A lot has already been written about why Mitt Romney suffered such a resounding defeat in last week's election. Political insiders will attribute it most to President Obama's unprecedented ground game, rooted in breath-taking applications of large-scale data and analytics. We fall squarely in this camp, perhaps for selfish reasons, because data science is religion around here.
But to the average voter, the nuances of micro-targeting, GOTV, and quantitative analysis are meaningless. Most of us will trace Romney's loss to something more basic or, if you will, more "macro." A few days after the election, once it had a few days to sink in, we surveyed 10,182 people age 13* and older in the US asking which, among a simple list of reasons, was most to blame for Romney's defeat. Results were reweighted where necessary to represent the full US adult population by demographics and geography. (*- Yes, we included 13-18 year-old respondents, since most in this age cohort will be of voting age in 2016.)
Here's what they said:
Overall, the largest number of Americans (48%) blame the defeat on a misalignment between the current Republican message and the general views of the US populace. The second largest group either can't decide, needs more time to figure it out, or simply doesn't care. The remaining respondents were split at 14%, equally blaming the quality of Romney as a candidate and the relative strength of the Republican's campaign strategy.
After looking at these topline numbers, we can run our cross-tabs against hundreds of different traits of the respondent group. A few obvious ones surfaced quickly. Look at the difference among respondents based on their party affiliation: