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Disturbing that Obama won by distorting and demonizing

Given the “economic headwinds the president faced,” Jay Cost writes today in the Weekly Standard, his campaign team . . .

. . .played to its base with a level of intensity rarely seen in the modern era. “The war on women” was a prime case in point. The idea was to maximize turnout for the president’s core groups by focusing on identity politics, encouraging them to come out and vote against a fictitious GOP bogeyman who would suppress their rights to vote, deport their friends and neighbors, deny them Medicare, ship their jobs overseas, raid their pensions, and eliminate their access to contraception. And it worked.

Emphasis added.  Indeed, as Guy Benson put it, Mitt Romney

. . . was defeated by a small, petty, and overwhelmingly negative opponent whose turnout machine swamped all else.  The unserious and unseemly drumbeat of birth control, Big Bird, binders, and Blame Bush worked.  The “Kill Romney” strategy laid the groundwork for this successful approach.  The president offered no meaningful or sweeping vision for a second term, but it didn’t matter.  What an awful precedent.

And the end of the campaign, when Mitt Romney seemed so confident and Obama so angry, I myself became increasingly confident that he would win.  He just looked like a winner.  I had thought Obama’s nastiness would backfire.  People don’t want a president who engages in such kind of petty attacks.

It looks like I was wrong.

That’s one of the things which makes our defeat this week so troubling. The challenger had the more upbeat message and lost.  The incumbent instead misrepresented his opponent’s record and attacked his background.

He won by demonizing.  And that is just not a pleasant thought.



  1. Obama won by scorched Earth–not by his record; it’s why he will twist in the wind the next 4 years. He has no mandate, although he will try to claim one. Obama is going back to his habits & not talking with Congress. He’s campaigning again in the East.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — November 8, 2012 @ 7:37 pm - November 8, 2012

  2. “Negative ads work” has long been political conventional wisdom, but now we have a new case study to prove it. Mitt Romney says he lost the South Carolina primary because he was “vastly outspent with negative ads” by Newt Gingrich—which isn’t true, by the way—and implied that he’s winning in Florida because of his own negative ads against Gingrich. . .

    Romney has spent most of the primary playing down the importance of negative ads, particularly those aired by the super PAC that supports him, Restore Our Future. When Gingrich essentially accused Romney of trying to buy an election, saying “He would if he could,” Romney responded, “This is an election, however, that’s not being driven by money raised. It’s being driven by message connection with the voters, debate and experience.”

    Comment by rusty — November 8, 2012 @ 7:41 pm - November 8, 2012

  3. Believe it or not there is actually good news out of the 2012 Presidential Race for the GOP. We list 5 items…

    Comment by Steve — November 8, 2012 @ 7:45 pm - November 8, 2012

  4. This gets to what, for me, is a key question about elections.

    “The war on women” was a prime case in point. The idea was to maximize turnout for the president’s core groups by focusing on identity politics, encouraging them to come out and vote against a fictitious GOP bogeyman

    Are voters stupid? They think they’re not. I hate saying they are. But a campaign of Obama’s type – one essentially based on lies, to stoke people’s fears – is a campaign for voters who minds run wild, focusing on non-issues.

    If voters aren’t stupid, then you have to argue that they were ill-served by the media they consume, which denied them information that would have focused them on the nation’s real problems, and substituted these ‘fake issues’. Case in point: Todd Akin, who was a complete nobody, deserving no national media coverage, no matter what he had said.

    Or, if voters aren’t stupid, then you might argue that they cleverly vote their perceived economic interest, but with these ‘fake issues’ to hide from themselves the fact that they are doing so. Take a voter influenced by the “war on women” myth. I bet you that she either collects a government grant/paycheck/benefit in some form, or hopes to. From a Marxist (economic determinist) standpoint, her vote was pre-ordained, because her brain would operate to screen out any information that might support the candidate who wants to cut government spending. But maybe she doesn’t want to think about herself so crudely, so she comes up with other ‘idealistic’ commitments that point her in the same direction.

    My key premises, of course, are that (1) there never was a “war on women” and (2) Obama was the inferior candidate. I have thought hard about those premises at other times; having concluded in their favor, here I take them as given.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — November 8, 2012 @ 7:49 pm - November 8, 2012

  5. What I’m troubled by is how stupid the American electorate has become. Unlike the rest of the world, it was once a place where people didn’t vote for whoever promised free stuff or whatever made them feel good, but that is gone now. Obama had the most pathetic, abhorrent campaign I’ve ever heard of and it worked. That Obama even came close to winning is enough of an indictment of the American electorate already.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 8, 2012 @ 8:05 pm - November 8, 2012

  6. This 4 years will not end well if O’bama lasts the whole 4 which I doubt the “D” party is going to be in a lot of trouble try this for instance:
    or this:
    Trouble is coming and it won’t Knock first.

