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George Michael: What sunk the Romney ship?

November 16, 2012|By GEORGE MICHAEL

The results of last week’s election indicate that the American electorate is more divided than ever. Red states vs. blue states. Rural vs. urban. Hardened battle lines are now in place for the next four years.

Maryland voted for President Obama by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent. However, in Washington County, Mitt Romney outpaced the president 58 percent to 40 percent. In fact, 18 of Maryland’s 23 counties supported Romney. But the 89 percent support Obama received in Prince George’s County alone pretty much wiped out the advantage in the 18 smaller counties. 

In the 24 states won by Romney, half were at 59 percent or greater and nine were by a margin of better than 60 percent to 40 percent, traditionally the threshold of a “landslide.” On the other side, six states went for Obama by the 60 percent landslide margin with two others at more than 59 percent. 

The most astounding fact of this election was the low turnout.  Conservatives were led to believe that a groundswell of enthusiasm for Romney combined with pent-up frustration with the president would be Obama’s undoing. 

Nine million fewer people went to the polls than in 2008.  Four years ago, John McCain received more votes than Romney did last week. All the hoopla and money spent in the big battleground state of Ohio actually resulted in 300,000 fewer voters there this time around.

The president received 7 million fewer votes than in 2008, a decline of 10 percent in his support. This belies the assertion by some that there is a mandate for Obama.

So what happened? At least four factors played into the lack of support for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

Romney’s Mormon faith was a problem for some religious conservatives. Several pastors of local churches I have spoken to knew of people in their congregations who said they could not vote for a Mormon. You would think anyone with impeccable moral character and a lovely family would be more acceptable to religious conservatives than a radical leftist who supports gay rights.

Second, the Romney team chose to freeze out the Ron Paul wing of the party. Friends I know who supported Paul earlier this year were pretty miffed by the fact that Paul was not just ignored but purposely dismissed at the convention in August after a strong showing in some of the primaries. 

Another likely factor that could explain the lack of turnout might have been VP candidate Paul Ryan. While the majority of seniors favored Romney as reflected in the exit polls, some were apparently convinced by the Democrats that Ryan represented a threat to their Social Security checks and so they just stayed home. They were convinced that letting the whole ship sink in a few years is better than plugging some of the leaks now. 

Lastly, the Obama tactic to demonize Romney certainly played a role in suppressing the vote for the Republicans. Romney, a decent person and family man was characterized as a felon, a tax evader and a liar. You can say such is the nature of politics, but were these attacks warranted? 

Apparently, character assassination was the president’s only winning tactic. His track record was indefensible and he certainly was not able to talk about the issues.

Class warfare and the politics of envy currently work well for Democrats. But resentment of the successful is a weak foundation on which to base social and economic policy. 

In an article by financial editor Robert Frank on cnbc.com earlier this week, the author noted that “Fearing an increase in capital gains and dividend taxes, many of the rich are unloading stocks, businesses and homes before the end of the year. Wealth advisors say that with capital-gains taxes potentially going to 25 percent from 15 percent, and other possible increases in the dividend tax, estate tax and other taxes, many clients are selling now to save millions in taxes.”

In addition, a number of corporations and small businesses have announced significant layoffs in the last two weeks.  Elections have consequences, and the nation is likely to face some serious problems in the days ahead. Hold on to your wallets; it promises to be a bumpy ride.

George Michael’s email address is gfmichael46@gmail.com.

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