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The candidate that "cares about people like me."
December 23, 2012 10:30 PM   Subscribe


 
"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

Riiiiiiiiiight. He wasn't a spoiled rich kid who frankly reeked of entitlement towards a job of lording over "you people."

Sorry Tagg or Whitt or Rand or whatever WASP-y asshole is being quoted here, but you guys blew it.

Also, speaking of Mitt Romney's prodigy, it's funny how none of them could be bothered to serve in the Iraq war that their own political party schemed up.
posted by bardic at 10:40 PM on December 23, 2012 [42 favorites]


I'm amused that his first two choices for chief strategist were screen writers, meaning experts in writing fiction targeted at the lowest common denominator. Is that normal?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:40 PM on December 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was really hoping that this article would be an in-depth comparison of the two campaigns and an investigation in to the reasons why Romney's lost.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 10:42 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney

buh

“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

By "one-to-one contact" I assume he means "contact", as in, my god, they were using all those staff to encourage people to vote for their candidate instead of the other candidate

He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside."

What was wrong with Tim Pawlenty, was he secretly a werewolf or something
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:44 PM on December 23, 2012 [40 favorites]


Their teabagger contacts were just phoning in the hate.
posted by Artw at 10:45 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amused that his first two choices for chief strategist were screen writers, meaning experts in writing fiction targeted at the lowest common denominator.

"And in Act III, it turns out the tax cuts lead to economic growth which actually raises revenue, and Rafalca wins the Derby"
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:50 PM on December 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Election Day polls showed that the vast majority of voters concluded that Romney did not really care about average people.

I'm shocked.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 10:54 PM on December 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Each Obama worker would be ­responsible for about 50 voters in key precincts over the course of the campaign. By Election Day, that worker would know much about the lives of those 50 voters

Okay, that's a bit creepy.

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse calculated that 209,000 more African-Americans voted this year than in 2008 in Ohio

That's astonishing really. I really can not think of an explanation that fits.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:55 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The idea that the Romney campaign had no idea what the Obama campaign was up to is just mind-blowing, considering Obama did the same thing in 2008. There was a lot of coverage of Obama's tactics in the mainstream press, for heaven's sake, so a lot of highly paid people just gave Romney bad advice and didn't do their jobs. It's a great teachable moment for any MBA student studying organizational behavior. The interesting thing is there is no continuity between presidential campaigns, so the next Republican campaign may never learn the lessons of Romney '12.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:57 PM on December 23, 2012 [37 favorites]


American voters got a wiff of the Koch Bros before and after he left the room, and weren't buying what they were selling?
posted by specialk420 at 10:58 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the gravest errors, many say, was the Romney team’s failure, until too late in the campaign, to sell voters on the candidate’s personal qualities and leadership gifts. The effect was to open the way for Obama to define Romney through an early blitz of negative advertising. Election Day polls showed that the vast majority of voters concluded that Romney did not really care about average people.

This says to me that they are still clueless. Romney handed Obama all the negative advertising needed, over and over. All Obama needed to do was show what Romney said, with minimal "negative" spin. For all the concern over negative campaigning, 2012 never struck me as any more negative than usual, and notably less than some I can recall. And the Obama campaign surprisingly restrained in that regard.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:00 PM on December 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


CTRL+F- SAD ROBOT
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 PM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Ohio was the greatest surprise of all. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse calculated that 209,000 more African-Americans voted this year than in 2008 in Ohio, while 329,000 fewer whites had voted.

Can someone who isn't Romney's terrible pollster confirm these figures?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:06 PM on December 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm amused that his first two choices for chief strategist were screen writers, meaning experts in writing fiction targeted at the lowest common denominator. Is that normal?

A bit harsh to screenwriters, no?
posted by brundlefly at 11:13 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's delicious is that Romney was throwing money at consultants who did what consultants are best at -- lining their own pockets and not giving two shits about the product/brand/company/deeply weird out-of-touch rich guy they were supposed to be promoting.

Capitalism! It works!
posted by bardic at 11:13 PM on December 23, 2012 [56 favorites]


Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney

Well, that's Job Creation in action.
posted by Mezentian at 11:16 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


A perceived-as-weak incumbent+
(A tough primary)x
Comically incompetent contenders +
Ideological opposition to any information which doesn't say what you want it to say.

=

Modern GOP. Also the Romney 2012 Campaign. This is pretty simple, really.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:17 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"The effect was to open the way for Obama to define Romney through an early blitz of negative advertising. Election Day polls showed that the vast majority of voters concluded that Romney did not really care about average people."

I don't think it was Obama's negative advertising, so much as it was Romney himself getting sneery about 47% of America and saying he likes to fire people. The man was his own attack ad.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:17 PM on December 23, 2012 [30 favorites]


Definitions:

presumptuous
[pri-zuhmp-choo-uh s]
adjective
1. full of, characterized by, or showing presumption or readiness to presume in conduct or thought.
2. unwarrantedly or impertinently bold; forward.
3. Mitt Romney


arrogant  
[ar-uh-guh nt]
adjective
1. making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud: an arrogant public official.
2. Mitt Romney


entitle (self entitled)
[en-tahyt-l]
verb (used with object), en·ti·tled, en·ti·tling.
1. to give (a person or thing) a title, right, or claim to something; furnish with grounds for laying claim
2. Mitt Romney


knucklehead  
[nuhk-uh l-hed]
noun, Informal.
1. a stupid, bumbling, inept person.
2. Mitt Romney

posted by lampshade at 11:22 PM on December 23, 2012 [19 favorites]




Also, speaking of Mitt Romney's prodigy

I can assure you that Mitt Romney had no prodigy.
posted by srboisvert at 11:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Didn't Nate Silver do some work that showed Obama's ground team was not a real factor in his election and that it was straight up demographics? I believe he argued that if the GOTV team had an affect it would have shown up as a difference between the states he focused on versus the ones he did not and that the difference just wasn't there.
posted by srboisvert at 11:28 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Was Kranish the best man to pen this piece? Clearly he's pretty tight with Mitt ... and his supporters?
posted by specialk420 at 11:33 PM on December 23, 2012


This is bullshit. It was well established that in 2008 Obama beat Hilary in large part by mapping out explicitly how to win every vote. They had a plan and they went door to door to accomplish it.

Anyone going up against them 4 years later who didn't learn from that is either stupid or lying
posted by slapshot57 at 11:35 PM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


David Gergen on the Romney Campaign in Ohio:

"In the pivotal state of Ohio, for example, the Obama campaign has three times as many offices, often captained by experienced young people. By contrast, a major Republican figure in the state, throwing up his hands, told me that the Romney field team looked like a high school civics class. "
posted by specialk420 at 11:36 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't Nate Silver do some work that showed Obama's ground team was not a real factor in his election and that it was straight up demographics?

I could also believe that the Romney team lost because they had nothing appealling to sell anybody, whatsoever.
posted by Artw at 11:38 PM on December 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Where is "Didn't want that (thing) anyway" on the stages of grief?

But it is a delightful metaphor that the businessman and icon of modern American capitalism ran his campaign like a business--not hiring enough people, outsourcing everything under the sun, consultants galore--and lost. Sadly, if my experience in modern American business is any guide, nothing at all will be learned.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:40 PM on December 23, 2012 [115 favorites]


It really does make me scratch my head.

Tell me - would a rational person try to convince America to vote Republican next time by telling us that their candidate didn't even want the job?

A terrible fault I try hard to avoid is to characterize people in opposition to you as stupid. Even if your opponent has some stupid ideas, it's often the case that they're pretty competent in their actual operation.

But it's really hard not to see these people as total buffoons. And worse, they are the ones providing us with the information to make this evaluation.

Baffling!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:48 PM on December 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm amused that his first two choices for chief strategist were screen writers, meaning experts in writing fiction targeted at the lowest common denominator. Is that normal?
posted by jeffburdges at 10:40 PM on December 23 [+] [!]


I think that successful political strategists typically have to tell stories with the lowest common denominator in mind much more than Hollywood screenwriters need to

Stuart Stevens (IMDB)wrote a couple of episodes of the Alaskan sitcom Northern Exposure but is actually more notable for his work as a producer of shortlived female-version-of-The-West Wing political TV drama Commander in Chief and even more shortlived experimental TV political drama K Street. Command in Chief was a mass market product but Northern Exposure was niche/"mid-to-high brow" and K Street was decidedly "high brow".

Mike Murphy is a veteran leading political strategist who seems to have dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a writer or producer but has gotten nowhere ( no IMDB page I can find)
posted by Bwithh at 11:51 PM on December 23, 2012


I never tire of the Romney campaign post-mittens (YAY AUTOCORRECT!) I mean, post-mortems. it's like there was a party and now there's two months' worth of leftover dessert.
posted by univac at 11:54 PM on December 23, 2012 [28 favorites]


Ohio was the greatest surprise of all. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse calculated that 209,000 more African-Americans voted this year than in 2008 in Ohio, while 329,000 fewer whites had voted.

Can someone who isn't Romney's terrible pollster confirm these figures?


Based off the 2008 and 2012 Ohio exit polls:
2008: 11% black of 5,721,815 voters = 629,399 black voters.
2012: 15% black of 5,580,822 voters = 837,123 black voters.
Difference of about 207,000.

Yes, that surge was real, and defied even many Democratic expectations. The ceiling for black turnout was definitely not hit in 2008.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:58 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oddly enough, when you try to suppress people's votes with phony ID checks, long lines, cutting back polling places in their neighborhoods, &c, they sometimes get mad and are MORE motivated to vote against you.

Not to mention various Republican attacks on Obama as Kenyan, foreign, not a real American, Muslim, welfare-focused, and following a crazy Black preacher. Something tells me these actions may have bothered African American voters a bit more than average.
posted by msalt at 12:08 AM on December 24, 2012 [79 favorites]


Inevitably, much of the blame has been directed at ­Stevens, and he hasn’t ducked it. “If there’s blame to be thrown, throw it my way,” he said. But he said it should be noted that Obama had no primary opponents, giving him an enormous advantage.

How does that count as not ducking the blame? Obama was the incumbent, of course he didn't have any primary challengers. Sure it's an advantage, but if it were insurmountable, nobody would ever beat an incumbent.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:09 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think there were two major factors in the difference between 2008 and 2012 in Ohio. One is that Ohio was not one of the better organized Obama states in 2008 and it was clearly the top organizational target in 2012. The second is that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's blatant efforts to suppress the minority vote in Ohio made a lot of folks in the civil rights and activist spheres very angry. The idea that the Republicans were trying to thwart African-American turnout got a ton of play in social media and email messaging and was a powerful inducement to get out the vote.
posted by Lame_username at 12:11 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


But he said it should be noted that Obama had no primary opponents, giving him an enormous advantage.

It's totally ducking of blame. Especially when you remember the claims that it was Obama's tough primary fight with Clinton that gave him the advantage over McCain.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:12 AM on December 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


Actually, on further reflection, the baffling part to me is given that one side had a candidate who is a charismatic, well-spoken individual able to project warmth and sincerity and a very competent and well-organized team, and the other side had a personally unlikeable candidate with no clear branding strategy and a team whose bumbling recalls the Keystone Kops, that the vote was as close as it was.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:19 AM on December 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

He didn't want those stupid grapes anyway. They were probably sour.
posted by Malor at 12:29 AM on December 24, 2012 [44 favorites]


“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,”

Win win then.
posted by the noob at 12:35 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

I kind of believe this. He looked positively relieved after his concession speech.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:37 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


the baffling part to me is... that the vote was as close as it was.

You monumentally underestimate white-American-male racism, then.
posted by tzikeh at 12:42 AM on December 24, 2012 [13 favorites]




So, he just spent 10 years of his life doing something he didn't really want to do, chasing after a dream he didn't really want?

Seriously?

The whole article is garbage.

It really is not that hard to see how it all went wrong fer chrstsakes.

1 - Romney is a slow learner, and didn't realize how much General Election campaigns are different than Primary campaigns until late in the game - just about all of Sept was wasted because of this. It literally (yes literally) took Obama having a very tiring/bad day to make the campaign competitive for a week or two... that is to say nothing that Romney did made a difference, the campaign was won or lost by Obama's actions.

2 - The people that he surrounded himself with where generally poor organizers. Everything from the VP pick, the Convention to ORCA was really half-assed.

3 - No matter what you think of the two, policy wise, Obama is easily 2x a better speaker and more relate-able than Romney, for a number of reasons.

3a - Michelle is very very popular

4 - Romney's team, just kinda sucked at math and their shotgun approach reflected this.

5 - Obama's team worked a hell of a lot harder than Romeny's, and had much better leadership.

6 - There was just a touch of delusional beliefs in the Romney camp and followers, as evidenced by election day antics.

There are other nuances of course, but I honestly think these are the key points.
posted by edgeways at 1:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


The thing I keep coming back to is that people had maps that were nearly identical to the final map in March. Nothing that happened in the last six months of the campaigns moved the needle.
posted by Mad_Carew at 1:08 AM on December 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


I think that most of the GOP power structure figured that Obama would
be impossible to beat or so hard to beat that it was too much of a risk.
VP candidates did not want to risk losing their reputation and political capital
in the event. ( no one wanted to be Romney’s VP)
The idiocy of the tea party and the media playing it up, help keep the more rational Republican
candidates at a stand by....a watch and see mode.
posted by quazichimp at 1:54 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing I keep coming back to is that people had maps that were nearly identical to the final map in March. Nothing that happened in the last six months of the campaigns moved the needle.

The thing I keep coming back to was the GOP's final ditch effort to make fun of Nate Silver when he was a fucking genius prognosticator.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Mitt Romney's campaign relied on rich and super-rich donors to a much greater extant than Obama's; and Romney's donors were more committed to unwinnable policies. Romney's platform had to be not-wholly-inconsistent with his record as Governor; seduce the shaved apes and Yahoos of the Republican primaries; and sound like a good deal for the people who were bankrolling his campaign. Oh yes - and they had to be policies which would appeal to the US public generally. These are four inconsistent conditions and there is no way Romney could have satisfied all of them at once.

If I were a Republican strategist aiming at 2016 I would be trying to get this train wreck back on the rails right now. I would pick out a candidate who is inspiring but without a strong track record - like a certain Senator from Illinois - and start shopping them around, give them ample opportunities to stick their foot in their mouth, find out what potential problems lie ahead. I would try to build a united front with other senior Republicans who actually care about winning elections and get them to sign on to a united front against the Tea Party and the other nutcases infesting the Republican Party.

I would quietly explain my strategy to major donors: you can't do anything unless you win the election, so it's vitally important not to compromise the candidate before the actual campaign. I would keep my candidate prepared and ready while the usual twitches and losers make their run and fail - my candidate would be present, pleasant, and alert, but present a relatively low profile. And then I would do my very best to see that he or she wins in the Primaries - which would probably be pretty easy, if the groundwork has been laid and my candidate hasn't developed any major enemies.

And then there will be an election and my tried and tested candidate will avoid the traps that he or she learned about in the years leading up to the campaign; and he or she will present an inspiring platform that says very little and is not inconsistent with the candidate's record; and their little speech will have a cute and catchy soundbite. And if all goes well, my candidate will be elected and I will get a nice office and a job as an advisor, or perhaps ambassador to Paris or something.

Anyway, that's my strategy, and I will bet you dollars to donuts that it's better than the one the Republicans used last election.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:22 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT: none of what’s happening in the headlines right now means anything at all. The Republicans will ultimately nominate Mitt Romney because that’s who the money guys who control the party have chosen as their nominee. All the batshit "social issues" now being anxiously nattered about in the media--meaning conservatives’ hatred and fear of women and sex, which is indeed infuriating, and is the whole reason I drew this cartoon (it's all about panel 2)-- will go back to being non-issues again as soon as Rick Santorum disappears back into whatever squeaky-clean hole he came out of and the dingbat fringe he represents turns their energies back to homeschooling their kids about the Antichrist. Romney will lose to Obama because nobody likes him. Obama, victorious, will continue to be a lameass Wall Street tool just like Romney. In other words we have another eight months of shrill media noise ahead of us--sound bytes, debates, attack ads, gaffes, scandals, setbacks and bounces and endless bloviating analysis—and it all might just as well not happen. My advice to you would be to pay attention to something that matters instead. Pick something: the struggle to establish democracies in the Middle East, the fate of the Euro, the efforts of Occupy Wall Street, the hunt for the Higgs Boson. Anything but this moronic reality show.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 AM on December 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is about the 10th thing I've read since the election saying 'of course Obama was always going to win', whereas at the time almost everyone said it was too close to call. I think the Democrats are in real danger of becoming totally complacent like they were after 2008.

Lots of people still voted Republican, they still have a majority in the House of Representatives. Don't get complacent!
posted by DanCall at 2:40 AM on December 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


I agree with DanCall. I've really been enjoying this sumptuous feast of schadenfreude (see my last post) but I, too, worry that the left is in danger of resting on its laurels. That Tea Party has been awfully quiet, lately...
posted by Lieber Frau at 3:13 AM on December 24, 2012


The real reason Romney lost is that they did not so much eat their own dogfood, as their own dogshit. Romney was the least insane of all of the GOP candidates, had to content with not so much a lunatic fringe as a lunatic centre in his party and didn't have the skills or the power to get the loons under control.

Say what you like about Bush jr., but the reason he could steal his elections was that from a distance he didn't look like a rightwing loon and his machine could actually keep the real wingnuts under control. Romney never could.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:16 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Tea Party is not a real thing, guys. Seriously, are you not aware of how quickly it was absorbed by the ultra-rich boners.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 3:17 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, that's my strategy, and I will bet you dollars to donuts that it's better than the one the Republicans used last election.

No fair! You're just stealing the tag line of my "get really drunk every day and pocket lots of donor money as salary" election strategy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:30 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, are you not aware of how quickly it was absorbed by the ultra-rich boners.

The Tea Party started as a real thing, and it had some very strong points about the insane debt we're running up. But it was hijacked by corporate interests. They were an independent entity for, I dunno, maybe 60 days? 90 at the outside, before those entities co-opted them.

