As results began to stream in Tuesday night, prominent Romney supporters in Boston tried to stay positive, reassuring themselves that there was still a path to the White House. But dejection quickly turned to anger a day after an Electoral College rout that shocked many who had heard self-assured projections about voter enthusiasm and turnout in private conference calls and meetings in the campaign’s final stretch.What a perfect encapsulation of the utter cluelessness and loathsome sense of entitlement of Romney's big money backers. It's not just that they were stupid enough to believe Romneyland's confidence (did they really expect to be told that Mitt was toast and that their money would be better spent elsewhere?), it's that they seem to believe they were hiring staff whose job was to win the election much like they might hire a pool boy to clean out the pool. And now they are really pissed off because even though they spent all this money, they see a big turd floating in the middle of the water and now they want their money back.
“They ran a 20th century campaign in the 21st century,” said one Romney bundler, frustrated that the campaign made assumptions about the youth vote and voter intensity that didn’t pan out. “The anger is that they were entrusted to do certain things. It’s not like they were paid a $5,000 retainer to get a few dozen articles in an inside-the-Beltway paper. This is the major leagues.”
But instead of blaming the help, Romney's big money backers need to look in the mirror and recognize that the real problem is the Republican Party's discredited economic philosophy and their dependence on a racially and culturally homogenous political base. Also, if they paid a little more attention they might realize that it's not a turd, but a candy bar, floating in the pool. Perhaps they didn't notice this during the campaign, but President Obama spent far more time talking about fiscal responsibility than Mitt Romney. On the issues they claim to care about, President Obama has done and will do a better job than Mitt Romney.
Unfortunately, there's basically no reason to believe they are capable of such reflection. If they were, they never would have believed Romney was on his way to victory—and they wouldn't still be clueless about why they lost. It's not like there wasn't publicly available information that would have let them figure out what was really happening in the campaign. Instead of staying trapped in the Republican spin bubble, they could have ventured out to any number of sources—places like FiveThirtyEight, Daily Kos, Princeton Election Consortium, TPM PollTracker or HuffPost's Pollster—to find out what was really going on. The fact that they didn't let reality influence their expectations for Election Day illustrates the extent to which they just don't pay attention to facts and evidence. It's beyond laziness: They just weren't interested in anything that would disturb their fantasy world in which Mitt Romney was practically president-elect. True, everybody's entitled to their opinion, but when your opinion is based on misinformation and you're incapable of actually getting a clue about what's really going on in the world around you, your opinion isn't worth very much.
Tragically, many of these people will nonetheless be given an outsized voice in the media as we debate fiscal policy in the coming months. The theory will be that because they've been successful in the business world, they must be equally talented at governance. That theory is nuts, of course, but don't expect our media to figure that out. After all, many of them believed in the Romney spin machine just as fervently as did Romney's big money backers.