A really interesting, huge, article from the Boston Globe a few days ago about the Romney campaign reassessing what went wrong. I know Romney is old news, but it’s still a fascinating read.
A few top snippets.
First, Obama blew Romney out of the water in terms of staffing.
Rich Beeson, the Romney political director who coauthored the now-discredited Ohio memo, said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground. Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers…
In Florida, for example, the Romney campaign said it had fewer than 200 staff members on the ground, a huge commitment of its total of 500 nationwide. But the Obama campaign had 770 staff in Florida out of 3,000 or so nationwide.
“They had more staff in Florida than we had in the country, and for longer,” said Romney adviser Ron Kaufman.
The article has a lot more detail about just how detailed the Obama campaign got with their voter outreach effort. Downright scary the extent to which they reached out to nearly every voter. Worth a read.
Oh, and Romney didn’t want to be president.
More than being reticent, Romney was at first far from sold on a second presidential run. Haunted by his 2008 loss, he initially told his family he would not do it. While candidates often try to portray themselves as reluctant, Tagg insisted his father’s stance was genuine.
“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside.
Then WTF was he doing running for president in the first place?
And a huge mistake on this one, I think:
[Campaign director Stu] Stevens wanted to keep the focus on Obama’s handling of the economy and what Romney would do to fix it. A candidate’s biography was of lesser importance. “When you come into a job interview, you don’t start showing family pictures,” Stevens said in a postelection interview.
Family members kept pushing for a film or series of advertisements that would show how Romney had helped average people in personal ways, based on Tagg’s list of 12 people, along with clips about how Romney raised his family.
Running for president is far different from the average job interview. People elect a president they like, they connect with – a president they’d like to grab a beer with, sit down to dinner with. Sure, many of those likability qualities work for job interviews too, but you don’t kiss babies for job interviews, and there’s a reason political candidates do. I think this was a huge mistake.
Speaking of huge mistakes – get why they didn’t make the documentary:
“There [were] different areas that you could go into,” Stevens said. “Talk about Mitt’s business record, Mitt‘s personal story, what Mitt would do as president . . . and why Barack Obama is bad. We tested all four equally. We were open to doing any combination, and the one that tested far and away the best, people wanted to know what Mitt Romney would do as president.”
Dear God, who cares what people SAY They want? Of course, people say they want to know what Romney would do as president. But that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective method for winning them over (or that it’s what they really want). Nobody is going to admit that they vote for president because they think he’s cute or because they’d like to sit down and have a beer with him. People want to think that what matters most are “the issues,” and not negative talk about the “other guy,” but “positive” talk about YOUR proposals. Except then the negative stuff influences them the most anyway. Egads.
And perhaps my favorite part: They actually delayed Romney’s concession because of the Karl Rove “we didn’t lose!” madness on election night:
He was about to concede around 11:15 p.m when Republican strategist Karl Rove made his now-infamous appearance on Fox News Channel, insisting that his own network was wrong in calling Ohio for the president.
The concession call was canceled, followed by an hour of uncertainty. Then, after Fox executives dismissed Rove’s concerns and stood by the network’s projection, Romney said: Call the president.