Coffee House

The Romney campaign meets electoral reality

9 November 2012

3:23 PM

9 November 2012

3:23 PM

When I worked in Washington, I was shown round the White House by a junior Bush administration staffer. As our group made it round the building we passed various photos of George W. Bush signing bits of legislation into law, at nearly everyone our guide would stop and tell us how many voters in various key states would benefit from it. When there was a picture of Bush with a governor, we’d be regaled with both sets of approval ratings. It was clear that whatever the administration’s flaws – and there were many – it had an acute understanding of the importance of data and the changing nature of the American electorate.

One would have thought that the campaign of Mitt Romney, a hugely successful businessman, would also have understood the importance of clean, reliable data. But it clearly didn’t. A CBS News report details how the Romney campaign ‘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.’ This meant that when the defeat came, they were totally unprepared for it despite it being what the polls were predicting.

This episode is a real lesson in how political campaigns can delude themselves. To reject one polling company is one thing, but to simply dismiss all the major polls is quite another.

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Show comments
  • Adrian Harper

    I am soooo loving the sound of whining conservatives. Couldn’t beat obama, now what happened to all those commentators who said he would. Couldn’t even beat Brown in 2010 ,the most unpopular British Prime Minister ever and you couldn’t beat him . Amazing.

  • Kevin

    Electoral reality includes head of the CIA David Petraeus resigning after the election but before the congressional hearings on Bhengazi.

    This is what Romney was up against.

    But, hey, fornication and abortion are the new bread and circuses. Congratulations, the sixty million.

  • eeore

    It depends on how you define electoral reality.

    From Blackbox voting…

    “Washington State, where I live, is a forced absentee state, where 100% of the
    votes are now absentee ballots, which must be postmarked on Election
    Day. I placed my ballot in the post office at 2 pm. There are no exit
    polls, because there are no polling places. Apparently a few phone calls
    now substitute for actual exit polling (to people with land lines?
    That’s an increasingly elderly demographic). Perhaps 40% of all ballots
    in Washington have not even been counted yet, but we’ve been told the

    But then if you look at the primaries it is questionable ( a polite term) that Romney was even the ‘elected’ candidate. Obviously Ron Paul didn’t help his case by wanting to do revolutionary things like auditing the gold in Fort Knox or abolishing the Federal Reserve, measures that may have been good for the conventional economy but unlikely to help in the ongoing soft war on China.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Yes, the willardbots couldn’t have imagined the election turnout would fall off so drastically, across the board. They’re plenty dumb, but not even the smartest campaign shyster could have foreseen such a dropoff, across the board.

    In 2008, about 131.5M people voted. This year, only 120.5M people voted.

    Thus, even though the total population rose, there was an 8.4% drop in voters, for “the most consequential election of our lifetime”. I guess the people didn’t agree that this election was all that consequential, or at least they figured the candidates weren’t consequential. I agree with the latter.

    Obama had 69.5M votes in 2008, but fell to 60.8M this election. That’s a 12.5% drop.

    McCain had 60.0M votes in 2008, but Romney only drew 57.8M votes this election. That’s a 3.7% drop. Willard the Mittens is truly a failed candidate. Running against a failed president, he managed to underachieve the sarcophagus McCain. Remarkable.

    11M people stayed home. Absolutely remarkable, but testimony to the voters’ thoughts on the 2 candidates. They’d rather stay at home than vote for either. I’m with them. I voted, but I’d never vote for either of these 2 chumps.

  • Right On

    In fairness they didn’t dismiss all the polls. A number had them close because they also felt that a +6 Democratic electorate was unlikely – have to say I agreed. They based their projections on significantly reduced Democratic participation, what they missed completely was that Republicans who have spent 4 years attacking Obama and complaining that he was a socialist wouldn’t get out to vote.

    The great failure of the Romney campaign was to turn out their voters, 300,000 more in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire would have won the election – that’s a horrendous miss, and it wasn’t caused by misreading polls.

  • Tron

    93% of Blacks voting for the Black candidate is the definition of the word racist.

    I am amazed that the media repeat this figure with almost no comment at all.

    • J Hyde

      What about 88% of black voters voting for Kerry in 2004? Where does that sit with you?

      • eeore

        It shows the Democrats are improving the process of sectional politics.

