I have a story to tell, and it ends really good...
Not so long ago, and not so far away, nobody liked Romney, including Republicans. His favorables were low, and then we got the 47% tape...now he was toast. His rallies weren't being attended, he needed Ryan to get anyone there. He was not feeling any love from anybody.
But then came the debates. Now, suddenly, some of the Republicans liked Romney. They liked the fighting, lying spirited guy who was ready to take it to Obama. And Romney's favorables went up, and his rallies got bigger, and he started feeling the love.
Taking the bat to Obama on national television did the trick. From Romney's point of view, there was true momentum after this. They could feel the change in the air. The crowds were bigger, more enthusiastic, and they were eating up everything Romney had to sell.
But what Romney's campaign didn't realize is that this momentum was only a change among Republicans. Why were they so deluded? And how did the shellshocked shellacking really unfold? Let's go below the Salt and Pepper Shakers to enjoy the delusion followed by the election eve moment yet one more time...
There were huge flaws in the beliefs of the Romney campaign that led them to being truly shellshocked on election night (how delicious was that?):
Romney campaign flaws:
A belief in the late momentum for Romney
Their inability to process the numbers
Their belief in a mainstream media and poller bias for the Democrats
I have already discussed the first cause, that there was a true momentum for Romney that developed among Republicans.
And we have all discussed the second cause to death. We know they discounted the poll numbers, because they seemed so skewed towards Democrats, not realizing that some Republicans had shifted to Independents. They only saw that Independents were breaking for Romney. They knew once they removed 6-7% of the Democrats, of course Romney was winning!
This was a huge numbers blindspot. But they persisted in this belief because of the third cause. They truly thought that media and poller bias was making this 6-7% happen. Believing in a bias allowed them to discount the polls. To encourage that thinking further, the media kept reporting a tie (when Obama was actually leading), so if they took anything off for a bias towards Obama, it was obvious to them that the Romney campaign was clearly winning.
So let's recap the Romney perceptions:
Republican crowds are getting bigger, they love them some Romney now
Independents are breaking for Romney in all the polls
The Democrats are being over-sampled by 6-7% because of media and poller bias
Romney has it in the bag! OF COURSE.
Here is what I absolutely loved about how election night unfolded. I had been watching the numbers closely, and knew that there were only a handful of unsure swing states, and Obama basically needed only a couple of those to win. If all went as expected, we knew we had Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, and they were called for Obama in that order. Then North Carolina went for Romney. Next up was Iowa.
The networks weren't reporting the electoral votes for states in the west because polls hadn't closed yet, but I was keeping track on 270towin.com. When Iowa went for Obama, I told my husband, if Obama gets any one of Florida, Ohio, or Virginia, he has the presidency. My husband looked at me like... What? How do you know that?
Why was he so dumbfounded? Even at this point, the networks still pretended it was a tie. They said that we just don't know yet, it depends on all three: Florida and Ohio and Virginia. But that just wasn't true! Obama didn't need all three–he just needed ONE MORE.
Then Ohio went for Obama, before all the numbers were in, before you could even see that he had clearly won. They called it because the pollsters could see that the outstanding counties were heavily Democratic.
The Ohio call alone would have popped the Republicans heads, because you had to have faith in the outstanding numbers to believe that Ohio was Obama's. Even for a few moments, while the presidency was being called, Romney was UP in Ohio. That was one of the most wonderful moments I can remember. It was the triumph of science over faith.
But what really blew their minds was that the call of Ohio immediately led to calling Obama for the presidency. None of them saw that coming. And that's where the deliciousness of the whole thing really lies. The media NEVER told their viewers the truth about what Obama needed to win.
So let's recap the truth:
The electoral count was low because the west wasn't in yet
Ohio was neck and neck, with Romney even up at times
Florida and Virginia weren't known yet
The media was declaring the race a tie, unknowable until much later or the next day
The Presidency was called for Obama
My mind was blown, and I knew to expect this. Can you imagine what the Republicans felt at that moment, given their worldview? Almost impossible to imagine.
I switched to Fox immediately and watched the meltdown of Karl Rove in real time, and I was cackling the whole time. I have never experienced such a wonderful high in all my political years.
And that's the story on why Romney was shellshocked that night. And...we all lived happily ever after.