The original Tea Partiers and Occupy have a very great deal in common; they're approaching very similar goals from both sides of the aisle, stopping the corruption in the financial sector and making sure later generations will have the same chances we did. They could have easily worked together. But, at this point, neither has much of anything in common with the actual Tea Party leadership.
posted by Malor at 3:35 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


In all fairness Blazecock Pileon, you had me right until I got to this:
All the batshit "social issues" now being anxiously nattered about in the media--meaning conservatives’ hatred and fear of women and sex, which is indeed infuriating, and is the whole reason I drew this cartoon (it's all about panel 2)-- will go back to being non-issues again as soon as Rick Santorum disappears back into whatever squeaky-clean hole he came out of....
It turns out that batshit "social issues" kept rearing their ugly heads, and Romney alienating women, right up until he went into hiding after the final debate despite Rick Santorum only occasionally venturing out of Barad-dûr after the primaries.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:48 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


A perceived-as-weak incumbent+
(A tough primary)x
Comically incompetent contenders +
Ideological opposition to any information which doesn't say what you want it to say.
=
Modern GOP. Also the Romney 2012 Campaign.


Wait, you forgot to divide by racism!

Come now, folks. This was the most overtly racist GOP campaign and electorate since Nixon. All the way through. Because they could not resist the low hanging fruit of a black president and an old white southern base. The entire election centered almost entirely on race.

And the black guy won again. That's why they are beside themselves. It was their last shot at playing their most reliable offense. As an offensive strategy, it was sure offensive, but it was anything but effective,

Romney lost because Obama is a fucking ninja. The had the wrong n word in their play book.
posted by spitbull at 3:49 AM on December 24, 2012 [39 favorites]


What, they don't learn about "sour grapes" in Mormon-land?
posted by telstar at 3:50 AM on December 24, 2012


ArtW: I could also believe that the Romney team lost because they had nothing appealling to sell anybody, whatsoever.

That's exactly why I strongly dislike articles like this. While reveling in all that inside baseball of the campaign, this article forgets about the candidate. It's all Romney could have won, if only he had shared his softer side and highlighted the stories of those 12 people he helped, or if only he had been as organized as Obama and had fancy apps that run on computers. That Romney belongs to a political party whose platform is almost entirely opposed to the interests of 99% of Americans never enters into the discussion, nor does the fact that Romney made a ton of money carving up companies and laying off employees. The 47% comment makes an appearance, but the article treats this very dryly as merely something Romney had to overcome about his image, and not anything fundamentally damning about his character and his ability to actually be president.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:55 AM on December 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


Okay this is totally the most random coincidence ever, but does anyone else remember this article and FPP about a guy who takes human growth hormone and steroids posted by mathowie in 2003, and then again in 2006.

I totally remembered that article and the fact that the author, the guy who tested various performance enhancing drugs was Stuart Stevens, the same Stuart Stevens who ran Romney's campaign into the ground just completely blew my mind, especially finding out about it after the election in articles like this. Not sure if it was this one or if it was another one of these articles in the past couple days.

Just such a totally random coincidence.

-----
Anyway, Romney's general election campaign was just amazingly bad. It's kind of funny how bad it was, given how confident they were. Like an object lesson in Dunning-Kruger.

Here's my theory is, in the business world, in "MBA land" the perception of success and at the very least competence is actually really important if you want to succeed. Most people don't have the time, to figure out if what you're selling is really true, they go based on their impressions.

And of course, Mitt Romney's success comes from his ability to sell things to wallstreet types and rich investors. So his fundraising was great and he had all these wallstreet tycoons and CEOs convinced he would totally win. And, frankly I think a lot of those people aren't super-smart. Just look at the Thomas Friedman/Malcolm Gladwell/Chris Anderson "thinking" that is peddled in public. It's the cheap feeling of being smart, rather then the attainment of real scientific knowledge (which actually takes a lot of effort)

In reality, they had no idea what they were doing. Most of his consultants were raking in massive cash instead of focusing on winning. And Romney's success in convincing CEOs and rich investors to give him money didn't give him any skill at all in convincing the average person at all.

I'm glad he lost, obviously. But to be fair I almost feel kind of pissed off on behalf of republicans who supported him. Now he's saying he didn't really want to be president? WTF then why did you run and then lose?

When you run for president, dude, it's not about you. It's about all your supporters. They invested their (misguided, from my perspective) hopes into you and you let them down. And now what you day? you didn't really want it in the first place. Telling all those people you didn't really give a shit in the first place?

No obviously Romney did better then I think Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry or any of the other clowns in the republican primary did. And at the end of the day I personally didn't want the republicans back in the whitehouse. So I'm happy he lost.

But man, can this guy ever not be a giant asshole?
posted by delmoi at 3:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [47 favorites]


That's exactly why I strongly dislike articles like this. While reveling in all that inside baseball of the campaign, this article forgets about the candidate. It's all Romney could have won, if only he had shared his softer side and highlighted the stories of those 12 people he helped, or if only he had been as organized as Obama and had fancy apps that run on computers. That Romney belongs to a political party whose platform is almost entirely opposed to the interests of 99%
Well, here's the thing though - I think it is true that Romney could have won. Had his ground game been better, he might have made up a point or two in some states. It would have made the election a little closer.

But I think ultimately it comes down to Romney's personal ideology not the party platform. As we saw at the democratic convention, the president can get whatever he wants on the platform even if the people on the floor don't want it (adding "god" and saying Jerusalem belongs to Israel, or whatever it was)

I mean, I can only assume Romney personally believes this stuff. He's spent most of his life getting rich and hanging out with other super-millionares and billionares.

But I think if Romney had gone economically populist he could have beaten Obama. (and presuming no '47%' tapes where he tells rich donors that it's all bullshit) He would have had more trouble raising funds, but he might have actually gotten more votes.

Instead of arguing for a repeal of Obamacare, he could have run on by presenting Romneycare as a better version. Instead of "corporations are people" and talking about how horrible financial regulation is, he could have said we needed more and demonized wallstreet.

he seemed not to understand the stuff he said in the primary was going to be repeated in the general. He should have been willing to take a risk on losing the primary in order to win the general.

Ultimately, I think he was done in by his own belief that he could con anyone into thinking anything. He also seemed to buy the whole fox-news BS and really believed the country would be right-leaning. Certainly his campaign as a whole systematically made that error.

Ultimately i do think his campaign really is an example the Dunning-Kruger effect, of someone who didn't know what they were doing and were too stupid to realize it. And additionally, it's hard to ever really know what they were thinking, because they are clearly completely full of shit. We have no idea if what they're saying now is just ass-covering of post-facto rationalizations of their failure. (I certainly don't think the whole "he never really wanted to be president" stuff is even remotely true)
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


But to be fair I almost feel kind of pissed off on behalf of republicans who supported him.

Trying not to be all chardonnay-froody, but I feel absolutely no sadness for republicans who supported him. Not only did they let him babble on like a drunk uncle for the better part of a year, they encouraged it and never said a word when he clearly was spouting lie after lie and just making crap up as he went along. They knew exactly what was going on and it was their blind arrogance, feelings of ideological superiority and flat out bigotry that allowed Romney to continue his GOP Self Styled Happy Dance for as long as he did. Even in the constant face of evidence he was clueless about being a candidate and move over, what he would do as a president other than pay off all his political debts to people who thought they could buy the presidency.

Romney was a worthless candidate who had no business even running. The only reason he got to the candidacy was not the strength of his convictions, platform or vision, but the absolute incompetence, weakness and failure of almost a dozen other clown car candidates. He wasn’t the best GOP candidate, he was just not the worst this election cycle on the GOP side. And for those conservative who did not call out his BS over the course of the campaign, well they got what they deserved – an electoral drubbing and 4 years of political egg on their face.

Politicians who run for president are often arrogant assholes. This is true for whatever political leaning. However, they also tend to not be so full of self-love that they are blind to the fact that maybe…..just maybe…..somebody out there might be better at the game than they are. Romney apparently did not have that second quality in place, at least not to a realistic degree. The result: Political Faceplant.

But man, can this guy ever not be a giant asshole?

heh heh....apparently not. And in those rare moment when he almost gets to not be assholey, he has an entire family and host of political minions to make sure any humility on his part is well concealed.
posted by lampshade at 4:21 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ah, this thread is the best Christmas present of all this year. I enjoy seeking out negative thesises in these articles, a skill I learned and honed over years of seeing all the clouds in the silver linings of my personal life:

One of the gravest errors, many say, was the Romney team’s failure, until too late in the campaign, to sell voters on the candidate’s personal qualities and leadership gifts.

Or, you could say that Romney was insufficently able to spin his destructive reign at Bain Capital around enough that people would see it as a good thing.

A number of Romney’s top aides stressed in interviews that, while they remain proud of their work, they feel an obligation to acknowledge their numerous mistakes so lessons are learned.

Or, you could say that they are worried about their personal futures as cogs in the Republican machine, and want to assure party bosses that it won't happen next time, so that there will be a next time for them.

Rich Beeson, the Romney political director who co­authored the now-discredited Ohio memo, said that only after the election did he realize what Obama was doing with so much manpower on the ground.

Or, you could say that Beeson had done insufficent research into Obama's Project Narwhal four years ago, which wasn't a great secret in any case.

Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. ¶ “Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

Or, you could say that Beeson doesn't know what "literally" means.

Romney’s inner circle of family and friends understood the candidate’s weakness all too well: He was a deeply private person, with an aversion to reveal­ing too much of himself to the public.

Or, you could say that this privacy only helped him, since one of the biggest issues the campaign had to deal with was the recording of his infamous 47% speech, which he said when around like-minded folks and thought he could let his hair down a little.

They worried that unless the candidate opened up, he would too easily be ­reduced to caricature, as a calculating man of astounding wealth, a man unable to relate to average folks, a man whose Mormon faith put him outside the mainstream.

Or, you could say that the caricature was a little too on-the-nose, that he got a lot of his wealth by calculating how to take advantage of failing companies to make a buck while pushing them into the grave, that he was a man unable to consider the needs of the workers whose jobs he destroyed, a man whose Mormon faith some people consider Scientology Lite.

I'm just halfway through the first page so far. It's a fun game, give it a try!
posted by JHarris at 4:32 AM on December 24, 2012 [39 favorites]


I'm amused that his first two choices for chief strategist were screen writers, meaning experts in writing fiction targeted at the lowest common denominator. Is that normal?

I don't know if it is, but it reminds me a lot of the premise to Wag The Dog.
posted by JHarris at 4:37 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


The idea that the Romney campaign had no idea what the Obama campaign was up to is just mind-blowing, considering Obama did the same thing in 2008. There was a lot of coverage of Obama's tactics in the mainstream press, for heaven's sake, so a lot of highly paid people just gave Romney bad advice and didn't do their jobs.

I remember reading this piece in the Economist where they talked of how the Romney campaign had this situation-room where they'd track Obama's every movement, rally, event etc, and try and think like how Team Obama would think. Many of the ground-level decisions, such as entering and withdrawing from states, apparently could be traced to that.

Unfortunately for the Romney campaign, the Obama campaign simply wasn't being reactive to events the way they were. So all their movements/ events etc were simply in line with a grand plan that they executed meticulously.

It's a great teachable moment for any MBA student studying organizational behavior. The interesting thing is there is no continuity between presidential campaigns, so the next Republican campaign may never learn the lessons of Romney '12.

Here's my attempt at an MBA-isque lesson from this all: empowerment. The Obama campaign thrived on absolutely cutting-edge ideas taken to a systemic level; so for example (to re-use a constant example), they took the concept of a/b testing and applied to everything, television commercials, flyers.. everything was testable and needed to generate data before they made decisions. Now I'm thinking, in a top-down sort of an organization that the Romney campaign apparently was (notice how the chief strategist wanted all competing voices removed before he took charge), there was absolutely no way you could have someone suggest such a violently disruptive idea and get the entire campaign, not just the web folks, implement it.

Because there was empowerment of ideas (and consequently, people), there was a _draw_; all these smart people from Accenture [*], Threadless, Google, Facebook and other places were drawn to the campaign. Once you have a premium in brains, and they're acting like a team listening to each other, there's essentially no looking back.

[*] - I was speaking with a local Accenture manager here in South East Asia on some of the more technologically interesting things that the Obama campaign did, not just the whole sabremetric-ization of things, if you will, but also about Narwhal, their internal API framework. He was initially dismissive of the notion that we could do something like that here in South East Asia, until I dropped (what was for him) the bombshell: that the lead scientist at the campaign, Rayid Ghani, was not only ex-Accenture, but also seemingly of Afghan/ Pakistani/ Iranian ethnicity (which he was as well)

He was literally gaping at me after that; I suppose everything seems impossible until someone actually does it, to coin another management mantra.
posted by the cydonian at 4:42 AM on December 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life.

No, I think it's pretty clear that a ton of other people wanted him to be president even less.

One of the very striking things about this campaign was how little of the tech vote he got, even among the entrepreneur/management ranks. It's a population that is largely meritocratic, skews libertarian, and often comes from the same privileged background. Many come from consulting, finance, top-tier schools, etc. And yet Romney completely failed to get any traction there. You can blame it on tactics, but I like to think that the GOP's long campaign of being anti-science is really starting to bite them in the ass. "More guns, lower taxes, no abortions, boo gays" has no appeal when what you need is more engineers, decent infrastructure, and health insurance you can afford.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:45 AM on December 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


Did anybody else get the sense that this whole article was really about setting up Tagg for his next steps in politics?
posted by iamkimiam at 4:55 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


The great thing about Tagg's name is it's a simple substitution cipher for "Mitt".
posted by JHarris at 4:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [13 favorites]


Anyway, that's my strategy, and I will bet you dollars to donuts that it's better than the one the Republicans used last election.

The thing is, I think the kind of unity that would be required to pull off this strategy is not within the reach of today's GOP. That could change by 2016, but for now, the Tea Party has done a lot more harm than good to the republicans as a whole. Generally speaking, the republicans are not well-poised to run a sane centrist platform. Romney was forced to run to the hard right during the primaries, going along with the rest of the crowd in making insane pledges about not raising taxes even if it would save a billion babies, or something like that. Anyone who tries to tack back to the center after a primary like that is going to have major credibility problems, and risk losing his constituency...no, they're not going to vote democrat, but turnout will be depressed.

Of course, things never stay the same, so I will be truly surprised if the GOP finds itself in the same position in 2016. Things can actually change very quickly and abruptly, so who knows what the next election will bring? Perhaps the prospect of President Hillary will allow them to put their differences aside. On the other hand, the spirit of the Tea Party isn't going quietly into the night, so if they want to have a chance next time around, the republicans are going to have to lay the groundwork for a purge, like, now.
posted by Edgewise at 4:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The great thing about Tagg's name is it's a simple substitution cipher for "Mitt".

I didn't know that was his son's name till I read this article. It made me wonder: are the Romney's trying to build a baseball team, Mormon-style?
posted by Edgewise at 4:57 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It made me wonder: are the Romney's trying to build a baseball team, Mormon-style?

Has anyone checked if they sparkle in sunlight?
posted by JHarris at 5:00 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Here's my attempt at an MBA-isque lesson from this all: empowerment. The Obama campaign thrived on absolutely cutting-edge ideas taken to a systemic level; so for example (to re-use a constant example), they took the concept of a/b testing and applied to everything, television commercials, flyers.. everything was testable and needed to generate data before they made decisions.

Interesting points! That reminds me of the Agile methodologies and TDD that are used in software engineering. I've often thought that such techniques could be applied outside development, so maybe this supports that idea.
posted by Edgewise at 5:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole article is garbage.

Of course. It's the Boston Globe, once a great newspaper, now a corporate organ, casting the Obama campaign's telling the truth about Romney as "negative advertising." Never mind that most of the "negative" stuff came directly out of Romney's mouth; if it made him look bad, it's negative.

Romney didn't spend "most of his life getting rich;" he spent ALL of his life BEING rich. He has no idea what unrich people have to deal with to get by. The guy is a privileged rich twerp. (Is that negative? Next time, I'll lie.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:36 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency.

If this is true, Tagg and his mom are assholes. I mean, Tagg--you're basically saying you ganged up on him, and he capitulated. Nobody looks good in this scenario.

Also -- Tagg-- you're kind of implying that everyone you know wants to be president....which is just weird. Add to that the idea that your dad wanted it least of all, but went ahead and took bajillions from donors... Tagg, just stop talking, please.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:40 AM on December 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


I don't want to sound mean, but most people hearing the story about helping the poor 14yo make a will are having as first thought 'a 14yo SO RICH he needs to make a will? What's he going to leave - his football and his x-box?' I think an x-box is the height of personal possessions/aspirations for, around here, and perhaps some posh trainers. So you feel, 'i'm sure Romney cares, but he's so rich that's the kind of people who he knows'? He kind of needs to have helped a bin-man. Also, from britain, it looked like 'vote Romney: get the Tea Party, who are not only extremists, but their raison d'etre is fucking up any agreement - so they will pick fights about every bill and the budget and make america extremely unstable'. I dunno how accurate this is though - they may not seem prone to wrecking everything if you really know them.
posted by maiamaia at 5:46 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


H'm, again ignoramus from overseas: it was generally understood here, that Bush won in 2004 by getting a lot of ethnic minority voters wrongly/illegally deleted from the voting register in Florida via brother Jeb, and that Obama got in due to the black activists (not, the Obama activists) fighting back hard, from famous rappers to the type who sacrifice their free time to going-off-the-rails youngsters, and long - that there was a kind of operation black vote thing, by that name and in general, because it really hurt and angered a lot of people, and a bit like that for other ethnic minorities. This played into Obama's hands nicely. Like i say, lord knows if i'm right - "Memory is an amazing acrobat, but a poor judge."
posted by maiamaia at 5:54 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


“One of my conclusions is so much of his life was kind of walled off from use. His faith is important to him, but they didn’t want to talk about that. His business was important, but they didn’t want to talk about that much. His governorship was important to him, but his signature achievement [health care] was unhelpful to them in the Republican primary. My feeling is you have to build a candidacy on the foundation of biography. That is what authenticates your message. I was always waiting for that happen.”

This is why Romney came off like a robot; his campaign had to pretend he had no background, as though he was newly sprung from the earth.

And that utter horseshit about him not wanting to run? By god he is a bigger fool than I thought. He is acting like a kid with chocolate smeared all around his mouth claiming he did not eat any candy. The evidence is the years he spent doing nothing but run for president. All that campaigning. It takes the physical stamina of an athlete paired with the intense focus of an international chess player. Not to mention bucket loads of cash. Pallets of cash. Rivers of cash. Don't try and tell us he did not want the job with every fiber of his being otherwise his actions make zero sense. Hell the man was gambling with his wife's health-- I sure hope for her sake that he wanted to be president.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:02 AM on December 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


The article fails to mention that the Romney campaign strategy also took cues from The Producers. Of course he didnt want to win. That was the plan all along.
posted by bricksNmortar at 6:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


For all the concern over negative campaigning, 2012 never struck me as any more negative than usual, and notably less than some I can recall. And the Obama campaign surprisingly restrained in that regard.

