The Republican Party blew it. To be fair, they were backed into a corner by the Tea Party and were essentially doomed from the start. Let’s take a look at this race from an objective view.
You have a sitting President who is presiding over what most Americans feel is a lackluster economy, who passed healthcare legislation that is unpopular among most Americans, and you have successfully convinced the American people that the gridlock in the federal government is his fault, not yours. Americans feel that the federal deficit and the economy are the biggest issues in this race and you generally poll better in economic issues. You are coming off a successful midterm election and your voter base is ridiculously enthusiastic about voting for anybody who is not the current President. They will find any way to rationalize whoever you pick as being better than the current President.
But instead of picking a candidate who would appeal to independent voters and possibly liberals, they picked a former CEO who made millions of dollars essentially running a corporate chop-shop. They picked a candidate who spent the past two years pandering to the most extremist sect of the Republican Party instead of picking a moderate. When poll numbers showed Romney trailing Obama significantly, they set Fox News on the poll numbers and questioned their validity (surprisingly, the polls, on average, turned out to be pretty accurate). When the video of Romney calling 47 percent of all Americans moochers came out, they responded with an obscure video of Obama from the 1990s and tried to pass it off as more controversial. And when candidate after candidate in the GOP made completely inappropriate comments about rape and abortion, there was no effort made to distance the party from these lunatics.
To be fair, Obama was somewhat of a formidable opponent. The American people generally understood that Obama did not create this economy, he inherited it. The economy has been improving for the past three years and Americans understand that things are getting better. The unemployment rate is generally moving downward and the economy is beginning to pick up steam. Obama’s approval rating is still around 50 percent and America has not forgotten that he was responsible for the death of Bin Laden and the ending of the war in Iraq.
How can the GOP recover? The answer is simple; disavow the Tea Party. The average American is scared of the Tea Party and does not want anything to do with them. Americans want candidates that do not think Social Security is a ponzi scheme. Americans want candidates that will not try to push women’s rights back to the 1950s. It is ok to be conservative, but it is not ok to be an extremist.
I hope that this election taught the Republicans a lesson about partisanship and that in the next four years the GOP will begin to move back toward the center. It seems to me that there is no party out there for a moderate conservative anymore, but the Republicans could fill that very empty gap. In 2016 there will be high demand for a candidate who can handle the economy conservatively without trying to upend the entire system. There will be demand for a candidate who can appeal to both liberals and Democrats and begin a trend toward bipartisanship in Congress. The clock has started ticking for the GOP, and they should start looking today. If not, then they risk falling deeper and deeper into the far-right until they become irrelevant.