Almost immediately after Obama was reelected, a statistic was released to the effect that Romney got 2.3 million less votes than McCain got in 2008. That number has since been called into question and ultimately discredited.
Cacophony of Opinions
Why did Romney lose? It depends on who you listen to among the cacophony of pundits expressing a confusing array of opinions – all in conformance with the opinion-holder’s world view of course. Some, such as Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel and Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank blame it on the GOP not having any ground game for the Hispanic vote. Others such as Michael Medved of the Daily Beast blame it on a highly effective negative ad campaign Obama ran against Romney. Medved disputes the notion that the GOP has a demographics problem. Obama got fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008, according to Medved who also said that Obama’s gains among Hispanics were minimized by the decline in the number of blacks who voted for him.
Battleground Watch says Romney relied on flawed internal polling. Others cite massive voter fraud – especially with touchscreen machines sans a paper ballot backup and still others cite anti-Mormon sentiment.
The Republican Party is "too socially conservative" says Republican Alien Professor, citing "changing social mores." Speaking of "social mores," some have alleged that Evangelicals simply would not vote for a Mormon, but data does not support this assertion at all. According to Eric Gorski of the Denver Post, 80% of Evangelicals voted for Romney. Nancy French, who spent a month in the Palin home to help Bristol Palin write Not Afraid of Life, was the founder and publisher of Evangelicals for Mitt. French hosts Bristol’s Blog on Patheos. As we’ll see later, the number of people who cited Romney’s faith as their reason to not give him a vote appears to be miniscule.
Professor John Switzer, who posts as "The Liberty Professor" suggests that Romney failed because he made his economic message "us versus them" and also because the Republican Party is trying too hard to be like the Democratic Party.
But Some Number of Conservatives Did Not Want Romney…
However many votes Romney got in 2012 versus McCain in 2008, some number of voters either did not vote at all or did vote, but abstained, voted for existing third party candidates or used the write-in. Did these voters hand victory to Obama on a silver platter? It’s debatable. But, their discontent with the Republican Party and its offerings is not debatable.
Over 37 years have passed since Ronald Reagan gave his famous "Bold Colors" speech. This speech was born out of his polling voters who stayed home, yielding a disastrous election result for the GOP. The voters Reagan polled said they saw no difference between the two parties. There was much talk back in 1975 about forming a third party. Sound familiar? Reagan, who had been a Democrat said he became a Republican because the party was different – not because it was the same. His words grace the US for Palin site in reference to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s endorsed candidates.
AGU Survey Launched
While there has been no shortage of speculative opinions and blame assignment on this disastrous outcome, no one has polled the non-voters to see what motivated their behavior, and to get some sense of where this Republican Party should go. On November 19, in my capacity as New York State Coordinator for American Grizzlies United/Organize4Palin, I launched a survey to begin answering these questions.
Polls Versus Surveys
A poll consists of only one question. Online Polls are routinely and very easily astroturfed by all parties concerned who want to show their candidate or opinion as being in the lead. Professional pollsters often purposely bias the single question to gin up the desired response. When Gov. Palin said, "polls are for strippers and cross-country skiers," she was on target. Polls are not reliable indicators of anything.
A survey consists of several questions, follows a much more scientific process, and is far more difficult to astroturf. The magic number for a survey sample size is 400 because it yields a +/- 5% margin of error and a confidence level of 95%. Reaching this number usually requires paid panels through a market research firm or surveying multiple specific constituencies. Surveys require considerable thought as to question composition and a lengthy, often costly implementation process. A properly executed targeted survey of the general public with a sample of 400 can cost $750 to $1,500 or even more, with the higher costs being either for pre-qualified responses or surveying large panels and weeding out disqualified responses.
AGU Survey Methodology
The AGU survey is preliminary and it closed with 149 respondents. The margin of error on this survey is, therefore, 8.03%. The survey had a 100% incidence rate, meaning there were no disqualified respondents and no mid-survey terminates. No quota was set. The Republican Party has a clear and present interest in determining its political direction, thus the onus is on the GOP to survey a representative sample of its membership. The AGU survey was posted on key Palin sites, Free Republic, some generic conservative sites, and Ron Paul sites to get as representative a sample as possible of non-Romney voters. Special thanks to Josh Painter, US for Palin Editor and the Publisher of Sarah Palin Journal; Elizabeth Hawkes, Youth for Palin; and Isabel Matos, GOP Are You Listening for promoting this survey to the various non-Palinista constituencies. No paid panels were used, because this preliminary survey was conducted without a budget. I purposely did not mention any candidate’s names except for Romney or Obama in question lists, since candidates’ names are loaded words that connote different things to different readers. I instead had respondents fill in their choices tabula rasa.