Except for that time pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA accused Mitt Romney of killing a lady, right?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:06 AM on December 24, 2012


Why Mitt Romney Lost. Meet Flip and Flop.
posted by ericb at 6:08 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

I kind of believe this. He looked positively relieved after his concession speech.


There's something to it. Gore looked relieved too, when his end finally came. Of course, part of either man's relief was due to relief with being dune with the process, but I wonder if there's more of a family dynastic pressure which was going on with either of them. Coming from successful political families, there must have been an expectation for the sons to make the final push for the top which their forefathers couldn't, and when they finally lost, that considerable internal pressure was finally relieved. "I tried, I honestly tried, and now we need never mention this again."

Not saying that either of them set out to lose, but when it happened, they found it surprisingly agreeable.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:25 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

I think it's pretty obvious he wanted the office. He just didn't want the job.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:26 AM on December 24, 2012 [33 favorites]


If Romney really didn't want to become president he would have released his tax returns.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:28 AM on December 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


Meanwhile, the democrats win by becoming the 1970s Republican Party.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:51 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Romney lost because he was campaigning for conservative votes, not moderate ones. This is because extremists and purists are like little crying babies from the beginning to the end of the election, who want to be catered to because they are so politically stupid and their ideas are inherently narcissistic. This is true for liberals too.
posted by Brian B. at 6:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


This part just cracks me up. Sometimes, software project names can be inspired:
... a get-out-the-vote computer program called Houdini crashed and could have cost the election if the race had been closer. This time, Reed and his team created a successor that they named Gordon, after the person who punched Houdini in the stomach shortly before the magician died.
posted by cyberscythe at 7:02 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

I have heard secondhand from people who had been to the Romney manse in Belmont before he sold it a few years back that he had a life-sized picture of himself and his family in front of the White House that he had displayed prominently in his foyer. This was before even his 2008 run for president. Now, maybe that's just a rumor, but if true it's not exactly the sort of thing that someone who doesn't want to be president might do.
posted by Jugwine at 7:09 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The story behind Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential campaign to President Obama: A comedy.
posted by stormpooper at 7:17 AM on December 24, 2012


It's frustrating to me that Obama wins so handily only to most likely be hamstrung for another four years on the important issues facing the US.
posted by jabah at 7:18 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those of you pooh-poohing the lead Tagg quote, note that TFA says that Tagg meant it after 2008. So yes, Romney really wanted to be President for a long time, but then once he actually ran and realized what a shitty, shitty thing campaigning is, he got less enthusiastic. That's when Tagg and Ann had to refocus him.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Romney lost because he was campaigning for conservative votes, not moderate ones.

I'm inclined to disagree, although I'm not entirely certain. Polls suggest that the center has all but disappeared from the American electorate. In this era, I imagine that it is a lot more important to mobilize your base and demoralize your opponent's constituency.

As an aside, I think it's very easy to point out the reasons why a candidate lost a close election, because any single factor could conceivably have made the difference. A lot of people blamed Nader for Gore's loss in 2000 - now, I am not a fan of throwing one's vote away as a protest against the imagined sameness of the two major candidates. But I will point out that while this charge against the Naderites is technically correct, it is equally correct for dozens of other causes. 2012 wasn't as close as 2000, but there are probably a bunch of factors that can be considered to be solely responsible for Romney's defeat, as paradoxical as that may sound. In other words, one person can say that cause A was entirely to blame for Romney's failure, while someone else could say that it was actually wholly due to factor B, and they are both completely in the right.
posted by Edgewise at 7:23 AM on December 24, 2012


The majority of voters preferred Romney’s visions, values, and leadership.

And that single sentence, right at the end, makes me regret spending six pages reading absolute horseshit. The American public tends towards the Center, which is where the Democratic party is these days. 60% of the US wants taxes raised on the wealthy. 63% wants taxes raised on large corporations. That does not sound like preferring Romney's vision or values.
posted by Hactar at 7:30 AM on December 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


If Romney really didn't want to become president he would have released his tax returns.

"I actually paid taxes one year... FOR NOTHING!" /copious weeping at the lost dollars whilst rolling around in a money pit.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


A Vermont couple ­appeared on the convention stage to tell the emotional story of how Romney, as a Mormon leader, helped their dying 14-year-old son, David Oparowski, write his will. “How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14-year-old and help him settle his affairs?” Pat Oparowski, the boy’s mother, said in her speech.

I don't see this action as altruistic. This is exactly the sort of thing that high power people without jobs revel in doing, showing off their power. "Look at me. Writing up a will, even though I'm not a lawyer." And as temple leader is this not exactly the sort of thing he should be doing?

You know what would have been altruistic? Spending the last 7 years actually doing something for the community, not Mormons in particular, but real disadvantaged people. Perhaps a home for the "lost boys" of polygamy or adopting an entire classroom of inner city youths and tutoring them and paying for their college education. A library. Support for struggling artists. An urban park. A lap top give away program. Building homes for Katrina victims. Setting up a jobless center for adult education. An endowment to pay the salaries for home health care nurses. The man has hundreds of millions, he should have thought like a Rockefeller and not like a Scrooge McDuck.

The president skipped at least two practice sessions at which he was going to review material. Obama seemed as unready as Romney was ready.

This is one of the major disadvantages of being a sitting president-- your job sucks up all your time and energy, or at least it should.

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse calculated that 209,000 more African-Americans voted this year than in 2008 in Ohio, while 329,000 fewer whites had voted.

I have to wonder if their voter-suppression tactics bit them in the ass not just because it fired up the blacks, but also because long lines may have kept some of the whites from voting.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:32 AM on December 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


Oh, I think Mitt wanted to be president, he just didn't want to run. He doesn't enjoy the campaigning or public speaking and as a result he comes across as stiff and awkward.

Sorry Tagg or Whitt or Rand or whatever WASP-y asshole is being quoted here, but you guys blew it.

Mormons are not WASPs.
posted by atrazine at 7:34 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get the feeling the Globe is publishing a juicy Mitt Romney story to distract readers from their lack of coverage of the upcoming House leadership. If you do a simple search, you get a lot more December hits for Mitt Romney than you do for Eric Cantor, even though Mr. Cantor is much more powerful and important since the election.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Late to the party, but I laugh when I see people reposting that Anonymous took credit for fucking up Romney's election monitoring software (it was web-based, so it is theoretically feasible, but knowing Anon, I highly doubt it). Also, I would hope (haven't read the article or comments yet) that it would be a lot more factors than merely his software. From what I can tell it's a bunch of hubris on his part which led to poor planning in general.
posted by symbioid at 7:46 AM on December 24, 2012


While reveling in all that inside baseball of the campaign, this article forgets about the candidate. It's all Romney could have won, if only he had shared his softer side and highlighted the stories of those 12 people he helped, or if only he had been as organized as Obama and had fancy apps that run on computers. That Romney belongs to a political party whose platform is almost entirely opposed to the interests of 99% of Americans never enters into the discussion, nor does the fact that Romney made a ton of money carving up companies and laying off employees. The 47% comment makes an appearance, but the article treats this very dryly as merely something Romney had to overcome about his image, and not anything fundamentally damning about his character and his ability to actually be president.

Right? All these "strategic" analyses set aside the fact that one candidate had a vision that was comparatively conservative yet ultimately recognizable as the way wealthy democracies around the globe generally do things, and one candidate had almost literally no platform and what few shreds there were of one was radically destructive.
posted by threeants at 7:48 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's also worth pointing out that even despite any African-American surge in Ohio or whatever, on top of active voter repression by the Republicans, de facto voter repression is still huge. If the electorate represented the population, this election wouldn't have even been remotely competitive. I waited in line for two and a half hours to vote in November. I could spare the time because I'm a student right now, but at other points in my life when I was doing shift work? Ha. Hahaha. Forget about it. If time is money, that's a poll tax, right?
posted by threeants at 7:53 AM on December 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


There's no mention of outside super pacs taking over attack ads so the candidate could stay above it all.

All that money spent, for little result. A lot of the radio attack ads were on conservative talk radio stations. What's the purpose of that?
posted by jjj606 at 7:57 AM on December 24, 2012


All that money spent, for little result.

Schadenfreude never felt so good.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:10 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The fact that the PAC's didn't really work (at least for the Republicans) sort of calls into question the whole theory that the Koch Brothers et al are actually to influence elections because of their vast wealth. They're schmucks, just like us!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A lot of the radio attack ads were on conservative talk radio stations. What's the purpose of that?

An attempt to get those listeners worked up enough over Obama to actually bother to show up at the polls.

Plus that's one way to fund the right-wing noise machine.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:13 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


All these "strategic" analyses set aside the fact that one candidate had a vision that was comparatively conservative yet ultimately recognizable as the way wealthy democracies around the globe generally do things, and one candidate had almost literally no platform and what few shreds there were of one was radically destructive.

Articles like this deny the electorate agency. It goes to great lengths to explain that Romney didn't lose because the majority of people rejected the alternative leadership and policies he was offering; he lost because he wasn't as organized, or because he didn't make enough of an effort to show voters his personal side, and if only people knew the "real" Romney they would have voted for him instead of Obama.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:13 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget that we had Clinton for 8 years. Throw-away Republican Presidential contender was Bob Dole. Bush, of course, picked up the throne after some rather twisted events.

Folks, let's not pat ourselves on the back too much, or over-rationalize the Republican loss. Conservatives are just going to re-tool and start their new strategic plan probably in 2014. Yet I have a hunch they've already started.

Start the conversation now, and do not forget the ones who will be voting age by 2016.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 8:17 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


...African-American surge in Ohio....

If there was a surge, I wonder what caused it. I know what I like to think caused it, but has anyone investigated what really caused that growth in numbers.

Conservatives are just going to re-tool and start their new strategic plan probably in 2014. Yet I have a hunch they've already started.

That's what everyone thought in 2010. Some Liberals were having fits over Obama's performance and how he seemed to be giving away the election. Yet according to the numbers in the last 6 months or so of the election, Obama was the clear favorite to win.

Based on the current actions and inactions of the GOP, it doesn't seem like they learned much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, is there usually a big article released about all the behind the scene actions of the US Presidential campaigns after the election is over? Did that happen this year? I might have missed it while gorging on the Romney schadenfreude (*wipes lips*).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:26 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I could deal with an article with more behind the scenes details; I wore out my sad trombone button with this one.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:33 AM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obama had more than 3,000 paid workers nationwide, compared with 500 for Romney, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.

“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.


I've seen a couple people take a crack at this particular paragraph -- and I agree, it's a ridiculous statement. These people were talking to _voters_! Like regular old assholes instead of talking to business owners or other real first class human beings and convincing them to send out memos that if Obama won they wouldn't get bonuses, for example.

But my real beef with this?

something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

Oh poor fucking Mitt Romney, he couldn't afford to hire any campaign staff? Gee whiz gaw-lee, that poor man, hamstrung by this modest upbringing and lack of personal wealth, simply couldn't afford to hire as many workers for his campaign as the ultra-elite and wealthy Barack Obama did.

Wait, wasn't this the same party that in 2008 was letting Sarah Palin's entire mouth breather fart farm clear all the overalls and fancy popcorn balls out of DC Nordstroms, has dozens of jets at it's command, not to mention the personal estate of Willard Romney, which is in excess of $200 million even after his preposterous failure, and will be $300m by the time all the consulting fees for talking about _how_ he failed to business leaders and think tanks finally end up in his tax-free accounts.

A pathetic candidate from a party that has lost its way even AFTER deciding it was gonna aim for the bottom. You put somebody up there that talks like a man and not like a rich man (aka like somebody who can't afford to just lie to you and pay you to shut up if you find out), and I guarantee that Mitt and Palin will just be memories. You put up some other dunderhead with a $400 haircut and a plan like "I'll tell you once you elect me" and you're gonna lose every time.
posted by jarvitron at 8:36 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


All that money spent, for little result.

Schadenfreude never felt so good.


On the other hand: What a huge fucking waste of capital. On both sides. The only winners in elections are the ad companies and the mainstream media that sells ad space/time (as well as politicos who skim their share of the cream). Imagine how many new schools that $4.2 billion could build every four years. The money flowing into these campaigns is beyond shame.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:38 AM on December 24, 2012 [30 favorites]


I think it's pretty obvious he wanted the office. He just didn't want the job.

Supporting this idea is his record as Governor.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:47 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, is there usually a big article released about all the behind the scene actions of the US Presidential campaigns after the election is over? Did that happen this year?

There was a longstanding tradition of Newsweek producing a near-issue-length postmortem of the election. Newsweek died, so this may be all you get.

Re: Tagg and the sour grapes --- I think there's some misreading going on in this thread. Sour grapes is certainly a part of it, but I think there's more to it than that. Think of Bill Clinton -- the prototypical pol. A man who will literally talk himself hoarse trying to sway one more listener to his side. Now there's a guy who clearly loved being president --- loved the schmoozing, loved the arguing, loved the travelling, loved making the tough decisions. There was never any question of what drove him to seek the job. Now, do you feel like Romney likes any of that stuff? Does he seem like someone who gets a charge out of interacting with a crowd? He loves debate, loves to best a worthy opponent. Probably thinks of himself, at least, as someone who loves to make tough decisions. But persuasion? Argument? "now that you like me, follow me"? Not his forte. So I believe Tagg when he says that in a lot if ways his father disliked the job. So why did he run? Responsibility. The unspoken thought there is that he was running not because he wanted to, but because he had to, that he believed himself to be obviously the best candidate and that therefore he must take up the burden. That, I think, is how Romney and his sons conceived of it. That I think fits in with his whole MO --- Bain Capital itself is something he was asked to run, by others who recognised his obvious talent. I think he took a look at the rest of the Republican field and thought, my country needs me.
posted by Diablevert at 8:48 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Imagine how many new schools that $4.2 billion could build every four years. The money flowing into these campaigns is beyond shame.

The free market will always make the best decision about how money should be spent.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:50 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


. So I believe Tagg when he says that in a lot if ways his father disliked the job. So why did he run? Responsibility. The unspoken thought there is that he was running. It because he wanted to, but because he had to, that he believed himself to be obviously the best candidate and that therefore he must take up the burden. That, I think, is how Romney and his sons conceived of it.

I buy it. Look at the rest of the bozos who sought the nomination- if not him, who? Cain? Gingrich? Santorum? Please.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:55 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


And what kind of dumb name is "Tagg"?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:20 AM on December 24, 2012


...African-American surge in Ohio....

If there was a surge, I wonder what caused it.


Well, I found this article that has some evidence that there was definitely some push-back against the Ohio Republican attempts to suppress the black vote.

I would not be at all surprised if the Obama campaign's ground and social media game made it a point to publicize these efforts in the black community. Although they may not have needed to - the various tactics employed by Gov. Kasich & SOS Husted & their cronies were seriously at "WTF" levels of almost blatant racism.

OTOH, Ohio allowed, for the first time that I know of, the ability to vote by mail for any reason whatsoever. At least it was the first time I had a vote by mail application mailed directly to me without asking for it. Previously, AFAIK, you could only vote absentee by mail if you could demonstrate an inability to vote in person.

How this may have affected voter turnout is hard to say. Most "vote by mail" data seems to be folded into "early voting" analysis, and while there's some raw data out there (ex: this page of reports from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections), I can't really find any place that has yet complied, analyzed, and compared the data. Although maybe it's too early for that.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:22 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe that a stale slice of white bread (if nominated) could have garnered enough votes to make Obama a one term president. Romney waged the most inept campaign in recent memory, following Bob Dole's advice to go hard right in the primary season and then rush back to the center for the general election. Other than the fact that this advice comes from the ways things worked in 1996, one also may notice it wasn't a winning formula for Bob Dole then either.
posted by spock at 9:39 AM on December 24, 2012


Exit polls told a stunning story. The majority of voters preferred Romney’s visions, values, and leadership. But he had clearly failed to address the problem that Romney’s own family worried about from the start. Obama beat Romney by an astonishing 81 to 18 percent margin on the question of which candidate “cares about people like me.”
...The American public tends towards the Center, which is where the Democratic party is these days. 60% of the US wants taxes raised on the wealthy. 63% wants taxes raised on large corporations. That does not sound like preferring Romney's vision or values.
I presume this is one of those "how you ask the question" gray areas, depending on whether exist pollers straight-up asked the voters "do you prefer Romney's or Obama's [blank]", versus asking about big corporations, health care, etc. (For fun: relevant quote and video from "Yes, Prime Minister".)

I'd like to know more about the money side of the Romney campaign, compared to the Obama campaign's funding. I understand that Obama's side got way more small contributions, whereas Romney's was more dependent on big whales. But -- when you take into account super PACs and timing and the fungibility of funds -- what was the gap, really? I ask because of quotes like:
In a major gamble, the Obama campaign moved $65 million in advertising money that had been budgeted for September and October into June, enabling the president to unleash a series of attacks that would define Romney at a time when the Republican would have little money to respond.
and, on the tech side:
“Can we do 80 percent of what the Obama campaign is doing, in 20 percent of the time, at 10 percent of the cost?”
(Ars Technica on Romney tech financing and specifically on ORCA's funding.)

And finally:
The Obama campaign used a program called called “the ­optimizer” that linked data from its voter databases, focus groups, and television ratings to determine how to reach people who do not typically see campaign ads.
One of the campaigns optimized. The other had baseless optimism.
posted by brainwane at 9:42 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


srboisvert: "I can assure you that Mitt Romney had no prodigy."

On the other hand, I suspect he still uses Prodigy.
posted by brundlefly at 9:44 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


And what kind of dumb name is "Tagg"?

It's short for Taggart, as in Dagny.
posted by KathrynT at 10:01 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have we really reached the point of responding to people's arguments by making fun of their names?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:03 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought it was an acronym for "Talks A Good Game."
posted by spitbull at 10:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know. Tellmenolies, let's ask president Obummer.
posted by spitbull at 10:05 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I've known some lovely people with some weird-ass names, and even lovely people who gave their kids weird-ass names, that seems like a dumb nail to hang an argument on.
posted by KathrynT at 10:06 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know. Tellmenolies, let's ask president Obummer.