    Comment by Catseye — November 8, 2012 @ 8:42 pm - November 8, 2012

  7. Romney was my candidate Tuesday and I thought he had a good chance of winning. Still have a hard time understanding his loss of Virginia and Florida.

    It has always been very hard to unseat an incumbant President. Perhaps the public feels more comfortable with the devil that is presently serving, as opposed to the a potential new devil that they do not know???

    Comment by Tony — November 8, 2012 @ 8:43 pm - November 8, 2012

  8. “Vote for revenge”. That’s all I need to know.

    Comment by Douglas — November 8, 2012 @ 8:43 pm - November 8, 2012

  9. “There is so much money and therefore the quantity of negative ads is so much more than we have ever seen. They know it is far more effective to tear someone down than build somebody up,” said professor David Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Akron in Ohio.
    At the moment the negative campaigning seems to be working for Obama and his supporters. Most recent polls show Obama ahead of Romney in national polls with a narrow but firm lead. The situation in the key battleground states – where the election will be decided and where most negative ads have been running – often shows a stronger lead for Obama.
    Many experts believe that Romney’s weekend pick of the firebrand Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate was a sign that the Republican believes he needed to shake up his campaign in order to stand a chance at the ballot box in November.
    But the Romney team’s attempt to paint Obama as a negative campaigner may lead to allegations of hypocrisy. Romney’s campaign, and the Super Pacs who back it, have not been shy of airing negative attack ads themselves. Romney also revealed a ruthless side during the Republican nomination race where he and his supporters unleashed a barrage of negative ads that helped beat off the challenges of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. “Negative campaigning is very much coming from both sides,” said Cohen.

    Comment by rusty — November 8, 2012 @ 8:48 pm - November 8, 2012


    Comment by rusty — November 8, 2012 @ 8:49 pm - November 8, 2012

  11. I was with a lot of fellow students when we watched the election results come in. Once it was clear Obama won a fellow student stated “Now we don’t have to stock up on tampons.” I’m sorry to say she was serious, and that she truly believed that there is a “war on women.”

    Comment by B. Long — November 8, 2012 @ 8:58 pm - November 8, 2012

  12. What Obama and the Democrats did this year isn’t a whole lot different than what Bush and the Republicans did in 2004. They found the issue that would pull just enough people to the polls in key states to win. Obama exploited the “war on women” and class warfare. Bush did the same thing with gay marriage (albeit on a more local/state level). I believe these used to be called “wedge issues”. Apparently, they work.

    We all laughed at “The Life of Julia”. Now Julia’s laughing at us all the way to the community garden.

    Comment by Draybee — November 8, 2012 @ 9:03 pm - November 8, 2012

  13. The sad thing is I think the vindictive, petty, petulant Obama who ran a negative campaign that painted a caricature of Romney is the real Obama.

    The Hope and Changey, “I want to be bipartisan” was a facade to hide the petty man inside.

    I think half the problem for Romney is that Obama had poisoned the well long before the conventions and debates. Obama basically convinced his base and others who lean his direction that Republicans were evil.

    Maybe Romney should have tried to defend himself more, but with te complicit media I am not sure it would have helped.

    Comment by Just Me — November 8, 2012 @ 9:04 pm - November 8, 2012

  14. Guy Benson spelled “awful President” incorrectly.

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — November 8, 2012 @ 9:33 pm - November 8, 2012

  15. Obama won exactly the way I said he would; a massively negative scorched Earth campaign modeled after Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate bid. Its goal was to depress turnout on both sides, but moreso on the other side.

    Republicans will have to learn to come up with a way to defeat this strategy, as it will become SOP for Demoncrats going forward.

    Comment by V the K — November 8, 2012 @ 9:57 pm - November 8, 2012

  16. Let’s remind ourselves of something as well.

    When a Romney ad says, “The economy is bad because of Barack Obama,” that was considered a negative ad.

    An Obama ad that said, “Romney gave a woman cancer/Romney will outlaw contraception/Romney will ship all American jobs to China” that was considered an equally negative ad.

    Saying both sides ran negative ads doesn’t really tell the whole story.

