Great Expectations

romney concession(Community Matters) Story doesn’t reconcile to election night CNN reporting that Romney campaign’s internal Ohio poll had them down 5 pts – nevertheless, a good read

From Politico’s Playbook:  GREAT EXPECTATIONS — “The Internal Polls That Made Mitt Romney Think He’d Win,” by The New Republic’s Noam Scheiber: “[A] Romney aide has provided the campaign’s final internal polling numbers for six key states, … which the aide obtained from the campaign’s chief pollster, Neil Newhouse. … The numbers include internal polls conducted on Saturday, November 3, and Sunday, November 4, for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, and New Hampshire. According to Newhouse, the campaign polled daily, then combined the results into two-day averages. … 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. ‘I’m not sure what the answer is,’ Newhouse told me, explaining that his polls were a lot more accurate in most of the other swing states. ‘The only ones we had that really seemed to be off were Colorado-a state that even Obama’s people tweeted they thought it was going to be one of their closest states-and the New Hampshire numbers, which seemed to bounce a lot during the campaign.’ …

“[T]he Iowa number is also questionable, showing the race tied even though Romney ended up losing by almost 6 points. If Romney’s internal polling number in Iowa was roughly accurate, it would imply that Obama won every single undecided voter in the state … 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. Furthermore, according to Newhouse, the campaign’s final internal polls had Romney down a mere two points in Ohio-a state that would have put him comfortably over the top-and Team Romney generally believed it had momentum in the final few days of the race. …

“Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota are also of interest. Although internal campaign numbers for these states are much closer to the actual results than they are in the other three states (and very close to the final public polls), they at the very least reflect a flaw in the campaign’s assumption that undecided voters would break Romney’s way. If the internal polls are correct, roughly 80 percent of undecided voters actually broke toward Obama. That aside, the numbers also explain why Romney decided to visit Pennsylvania on Election Day rather than, say, Wisconsin (both states that could have put him over 270 electoral votes had he failed to win Ohio). Pennsylvania, in addition to being a state that neither candidate had spent much time or money in (meaning there would presumably be a higher return on a candidate visit there), actually looked more winnable for Romney than Wisconsin in the final hours of the race.

“Newhouse and some of his colleagues have said that the biggest flaw in their polling was the failure to predict the demographic composition of the electorate. Broadly speaking, the people who showed up to vote on November 6 were younger and less white than Team Romney anticipated, and far more Democratic as a result. ‘The Colorado Latino vote was extraordinarily challenging,’ Newhouse told me. ‘As it was in Florida.’ … Newhouse asked voters how interested they were in the election on a scale of 1 to 10 … What’s striking is how much better Romney does among those with the greatest interest in the campaign. If you look at Colorado and New Hampshire in particular, Romney is running up big margins among even the 8-10s, which Newhouse said routinely accounted for 80-90 percent of the sample in his internal polling. … Newhouse said the reason the campaign broke out these numbers is that it helped them ‘try to gauge intensity.’ But it also led them astray … partly because Newhouse … underestimated the number of young people, African Americans, and Latinos who wound up voting.

“The second big problem with Romney’s internal polls has to do with the supposed momentum … Newhouse told me his numbers showed Romney stalling out around the time of Hurricane Sandy the week before the election, then recovering in the final few days of the race. … Newhouse told me that the poll the campaign took in New Hampshire on Thursday, November 1, showed Romney down 45-48. On Sunday, it showed him up 50-43-a ten-point swing. … ‘You rule out any huge movement. It just doesn’t work that way,’ said Newhouse. But, he conceded, ‘You begin to think maybe there is some movement’ in the face of these kinds of numbers. ‘We had good earned media.’ … In retrospect, of course, there wasn’t any momentum to speak of, at least not toward Romney. … [I]t’s clear that Romney’s closest aides and confidants interpreted the numbers quite literally. One Romney aide told me that he ran into Tagg Romney, the candidate’s eldest son, as the results came in on election night. ‘He looked like he was in a complete state of shock … [As if] these numbers cannot be real.'”

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