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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 serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prior to founding Iowa's largest conservative news site, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa during the 2008 Iowa Caucuses. In that capacity, Robinson planned and organized the largest political event in 2007, the Iowa Straw Poll, in Ames, Iowa. Robinson also organized the 2008 Republican caucuses in Iowa, and was later dispatched to Nevada to help with the caucuses there. Robinson cut his teeth in Iowa politics during the 2000 caucus campaign of businessman Steve Forbes and has been involved with most major campaigns in the state since then. His extensive political background and rolodex give him a unique perspective from which to monitor the political pulse of Iowa.

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