Saturday 24 August 2019

Republicans just can't get their heads around the fact that Democrats can win elections

Most Americans believe disasters happen all the time in foreign policy. Polls show that they did not, after all, believe that Hillary Clinton was acting in a criminal fashion
Most Americans believe disasters happen all the time in foreign policy. Polls show that they did not, after all, believe that Hillary Clinton was acting in a criminal fashion

Niall O'Dowd

A few days before the 2012 election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney's political director issued a memo stating categorically: "The race is unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney's direction."

It was just one of several memos floating around from Romney's staff with premature predictions of victory.

On his last flight back to his base in Boston, Romney assured the media on board that internal party polls had him ahead and he would run out a narrow but definite victor. There was even talk of cabinet roles.

On election night itself, billionaires supportive of Romney, some expecting big jobs and campaign operatives also expecting high positions all flew into a cold and windy Boston for the coronation they fully expected.

They were dead wrong and were frozen out.

Not long into election day, Romney workers began reporting astonishing crowds in key swing states lining up for Obama. There were huge turnouts in areas favourable to President Obama: northeastern Ohio, northern Virginia, central Florida and Miami-Dade.

When the counting was done, Obama won at a canter, by 332 electoral votes to 206 for Romney and three million extra votes.

A crushed Romney team could not believe their eyes. Indeed, in one case on Fox News, analyst Karl Rove refused to accept the Ohio result showing President Obama winning the state and stalked off the show.

In Boston, there was complete shock. "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." Asked how Romney felt, the adviser stated he was "shell-shocked".

How could so many "experts" on the GOP side be so wrong? And could it happen again?

The answer to the second question is yes. The answer to the first question is also yes.

Politics had become an echo chamber, especially for the GOP. More and more, they stick to safe talk shows on radio, like Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and conservative newspaper outlets, such as the 'Wall Street Journal'.

Naturally, in such forums they hear their own biases and opinion reflected back to them. Rarely does anyone take issue.

Romney could not understand how Obama beat him, given the fact that he was convinced the incumbent president was deeply unpopular.

The echo-chamber effect even infects their polling.

Because there are more registered Democrats than Republicans, polls have to be altered to reflect that reality. It is no good taking a 50/50 poll.

Republicans refused to make that adjustment and thus Romney's political director had his poll numbers all wrong.

We saw the echo effect in the 2016 election in the past two weeks.

The Republican committee looking into Benghazi where four Americans lost their lives in the Libyan uprising in 2012 were convinced they had a slam dunk case against Hillary Clinton, given what all their media were saying.

Instead, it was Hillary (pictured) who left them gasping for air as she shot down their conspiracy theories and the committee had a rude awakening.

In addition, Hillary got a powerful boost for her forceful defence of her actions.

Polls showed that Americans after all did not believe that Hillary was acting in a criminal fashion. Most Americans believe actually that disasters happen all the time in foreign policy, whether it's President Ronald Reagan losing hundreds of marines in Beirut in 1983 or George Bush losing thousands on his watch due to 9/11.

The other example was the outrage expressed by GOP presidential candidates at the MSNBC debate when, heaven forbid, they were actually asked tough and sometimes impertinent questions.

Having spent months appearing on love fests like Fox News this was quite a shocking occurrence.

Up in arms, the Republican National Committee stamped its foot and withdrew co-operation with NBC. It wanted friendlier moderators, it said.

By so insisting, Republicans were playing into the 2012 trap. No candidate for president should expect anything less than a grilling about any number of issues.

They will get nowhere with softball questions and lollipops for best answers.

Ask Hillary Clinton if there is a media bias in her favour as she battles alleged scandals, both old and new, on a daily basis.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss