The Corner

Why Was Romney So Surprised That He Lost?

CBS News reports that Mitt Romney was genuinely shocked that he lost Tuesday night:

“We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” said one senior adviser. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”

They just couldn’t believe they had been so wrong. And maybe they weren’t: There was Karl Rove on Fox saying Ohio wasn’t settled, so campaign aides decided to wait. They didn’t want to have to withdraw their concession, like Al Gore did in 2000, and they thought maybe the suburbs of Columbus and Cincinnati, which hadn’t been reported, could make a difference.

. . .

“There’s nothing worse than when you think you’re going to win, and you don’t,” said another adviser. “It was like a sucker punch.”

 

 

 

. . .

“He was shellshocked,” one adviser said of Romney.

And apparently top Republicans were also taken by surprise. From the Washington Post:

 

Party leaders said they already had planned to poll voters in battleground states starting Tuesday night in anticipation of a Mitt Romney victory — to immediately begin laying the groundwork for midterm congressional elections and a Romney 2016 reelection bid.

But as they watched one state after another go to President Obama and Senate seats fall away, party leaders quickly expanded and retooled their efforts. . . .

The review is a recognition that party leaders were confounded by the electorate that showed up on Tuesday. Republican officials said that they met all of their turnout goals but that they underestimated who would turn out for the other side.

Why were they all so surprised?

Yes, the national polls were tight. But in almost all the battleground states, polls showed Obama ahead. Of course, it was possible that the polls had lousy samples, and weren’t predicting correctly who would turn out and vote. But Romney had a narrow path, and polls showed that, far from closing the deal in states like Ohio and Virginia, he was entering Election Day as the underdog.

I thought Obama would win Tuesday, but I also thought it was possible that Romney could eke out a win, particularly if turnout ended up being more like 2004 or 2000 than 2008. But it never occurred to me that the Romney campaign — and other Republicans — genuinely thought it would be more surprising than not if Obama won. 

A winning campaign isn’t blindly optimistic. It’s also candid about potential flaws, problems, and undesired outcomes. If the Romney campaign truly thought Romney would almost certainly win Tuesday, that suggests a serious lack of honest self-examination. 

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

Most Popular

Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
World

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More