In 2008, the Democrats found another uberperformer in Barack Obama, a master orator, and a "clean and articulate," half-African, Ivy League wonder — a man born to wring votes from the American people, and against whom John McCain (another longtime Senate denizen) had no idea how to campaign. In 2008, Obama had the good luck to be boosted by the financial catastrophe, and in 2012 the even better luck to be running against a man who was less a subprime politician than no politician at all.
A few years ago, basketball great Michael Jordan decided he wanted to try to play baseball and found out his skills didn’t convey in another arena. Business great Mitt Romney should have thought this one over before trying his crossover move into politics. He found that application and effort can take you only so far without instinct and talent.
"So far" was still within three points of an incumbent and iconic trail-blazing president, backed by a dogged and brilliant (in its grim way) campaign. Let us note too that our last three two-term presidents all came up with teams of advisers from their home regions who loved them, understood them and remained fiercely loyal, while campaigns that lose have very expensive consultants for hire, who fight with each other, leak endlessly and turn on their employers when the damage is done.
Parties rise and fall, and all have done so quite recently, but nothing succeeds like a good politician. Perhaps this is all that it takes.