I've had a chance to review the polling numbers from Election 2012, and, as expected, the reason so many polls were off related to the likely voter screens. The Republican-leaning pollsters, and this includes Gallup, made the error of assuming that 2012 would look more like 2010 than 2008. They did this because of several reasons: they refused to give credence to demographic changes, they made faulty turnout assumptions, including that they did not believe for a New York second that the vaunted OFA GOTV effort could work twice, and they honestly believed that when people said the economy was the most important issue that folks had forgotten Bush broke it, Obama worked at fixing it. (WRONG!) The five closest pollsters were Public Policy Polling (PPP), Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP, YouGov, Ipsos/Reuters, and Purple Strategies. Of note, YouGov and Ipsos/Reuters were online polls, which until this round, no one took seriously, BECAUSE they were online polls. The biggest losers? House of Ras, Gallup, NPR, National Journal and AP/GfK.
The Romney campaign actually believed the "unskewed" numbers. Mitt didn't write a concession speech until Tuesday night, although his acceptance speech was good to go. As was the fireworks display over the Boston Harbour. People who were there say that he was visibly shaken, as was Paul, and that both Ann and Jenna were crying. In one of his last acts of candidacy, Mitt canceled all the staff credit cards, so when the campaign hoi polloi got home in their taxis, the credit cards no longer worked. They really thought they were going to win, right up to the Ohio numbers. They believed polling numbers that were SO far off that, for example, in 13 of Philadelphia's wards, Obama won at least 99% of the vote. Really. Remember when Mittens went to the NAACP and was booed? He thought that would help with the white vote, and didn't care what it did to the black vote. Have I mentioned hubris?
Not quite as bad as Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who refused telephone calls when Obama reached out to them late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. The response? "They're sleeping." Really? No political type was sleeping Tuesday night, and even so, don't all Americans wake up when their president calls? The disrespect and the hubris continue unabated. Mitch has even said that the election proved people had rejected the president's agenda. Really Mitch? You guys have lost 5 of the last 6 popular votes, and haven't won as many Electoral College votes since Papa Bush in 1988.
And then there was the hubris of money. Click here for a full list of whose money won, and whose lost. Biggest loser? You'd think it would be Karl Rove, but by percentage it was the NRA. To wit:
The National Rifle Association of America Political Victory Fund spent $11,787,523 in 2012, only 0.81 percent of which delivered the group’s preferred electoral outcome.
[P]ercentage-wise, the most successful outside spending group was the Obama-supporting group Priorities USA Action — 100 percent of the group’s $66,482,084 spent achieved the intended outcome: the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Go figure. But check the list. It will make you feel good about where YOUR money went...
Let's get back for a moment to that "vaunted ground game." It was a long game, and it was a smart one. Calls and canvassers didn't start after the primaries, they started in 2011. It worked for several reasons. First, the people doing outreach, whether on the phone or at the door, believed in who and what they were vouching for: people spoke with passion about why they supported President Obama, the Democratic agenda, and the down-ballot candidate. Not some negative ad, someone saying I believe this, and this is why. Second, people were microtargeted. This meant that not one second was wasted on a house like mine after the initial call last winter. And there was single-issue help: from labor, from special interest groups: I'm talking here about people like Planned Parenthood, not the Koch brothers...think about that difference.
There is a lot to do going forward: the fiscal cliff, the close-to-complete overhaul of the staff and cabinet (learn the name Jack Lew), climate change, and continuing to fix everything the Obama administration has worked on for the past four years. For now, though, there is just "getting back to normal" for all of us who truly worked our hearts out. I send out a huge THANK YOU for every person who worked voter registration, knocked doors, called people, scrubbed lists and entered data, brought cases of water and snacks to staging areas, coordinated with the local groups, interacted with the down-ballot candidates' staffs, and above all, past any barriers, voted!