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Ross Douthat: The Mitt Romney presidential candidacy in retrospect

Published: Sunday, Aug. 30 2015 10:32 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters at an election night rally in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, where he conceded the race to President Barack Obama.  (Stephan Savoia, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters at an election night rally in Boston, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, where he conceded the race to President Barack Obama. (Stephan Savoia, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Our Take: The post-election finger-pointing continues to poke and prod the Republican Party after last Tuesday’s loss: Was this the best strategy? Did the primaries harm each candidates’ chances? Were Republicans not aware of America’s changing demographics? Many are even questioning whether Mitt Romney was the best choice to run against a charismatic and well-liked President Barack Obama. Would Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman have won more national votes for the Republican Party than Romney? In the following editorial for the New York Times, Ross Douthat weighs the other potential Republican candidates against Mitt Romney’s 3 percent margin of loss.

In one of my last pre-election posts, I remarked that the closeness of the election and Mitt Romney’s impressive final month of campaigning meant that he would probably enjoy more respect in defeat than is usual for losing presidential candidates. A week later, that prediction looks more than a little premature, mostly because I thought the final outcome would be closer than it was (closer to 50-49 than the ’04-esque 51-48 it looks like we’ll end up with), and I didn’t realize how completely, wildly off the mark the Romney’s campaign’s theory of the electorate (a theory that I myself found relatively persuasive, I should note) would turn out to be. Right now, between his pollsters’ overconfidence and his consultants’ failure to deliver an effective turnout operation, the epitaph for Romney’s campaign looks more cruel than I anticipated: To borrow from Slate’s John Dickerson, he’ll be remembered as the numbers guy whose numbers were all wrong.

This is all grist for the longtime Romney skeptic Jonathan Last’s obituary, which includes the following question for anyone who argued that Romney was the most electable candidate available:

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