Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Last Note on the Election

So, election over. Whew. Nice to see my candidate win the big one, and also to have Nate Silver vindicated for doing the math and calling them as he sees them.

Some disappointments, of course: here in Washington State the gay marriage and legalize marijuana measures passed, which is good,  but unfortunately the Tax Deadbeats and Loot Public Education ones did as well. Many state races were still too close to call for several days, which has become something of a tradition here in Wash. State; good thing Sam Reed was still in charge of counting the ballots this one last election. For a succinct scorecard on who won, see GRUBBSTREET (

Having listened to right-wing talk radio some in the days before, it was even more fascinating in the days immediately after, as they parsed the defeat and looked to assign blame: an Obama get-out-the-vote operation, a timely or untimely hurricane (depending on yr point of view), negative ads (his, not theirs), a brutal primary, demographics. Most seem to think the last is the key, sometimes in apocalyptic terms -- as when one major Conservative tv host declared that White People, having just delivered 72% of the votes, were now the minority (apparently he's math-challenged and thinks 72% is less than 50%).

But the most fascinating of all is the story about the final hours of the Romney campaign. It turns out that he really didn't have a concession speech drafted, so convinced were they in his victory. Their internal skewed polls got things wrong, so much so that they were serious when they decided in the final week to go beyond the main swing states and into Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well, where the president's internal polls said the challenger was far behind (Nate Silver, for his part, had long since taken them off his list of swing states altogether). For an account of how the endgame played out when the Romney camp were caught off-guard by the actual turn of events, here's a behind-the-scenes CBS report: *

Think about that a moment: we almost had a president who does his research, whose people skew the results to get the answer they like, and who then acts upon that false information with such confidence that he gets his transition team going but doesn't bother to draw up any plan of what he'll do if this projected outcome turns out not to be the case, even to the point of having to ad-lib a concession speech. Translate that into, say, a stand-off with Iran and the prospects are chilling. I'm reminded of Douglas McArthur, one of the two legendary American generals to come out of World War II, reassuring Truman that there was no chance the Chinese wd intervene in Korea, and who was caught completely flat-footed when the Chinese did exactly what they said they'd do and came in waves across the Yalu River. A lot of people died as a result of the general's miscalculation, and when a few months later he made a second bad call and said the Chinese wd never use the Bomb if MacArthur's troops invaded China itself, although Chou En-lai said they most certainly would, Truman had to fire him.

In the event, the brief concession speech Romney gave was the classiest I've ever seen him; maybe for all his flubbs he shd have gone spontaneous more often (hey, it seems to work for Biden). Or maybe not: I was touched by a brief account  of Romney's day-after, when he said goodbye to campaign staff and, already stripped of Secret Service protection, drove off in the back seat of his son Tragg's car.  That is, until I read another account about how Romney staffers trying to get home in the early hours after the election night defeat found that their campaign credit cards had already been disabled. What a petty note to end on.

--John R., wrapping up election 2012 thoughts. Now to get back to Tolkien!

*I shd point out that Josh Marshall of is slightly skeptical; here's his take on things:

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