He Losing Habit

By Ferguson, Niall | Newsweek, November 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

He Losing Habit


Ferguson, Niall, Newsweek


Byline: Niall Ferguson

How long will the GOP stay in denial?

Defeat can be habit-forming. Ask any Democrat. They lost three presidential elections in a row in the 1920s and 1980s, four in a row between 1896 and 1908, and a record six in a row between 1860 and 1880. Only in one period in modern American history have Republicans suffered such a string of defeats: between 1932 and 1948, when Franklin Roosevelt won four and Harry Truman made it five.

I know what it feels like. The British Tories were out of power for 13 years between 1997 and 2010. Last night was my second defeat since I moved to the United States in 2002 and became a Republican supporter. (Actually, it was my third, since I endorsed John Kerry in 2004 in a fit of frustration about the Bush administration's mishandling of Iraq and the Republican Party's fiscal irresponsibility.)

To break the losing habit, Republicans must resist the temptation to make excuses. We should dismiss the following thoughts from our minds: it was Hurricane Sandy's fault; it was Chris Christie's fault; the mainstream media gave Obama a pass on Benghazi; a Mormon can never be president; a private-equity guy can never be president; the Tea Party went too far; the Dems' ground game was better in Ohio.

Forget all that. These are just ways of denying the deeper causes of Mitt

Until we face up to these, we will keep on losing. Indeed, I predict now that we will lose in 2016, even when faced with a less ruthlessly effective campaigner than President Obama.

First, the Democrats understand the new world of Internet-savvy, data-driven marketing better than the Republicans do. My own experience of being piranha-attacked by liberal bloggers taught me that. And this was just a minuscule bit of vilification compared with the character-assassination campaign against Romney during the summer.

Second, demographic trends doom any Republican campaign that appeals more to white males than to any other voter group. According to exit polls, Romney won 60 percent of the white vote, compared with Obama's 38 percent. But Hispanics voted Democratic in even larger numbers than four years ago. The Hispanic share of the population is set to rise from 16 percent in 2010 to nearly 30 percent by 2050. …

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