Where I Went Wrong
In a series of articles leading up to Election Day, I analyzed the presidential and Senate races state-by-state. It concluded with a predicted Romney win with somewhere in the neighborhood of 280 electoral votes. For the Presidential vote, I use a system I devised based upon recent and historical trends in each state, properly weighted, polling data (again weighted), and other criteria then run that information through an unsophisticated computer model to determine a winner state by state. When originally published, it was based upon that model’s outcome at the time. However, in some instances I went against my model and went with a gut instinct or sense of a shift in momentum with respect to certain states. I should have stuck with my model.
The night before the election, I did a final check on the figures which predicted an Obama victory with about 280-290 electoral votes. In the original set of articles, I published predicted Romney victories in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado. In three of those states- Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire- at the time of publlication here on RedState, my model actually indicated an Obama victory, yet I went with my gut instinct. In another- Colorado- it showed a Romney victory at time of publication yet changed to an Obama victory the night before Election Day. In the other two- Florida and Virginia- it still indicates a Romney victory. In actuality, except with respect to those latter two states, I will obviously go with my computer model over gut instincts in the future. It also becomes obvious that both Florida and Virginia will continue to play vital roles in future presidential elections. Both are states in political and/or demographic flux that will occasionally baffle political prognosticators in the near future. I will not bore readers with where I think the errors occurred or micromanage the prognostications. In short, the model held true in 49 of 51 instances while my gut was correct at a lower rate.
Obviously, I would have preferred a Romney victory over another four years of Obama and maybe some wishful thinking or, to borrow an old Obama phrase, “hope” on my part played a role in those gut instincts. But, even more vexing to me was the Senate races this cycle. Obviously, my model, which takes into account general voting trends in the mid- and recent past, cannot necessarily work with Senatorial or House candidates, or even Governors. My most likely error in this area (Senators) was attributable to the inclusion of too many polls from earlier in the election cycle, many of which included hypothetical match-ups pre-primary.
Regardless, this is the second cycle where the Republican Party, as concerns the Senate, has seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. In 2010, it was missteps by Joe Miller, John Raese, Sharron Angle and Chrsitine O’Donnell that cost the GOP. This year, it was people like Denny Rehberg, Tommy Thompson, Pete Hoekstra, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin that did in the GOP chances. All of these were, at one time, viable candidates facing winnable open races or weak Democratic opponents, Claire McCaskill being the shining example. Instead, we now have another two years (at least) of Harry Reid’s leadership in the Senate to look forward to (although, quite frankly, a Mitch McConnell leadership was nothing to look forward to either).
As concerns the Senate, we will have to wait and see whether the political punditry and talking heads will cite the polarization of that body to the same degree they currently hurl those allegations at the Republicans in the House. The general Left consensus is that the House is polarized because of the Tea Party’s influence there. They ignore the fact that in 2010, despite some significant high profile wins, Tea Party backed candidates had an approximate 40% win rate in the general election. There is no mistake that the Senate has lurched to the Left. The Occupy Wall Street godmother Elizabeth Warren and radical Tammy Baldwin’s enetering the Senate in 2013 are two examples. They both defeated somewhat more moderate Republicans in Scott Brown and Tommy Thompson. Incidentally, in the Senate races, my rate of success was somewhere near 68%- not a very good showing.
In the House, although I may have gotten some of the races wrong, the overall performance was a lot better at a 93.2% correct rate. With 9 races still undecided and Republicans leading in three of them, they are on target to lose a net total of 7 seats in the House. I believe my series of articles put that total at somewhere between five and seven seats. Of course, a totally different system is used for Congressional races. It is sort of a polling data modifier on a variation of the Cook PVI figures.
I did read some exit poll data from the presidential race and buried amid the din of how well Obama’s base of blacks, hispanics and women created a firewall against the independents breaking for Obama was one figure that jumped out of me. I forget which news outlet reported this, but in it 74% of respondents stated that their personal financial situation or that of their family was the same or worse than it was 4 years ago. Only 25% reported that it was better. Yet of that 74%, a little over 55% of them voted for Obama nevertheless. Regarding that female vote, as Erick Erickson correctly points out, take away the minority female vote and the female vote was roughly even between Romney and Obama this year. Hence, one can conclude that it was ethnicity or skin color, not their chromosomes, that was the determinative factor in the 11 point advantage among women for Obama. While some are lamenting the fact that the GOP needs to change their narrative towards women, the more correct analysis would be that if any change is needed, it is towards minority women. But then, one can make the argument they should change their narrative to minorties in general.
Getting back to that 74% who stated their financial situation was stagnant or worse, that would normally be a recipe for a rejection of Obama and his policies. Why that was not the case is a reason that needs analysis (although not here). When I read that statistic, the first thought was advocating a return to literacy tests in order to vote.
I need to make one final remark that has been circulating around the conservative blogosphere, including here, and that concerns Obamacare and the Supreme Court decision, specifically some vitriol directed at John Roberts. It is true that this decision ushered in a scary scenario where any governmental action could conceivably be justified under the Tax Clause rather than the Commerce Clause. But leaving aside the larger Constitutional implications here, I am of the same opinion as people like George Will and Charles Krauthammer. Roberts handed Romney and the GOP an excellent talking point about Obama’s expansive government vision and high taxes to support it that neither took adequate advantage of in the end. Instead of attacking Roberts, perhaps a better target of critcism would be Romney and even Ryan for their failure to take that ball and run with it. There are two things Americans can generally unite around because it is what we fought a Revolution over- an imperious government dictating and mandating what is best for us, then taxing us to effectuate those things the government thinks is best for us.
Finally, two things are certain. First, we can no longer rely on unemployment rates or the Washington Redskins as indicators of who will win an election. Secondly, the times they may just be a-changin’. Prior to this year, gay marriage had a unanimous record of defeat among several states. This year, Maine, Maryland and apparently Washington approved it and Minnesota rejected a gay marriage ban. In effect, gay marriage proponents were 4 for 4 this year.