Whenever a candidate loses an election, the very first thing people typically do is to begin to search for a scapegoat and it’s amazing how that particular goat of scape turns out to be whatever bugaboo that the Republican Establishment has already decided is bad for the Party.
With that in mind, it’s worth proactively noting a few things that are absolutely, unconditionally not responsible for Mitt Romney’s loss.
1) The Tea Party: Not only is Mitt Romney not a “Tea Partier,” he’s the antithesis of a Tea Party candidate. Yet and still, despite some grumbling and kvetching here and there, Tea Partiers worked very hard to get Romney elected.
2) Paul Ryan: Mitt Romney’s campaign was producing a flatline on the enthusiasm scale until he selected Paul Ryan and other than the first debate, his VP selection was probably the most exciting thing that happened during his boring, play-it-safe campaign.
3) Social conservatism: Mitt Romney centered his entire campaign around the economy and only occasionally, very delicately, stuck his toe into the water of social conservatism. Like it or not, Mitt Romney centered his campaign on the economy, the debt, and jobs — and he lost.
4) Conservatism: Mitt Romney is a moderate Massachusetts Republican. In fact arguably, other than perhaps Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney was the single least conservative candidate in the GOP primary.
As more data from the election comes out, we will start to get a much better idea of what did happen, but in the interim it’s worth ruling out what didn’t happen.