With it looking more and more likely that Mitt Romney will lose, the speculation has started to turn to how the Republican Party will react to such a loss. Mainly, will the Republican Party see a loss as a rejection of the GOP’s positions, leading to soul searching, or will they blame it primarily on Romney being a weak candidate?
While there are many reasons why the Republicans should use this possible loss for a serious self-examination, the fact is that people prefer a simple explanation, especially if that explanation personally clears them of any blame.
The reality is that Romney is a bad candidate and he has run a bad campaign. There is enough “proof” that Romney is a bad candidate to easily construct a convincing case that the possible loss is Romney’s fault and not the party’s as a whole.
Romney’s favorability and likeability numbers are simply terrible. People are going to be very reluctant to vote for someone if they don’t like them. According to Pew Research, Romney has the lowest favorability rating of any modern presidential candidate.
Beside being not liked, the Romney campaign has made some seriously questionable decisions. Choosing Paul Ryan was a strange political move. Ryan did not help Romney in a swing state or with a key demographics group like Marco Rubio might have. Most importantly, picking Ryan caused Romney to spend weeks defending Ryan’s budget and Medicare plan.
Going out with the statement about the attack on the embassies on September 11th before having all the information was an unforced error, but it was not the only one. The whole Republican National Convention was poorly handled from a media perspective. The campaign has been highly reactive for months and unable to stay focused on a consistent message.
Even if you believe Romney is losing primarily because of issues stemming from the Republican Party, there should be little doubt that the poor quality of his campaign has made the situation worse.
A decent argument can easily be made for putting the blame for a Romney loss squarely on Romney himself. Even if the argument is not perfect, it should be good enough to give people inside the party justification to resist calls for a change in policy.