What Happened? One Week Later, Nobody Knows
Don’t let anyone tell you they know why Romney lost. The evidence is inconclusive.
November 12, 2012 - 10:00 pm
A week ago today, I predicted the Electoral College would turn out to be 341 Romney, 197 Obama.
You may have noticed that it didn’t quite work out that way.
I imagine, like me, you’ve been wondering: “What the hell happened?”
That Tatler post, and the reasoning behind it from my other post, “Keep Calm and Finish Him,” was based primarily on two observations from the polls: Rasmussen’s Republican Party self-identification was the highest in eight0 years at least — since 2004 in fact, when Republican turnout ended Kerry’s presidential hopes; and Republican enthusiasm was also higher than it had been in years, and in fact much higher than in 2008, while Democrat enthusiasm was lower. Based on these facts, and a few other hints, I concluded that the states not counted as toss-ups would go the way the polls indicated, and the states that were toss-ups would largely go to Romney.
Of course, what happened was exactly the opposite: Obama took all the toss-up states.
Why? There have been a lot of options considered. Along with a lot of other people, I wondered if the Mormonism issue had depressed Republican turnout in a post called “Magic underwear.” Some people suggested explicitly that it might have been evangelical turnout, but according to Andrew McCarthy, the exit polls didn’t actually reflect that — although the reasoning for using exit polls to describe the population that didn’t vote seems a little labored. But to be fair to that hypothesis, some commenters said explicitly that they hadn’t voted for Romney for just that reason — Mormonism was “a cult” founded by a “con man,” suggested some scurrilous comments.
A fair number of people on the Left think Romney was too conservative, while a fair number of the comments on the “Magic underwear” post said some people didn’t vote for Romney because he was insufficiently pro-life. Not surprisingly, those people on the Left think that this means the Republicans must become more “moderate” to succeed, while the people who thought Romney wasn’t sufficiently pro-life think the GOP must become more pro-life, and the hard-lire conservatives think the GOP must become more hard-line conservative.
After due consideration and several sleepless nights — you think I like being that wrong? — I’ve come to a conclusion on the question “what the hell happened?” and that conclusion is:
I don’t know.
What’s more, I don’t think anyone else knows either.