A Liberal Victory or Another Fluke Obama Win?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 29 2012 9:33 AM

A Liberal Victory or Another Fluke Obama Win?

155689600
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrives on stage on election night November 7, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts, moments before conceding defeat to US President Barack Obama in the 2012 US presidential election. AFP PHOTO/EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Stuart Stevens was the chief strategist for Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign, the man who came up with his strongest messaging, and the man blamed whenever Romney failed to rise in the polls. Yesterday he got space in the Washington Post to rebut a week or so of Republicans piling on his candidate, portraying him as some uniquely heartless goofball. Romney's loss was not personal, says Stevens. It was structural.

There was a time not so long ago when the problems of the Democratic Party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. Obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. But he was a charismatic African American president with a billion dollars, no primary and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. How easy is that to replicate?

Had anyone else said this, it would have been received as spicy conventional wisdom. Because Stevens said it, there's some predictable eyebrow-raising about the idea that the media went easy on Obama, and that a future, non-black Democratic candidate will have trouble winning such a victory for liberalism. I think he's mostly right, but I emailed Stevens to ask about social issues. Hadn't opinion on birth control and gay marriage moved Democrats' way, for good?

Advertisement

"[Obama's] was the only presidential campaign in modern history to run ads on abortion," said Stevens. About $50 million worth. And free contraception. He became the first President elected since WWII advocating a massive tax increase. He pushed, defended and spent a fortune (in the Hispanic community) advocating Obamacare. He organized his AA turnout operations and messaging around the message, 'They are trying to take your vote away.'"

It really is tough to see -- let's pick a name at random -- Andrew Cuomo psyching up black Democrats the way that Obama did.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.