Reports of the GOP's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

The Republican Party isn’t finished, but it must learn lessons from 2012.

2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama, right.
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David Carney is the CEO of Norway Hill Associates, Inc, in Hancock, N.H., was White House political director for President George H. W. Bush, and is a veteran of many campaigns.

As with Mark Twain, the reports of the Republican Party's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Yes, Republicans lost an election. Yes, Republicans have problems with technology, minorities, women, and younger voters. Yes, this election will potentially have terrible consequences for our nation. Yes, many Republican pollsters and political operatives thought we were going to win this election.

All of those things are true, but none of them points to the end of the Republican Party.

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If you read any blog or media report (mostly the same thing these days, just the overhead is different) the GOP is the Ghastly Old Party. Doomed, never to find its way without a rapid and massive make over—Ty Pennington where are you? To win they say, we need to be more like the Democrats and adopt their agenda.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that it was a close election, much closer than the contest four years ago which for some reason did not result in the same level of finger pointing, hand wringing and pessimism about the future of the party. In fact two years after that drubbing Republicans enjoyed a tremendously successful election cycle.

We did not lose because the grassroots nominated folks were too conservative and we should not, going forward, avoid primaries and let the professionals in D.C. decide who represents us in the elections. The elites point to Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri as proof that being too conservative spells doom in the general election, but they fail to mention Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Connie Mack in Florida, George Allen in Virginia, Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and Denny Rehberg in Montana, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, and all of their other hand picked candidates who went down as well.

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In the rush to analyze the election results pundits pointed to Mitt Romney getting fewer votes than John McCain, but that simply wasn't true. They were erroneously comparing 2012 election night counts with 2008 certified counts (which include all absentee and military ballots, as well as slow counting precincts). The fact of the matter is that given four years in office, a billion dollars and the greatest field operation in the history of the world, the Obama campaign was able to get 4 million fewer votes than it did in 2008.

We lost young people, we lost Hispanics, so we lost hope I guess. What tripe. One campaign loss does not call for an extreme makeover of our movement. Conservatives need to assess what went right and what went wrong in this past election. It was not that we did not have the proper app, nor was it that we did not pander to collections of potential voters or just that the ads were ineffective and in many cases unintelligible, nor was it Hurricanes named Isaac or Sandy.

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Let's start with what matters. Candidates matter. The exit polling showed that on the question of "who cares more about people like me" one candidate got 81 percent and the other got 19 percent Guess which is which and guess who won. Enough said.

Message matters. Obama did not win because he had a better economic plan or because people thought the country was headed in the right direction or because they thought Governor Romney was too conservative. President Obama was re-elected because he spoke to the economic concerns of voters in a meaningful way. He talked of tax cuts for the middle class, balancing the federal budget, and creating jobs and opportunity. The fact that during his four years in office he hasn't done any of these things and now less than a month after the election is asking for additional "stimulus" spending just proves how good of a politician the president is.

Corrected on 12/6/12: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Sen. Scott Brown.