People I don't like do idiotic things! That should be license for me to be an idiot too!
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:08 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Having worked on a lot of campaigns over the years I have to say that this year's Obama campaign was the most disciplined, organized, careful use of data and people I've ever seen. I had a chance to talk to one of the campaign's quants after the election and aside from being as burnt out as you'd imagine, he commented that their internal polling and analysis was closely aligned with Nate Silver's results and that other than two blips - post first debate and the 47% video - tracked exactly as they expected throughout.

I don't think the Romney campaign got it. This wasn't as close an election as you might think - all the possible play is in the independent/undecided voters. The rest are entrenched and not likely to shift so the key is 1) turn out your base and 2) convince those undecided - and get them to the polls. We spent months identifying who leaned how and then did very focused, labor intensive work to get out the vote. See above comment about organized, disciplined and good use of data & technology. The Romney campaign did no live testing of their software - rolled it out Election weekend!! We did two long weekends in advance of live testing and it led to changes and fixes. Again - competence vs lack thereof!

I'm in Michigan where Romney had completely pulled all advertising and paid staff for months of the campaign. When they came back we never saw any evidence of their presence. It was weird - canvassing areas that lean more conservative in past years we'd see Republican lit - nothing this time. All the Romney signs went up less than a week before the election in our area. To be sure, Washtenaw County is the most Democratic county in Michigan and routinely carries the entire state's margin for the Dems but the utter absence of Republican campaigning for months was staggering. (we're also our Republican governor's home county but that's another story). In terms of paid staff I'll note that we had 25% of the staffing we did in 2008 though.
posted by leslies at 10:13 AM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


The money flowing into these campaigns is beyond shame.

The money flow part always strikes me as an okay thing. While a lot of it does end up in the pocket of big media a big chunk also goes to campaign workers and local print shops and meeting halls etc., particularly in the kind of ground campaign Obama ran.

It would be nice if everyone with too much money got together and built schools instead, but in the realm of things that are likely to happen funding political campaigns isn't a terrible way to redistribute wealth.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:14 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obama’s “gifts”: federal largesse targeted to Democratic constituencies.

ie. attempting to substantively improve the lives of the people they govern, like a good government is supposed to do, fuckwits. Voters by and large could not discern any intention for this in the Romney campaign, and that's the largest part of why you lost.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:15 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


>And what kind of dumb name is "Tagg"?
It's short for Taggart, as in Dagny.


Wikipedia confirms this. An Ayn Rand reference in the name of your son! Oh god, it just makes me all the more glad that Mitt LOST.
posted by JHarris at 10:21 AM on December 24, 2012


I enjoy these behind the scenes pieces about Republican presidential failure. This one brings back fond memories of long detailed articles on the same topic after the President won in 2004. They are a not-so-subtle exercise in blame shifting by well paid campaign staff who didn't get the job done, and well funded candidates who proved to have no real empathy or sympathy for the ordinary Americans they say they want to represent.

There are quite a few lies in this piece, but my favorite is the contention that had people understood what a truly sweet guy Romney is, we would have voted for him in droves. Not only did we get a good hard look at what he is really about -- being nice only to people in his family, church, and immediate personal circle -- this season, but we did when he ran against McCain for the 2004 primary, too. He has always been the same unimaginative rich privileged and somewhat plastic guy. The most authentic I've ever seen him was that candid shot gassing his car after he lost the election.

My second favorite lie is the contention that actually we Americans preferred Mitt's vision. What was that vision, I still wonder? The hateful one he espoused in the primary? Or the one he wouldn't explain in the general?

But, although this article was a fun early Xmas present, things are still very much amiss in D.C. That Tea Party has been awfully quiet, lately... you say? Not so much. The reason Boerner's stupid Plan B never even came to a vote is because at least 48 R Congresspeople got direct threats that if they voted for it, they'd lose their next primary. Between the gerrymandering which has skewed voting districts across the country, the suppressive voting tactics that are now the law in many states, the ability of the Tea Party to force out all but the most right wing in most R primaries, and the huge amounts of money still on hand because of Citizens United, we are looking at a completely paralyzed Congress right now. Personally, I don't think that is a good thing or something our rather awesome ninja President can solve alone.
posted by bearwife at 10:22 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Obama campaign used a program called called “the ­optimizer” that linked data from its voter databases, focus groups, and television ratings to determine how to reach people who do not typically see campaign ads.

This was the most interesting (and, from an online marketer's perspective, no-brainer) part of the campaign - using performance-marketing techniques to get out the vote, and wipe the floor with a competition that is using totally imprecise, antiquated and outrageously expensive "tactics."

It reminds me of the fact that the garage-based startup that I work for now had a higher head-count (ie, success and profitability) than one of the oldest conventional branding and advertising company in town that specialized in print advertising. We had a higher head count, at one-tenth of the overhead with arguably infinitely higher ROI until the company went out of business this past year.

There has been a lot of serious discussion in the various marketing-focused online publications about the Obama campaign.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 AM on December 24, 2012


investigation in to the reasons why Romney's lost

Rmoney lost because he was a poor candidate.

The Republican Party opted to ignore its own rules during its convention in addition to the "Let *ME* answer this rape question" type of sideshows.

These 'why Romney lost' kinds of articles are not the kind of soul searching as to what leadership changes need to be done.

If "brand Republican" wants to "win" why not actually punish banks like HSBC for its accounting "problems' and involvement with LIBOR? Doing that would show there is greater than a dime's bit of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:59 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why are we still talking about Mitt Romney? Not just here and the Globe, but for months, Letterman has picked on him, and there's been a lot of facebook activity. Analysis of elections is interesting and useful, but what reads like a PR puff piece about a candidate's motivations is old, old news. If he didn't make his motivations clear in the campaign, in which he had gobs of money to spend on advisors and research, then he's a dunce. It reads to me like yet another attempt by Romney to re-tell a story. I'm more interested in the crew prepping for the next election.
posted by theora55 at 11:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just really really fun.
posted by The Whelk at 11:17 AM on December 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


In truth they just dismantled him and put him back in a packing crate full of money.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


the baffling part to me is... that the vote was as close as it was.

"Close" is all relative. Got more votes than Romney+Other. If saying Close makes it feel more dramatic, then keep thinking it was close.

20-25% would vote the party line - even if that party liner was say Nixon.

That leaves 50%age who will vote based on things like "he's not the other guy" to actual approval of what the candidate has done. I'm guessing somewhere there is a breakdown of what these motivating factors are - if someone would be so kind as to post links to such reports I'd find it interesting.

The "he's a black man" when used allows for rational discussion about things like drone strikes to not get discussed - a discussion that might get the more idealistic "disillusioned" and reduce turnout. Race is a hot button issue used to shutdown discussions and how can you prove/disprove 'what is in someone's heart'?


Drone Strikes are an election winner because as noted after WWII:
Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:37 AM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


A lot of the radio attack ads were on conservative talk radio stations. What's the purpose of that?

1) Make sure the faithful turn out.
2) show that "for market X ad Y got result Z" just like I said it would so I'm the successful consultant - pay me.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:51 AM on December 24, 2012


I really do suspect that a lot of the suprise at fliure comes from a gross overestimation of the hate vote.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


20-25% would vote the party line - even if that party liner was say Nixon.

That EPA, OSHA, Clean Air-voting bastard? He'd never win a primary today, although to his Republican credit, he was an anti-semite and racist.
posted by benzenedream at 11:55 AM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why are we still talking about it? Because people are interested in what happened... I, and many others, certainly have their theories. And I feel comfortable defending mine. Consider we just reelected a black president during poor economic times, who has faced some pretty strong organizational opposition, in a country still suffering from, at times, pretty strong racisism issues.

That, frankly, is kind of amazing.

And he did this against a very rich, very white dude. Structurally Romney's only inherent weakness was his Mormonism, which he avoided like the plague most of the campaign.

So I'd wager there are a lot of people who are very interested in a clear eyed behind the scenes look at why Romney ended up fumbling it so badly. This article wasn't it, and kinda makes me mildly angry for being the fluff peiece it is. Hell it might as well have just come fom Romney HG directly, it is that half assed.




You know, what ever progressives (myself included) may feel about some of Obama's policies, that was really kind of amazing. I honestly think the EV vote tally would have been at least another 30 to Obama if he was white
posted by edgeways at 11:55 AM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Being rich stopped being an advantage, which is amazing in and of itself. I really do give credit to Occupy there.
posted by Artw at 11:58 AM on December 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


(Of course Romney deserves credit for failing to realise that and doubling down on weir rhetoric. Also failing to despise that EVERYTHING goes public now. There is no private fundraiser.)
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on December 24, 2012


I had to stop reading this filler after about two pages. I remember padding for word count in college. This guy makes me look like the amateur I was.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:01 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Conservatives are just going to re-tool and start their new strategic plan probably in 2014. Yet I have a hunch they've already started.

Yup.
Here in Indiana, the smart money is already saying that our governor-elect (former US congressman) Mike Pence, will be using the next four years as another bullet-point on his resume for a Presidential run in 2016.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:24 PM on December 24, 2012


Between the gerrymandering which has skewed voting districts across the country, the suppressive voting tactics that are now the law in many states, the ability of the Tea Party to force out all but the most right wing in most R primaries, and the huge amounts of money still on hand because of Citizens United, we are looking at a completely paralyzed Congress right now. Personally, I don't think that is a good thing or something our rather awesome ninja President can solve alone.

It is amazing to me how much power the Tea Party still wields, especially when you consider that in a few cases Republicans like Richard Lugar, who had held his Senate seat for 35 years and was well respected, lost in the primaries to a Tea Party upstart who in turn lost to the Democrat. In other words they are choosing ideology over results.

So the plan at this point to prevent us from sliiiiiding down the gentle Fiscal Incline is that Harry Reid throws something together in the Senate, the Senate passes the bill and Nancy Pelosi runs with it. She strong-arms every single Democrat in the house and inveigles the 25 lame-duck Republicans to vote "aye" for the good of the country on their way out the door. It could happen, keep your fingers crossed.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:32 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Close" is all relative. Got more votes than Romney+Other. If saying Close makes it feel more dramatic, then keep thinking it was close.

Thanks for the pointless snark, but in fact, going by the popular vote, this was closer than two-thirds of all US Presidential elections.

If you want recent history, this election was closer than both Reagan wins, HW Bush's single win, Clinton's two wins, and W's first win. (Source.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:44 PM on December 24, 2012


W lost the popular vote in his first and both of Clinton's were Perot-weirdenized, so "recent" history isn't really that instructive.

Me, I'd say that an election that got called in time for Colbert wasn't that close.
posted by Etrigan at 12:51 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Making fun of Tagg Romney's name is now politically incorrect on Metafilter. We've reached a new low in range of expression. Who the heck is hanging an argument on it? It's just fun to poke fun at the other side, not out of moral equivalence (sorry there To Sir With Milipedes) but because that's a part of politics, sports, and any other competitive enterprise. We won the election, we get to do some trash talking.

It was Taggart M. Howell Romney the third, I believe, who went on about wanting to punch the president in the face after the 2d debate, was it not?

Tagg is a doofus name for a doofus. If he was awesome Tagg would be an awesome name.
posted by spitbull at 12:55 PM on December 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also it would have been "close" had Romney ever actually been ahead at ANY point in the aggregate electoral college polling. He never was. He got within a few points a few times. But you cannot call a race in which one side leads consistently throughout a "close" race, really. Especially when you consider Obama could have poured more resources into popular vote turnout in big blue cities had he been interested in running up the score rather than running the table.

Really, it was one of the major strategic errors of the Romney campaign to discount a pure electoral vote strategy by team blue.
posted by spitbull at 12:58 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh please, it's not politically incorrect, it's just a weak argument. It's like the "Barack HUSSEIN Obama" stuff.
posted by KathrynT at 1:01 PM on December 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Honestly, the point I was reasonably sure Romney was doomed was when the Republican Noise Machine spun up to attack Nate Silver. Maybe it's because I'm a baseball fan (not to get all hipster, but I knew who Nate Silver was when he was a writer for Baseball Prospectus), but I've already been through one round of "THE NUMBERS DON'T TELL US ANYTHING, WHAT MATTERS IS GRIT AND SCRAP AND HEART AND GETTING YOUR UNIFORM DIRTY." In baseball, fortunately that kind of thinking is fighting a desperate, losing retreat as younger and younger people force their way in and start talking about statistics.

So when I saw a lot of smug analysts doing the exact same "The numbers don't mean anything, what matters is grit and scrap and heart and narrative", I knew things were dangerous. Then there was some Romney campaign person on Fox News (but I repeat myself, doh ho ho ho) that obviously had no idea who Nate Silver was. And I knew they were doomed, because you can't Noise Machine away the statistics.

Because whatever I thought about Obama, I knew, I mean, I fucking knew that they know what FiveThirtyEight is and even if Obama wasn't checking it personally every time Nate Silver updated his projections, I'd guarantee someone in the campaign office had the job of "tell us when Silver updates and tell us what it says".

It was fun seeing the Fox News Reality Distortion Field take on reality itself like Don Quixote, though.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:02 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Making fun of Tagg Romney's name is now politically incorrect on Metafilter. We've reached a new low in range of expression. Who the heck is hanging an argument on it? It's just fun to poke fun at the other side, not out of moral equivalence (sorry there To Sir With Milipedes) but because that's a part of politics, sports, and any other competitive enterprise. We won the election, we get to do some trash talking.

We're liberals, we tend to sanctimony. It's cause we start from the assumption that greater perfection is possible, and strive toward it, whereas conservatives tend to start from the knowledge they they are good and therefore anything they do is good and anyone who attacks them is bad. The ripe disgust toward the RINO finds little counterpart on the Dem side.
posted by Diablevert at 1:10 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh please, it's not politically incorrect, it's just a weak argument. It's like the "Barack HUSSEIN Obama" stuff.

It's not an argument, it's mockery. No one is (seriously) saying "Don't listen to Tagg because his name is stupid." It's "Tagg's name is stupid so let's mock it."
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:12 PM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was reasonably sure Romney was doomed was when the Republican Noise Machine spun up to attack Nate Silver.

It seems that for the Romney campaign, there was two sorts of news-- good news and wrong news.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:13 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Christ, isn't there enough to make fun of wrt the Romney campaign? Making fun of somebody's name is what you do when there's nothing else to make fun of, and in this case, that just ain't true.
posted by rtha at 1:15 PM on December 24, 2012


I knew I had run across Romney folks talking about Obama's field offices pre-election but I couldn't exactly track it down but I did find something similar. Here's something that explains the GOP thinking:
[L]ocal headquarters only give a bricks-and-mortar snapshot of local outreach. “Democrats love to use that metric,” says a frontline GOP operative. “The Obama campaign is a byproduct of the president—big government...”
As with anything from the campaigns pre-election, you have to wonder if they actually believed that or if they were just trying to counter with some on-message spin. Coupled with the Globe's post-mortem it would seem, though, that they really could not take their political blinders off when looking at the Obama campaign and assumed that each one of those campaign offices must be like Selma and Patty at the DMV.
posted by Jugwine at 1:18 PM on December 24, 2012


Making fun of Tagg Romney's name seems pretty on-topic given that its origin is an unmistakable indicator of the one-percenter disconnectedness of the Romneys from ordinary people.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:30 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mormons are not WASPs.

Indeed. Mormonism is arguably either Protestant Protestant, or inverted Protestantism, which would make Romney either a WASPP, or a WAS, I'd think. Or you could go with WASLDS.

At least, assuming precision in the matter of what the P in WASP stands for is important. Otherwise, as far as it goes as a rough category of Romney's cultural perspective, it's probably a pretty good approximation.
It's short for Taggart, as in Dagny.
Wikipedia confirms this. An Ayn Rand reference in the name of your son!


Wikipedia confirms that Taggart is his name, but not the provenance. Tagg says that he only wishes he was named after Dagny, and instead was named after a college budy, Tagg Taggart, who may or may not be a better role model.
posted by weston at 1:35 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry for making fun of Tagg's name. In MetaFilter parlance, I need a "trigger warning" anytime there is a post about about the Romney's boys because their names are so weird - I have kids in elementary school and parents these days - usually ones who drive huge SUV's - call their kids some strange awful, names. It's terrible and Tagg just reminds me of it.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:36 PM on December 24, 2012


I don't like stupid names either but that's the namer's fault, not the namee's. (Looking at you, Sarah Palin. ) And I have nothing against Tagg either. It's nice that he loves and cares about his dad. I just don't take his opinion all that seriously -- he's not exactly a super seasoned knowledgeable political operative who knows all about who wants to be president versus who doesn't. And of course he's blinded by understandable bias. And lastly, I don't think people's kids are the most accurate judges of their parent's true ambitions.

No matter what Tagg's opinion, no one expends the sweat and treasure and willingness to betray all prior political positions that Mitt did -- twice -- for a job they don't want.
posted by bearwife at 1:44 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would never make fun of someone's name - something you have no choice in.

However, it's definitely worth noting that Romney named one of his sons after a female protagonist in an Ayn Rand novel, and I think it's hard for most people not to burst out laughing when they hear this - however, the person we are making fun of is, of course, Romney.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:46 PM on December 24, 2012


Right after the election someone in the Romney campaign was quoted as saying, it sounded like, that Obama had "suppressed" their vote by campaigning. I think the mentality of entitlement went deep here. The economy's bad, the President must be toast, all we have to do is win the nomination and shake the Etch-a-Sketch a few times.
posted by thelonius at 2:05 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


All the people saying things like "Romney was totally unlikable" or "Most people thought Romney didn't care about normal people" or even "Romney's campaign was a disaster" sound ridiculous to me. Romney won very, very close to half the popular vote. There were plenty of people who were willing to vote for him.

How can anyone say he was a terrible candidate and that his campaign was completely mismanaged when he came so close to winning? Sure, it wasn't close enough that the election was ever really in doubt, but it's not like Obama got everyone except the 27% crazies who voted for Alan Keys. If something like Superstorm Sandy had happened at the last minute that cast Obama in an equally moderately negative light, Romney would have won.
posted by straight at 2:06 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


> How can anyone say he was a terrible candidate and that his campaign was completely mismanaged

You did in fact read the linked article, right? The one that goes on for several pages with specific detail after detail about how badly the campaign was managed? The one where Romney's own son claims that Romney did not even want the job - surely someone who doesn't even want the job is almost by definition a terrible candidate?

