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Two days ago, after Mitt Romney lost the election, I asked those who had been predicting a Romney win a simple question:
Were you actually wrong? (And if so, why, given the polls?)
Were you just trying to project confidence?
For most folks predicting that Romney would win, I assumed the answer was the latter. After all, as analysts like Nate Silver had explained for months leading up the election, the poll averages NEVER favoured a Romney victory. To confidently believe that Romney was going to win in the face of that data seemed either the height of arrogance and denial or, more likely, just putting a good poker-face on for the sake of the game.
But it seems as though not just Romney supporters but the Romney inner circle actually believed that he would win.
So much so that they were apparently “shellshocked” by the loss.
I can understand being “bitterly disappointed” by the loss. I can understand being “crushed.” I have huge admiration for anyone who tries to do anything hard, and running for President is brutally hard.
But being shocked?
To be shocked, it seems to me, you really would have had to suspend disbelief a long time ago and disappear into your own fantasy land. And given that that appears to have been what might have happened here, it doesn’t reflect well on Romney’s management ability.
All through the campaign, Romney told a story about how he was a practical, pragmatic leader with exceptional analytical and management skills — exactly the background needed to get the country back on track.
Well, I can tell you that one of the first critical skills of any pragmatic leader is the ability to see things as they are as opposed to seeing things the way they wish or hope they would be.
The Romney campaign apparently had a theory that there was going to be such a groundswell of support for Romney, and such a general lack of enthusiasm for Obama, that Romney supporters would overwhelm Obama supporters and render the polls wrong.
That was certainly a possible theory.
But it was just that — a theory.
Specifically, it was hope. Not a strategy. And, ultimately, it was not reality.
Optimism is one thing. Denial is another. So here’s hoping that Team Romney wasn’t really as shocked by the loss as they now claim to be.
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