11 November 2012

About the Romney "shellshocked" thing....

I don't quote articles from DailyKos very often. KOS is an outstanding site, especially for the Left, but sometimes the articles are a little too unbalanced for my taste. However, this one, which is a pretty hard-cutting analysis of why Mitt Romney was very likely not "shellshocked" by his loss last Tuesday to President Obama, is an OUTSTANDING write-up:

I want to give you some background. 

On Monday, November 5th, someone from the Romney campaigned "leaked" details about their internal polls of the battleground states, but they did it in a weird way: they leaked it to a very right-wing british tabloid that hardly any american reads, namely, "The Daily Mail". I was scratching my head on Monday, wondering why in the world the Romney campaign went this route.

Normally, a campaign does not release internal polling. When they do, it is usually to

a.) refute polling from the other side they think is totally crazy


b.) to solidify the image that a win is inevitable. Case in point: Obama released one internal note the entire campaign: after the 2nd Columbus Dispatch poll showing him up by +9 in Ohio, the Obama campaign mentioned that their internals were also showing +9 in the Buckeye State. They were trying to engrain the image of inevitability in Ohio upon the public.

The Romney camp gave no internals to the Daily Mail, but only gave the + margins. They claimed to be up by +1 in Ohio. On election night, on CNN, James Acosta reported that the Romney campaign admitted to him that actually, the last internal of Ohio showed Romney BEHIND by -5 in the Buckeye State.

Ok, so the Romney campaign probably lied. Sometimes campaigns do that, but it is usually frowned upon. 

But that still doesn't answer the question: WHY did they do it?

And this write-up does a very good job answering that very question, and explains 2 options  the Romney team had on-hand to explain what happened at the end.

At the end:

"So why on earth would Team Romney, in CYA-mode following the election, start flogging the story to credulous media enablers that they were "shellshocked" by the results? It boils down to two alternatives for Romney's camp, neither of them good, both of which would be the basis for claims of political malpractice. Option A: admit that you were operating in a bubble, that your pollsters were making faulty assumptions, and that despite the fact that your pollsters were coming up with numbers that didn't look like anyone else's, you were so reliant on gut feelings about voter enthusiasm that you didn't bother to seek a second opinion. (That's the CBS article, in a nutshell.)
Or Option B: admit that your data looked much like everyone else's and that you're smart enough to know that all along that you were losing, but that the rules of the game prevented you from publicly admitting that. That's partially because, via the 'bandwagon effect,' it might depress turnout, but mostly because it would depress contributions from big money donors who don't want to waste their money -- thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy because you then wouldn't have the money you'd need to even have a shot at winning.
Team Romney might be falling on its sword here and choosing Option A -- even though it has the effect of demolishing what remained of his pragmatic numbers-driven wonk brand, making him look like a self-absorbed fool selectively listening only to yes men -- because Option B would be even more unthinkable, in terms of Republican hopes for future races.
Do you think that the Sheldon Adelsons of the world would be willing to open up their checkbooks for future races, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, when they find out that they've simply been lied to about Republican chances in order to keep the dollars flowing? Remember, these are guys who've been promised that they were getting the unvarnished truth about the campaign -- the platinum-club insider access -- and now they're finding out that they're getting grifted, just as standard campaign operating practice. (As you no doubt know,Karl Rove is having parallel problems with his American Crossroads donors.)
As much as we'd like to think so, Mitt Romney isn't dumb, and he's a good Republican soldier. He isn't running for anything else, so he can afford to feign ignorance and act like this was a one-time convergence of bad polling and self-delusion on his part. It's better for the overall Republican brand for Romney to briefly make himself look ridiculous one last time, than to admit to the billionaire donor class that they just threw hundreds of millions of dollars down a rathole while being kept in the dark about their actual odds, and that it's just as likely to happen to them again in 2016."

Go read the entire write-up, it is very, very good.

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