Voting results in the last few presidential elections (2012 figures as of the writing of the post):
Obama 2012 - 60,173,541 - - Romney 2012 - 57,449,374
Obama 2008 - 69,498,516 - - McCain 2008 - 59,948,323
Kerry 2004 - 59,028,444 - - - Bush 2004 - 62,040,610
Though Romney did better than McCain on moderates (41% to McCain's 39%) and actually won independents (50% to Obama's 45%), enough liberals turned out that he lost the election. In fact, liberals way over-performed.
Gallup finds that in 2012 40% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 35% as moderate and only 21% as liberal. The exit polling yesterday shows that those who voted self-identified as 35% conservative, 41% moderate and 25% liberal. Conservative voters were down 5% from the national average, moderate voters up 6% and liberal voters up 4%. That points to a significant number of conservatives staying home and liberals turning out. In fact in 2012 liberals outperformed their turnout in 2008! So, even though Romney did better with voting liberals (11% vs. 10%), moderates (41% vs. 39%) and conservatives (82% vs 78%) than McCain, Romney as of now has fewer votes.*
Romney did not garner even the mediocre voter support McCain, hobbled by the economic meltdown of September 2008, drew. McCain's reasonable showing was due largely to Sarah Palin who attracted huge, enthusiastic crowds in 2008 equaled only by Obama's 2008 crowds.
In contrast, Romney played to independents, and both independent and conservative turnout was basically static in 2012 compared with 2008. Moderate turnout was actually down 3 points.
My family and I voted because we always do. But lots of other folks stayed home (among Democrats too) because no candidate presented a vision worth following. President Obama's "I inherited a mess and am doing the best I can" and hard turn to left issues (abortion, contraception, tax the rich-share the wealth) kept enough of his base to overcome Governor Romney's failure to increase his base turnout with "I can create jobs".
In back to back presidential elections two articulate Republican vice
presidential candidates have not been enough to overcome the
presidential candidates' lack of ability to make a convincing case for
their view of how to govern.
A clear call to conservative, constitutional values such as Governor Palin, Senator Rand Paul and Senator-elect Ted Cruz have shown may be enough to win in 2016.
An uptick in conservative voters equaling the uptick in liberal voters yesterday, would mean a 9% increase (5% to equal their 40% share and 4% to catch up with the liberal increase). That would be a swing of about 3.7 million votes making Romney winner in popular vote by almost a million votes, slightly less than Obama is currently winning by.
Most conservative pundits bought into this year's the "we've-got-the-conservatives-the-important-thing-is-to-win-the-moderates" strategy.
There was no real push to focus on on important economic and societal truths. Maybe defeat will help
conservative political leadership rethink that strategy. The "boring but
competent" candidate model did not work even though he won a majority of independent voters.
*In 2004 George W. Bush did better with voting conservatives (84% vs. McCain 78% vs. Romney 82%), moderates (45% vs. 39% vs. 41%) and liberals (13% vs. 10% vs. 11%) than either McCain or Romney.