The Washington Post

Still puzzled over Ohio

Byron York has done Republicans who are analyzing the election fallout a service by highlighting the single most puzzling piece of data to arise in the aftermath of the November elections, which is: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) got more votes in Ohio in 2008 (2,677,820) than Mitt Romney got in 2012 (2,583,582). The fact that Romney did not meet or surpass McCain’s vote total is stunning.

I’m glad some Democratic friend of mine didn’t come along before the election and ask me to wager everything I have, including my kids, that Romney would get more votes (or close to it) in Ohio in 2012 than Sen. McCain did in 2008, because I would have taken that bet.

Let’s remember, after eight years of Bush fatigue, running a bad campaign, and accounting for the powerful appeal then-Sen. Obama had, McCain was a sure loser. I won’t repeat the list of more favorable circumstances that everyone believed Romney had going into 2012, but on Election Day, something was seriously off the rails. And it’s more about the voters Romney didn’t get than the voters President Obama did get. 

The low turnout is still puzzling to me. Honestly, I was among those who thought the Romney disconnect with voters was overstated, and that in any event, it would be compensated for by the Republican energy to remove Obama from office. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and head-scratching in the GOP continues. 

Another thing to keep your eye on in the post-election GOP: Watch the chairmanship race for the GOP House Conference between Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Tom Price.  They are both good candidates, but one has the stylistic advantage that matters.  Rep. McMorris Rodgers (no relation) is a woman from Washington state, and was first elected in 2004. She’s from the Northwest, she’s a woman, and she has two young children. All things being equal, we need more people like her in our Caucus leadership. Her opponent is an able congressman from Georgia, and there isn’t a meaningful ideological difference between the two.  Anyone who says Rodgers is insufficiently conservative to serve in the leadership is a nut and is part of the GOP’s problem.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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