Republican Governors Blame Tactics, Messaging For Latest Electoral Defeat

Anyone who thought Republicans, despite having lost three of the past four national elections and five of the past six popular votes in presidential elections, would undertake some productive introspection and course correction after their latest drubbing were deluding themselves.

A week's worth of soul-searching among Republicans has yielded no shortage of explanations for the party's failure to win the White House. They point to the Obama campaign's early and aggressive effort to disparage Mitt Romney. They admit Democrats had a superior voter-turnout operation. Some point to Superstorm Sandy, saying it robbed Romney of momentum.

What they won't say is that President Obama won a mandate for his vision, or that the GOP has veered too far right in its outlook.

"The president won the election. But I think it wasn't on the issues," Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said Thursday at the annual Republican Governors Assn. conference. "He ran a heck of a good grass-roots organization and was able to basically convince enough people that they couldn't trust Gov. Romney."

In fact, exit polls clearly show the GOP got crushed on the issues. But whatever helps you sleep at night, Terry.

Two weeks after their presidential election defeat, Republican Party leaders are falling into roughly two camps as they struggle to explain what happened and devise ways to broaden the party's base.

Some top GOP officials worry their message is wrong for a rapidly diversifying population, and that fundamental shifts in policy may be required. But the more dominant voice, and the one gaining currency within the center of the party, says such drama isn't necessary.

It asserts that Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama was primarily a tactical failure, a combination of poor articulation of GOP positions and a weak effort to register voters and move them to the polls. Better execution on both, they say, would have swung the few hundred thousand votes in a few states that would have tipped the presidential election the other way.

The last time a Republican presidential candidate won more than 300 electoral votes was 1988. Since then, Democrats have exceeded that mark four times.

But all Republicans need are better tactics, better messaging, just a tweak here and there -- and they're all good.



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