> Romney won very, very close to half the popular vote.

That doesn't prove he was a good candidate, or even that his campaign was properly managed. In fact, terrible candidates have even won elections many times before.

If you believe the campaign was managed correctly - prove it. Refute the numerous claims in the article. Give us some information about how they did something right.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:12 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This was the most interesting (and, from an online marketer's perspective, no-brainer) part of the campaign - using performance-marketing techniques to get out the vote, and wipe the floor with a competition that is using totally imprecise, antiquated and outrageously expensive "tactics."


Here's an example I choose at random, not because I particularly disagree with this more than anything else in this thread.

There are almost a dozen different factors like this one, about each one of which people here are saying, "Look at that! Of course Romney was going to lose because of that!" If half those statements were true, then the combined effect would have been Obama winning by a much, much larger margin.

There is just a ridiculous amount of post hoc ergo propter hoc thinking going on all over the place after the election. It's basically the same as all the people after a school shooting saying, "See! This demonstrates why my pet political theories are true!"
posted by straight at 2:20 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right after the election someone in the Romney campaign was quoted as saying, it sounded like, that Obama had "suppressed" their vote by campaigning

That would be Karl Rove:
"He succeeded by suppressing the vote," Rove said in an interview on Fox News with anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday afternoon, "by saying to people, 'You may not like who I am and I know you can't bring yourself to vote for me, but I'm going to paint this other guy as simply a rich guy who only cares about himself.'"
The great thing about being a Republican is you can make up facts, re-write history, and even redifine words. In this case Rove's definition of "supressing the vote" is a little different than the norm.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:21 PM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Rove, of course. Thanks.
posted by thelonius at 2:22 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


lupus_yonderboy, I'm not disputing that Romeny's campaign was poorly managed. I'm disputing whether that was the reason he lost.

If circumstances had been slightly different and Romney had won, I guarantee we wouldn't be reading articles like this. We'd be reading about all the things Romney's campaign did right and saying that Democrats really need to follow Romney's example if they don't want to lose next time.
posted by straight at 2:23 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: "Actually, on further reflection, the baffling part to me is given that one side had a candidate who is a charismatic, well-spoken individual able to project warmth and sincerity and a very competent and well-organized team, and the other side had a personally unlikeable candidate with no clear branding strategy and a team whose bumbling recalls the Keystone Kops, that the vote was as close as it was."

You know how during the race, there was all this talk of "Average Americans"?

Just look at your average American and consider that half of everybody is stupider than they are.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:42 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


How can anyone say he was a terrible candidate and that his campaign was completely mismanaged when he came so close to winning?

Because he lost.

Because he didn't come anywhere close to wining the Electoral vote, which is the only number that matters in US elections. In fact, it was known six months or so before the elections that Romney had a very narrow path to victory in the Electoral College. If I know that, then his campaign must of and why didn't they do something about that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:45 PM on December 24, 2012


... the Electoral vote, which is the only number that matters in US elections.

Time to dump the electoral college, then.

Not that I'm pulling for either party, mind, I just don't like narrow popular victories being presented as "landslides". Die hard Democrats might have their own reasons.

(A partisan might suggest that a bad candidate coming within four points of winning says more about the guy who won than the guy who lost. But then, partisans on both sides of the political divide in America seem incapable of attributing good faith, honesty, or brains to the other sides. Sad, really.)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:01 PM on December 24, 2012


The great thing about being a Republican is you can make up facts, re-write history, and even redifine words. In this case Rove's definition of "supressing the vote" is a little different than the norm.

It's swiftboating on a different topic. Instead of a draft-dodging Bush/Cheney vs actual combat veteran Kerry, it's Republicans who can barely be bothered to hide the fact they're working to legally deny votes to otherwise qualified citizens with a raft of genuinely suppressive measures vs a campaign that's persuading people not to vote for Romney (and also, the Obama campaign too).

So, yeah. There's no big lie too big for Karl Rove.

Of course, on top of that, there's the general principle that if Republicans don't win, there's unfairness at work somewhere, whether it's Democrats buying votes by working to govern well, or the media being unfair to Republicans by being owned by big money and adhering to a journalistic pluralism.

Or that darn electoral college that already gives them an advantage in rural/red states instead of giving them the *bigger* advantage they deserve by awarding votes by house district in key blue-leaning states.

I'm somewhat confident the Republicans in general -- not down to every last one, because there's always the possibility of a true talent or someone who can hire true talent running, but in general -- will probably have a gap in the campaign quality like we saw here for a while.

But I don't feel complacent. Republicans have plenty of influence in state legislatures even where there's significant Democratic populations, and they will probably continue to try to use it to make sure it's harder for likely Democrats to vote, and to make every Democrat vote count less and every Republican vote count more.

Lots of work to be done for anybody who actually cares about a genuinely fairer and democratic system. As I suppose there always is.
posted by weston at 3:05 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


For all those saying Romney was the least bat shit crazy candidate. Huntsman was the most appealing guy to the centre guy who put his hat in the ring IMHO.
posted by Burgatron at 3:27 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Romney lost because he was campaigning for conservative votes, not moderate ones.

-I'm inclined to disagree, although I'm not entirely certain. Polls suggest that the center has all but disappeared from the American electorate. In this era, I imagine that it is a lot more important to mobilize your base and demoralize your opponent's constituency.


This poll in February shows "independent voters" to be at 37% and rising, ahead of both Democrat (32%) and Republican (25%). There are several other polls like it. I realize it's a different term, but it is helpful to show that the national exit polls for the last presidential election which has 41% describing themselves as "moderate" ahead of both liberal (25%) and conservative (35%) voters, who voted, is not a fluke. I note that the "center" is often abstract, like the lack of compromise in religious-type politics, but this shows an actual center ripe for a centrist party, which could in theory campaign on whatever they wanted to.
posted by Brian B. at 3:37 PM on December 24, 2012


lupus_yonderboy, I'm not disputing that Romeny's campaign was poorly managed. I'm disputing whether that was the reason he lost.

Getting three or more percentage points of the popular vote to win the election would have been a massive undertaking for the Romney campaign. However, given the first-past-the-post system, even that may not have been enough.

Simply put, the reason why Romney lost was because the campaign was mismanaged. They didn't do the things they needed to do to win, such as allocating appropriate resources in the right place, and misallocating resource in others. And all of this in the face of Obama's thoroughly documented past campaign tactics.

That's the very definition of mismanagement. Sure, Romney won 47% of the popular vote (which is of only of secondary importance compared to the Electoral College) but Obama was a relatively unpopular president going into an election during economic uncertainty. That 47% of votes was in the bag already.

What Romney needed to do was go after the extra 3 or so percentage points, and do so in a methodical and rational way. And he did not.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:54 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another reason for Romney's failure (which is of course connected to the reasons people have given earlier) is the way he threw away votes. Romney could never win votes by being tough on Hispanic immigration; anyone who supports that would never vote for Obama. He couldn't win votes by opposing gay marriage; same reason. There are lots of other trigger issues where one side had already been forced into the Republican camp. So what did Romney do? He pandered to these groups, thereby ensuring that the other side and anyone else repulsed by racists, nativists, and homophobes would be forced to support the Democrats. It's quite extraordinary, particularly since anyone can see these groups are on the wrong side of history.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:11 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Time to dump the electoral college, then.

You do realize that would completely disenfranchise the states, right? You'd have to rewrite a lot of the constitution if you want to drop the whole federal government is elected by and answerable to the states thing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:29 PM on December 24, 2012


Maybe, but the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact could be an interesting workaround if it ever gains enough traction to be viable and isn't held back by legal challenges.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:37 PM on December 24, 2012


politically incorrect on Metafilter. We've reached a new low in range of expression.

Naw. There are 4 more years of doing what GW Bush was pilloried over (with few FPP), followed by 8 years of hand wringing that the replacement is doing it all wrong on a weekly basis.

I'm betting the properly formatted FPP would troll the Democrat-faithful would come out stating how the guy with the D label is not at all like the R labelled schmuck did.

How can anyone say he was a terrible candidate and that his campaign was completely mismanaged when he came so close to winning?

Because in a 2 party system there is only one other choice?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:39 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Time to dump the electoral college, then.

You do realize that would completely disenfranchise the states, right?


There was a movement to drop it led by Donald Trump for a couple of hours in election night, before sufficient votes had been counted for it to be apparent Romney had lost the popular vote as well. I don't think he's said anything about it since.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on December 24, 2012


For all those saying Romney was the least bat shit crazy candidate. Huntsman was the most appealing guy to the centre guy

Yes, but Huntsman has a Chinese daughter, and was ambassador to China for a Democratic President.

I think that pretty much makes it impossible for him to win the Republican primaries.
posted by grudgebgon at 4:43 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Time to dump the electoral college, then.

Yes lets move to a lottery.

Because when Rupert Murdoch is pitching paying for Petraeus to run and reporting of such goes to the "style" page of the press - the effect of monied interests is too deep to be dislodged.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:53 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Romney: "I actually paid taxes one year... FOR NOTHING!" /copious weeping at the lost dollars whilst rolling around in a money pit."

He has three years to go back and amend a previous tax return, change his deductions and claim a refund. Given his penchant for flip-flopping merely to keep up appearances, why wouldn't he will get a refund? It would save him about half a million dollars. Tax returns are private and no one will ever know.
posted by JackFlash at 4:59 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


That money could have been earning more money though!
posted by Artw at 5:09 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


How can anyone say he was a terrible candidate and that his campaign was completely mismanaged when he came so close to winning?

He didn't come close to winning. It was virtually certain that he would get 47%-49% of the vote, and virtually impossible for him to get any more than that. That looks like a close race, but it isn't one.

Time to dump the electoral college, then.

Dump the electoral college and you'll just see a major switch in the way the candidates campaign. Less standing around in cornfields, more stops in cities and suburbs. Goodbye Iowa, hello Atlanta.
posted by KathrynT at 5:16 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you want recent history, this election was closer than both Reagan wins, HW Bush's single win, Clinton's two wins, and W's first win.

W "won" his first election by negative 540,000 votes. (yes, negative 500k+) How was 2012 closer?
posted by Justinian at 5:21 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You do realize that would completely disenfranchise the states, right?

It would enfranchise every voter who is does not vote for the winning side in their state. It would only "disenfranchise" the least populated states with their electoral advantage, and "disenfranchise" the swing states, which would lose the media attention. Every other state would regain their lost voter representation by the unfair distribution of EV's. The low populated states already enjoy an advantage in Congress anyway, there is no reason to carry over this advantage for the presidential election to the point where vote count losers are sometimes winners.
posted by Brian B. at 5:29 PM on December 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Lots of people still voted Republican, they still have a majority in the House of Representatives.

Why Americans Actually Voted For A Democratic House:
Based on ThinkProgress’ review of all ballots counted so far, 53,952,240 votes were cast for a Democratic candidate for the House and only 53,402,643 were cast for a Republican — meaning that Democratic votes exceed Republican votes by more than half a million.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:33 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


He has three years to go back and amend a previous tax return,...

Oh My God. I would *so* love to know if Romney goes back and (re?)amends his return and brings his rate back below 12% again.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:35 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Each Obama worker would be ­responsible for about 50 voters in key precincts over the course of the campaign. By Election Day, that worker would know much about the lives of those 50 voters
Okay, that's a bit creepy.


I dunno about creepy, but I will say it's totally untrue and bears almost no resemblance to how the field effort actually worked.
“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.
I've seen a couple people take a crack at this particular paragraph -- and I agree, it's a ridiculous statement. These people were talking to _voters_!


Not even. The staff were talking to volunteers, who were talking to voters. Volunteers were basically exponential force multipliers: instead of talking to 50 voters, a staffer could talk to 50 volunteers each of whom could in their turn talk to 50 voters, meaning the staffer has affected 2500 people instead of 50. And that shit adds up.
posted by dersins at 5:52 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


"He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life."

He didn't want those stupid grapes anyway. They were probably sour.


Or, to quote a line from "Slacker":

"Walking away in disgust is not the same as apathy."
posted by zardoz at 6:17 PM on December 24, 2012


I am a little shocked by the significance given to Tagg coming up with a list of 12 people Romney has helped.... 12 people.

12.

If I were a billionaire, I really hope the list of people I had helped significantly would go on for pages and pages... Not stop at just 12.
posted by meese at 6:25 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not stop at just 12.

It was 12 compelling stories that he was able to put together. I'm sure Romney has helped plenty of friends pick out yachts.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:44 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Helped as in helped or the soup kitchen kind of helping?
posted by Artw at 6:49 PM on December 24, 2012


If I were a billionaire, I really hope the list of people I had helped significantly would go on for pages and pages... Not stop at just 12.

Was he a billionaire, though? I thought his fortune was somewhere around $250M.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:06 PM on December 24, 2012


OnTheLastCastle: "The Tea Party is not a real thing, guys. Seriously, are you not aware of how quickly it was absorbed by the ultra-rich boners."

Not following how that makes them "not real", nor in any way impotent. They are slowly becoming less significant, but not because of an excess of money.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:13 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Making fun of Tagg Romney's name is now politically incorrect on Metafilter.

Not politically incorrect. Just lazy, stupid and lacking in any content. It not only fails to contribute to the conversation, it has actively distracted from the conversation.

Stop being lazy. Stop being stupid. Contribute.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:14 PM on December 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


to sir with millipedes: "For all the concern over negative campaigning, 2012 never struck me as any more negative than usual, and notably less than some I can recall. And the Obama campaign surprisingly restrained in that regard.

Except for that time pro-Obama PAC Priorities USA accused Mitt Romney of killing a lady, right?
It's not clear she didn't die as a result of Baine's policies. And even Romney wanted us to judge him by Baine's history.

The idea that people without health care are less likely to be screened earlier for cancer is hardly controversial; the idea that fewer people would have healthcare under Romney is one of the few things both sides firmly agree upon.
Health care = increased screening = earlier detection = lower mortality from cancer.

No one can say for certain her cancer would have been detected, treated, and put in remission, but a scenario in which none of that is possible is certainly tantamount to a death sentence.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:18 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree that no health care correlates to shorter lifespans, but she had health insurance for years after her husband lost his job.

Joe Soptic said in the ad that when the plant closed, "my family lost their health care." Yet Soptic’s wife had insurance for about a year or two after that through her own employer, according to CNN, a fact that Burton's group acknowledges.

Soptic said, "A short time after that (the closing of the plant), my wife became ill." But that's collapsing the time frame. The illness took place in 2006, some five years after Soptic lost his job, according to POLITICO.

The connection between Soptic’s job, his wife’s lack of insurance and her illness is complicated. She had no insurance because a shoulder injury caused her to leave a job that provided coverage. That was the immediate reason for her being uninsured, not the plant closure.

posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:29 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Contributions take many forms. Nowhere is it said that Metafilter is always Serious Discussion About Important Topics. Taggart has what seems to us to be a funny name. That doesn't reflect upon him as a person, any more than it does Reince Priebus. He says that he's named after a family friend and not Dagny Taggart, but he wishes he was -- that does reflect badly.

My own joke was about the simularity, in a sense, of his name to that of his father Mitt, which is pretty weak as far as jokes go. All KokuRyu said was that it was a doofus name for a doofus, which is unkind but, you know, having millions of dollars functions much like the special coating on waterfoul that enables water to run off their back. I'm not seeing the other jokes, but it's a long thread.

Taggart, if by an amazing whimsical quirk of fate you're reading this, I intend you no ill will because of your name, and I don't think anyone else here does either. But about your opinions I suspect we might have some words.
posted by JHarris at 8:31 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


to sir with millipedes: Yet Soptic’s wife had insurance for about a year or two after that through her own employer, according to CNN, a fact that Burton's group acknowledges.
Sorry, missed that quote. OK, I take it back: if CNN's reporting is accurate, that ad was deliberately misleading.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:44 PM on December 24, 2012


jarvitron: "But my real beef with this?

something that Romney did not have the staff to match.

Oh poor fucking Mitt Romney, he couldn't afford to hire any campaign staff? Gee whiz gaw-lee, that poor man, hamstrung by this modest upbringing and lack of personal wealth, simply couldn't afford to hire as many workers for his campaign as the ultra-elite and wealthy Barack Obama did.
Precisely! Romney had twice the money that Obama had. Any failure-mode analysis that begins with "Obama outspent us!" is in fact saying "We had no idea how to spend your money effectively!"

Now consider the irony that it's multi-millionaires and billionaires investing that double-sized bankroll. And yet somehow these people have the sense to invest wisely outside of politics.

My brain can't fathom how shudderingly foolish their political contributions were. I'm not talking about who won. I'm talking about due diligence; making sure your money is being used wisely.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:45 PM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the piece is about as listless as the story it tells. This is like one of those backseat arguments about whether the AC should be on or off when the driver is drunk and the engine's on fire.
posted by deo rei at 8:45 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: However, it's definitely worth noting that Romney named one of his sons after a female protagonist in an Ayn Rand novel...
It's not worth noting, because (1) it's not true (as was noted above your comment by weston), and (2) who the fuck cares if the character was male or female?
posted by IAmBroom at 8:49 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about who won. I'm talking about due diligence; making sure your money is being used wisely.

This is sort of the problem with donating to PACs and/or political campaigns, isn't it? They mostly make promises upfront about strategy and spending, and then the donors only learn about how the money was spent and its effectiveness in the post-game analysis. I do wonder if this will make people less inclined to donate to people like crossroads, who seemed, in spite of their prodigious spending on numerous races, to not have had an outsized impact on many of them.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:59 PM on December 24, 2012


re: helping people while rich, etc - i'm just sayin', if i had $250 mil laying around i would DEFINITELY drop half a mil or so on mathowie et al.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:32 PM on December 24, 2012


Why are we still talking about Mitt Romney? Not just here and the Globe, but for months, Letterman has picked on him, and there's been a lot of facebook activity.

The less something is understood the more gets said about it. To me it looks like Romney lost for a slew of little reasons, but for a lot of people the search for the smoking gun goes on...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 PM on December 24, 2012


Now consider the irony that it's multi-millionaires and billionaires investing that double-sized bankroll. And yet somehow these people have the sense to invest wisely outside of politics.

