The religious right movement, and social conservatives in general, hoped that 2012 would represent something of a comeback year. It really didn't turn out that way.
Anti-gay measures failed in several states; Florida voters defeated a measure on taxpayer-funded abortions; Wisconsin elected the nation's first openly-gay U.S. senator; key movement allies like Todd Akin failed miserably; and, of course, President Obama won a second term fairly easily.
Disgraced former lobbyist Ralph Reed had a very different outcome in mind, planning to "unleash a sophisticated, microtargeted get-out-the-evangelical-vote operation," backed up by at least $10 million in contributions from Republican donors.
Yesterday, Reed offered a defense for his efforts.
In a Wednesday morning press conference at the National Press Club, Ralph Reed's message was clear: don't look at me. Reed had made sweeping promises that the Faith and Freedom Coalition, his conservative voter ID and turnout operation, would stun pollsters and lead to a big conservative victory. "We did our job," he insisted, recounting the tens of millions of phone calls, mailings, and other voter contacts his group made. He said his group had run the most efficient, most technologically superior voter contact and GOVT operation the faith community has ever seen. He claimed credit for increasing both white evangelicals’ share of the electorate and the share of the vote they gave to the Republican nominee. But it wasn’t enough.
"We can't do the Republican Party's job for them. We can't do the candidates' job for them." In part, Reed blamed "candidate performance issues," his euphemism for the Akin-Mourdoch rape comments that led to their undoing.
Karl Rove may have some trouble raising money from wealthy far-right donors in the near future, but I don't think he's the only one.