Why Team Romney Was Surprised When They Lost


Calbuzz has refrained from attacking the pathetic performance during the 2012 presidential campaign by some of the biggest names in polling, like Gallup, Rasmussen and Newhouse. And although we gently suggested ways in which the Republican Party ought to reform itself in order to become relevant, we have generally avoided calling Mitch Romney’s campaign professionals on the carpet.

But after seeing Romney strategist Stuart Stevens’s Bizarro World op-ed piece in the Washington Post and reading the New Republic’s exclusive look at Neil Newhouse’s dunderhead polling for the Romney campaign, we feel compelled to squawk.

As we noted before, it was perverse that Romney should run so far to the right in the primary, on issues like immigration, that getting back to the middle during the general was impossible. That’s because one of the guys managing Romney’s campaign – Stuart Stevens – had managed Steve Poizner, the losing candidate in California’s 2010 GOP governor’s race primary. He saw first-hand how the primary winner, Meg Whitman, slit her own throat in California’s general election.

But what does Stevens take away from his staggering mismanagement of Romney? “Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day” because he won among white middle-class voters – the only voters who ought to matter.

“Yes, the Republican Party has problems,” Stevens wrote, “but as we go forward, let’s remember that any party that captures the majority of the middle class must be doing something right.”

In a TV interview Stevens said the Romney campaign didn’t do a good enough job reaching out to Latinos and women. To which we say, hey, don’t sell yourself short. You did a bang-up job of reaching out to Latinos and women – telling Latinos to self-deport themselves and women to slap on chastity belts.

If all those women, blacks, Latinos, Asians and young people hadn’t voted, Romney would have won. How dare those pseudo-citizens muddy the waters for real Americans? Who do they think they are? What right do they have screwing up our strategy?

The Frog in the Well: Which brings us to Romney’s pollsters (and the aforementioned Gallup and Rasmussen), who were shocked, stunned, astounded and flabbergasted when it turned out that their model of the electorate was based on their own narrow vision.

They are like Chuang-tzu’s frog in the well who thinks the world and the sky are no bigger than the mouth of the well.

Writing in the New Republic, Noam Schreiber says:

Newhouse and some of his colleagues have said that the biggest flaw in their polling was the failure to predict the demographic composition of the electorate. Broadly speaking, the people who showed up to vote on November 6 were younger and less white than Team Romney anticipated, and far more Democratic as a result. “The Colorado Latino vote was extraordinarily challenging,” Newhouse told me. “As it was in Florida.”

While this doesn’t explain all of Team Romney’s polling errors – they were off in predominantly white states like New Hampshire and Iowa, for example – but it’s the fundamental miscalculation they made and it perfectly reflects the world view of the candidate and his campaign.

Turns out father didn’t know best.

BTW: In case you missed it, our hero, Nate Silver has a few choice words for Politico and their unique brand of so-called reporting, here at Talking Points Memo.

subscribe to comments RSS

There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar chuckmcfadden says:

    “Republican ideals — Mitt Romney — carried the day” Carried the day? What is he talking about? Romney lost decisively. I guess he means Romney won among the right sort of people, and that means he carried the day. Illustrative of the bubble Republicans inhabit.

  2. avatar JohnF says:

    We should be surprised at this? We have known for a while that they live in their bubble, shutting out what the rest of the world and reality is up to. But a good article thank you,

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    I’m surprised anybody still listens to Rasmussen. They are consistently at least 5 points to the right and have been for years. I don’t pretend to know why. But even I’ve noticed it. I didn’t need Nate Silver to point it out. As for Gallup, they persisted in their national model. And, while the Obama campaign outperformed Gallup polling in the national popular vote, where they really made their gains was in the Electoral College. Say what you will about this system, and I’d like to–but it’s probably wiser of me not to do it in public–it’s still the system we have. The Obama campaign knows this and targeted their strategy to win in the game as it stood. This was smart.

    However, having spent the 3 months before the election (wo)manning the phones, I have to say the Republicans lost this one as much as Obama won it. They terrified a lot of older, white, middle-class voters who–according to the geniuses you quote, ought to be Republicans–but just happened to have vaginas. We don’t care about abortion and contraception for ourselves, but for our daughters and granddaughters. We care about public education for our children and grandchildren. We care about being treated like second-class citizens.

    They terrified a fair number of older, white, middle-class men too. At least the ones with enough brain cells left to remember the Bush economy. And the ones who were astute enough to notice that all the economic gains for the last decade have gone to the top. Or who were realistic enough to know that the companies they own or work for really do rely on a robust public infrastructure to succeed.

    My polling wasn’t very scientific. But that’s what I heard here in Santa Cruz California.

Please, feel free to post your own comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.