Some things to consider:

* even people with real smarts and domain knowledge that make them formidable inside their field can flounder badly when they step outside their domain of expertise.

* I think it's Nassim Taleb who's pointed out that pure chance alone *will* produce people with long strings of success when it comes to investing (or straight out gambling). This isn't to say that everybody who's successful hasn't done their homework and that some people aren't possessed of smarts/knacks that help quite a bit. But all financially successful people are at least somewhat lucky too, and some number of them are produced more by luck than any inherent trait.

Or as Bill Gates is supposed to have said: "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."
posted by weston at 9:46 PM on December 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


It would enfranchise every voter who is does not vote for the winning side in their state. It would only "disenfranchise" the least populated states with their electoral advantage, and "disenfranchise" the swing states, which would lose the media attention. Every other state would regain their lost voter representation by the unfair distribution of EV's. The low populated states already enjoy an advantage in Congress anyway, there is no reason to carry over this advantage for the presidential election to the point where vote count losers are sometimes winners.

This whole paragraph appears to assume that the Federal government is somehow tied to the aggregate people of the U.S. It's not. Fifty states joined the club and fifty states get a vote.

Honestly I don't think the pollsters or news media do anybody any favors by following the aggregate popular vote. It gives many people the wrong idea about what is happening on election day.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:53 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not that I'm pulling for either party, mind, I just don't like narrow popular victories being presented as "landslides".

But it wasn't narrow. Because the race is only about electoral votes (ask Al Gore). So the Obama campaign ignored the vote total and focused on states/EVs (famously winning the 1 Nebraska vote in 2008).

If it was total votes that mattered they would have run a campaign harvesting more votes in the very liberal, vote-rich areas they ignored for smart strategic reasons: New York, California, Washington DC, Maryland, etc.
posted by msalt at 10:24 PM on December 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Simply put, the reason why Romney lost was because the campaign was mismanaged.

That's the very definition of mismanagement. Sure, Romney won 47% of the popular vote (which is of only of secondary importance compared to the Electoral College) but Obama was a relatively unpopular president going into an election during economic uncertainty. That 47% of votes was in the bag already.

What Romney needed to do was go after the extra 3 or so percentage points, and do so in a methodical and rational way. And he did not.


You make it sound like the determining factor in which candidate gets those votes is how hard he works and how organized his campaign is. Maybe that's true, but I have no idea how you could possibly know that.
posted by straight at 10:51 PM on December 24, 2012


My brain can't fathom how shudderingly foolish their political contributions were. I'm not talking about who won. I'm talking about due diligence; making sure your money is being used wisely.

Because they did not Study It Out! They weren't foolish andthey just didn't Study It Out.

Seriously though, the above link is emblematic of the issue to certain degree. In the clip, the woman is so convinced of her malformed conviction and has clearly been coddled in her thinking by others in the bubble, she does not even realize how short sighted she is being in her comments. When confronted with the smallest counter, she wilts and falls back on righteous indignation to get around the obvious fact that her “Obama is a communist” claim is just wrong and foolish. This was the entire GOP arrogance on display in a single video clip

But that is the whole GOP and Republican 2012 campaign for you in a nutshell – an arrogant group living in a self-supported bubble of delusion. Their circling of the ideological wagons was so complete that people felt downright comfortable not challenging even the most outrageous ideas and even entertaining the smallest notion that Romney would lose. However, when given the chance to answer the most basic questions about their candidate, Romney supporters could not articulate a single logical reason why he was the better candidate.. Now this clip is from that Ohio rally towards the end, but the delusion I think again is evident and extends to the wealthier backs who opened their wallets based on the same short sighted reasons.

Hubris is a word that gets kicked around a lot when speaking of Romney (and the campaign), but it is very accurate. The entire GOP mindset was one that they could not possibly lose to the black guy…again, especially given their neoconservative roots (pdf) and that they are somehow on a mission to save the world from evil. With that righteous indignation firmly tucked under their arms, the commit blunder after blunder when confronted with even the smallest counter. The height of this arrogance is surpassed only by the height of their inability to see even the most basic flaws in their reasoning. The thought they were on some mission from whatever god they believe in and not for a second considering that 1) not everyone believes in god 2) for those that do, it may not be the same god and 3) that even if god has a hand in politics, would a god actually think that a political turd like Mitt Romney was to be some heir apparent?

Romney & Co stepped in in time and time again (too many to list really) but one thing was absolutely certain – they were blinded by their own conceit, self-appointed exceptionalism and seemingly could not pull their lips from the nipple as the continually blew up their self-inflated bubble. It turned out to be self-immolation though and worse off, for a very flawed moral reason.

On the good side, at least we won't have to look at that stupid, silly, conceited smirk every day for the next four years - or ever for that matter.
posted by lampshade at 2:11 AM on December 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


If the author of this piece is by any chance reading this thread, I'd just like to tell him that one of the main reasons people here (including me) are displeased with your article is that we were looking for some insights from actually insightful people. Unfortunately, much of the analysis comes from Romney's son Taggart. His ideas are not the kind of smart and meaningful viewpoints we hoped for.

In short:
Tagg - not it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:10 AM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Related to this thread, a dispatch from The Nation's cruise for conservatives. It is full of...well, this.

Rasmussen offered some friendly advice about approaching minorities. “You show them that you really care, you talk to them as grown-ups on a range of issues, you get them involved,” he suggested, “and you accept the fact that it’s a long-term investment. And you accept that you can learn as much from them as you can teach them.”

This was harsh medicine to reluctant patients, and afterward some of them made their discomfort known. “That depressed me!” one woman said. To my right, a man snapped, “That’s bullshit!”

posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:48 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Romney won very, very close to half the popular vote.

Obama was the first Democratic president since FDR to win consecutive victories with more than 50% of the electoral vote. I'm an unabashed psephology junkie; I follow elections around the world like many people follow sports.

Take it from me: in *any* First Past The Post system, *anything* including and above a 3% swing (that is, the difference in percentages between the winning party/ candidate and the losing party/ candidate) will start approaching historic levels. If it doesn't, then there are some intrinsic factors (gerrymandering, vote(r) suppression, funny business with some special clauses) in the system that cause the incumbent to retain power.
posted by the cydonian at 6:49 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was harsh medicine to reluctant patients, and afterward some of them made their discomfort known. “That depressed me!” one woman said. To my right, a man snapped, “That’s bullshit!”

Well frankly he's talking to conservatives as if they could be liberals. The people on a conservative cruise obviously pretty strongly self-identify as right-wing, and those things suggested are intrinsically left-wing ideas. He's basically telling them don't be such strident wingnuts, with predictable results.

That fact, that the world is changing out from under the feet of the Republicans, is one of my greatest sources of hope for the future.
posted by JHarris at 7:51 AM on December 25, 2012


An alternative theory: Obama won this election by being smarter, more honest, more likeable, and all around a truly great president in his first term. 20 years from now nobody will even remember his paper thin opponents name.

Rather than focusing on the ground game or the data game or the messaging or whatever, the interested parties should seeking out the best candidates for the next go round, starting with letting real conversations happen in the public sphere about "off limits" topics like drugs and banks where newer candidates can shine.

If the author of this piece is by any chance reading this ...
I'd like to let him or her know that D&D is NOT A WAR GAME.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:36 AM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fifty states joined the club and fifty states get a vote.

But they don't. Only in an electoral tie do they ever approach the one-state one-vote idea, and only in this failure mode do the states ever have equal status (which will be a constitutional crisis when it happens, thanks to the even number). Beforehand, each state decides what they will do with their electoral votes. They can split them at will, and some have along congressional districts, awarding the winner the extra two. They can split them more exactly according to an algorithm if they want. The reason more states don't do it is only due to the game theory of political survival, where each participate will act in their maximum self-interest as long as one major participant is allowed to do so, insuring that most states will remain this way for lack of a federal requirement. This is just another example how an illogical method rarely has an good reason for existing.
posted by Brian B. at 8:38 AM on December 25, 2012


Related to this thread, a dispatch from The Nation's cruise for conservatives. It is full of...well, this.

That whole article is an interesting read btw.
posted by sweetkid at 9:17 AM on December 25, 2012


making sure your money is being used wisely.
This is sort of the problem with donating to PACs and/or political campaigns, isn't it?


Like the Corbert Report Super PAC?

“Obama is a communist” claim is just wrong and foolish.

Because there is a one true Communist one can measure him against?

How abut a different label?
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. - Benito

Is that a better or more accurate label for the system in place?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:26 AM on December 25, 2012


a dispatch from The Nation's cruise for conservatives.

It's National Review and not The Nation, unfortunately. I say "unfortunately" because OMG if we could get the National Review and The Nation cruises mixed together somehow, such that there was a The Nation cruise for conservatives and National Review cruise for liberals, there's a screenplay for you.
posted by brainwane at 9:29 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason more states don't do it is only due to the game theory of political survival, where each participate will act in their maximum self-interest as long as one major participant is allowed to do so

I believe that's exactly what others have been saying — the power lies with the states, and not even close to proportionally by population.

In 2000, a vote in Wyoming had almost 4 times the electoral weight of a vote in California. And let's not forget all the citizens in Puerto Rico, D.C., Guam, etc. who have zero electoral votes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_population#Electoral_apportionment
posted by mubba at 9:40 AM on December 25, 2012


Wow. That National Review cruise article did far better than the Globe at explaining why Romney lost.
posted by mubba at 9:53 AM on December 25, 2012


Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. - Benito

posted by rough ashlar at 12:26 PM on December 25 [+] [!]



Man, I have absolutely no memory of writing that. I gotta start cutting back on the drunk posting.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:10 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link, Ghostride The Whip.

(A way to keep them straight is to remember that "National Review" is the one that reviews current events and decides to stand athwart history yelling stop, which is a conservative kind of endeavor.)

When I worked at Salon I remember a colleague of mine had to run the Salon cruise (meet Joe Conason!) in late 2004 or sometime in 2005. So, liberals who couldn't stand George W. Bush, right after he got reelected, and could afford to go on a cruise to hang out with other people who felt the same way. Those depressed entitled people didn't sound fun to be trapped with, and these don't either. As the NR columnist says towards the end of the NYMag piece, the performers on these cruises don't do it for fun.

The passengers on that cruise represent the funding & ground-game base of the US right. And right now they just lost an election and are sad and afraid and lashing out. I kind of wish I could tell them, "I've been where you are (in December 2004) and It Gets Better," but I don't think they'd listen.
posted by brainwane at 10:12 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That whole article is an interesting read btw.

FPP worthy actually.

What is it with paranoid kooks and boats? I can;t imagine anything more confining and restricting.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on December 25, 2012


After dinner was a program called the “Light Side of the Right Side.” A frenetic, tightly wound man named James Lileks, a National Review columnist from Minnesota, warmed up the crowd with one-liners: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put 50 million Democrats up there as well!”

ahaha Lileks you washed up hack.
posted by The Whelk at 10:32 AM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


What is it with paranoid kooks and boats?

I can't explain it, but sometime in the 90s I 1) moved to New England, 2) occasionally smoked a pipe (tobacco), and 3) some times got a chance to steer a friends boat. There was one moment when I was smoking a pipe, sailing across Buzzards Bay, and the thought hit me "This is how George Bush feels most of the time." (H.W., not W.)
posted by benito.strauss at 10:37 AM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the case those in the thread haven't convinced you to read the New York article mentioned earlier, let me also sing its praises, especially this line:

Under the shade of some palm trees, Ralph Reed took off his shirt and fed an orange to a giant iguana.

The fact that the author doesn't use it until about 5/6 through the piece should be rewarded with page views at the very least.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:19 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The last event before cocktails and dinner was a lecture by Deroy Murdock, the only black National Review speaker. It was a curious outlier on the agenda, titled “How the Music of Memphis and Motown Helped Bury Jim Crow,” and set in a smaller, more intimate venue midship. Murdock was wearing a red satin dinner jacket and a black bow tie, presumably to look like a Motown singer. About 50 people attended, sitting on white leather lounge chairs, and there was a Rolling Stones tongue logo on a screen behind him as he cued up “Brown Sugar” on the sound system.

Murdock got the all-white crowd clapping along, including the venerable neoconservative intellectuals Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, who smiled broadly.

“Brown Sugar! / How come it tastes so good?”

When the music faded, Murdock, in a studious tone, read from his prepared notes: “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it!”"


well at least we know now that cognitive dissonance isn't actually fatal.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


That prompted a tall, extremely tanned blonde named Kay, from Old Greenwich, Connecticut, to ask Hassett, the co-­author of the 1999 book Dow 36,000, “So what do we do with our money?”He recommended investing in real estate in another country, maybe in Central America somewhere.

It's just a darn shame that America is not a third world country, then they could invest right here at home.


surfed the Internet in the Crow’s Nest lounge, a privilege that cost $1.25 a minute.

This is what is holding me back from taking a Cruise around the Bahamas, I can't afford the internet charges.



Onstage were Reed, now in lime-green pants embroidered with pink swordfish and navy polo shirt with white piping on the collar

All that lovely, lovely money and they dress like clowns.


A fat guy in sandals wandered by wearing a CLUB GITMO T-shirt

Change that to: and they dress like clowns who joke about torture.


Rasmussen offered some friendly advice about approaching minorities. “You show them that you really care, you talk to them as grown-ups on a range of issues, you get them involved,” he suggested, “and you accept the fact that it’s a long-term investment. And you accept that you can learn as much from them as you can teach them.”

Oh isn't that sweet, treating the darkies as though they are real human beings.


A lot of people went for the plantation, which cruisers later described as rundown and serving bad food. “Jamaica is a dump!”

Oh the horrors of travel! You never know what distasteful things you might be exposed to. Better just stay on the ship and surf the internet.


As Thomas downed the rest of his drink, Duane said the only way out of the current quagmire is a “revolution,” citing the famous Thomas Jefferson line about watering the tree of liberty with blood from “time to time.”

What kind of revolution did he have in mind?

Duane’s eyes crinkled into a big smile. “You ever heard of guns?”

His wife sat up: “How do you like the veal?”

“It’s awful,” Duane growled, poking at it. “I can’t hardly chew it.”


Honey, I got news for you. If you can't handle the veal, you might not be cut out to be a revolutionary.


He lives in Alabama with his wife, Melissa, who has the lilting accent and winsome charm of a southern socialite. She asked me with genuine concern about the problem of Muslims owning all the taxi medallions in New York City. “How the hell did that happen?” she asked.

Here's what you do. You move to New York and you buy yourself a medallion and you show them how it is done, sister!


Melissa O’Sullivan, the Alabaman wife of John, wasn’t buying the idea that Republicans had alienated minorities. “We’ve invited them to join us!” she insisted.

Except maybe not those icky Muslims. They can just stay Democrats.


Ms. O’Sullivan again took umbrage. As everyone went silent, she recalled a conference she attended in Australia in which a liberal nun (who “didn’t even have the decency to wear a habit”) criticized America for its “inner-city racism.” Offended, Ms. O’Sullivan recounted what she wished she’d said to this nun:

“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”


As long as they use the outdoor toilet, we are happy to have them vote Republican.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:30 PM on December 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Election Day polls showed that the vast majority of voters concluded that Romney did not really care about average people.

Gee, I wonder how they concluded that? I don't think it was the Obama campaign's doing, but rather the way Mitt Romney's (and his wife's) demeanor and remarks explicitly made this clear. No amount of high-dollar advertising is going to be able to scrub that away, even if half the electorate believes you're mouthing the right talking points.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:46 PM on December 25, 2012


A lot of people went for the plantation, which cruisers later described as rundown and serving bad food. “Jamaica is a dump!”
Oh the horrors of travel! You never know what distasteful things you might be exposed to. Better just stay on the ship and surf the internet.


To be fair, goodly sized sections of Jamaica are a dump.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:24 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


in *any* First Past The Post system, *anything* including and above a 3% swing (that is, the difference in percentages between the winning party/ candidate and the losing party/ candidate) will start approaching historic levels.

Can you explain why that is the case and why you say it as if that's what we should expect rather than it being weird? It seems weird to me. What am I missing?
posted by straight at 4:07 PM on December 25, 2012


The connection between Soptic’s job, his wife’s lack of insurance and her illness is complicated. She had no insurance because a shoulder injury caused her to leave a job that provided coverage. That was the immediate reason for her being uninsured, not the plant closure.

That right there is problematic. My own back problems date back to an early (age 22) on-the-job injury (at a temp job, to boot), and over the years have at times risen to the level of opiate painkillers + back brace + cane, immobilized-for-weeks, etc. And the idea that if I'd exhausted my sick leave (this being before FMLA or anything like that) and had been forced to leave my job, well, that's just how things work…

Huh. Is there anything I can go break or kick right now?
posted by Lexica at 4:46 PM on December 25, 2012


Straight: I've observed the same thing, and my explanation of it is that people are generally dissatisfied with their government, and all other things being equal tend to vote against the incumbents with a force proportional to the amount of time the government has been in office. This tendency is counterbalanced by voters' opposing tendency to keep voting for the same party.

The effect of this is that in the first term of a government's incumbency it will tend to lose votes from people with weak political preferences. In the second term it will tend to lose votes from people with stronger preferences who have now become more disgruntled with the government. As time goes on a government will tend to lose more and more votes until there is a change of government, and the process begins again. Since this change of government happens at the 50% level this is the natural level of voter support for a government, and large swings away from this are uncommon.

Opposing this tendency is the structural advantage held by governments: they can dole out rewards to keep their supporters (in and out of government) in line and they have free publicity because they are The Government. In contrast, political parties in opposition suffer from internal coups and lack of discipline; and it's hard for them to get free publicity except in response to government actions. Also, of course, voters tend to reward good governments and penalise bad oppositions.

An interesting dynamic happens in first-past-the-post systems when the vote is almost evenly split and no party has a majority in its own right. In this case there will be a new election unless a coalition of parties emerges to take government. In either case, however, rule typically returns to majority government within one or two terms. This is because voters usually hate elections, and want to punish whichever party they hold responsible; and because coalition governments are usually punished for being weak and chaotic. Politicians love being in government, so they will always prefer to enter a coalition than to be in opposition even though their party will probably end up paying the price at the next election.