    Comment by V the K — November 8, 2012 @ 10:01 pm - November 8, 2012

  17. Unfortunately for Romney, Obama had only 1 big negative. The economy and his lack of plans to fix it. Romney pounced on this again and again until that message became stale. He did not freshen it up and did not seem able to sell himself.

    Obama was able to keep the attacks coming out drip drip drip style so Obama was able to keep attacks sound fresh.
    GM should go bankrupt
    No Tax Returns
    Rape being discussed by a US Senatorial Candidate
    Ryan’s Unpopular Vouchers Plan
    Overseas accounts
    Back to Tax returns
    47 %
    More Rape being discussed by another US Senatorial Candidate
    Bain again but fresher material
    More Gm should go bankrupt
    More highlighting how out of touch the social conservative GOP sen. candidates are
    More Bain
    More 47%
    More out of touch guy who lives in Castle surrounded by Yes man
    and on and on and on

    Its shocking because this is EXACTLY how Kennedy beat him. How the hell Romney didn’t see this coming and not have a plan to counter it is beyond me.

    Comment by mike — November 8, 2012 @ 10:06 pm - November 8, 2012

  18. Doom comes for us all in the end.

    Comment by Catseye — November 8, 2012 @ 11:28 pm - November 8, 2012

  19. Know I wish you well.

    Comment by Catseye — November 8, 2012 @ 11:37 pm - November 8, 2012

  20. Obama might have had many things to attack Romney with, and Romney might have had only one thing to attack Obama with (which he didn’t, because he had more, but I’ll pretend he did for a minute), but the only thing that was the least bit important (aside from the other things Romney had to attack Obama with) was the one thing Romney had to attack Obama with. If Romney invented “issues” to attack Obama with like Obama did to Romney, he would have had just as many things to use to attack Obama as Obama had to attack Romney, if not more. None of Obama’s attacks were important at all. And this again shows the stupidity of the American electorate.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 8, 2012 @ 11:54 pm - November 8, 2012

  21. Actually, mike, Romney did have a plan; it was called appealing to the adults in the electorate.

    Romney knew, as he clearly said, that he wasn’t going to get your vote. He knew full well that people like yourself would scream about his tax returns while you simultaneously praised and voted for outright tax cheats. He was fully aware of the fact that people like you would admit Obama and the Obama Party were total failures, and then vote straight-ticket Obama.

    In short, he knew the facts wouldn’t matter to nearly half of the electorate, and that’s why he said so. He knew that his only chance was that there were more producers and people who were interested in the facts than there were looters, moochers, and takers who would fall for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, to vote for the failure who was offering them Obamaphones, welfare checks, and punishment for those they hate.

    You cannot rationally appeal to bigots. Romney was aware from his previous campaigns that the Obama Party appeals to bigots like you who just need pretexts to cover up their bigotry. You want free stuff at other people’s expense, but you don’t want to have to admit it. Romney confronted you on it; Obama rationalized you doing it and said it was right for you to demand Obamaphones and work-free welfare at the expense of others.

    It was a gamble, and he lost. Bigots outnumber the rational. Looters and moochers outnumber the producers. Grasshoppers outnumber the ants.

    So the solution is simple. Conservatives need to hasten the arrival of winter, and then lock their doors.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 8, 2012 @ 11:55 pm - November 8, 2012

  22. If my last comment was confusing, I’ll say it differently.

    Obama attacked Romney with things that didn’t matter. There was no substance in any of his attacks. Romney, although he might have only attacked Obama on one thing, it was on the most important issue (the economy). He could have attacked Obama more on foreign policy as well. Furthermore, there is much more in Obama’s past that could be used against him than there is in Romney’s, and Obama’s campaign focusing on such minor issues just shows how incredibly petty he is.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 8, 2012 @ 11:58 pm - November 8, 2012

  23. North Dallas Thirty, well said.

    Comment by Annie — November 9, 2012 @ 1:24 am - November 9, 2012

  24. Oh, did someone say ‘tampons’? Thegatewaypundit has a post on Energizer, maker of batteries and personal care items, including Playtex tampons, slashing it’s workforce by 10%.
    Obama’s continued war on women.
    (I’d link it but I’m stuck on the iPod again)

    Comment by Annie — November 9, 2012 @ 1:37 am - November 9, 2012

  25. One begins to wonder in an age of instant gratification and government giveaways whether freedom is really a message we can get majorities to believe in and fight for… Or will the inevitable unsustainability of debt and spending force us through economic disaster to clean house? Perhaps I should stop mourning living in the decline of a great civilization and start enjoying the ride…

    Comment by Tim in MT — November 9, 2012 @ 2:27 am - November 9, 2012

  26. Rattlesnake,

    I agree with you. Many of these attacks were manufactured and blown out of proportion. But Obama was able to tailor these attacks to build a picture of an out of touch Hedge Trader trying to take over the country. He posed them is such a way that many Americans DO care about. (just because you don’t does not make them invalid)

    The worst part is these moves by Obama were so obvious because it was done by Kennedy. How did Romney not see that coming?

