Douthat wishes Romney had run a smarter campaign:
Running a presidential campaign and selling a consistent message isn’t easy, obviously. But neither is it nearly as difficult as the Romney campaign has made it seem. You pick some issues that play well with your base, pick some issues where you want to move to the center, write a script with these choices in mind and do your best to stick to it. Of course events intervene and the script sometimes has to be rewritten. But on immigration, health care and indeed just about every topic worth mentioning, the Romney camp apparently decided that the weakness of the economy meant that they didn’t need a clear script at all, and that they could get by with evasions and improvisations instead. On the evidence of current polling, they were wrong.
Elvin Lim holds that Romney should move away from complaining to a more constructive vision:
Every fumbling campaign has at least one correctable problem — the candidate. Romney and Ryan need to stop complaining about how bad it is, or at least spend as much time telling us how good we could have it in the next four years. Even independent voters don’t want to hire a doomsayer for president, and this is especially important because the alternative, Obama, is a positive, likable guy. Even if Americans don’t feel better off today than they were in 2008, the real question is whether they would be better off in 2016 under Obama or under Romney. It is not just about malaise in America, but also about morning in America. What can Americans look forward to with President Romney? For better or for worse, voters need to be flattered, and they don’t want to to be told that the only reason not to vote for a sitting president is the disaster he will bring. They also need to be inspired by someone who would awaken their better angels and lead them to greener pasture.