Opinion: The 5 Mistakes that Cost Romney the Election

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

We know that Barack Obama won the 2012 election by a convincing margin of electoral votes and a healthy popular vote. But we should also acknowledge that Mitt Romney, whose Secret Service name was Javelin, lost the election. Why?

According to the Washington Post, "Romney told the donors he believed Hurricane Sandy stunted his momentum in the final week of the campaign, according to multiple donors present. Although Romney himself stopped short of placing any blame on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who praised President Obama’s leadership during the storm, several Romney supporters privately pointed fingers at the outspoken governor.

“A lot of people feel like Christie hurt, that we definitely lost four or five points between the storm and Chris Christie giving Obama a chance to be bigger than life.”

1. Not enough Romney ideas - Critics of the Romney campaign say that they think it was a mistake to frame the race as a referendum on Obama instead of a clear choice between two different philosophies - the Romney GOP solution or the Obama "same as before."

2. Romney ignored the media - Still another blistering criticism is leveled at Romney for having an adversarial relationship with the news media. Romney avoided the media for most of the campaign, did not quickly appear on TV programs, and maintained a shield of privacy on his personal life for too long according to many observers.

3. He didn't release his taxes - Yet another negative was Romney’s failure to release his income taxes. The longer this issue lingered and vice president’s comments that Romney probably had paid no taxes for years, the more voters wondered what he was hiding. That will go into the history books because he has still not released 10 years of detailed tax returns and, since he probably will never run for office again, he never will.

4. Romney picked the wrong sidekick - Yet another game of second-guessing involves his choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate. Many Republicans now feel that a VP choice from a more winnable battleground state could have gotten him the electoral votes needed. One of my Republican friends asked me, “Stef, maybe Senator Marco Rubio of Florida could have given Mitt a double whammy – a clear and early victory in Florida and a big chunk of Hispanic voters?”  I said “perhaps.” Others mentioned by GOP “Monday morning quarterbackers” I met over coffee are Rob Portman of Ohio, Chris Christie of New Jersey (to excite independents), and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

5. His ground game was bad - Finally the Romney campaign is being harshly criticized for not running a stronger “infantry” ground war and instead relying too much on an “air war” of negative ads. A ground war involves spending money on setting up a vast army of swing state offices with staff who spend 24-7 identifying voters, painting them with “micro targeting” ads that fit each voter’s concerns, getting early voting information and even absentee ballots to voters, and insuring turnout. The Obama campaign FAR outmaneuvered Romney with this tool.

The loser in a big race will always be blamed but this year I am seeing a highly vitriolic pushback from Republicans about the failures of the Romney campaign.