, is to ignore reality. Barack Obama was a charismatic candidate. He knows how to sell his ideas. He knows how to package them in rhetoric that hits home. And yes, for many, he is the guy they would still like to have a beer with at the end of the day. One can argue that these shouldn’t be qualifying characteristics for a president’s re-election–and believe me, I agree–but voters are telling us time and again that these things matter to them. Like it or not, these factors are important. They impact elections, and to ignore them when choosing candidates on the right is a recipe for failure.

Beyond campaigning, there are some serious issues to consider. Is America still a center-right country? I’d like to think so, but would a center-right country elect and re-elect Barack Obama? Would a center-right country re-elect the man who ushered in massive government overreach into the health care system? Would a center-right country welcome an Obama Doctrine that reeks of weakness on the international stage? Would a center-right country embrace class warfare rhetoric and redistribution of wealth? Not in my book.

The questions we should all be asking today are, “What is the state of the modern American electorate? What do the majority of American voters value? What are their priorities?”

As we ponder the answers to those questions, which I suspect we will be doing for some time to come, I must make two final points.

First, GOP presidential candidates must pay attention to the youth in this country. They are the future, are they not? The Left has mastered outreach to young people. Where is the GOP? Are they even trying? Young people do care about their freedoms. They care deeply. Look at Ron Paul’s following. However, the GOP has ignored them for a very long time. The outreach has been minimal and when it exists, it is strategically poor. The messengers are wrong. The messaging is flawed. To continue to ignore the youth in this country is another recipe for long-term failure.

Finally, in light of the GOP’s Senate losses in Indiana and Missouri, I can’t help but ask candidates to think before they speak. If you can’t make a coherent argument on the pro-life issue–or any other issue the left-wing media is hungry to talk about–you shouldn’t be running for office. If you make an outrageous, indefensible statement–I’m looking at you, Todd Akin–take some responsibility and get out of the race. You are responsible for your words, but the rest of the country shouldn’t have to suffer because of them.

Last night’s victory wasn’t just about Barack Obama, just as Romney’s loss wasn’t just about Mitt Romney. The same thing goes for the individual House and Senate candidates. Now is the time to pay attention to the big picture and evaluate not only the priorities of the American electorate, but the template for what can and should constitute good campaigns and good candidates.



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  1. JaneMP says:

    I wonder why you didn’t mention the negative side of the Romney campaign–Donald Trump used as a surrogate to representing the birthers; Sununu and his “lazy” comments. Nor did you mention the lies: “I’m not going to add to the defense budget” at the same time he said, “I’m going to raise defense spending, cut taxes, and lower the deficit–I’m not going to tell you how but you have to believe me the numbers add up because I’ve been a business man.” Oh, and what about, “Jeep is pulling out of the US” and “I always supported the rescue of car makers”? Oh, and those tax returns he refused to show–you have to admit that suggests something to hide.

    Neither side is innocent of this–but you glossed over any problems of the ROmney campaign.

    As a person who has also experienced loss, I’ve always looked more realistically at the failures or my candidated and the reason the other side won. W won because he was truly NEVER racist. He always support latinos in TX–and they won the races for him.

    • Stan says:

      Jane, you’ve made some good points. Both sides have their flaws, no doubt about it. The problem, however, is that the media distorts the truth, and, as a result, the campaigns become more and more “over the top.” If the media were more honest to report the flaws and lies of BOTH sides, the candidates would be much more honorable and truthful.

  2. Diana Erbio says:

    You are right to say we must reach out to the youth of this country. They are the future and if they are not being taught about the foundation of our nation and what a free market really is America is in trouble. We must all pay close attention to what is being taught to our children in school and “how” it is being taught.

  3. Randy says:

    On this subject, how does one reach young people with a positive message when they refuse to become informed about the candidates. Most will always side with the majority no matter what the candidate says or does short of offering some sort of “carrot” which is contrary to conservative thought, ie. encouraging a something for nothing mentality.
    On the subject of immigration, I have been in farming a good portion of my life and I am intimately involved with the Hispanic community as most of my employees are legal Hispanics from Mexico. They are all honest hard-working people who came here because of the opportunities this country had to offer, but they came, as other immigrants that built this country the right way going through the immigration process. They are as offended as anyone by the influx of illegal immigrants that have come here to get what they can from this country without any reciprocation. The legal immigrants are basically being shoved to the back of the line because they are attempting to follow the laws of our country in good faith. I avoid stereo typing all of these people, but most of this new generation of immigrants bring their culture with them and refuse to assimilate into our country by attempting to learn our language or participating in the community as a whole. While many of you people who read this may think that I am “racist”, but nothing could be further from the truth, I am simply saying what most people in this country see and know but are afraid to speak out about. The crux of this is how can you pander to a group of people that go against everything tenet that this country was built on just to get votes? The United States government has been looking the other way while hoards of people come over the border without making any real attempt at putting up a physical fence for fear of angering voters that are already here, thus exacerbating the problem. To top it off they gave citizenship to their offspring if they were born here producing generations of new Democrat voters. How do you fight against that? I laugh when I hear these talking heads say we should be more inclusive. If it means in order to preserve the country that we love that we have to ignore our laws then I guess we have already lost our country not my losing a war but by letting our elected officials destroy it from the inside out. I will not give up, but I am afraid the battle is lost.

