Friday, November 9, 2012

The 2012 Presidential Campaign: Why It Was Inevitable

I’m not a political scholar. I don’t have a PhD in anything, or even a Master’s. I’m just a guy who, like many others, was able to see the obvious.

I would have thought Skeptical Eye was a place where others would be confident in the inevitable, but I forgot how biased most SE readers are. I don’t blame them for having a horse in the race (or rather, for really hating one of the horses in the race). In an effort to give you a peek into my way of seeing the election, I decided to point out a few factors that anyone could have noticed from the beginning.

Oh where to begin… so many clear signs…

I think the most obvious problem was that Romney was unelectable from day one. I’m not talking about in 2011 when he threw his hat in for 2012, I mean in 2008. Sure, Romney was the heir apparent, finishing a clear second behind McCain, and he had a well oiled campaign machine running since then, but he’s just not the kind of candidate Republicans were going to be excited about.

That’s how I knew Romney would be the nominee. He simply had the campaign experience, the proven national support to build off of, and (most importantly) the money.

Another clear indicator that Romney would lose to Obama for those late to the game should have been Romney’s poor performance in the primaries. There was no excuse for Romney’s mediocre showing in some of them, and his inability to deal with an assertive Newt Gingrich all but gave Obama the roadmap he needed to win the last two debates after he had to change course following the dismal performance in the first.

But before all of that, you had to look at the polls from the last few years. It was largely from polls that one could see that Obama would be re-elected.

“But Bret, he was doing poorly in the polls!”

Was he? Was he really? Because I read the polls… the actual polls, not news stories poorly reporting on the polls. There were two problems with the way polls were presented, and it could be seen quite clearly if you have a little empathy for how other people think when answering polls.

People were always asked if they thought Obama was doing a good job, yielding what we all understand to be the “approval rating.” What people didn’t consider, for some odd reason, is that many people who did not approve of Obama were, in fact, Obama voters. Some others were even like myself: liberals who didn’t vote for Obama.

These sort of polls provided a very skewed perspective, because they don’t ask, “Do you wish the president was more…liberal/moderate/conservative?” This is only a feeling, but I suspect most liberals who didn’t vote for Obama (like me) also didn’t vote for him this time. We also didn’t vote for Mitt Romney. Those who voted for Obama the first time probably still voted for him this time, because people who vote once tend to vote again, and the most likely thing a former voter will do is vote for their party. Even with the rise in independents, polls have shown most independents are likely to vote along party lines (in most states, the majority of independents are Republican, but there are also many less registered Republicans in many of these states).

What’s more, demographic shifts have been inconsistent with polling methods. Many polls are still conducted by landline during the day, when the average person is working. And what’s more, many people use only cell phones (especially the young). Add to this the fact that many pollsters oversample Republicans in an effort to make it fair (they often go for an even number in their results, even though they do not constitute equal populations in the country).

Ironically, while Republicans have whined and cried about liberal bias in the media for decades now, most bias has been in favor of Republicans, in the silly attempt to give them equal consideration.

But I digress…

It would have taken an unusually horrible scandal involving Obama for Romney to have had any chance. Even then, the media might have spent more time on Romney’s scandals, in an effort to grant equal time, rather than glossing over them like they did. Obama would have had to have been caught in bed with Justin Bieber if Romney was ever going to have a shot.

“But Bret, there were scandals!”

Seriously, stop interrupting me. The thing is, literally every problem with Obama was just plain policy for Mitt Romney. If you took everything I don’t like about Obama, distilled and condensed it, then decaffeinated it, the result would be Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is like 25 pounds of Obama bullshit in a five pound bag.

Ultimately, America went for the guy who offered them table scraps over the guy who was going to stick his hand down our throats and pull out what we already ate. In fact, I keep hearing from conservatives that Obama only got re-elected because people want stuff for free…

When can I expect my free stuff?


  1. Dammit, now we have to take your political prognostications seriously.

    1. I have another prediction: the world isn't going to end and we are going to have to actually solve our problems, pay our debts, and either adapt or continue to compound the problems. It won't be anarchists, libertarians, or any other "It's best if we do nothing" voices that will save us, either.

  2. As you can see, I've temporarily changed my last name to Alan so some of the magic will rub off on me.

  3. On the inevitability, first, yes, incumbents always have the edge. It's their race to lose. Incumbent presidents are occasionally defeated, however, and anything remains possible in an election, right up until the end. In that sense, Obama's reelection was never inevitable.

    Reasons to suspect Obama might not win included the fact that no President since FDR has been reelected with an unemployment rate so high. The economy, in spite of the democrats spin, remain sluggish and slow growing, if any real growth is there at all.

    People even in exit polling said taxes shouldn't be raised to lower the deficit. There was hope Romney could win based on lots of factors many saw parallels to past election, Reagan beating Carter for one. Carter too could have claimed inevitability against Reagan who scared a lot of people. I don't buy your claim either.

    1. Your claim that exit polls indicate opposition to raising taxes is false: (source)

      Furthermore, you cannot take previous elections as being your basis for judging another. I based my prediction on the current state of the country, it's popular opinions, the opinions within the parties... it had nothing to do with imagining reasons to justify a particular hopeful outcome (which is what conservatives have been doing for the past year, to no avail).

  4. With you Democrats its always about how much free stuff, like Bill Oreily said thats what Obama the socialist promised you. Now you want even more my tax dollars? Why doesn't that surprise me. im sick of the likes of you liberals! This country is done for thanks to people like you who want all the goodies and don't pay for it. To many taking and not giving so those working like me have to pay through our nose!!! More and more living on the doll and taking from the hard workers. Like the bumper stick says, I have to work harder to support all those living on welfare.

    1. Then give up and go on welfare if you think it's so great not working.

  5. It's not Romney or economy. It's all about race and demography.

    1. It's not ALL about that, but it is a factor... and Republicans made it about race and demographics (like gender).


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