It’s fitting that, if CBS’s reporting is to be believed, Romney’s own advisers actually bought into the “unskewed polls” nonsense and were thoroughly unprepared for the devastating loss on Tuesday night. They were “shellshocked,” having never questioned their own overly optimistic assumptions about turnout and demographics.
If true, this is serious, serious political malpractice. This isn’t just hubris—although that surely does explain the lack of a prepared concession speech and haughty plans for a fireworks display over the Boston harbor—no, I think this reflects something more fundamental about the campaign. These guys were paying themselves rounds of bonuses after bonuses, even after a convention memorable mostly for an old man’s rant at an empty chair and a disastrous September the campaign itself called especially “grim.” They didn’t just fail, they believed their own spectacular hype and were paying themselves handsomely even as the crash awaited—a crash they now say they were blindsided by even though it was plainly visible to the rest of us.
This was a campaign largely of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street; indeed, take a look at the top contributors, as recently noted in the Los Angeles Times. So perhaps it’s no surprise that these trained professionals would behave much like their financial services brethren. Just as the Wall Street quants and their abetters failed to envision a world in which housing prices might precipitously decline nationally at the same time—and nearly blew up the economy as a result—these guys apparently could not conceive of an America in which roughly the same percentage of Democrats turned out in 2012 as in 2008–even though public polls were predicting that result consistently.
The difference of course is that the American people paid dearly for Wall Street’s excesses in the 2000s. This time around, we can take some solace in the fact that the losses, to say nothing of the millions squandered by Super PACs, are not so unjustly distributed.