AGU Survey Results
As we see from the first chart, of the 149 people surveyed, 116 voted in the 2012 general election, 31 did not vote at all citing disgust with both parties, and two did not vote at all due to sickness, accident, or other emergency.
The second chart reveals that the largest bloc of those who did vote – 61 – picked an existing third party candidate on the ballot. The second largest bloc – 51 – used the write-in. The remaining voters voted down-ticket only and abstained from the Presidential contest. There is an apparent discrepancy between the number of non-votes and those who voted in the 2012 general election. This is because some respondents abstained in the Presidential contest, yet voted down-ticket.
Gov. Palin got the lion’s share of the write-in choices with 38 votes. Libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson were second and third in trail with 13 and 10 votes respectively. The remaining three votes went to fringe candidates.
"No difference between the two candidates" represented the largest sub-group in the sample with 54 responses. "Not a true conservative" took the second largest sub-group with 25 responses.
Flashback 37 years: "More than half of those who didn’t vote have been polled and say, ‘it no longer makes any difference which party wins….’"
Excessive change in positions on issues – "flip flopping" – took the third largest sub-group with 21 responses.
Only five people cited Romney’s Mormonism as their reason for not voting for him. Three were of the "Mormons aren’t real Christians" mindset. The other two were against all religion and cited Romney and/or the GOP being "too religious" as their reasons. Both sides only add up to 2.68% between them.
All 149 respondents expressed who they wanted to see run in 2012. Gov. Palin got 82 responses – 55%, followed by the Pauls, Johnson, Judge Napolitano, and Jesse Ventura – the Libertarians at 44 votes or 30%. Fringe candidates took 13 responses, and 10 people didn’t have a candidate in mind for 2012.
The vast majority of respondents 116 or 79% said the GOP should return to the principles of Reagan conservatism. Only 32 respondents or 21% said the Republican Party should "broaden the base" by becoming more moderate on social issues.
The 82 people who wanted Gov. Palin to run in 2012 are obviously Palinistas. Among them only two people chose "broaden the base," and that choice may have been an unintended selection error. One did not vote at all due to disgust with both parties. The other Palinista voted for Gov. Palin using the write-in and picked Romney’s excessive changes in positions as the reason for discomfort with Romney. A strong argument could be made to infer that these two Palinistas intended to choose Reagan conservatism, but an equally strong argument could be made against that decision, for the respondents may in fact have intended their answers. A surveyor may use inference to correct obvious errors. To use inference in this instance is incorrect, because doing so interjects surveyor’s bias. The two Palinistas’ choices stand as entered.
Our community has always seen Gov. Palin as "Reagan in a woman’s body," and this is often depicted by images of Reagan’s spirit toasting, saluting, passing a torch or otherwise transitioning his legacy to Gov. Palin. I should know, since I am the creator of the saluting montage. That 98% of our community would respond with a return to Reagan conservatism is not a surprise….
What is surprising is that 44 respondents identified as Libertarians via their desired 2012 candidate choices, yet 24 out of the 44 or 55% joined ranks with our Palinista community in saying that the GOP should return to Reagan conservatism. Libertarians are fiscal conservatives, foreign policy isolationists, and tack far toward the left on social issues. The majority support abortion-on-demand as well as legalization of drugs and prostitution as core components of their platform. Libertarians tend to be non-religious if not outright anti-religious. Libertarians are RINOs, because many of their positions contradict the Republican Party platform. So, 55% of this sub-sample within this constituency supporting a return to Reagan conservatism is a surprise. I can only conclude that fiscal conservatism took priority over social liberalism for this group. The remaining 45% not surprisingly chose "broaden the base."
This preliminary survey with its 8.03% margin of error is not the end-all or be-all. The results will be forwarded to Reince Priebus, the GOP party chair with the suggestion that he either continue the study until the sample size reaches 400 or conduct one of his own. Will he do either? I won’t know until he is asked. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Irrespective of Mr. Priebus’ decision, 79% of the entire sample – supporters of multiple political figures – said they wanted a return to Reagan conservatism. Even 55% of a group we would consider RINOs also desire this return to basics.
This survey suggests that history has repeated itself:
"Let’s have a new first party – a Republican Party – raising a banner of bold colors – no pale pastels – a banner instantly recognizable as standing for certain values which will not be compromised."
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