The Winston Group identifies key areas where the Romney campaign came up short in November:
There were three key groups that were problematic for Romney: women, younger voters, and Hispanics.
Women made up the majority of the electorate (53%) and Romney lost them by 11, 44-55. That was slightly better than McCain, who lost by 13, 43-56, but worse than Bush, who lost them by the slim margin of 48-51. In contrast, House Republicans in 2010 carried women by 1, 49-48.
Younger voters increased their turnout again this year. In 2004 they were 17% of the electorate; in 2008 they were 18%, and in this election they were 19%. Romney lost them by 23 points, 37-60, which was an improvement over McCain, who lost them by 34. However, Bush did much better in 2004, losing young voters only by 9.
Hispanics have also increased as a percentage of the electorate, going from 8% in 2004 to 9% in 2008, and 10% in this election. Romney lost them by the very large margin of 44, 27-71. In 2008, McCain lost Hispanics by 36, 31-67. In contrast, Bush lost Hispanics by just 9, 44-53. Additionally, House Republicans in 2010 did much better than either Romney or McCain, losing Hispanics by 22, 38-60.
Despite an electorate that thought the economy was not doing well under Obama, Romney and many Republicans were unable to effectively win the economic argument. This was the case even though many of the policies Romney supported were viewed favorably by the electorate. But the bottom line was that Romney could not counter the Obama narrative that he wanted to go back to the policies that got the country in trouble in the first place. This was largely due to his campaign’s strategic decision to try to make the election solely a referendum on Obama. As a result, there was little clear rationale for a Romney presidency, other than that he would not be Obama. That was not enough to win, as the electorate was looking for solutions and an explanation of how each candidate would govern.
Obama achieved 93.5% of [the vote] he got in 2008. While there are still some additional votes to be added, at this point, Obama got about 4.5 million fewer votes this year than in 2008. Those voters did not vote for Obama this time, but they did not move to Romney either. They were a huge pool of voters that were obviously unhappy with Obama but did not have a reason to vote for his opponent. The inability to identify and reach these disillusioned voters was a significant problem for the Republican campaign.