Even after Romney's monumental electoral loss, the data shows that Romney won among independent voters.
But I'm wondering how many of those "independent voters" were conservatives who just didn't wish to be identified as Republicans.
And who can blame them?
Bush Jr. is pariah in his own party.
How many Republican men made outrageous statements about rape?
How many red states tried to pass crazy laws from "personhood" amendments to requiring vaginal ultrasounds for abortions?
Then there was the Susan J. Coleman Foundation debacle where the charity organization tried to pull its funding of breast exams from Planned Parenthood; and don't even get me started on the all-out Republican attack on Planned Parenthood, including Romney himself who vowed to end federal funding for the leading provider of healthcare for poor and uninsured women and men.
I know several people personally who claimed to be independent and "fiscally" conservative, who constantly argued for things like drug testing on welfare recipients. These were people who refused to identify themselves as Republicans, and in the absence of a rational argument against Obama would simply say things like, "I just don't trust him."
I also found the post-debate focus groups of "undecided" voters a bit suspicious. Several of the people in those interviews gave the typical undecided voter responses such as, "I didn't like either of them," but many of them were very obviously siding with Romney.
So in my opinion, the surge in support for Romney after the first debate was less about undecided voters siding with Romney for the first time, and more about lukewarm conservatives finally having a reasonable excuse for publicly siding with the party they already knew they were going to vote for.
My point being that there was never a true surge in support for Romney, just a small group of people who had been patiently waiting for Romney to shake the Etch-A-Sketch.