  • Ron Todd

    If in any country there was an election between a white candidate and a black candidate and 95% of the whites voted for the white candidate all the media led by the BBC would be condeming them as racist.

    • J Hyde

      Racial polarisation *is* too high in America, but black voters have always voted for Dems in high numbers 88% for Kerry in 2004, 90% for Gore in 2000 etc.

      Some (not all) responsibility must be lumped on the GOP.

    • dalai guevara

      Calling a President black for having a white mother advocates fascist race theory rather than Mendel’s laws. If you are a creationist, fair deuce, but if you have a scientific approach to things, you are urged to think again.

  • EJ

    It’s simple: Romney lost because he appealed to conservative, white, middle Americans – and they’re in rapid decline. Obama won because he appealed to the increasingly numerous and aggressive non-white ethnic groups (and the left-wing whites too stupid to see that they’re being displaced or so self-hating that they’d rather be displaced than stand up for themselves).

    Here in the UK, if you are a proud, patriotic, white male (the grouping most despised by the new liberal establishment), America faces a sad and desperate decline. But if you fit into the guilt-ridden, left-wing self-haters camp then you’ll be in ecstacy over America’s re-election of a “black” president and the demographic shifts that will end up making you the dependent minority.

    • HooksLaw

      Republicans need to widen their base – even Rupert Murdoch says so. And there is no reason why they should not – blacks and hispanics are just as aspirational as whites. Slagging off blacks and hispanics and women too by the nut jobs is no way to do that.

      The Democrats also have a new problem, that of picking their next candidate.

      • J Hyde

        It’ll probably be Clinton, but it should be Liz Warren.

        • Curnonsky

          Fauxcahontas, you mean?

          • J Hyde

            I thought the right wing were against affirmative action? If she sat on in your camp you’d be cheering her on.

            • Curnonsky

              Blonde Indians always make me cheer for some reason.

    • J Hyde

      I’m a proud, white, British male. I welcome anyone willing to contribute to our country, regardless of their ethnic background. Frankly, I don’t care if you’re from Poole or Pakistan, so long as you pay your taxes and abide by our laws.

      You sound like the kind of Spectator reader who is too embarrassed to stand with the BNP, so you vote UKIP and make thinly veiled racist comments (anonymously) on websites such as this, basking in the confirmation bias that stokes your nonsensical rhetoric.

      Thankfully your ilk are dying out quicker than you can say “I’m not racist, but…”

      • EJ

        Then oh proud, white, British male, watch – proudly – as the demogrpahic scales tip and you and yours are left a proud but isolated minority in a country controlled by those who no longer give two hoots what you think, because your proud open-mindedness gave them all the help they needed to sweep you aside.

        I make no secret of voting UKIP and being an ex-Tory voter. I believe that in a free country a political party like the BNP should be allowed to say whatever they damn well like without the abuse and threats that habitually pour forth from open-minded progressives like yourself.

        And finally, if you think my ilk are dying out, you’ve got another thing coming. Now call me a racist again if you think it will make you look good and get everyone on your side.

        • J Hyde

          First of all, I made no threats.

          I too agree that the BNP should be allowed to say what they like, doesn’t mean I can’t point and laugh when they peddle their idiocy. Just like I’m doing now, with you. If you have no problem with the BNP exercising their rights of free speech, surely you’ll have no problems with the Islamic Party of Britain doing the same? Can’t have it both ways.

          I find it hilarious that you consider an open mind a bad thing. You should spend some time on this website, I’d like to think it would do you the world of good, but without an open mind you might have trouble absorbing it all.

          • EJ

            Thanks but no thanks. You can keep your links, your sneering contempt, your playing to the gallery and your Islamic Party of Britain. We’ll see who’s the idiot.

            • J Hyde

              Wow, you really don’t get it. I don’t support the IPB in anyway, I was merely proving that not only do you not believe in free speech, you do understand what it means.

              That link is purely academic with no political opinion whatsoever. It’s a list of logical fallacies and their definitions, something you clearly could do with reading. We’re both fans of ad hominems.

              Sticking your fingers in your ears and saying ‘No’ is not a valid debate strategy, and that is why YOU are the idiot.

    • Em Jjunju

      the first step towards self hate is the refusal to have children thinking money is enough!! By not multiplying you are in essence telling yor parents that they made a mistake!! weird 🙁