November 9, 2012

Lesson 1: Compensating for an enthusiasm gap

One of the lessons to be learned from the re-election of president Obama is the fact that an uninspired vote counts as much as a vote from someone who would crawl across broken glass to cast a vote for their candidate. If the vote is cast, it counts, period.

That should come as no surprise. If this was a base turnout election, the Republican candidate relied on enthusiasm to drive voters to the polls. The enthusiasm was there. The problem for Republicans is that even though the Democrats enthusiasm curve may now have peaked at 'meh' rather than tingles up the leg, they still turned out.

Whether the enthusiasm was bought with Obamaphones or forced with a massive Democrat GOTV ground game efforts - where they took away all the work. The turnout machine for Obama did it's job.

At the margin, the same is not true for the Romney campaign and in hindsight, they made several mistakes, some the same as McCain four years earlier. One of the key mistakes is that they misjudged the ability to turn anti-Obama sentiment away from Romney into 'meh' voters.

Meh voters tend not to turn out. And that's the twofold mistake that Romney made in this election. He did not do enough to convert Obama voters into .eh Obama voters. Such an effort would have made the Obama GOTV effort magnitudes more difficult. Driving 10 people to the polls is much easier than driving 100.

The other thing Romney was counting on was that there weren't going to be many Meh Romney supporters. They under invested in the effort to get out the Meh Romney voters.

This should be borne out when the final voter tallies come in. Obama's turnout is down from 2008 but not by enough and more critically, Romney's vote total was not up from McCain's by nearly enough.

The president turns out had a better and smarter operation than Romney. And Romney was the guy who was supposed to lead America from the fiscal wilderness. Maybe not so much.

The president had a better game plan - voter turnout and voter enthusiasm suppression work. That's hard effort and dirty pool respectively, but it's a winning formula. It's a lesson the GOP needs to learn. One of many.

As more data comes in, I will expand on this as well as look at a number of other lessons to be learned from the 2012 election.

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