    Comment by mike — November 9, 2012 @ 3:47 am - November 9, 2012

  27. people with no honor vote for similar people.

    As I said, obama voters would vote for Charles Manson.

    For the typical leftist ethic and morals are alien concept or are very relative.

    It is right to dehumanize conservative women, conservative blacks, children with down syndrome.

    Do you expect anything good from such people? How do you resonate with people with no moral or no standards?

    Obama lacks honor and dignity, he is the son of 2 disgraceful people and he was raised with the attitude that he is entitled to everything and more. He married a like minded person and surrounds himself with like minded people.

    Axelrod daughters is mentally disabled, she is been locked in a nursery home for decades now. This is the ‘humanity’ of those people. And they are praised and rewarded.


    How can you still say “my liberal friends, my liberal relatives, my liberal significant other” is mind blowing.

    Answer this question: if you were to experience a hard time, suffer a family crisis or be in a situation of need, who would you want to have as a neighbour? Obama or Romney?

    Comment by susan — November 9, 2012 @ 4:10 am - November 9, 2012

  28. It’s not so much the losing, it’s the knowledge that a good, decent, patriotic man was torn down and destroyed by a cabal of corrupt, traitorous thugs.

    Comment by V the K — November 9, 2012 @ 6:16 am - November 9, 2012

  29. yes and the cabal of traitors thugs is in line with the 50 millions or so people who voted for them. I do not believe for a second that there is a decent person among them.

    After electing scum such as the fake cherokee what can you teach to your children? that it is ok to cheat to get a workplace that otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten on abilities alone?

    But what do you expect from the people who elected Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank? When the scum is rewarded by position of power, the people follow the example.

    Electing a decent, honest and correct individual might show too evidently what kind of low life scum they are. And they wouldn’t like it.

    Mistake is also on the conservative side. I have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER read on any leftist site that Romney *might* be a good father or a good husband, they don’t even consider the possibility, while on our blogs there are far too many people that say so of the scum obama family.

    I ended up (by mistake) in another gay (non political) forum and the things I have read of Ann Romney turned my stomach. They called her c**t, w***e, all the names in the book.

    As I said a million times, they have no human dignity and they deserve whatever plague they receive in life. Simply losing your job because of obama care is not enough.

    Comment by susan — November 9, 2012 @ 8:18 am - November 9, 2012

  30. Wonder if there’s been any discussion among gay groups about the MA-06 House race. Haven’t seen much discussion of this race at all. But I guess gays are now lower than Democrats on the liberal affirmative action totem pole. There, you had Rich Tisei, a pro gay marriage, fiscally conservative gay Republican and John Tierney, a corrupt long term Dem party hack who claims he had no idea his wife and brothers in-law were involved in an illegal gambling outfit. The Dems tied Tisei to the tea party and called him extremist. (Wait, I thought gays were hated by the tea party, but I digress…). Anyway, the irony of this were in the votes by town:

    Lynnfield: reliably conservative town, second strongest town in MA for McCain in 2008. Gay Republican wins with 72% of the vote.

    Salem: notariously liberal. A mecca for alternative lifestyles/religions. Corrupt Dem wins with 69% of the vote.


    Comment by Nate — November 9, 2012 @ 9:04 am - November 9, 2012

  31. I’m surprised no one is talking about the MA-06 race. Here you had Rich Tisei vs. John Tierney. Tisei, openly gay, was pro gay-marriage, pro choice, yet very fiscally conservative. Had he won, Tisei would have been the first GOP House candidate to win an election while running openly gay. He ran against Tierney, a corrupt long term party hack who repeatedly claimed he had no idea his wife and brothers in-law were running an illegal gambling ring. Tierney was so bad that every newspaper endorsed Tisei, even the Boston Globe who hasn’t endorsed a Republican house GOP candidate in many years.

