It has been less than two weeks since Mitt Romney made his semi-bold pronouncement of 2016 intentions saying, “Everybody in here can go tell your friends that I’m considering a run.”
“Everybody” was a group of about 30 mega-donors in New York comprised of the one-percent of one-percent crowd.
Since that evening on January 9th, there have been two major developments.
First, was a CBS News poll released January 18 indicating that 59 percent of Republicans would support Romney in 2016. Running second to Romney was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 50 percent support. Third was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who was the first choice of 40 percent of GOP voters.
The second major development in the Romney 2016 saga was his speech on January 16th at the RNC meeting in San Diego. Speaking aboard the USS Midway (now a museum) Romney outlined his 2016 themes as Dan Balz of the Washington Post chronicled:
“Romney laid out what he said could be a winning conservative message in 2016, built on three pillars: security and safety in the face of foreign terrorist threats, opportunity for all Americans regardless of upbringing and a focus on finding ways to lift people out of poverty.”
Now, here is my note of caution.
Before Romney asks his wallet-enhanced friends to ask their friends to send Mitt a check, everyone should take a closer look at the 2012 presidential exit polls where they will find red flag warnings emblazoned with a Romney ’16 logo.
In order to examine those exit polls in context, let’s first review the “big picture stats” from the 2012 presidential election.
Romney lost the popular vote to Obama by a margin of 47 to 51 percent. The raw numbers were 65,918,507 to 60,934,407. Not all that bad, but begs the question, “How does Romney reach 51 percent in 2016?”
More important was the shellacking Romney took in the Electoral College, losing to Obama by a huge margin of 332 to 206.
Romney’s 64 vote deficiency of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win is easily explained by the demographics of gender, race and age as seen in the exit poll data. When applied to a potential 2016 run, here are Romney’s most troublesome 2012 data points.
First, women comprised 53 percent of all 2012 voters with men at 47 percent. Romney lost the women’s vote to Obama by a ten-point margin of 44 to 55 percent.
Stop right here!
There is an excellent chance that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be Romney’s 2016 Democratic opponent and, if elected, she will become the first female President of the United States. Does anyone doubt that this historic “first” will be a cornerstone of Clinton’s overall strategy and promoted ad nauseam in the mainstream media?
Therefore, how will Romney (if nominated) overcome his 2012 ten-point deficit with women voters when his likely 2016 opponent is a woman?
Every GOP donor and primary voter should demand that Romney answer this strategic question before his “considering a run” morphs into an official presidential campaign announcement.
The second red flag was Romney’s 71 to 27 percent loss of the Hispanic vote. In 2012 Hispanics comprised 10 percent of voters and that percentage could increase in 2016.
Romney would need a major push and an innovative plan to attract Hispanic voters especially in key battleground states such as Colorado, Florida, and Virginia with their growing Hispanic populations.
It is no coincidence that the last Republican president, George W. Bush, won in 2004 earning 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. (His Democratic opponent [mc_name name=’Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’K000148′ ] received 58 percent.) Bush’s 40 percent was the highest of any GOP president or candidate listed on this Pew Research chart spanning from 1980 – 2012.
In fact, winning at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote has become the official benchmark the GOP nominee must reach in order to win the White House.
The third and final red flag for a Romney’16 run are younger voters aged 18 – 29.
This group comprised 19 percent of 2012 voters and only 37 percent pulled the lever for Romney. Obama won them over by a whopping 60 percent. Just after the 2012 election Politico called the youth vote “decisive” to Obama’s victory (as it was in 2008 to an even greater extent.)
Coincidentally, both Romney and Clinton will be 69 years old in 2016. However Clinton would still have an advantage with younger voters who tend to gravitate towards “hipper” Democrats. (Is this because of all the media and Hollywood bias perpetrated against “un-cool” Republicans? One can only imagine all the young star-power that Hillary will unleash with hopes that they will make her appear younger and hipper.)
Romney in 2016 would need a much more attractive message than what he demonstrated in 2012 if he plans to win support of more 18 – 29 year olds.
The next group aged 30 – 44 comprised 27 percent of 2012 voters and Obama won them by a margin of 52 to 45 percent.
Now the good news for a Romney ’16 run is that in 2012 he won the largest group of voters aged 45 – 64 totaling 38 percent of the electorate. They supported Romney by a margin of 51 to Obama’s 47 percent.
Romney also won the 65 and over “early bird special” crowd by an impressive 56 to 44 percent. These seniors accounted for 16 percent of the electorate.
Aging Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are the largest, whitest and most dominant segment of the U.S. voting population. Since Romney won them over in 2012 and, if he can repeat that performance while upping his game with women, Hispanics and younger voters — he might have a chance to win in 2016.
However, (and this is a huge however) how important will it be for women and younger voters to have a hand in electing our nation’s first female president?
That is a wild card question for Romney or whoever is the male Republican presidential nominee in 2016.