We were wrong.
We were wrong about the turnout.
We were wrong about the makeup of the electorate.
We were wrong about the advertising mix and message that would work.
We were wrong about the effectiveness of President Obama’s turnout mechanism.
The simple fact is Republicans spent more and achieved less than Democrats in 2012.
This was not just a personal defeat for Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan.
We lost Senate seats we should have won in North Dakota and Montana.
We lost Senate seats we might have won in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Mexico, and Massachusetts.
We had two candidates throw away Senate seats in Indiana and Missouri.
In 2010, we had three candidates throw away Senate seats in Colorado, Delaware, and Nevada. Why have the Democrats not suffered similarly from candidate missteps ( as in Massachusetts)?
We had a chance to pick up four governorships. We won one (North Carolina) and lost three ( Montana, New Hampshire and Washington).
We lost a handful of congressional seats but did especially badly in the West.
State legislative results are still coming in but we clearly fell from the 2010 high water mark. After the extraordinary 2010 results of 680 additional elected Republican state legislators and 25 switches, the GOP had more state legislators than any time since 1925.
This was a party-wide defeat and should be thought of as a profound wake up call.
The voting population is different than Republican models.
The turnout mechanism is different than Republican models.
The communications systems (both macro and micro) are different than Republicans thought.
Some Republican analysts and strategists are rushing around with new explanations of what happened and what we must do.
The fact is less than an a week after the election they don’t know what happened and they can’t possibly know what we should do.
Some have suggested the changing demographics mean campaigns no longer matter.
Others have suggested we did the best we could.
Neither approach is right.
For the conservative movement and the Republican Party to succeed in the future ( and while they are not identical the two are inextricably bound together) we will have to learn the lessons of 2012.
An intellectually honest and courageous Republican Party has nothing to fear from the current situation.
If we learn and implement the right lessons we will have a tremendous 2014.
If we then continue to implement the right lessons we will win the presidency in 2016.
If in that period we have developed a generation of activists and leaders who understand the modern world and understand modern politics and government we will earn the American people’s support for a generation of growth-oriented, solution-oriented, innovative government that combines the American Constitution and traditional principles of self government with 21st-century solutions to meet 21st-century challenges.
First, we must learn the facts of the 2012 election and the campaign which preceded it.
Then we must think through the lessons of the gaps between our pre-election understanding and the Election Day realities.
Only then can we develop a program for the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.
This will be the work of six months not six days.
Remember that the next time you hear a discredited “expert” tell you their current glib explanation of the world they clearly don’t understand.
Newt Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Republican candidate for president in 2012.