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November 9th, 2012

Romney > McCain but Not By Much

By Craig Robinson

The 2012 election didn’t go the way that Republicans had hoped.  Things are bad for the Republican Party.  Actually things are really bad.  Instead of launching into a critique of the election results hours after we knew the abysmal result, I think it’s better to let a little time pass.  Next week we will begin the discussion on this website as to where the Republicans go from here.

As for today, I feel the need to clear something up before we start to discuss what went wrong and what needs to change.  There are some people out there who are stating that Mitt Romney did worse than John McCain did in 2008.  I heard this on the radio on Thursday night while in my car, saw it being talked about on Facebook, and saw it being discussed on some conservative websites.

There is plenty of blame to place at the feet of Mitt Romney and his campaign, but Republicans do themselves no favors by distorting the facts.  In almost every measurable variable, Romney out performed McCain.

To fix the problems, we need to be able to identify the problems.

President Obama’s margin of victory over Romney in Iowa:  86, 823 votes.

President Obama’s 2008 margin of victory over McCain in Iowa:  146,561 votes.

There were 21,784 fewer people who voted for Obama in 2012 than voted for him in 2008.

There were 37,944 more people who voted for Romney in 2012 than voted McCain in 2008.

Romney won more states that McCain.  McCain lost Indiana and North Carolina in 2008. Romney won them in 2012.  McCain also lost a congressional district in Nebraska, while Romney won all the congressional districts there.

President Obama obtained 365 electoral votes in 2008.  If he wins Florida, Obama will have 332 electoral votes in 2012.  John McCain got 173 electoral votes in 2008. Romney garnered 206.

The only area where John McCain outperformed Romney is in the popular vote.  There were 59,934,814 votes cast for McCain in 2008.  Romney had 58,138,594 votes cast for him.  While Romney received 1.8 million fewer votes than McCain, Obama’s popular vote total was down 8.5 million votes compared to 2008.

The media and others like to talk about the popular vote, but that’s not how we elect presidents.  It might be a good way to try and embarrass the Romney campaign, but it’s not productive.  By every meaningful measure, Mitt Romney was a better candidate than John McCain.  The problem is that he wasn’t much better.

Republicans have a lot of soul searching to do in the coming months, but we are closer to knowing what doesn’t work than figuring out what works.  Mitt Romney and John McCain are candidates of the past.  Even before we start thinking about the candidates of the future, we need to have a conversation about things like early voting, messaging, and overall strategy.

We will begin that process here on Monday.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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