I am still in awe of Barack Obama’s thank you to the campaign staff from Wednesday. As much as I am sure he was sincere in his regard for the twenty-somethings around him, I believe the official wife of Mutant Poodle is right, too – there’s a part of him that’s talking, approvingly, to his 25-year-old self. What an incredible moment.
I think the biggest shock for me in the past two days has been the reporting that people in Romneyland were sure they were going to win. I mean, I can understand believing you’re in the game – and there’s no doubt that Romney had a shot – but to look at the available data and conclude that there was no way you would lose? I was looking at polls and analysis that had Obama anywhere from a 90%-99% lock, and I was still nervous. But they were sure:
Romney and his campaign had gone into the evening confident they had a good path to victory, for emotional and intellectual reasons. The huge and enthusiastic crowds in swing state after swing state in recent weeks – not only for Romney but also for Paul Ryan – bolstered what they believed intellectually: that Obama would not get the kind of turnout he had in 2008.
They thought intensity and enthusiasm were on their side this time – poll after poll showed Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats – and that would translate into votes for Romney.
As a result, they believed the public/media polls were skewed – they thought those polls oversampled Democrats and didn’t reflect Republican enthusiasm. They based their own internal polls on turnout levels more favorable to Romney. That was a grave miscalculation, as they would see on election night.
Those assumptions drove their campaign strategy: their internal polling showed them leading in key states, so they decided to make a play for a broad victory: go to places like Pennsylvania while also playing it safe in the last two weeks.
In fairness, there were clues about this earlier: On Halloween eve, the Romney folks talked about all these soft indicators, and left polling out of the mix. which makes sense now, because they didn’t believe it. Now, I mocked the Romney campaign at the time, not believing anyone would choose to be down in virtually every swing state a week away from election day, but now their attitude makes more sense.
Even if their confidence was tragically misplaced. I imagine there was a bit of the “how could they re-elect that guy” thinking going on.
In other words, they believed their own spin.
I wrote, after the final debate, that “Mitt Romney [was] running out the clock when it wasn’t clear he was ahead.” Which he wasn’t. But he thought he was, based, in part, on the enthusiastic frowds that greeted him and Paul Ryan on the road.
The notion that partisan crowds are an indicator of anything is ludicrous, as I’ve mentioned before. My guess is that Rick Santorum would have been getting excited crowds at this point, too, on the way to a way bigger shellacking on November 6th. It’s a big country, and a lot of people in any given area are going to either love you a lot or hate the other guy a lot and get fired up.
Granted, Romney probably didn’t run into more than one or two people over the past month who didn’t like him, so I get that there’s an emotional impact that’s hard to counter.
But this was supposed to be the cold hard facts business guy. His running mate, Paul Ryan, was Mr. Wonky numbers guy. Bain Capital and the Ryan budget are both shining examples of looking coldly at numbers and doing what they tell you, human impact be damned. (That is, of course, if you assume the Ryan budget actually is an effective deficit reduction tool, but that’s a discussion for another day.) These are the guys who aren’t supposed to be swayed by emotions.
Meanwhile, the Obama team coldly, clinically, and accurately predicted the field they’d be playing on and changed it to their advantage.
Put another way, the businessman got smoked by the community organizer.
In other news, if you want to get plastered in a hurry, make “fiscal cliff” your drinking word and turn on any cable news channel. You might want to call the ambulance ahead of time.
I am just a dirty fucking hippie, but I’d be totally fine with all the Bush tax cuts expiring, and the defense sequesters taking place. I’m not as happy about across the board cuts to non-entitlement domestic spending – hey, I’m a Democrat! – but 67% of the cliff, or, you know, gradual slope, is OK with me. And frankly, I don’t think the GOP is going to do anything until it’s exploded. So get ready for whiny investors and a few months of slow job growth, because republicans still think they have the gun, but I’m not convinced it’s loaded.
That said, a deal is better than no deal, because, ironically, the cliff that everyone wants to avoid is one that takes us on a European-style austerity path.
However, I feel fairly confident that we’ll get to 2013 without a deal, notwithstanding the Obama olive branch.
Finally, my accountability moment.
I was off – by Florida, darn it – in my electoral predictions. Damn you, Nate SIlver!
My 50.2% estimate for popular vote was off by 0.3% – it’s at 50.5% at the moment. I’m calling that a win.
I was one shy in the Senate – I had the Republicans taking North Dakota, and they did not.
I was a little too bullish on the House – I said Democrats would add 12 seats, and at most they’ll get nine, and likely less.
So: I think that’s a solid B. Given that my results were far superior to those of Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Michael Barone, and George Will, to name a few, I expect I’ll be sitting down on the Sunday talk shows any day now, and those folks will retire in shame.
Nah, not really. They’ll be peddling their BS until they leave the mortal coil.