Anyway, all this is why (once again, presuming all other things being equal) democracies with first-past-the-post systems typically have two major parties with about 50% support each, and the ruling party usually alternates every two or three terms at most: we don't like our governments; we have a lot of opposition politicians telling us that they could do a better job; and after a while we start to believe them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:54 PM on December 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a different explanation for the over-53%-is-exceptional phenomenon. That is, in cases with only two parties, they will adjust their positions until the people until they are considered to be roughly equal. My reasoning: if one side wins substantially more elections than the other, then eventually they'll come to be seen as perpetual losers. The nature of investment systems is to disproportionately reward success and likewise punish failure: everyone wants to have money on #1, #2 isn't nearly as glamorous, and even less so when that means more "being the loser" as opposed to "silver medalist." This means the losing party must eventually adapt, moving towards the other party's positions and lessening its uniqueness, or suffer from lack of support and die and be replaced by another organization that will.

Thus, I predict these systems will generally end up stablizing at close races between two parties until something big disrupts them.
posted by JHarris at 6:07 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]



Stop being lazy. Stop being stupid. Contribute.
posted by to sir with millipedes


Ok dad.

Cuz we never have silly stuff on METAFILTER!
posted by spitbull at 7:40 PM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't want to sound mean, but most people hearing the story about helping the poor 14yo make a will are having as first thought 'a 14yo SO RICH he needs to make a will? What's he going to leave - his football and his x-box?' I think an x-box is the height of personal possessions/aspirations for, around here, and perhaps some posh trainers.

I don't want to speak to the kid's state of mind when facing his mortality. It's more than possible that he Really Wanted to make out a will and it bought him comfort.
But it says a lot to me that this is the story that the Romneys decided to tell. Really rich guy spends time with dying kid. Helping him manage his money. They couldn't find just one more story about helping a kid somewhere? Taking him to Disney or something?
Anyway, I like articles like this, but they're entertainment; good for little windows into the thought processes of the losers, and the occasional funny behind the scenes anecdote, but they're not good for figuring out why someone lost. Obama won because he's Obama. He beat a Clinton. Romney never had a shot. He lost the day Hermain Cain pulled ahead of him in the primary.
Romney lost because he sucks.
posted by qnarf at 8:43 AM on December 26, 2012


qnarf, I'll point out one more time and then stop that there are at least a dozen different reasons people have listed in this thread as the "obvious" reason Romney lost, none of which have any real evidence to back them up.

The single, self-evident, obvious reason Romney lost, according to MetaFilter:

1. He "sucks"
2. People didn't think he cares about ordinary people (the 47% video tape either was or wasn't the deciding factor here).
3. Black voters turned out in high numbers because they were pissed off by voter suppression tactics.
4. The Republican primary boxed him into unpopular conservative policy positions.
5. Republicans lived in a FOX bubble and had now idea how unpopular their positions were.
6. Obama's get-out-the vote operation was much better organized than Romney's.
7. Obama was much better at using data to target his campaign ads.
7. Republicans kept saying things to alienate women and minorities.
8. Obama was a smarter, more honest, more likable, and all around a truly great president in his first term
9. Romney refused to put forward any real policy proposals.
10. The GOP's anti-science orientation has come back to bite them.
11. Obama's campaign was organized in a more ground-up fashion, able to listen to good ideas from the grassroots while Romney's was too top-down.
12. Romney hired a bunch of hack consultants who only cared about their consulting fees and didn't really care if he was elected.
posted by straight at 12:04 PM on December 26, 2012


I'm being relatively flip when I point to Romney's loss as due to 'suck.' With that said, Romney was a terrible candidate and an obviously bad, unlikable person.
Obama is a great campaigner, and an obviously likable person.
To me, that's really all that needs saying, and most everything else is symptomatic of that dynamic.
posted by qnarf at 12:28 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't help but notice that while straight carps about "at least a dozen different reasons people have listed in this thread as the 'obvious' reason Romney lost, none of which have any real evidence to back them up," the only reason he himself offers is that there was not a last-minute natural disaster to make Obama look bad.

I guess straight is just not interested in why Romney lost, and doesn't want anyone talking about it. If we do talk about it, he thinks we're being ridiculous.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:37 PM on December 26, 2012


...there are at least a dozen different reasons people have listed in this thread as the "obvious" reason Romney lost, none of which have any real evidence to back them up.

The single, self-evident, obvious reason Romney lost, according to MetaFilter:

1. He "sucks"


His biggest jump in the polls came from Obama stumbling, not from him doing anything spectacular.


2. People didn't think he cares about ordinary people (the 47% video tape either was or wasn't the deciding factor here).

That and Obama's campaign specifically ran ads during the summer that painted Romney in this way. That's in the article in this post and even Romney's campaign admit that was the case and that it was tactical error on their part not counter those ads.


3. Black voters turned out in high numbers because they were pissed off by voter suppression tactics.

See this comment, in this thread.

4. The Republican primary boxed him into unpopular conservative policy positions.

Jeb Bush says GOP primary boxed in Romney on immigration

Why Mitt Lost
He couldn’t separate himself from the Republican Party’s growing extremism.

5. Republicans lived in a FOX bubble and had now idea how unpopular their positions were.

There's been plenty of stories about that.

6. Obama's get-out-the vote operation was much better organized than Romney's.

Again, plenty of stories about that and the Obama campaign's awesome, rigorously tested infrastructure.

7. Obama was much better at using data to target his campaign ads.

See previous answer

7. Republicans kept saying things to alienate women and minorities.

Senate Republicans Admit It: We Pissed Off Minorities and Lost

8. Obama was a smarter, more honest, more likable, and all around a truly great president in his first term

A WSJ poll had Obama as more likable than Romney in September.

Obama Ahead in 10-Point Favorability Measure, 62% to 55%

9. Romney refused to put forward any real policy proposals.

Romney's changing policy or refusal to be specific was noted throughout the campaign.

10. The GOP's anti-science orientation has come back to bite them.

Yeah, at this point I'm just Googling to find the numerous articles and polls that rebut your list and you can do that yourself, right?

So I'm left confused as to why you write that your list has no "real evidence to back them up" when they clearly do. Hell, I'm not even sure what original point was, because even you noted that the election was never really in doubt, no matter how close Mittens was.

So, uh, how was your Christmas?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:07 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those twelve reasons represent "small" constituencies that led to Romney's losing. Depending on how you slice the demographics, you could say that it was the Black, Latino, Asian, gay, tech, single woman, or highly educated vote that "cost" him the election. The bottom line is that he relied on getting out the traditional white male voter, while Obama got everyone else's vote. There's no "obvious" reason; but you cannot win a national election while only catering to the "GOP faithful" voter anymore, because the numbers just aren't there. You have to run an inclusive campaign, and to do that, you have to be able to engage, understand, and respect those who are different from you. To do this, you have to know who they are, what influences them, and how to motivate them. Romney ignored these groups; Obama built a campaign around reaching them.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:37 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I'm left confused as to why you write that your list has no "real evidence to back them up" when they clearly do. Hell, I'm not even sure what original point was, because even you noted that the election was never really in doubt, no matter how close Mittens was.

His point was that are at least twelve One Reasons, and in order to be the real One Reason they would have to crush the other reasons with the claymore of evidence, Connor McCloud style, then stand on the pile of skulls hollering "There can only be one!" and then the True Reason Mitt Romney Lost The Election would make out with an 80s babe and ride off into the sunset.
posted by Diablevert at 2:02 PM on December 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't help but notice that while straight carps about "at least a dozen different reasons people have listed in this thread as the 'obvious' reason Romney lost, none of which have any real evidence to back them up," the only reason he himself offers is that there was not a last-minute natural disaster to make Obama look bad.

I guess straight is just not interested in why Romney lost, and doesn't want anyone talking about it. If we do talk about it, he thinks we're being ridiculous.


Well yes, my point is that there's no good way to back up any particular claim that "This is why Romney lost," so of course I didn't offer any myself.

And yes, I think it's ridiculous that after every election there are dozens of confident pronouncements about why the loser lost, all of them different. Particularly when the election is close enough that a few random events that no one is really talking about could have swung it the other direction. If the economy had been a little bit worse, would Romney's arrogance or Obama's organization have mattered? Who knows?

Nate Silver correctly predicted Obama would win long before either campaign had the chance to demonstrate that their last-minute ground game was organized or disorganized. Which makes it hard to believe any of that stuff made a big difference in the outcome.

And Brandon, I'm sorry if I wasn't clear. I didn't mean to claim that there was no evidence that those factors existed or had an influence on the election. I was claiming there was no way to demonstrate that any of them was the deciding factor in the election, as various people seem to be claiming. And the list was trying to make the point that they can't all be the reason Romney lost.
posted by straight at 2:13 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


straight, I don't think anyone here is claiming that the one or two things they write about are the only reason Romney lost. All of them add up to him losing, they are mostly not contradictory, and if he'd reversed any one of them somehow, he might have won. Your apparent scorn for us, and what I think is a misreading of what people here are saying makes me wonder just why you feel that way. As I wrote, it seems like you don't want this discussion to exist.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:34 PM on December 26, 2012


straight, I don't think anyone here is claiming that the one or two things they write about are the only reason Romney lost. All of them add up to him losing, they are mostly not contradictory, and if he'd reversed any one of them somehow, he might have won. Your apparent scorn for us, and what I think is a misreading of what people here are saying makes me wonder just why you feel that way. As I wrote, it seems like you don't want this discussion to exist.

I'm not straight and I won't put words in his mouth. But it seems to me that the reason it is interesting to have the discussion is that the reason Romney lost determines the lesson we should learn for next time, yes? These type of arguments affect how you fight the next war, whether you direct all your resources into building the next Maginot line (or Project Orca) or not. People have been advancing their own pet theories. But I tend to agree with straight that it's dangerous to draw the inference that Romney's loss was inevitable, fated, to discount chance and circumstance. That he was just a terrible candidate and was always going to lose. That generates complacency, helps create the blinders that can lead to losing the next round.
posted by Diablevert at 2:49 PM on December 26, 2012


The single, self-evident, obvious reason Romney lost:

He received fewer electoral votes.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:51 PM on December 26, 2012


That's it exactly Diablevert. I find it really easy to imagine a world in which Obama and Romney did exactly the same things and because the economy had been a little worse Romney won and we wouldn't be reading a word about how disorganized his campaign was, or how the Tea Party had dragged the Republican party too far to the right or about the FOX News bubble or how "everyone" thought Romney was a pompous ass. We'd be reading about how the Democrats sabotaged themselves or how Obama was too conservative/too liberal or how Obama threw the election away by not taking the first debate seriously or how people voting for Green candidates handed the election to Romney.

And Kirth, I'm really sorry if the way I was critiquing this kind of thinking sounded scornful. That's not how I meant it, and I hope there would be some way of saying, "I think this line of thinking is misguided and unfalsifiable" without sounding scornful. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "silly"?
posted by straight at 5:26 PM on December 26, 2012


“Now I know what they were doing with all the staffs and ­offices,” Beeson said. “They were literally creating a one-to-one contact with voters,” something that Romney did not have the staff to match.


"We lost because Obama is good at community organizing."
posted by Drinky Die at 8:27 PM on December 26, 2012


"We lost because Obama is good at community organizing."

Dear Lord, that's it! It was ACORN in the study with the pipe wrench!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:54 PM on December 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Has anyone made the Romney was Kock-blocked joke lately?
Oh, wait, the Kochs only want to block poor people from stuff.
posted by Mezentian at 2:44 AM on December 27, 2012


If Obama were white unemployment could have been at 10% and he would still have won over the GOP ship of fools.

The only reason it was close was because of Republican racism. Hillary Clinton would have wiped the floor with Romney. It would have been over in August.

I know my right wing relatives. All they could see was the black guy in the(ir!) White House.

And yeah, what's the difference between a small town mayor and a community organizer?

One of them is now the two term leader of the fucking free world, Ms. Palin, and the other is doing reality television shows.

And it wasn't really that close anyway. Obama played for the electoral votes he needed, not to run up the score.
posted by spitbull at 4:16 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The only reason it was close was because of Republican racism. Hillary Clinton would have wiped the floor with Romney. It would have been over in August.

I know my right wing relatives. All they could see was the black guy in the(ir!) White House.


That's the same kind of thinking that had Republicans convinced that whoever won the nomination would beat Obama in a walk. If Clinton had won in 2008, we'd be having this exact argument right now about her re-election, and you'd be saying, "The only reason it was close was because of Republican sexism. Barack Obama would have wiped the floor with Romney. It would have been over in August."

You don't have sixty million relatives that voted against the black guy.
posted by Etrigan at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2012


I find it really easy to imagine a world in which Obama and Romney did exactly the same things and because the economy had been a little worse Romney won and we wouldn't be reading a word about how disorganized his campaign was, or how the Tea Party had dragged the Republican party too far to the right or about the FOX News bubble or how "everyone" thought Romney was a pompous ass. We'd be reading about how the Democrats sabotaged themselves or how Obama was too conservative/too liberal or how Obama threw the election away by not taking the first debate seriously or how people voting for Green candidates handed the election to Romney.

I dunno, you're all over the map with this. First it was "nate sivler predicted obama winning months ago, so saying Obama's ground game won him the election is pointless". Which make sit sound like Obama could have not run a ground game at all and still won, which makes no sense.

Now it's, oh there are larger forces at work and if X had been different, then Romney could have easily won. Well, which is it, i.e. how was Silver able to correctly predict the election if there were larger forces at work that could have easily swayed the electorate?

You seem to be ignoring a lot information and holding to a narrow view how the election went. Romney had to run an almost perfect game, anyone looking at the numbers knew that as far back as May, at least. Obama had numerous paths to the magic 270 Electoral votes. When Ohio was called Obama, it was game over. When Rove disputed that call, that was Romney's one shot at winning, yet Obama still had had a path to victory even if Romeny had won Ohio. That's not a close race.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:27 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it really easy to imagine a world in which Obama and Romney did exactly the same things and because the economy had been a little worse Romney won

Well you can't blame Republicans for not tryIng there, and continuing to try for 2014.
posted by Artw at 7:34 AM on December 27, 2012


Brandon, it's exactly my point to be all over the map on this. I'm pointing to the national conversation on this. Everyone has a different opinion about why Obama won or Romney lost and there's no way to falsify any of these claims.
posted by straight at 8:22 AM on December 27, 2012


Everyone has a different opinion about why Obama won or Romney lost and there's no way to falsify any of these claims.

I don't understand how anyone can claim this. If someone says Romney lost because of X, one certainly look at the campaign or data or something and say "Yes, you're right" or "No, look at this piece of data" or even "It had an impact, but this other thing was more important" etc, etc.

It sounds like you're saying there's no way we can know for sure why Obama won, even after the campaign, which is odd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on December 27, 2012


It sounds like you're saying there's no way we can know for sure why Obama won, even after the campaign, which is odd.

I think straight is saying that there's no way we can point to one thing as the reason Obama won. Instead, there are many, many things all tied together, so even trying to point out one thing as the primary reason that Obama won is fairly easy to refute.

For example, "Obama's ground game" is refutable by pointing out that Romney never led in the polls, so the GOTV effort wasn't the thing. That's not the same thing as saying "Obama could have not run a ground game at all and still won."

The Romney campaign had many holes, some self-inflicted and some from the Obama campaign's swords. You can't point at one cut and say, "Ah, here is the death-blow."
posted by Etrigan at 8:39 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't have sixty million relatives that voted against the black guy.

No, but in aggregate there may be 30 million. In my experience, not all racists are out of the closet these days, but in private they sometimes let their prejudices show below their cloaks of decency.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:48 AM on December 27, 2012


No, what straight has specifically said is that the race was very, very close because close to half of those who voted chose Romney. Thus the race could have gone the other way very easily, so it's pointless to point to any one factor that caused Obama to win.

But that completely ignores the fact that the US President race is decided by the Electoral vote, not the popular vote. By that measure, Obama won 62% to 38%, which is not close at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think straight is saying that there's no way we can point to one thing as the reason Obama won.

This is a functionally degenerate argument. There is NEVER only one reason something happens. We usually tacitly understand the discussion to be about the main or overriding reason and to take the counterfactuals that had some finite chance of occurrence. We don't say, "Well, er, the real reason Obama won is that no one assassinated him." It's true, but a useless assertion in understanding the 2012 campaign for POTUS, no?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2012


There is NEVER only one reason something happens.

Read the next sentence I wrote, please: "Instead, there are many, many things all tied together, so even trying to point out one thing as the primary reason that Obama won is fairly easy to refute." Note the emphasis there, which was in the original.

We usually tacitly understand the discussion to be about the main or overriding reason... (emphasis added)

Other people in this very thread are saying similar things: "All Obama needed to do was..." and "The real reason Romney lost..." But some of us believe that there were lots and lots of reasons, and no single one can be pointed at as so significant that, without it, Romney would have won.

In many other elections, there have been such things -- would Ford have lost in 1976 if he hadn't pre-emptively pardoned Nixon? Does GHWB lose in 1992 if Perot doesn't enter the race? A dozen things could have changed in 2000; marriage equality in 2004; the sudden collapse of the economy in 2008...

I'm not saying that Obama was inevitably going to win this election. But I also don't think you can point to a thing that could have gone wrong (within reason) that results in a Romney victory.

It's true, but a useless assertion in understanding the 2012 campaign for POTUS, no?

I think that looking for the knockout blow doesn't bring us any closer to that understanding either.
posted by Etrigan at 9:28 AM on December 27, 2012


I don't care WHY Romney lost. I'm just glad that the arrogant, flip-flopping, out-of-touch opportunist didn't win the Presidency ... and am ecstatic that President Obama won a second term!
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on December 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad that the arrogant, flip-flopping, out-of-touch opportunist didn't win the Presidency

I know, right? Who the hell would have wanted President John Kerry? (Kidding. Sort of.)

Seriously though, the parallels to 2004 are interesting:

- Incumbent HATED WITH A BURNING PASSION by the base in the opposition party, who often compare him to Hitler.

- Opposition party has primary candidate(s) who fire(s) up the base but flame out well before they have a real crack at the nomination.

- Ultimately, opposition nominates the boring "electable" candidate that nobody's really that excited about-- an arrogant, wealthy northeasterner.

- On election day, incumbent runs an effective GOTV operation and supporters turn out to vote for him; challenger's supporters turn out more reluctantly, mostly to vote AGAINST the incumbent, because the thing they like best about their guy is that he's not the other guy.

- Incumbent reelected.