  4. vesuvius1313 says:

    The biggest problem that I see is many of us don’t trust the Republicans because it is run by too many in the establishment that don’t represent our ideals. If we want to beat the liberals we need to adopt the Tea Party ideals of Constitutionally limited gov’t, balanced budget, and a strong national defense -not an international defense. Every time abortion or religion comes us voters turn away because we don’t want morality dictated by gov’t. I am pro-life but as stated in this column the candidates need to have a better message for their position when it is brought up. I really believe that if we would focus on what all of us have in common except for the far left and religious activist we would build the coalition that Reagan put together for 8 years. If we do talk about religion it needs to be in the nonthreatening way that Reagan did it because people understood it was his faith but not the faith he expected you to have.

    The Democrats have a problem because the groups they pull together are a fractured bunch and if we could build a party that included the economically conservative democrats they would pull away from the democratic party that doesn’t represent their economic beliefs but morals need to be an individual issue not a party issue.

  5. Wayne says:


    As were many of you, I was very distraught over the election, I had to take a few days to gather my thoughts before commenting. People, who know me, know I am basically an optimist. One of my favorite sayings is “there is an upside and downside to everything”.

    The election is over and the “citizens?” spoke, now what. We have real challenges ahead. However, if there was ever an election we (conservatives) needed to lose…this was it. Unless Obama makes some huge changes in his spending policies including entitlements this will be the end of the liberal’s agenda and the Democratic Party. America is “EATING OUR SEED CORN”. If you do not understand that term, it means we are consuming our future for short-term gain. It is a sad day when the way for a person to be elected President is to appeal to voting blocks that are dependent on the Government instead of appealing to our American Values that made this country so great.

    The Democrats may have gotten more than they bargained for. This election has been like playing a tug of war with the mud hole behind one side instead of in the middle. They might have won this tug of war but they will find themselves in the mud hole. The answer to our economic problems does not lie in wealth redistribution (eating our seed corn) but in creating MORE WEALTH (planting more corn). If economic policies are not changed soon, this country will experience hard times like was not even seen in the Great Depression.


  6. Freedomlovingmomof7 says:

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post. While I concede that Obama won, I am convinced there was massive vote fraud. I campaigned hard for Romney, knocking on thousands of doors with my family, and making thousands of phone calls. We also donated to conservative Republican candidates and attended rallies with record crowds. Here in Loudoun County, VA ( so-called ground zero of the election), we experienced long lines to vote, and saw long lines at other polling places. Volunteers around the area told us they ran out of Republican sample ballots ! The initial results from VA had Romney at 53%, which included votes from the urban, more liberal districts, so we were stunned when Obama won. We got more suspicious when we noticed that he narrowly won EVERY SINGLE swing state. People like Michael Barone and Dick Morris (who have a lot of credibility)thought Romney would win, and the polls had Obama below 50% for most of the campaign, never a good sign for an incumbent, so the final results strain credulity. I do agree we need a better candidate next time, but the big names (Palin, Jindal, etc. ) didn’t throw their hats into the ring this time. It’s too coincidental that the Senate, which should have resulted in more Republican gains, actually lost ground to the Democrats. I think we have to focus on the state level, starting with the upcoming gubernatorial elections in VA and NJ, and trying to minimize the damage in the state legislatures and in the 2014 elections. We also should go to paper ballots, which have less ease of rigging the vote.

  7. Lisa says:

    As one who knows Mitt Romney on a personal level, I was discouraged to see our nation chose Obama again. Mitt was certainly the right man at the right time with the right skills to turn our country around. JB’s takes on the results are accurate. Two related reasons for the results:

    1) Mass Media – Let’s face it, Romney had to run against not only the Obama machine, but the vast majority of the media as well. It was media malpractice at a shameful level. Youth are particularly gullible to style over substance. In college broadcasting classes, I learned how easy it is to manipulate perceptions.
    2) Education System – The picture of Obama, his logo and quotations painted on the wall of the Philly school (where polling took place) is a harbinger of the indoctrination of our youth by liberal educators. We have simply not taught children to think critically. As one whose high school education included studying “The Communist Manifesto” and “Mao’s Red Book” in the context of world history, I learned what transpires when the government seeks to override the sovereignty of the individual.

    The bottom line, we need to get involved and teach youth to recognize when they are being manipulated. I hope to do this when I retire.

  8. Susan Anderson says:

    I wonder if the reason there were less voting for Romney than voted for McCain is because conservatives want real conservatives and wrote in or didn’t even vote. Ron Paul had a huge movement and was ignored. OMG I resisted but I would be so much happier if he was president than Obama… and there is the point. I believe you are right about the narrative. The Democrats actually have blacks believing that they are the ones that ended slavery. How did that happen? It’s so bad that I’ve been told that is my history not theirs???? There is so much work to do but the GOP needs to fundamentally change and start reaching out and getting their message across and change the beliefs of those who believe they are greedy rich people who hate everyone but whites.

  9. Farbar says:

    Couldn’t have said any of that better myself.

  10. brian j conway says:

    Great article J. B.

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