GOP Needs to Look Inward at 2012 Presidential Loss Before Abandoning Principles

The GOP should stop contorting themselves into "Democrat-Lite" due to the results of last November's defeat at the polls. That is never the way to a majority.

Republicans attempted that strategy during the New Deal and voters rejected them, preferring the real thing versus a composite. Voters want their political parties to stand for something rather than just groveling for votes. Before we bail on our beliefs, we might to take a look at a few facts.

First, Mitt Romney while on paper looked like a great candidate, he was not. He took our top issue - Obamacare - off the table.

From the 2010 election results it is clear that voters don't like Obamacare, but it was impossible to make the case for repealing the law when Romney had his own form of it in Massachusetts. Sure, Mitt said all the right things, but as a known flip-flopper it was impossible to get voters to buy into the argument. The voters never knew who the real Mitt Romney was. He had reinvented himself more times than Nixon had revealed a "new Nixon." This created an uncertainty in the electorate. They weren't sure if was the liberal or moderate or conservative Romney that they were going to get. And at least with Obama they knew what they were getting.

Additionally, Mitt Romney was a solitary politician. Previous nominees had been in the trenches with the Republican faithful building up loyalty along the way. Such loyalty allowed Republicans to stand with their nominees no matter what was thrown at them. Even Nixon in the depths of Watergate had the support of a quarter of his Party, due to his years as a Party workhorse. Romney did not have that reservoir, as was seen after the 47 percent remark and the way Republicans turned on him after the election. There are no Romney Republicans and never will be. This played onto his second weakness.

Second, there was bad strategy involved in Romney's defeat. For example, the Romney campaign and their Super PAC spent roughly $14 million to defeat former Speaker Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary and almost all of those advertising dollars went to negative ads. Very little was spent on making the case why Romney should be president. While voters rejected Newt, it left a bad after taste in their mouths on Romney for the General Election.

If at least $7 million had been used educating voters on Romney's strengths, the results in that swing state might have been different. Remember, Florida was not only state subjected to the corporate-raider mentality campaign. Romney's negatives rose with his negative attacks. In campaigns, candidates always introduce themselves in their campaign advertising before going negative. Romney never did this. In 2008 when he first ran for President, he never introduced himself. He went negative against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and then Arizona Senator John McCain. All voters knew about Romney was that he was a businessman, former Governor of Massachusetts, involved with the Olympics, and a Mormon. Voters never knew who Romney was and the campaign was always going to introduce himself to voters but this was not done until the Republican Convention, and by then it was too late.

Obama and the Democrats knew that they had to destroy Romney and make him unelectable in order to win re-election. They did this over the summer months when Romney and his Super PACs were silent. Romney allowed the Democrats to define him, just as the Dukakis Campaign by being silent had allowed George H.W. Bush to define him in 1988. By the Republican Convention voters already had an image of a cold and uncaring candidate that they never lost.

Third, the GOP has bad mechanics. We used to be able to turnout our vote. Those days are long gone. The Democrats have a far more sophisticated voter identification and turnout programs. For the past five years, they have stayed in touch with their voters and kept micro-targeting data on them. They know why people vote and how to push their buttons so they vote Democrat. Republicans had invented the game of micro targeting dating back to 1964 but by 2012 had forgotten it. While Democrats were able to identify their voters down to single females in Florida, aged 65 or older who were not living with a male, Republicans were still busy identifying their voters.

Fourth, Republicans have a messaging problem. Sure, if this was a fair world the mainstream media would be holding President Obama and Senator Mary Landrieu for their outrageous statements about there being no debt crisis, but it is not. The GOP needs to learn how to get the attention of low information voters by making their data relevant. During the recent sequester debate, the GOP stood by their principles, but did voters actually get the message? In January, we all had to find ways to deal with the two percent cut in our paychecks. So why is it that the federal government cannot find two percent in their budget?

When you talk in wasteful spending terms voters don't grasp trillions of dollars. However, they might get it better when you say that each taxpayer owes a condo to the federal government to pay off the debt. They also understand it when you explain the federal government pays $15,000 for a hammer.

Another example is with Latino voters. Republicans can win the Latino vote without compromising principles. Yet when Republicans begin every answer on immigration by saying we should deport everyone and never saying we are for legal immigration, we lose votes. Likewise, we need to explain to Latinos how our policies benefit them. A majority of Latinos are small business owners yet do we ever try to demonstrate to them how Republican policies will help them?

Republicans did not lose because America has become liberal. We lost because of a flawed candidate, poor strategy, and poor campaign mechanics. Yet we will ensure permanent defeat if we compromise our principles, as some would have us do.

Holly Robichaud is the President of Tuesday Associates and David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC.