Edelman Berland CEO Steve Lombardo, who polled for Mitt Romney's campaign in 2008, has sent out regular readouts on the state of play in the presidential race this year and today rounds up the key strategic assumptions that backfired on the Republican Party.
• We thought young voters would not turn out at the same level as 2008. They did. In fact, they represented 19% of the electorate per exit polls-as high, if not higher, than four years ago.
• We said that Democrats would not be +6 over Republicans and if they were, Obama would win. Well, they did and he did. Again, exit polls say Democrats were +6. Romney needed the proportion of Republicans and Democrats to be even to win.
• We thought minority turnout would be lower than 2008. It was not. In several important precincts in key states, minorities voted in numbers equal to-and in some cases better than-four years ago.
• We thought Romney would win Independents by double digits. He won them, but by just five points.
• We thought Romney would have a huge gender advantage among men; it was only seven points. Meanwhile, the President won women by 11 points.
• We thought Romney would dominate on being "better able to handle the economy." He only beat the President on this issue by a few points. Not enough.
Exit polling data also showed that most people continue to blame George W. Bush for the country's current economic condition. The President's team was masterful in getting that message out over the last four years. Team Obama also used the abortion issue to their advantage (as Republicans have done in the past) and this helped drive up the base vote.
The President's team ran a base election, just like the 2004 Bush campaign. The economy improved just enough and Obama ran a strong campaign with few strategic and tactical errors (other than, of course, that first debate). And, perhaps most importantly, the Obama campaign defined Mitt Romney before he ever had a chance to define himself.