As someone who supported Mitt Romney for president, the result of this election was a tough pill to swallow. Unlike the final days of the 2008 election, when John McCain voters began to accept that the ideas of hope and change would ultimately rule the day, many people on both ends of the political spectrum believed that Mr. Romney could emerge victorious or at least win the popular vote.
Some Republicans blame Mr. Romney's defeat on his lack of a clear message. Others attribute it to President Barack Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy, which distracted voters from the sluggish economy and the unanswered questions surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Still others look to the changing demographics of the country, which tend to favor the current president.
Yet while these are all certainly plausible factors, I would like to offer an alternative view.
According to voters, the most important issue of the election was the economy. Interestingly, exit polls showed that that Mr. Romney had a slight edge — by four percentage points — when people were asked who was more capable of handling the economy.
Mr. Romney also narrowly led on three of four questions regarding candidate qualities. Voters said he had a clearer vision for the future, that he would be a stronger leader than Mr. Obama and that he more closely shared their values.
Given that Mr. Romney was ahead in all these crucial categories, how did the former Massachusetts governor not win the election?
The anomaly in the otherwise close exit polling data can be found in the fourth candidate quality question. It asked voters which candidate cared the most about people like them.
Voters looking for compassion in their candidate backed the president by a staggering 63 percentage points. Mitt Romney lost the election because he was unable to create the personal connection with voters that President Obama managed to maintain throughout his first term.
People were not willing to accept the idea that a rich businessman could empathize with their struggles, and the way they voted reflected that.
Ryan NavarroCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times