Rich Lowry sees an acute middle-class problem for the GOP:
According to the exit polls, 27 percent of people Tuesday night said the candidate quality that mattered most was “shares my values.” Mitt Romney beat Obama among them 55 percent to 42 percent. Eighteen percent wanted “a strong leader.” Romney won them 61 percent to 38 percent. And 29 percent wanted the candidate with “a vision for the future.” Romney won 54 percent of them.
For a challenger to convince people he’s a strong leader with a vision for the future would, you think, be enough for victory. But the pollsters asked about one more quality: “cares about people like me.” For 21 percent of people that was the most important quality, and Obama trounced Romney among them 81 percent to 18 percent.
That a hyper-narcissist like Obama could persuade some many voters that he deeply cares for them is scary enough. That "cares about me" matters more than the qualities for which Romney polled well is scarier still. To conservatives, "caring government" is like "nice IRS agent"--an oxymoron.
At NRO, David French warns that the GOP has lost touch with economically insecure voters who fear market economics:
of millions of American voters, a conservative message of self-reliance
and individual economic freedom is, quite frankly, terrifying.
First, each of Obama’s core constituencies (single women, African-Americans, and Latinos) is seriously — and disproportionately — economically disadvantaged compared to the classic paradigm of the white, college-educated Republican voter. The rates of poverty and near-poverty among these groups are much greater, thus causing a critical mass of both populations to suffer — even if they’re technically middle class — from a greater degree of economic insecurity. Even as Mitt won the votes of those who make over $50,000 by nine points, Obama won those who make less by a whopping 22 points — enough to give him the victory.
Second, while classic identity-group issues like abortion, affirmative action, and immigration undoubtedly matter, conservatives are deluding themselves if they think they can simply take those issues off the table and then compete on equal terms for this slice of voters. In fact, economically insecure voters can even agree with conservatives on social issues yet will still consistently pull the lever for statist candidates. Ideologically and historically they are pre-disposed towards statism as the means of alleviating economic insecurity and distress. In other words, for the single mom, “Julia” is an appealing paradigm — because at least someone is taking care of her family. (If I hear one more time that Latinos are social conservatives ready to support Republicans if only we could pass comprehensive immigration reform, I might throw something).
Third, this statist outlook is relentlessly reinforced in a news and pop-culture bubble that conservatives simply aren’t penetrating. If you check out this chart (from Buzzfeed), you’ll note the obvious truth that not only do conservatives and liberals read different publications, but even “moderates” read disproportionately liberal publications (which is perhaps one reason why “moderates” are really less-liberal liberals and not less-conservative conservatives). Within this liberal bubble, it is simply conventional wisdom that conservatives not only don’t care about those less fortunate but that we will even promote human suffering if it means higher profit margins and more cash in our pockets. In other words, we can change our messaging on Fox News, talk radio, and even our primaries all we want, but it won’t make a dime’s bit of difference to this decisive economic constituency. We might laugh at Obama choosing the “Pimp With a Limp” and Us Weekly over Meet the Press, but he’s simply reaching more potential voters through those outlets.
French notes that the last time the GOP won the popular vote was 2004, and the the GOP's last period of dominance in the popular vote was the 1980s, when mainstream media was the only game in town. Put simply, the electorate has changed.
Another disaster: the failure of Romney to separate himself from crony capitalists who looted Wall Street firms, left them to collapse, kept their money & escaped prosecution. He should have hammered Obama on this, and promised to clean up the Street while protecting legitimate financial business. Saying he would repeal Dodd-Frank's financial "to big to fail" model was too abstract. Capitalism only works well if there is high societal trust among economic classes. The GOP, put simply, failed the test. Mitt should have proclaimed: "Cronyism in the corporate clubhouse is not capialism."
Jeffrey Ferguson of The Harbour League, a conservative policy group (full disclosure: I am a trustee), offers an intelligent survey of the new political landscape, and advice for Republicans on how to navigate it.
Bottom Line. New ways to communicate old messages will not suffice in 2016. Republicans also must find a way to recalibrate long-held positions to reach a changing electorate.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics