How could they all get it so wrong?
Boy oh boy have I been looking forward to this. Two months after Mitt Romney looked toast, five weeks after the disastrous first debate, two weeks after the Mittmentum, and a week after storm Sandy devotional hit the coastline, the result has been nailed down and every tensed muscle in the body can relax.
When I started the final leg of this jaunt, Romney was in his cups, and it appeared that it would be a stroll down to the inauguration. Then it became a nail-biter all the way through to the last weekend, with the dim prospect that one would be witnessing not the confirmation of the Barack Obama era but its dismissal as an aberration, and the return to power of just about the whitest man in America.
But by the weekend, I was pretty convinced Obama had it in the bag. A lot of people will now say they knew it all along, but that is 20/20 hindsight — or the product of not paying great attention to how badly the polls had dipped for Obama in the middle. Nevertheless, even though the raw numbers were tight, the nature of the state-by-state contests made Obama’s victory overwhelmingly likely. I remember on Friday afternoon atone of the dozen or so German beer houses on Columbus’ south side suddenly thinking it was won, feeling all the adrenalin drain out of my body, so much so that I could barely stay on the barstool. I shambled to the jukebox and put on Katy Perry’s Waking Up in Vegas, which was about as inappropriate to the décor and the moment as you could get, and only because they didn’t have, yes, Don’t Stop Believin’.
So on the one hand, the last three days seemed like a last, redundant slog to the finish line. Yet on the other it was at this point the Right decided to go nuts about the polls, returning to the notion that they were “skewed”, and dismissing dozens of mainstream firms as propagandists. Most prominent was Dick Morris, known as the “genius” by Fox News, who told us that he had looked at the same numbers Nate Silver had and had come up with a different result — it was going to be a landslide for Romney. Sitting there like a Cheshire Cat with fluid retention problems, Morris told viewers the GOP would take not only Florida, Ohio and the small states, but Pennsylvania as well, Michigan, “and we might get Minnesota”. Even Sean Hannity was starting to look askance at that, and Morris was excitable, clearly manic. His effusive predictions were shared by Michael Barone of DC’s Examiner. Charles Krauthammer was a little more circumspect but believed that Romney had clearly won.
By Sunday these dudes were starting to freak me out. Part of the talk-up was strategic of course, so that people didn’t get dejected and not turn up. But this was over the top. Were they delusional, or were they preparing the ground for a stolen election, in such a way that the disparity between polls, exit polls and the final vote could be plausibly explained?
Well, that may well have been part of it, especially on the part of some of the insiders. But as it turned out, that didn’t come into play — and there is now every indication from insiders in the Romney campaign, the think tanks, etc, that delusionality was the key. These folks simply believed it was a walkover, and they couldn’t understand how a majority of the American people could vote the other way. This was proved on election night, with Karl Rove having a meltdown on Fox as they called Ohio for Obama and then the country. Earlier there had been Sarah Palin doing one of her free-form interview poems about how disappointed she was in the American people.
“Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing …” began Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, before going to give us the benefit of here wisdom:
“I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in ‘like a thief with good tools’, in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while …”
“His blog FiveThirtyEight wasn’t updated for a day and a half after the election because Silver was out, getting laid, almost continuously, I would expect.”
Getting into her stride, she noted: “Obama and the storm, it was like a wave that lifted him and then moved on, leaving him where he’d been.” We await Noonan’s next column with enthusiasm. Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, another handsomely paid pundit, doubled down on the wrong:
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Categories: United States