However, there are areas where we, as a community, could use some improvement. So I offer the following in the spirit of constructive criticism. Because really, all this stuff was pretty freakin' annoying.
I'll see you below the fold.
1. THE POST-FIRST DEBATE MELTDOWN
People often forget that 1) most people aren't paying attention as closely as we are, and 2) there is no long-term political memory in this country.
So Mitt Romney's 47 percent remarks, and his Benghazi disaster, and his crappy convention, and Clint Eastwood, and every other flub he made damaged his campaign, but none of them ended it.
So why would a single poor debate outing end Barack Obama's? In fact, the president followed a long tradition of incumbents who lost their first debates, as Presidents John Kerry and Walter Mondale could tell you. And the fact the debate came a month from the election ensured that Obama would have plenty of time to right the ship.
Obama took a hit in the national polling, but never trailed in enough battlegrounds to put the Electoral College at risk. He was winning throughout, and had built up enough of a cushion over the summer to ride out the nadir of his campaign.
That didn't mean that we didn't criticize Obama for his performance and make sure he was better prepared and more aggressive next time. Note how conservatives acted like Romney had done well his second debate? Had they had a freakout like ours, perhaps he would've been better prepared for the third debate. Instead, conservatives pretended he had done fine, and it cost them.
Still, for people who were so fond of saying, "Act like you're 10 points down!", we saw how people acted when we were down by a single point—abject panic. It was embarrassing, unwarranted, and completely at odds with the data and facts on the ground.
2. NO, WE WON'T ACT LIKE WE'RE 10 POINTS DOWN
Can we retire that idiocy once and for all? And when it pops up next cycle, can people just link to this fucking post?
No one works hard for a loser. No one. That's why the Romney campaign built an entire fictional alternate reality in which they were headed toward a landslide victory. People work hard for winners, not for losers. And no one "stays home" because we're winning, just like no team in any sports walks off the field mid-game because they're ahead.
We could even see it in Daily Kos traffic—more people would show up when we were ahead than when the perception was that we were trailing. Now we're not going to create an alternate reality here to convince people we're winning when we're not. Just look at site coverage in 2010 for proof. But if you really want to motivate people, don't take what is a real lead and try to convince people we're losing. That's is just rank idiocy, and anyone who says shit like that is just embarrassing themselves.
3. THE FRAUDSTERS
Can we get through an election without panicking about Karl Rove's dastardly plan to steal the election? Please? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?
I'm begging you to stop that shit! You are giving Republicans far more credit and power than is warranted or than they deserve.
The way they try to "steal" an election is by creating structural impediments to voting. That means things like shortening or eliminating early voting days, not having enough voting machines in urban precincts, having tons in suburban and exurban precincts, purging of voter rolls, overly restrictive voter ID laws. And not all voter ID laws, as I've argued before. Some are perfectly fine, like Virginia's. Others, like Pennsylvania's, are pure voter suppression.
But here's the thing—Republicans tried that shit in many states, but got away with it in very few. And even when successful, like Florida's shortened early voting days, the Democratic GOTV machine made the necessary adjustments.
But as for election day shenanigans? There were few, if any, just like in 2010, and 2008. That doesn't mean we stop being vigilant, but it does mean we stop acting like we are DOOOOOOMED because of a Karl Rove so incompetent, he became a national laughingstock on Fox News Tuesday night, a Karl Rove so clueless, he now has to explain to conservative billionaires how he blew through hundreds of millions of their dollars with nothing to show for it.
We are not helpless in the face of voter suppression. Democrats are fighting back and winning. And in 2014, we take the fight straight at them by recapturing those governorships and secretary of state offices that tried to create these troubles in the first place.
4. OUR OWN POLL UNSKEWERS
Okay, nothing on our side ever matched the idiocy of their unskewers—alleging a mass polling industry-wide conspiracy to fool people into thinking Obama was winning. They were ridiculous.
But after the first debate, we had our own cadre of doubters casting aspersions on the polling showing Obama slipping and Romney rising. It was embarrassing seeing people who had cheered on, say, PPP polling when it had showed big Obama leads, suddenly claiming it was bunk because it was a robo-polling outfit that didn't call cell phones.
I don't doubt that cell phones will one day invalidate polling that exclude them, but nothing in the data has indicated that the time has arrived. In fact, a Pew study in 2010 found very little differences between their cell phone and non-cell phone samples. PPP, itself, nailed the 2009 and 2010 recall elections in Wisconsin at a time when other pollsters were too afraid to touch the volatile mid-year special elections. There's a reason I chose to go with PPP, and it was because they're the best. And as a reality-based community, I want the best data.
Post-election, it turned out that my decision was validated, and that PPP was pretty much the best polling outfit of the cycle. It also turned out that the internet pollsters were pretty darn good, which means we have a viable alternative when cell phones finally become an issue. It was those traditional polling outfits, even those who called cell phones, that lagged far behind.