I had a prior "thought" on Romney actually losing the election during the primary when I wrote:
I believe Republicans lost the Presidential election during the primaries. Not that they were hard fought, which they were, but that in the end they nominated a candidate that was opposed to by their base...And
...In fact during the whole primary season the entire narrative was about the "anyone but Mitt" candidate that would save Republicans from nominating Romneycare .
I admit I was almost violently opposed to Romney during the primaries, as too were millions of others on the right. I came to like him during the general election process but even I am not sure if this wasn't due to comparing him to the alternative rather than an actual conversion....
I still believe this to be true and Jay Cost has written a piece in The Weekly Standard which in some ways supports this. He shows how badly Romney under performed among whites, which like it or not make up the bulk of the Republican base. This failure to turn out the white vote, was a bigger factor in Romney's loss than Obama's large edge among Hispanics and blacks. Cost concludes that it really came down to both candidates.
On balance, what does this all mean? While analysts have been slicing and dicing the data showing the behavior of this bloc and that group, the forest has gone missing for the trees. Romney’s underperformance relative to Bush’s is notable, but so is Obama’s underperformance relative to his 2008 haul. Combine this with the decline in turnout, particularly among white voters, and it appears that the country at large was dissatisfied with the choice offered.Cost puts a lot of emphasis for this under-performance on the negative campaign run against Romney, which I am sure played a significant role with some "swing" voters. I contend however that many conservatives just "turned off" after the primaries and just said to themselves "OK America and the GOP you've made your bed now sleep in it."
As I have said I was vehemently opposed to Romney as the nominee, but I am now a political junkie who keeps very close tabs on everything going on in America and realized just how disastrous another four years of Obama will be, so I could swallow my principles, so to speak, and vote for the"greater good". Looking back on my life and my previous disinterest in the political process, though my ideology has not drastically changed in the past ten years my interest level has greatly increased. A decade ago I too might have just said "the hell with it, there is no difference."
I suspect many conservative leaning voters, watching the GOP nominate "Romneycare" just shut down and took a pass on the election. This is part of the reason why Romney had the sudden surge after the first debate,. Yes some of was that people who only had the Obama campaign's negative stereotype of Romney saw that he wasn't as bad as Obama commercials of him portrayed him to be, but I suspect a great deal of the post debate surge had to do with Republican's who were committed to the "anybody but Mitt" crowd during the primaries giving him a second look. Some of these disaffected conservatives did "come home" but many more watched as Romney played it safe and he did not reel them in by pressing his advantage.
I sincerely believe that Romney lost not due to a minority demographic shift in the electorate, but rather his inability to "connect" with the GOP base. As bad as this election loss is, and it is terrible for the country, I don't believe that we have lost America, but rather that the GOP lost America. I am hopeful that this is going to change in the next two years.