I used to be a Democrat; the first GOP presidential candidate I voted for was Bush in 2000. In the 1980’s, after Dukakis lost, I made a list of stupid Democratic nominations--people from the base who didn’t bring new voters with them.
My list began with Humphrey of Minnesota, then McGovern of South Dakota, Mondale of Minnesota, and Dukakis of Massachusetts--all losers. Later add Kerry of Massachusetts to that list. When Democrats went South for candidates--Lyndon Johnson, Carter, Clinton--they won. (Gore really was from highly liberal Washington D.C., not Tennessee, a state he failed to carry in 2000.) White, frost belt liberal guys don’t cut it with the wider electorate.
(Obama's not a white guy. He's minority, that helped him with women and young people too, and it's why he won. There was no "Bradley effect" in this year's responses to pollsters, as I incorrectly suggested there might be.)
With Republicans, the problem is different. You lose if you are seen as more a rich, white male--if you fit the GOP image--and less a Democratic-like common man. Nixon (in his twisted way) was common, as were Reagan and even Bush 43, the guy you'd rather have a beer with. But not Rockefeller, not Dole, not Bush 41, not Romney. Especially not Romney.
This past election cycle, I was literally ABM (anybody but Mitt). My support ran from Marco Rubio through Chris Christie and Rick Perry, to even Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Anybody but Mitt. In my defense, I knew the party wouldn’t nominate Gingrich or Santorum, but if either (or both together) could stop Mitt, the party might then turn to the candidate we really needed, one like Christie or Rubio.
After Romney won, I got behind him, and even warmed to Romney after he took a risk and picked Paul Ryan to be his vice president over the colorless Rob Portman. I was thrilled by Romney’s first debate performance, especially his talk about bringing two sides together; working across the aisle.
It wasn’t enough to reach average Americans though. They saw a person detached from their problems--a true Republican. Also, Romney throughout the campaign was handicapped by pride in his own Romneycare. He couldn’t go after Obamacare the way any other GOP nominee would have.
Here’s the sad record of my failed ABM efforts over the past two years:
“Christie, not Romney”
“Chris Christie for President”
“[Stuff] they say about Rick Perry.”
“Republicans: No Ronald Reagan”
“Obama Campaign Can’t Wait: Already Targeting Romney”
“Romney or a Conservative?”
“ABM (Anybody but Mitt)”
“Some Things To Think About (#5)”
“Some Things To Think About (#4)”
“What happened to the wooden stake?”
“No! Not Newt!”
“Yearend Reading: Romney, GOP"
"The Fix: Democrats Want Romney.”
“The Romney Fix: Conservatives Speak Out”
“Big news: Santorum wins Alabama and Mississippi.”
“Will Santorum + Gingrich block Romney?”
“‘I couda been president.’”
“Marco Rubio, now more than ever.”
“Romney types: no to Rubio as V.P.”
After the conventions, I understood Romney had failed to connect with voters when his big speaking moment came, a problem compounded when we learned that in private, Romney had earlier knocked the “47%” of Americans dependent on government support--the very people he needed to inspire:
“Democrats Win Convention War”
“Optimism, Business, not Dependency, not Government”
The next Republican nominee for president had better have the common touch.