Mitt Romney famously did not write a concession speech on Election Night. There seemed little point, so supremely confident was he that he'd emerge the victor — based on late-in-the-game internal polling. Then came the actual results which, by all accounts, were a complete surprise to his campaign, even though they matched up with an aggregate of public polls. Team Romney had badly miscalculated the electorate's composition, and underestimated President Obama's ability to turn out his supporters. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber got his hands on some of the campaign's deeply flawed final in-house polling, which showed Romney with leads in key swing states:
The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4. "I'm not sure what the answer is," [chief pollster Neil] Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. "The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado — a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states — and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign."
Newhouse also had Romney and Obama tied in Iowa, which Obama went on to win by nearly six points. Furthermore, the Romney campaign reportedly thought it would win Virginia and Florida, two states for which the internal polls remain unknown. Finally, Newhouse says he thought the campaign was within two points of Obama in Ohio, and "generally believed it had momentum in the final few days of the race," says Scheiber. Put together, the campaign thought it had the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.
Needless to say, none of this was true, especially in Ohio. "Two points is a pretty deep hole to climb out of in such a short time period," says Maggie Burns at Politico, which means that, in addition to flawed polling, the Romney campaign may have been indulging in some magical thinking.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
Subscribe to the Week