One week later. Where are we?
It seems clear that deferring to the Next Candidate in Line, who happens to have been a remarkably moderate Republican, we (I use the pronoun loosely) gained nothing. In point of fact, Romney's nomination may well have depressed turnout. No matter how frequently the practicalists amongst us say we are willing to vote for anyone who is slightly less pro-abortion than the current incumbent, we should understand, when seeking to nominate an only slightly less pro-abortion (or slightly less pro-gay marriage, or slightly less pro-universal health care ...) candidate, that not every conservative feels that way. Romney's nomination depressed (I use the verb advisedly) the conservative vote. The most telling exit poll on the Fox News site ...
Mr. Crosby thinks you should stop snickering right now.
... was the one describing voter's enthusiasm for their candidate.
Which best describes your vote for president today?
I strongly favor my candidate
I like my candidate but with reservations
I dislike the other candidates
In other words, simply disliking Obama was not a sufficient reason for most people to get out of bed and vote. Despite the sterling character he demonstrated as a father and husband, no-one really liked Romney as a candidate. It's something that pundits have been suggesting for some time; now we have partial proof.
Of course, the exit polling was sporadic, and perhaps ought not to be entirely relied upon. But the actual tallies of the popular vote tell the same story: Romney garnered 58,985,876 votes in 2012, and Obama 62,355,299, for a total of 121,341,175. Compare this to the numbers for 2008:
... and 2004:
Three examples is hardly a crowd, but I think the mere fact that the republican's numbers have gone down twice is telling. McCain was widely seen as a new edition of Bush, and Romney as the new edition of McCain; all three were "conservative" compromise candidates. (And incidentally, giving the Vice Presidential slot to someone perceived as being more conservative—as the GOP did in all three cases—doesn't seem to help as much as the GOP would like it too.)
I'm not saying that someone else could have been elected in Romney's place—not even my old favorite Santorum. I think the polisci trinity of my father, my boss, and Ross Douthat is probably right: there is no more conservative coalition. If we want one in the future we need to build it the hard way: by mouth-to-mouth persuasion.
I thought of illustrating that,
but nothing apropos seemed appropriate.
The bottom line is that things are going to get worse before they get better. But, as my WWII vet professor used to say, "You young people are lucky: you get to live in a time when you can fight. Oh, and by the way, it's still possible to enjoy all of 'Dick Tracy in B Flat.'"
Well, alright then. He didn't really say ... all of that.