Mitt Romney’s misguided belief that he was going to completely devastate President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election may have been the result of a one-two punch of flawed internal polling and a skewed interpretation of those polls, a new report suggests.
According to The New Republic, Romney’s polls showed him not only pushing ahead in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia in the days before the election, but also in New Hampshire and Colorado.
The numbers had Romney so confident he would be marching into the Oval Office in January that he even passed on writing a concession speech.
“The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark,’’ reports The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber, who obtained some of the internal polls that were conducted by the campaign’s chief pollster Neil Newhouse.
“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.’’
Those and other numbers didn’t pan out.
Newhouse and his colleagues said their largest flaw was a failure to predict the demographic composition of the electorate, particularly the Latino vote in Colorado and Florida.
And Romney’s polls convinced him he had at least 267 out of the 270 electoral votes needed to win, and four states — Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Nevada — would determine the outcome.
Other internal poll numbers showed Romney’s numbers stalling during Hurricane Sandy, then recovering, but, “in retrospect, of course, there wasn’t any momentum to speak of,’’ Scheiber writes.
He says one theory for why the polls were so off is that in the final days before the election, “only the most loyal partisans were picking up their phones when pollsters called—everyone else seemed to have had enough.’’
In a piece for Yahoo! News, Scott Bomboy, editor-in-chief of the Constitution Daily newsletter, pointed to an analysis published by Slate earlier this month that is similar to The New Republic analysis.
It concludes Team Romney over-counted Republicans in their polling as well as underestimating voter turnout for the president — and wouldn’t accept any opinions to the contrary.
“When anyone raised the idea that public polls were showing a close race, the campaign’s pollster said the poll modeling was flawed and everyone moved on,’’ Slate’s John Dickerson wrote.
“Internally, the campaign’s own polling—tweaked to represent their view of the electorate, with fewer Democrats—showed a steady uptick for Romney since the first debate. Even on the morning of the election, Romney’s senior advisers weren’t close to hedging. They said he was going to win ‘decisively.’”
Bomboy said: “Obama’s resounding win is starting to take on more of a resemblance to Harry Truman’s “upset” in 1948, with Romney playing the role of Thomas Dewey.’’
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