    Yet Tierney won the election 48-47. There was a Libertarian who many are saying was the spoiler. But that’s irrelevant to my post.

    The Dems threw lie after lie at Tisei, going after his family, connecting him to the Tea Party (I was always told that the Tea Party hated gays, but I digress), and calling him an extremist. But what’s more interesting here is that this election provided more proof that gays are below Democrats on the liberal affirmative action totem pole. And it was more documented evidence that conservatives have no problem voting for the gay guy.

    Example 1: Lynnfield. Reliably conservative, town with the second highest votes for McCain of all the MA towns in 08. Tisei wins the town with 72% of the vote.

    Example 2: Salem. Notoriously liberal. Mecca for alternative lifestyles and religions. Tierney wins with 69% of the vote.

    Not a word about this election outcome in any of the gay rags. Need I say more.

    Comment by Nate — November 9, 2012 @ 9:39 am - November 9, 2012

  32. Tim in MT, I’m with you. Start enjoying the ride. The ham-handed blunders and disasters of an Obama second term are as inevitable as the sun rising in the east. So take your pleasures where you can find them. At least it will be entertaining watching liberal friends, family and the media twist themselves into pretzels to absolve Obama of any responsibility when all the jobs and benefits go bye-bye, Iran goes thermonuclear on Israel, and al Qaeda blows up an American city, just to name a few delights we face between now and 2016. We are definitely in “you gotta laugh to keep from crying” territory.

    Comment by JuJuBee — November 9, 2012 @ 10:03 am - November 9, 2012

  33. Isn’t it funny how concern-troll mike keeps demanding that we validate his support of Obama’s lies and the fact that he and half of the country are supporters of Obama’s lies?

    Concern-troll mike’s entire argument is that it is Romney’s fault that mike and his fellow Obama supporters believed Obama’s lies and bought Obama’s promises of free Obamaphones and punishment for everyone else even though it was blatantly obvious that Obama was a failure, even to them.

    No, it’s not. Conservatives are worthwhile, intelligent people. Romney ran a good campaign and was an excellent, incredibly-qualified candidate for President.

    Romney lost because he did not play like a gutter thug. The majority of the American electorate are gutter thugs like mike who chose to believe the lies Obama told about Romney.

    Concern-troll mike says it’s OK to scream tax cheat even as you don’t pay your taxes. Concern-troll mike and Obama voters say it’s OK to claim someone is a tax cheat on the Senate floor. Concern-troll mike and Obama voters say it’s OK to state flatly that another candidate murderered someone’s wife.

    This is apropos to Heliotrope’s post here. Conservatives have finally had the veil ripped from our eyes about the decency of liberals. Previously, we assumed that liberals were fundamentally decent people who were behaving in a misguided fashion. Now what we realize is that liberals are thieves, liars, and murdering thugs who will do, say, and carry out anything to get into power.

    And they need to start being treated accordingly. Fortunately, the Obama economy is making that far easier.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 9, 2012 @ 11:29 am - November 9, 2012

  34. I remember the furor when George H. W. Bush dared to break his one big pledge; No new taxes. With Obama, it’s an amazing array of broken promises and sleazy politics. I can only think that despite the terrible economy, people voted for the status quo no matter how awful it is rather than change to something else. Every week or so I go by another business that has closed because of the economy. How are people going to get jos when businesses are holding their cards so close to the vest or going under completely?

    Comment by Dottie Larid — November 9, 2012 @ 1:09 pm - November 9, 2012

  35. He posed them is such a way that many Americans DO care about. (just because you don’t does not make them invalid)

    No, it doesn’t. And just because people care about them doesn’t make them valid. Whether or not they are “valid” is objective, and I’m pretty sure I’m right when I say they are completely unimportant issues that only an idiot would care about.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — November 9, 2012 @ 2:09 pm - November 9, 2012

  36. Nate that is a great example of how good the democrats are at messaging their smears and overlooking the total lack of morality and integrity in their own party (Rangel is another example of the idiocy of voters).

    I will happily vote for the gay guy who believes in conservative principals over the morally bankrupt politician. This is one reason why I am not convinced identity politics works for the GOP. When we run a minority for office, we do so because that minority believes in conservatism, but it seems like a GOP minority candidate gets savaged far worse than the rich white guy candidate, because the liberals can’t stand the thought that a minority would actually believe in conservatism.

    Comment by Just Me — November 9, 2012 @ 4:02 pm - November 9, 2012

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