Clip after clip, quote after quote, it appears that the Republican Party and all its cohorts really, truly believed that Romney was going to win this thing, and maybe win big. The visual, verbal and written expressions of disbelief from Romney, Ryan, Rove, Limbaugh, etc., are just overwhelming. But is it real? Were they "shocked", or to quote my favorite movie, were they "shocked, shocked!" that most voters chose Obama? More below.
I studied the polls very closely in late October and early November, the same public polls everyone looked at, and when I could find the data behind the polls I would look not just at who was leading, but where voter enthusiasm was falling. It struck me that voter enthusiasm was incredibly high across the board, across all demographics. 80% of people polled generally said this election was important to them, that this election would impact them, and that they were likely to vote. Nothing in the polls indicated that Romney supporters were more enthusiastic than Obama supporters. And in almost all the polls, registered voters were picking Obama by between 2% and 4%. The polls differed with the so-called likely voters, that's where the pollsters hedged their predictions. But even there the honest polls only hedged down to small Obama win or dead heat. The reasonable pollsters were not predicting a Romney win.
So I have to ask myself, with voter enthusiasm equally high on both sides, why would anyone expect anything different from what the registered voter polls were showing - an Obama win by 2% to 4%? How could a rational, intelligent person believe otherwise?
I've always assumed that the folks on the right, while devious, deceptive, immoral and unethical, were a pretty intelligent bunch. Leading up to election day, I assumed all the right wing predictions of victory were just message manipulation; they knew the truth but were hiding it. Even right after the election I believed that they were "shocked, shocked" to learn what they already knew. And it would make sense for them to pretend to be shocked. They were ginning up their side so hard and pretending for so long that they couldn't come out and admit right after the election that they secretly knew all along that Romney was going to lose. The faux shock seemed to me to be an effort at saving fact with all the supporters they lied to.
But now I'm not so sure. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I've been giving the right wing more credit than they deserve. Their disbelief in the results seems so genuine. They have expressed incredulity to such a level that they have managed to look like total idiots to the entire country, including their supporters. If this was an act, it was an act taken way too far.
I'm still on the bubble on this, but if in fact, they believed their own bullshit, then I am even more frightened about the right wing than I ever was before. It is one thing for your opponent to be a devious calculated liar because you could expect that enemy to change tactics when it is clear that the old tactics aren't working. But if your enemy is this delusional, then what they will do is stick to the old tactics, just harder, angrier, meaner. If that's the case, then two years from now and four years from now, the lies and slime and wretched demagoguery we can expect to see will make us yearn for the gentler campaign of Mitt Romney. Imagine that.