I was saying all spring and summer (and people thought I was nuts for saying it but whatever) that I would rather run against Romney than Santorum because nobody would actually G the fuck OTV for Romney, whereas Santorum had a smaller but MUCH more enthusiastic base.

I mean, when I look back at every Presidential election since I started paying attention (1984), every single one of them was won by the guy whose supporters were more excited to get out and vote FOR him, rather than just voting AGAINST the other guy.

The losing candidates were all essentially of the boring (or deeply flawed) "hold your nose and vote for him so that other guy doesn't win" variety: Mondale, Dukakis, Bush, Dole, Gore, Kerry, Romney.

Does that prove. anything? Of course not, but it's a thing that has happened pretty consistently for the last 28 years, and I will remain convinced 'til the day I die that Gary Hart would have crushed GHW Bush in 1988 and Howard Dean would have done the same to his son 16 years later.
posted by dersins at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


It sounds like you're saying there's no way we can know for sure why Obama won, even after the campaign, which is odd.

That doesn't seem odd to me at all. If there were certainty in any of this the science of campaigning would have been settled years ago.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2012


There is a certain degree of post campaigning autopsy that can reveal plenty about why given candidates win or lose particular campaigns. The front loaded uncertainty tends to be due to how social (gender, ethnic, class, religion, age), economic, motivation, manipulation, perceptions, etc etc issues play out in a given year. So, while there are some very precise campaign dos and don'ts you just can't control all variables. but you can look at them after the fact and say with a decent degree of authority - this and this and this and that and that are why someone won and someone lost. Yeah, very rarely can you point to a single thing as the sole reason --- unlike the Akin/McCaskill race ---.



Incidentally VH1 was showing a 2008 SNL wrap up of that election, and man... Tina Fey and Jason Sudeikis where hilarious... and Palin herself, very very not funny.
posted by edgeways at 11:47 AM on December 27, 2012


Read the next sentence I wrote, please: "Instead, there are many, many things all tied together, so even trying to point out one thing as the primary reason that Obama won is fairly easy to refute."

Well, I wasn't addressing that sentence, but I will. The fact that there are many, many causes (as I said, there always are many reasons) is irrelevant to whether one can look for one that had the highest impact, as is the fact that they are "all tied together." Certainly, the Reagan October surprise is an obvious historical example, as is the Nixon Vietnam peace-talk sabotage. Just because some people are so enamored of the obfuscated policy points that Romney had and because so many people will reflexively vote Republican regardless of any externalities does not mitigate the huge impact of his essentially unlikable and arrogant personality and the ease with which any opponent with normal affect and demeanor could exploit that against him. Couple that with his explicit statement to his funders that essentially half the US electorate are leeches, and it's pretty much a cakewalk. All that's left is to choose where and when to apply the formulat to maximize your electoral college advantage.

But some of us believe that there were lots and lots of reasons, and no single one can be pointed at as so significant that, without it, Romney would have won.

Again, you seem to be missing the fact that this isn't the point. I pointed out that Obama surviving until the election was certainly enormous. And you cannot deny that there are other factors that similarly would have greatly enhanced the probabilities of a different outcome. Stirring up a bunch of mud by mumbling "many factors" and "all tied together" is generally not a good way to analyze a problem or answer a question, although it is effective in creating doubt and confusion.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:26 PM on December 27, 2012


There is a certain degree of post campaigning autopsy that can reveal plenty about why given candidates win or lose particular campaigns.

I wonder. Every single weekday a slew of commentators tell us why the stock market did what it did yesterday and yet nobody has shown a statistically significant ability to predict what it will do today. One gets the feeling we're focusing on the wrong factors or that the problem is more complex than we can currently deal with.

Of course in the case of an absolute slaughter -- say Reagan v. Carter -- you can usually pick out some big items. But in these closer races I'm not convinced we know where to look.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2012


Stirring up a bunch of mud by mumbling "many factors" and "all tied together" is generally not a good way to analyze a problem or answer a question, although it is effective in creating doubt and confusion.

There is a distinct difference between "mumbling 'many factors' and 'all tied together'" and saying, as I have been, that there is not one thing that put Obama over the top or that Romney could have done differently.

Let me lay out a mathematical example. If Obama got 332 electoral votes ad needed 270, and the biggest EV state was California with 55, can it accurately be said that any swing of one state would have put Romney in the White House? No. That means that there was not one state that put Obama over the top. Like there was not one thing that did it, in my opinion. You can disagree with my opinion, but don't say that I'm just mumbling and insisting that we can't possibly know anything for sure.
posted by Etrigan at 4:00 PM on December 27, 2012


We usually tacitly understand the discussion to be about the main or overriding reason...

Which, in practice, we cannot determine. There are at least a dozen different candidates in this thread alone, and not much more than opinions and anecdotes to try to weigh the relative impact each of them might have had on the election.

If I say, "Even if Romney's campaign had been much better organized, with an aggressive ground game, he still wouldn't have been able to drum up enough votes to win" or "If only that 47% video hadn't come out and Romney had been able to sell himself as a compassionate conservative, he would have won," how would you prove me wrong?
posted by straight at 12:57 AM on December 28, 2012


If I say, "Even if Romney's campaign had been much better organized, with an aggressive ground game, he still wouldn't have been able to drum up enough votes to win" or "If only that 47% video hadn't come out and Romney had been able to sell himself as a compassionate conservative, he would have won," how would you prove me wrong?

Like so:

A. Look at the population and votes that took place in the top four-6 battleground states, see what the difference was and how the vote differed from 2008. For instance, the African-American vote for this cycle was off the charts, blowing past everyone's expectations. Couple that fact with GOP's attempts to suppress voting and the hard right swing from the primaries and you can definitely argue that even an aggressive ground game would not have allowed Romney to win. Everyone, at this point, agrees that the voting electorate has changed with this election and a candidate can not win by ignoring the minority vote.

B. Had the video not come out and Romney been able to appeal to more minorities, it's conceivable that he would have won.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 AM on December 28, 2012


Man, it's weird to think that Barack Obama owes a lot of his second term to Jimmy Carter('s grandson).
posted by schmod at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, saying that the high minority turnout for Obama was greater than the possible Republican turnout if Romney's ground game had matched Obama's assumes you know how effective a good ground game is at turning out votes, which is entirely the issue at question.
posted by straight at 9:59 AM on December 28, 2012




Now you're talking, Brandon. That's the kind of data you almost never see in these post mortem election discussions.

Here we have an unusual opportunity to look at the effect of a particular aspect of Obama's campaign. And it turns out that, as best as we can determine, the potential impact of a great Romney ground game would have probably been pretty minimal.

Obama's well-organized ground campaign seems to have given him at best a less-than-1% advantage against McCain's poorly-organized ground campaign. Which means that the most Romney could have hoped for from a great ground game is probably to erase some of that .8% advantage. Which means (as I suspected) the hand-wringing in the article in the original post is mostly pointless.
posted by straight at 5:20 PM on December 28, 2012


Brandon Blatcher: I think this type of data puts the OP into perspective. Field work does work, but is limited. Even if you go with the more optimistic campaign culture's conventional wisdom, field work changes the margin by about 3% in optimal conditions. Four states were within that margin -- Virginia, Ohio, and Florida for Obama, North Carolina for Romney. Obama could have lost all those states and still won the presidency.

One thing that I will say to contest the academic consensus about field work is that a lot of the campaign effects either aren't well studied (the mechanics of political persuasion is still a mystery), not amenable to randomized controlled test (darn secret ballot!), or a parochial view of what field work does (voter registration drives and petition signature collection are among the functions lost in this view of what field work does).

This stuff really only started getting studied about 10 years ago! And if you look at the studies that Green and Gerber (who are cited in the WaPo article you link to) look at in their book, you find a lot of variation between studies, which suggest a ton of variables that can't be adequately controlled for. Just three off the top of my head: how high-profile the race is, whether the race is a party primary or a general election, and the type of voting laws in that jurisdiction.
posted by Weebot at 9:36 AM on December 29, 2012


And just with regards to the original article, there is a lot of "winners write history" going on, where everything the winner did was great and the loser did was awful, which is typical of campaign post-mortems. Campaign reporting is in general pretty awful, and don't really even try to determine what is causal and what is simply correlated.
posted by Weebot at 9:43 AM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that's a great article... The paper it links to is worth a read though. The first two paragraphs of the discussion for example:


As the evidence presented in this paper suggests, the establishment of a local
field office by a presidential campaign can yield modest but important dividends
for a candidate. Obama’s decision to establish hundreds of county-level offices
helped to boost his vote share by almost one point overall and by more than
three points within some states.

When analyzing any campaign effect, it is worth asking whether it matters
for the final election outcome. The general election analysis suggests that three
states, worth fifty-three electoral votes, may have gone Obama’s way because
of the effective allocation of field offices
. While those electoral votes weren’t
pivotal in this contest, they were certainly enough to turn a tossup into an
Electoral College blowout.


So, a good ground game make not result in a huge popular vote turn out, but can swing three states. Which further underscores, for me, the fact that Obama's team knew how to win. the popular vote is symbolic and it always helps to win that, but you always focus on states, and winning three states because of your ground game is not shabby.


I find it amusing that int he WaPo article they end on:

Noting how hampered McCain was in 2008, and how impressive the Obama team was in using its field offices, Masket says that 0.8 points is about the best a ground team can hope to win. But in an election this close, that could make all the difference.

All that is missing is the exclamation points. (and Matthews kinda seems to miss the point of the paper he references)
posted by edgeways at 10:04 AM on December 29, 2012




not amenable to randomized controlled test (darn secret ballot!)

The rest of your comment I whole-heartedly agree with, but as a clinical trialist, I had to comment on this part. It isn't the secret ballot that prevents a randomized trial, it's the logistics. Since field work unavoidably spills over to everyone in a geography, you can't randomize individuals to different field-work regimes. You would have to randomize geographies and enough of them to provide a statistically powerful enough sample size to see small differences in outcomes. The cost of such a trial would be enormous, and no one would ever fund it.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:09 PM on December 31, 2012


not amenable to randomized controlled test (darn secret ballot!)

Secret ballot means nobody knows who you voted for, not nobody knows whether you voted. Generally, whether someone voted or not is publicly available information, which means the secret ballot is no barrier to tracking whether a GOTV contact produced results within a given population.

Since field work unavoidably spills over to everyone in a geography

Not necessarily so, MW. One of the things that made the Obama campaign's field efforts effective was targeting individuals for voter contact rather than entire geographic areas. Start with a large enough universe of potential voter contact targets (you think several hundred thousand would be enough? ) about whom you have a lot of data, and suddenly creating a randomized control group is not so logistically onerous. Sure there might be some spillover contacts , but at the very least you'd get an intent-to-treat analysis out of it.
posted by dersins at 9:39 AM on January 2, 2013


Not necessarily so, MW.

As one who has overseen many community interventions for health and education, let me assure you that I didn't make the statement in ignorance. It's not like you can engage someone in secret. The other housemates, the neighbors, the election judges, they will all see that person show up and that person will talk to others at work and at play. There will be a geographic effect that cannot be separated from the individual effect. You seem to acknowledge this with the "spillover contacts", but seem to assume in advance of data that they would be small. I am less sanguine and the only way to evaluate it is by a randomized trial of geographies where some of them have randomized individuals in some geographies. It gets funner and funner.

And the ITT analysis of an individually randomized trial doesn't do what we want to here, that is, it estimates the diminished effect not the real effect of the intervention. It's not non-compliance, the usual downward-biaser of ITT estimates of effect, but rather lack of SUTVA (stable unit-treatment value assumption). I think we're stuck with a group-randomized trial.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:02 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fair enough. Apologies in advance for not having the jargon down as fluently as you do, but wouldn't your posited geographic effect affect both groups equally, assuming properly randomized treatment and control groups? Wouldn't it then essentially cancel itself out?

I mean, (A + X + Y) - (B+X) is equal to (A+Y) - B, right? (Where A & B are treatment & control groups, X is your geographic effect, and Y is the treatment effect). I know the math gets more complex than addition and subtraction, but isn't that pretty much what we're talking about?

So after the election, comparing actual voting behavior of the two groups (again, whether someone voted in a given election is generally publicly available information), allows you to determine whether engaging a potential voter with a mobilization conversation (or having the intent to do so) had an effect on the likelihood that he or she voted, independent of whether there was a "geographic effect", yes? Or am I missing something fundamental here?
posted by dersins at 11:57 AM on January 2, 2013


... but wouldn't your posited geographic effect affect both groups equally,...

Good question. I think the answer is, no. Here's why I think it is.

I'm assuming that the question we want to answer is how big an effect a targeted ground game has on voter turn out. That is, what we want to estimate is the difference in voting rates when we apply that targeted game to everyone and when, counterfactually, we apply it to no one.

Now, let's say you had a study population in a given georgraphy of 20,000 and randomized half to intervention and half as controls. There's a good chance that a lot of the intervention folks are in close contact with the controls and so will influence their behavior, let's say by increasing the likelihood the control will mimic their own behavior. So, if the targeted ground game has an effect, the estimated difference between the two randomized groups will be smaller than the difference between the all vs. none scenario, because this spillover will increase the control group's voting turnout. You're correct that if the spillover effect is small, the bias will be small, but it is very difficult to measure that spillover effect, so we won't know whether it is small or large.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:14 PM on January 2, 2013


More schadenfreude: In The Weeds
But what is really quite gripping is down in the weeds, in the comment section. I know its nutpicking but its still interesting. In Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) Tavris and Aronson discuss research showing that people misremember who they vote for, or whether they voted at all, in elections where their desired candidate did not win. Years after an election more people think they voted for the winner than actually did as people try to align their vote with popular opinion. They don't discuss the phenomenon known as "sour grapes" in which people refuse to admit that they voted for a losing candidate but are too close to the event to start fantasizing that they voted for the winner. Down in the Boston Globe comments we can see a version of that with people who probably did vote for Romney when they thought he might win now disavowing having voted at all when, in retrospect, they discover he lost.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:16 AM on January 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know its nutpicking but its still interesting.

Heh, heh. He said nutpicking. Heh, heh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:03 AM on January 3, 2013


I'm assuming that the question we want to answer is how big an effect a targeted ground game has on voter turn out. That is, what we want to estimate is the difference in voting rates when we apply that targeted game to everyone and when, counterfactually, we apply it to no one.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "everyone", and I suspect that may be where we're talking across each other. The whole point of a targeted ground game is that you don't--and would never-- apply it to everyone across the board. There are going to be voters whom you don't want to mobilize, voters whom you don't need to mobilize, and voters whom there's no point in trying to mobilize. Knowing who's who is what I'm taking "targeted" to mean.

Now, let's say you had a study population in a given geography of 20,000 and randomized half to intervention and half as controls. There's a good chance that a lot of the intervention folks are in close contact with the controls and so will influence their behavior

Perhaps because of what seems to be our differing understanding of "targeted ground game", I suspect you may be overestimating the likely density of contacts, and thus the spillover effect.

With a few exceptions (for progressive/left campaigns this might include college campuses and some low-income housing), a well-executed, well-targeted voter mobilization effort generally won't just blanket an entire geographic area.

The whole point of that kind of microtargeting is that it allows a campaign to focus on the small % of people whose turnout can make a difference in a close election and not waste time and resources trying to talk to:

- modeled or identified supporters of their opponent
- people who always vote so don't need a turnout contact
- people who never ever ever vote so there's no point in bothering
- people who are not contactable

This is going to eliminate somewhere between 70% and 90% of your voting population right off the bat. Let's overestimate who's left and say it leaves us with 30%. Divide the remainder into treatment & control groups, and each group is 15% of the voting population.

Factor in the rate at which a campaign is going to make a successful contact with a target: first attempt might be 15%, with subsequent attempts dropping off pretty sharply after that. Total contact rate for multiple passes through the target universe might--might--be as high as 50%, though that's honestly pretty high. This means you're going to be talking to 7.5% of the voting population, maximum.

Now what does the spillover effect look like? Remember, your treated group is 7.5% of registered voters, and your control group is 15%. You've probably also made sure that anyone in the same household is in the same group, right? So how much close contact are you really going to have between the groups? (I don't know the answer to that, by the way-- I'm asking you because I'm curious).

Obviously this is likely to be too small a population for a decent study if we're talking about a local election, but for anything statewide or national it should be more than adequate. Oregon, where I live, has about 2.5 million registered voters. 7.5% of that is almost 190,000 people, which I would think is several times what would be needed for something like this. A larger state (most are-- Oregon only has 7 electoral votes) will have even more people.

So that's where I'm coming from on this-- just that this is something that can be measured through proper trials. And people much smarter and more knowledgeable than I am seem to agree with me that a randomized controlled experiment can measure this.
posted by dersins at 9:18 AM on January 3, 2013


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "everyone", and I suspect that may be where we're talking across each other. No, we mean the same thing. In fact, it's not important whether it's targeted or not to the argument we're having about the study design. However, I was assuming we were talking about prioritizing by voting likelihood individuals likely to vote for the candidate who's funding the operation with a specific strategy tailored to what we already know about that voter, while not even addressing people whose characteristics strongly suggest they would vote for the opposition. However, since people who vote alike, affiliate alike, the density doesn't matter as much as the social proximity. So even though they may be sparse, they will still cluster.

Again, you seem to be arguing that the spill-over effect might be small (and it might be), but that is a testable hypothesis and should not be assumed to be true when designing the study. If it's false you've just wasted a whole bunch of money.

Oh, and none of the links are to clinical trialists, and I've found non-trialists to be fairly naive about what it takes to do a proper trial, so I don't find their opinions particularly convincing.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:37 AM on January 3, 2013


> Mitt Romney's prodigy

Mitt Romney's progeny?
posted by Sutekh at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2013


BungaDunga: "Obama was the incumbent, of course he didn't have any primary challengers."

That's not always true.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:08 PM on January 4, 2013


Pushing Deeper Into The Bubble
Dobson acts as though Romney's avoidance of conservative social issues cost him the election, when the evidence is clear that those issues were actually a millstone weighing him down in spite of his efforts to avoid them. To point out the obvious, culture-war candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock went down to humiliating defeats after making statements that the religious right cheered. Romney, too, suffered from a huge gender gap among female voters. Dobson simply ignores these electoral realities, acting as though future Republicans will do better if only they shout even louder about banning abortion and bashing gays. He's welcome to hold to this dead-end course if he chooses, but he's still laboring under the delusion that it will somehow bring success at the polls.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:48 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


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