The navel gazing continues, and panicked Republicans appear ready to do all sorts of things, such as doing a 180 on illegal immigration and so forth. Slow down and think, people. The election was lost by fewer than 700,000 votes in key swing states, and much of that problem was self-inflicted. That’s a reason to change core policy positions? Puh-leeze. A central problem for the Romney team was that their experts wanted to run a fine 20th century campaign. It was obsolete. There were new problems for them (e.g., effective negative micro-targeting), but also new potential solutions. However, as has been outlined in detail by many people, the Romney campaign had big problems with using 21st century technology to its advantage.
Swing voters were not connecting with Mitt Romney and this was known since June at least. No doubt the negative advertising from Axelrod and Co. had a lot to do with this, and it was effective. The War on Women, rapacious Bain Capital, out-of-touch-rich-guy, and so forth. That’s why seeing a competent person who was an actual human being in the first presidential debate in September was such a shocker. By then, much of the damage had already been done.
But that was unnecessary. We live in the age of the internet and social media, so an effective response to the negative ads was both instantly available and cheap. Why wait for September and the debates to make a direct case to people? Why didn’t the Romney campaign arrange for some slots on TV news channels for long-form interviews with audience participation after May 29 and throughout the summer and fall? The White House did its share of livestreamed town hall meetings. For that matter, why not do a weekly “peoples’ press conference” on the internet? “Ask Mitt Live, every Friday at Five.” He could speak for five minutes on the subject of the day (imagine using that forum to discuss Benghazi) and then field questions from voters, friendly and hostile, both in person and via the internet. It seems to us a pretty simple way to connect with people and counter the negative advertising. In the era of twitter and social networking, interactive communication is a powerful tool.
You’d think that MSNBC would give Romney all the time he wanted for free — as long as they could choose the audience and the questions. Now that would have been interesting to watch.