Mitt Romney lost because hardline Republicans betrayed him
By campaign end, Romney – moderating his tone and positions – was finally connecting with 2012 America. GOP strategist Peggy Noonan called it Romney's "quiet rise", and there was evidence to support it. But the Tea Party zealots, the radical evangelicals, the homophobes, the misogynists and the rest of the unthinking, feckless right had already scuppered his chances. It was too late to turn it around.
Obama won on the central issue of the economy – which should by rights have sunk his ship with all hands. Exit polls showed just as many voters trusted Obama as Romney to handle the nation's finances, despite his term record of high unemployment and real hardship for many middle- and lower-income families.
By all historical precedent, given the figures, Romney should have sewn it up months ago. But his Reagan-esque ideas were out of date. The voters replied: "It's the economy, but we're not stupid."