I was wrong. I predicted that Mitt Romney would not only be elected President, but would win the election by a comfortable margin. I was wrong.
It is possible, and mildly comforting to my ego, to think my prediction may have been correct when it was made a few weeks before the election and before Hurricane Sandy hit. It is a plausible argument. According to exit polls three percent of voters waited until the day of the election to decide which candidate earned their. A full nine percent report deciding for whom to vote “in the last few days.” If it is true that a sizeable percentage of voters finally made a decision in the days between the Hurricane and the election unofficial Obama campaign mouthpiece Chris Matthews had a point when he said last night, “I’m so glad we had that storm last week.”
Sandy may have had some affect, but there is a more troubling angle to my erroneous prediction.
I was not alone in predicting a Romney win. Nor was I alone in thinking a big win was possible. The Fox News/Wall Street Journal/National Review crowd was right there with me. We were all wrong.
Before the election, including the days after the hurricane, both the Obama camp and the Romney side were confident of victory. The Democrats argued that demographics were on their side, but more importantly, they believed in a turnout level that mirrored 2008. Demographics may favor the Left (more on that point tomorrow) but record high Democrat turnout seemed absurd. Republicans were motivated. Democrats disheartened. Independents were breaking decisively for Romney. Obama had trouble breaking the 50 percent barrier in most polls. With all that, and the penchant for undecided voters to break for the challenger, a Romney victory seemed certain. Considering the other omens, from an elevated unemployment rate to a Washington Redskins home loss, and Romney could not lose.
But lose he did. In the end it was not really that close. When Florida reports, the margin favoring Obama may widen.
We should consider the existence of a dispositional problem among the Right.
Numerous times in this blog I have referenced the Taranto Principle. Coined by Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto, the theory posits that liberal media bias leads to less thorough vetting of liberal politicians and that can be a disadvantage in general elections. I think Taranto has a point and that the point was on display during the first Presidential debate. However, it seems time to propose a counterpoint to the Taranto Principle.
The biased liberal media, including Nate Silver at the New York Times, was right in predicting a comfortable Obama victory.
It may be that folks on the Right have grown unable to recognize when the biased liberal media is correct. That is, conservatives may have become so hardened to the mainstream media, and so accustomed to its distortions, that we cannot recognize the moments when we should heed its message.
Call it the “cry wolf” principle if you must. It seems entirely possible, even likely, that the Right, to its own detriment, is too willing to dismiss the New York Times, Washington Post, the network news, and the rest.
One of the post-election challenges for the Right (and there are many) is to recalibrate our relationship with the folks who have covered for the President on so many occasions by, for instance, refusing to cover the Benghazi cover-up, or failures of Obama economic policy, or Obama’s campaign betrayals, and so forth.
The mainstream liberal media may be in the bag for Democrats, but that does not necessarily mean they are always wrong.