When it was clear that the election would be close, the question among the Republican Party political strategists became,
"How can Mitt Romney beat President Barack Obama?"
One thing is certain - Romney was in trouble with women, folks of Hispanic or Latino descent and students. His stands on reproductive rights, student debt and immigration reform left these potential constituents out in the cold.
Mitt Romney's participation in the "War on Women" has been especially controversial and divisive. Add to that the current conservative backlash against gay marriage and you can see how the GOP found it difficult to expand his base among these groups.
The Republicans were counting on the hope that students who supported Obama in 2008 would stay home this time around. Obama's charismatic presidential campaign style has lost some of it's attraction for many young folks who are now facing high unemployment and huge student debts. Over the last few years, the original core of Obama supporters in the schools have lost their faith that the political system will address these concerns.
But regardless of what the pollsters are saying, and despite predictions by the typical band of partisan media pundits, the US national elections are bound to be unpredictable and perhaps even historic. In past decades, 90% of the members of the House of Representatives and 80% of US senators have been retained by the voters. But given the great dissatisfaction in the country at the present time, I doubt this rule will hold true.
Whether it's the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street activists, a large anti-establishment populist movement has been growing across the land.
In addition, 30 members of congress are not even running this time due to redistricting, including veteran politicians like Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Ohio. As a prime example of the current voter uprising, I offer the case of Senator Richard Luger who lost his primary race to the Tea Party candidate in Indiana.
Romney's campaign focused on the "It's the economy, stupid" theme. He stressed his business experience and blamed President Obama for the economic recession. But this simple sound byte just might not be enough to get candidates elected during these unsettling times. The voters need more than that old slogan Bill Clinton campaign slogan - they want jobs, education and healthcare.
Conservative political pundit Andrew Malcolm of Investors Business Daily speculated that Mitt Romney may have benefited by asking a woman to be the party's VP candidate. Better yet, Malcolm says Romney should have chosen a conservative Hispanic woman in order to regain support among these groups.
This strategy suggests that the electorate would vote for Romney in order to support his running mate. Whether this is true has yet to be proven, but one can easily see why some Republicans would support this choice. In terms of political tactics, it might actually have been a brilliant move for Mitt Romney.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez seems to have been the obvious choice if commentators like Andrew Malcolm are correct. But Martinez is a staunch social and fiscal conservative. She opposes elective abortions and gay marriage. Her style as governor has included budget cutbacks and private investment schemes. She has been a vocal advocate for securing the US/Mexico border and is very concerned about illegal immigration.
The problem may be that Governor Martinez could have alienated as many independent voters as she would have attracted. These are some of the issues which traditionally divide the nation into two opposing camps - liberals versus conservatives. Would it actually benefit Romney to appoint a potentially controversial figure as his Vice presidential running mate?
We know that Susana Martinez has stated she would not run as VP, but that is a traditional position which all potential candidates adopt. Many political observers wonder why didn't Mitt Romney decide to appeal to Hispanic and female voters as a strategic maneuver to gain their votes?
Since the election was very close, Mitt Romney's decision not to pick a female VP might have proven to be a critical mistake for his campaign for US President.