The economy may have been showing feeble signs of life in the last couple of months, but it is hardly robust. No president had won reelection with unemployment above 7 percent since Franklin Roosevelt; it is now 7.9 percent. Three-quarters of voters thought the economy’s performance is poor or just fair. Throw in a health-care law that voters opposed 49 percent to 43, turmoil overseas, and assorted scandals, and an observer from Mars would have said that there was no way Romney could lose.
There will be temptations to blame a poor candidate or a campaign that squandered several opportunities. And it is true that Romney was a flawed candidate, and his campaign’s strategy proved imperfect, too. He failed to press his advantage after the first debate, and seemed to switch positions at a whim.
But the Republican party’s problems go much deeper.
This represents the fifth time in the last six elections that Republicans have lost the popular vote, and fourth time in those six that they’ve lost the electoral vote and the presidency. And although Republicans held the House last night, they actually lost seats in the Senate, of which they were widely favored to win control at the beginning of the year. Clearly, something is wrong.