The New Republic's Noam Scheiber gained access to some of the Romney campaign's internal polls, which gave Team Romney a wildly unrealistic sense that Mitt was going to win. How bad was the polling? This bad:
The first thing you notice is that New Hampshire and Colorado are pretty far off the mark. In New Hampshire, the final internal polling average has Romney up 3.5 points, whereas he lost by 5.6. In Colorado, the final internal polling average has Romney up 2.5 points; he lost by 5.4.Jonathan Bernstein agrees that this doesn't speak well of the Romneyites:
... these polls do not justify the type of confidence that Team Romney was reported to have on election day.But, he adds,
... it's very hard to see any harm in it. Every campaign needs to act as though it believes it will win.... I see nothing in this story, and generally I've seen nothing in any of the post-election coverage, to indicate that Romney's campaign erred in any way based on their apparent wishful thinking about the polls.Well, maybe this didn't lead the Romneyites to do anything stupid in terms of campaigning -- but I'm sorry, I don't agree with the statement "Every campaign needs to act as though it believes it will win." Maybe every campaign needs to act as though it believes it can win. But believe that a win is guaranteed? It's appropriate to believe that?
Remember, Romney and his crew were talking as if there was no chance whatsoever that he'd lose. Romney crowed on Election Day that he'd written a victory speech but no concession speech. And remember how confident his financiers were, according to journalist Chrystia Freeland:
I found the absolute confidence that it would work astonishing. On that Tuesday, the big Romney backers I was talking to were sure he was going to win. They were all flying into Logan Airport for the victory party. There's this stunned feeling of how could we be so wrong, and a feeling of alienation.The Romney people were not just ignoring the Nate Silvers of the world, who were nearly certain that Obama would win -- they were ignoring the Joe Scarboroughs of the world, who said that Romney might win but the race was a toss-up. And they were doing this even though their cockeyed-optimist numbers didn't point to a sure win, as Scheiber notes:
Together, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Iowa go most of the way toward explaining why the Romney campaign believed it was so well-positioned. When combined with North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia -- the trio of states the Romney campaign assumed were largely in the bag -- Romney would bank 267 electoral votes, only three shy of the magic number.They were 100% certain they'd win because they were "only three shy"! Close, I guess, counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and GOP campaigns.
I think I've said this before, but this is the kind of hubris that leads to Iraq-style quagmires: you believe everything that confirms your worldview and disbelieve everything that doesn't; you get pleasing data stovepiped to yourself, draw conclusions you like, then bump those conclusions even more in your own deluded head.
Can you imagine Romney and his crew in a situation that affected us rather than themselves? What would they have done to America, given the chance, with this kind of power-of-positive-thinking nonsense driving their decision-making?
Romney was supposed to be the data-driven business genius -- but maybe the business in which he made his fortune is so rigged in favor of the dealmakers that you don't have to be particularly good at it to get stinking rich. Maybe he's just not that bright, even in the area that's supposedly his strength.